Bear Republic – Racer 5

Tasting: October 9, 2011
Style: IPA

Just reading tonight that Bear Republic is pulling distribution from a three states – and maybe more. As has been the story with other brewers — they just can’t meet demand. Brewers are choosing to distribute close to home or in more lucrative or influential markets. It seems that nearly every notable brewery is scrambling to increase capacity by building new breweries or forming partnerships. While these brewers are working through their growing pains — we’ll continue to see waiting lists for special releases and we’ll also see states that drop off distribution lists altogether. I was pleased to read that Founders has a newly operational brew house dedicated to brews like KBS. However, since 2012 KBS is probably sitting in bourbon barrels as we speak, consumers may not see the feel the allocation restrictions ease until 2013. All I can hope for is a day where I don’t have to have my name on a list months in advance of a special release or a day when I can walk into a New Jersey beer store and buy beers from the likes of Bell’s, Port Brewing, Russian River come to mind.

This is considered Bear Republic’s Flagship beer. Most notably amongst the hardware this beer has earned – it won the gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2009 in the strong pale ale category. It placed with a silver in both 2005 and 2006 at the same festival. Some basic numbers — 7.0% ABV and an IBU of 75 +. It uses the classic IPA ingredients. Crystal malt for a sweet pilsner backbone and hopped with the high alpha “C” hops: Chinook (alpha acidity (AA) of 12% – 14%), Cascade (AA of 4.5% – 8%), Columbus (AA of 14% – 16%) and Centennial (AA of 9% – 11.5%). I’m not sure if I have explained alpha acidity – but I’ll do it here and add it to my glossary (see links on right rail). Alpha acids are found in the glands of the hop flower. These acids will lend to the bitterness in beer. As a rule, the higher the percentage of these acids – the more bitterness it may lend to a beer. A hop can range from a mild Saaz at 2% alpha acidity to the robust Nelson Sauvin at 18% alpha acidity.

With the use of crystal malts you’d expect a light color and sweet caramel taste and that’s exactly what you get. Except the sweetness is balanced nicely with the grapefruit and lemon zest flavors of those potent hops. Very drinkable. Really if you are looking to try a good example of a California style IPA — this is a great example. 91 points from me.

Read my review of Bear Republic’s Hop Rod Rye Here

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