Beer Review 0568: NoDa Jam Session Pale Ale

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NoDa Brewing is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and began operation in October 2011. The brewery is named after its location, which is right in the NoDa (North Davidson) neighborhood. This section of town used to be home to a mill, but today is has been transformed into a place ripe with art galleries, music venues, restaurants, and yes, even a brewery.

NoDa brews on a 15 barrel brew house, and they recently began bottling and canning with a limited distribution. The brewery has a Pacific Northwest style; each Tuesday, they put a new beer on tap that is part of a series called NoDable, which they use for research and development.

We’ve previously reviewed one other NoDa beer; Hop, Drop ’n Roll IPA, which scored a very impressive 93 points. It was a tasty IPA — certainly one of the best to come out of North Carolina in a long time. Today’s review focuses on Jam Session, NoDa’s pale ale. Brewed to not sacrifice great flavor for drinkability, Jam Session uses Maris Otter and Caramunich malts with a triple team of Centennial, Citra, and Simcoe hops. The beer comes in at 5.1% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 31 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

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Pouring issued up an average size, soapy head that quickly fades. The beer is an absolutely beautiful shade of golden-orange, and it’s brilliantly clear, featuring tons of bubbles that zoom to the top to support a remaining thin cover of foam. There are no particles or sediment, and lacing is good, leaving clumpy patches of thick suds.

The nose is well-balanced, but not boring with pungent citrus hops — grapefruit, juicy orange, and lemon peel. There’s some grassiness that sharpens things up. The malt backing is crisp, throwing off notes of grain, caramel, and bread. While the hops aren’t herbal, they do have a hop-tea like quality to them. The aroma does come off a touch sweet, which is aided by the ripe fruits delivered by the hops.

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The flavor very much follows the aroma; it’s hop-forward but not in an overwhelming way. The hops are fresh, delivering flavors of grapefruit rind, orange peel, lemon, and earthy grass, while the malts work magic in the background providing a crisp and gentle sweetness with caramel and grain. Jam Session is a crisp and clean beer, making its flavors known and then disappearing, leaving the mouth a bit dry and ready for the next sip. The finish plays out a grassy grapefruit bitterness coupled with slightly sweet cereal grains. The beer is light-bodied, with a thin, foamy mouthfeel.

As far as American Pale Ale goes, this one is a solid, no-frills can, and I mean that in a complementary way. It’s beer. It’s good, quenches my thirst, and keeps my palate intrigued. I love Pale Ale because the style tends to serve a purpose as a tasty everyday drink, and I would stock Jam Session in my fridge anytime.

NoDa Jam Session Pale Ale, 91 points. Price: $8.99 US for a four-pack.

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