Beer Review 0090: Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA

You can’t help but love the motto of Bear Republic, brewers of Racer 5 IPA, widely regarded as one of the best American India Pale Ales in the world:

Respect life, don’t drink and drive
Make beer, not bombs
Real ale is alive

Honestly, there really isn’t much information about Bear Republic on their website. The brewery is located in Cloverdale, California, and they have a brewpub in nearby Healdsburg. They claim to use the choicest ingredients in their beer, and according to master brewer Richard G. Norgrove, “I feel home brewing is the laboratory where true advancement of beer styles is coming from.”

Their Racer 5 IPA comes in at a strong 7% ABV (alcohol by volume) and registers a tongue bending 75 International Bitterness Units (IBUs). The hops used in this beer are all of the ‘C’ variety: Chinook, Cascade, Columbus, and Centennial.

Racer 5 earned a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2009 in the American Style Strong Pale Ale category.

Pouring produced an average size head, soapy in texture with a lasting quality. After a few minutes, it faded atop a clear golden beer, with a very light sediment floating throughout. This is a bottle conditioned beer. The lacing was extremely nice on Racer 5; this glass will need a thorough washing when I’m done with it.

The aromas featured all the typical IPA notes but was very pleasant. There were big notes of citrus, especially grapefruit, and some pine up front. I noted a floral presence as well. This was balanced by some light malts with some general roasted scents and caramel. As the drink warmed, the pine note came through, almost erasing all the citrus.

On the taste, there’s pine in the initial moments, followed by a malty blast of caramel that lends some sweetness. The overall mouthfeel is crisp, while the finish comes on with some mildly bitter notes of grapefruit and pine. As the finish progresses, it gets more bitter and those 75 IBUs start to really come out, leaving a drying feeling on the tongue.

Racer 5 is a fine example of an IPA, good balance, good flavors, and extremely drinkable. This is one of the good ones, and if you’re in the mood for an IPA, I don’t think you can go wrong here.

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, 90 points. Price: $2.49 US for one twelve ounce bottle.


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