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Post Column: Saisons are interesting but unpredictable

We’ve covered all of our bases, right? We’ve reviewed local beers, not-so-local beers, IPAs, porters, brown ales, wheat ales ... the list goes on. We’ve done our duty as beer columnists, haven’t we? What more could we possibly say? By now it should be clear we like beer (a lot), and hopefully you’ve found a beer that you like because of us. So we’re done, right? We can stop?

But there is a kind of beer we’ve ignored, and that is the saison. Saisons are hard to define. They all taste different. A recent series of saisons (say that five times fast) from Jackie O’s was a testament to this. But those beers are gone now, and so we turn to North Coast’s saison, Le Merle.

As this beer was pouring, one of our favorite bartenders at Jackie O’s declared that this beer pours like ... we’ll say he said “poop.” And it’s true. The beer foamed too easily, and once it finally diminished to drinkable levels, it wasn’t much to look at.

Le Merle smells wonderful. Saisons are pumped full of spices, and we could pick up on them easily. The hops provided a nice citrus aroma. It smells like a beer you’d drink on a summer night, which made it seem like the perfect beer given Athens’ recent heat wave.

Unfortunately, Le Merle makes some promises it can’t keep. It definitely smells better than it tastes. When we sipped on it, it was hard to taste all the spices we smelled just moments before. Was North Coast pulling some sort of April Fools’ joke on us? Because that’s what it tasted like. Also, it has a weird characteristic of feeling thick on the tongue while tasting and looking light. It was almost disconcerting.

Le Merle isn’t a bad brew. It’s perfectly adequate. It works well for warm nights, but not any better than a decent IPA. Other saisons have had a lot more flavor, like Jackie O’s Virescence, and we’d recommend those over Le Merle. At the very least, ask for a taste of the beer before you get it on draft. See if you like it before spending your money on a full glass. Be conservative with this one. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed.

In the meantime, we’ll be trying to find some more interesting beers.

Jared Henderson and Patty Arnold are seniors studying philosophy and biological science, respectively, at Ohio University and columnists for The Post. What beer should be on their radar? Email them at and

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