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Nor Cal Ale | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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BA SCORE
84
good
56 Reviews
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BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
California, United States
bearrepublic.com

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.50%

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.

Added by DefenCorps on 04-28-2009

BEER STATS
Reviews:
56
Ratings:
80
Avg:
3.71
pDev:
14.29%
 
 
Wants:
1
Gots:
0
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 56 | Ratings: 80
Photo of Offa
2.34/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This beer, called a "bitter" on the menu and 4.8% ABV, really seems to be an American Pale Ale. Regardless, it is rather thin, one-dimensional, and out of balance. I had it at Bear Republic on 3 May 09.

Amber, it has a medium off-white head, crweamy and slowly shrinking to a ring and wisps, leaving some nice lace.

The aroma is toasted grain, grapefruit, and a little lemon.

The taste is bitter grapefruit up front and all the way through the finish and lingering bitter aftertaste. It has a little toasted grain and hint of raisin, with the faintest hint of pine needle in the finish, but otherwise is just grapefruit. It is far too bitter for the thin, characterless, watery malt, with almost no sweetness or flavour to balance the bitterness, which lingers. Although not bitter in an absolute sense, this is one beer that is far too bitter relative to the rest of its elements and is totally unbalanced. It is a bit reminiscent of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but the latter is a little better when on tap, fuller in feel and flavour.

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Photo of MikeRa
2.51/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Here is what I can say about the Nor'Cal Beer;

A: It has a Golden Amber to Orange looking color.

S: It has a real tame smell.

T: It has a very bitter taste, which surprised me. Can't tell if it's caramel or if it's the hops.

M: The mouthfeel is also very bitter.

D: This is one IPA that I won't drink again.

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Photo of seedyone
2.75/5  rDev -25.9%

03/29/13 At Rattle N Hum over 1 year ago. On tap. Just OK. Hoppier than I like & not quite the right shade of bitter. I prefer my ESB's to more in the English ale style.

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Photo of HopHead84
3/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

11/9/2011

On tap at Churchill's.

A: Dark copper and hazy with an inch of beige foam.

S: Light orange notes meet pronounced bread and biscuit. Caramel is light. The malt is stronger than the hops.

T: Dominated by biscuit and bread. Light orange notes are evident and there's a low bitterness accompanying the lower moderate sweetness.

M: Medium body with upper moderate carbonation.

Overall: A really malty pale ale, but still okay for the nonce. I wouldn't order it again, though.

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Photo of silentdonkey
3.08/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this on tap over trivia and Sunday football at Congregation Ale House.

A: Light copper with a small off white head. Nice clarity and minimal lacing left behind.

S: Not much going on with the nose. Faint amounts of biscuit malt and caramel. A slight hint of citrus hoppiness.

T: Just as the nose suggests. A slight malty/caramel backbone and finish with a mild acidic citrus note up front.

M: Smooth, medium/low body with a fair amount of carbonation.

O: A very drinkable pale ale. It is a borderline bitter in my opinion. More malty and bready notes than your typical APA. Not what I was expecting with the name. It suggests a hoppier west coast PA.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.14/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Called a bitter. Dark yellow, thin white head, above average lacing. Aroma was soggy biscuits left near the heater coil.

Taste kept up the breadiness, the bitterness was off though, wasn't really a hoppy derived thing. Something else. Had that old world vibe to a blended infected old beer with a uninfected fresh one.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.16/5  rDev -14.8%
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.

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Photo of argock
3.21/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.24/5  rDev -12.7%
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.

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Photo of corby112
3.28/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

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Photo of Sammy
3.3/5  rDev -11.1%
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.

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Photo of jsanford
3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

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Photo of deanhead
3.55/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.58/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

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Photo of elNopalero
3.61/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

 256 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
3.62/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.77/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of bobsy
3.77/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of donniecuffs
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

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Photo of thain709
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
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

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Photo of philbe311
3.79/5  rDev +2.2%
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...

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Photo of Nickls
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.82/5  rDev +3%
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.

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Nor Cal Ale from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
3.71 out of 5 based on 80 ratings.
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