Nor Cal Ale - Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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Nor Cal Ale
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BA SCORE
83
good

79 Ratings
THE BROS
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 79
Reviews: 55
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: 11.92%
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:
Beer added by: DefenCorps on 04-28-2009

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 79 | Reviews: 55
Photo of avaldivia
3.87/5  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 TheFightfan1
3.86/5  rDev +4.6%
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 akorsak
3.85/5  rDev +4.3%
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 Sky2625
3.85/5  rDev +4.3%
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 EarlNobdy
3.84/5  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
3.82/5  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 bonbini26
3.82/5  rDev +3.5%
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
3.8/5  rDev +3%
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 philbe311
3.79/5  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
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
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
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
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 DefenCorps
3.77/5  rDev +2.2%
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 bobsy
3.77/5  rDev +2.2%
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 Huhzubendah
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
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
3.62/5  rDev -1.9%
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 elNopalero
3.61/5  rDev -2.2%
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 drabmuh
3.58/5  rDev -3%
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.

Photo of deanhead
3.55/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Hard to tell the color of this beer in the low light of the the Dirty Truth. Seemed to be a golden beer with some amber hues, nice clingy lace. No head to speak, just some bubbles lingering around the top of the glass

Moderately spicy aroma and taste with some biscuity grainy notes. Hints of Triscuits and Juile Andrews singing the sound of music in my ears. The spicy notes remind me of Rye/

Crisp and dry, a little to thin in body to my liking for this style.

Highly drinkable, yet very uneventful beer. Nothing really stands out about this beer that truly makes me want to seek out another. At 6.75 a pint, I'll pass for now.

Photo of jsanford
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the Lodge in Hilton Head, SC on 2/11/11

A - Poured a clear copper with a 1-inch creamy white head. Moderate retention, but leaves some great lacing on the glass.
S - Quite sweet nose of caramel malt, pineapple, pine resin, and peaches. Nice and tropical, like a can of fruit cocktail in syrup.
T - Again, quite fruit and sweet. Pineapple, peaches and caramel dominate with a bit of bitter pine in the finish.
M - Slightly sticky with a medium body and medium-low carbonation.
D - Pretty drinkable, but the sweetness gets a bit cloying about 3/4 of the way through.

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 06/21/2009. I had this on draft. This beer pours a light brown with a small head. The aroma is of basic light sweet malt. The flavor is sweet and fruity initially with jam and sweet malt in the finish. Overall, I thought that this was a pretty good bitter.

Photo of Sammy
3.3/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap their Tap Room. Not really an ESB as Cascade and Centennial. Served too cold and overcarbonated. BitterTaste did not come through, it was malt forward, bready, the kind of things altogether that do not make for the style. It was lacey with an off-white head.

Photo of corby112
3.28/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Samples on draft at the brewpub.

Pours a clear dark golden amber/copper color with golden orange hues when held to a light source and a creamy one finger head that slowly settles into a lasting ring that coats the glass with sheets of lacing.

Slightly roasted malt aroma with some earthy hops. There's also some biscuit, toffee, nut and smoke in the nose.

Lighter end of medium body and slightly watered don some subtle toastiness in the malt profile. Hints of caramel, biscuit and toffee along with some nice dry piney and citrus hop notes. Hints of lemon peel and grape fruit. None of the flavors in this beer are "big" rather it is a well balanced drinkable session beer. Pretty fever but nothing spectacular.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.24/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On the board at the brewery they refer to this as Nor Cal Bitter. Tastes more similar to a classic bitter moreso than an american pale ale. Looks nice, dark gold, thin white head that had decent lacing. Aroma was off, I don't think they went for the aroma to be so traditional that it had a mild infection to it, but it gave off that kind of soggy mildly soured unintentionally vibe.

Biscuity and bready, the beer has probably noble hops, a little sticky viscosity for a beer this light in terms of alcohol, kind of filling. Far maltier than you would think looking at the color and abv. Wish it had more hoppiness going for it. There's a few examples of hoppy sessions coming out more and more, it would seem to be right up BR's alley, but oh well, this is more likely to impress your 75 year old grandfather from England moreso than anyone else.

Photo of argock
3.21/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap in a Shaker pint at Mellow Mushroom (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Very dusky amber with short cap of off-white head that left some lace.

S: Very bland average-homebrewish herbal and pine hoppiness with some citrus character. The malt backing is not too prominent in the aroma.

T: The flavor is also very bland with a steely, almost metallic pine and tannic hops flavor followed by a crackery but otherwise washed out crystal malt backbone. It has a very homebrew character, with too much astringency for the maltiness. If I had to guess this has a big wallop of Northern Brewer hops.

M: Decent slick smooth mouthfeel but the carbonation is too low.

O: I am surprised Bear Republic let this out of their brewery. This is easily the worst beer I have had from them - flabby with too much crystal malt and a semi-astringent hops tannin feel and flavor. Skip it.

Photo of ehammond1
3.16/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Golden brown in color with a tight, light khaki colored head that eventually leaves spots of lace down the glass.

Very mild aroma, and mainly of biscuit, bready malts, a slight hint of sweet malt, and a faraway citrus character.

The flavor follows the aroma, in that it's extraordinarily simple and mild. Moderate bitterness, and drinkable sure, but there's not much character here. Biscuity, bready, slight sweetness, and a hint of citrus hop component.

Medium bodied with ample carbonation. Crisp and drinkable.

I suppose this would pair well with some powerful, intense food, because there isn't enough flavor in this beer to get excited about.

Nor Cal Ale from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 79 ratings.