Nor Cal Ale - Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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Nor Cal Ale
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BA SCORE
84
good

78 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 78
Reviews: 55
rAvg: 3.7
pDev: 12.16%
Wants: 1
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Bear Republic Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  4.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Inspired by Northern California's brewing history, this California Bitter is as inviting as the Redwoods. Smooth and drinkable, this ale has a well rounded malt character accented by Cascade and Centennial dry hops.

(Beer added by: DefenCorps on 04-28-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 78 | Reviews: 55 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jstewart1130
4/5  rDev +8.1%

Photo of rfgetz
3.98/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Kite and Key...

A: Light to medium brown with nice, whispy white head.

S: Citrus and piney hops. A scent of dark fruit in the background.

T: Piney, west coast hops. Lighter citrus notes from the hops balance with a nice roasted malt charachter. Bitter bite to finish.

M: Light bodied, ample carbonation and crisp.

D: Very tasty, low in ABVs but maybe a touch bitter and hoppy.

Photo of zeff80
3.98/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured a clear, orange/gold color with a thick, foamy, off-white, two-finger head. It left sticky rings of lace.

S - It smelled of citrus and pine.

T - It tasted bubblegum sweet with citrus and a sharp burnt toast maltiness.

M - It was a little thin considering how much flavor it had. A light bodied APA.

D - This is a nice APA. I was pleased to see in on-tap at a local watering hole.

Photo of hopdog
3.95/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Capones.

Poured a medium amber color with an averaged sized, frothy off white head. Aromas of citrus, fresh floral hops, a little toasty, and a little earthy. Tastes of citrus, some toasted caramel, floral hops, and lighter pine.

Notes from and tasted on: 5/28/09

Photo of Pecorasc
3.95/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at South Park Tavern in Dayton, Ohio on 2/25/10. One of five Bear Republic beers on tap at the moment. Served quite cold in a Shaker Pint.

A- Light copper in color and clear, but not polished. Presented with a 1/2 inch of creamy, white head that fell quickly down to a thin film, leaving sticky, white lacing on its way. A normal amount of carbonation and beading. Above average considering the conditions (extra cold in a shaker).

S- Dominated by earthy hop aroma with minimal malt background and a small amount of diacetyl. Malt is mostly bread with very little carmel. Pleasant, but not very inviting.

T- Starts out with a sweet carmel malt and an enjoyable slightly metallic taste. Quickly overtaken by an earthy and piney hop flavor. Good amount of bitterness in the finish that sticks around for the aftertaste. Very little alcohol, as expected. Much improved at room temperature. Nice spin on the style.

M- More carbonation than desired. Medium bodied with a finish on the dry side. Took the last 1/3 of the beer and swirled vigorously for 10 seconds. The result was a much less carbonated beer and a much improved mouthfeel.

D- High drinkability: low enough in alcohol to have several in a sitting and tasty enough to not complain. If this were ever offered on cask, I would really try to get at a few pints. Offered as real ale, this would improve in all the right areas. An enjoyable beer that should be enjoyed in the right atmosphere or under the right circumstances.

Photo of John_M
3.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Meridian Pint the other night.

The beer pours a golden amber color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is likewise attractive, as I pick up some cereal grains and light dry citrus. The flavor profile replicates the nose, but the beer actually had a bit more hoppy bitterness on the finish than I was expecting. This beer is very well balanced, in a dry, west coast style manner, and the finish was clean and refreshingly bitter. Mouthfeel was otherwise medium bodied, and I appreciated the relatively low alcohol in this beer.

Very nice beer, and given the abv., quite sessionable as well. Impressive.

Photo of mhatters
3.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a tulip glass at TDR - Exton

Pours out a light brownorange color, with a fluffy pure white head.

Definitely English notes here, some light citrus hops, but mostly the light malt I associate with English bitters

Very fruity - surprising, sweet, a feel of hops at the end (citrus and pine?)

Very nice, well carbonated, an interesting take on an English traditional bitter.

Photo of Sky2625
3.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at The Dray in Ballard. Poured to a standard pint glass (notes from 8/26/11):

A - Poured a dark bronze brown, with 1/2-finger cream-colored small bubble head. Some retention, spotty lacing.

S - Low intensity to the scent. Mild semi-sweet maltiness darkened by caramel, with mild pine & citrus hops riding over the top. Caramel note continues into a bready malt and fresh grain hint.

T - A brief flash of citrus and pine hop, but then mildly honey sweet and toasted malt takes over that carries hints of caramel, providing most of the flavor profile. Finishes bready, with an ever-so-slight tangy bitterness that lingers.

M - Light-to-medium body, smooth texture. Mild tingly carbonation. Refreshing, despite a slightly dry finish.

D - This beer grew on me from "meh" to "hey, this is alright". I found the flavor pleasant, not too overly bitter or too much burnt caramel. Nor is it too sweet overall. Light and refreshing for a Bitter.

Photo of avaldivia
3.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On tap at Bear Republic.

A: Copper colored. On the clear side. Nice inch thick head with great lacing.

S: Pine. Very floral. A nice amount of malt to balance.

T: Nice amount of citrus and pine. Well balanced by the malt.

M: Medium bodied. Good carbonation.

O: I like this a lot. At the brewery this is categorized as a bitter, but here it is labeled as a Pale Ale. Perhaps I am wrong, but I could have sworn those were different. Either way, I am a fan.

Photo of akorsak
3.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A pint at the Brass Rail.

A: The pale ale is a toasty amber color, lighter towards the yellow end of the spectrum. Although bubbly, the ale comes without any head. A few patches of lace follow, thanks to the carbonation.

S: The nose is malty, a toasted aroma that can't shy away from its grainy roots. The hops that are present are seemingly for balance only, their citrus is no match for the malts.

T: More balance and malty domination here. The toasted biscuit flavors carry the ale, punctuated periodically by crisp citrus hops. Caramel rises up to join the biscuit. As the ale is consumed, more hops emerge byt never get beyond the balancing stage. A surprise, I wasn't expecting so much balance from a California (albeit northern CA) brewery.

M: The mouthfeel is lightly toasted, smooth thanks to the reduced hop influence. Plus the ale is a drinkable <5% beer.

Photo of EarlNobdy
3.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

So the saga of our lives continues, and this week's soundtrack is provided by the little brewery that could in Sonoma County, Cali, USA. The past month of rain gave way yesterday to one humid honey of an afternoon, a real sticky situation. Marilyn took the kids out to the playground around 4 so they could run through sprinklers and get some relief. They are so much like dogs at this age. Meanwhile, Daddy went in search of his own refreshment. Thankfully, the corner Bierkraft specializes in a wide variety of lagers and ales for what ails you, and in nothing flat I had the hookup.

The girl at the growler station said this was an ESB, but upon closer internet inspection I discovered two things: A.) That Beer Advocate considers this beer a Pale Ale, whilst B.) The fine folks at Bear Republic are calling it a California Bitter to distinguish it from the more traditional English ESB. By the way, have you noticed that a number of brewers are steering away from the Bitter appellation? For instance, Sierra has their Early Summer Beer, Boont brews an Extra Special Beer, and Foster's has taken to calling their ESB "Premium Ale" instead. What is the stigma here? Is the average American beer palate so unsophisticated that the mere suggestion of a certain bitterness turns the consumer cold? I'm sure the sea change is the product of extensive market research, and who am I to question a man's making a buck, but still. Your typical ESB ain't all that much more bitter than the average ale. But then again, I suppose all is perception, and let's leave it at that.

Especially since I like what I like and whether ESB or Cali Bitter or Pale Ale, what I'm digging this week is this beer. A perfect 64oz aperitif accompaniment to the muggiest day of the Summer thus far. Okay, so we've been Clear to Close on our new apartment for a week, and Marilyn is selling off everything we aren't taking with us, and we've given our current landlord a drop-dead move-out date of August 1st, and now the lawyers for the owners of the new apartment are refusing to return our phone calls and set a Closing Date--so what? Who cares if today is the Stoop Sale that seals our fate, and Marilyn and I have done nothing but squabble and bicker over the tiniest detail ever since this moving process began? What does any of the pain and anguish of rearing two mewling bratwursts matter a farthing when I have this bottle in front of me?

Oh, wait I just poured my last glass. Now is when the problems really begin.

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Delivered to the bar with a short head of creamy off-white foam that slowly settled to an average collar and whispy surface covering. Some decent lacing was left behind, and continued to be left behind throughout the glass. The body was a crimson-accented amber with a slight haze.

The nose was fruity/citrusy over a basic maltiness.

Citrusy hops (grapefruit, a spritz of pineapple, perhaps some lemon) dominate over a basic golden maltiness in the flavor. It reminded me of Lagunitas' Hop Stoopid, but not as full. It's kind of like hop juice. As such, it's got hop flavor and a raspy bitterness that pretty much carries from start to finish.

Overall, it's a little one-sided, and a little bit light bodied. For a hop-head it's easily approachable, but kind of lacking (we can all handle BIGGER HOPPY BEERS). For someone who's just getting into hoppy beers it might work, but then again, it might be a little to raspy and bitter.

Photo of TheFightfan1
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Filled up my growler at the Hulmeville Inn. Pours a crystal clear amber color with an egshell colored heading. Lacing is good leaving some ringage throughout the session.

Smell of hops blasts you in the nose but then a heavy fruity aroma kicks in for the finishes nice balance.

Taste is hoppy a very green taste at first,followed by a slight burnt caramel tasting. Finishes with a sugary hoppy smack on the palate.

Mouth is a bit thin but bubbley excellent retention but finishes with a lingering hoppy feel in the mouth

Drink is good. A light ABV and I would say very sessionable. A great beer for someone who is looking to get into the craft seen a decent all around tasting beer.

Photo of philbe311
3.8/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Probably the single most beautiful American Pale Ale that I have ever encountered... Two plus fingers worth of ultra creamy rich foam ecru colored head... Good retention gives way to a splotchy lacing... A rich warm caramel amber color... Sparce sporadic carbonation...

S - Rather subdued... Caramel... Biscuit... Faint earthy hop resins... Nice, but a tad too muted...

T - Crystal malts... Earthy hops... Loads of caramel... Biscuit... Some nuttiness... Minor apricot notes... A slightly bitter finish that lingers...

M - Light to medium bodied... Smooth to start... Light... Refreshing... Clean... Crisp... Subtle carbonation... Finishes dry... Simple and straight forward...

D - A very nice American Pale Ale... I wasn't a huge fan after the first sip, but this one continually grew on me... By the end, this one was quite quaffable... Lots of flavor for sub 5% ABV... A job well done by Bear Republic...

Photo of donniecuffs
3.8/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(From notes)
Overall, I found this beer to be remarkably similar to the ESB...

A: Orange/copper, thin head, decent lacing.

S: Biscuit/malty/toffee mixed with earthiness/woodiness.

T: Same as the aroma, with a nice balance and an earthy finish/aftertaste.

M: Creamy yet light, with little visible or felt carbonation.

D: Certainly sessionable, but the creamy texture might get to be a little much after a while.

Photo of thain709
3.8/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Served with a copper colored body that had one fingers worth of white head...it fell to a spotty cap but showed nice retention which lead to decent lacing

S - The aromas were minimal...light hops mixed with a more pronounced graininess

T - The flavors are well balanced here...there is a blast of sweet citrus from the hops but that's the only hop flavor in the beer...the middle shines with some toasted grain which gives way to a bready finish

M - Medium bodied...crisp...okay carbonation...bready finish

O - I was surprised there were not more hops in this one seeing as Bear Republic has many hopped up beers...I found this to be pleasantly balanced and easily drinkable...it's just I feel I could drink more of something else...something with a little more hop presence

Photo of bonbini26
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On tap @ the Blind Tiger 05-22-09

Pours an amber color, with a medium white head, some lacing. Smells of toasted grain, citrus, pine and lemon. Starts off as a bitter grapefruit taste, i wish it would linger around a little more. Biscuit, toasted malt also come through. Sweet finish. Mouthfeel is average nothing to write home about. Overall a pretty easy drinking beer, I'd say its a cross between an APA and an ESB

Photo of Nickls
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(From notes)

A - Clear darker orange color; poured with an eggshell head that held OK; spiderweb lacing

S - Earthy hoppiness that's pretty tame; sweetish malts; is that Ringwood yeast?; biscuity

T - Hops are actually a bit fruity than I caught in the aroma; lightly sweet malts; balanced comes to mind; bit of biscuit dough in the finish

M - Smooth and a touch creamy; medium MF; soft carbonation

D - Nice enough; balanced and smooth; still compelling enough to enjoy

Overall, not a bad take on the style, but it definitely leaned into the British 'pale' style as well (at least to my palate). Nice stuff.

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of bobsy
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Ginger Man NYC. I'd never heard of Nor'Cal before, and when I saw it on the menu I thought it was just a place descriptor of the brewery at first, so I got this expecting a Racer 5.

Anyway, nice hazy amber with a creamy white head that soon dissipated to a film and left a few touches of lace. A good dose of citrus and pine in the nose, along with some field berries and pale malt. Yeah... essentially you have the flavour there too. The hops lead off and underpin throughout, while giving a light to moderate bitterness. The pale malt is present, but feels like it should be bulked up a bit. Not bad flavour for the ABV, though. Light body and soft carbonation make for an easy drinker.

Nothing too great going on here, but a solid lawnmower beer nonetheless.

Photo of DefenCorps
3.73/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Never heard of this beer, and was thrilled to see it on tap at the Blind Tiger. Awesome!

This beer pours a burnished copper with a white head with good retention and good lacing. On the nose, this beer really is a hop lovers wet dream. Pine bitterness clears out your nasal passages quite gorgeously, with an incredible depth and flavor. Unfortunately, this is not replicated in the palate, with the flavor profile being almost one-dimensionally hoppy with massive waves of pine bitterness. There really isn't much hop flavor, so to speak, and there isn't any sweetness to counter the hop character. While the beer has great carbonation and body (crisp and light), the massive bitterness is a bit of a chore and reduces the drinkability.

Photo of elNopalero
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a toasted sesame-tan color. It lacks a discernible aroma—it’s muted, like the volume is too low to make anything out. The flavor is crisp, with a honeyed sweetness and a bitterness midpoint. Overall decent but nothing really stands out.

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.63/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On draft at Lost Dog Cafe.

The beer is golden hued with a small white head. The aroma offers some hops and citrus. Tangy flavor with citrus and a bit of an earthy tone. Grapefruit, biscuits, crackers, grain. Light bodied and thin with moderate carbonation. Overall this was ok.

Photo of BARFLYB
3.6/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-Tap

Nor cal held a semi firm off-white cap on top of a copper/amber liquid. Some thin sheets of lace left on the glass. Scents of grapefruit, toasted malts and grain plus hops which is what BR is all about. A bitter taste throughout with a grapefruit burst plus pine on top. The malts don't make a dent at all. Pine in the finish. The feel is on the light side and could be boosted up some, not much depth, rather crisp though. I liked this for what it was but I was left thinking this could use something else.

Photo of drabmuh
3.58/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer served on cask in a little snifter. Beer is yellow and clear with a thin white head of tiny bubbles, some lacing, low carbonation.

Aroma is mildly piny and a little sweet.

Beer is thin with a moderate bitterness, some grain up front, moderately dry finish, creamy mouthfeel. Overall it is a decent APA but I doubt I would have it again.

Nor Cal Ale from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
84 out of 100 based on 78 ratings.