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 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 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 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 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 John_M
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
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
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
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 Pecorasc
3.93/5  rDev +6.5%
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 hopdog
3.95/5  rDev +7%
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 rfgetz
3.97/5  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 +7.9%
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 largadeer
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft at Haus Staudt. Copper-colored body with the slightest haze, topped by a finger of foam. The head leaves rings of lace behind with each sip.

The aroma has a light herbal hoppiness, toasted malt, faint caramel, mineral and a slight fruitiness reminiscent of peaches. Subtle, clean and pleasant.

Toasty with light fruity sweetness up front, quickly followed by an herbal hop kick, nuttiness and a touch of caramel. The crisp and medium-light texture makes for easy quaffing. Finishes with flavors of burnt toast, bitter herbs and slight earthiness. A solid session ale.

Photo of Natural510
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the brewery. Described as an "American Bitter" at 4.5%ABV.

Pours a dark copper-bronze with creamy white lacing.
Scent of burnt caramel malt and herbal hops.
Flavor is a pungent blend of semi-sweet caramel malt and a peppery hop. Everything well-proportioned and balanced, as one would expect in an English-style bitter.
Full in body, very drinkable. Further proof alcohol content and full-bodied flavor are not mutually exclusive.

Photo of socon67
4.02/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Copper pour with great foam retention. Decent lacing of the glass. Clarity is excellent.

S - Floral scent jumped out originally. Smell of orange & tangerine, and fresh dinner rolls.

T - Slight malty flavor with a mild acidic bite of citrus. Easy drinking APA.

M - Smooth, enjoyable, and went great with my food. Light feel but still plenty of flavor.

O - Good beer that has subdued flavor, but is far from bland.

Photo of afksports
4.02/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed Bear Republic's Nor'Cal American Pale Ale a while back, and I'm getting to typing up this review from my notes thanks to some famous Presidents. Cheers, George & Abe!

For sure a sessionable beer, Nor'Cal features a lovely floral hops aroma on top of a west coast bitter body. It looks like a pale ale, hazy copper in appearance with a good bit of bubbles for a cask conditioned brew. The taste has that American Pale Ale hops bite that you come back for, and then carries through with some toasty malts. In the back it finishes clean but stays bitter, even on the top of the mouth.

Perhaps a bit too drying ultimately, Nor'Cal falls short of being a new favorite despite it's interesting malt character. But it's solid and well-built.

And it's probably pretty good that I don't absolutely love it, because it seems pretty tough to get!

Photo of Billolick
4.05/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap/growler @ DeCiccio's in Ardsley, NY. Pours cloudy dark almond amber, lazy, tiny bubble head/film and leaving fine sheets of lace and also tiny spots. Nose of orange peel and pine hops.Tasty and easy drinking moderatly hoppy ale. Nice soft and smooth mouthfeel adds to the easy drinkability of this one. Notes of citrus and pine, smooth malt under pinings. An understated and sublimely sessionable brew. More high quality product from BR

Photo of Bierguy5
4.08/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On tap at South Park Tavern. Pours a nice clear copper color. Thin off-white head stays at a thin layer for quite some time. Great patches of lace left clinging.

Soft aroma of citrusy, slightly floral hops. Soft fruity aroma as well. Just a whiff of lighter caramel.

Talk about balance here. A lighter caramel, toasty base. Soft citrus notes. A light bitterness.

Medium body, lighter carbonation. Alcohol is not noticeable at all. Great session beer.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Barleys, one of the new offerings I was simply dying to try. Served in a pint glass, this one was consumed on 04/17/2010.

The deep copper colored pour yield a head that was about two inches in height before settling down to a thin, almost bare top with a light lacing to it. Nice carbonation could be seen streaming up from the bottom of the glass. Aroma is well balanced, Nice touches of caramel are split alongside a decent amount of citrus hops. Warming tends to bring this one a step further and now there is a nice and well rounded orange coming through. Nice and clean, light body with ample carbonation let the flavor really pop here. Bright caramel tones, nice touches of citrus and just a really well balanced profile all lend me to really find this on quite nice. Easy drinking and light on the ABV make it go down like water.

Overall while not the best thing in the world, this one certainly does work. I would have no issue with having this again and was a nice change up.

Photo of avalon07
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a growler to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a clear consistency. There was an inch and a half of foamy, long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: Different than I would have expected. Smelled of pine, citrus, hops, and some malt.

T: An interesting flavor of pine, citrus, caramel malt and nice dose of West Coast hops. Very easy to drink.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

D: An easy to like, drinkable beer.

Photo of Jayli
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had at Deep Ellum on 5/22

A: This beer pours a nice deep, cealr copper color with a one finger of creamy white head. Head recedes at a moderate pace leaving spots of webbed lacing.

S: Nose has a good deal of fruitiness, citrus hops, piney hops, and some caramel malts.

T: Taste starts with a decent amount of piney hop bitterness before fading in to a rich caramel malt flavoring. Finish is of citrus hops - orange peel and hints of lemon.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation, oily body with a bit of a sticky finish.

D: Goes down easily, nicely balanced, very tasty, and with the ABV makes this a beer to sit with for a long time.

Photo of indiapaleale
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Dirty Truth in Northampton, MA...

Pours a light amber color with a nice inch of head. Good looking beer, very nice color.

Smell is faintly sweet with some nice fresh citrusy hops, a little orangey/grapefruity.

Taste is like an IPA light (or I guess you could call it an APA), I believe that Bear Republic is calling this a California Bitter. Whatever you call it, its got a nice fresh citrus taste with not a huge wallop of hop bitterness and a nice amount of malt to back it up. Very easy drinking at <5% and close to a perfect summer session ale.

Great stuff from Bear Republic, keep 'em coming!

Photo of Thorpe429
4.12/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a slightly-hazed orange with a nice white head and pretty good lacing as it went down. Smell was very nice with a lot of sweet malt alongside some citrus hops. Taste was a little more subdued than the aroma, with the malt coming through more than the hops, which was somewhat of a disappointment knowing BR's penchant for lovely hoppy beers. Medium bodied with good carbonation, and pretty nice drinkability.

Photo of bwd110
4.12/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Capone's in Norristown, PA. Poured into a pint glass.

A: Pours a medium brown with a nice fluffy white head. Looks a little darker than many APAs, but enticing.

S: A little bit of dark fruit, maybe from the yeast? Some citrus hops and definite pine in the nose. Nothing overpowering, a nice light nose.

T: Nice bittering in this brew... Yeast, English in nature, and, malt dominate, leaving the hops to play nicely in the undercurrent of the flavor. Again some citrus, but a nice grassy pine finish.

M: A little thin for the style, but smooth nonetheless with a solid, crisp and bitter finish.

D: Very tasty, would session this beer without question.

Photo of ffejherb
4.13/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On cask at Bear Republic on 7/17/09.

A - Hazy amber/orange body with one finger of dense, creamy white head that just streaked the glass with thick, intricate lacing, finally settling to a quarter inch of creamy retention.

S - Malt-forward aroma with toasted grains and some sweet caramel. Hop character is light and citrusy... simple but not overstated. Classic pale ale nose that is on-par for the style.

T - Malty flavor overall with bready and sweet caramel notes as well as hints of toffee. Hop character is subtle with citrus taking center stage, but also some mild perfumy notes in a secondary role. Finishes with a distinct toasted grainy malt character.

M - Medium body with a light syrupy texture and a very smooth, creamy mouthfeel overall. Not too thin at all. Mouthfeel is pretty spot-on for a cask ale. Moderate hop bite on the palate with a slightly dry, bitter finish.

D - Really tasty pale ale with a distinct malt character. Nor'Cal is light and flavorful, and certainly very good on cask.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.15/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Made Mex I think it was 2.50 a pint during happy hour, probably one of the best deals in the beer world. Poured nice amber bodied slightly clouded with a caramel off white head nice ven lacing with each sip. Aroma has a fresh minty herbal citrus with hints of bready honey coated malts. Flavor wise upfront caramel malts blended with citric notes and more herbal slightly minty hop additions, maybe even a touch of pine cone. Mouthfeel is slightly oily textured with a light to medium body, soft natural easy going carbonation. Drinkability is excellent, without a doubt killer west coast session ale send more kegs please.

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