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Bear Republic Racer 5 India Pale Ale. I’d like my Fruit Loops with some hops please!

February 21, 2010

IPA’s are the one style that despite being ubiquitous in the beer world I’m never sure what I’m going to get. Sure, I’m aided by the geographic origins of an English IPA or an American IPA and the specific characters that come with the territory. However, after having many of both styles I can assure you that all IPA’s do not gather nicely into two baskets. IPA’s are the golden child of the beer world. Try brewing a bad IPA and see how long you stay in business.

Case in point: Bear Republic Racer 5 India Pale Ale. After hearing many good things about this beer I picked up a bottle to celebrate Hoptopia’s January “I Believe In IPA” month. According to the website this beer is brewed with four American hop varieties, Chinook, Centennial, Cascade, and Columbus. It is brewed by Bear Republic Brewing Company and weighs in at 7% ABV and 75 IBU. Racer 5 is a decorated IPA having won medals from GABF four times over. Everything about this beer screams “West Coast IPA” from the brewery’s location in Healdsburg, Ca to the multiple west coast hop varieties. Let’s see what I got.

REVIEW

Racer 5 pours a bright copper/orange color right out of the big bomber bottle into my Dogfish Head Signature Glass. It’s 90% see-through, but not completely clear. A tall white head stands extremely firm atop this brew. The head is so firm that the last drop of beer actually sat on top of the foam and then ran off the side instead of sinking in. A swirl reveals this one has the legs of a dancer.

The aroma is very hoppy mixed with a malt cereal character. I’m getting a very strong cereal grain aroma. It’s very reminiscent of a sugared cereal such as Fruit Loops mixed with some hops. The hops are not as strong as expecting. They are fruity and citrus, but not”in your face hoppy”. I was expecting a stronger hop presence.

The flavor is quite bitter right up front. Still a strong cereal malt flavor, but not as much cereal as the aroma. The flavor is more of a earthy hop as compared to the citrus notes I go from the nose. There is a bready malt character here too. The aroma has you expecting big American style citrus and pine notes, but the flavor puts you on a flight back to England.

Lingering drying bitterness in the mouth. Racer 5 is medium bodied with a long, dry, bitter finish. As far as drinkability goes I wasn’t enthused with having an entire second half of my bomber bottle left. I would have been very content stopping after the first 12 ounces.

In a beer scene evolving to accommodate brewing creativity new styles are created every day. We must be patient and let some beers just be themselves. Bear Republic’s Racer 5 India Pale Ale isn’t genre-bending or style-crashing. It is neither American, English, or Imperial. It is, plain and simple, an India Pale Ale.

Appearance: 3.8/5

Aroma: 4.5/5

Flavor: 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: 3.5/5

Drinkability: 3.0/5

Overall: 3.76

Chance of Craft Beer Epiphany: 45%

Compare beer drinkers to a group of neighborhood kids. India Pale Ales aren’t the shiny new swing set that brings the neighbor kids over to play. They are more like Mom’s homemade cookies and lemonade that keep them coming back for more. Blue Moon and Sunset Wheat are the swing set, Racer 5 is the homemade pastry. It helps to have beers like the former to introduce people to “other beers.” Once they’re hooked have Mom bring out the Racer 5.

Racer 5 at Beeradvocate

Racer 5 at Ratebeer

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