4.1AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
"Typical" tends to have a negative connotation to it, but sometimes it’s a good thing, like a "typical West Coast IPA." For a beer to fit that mold it should smell citrusy, taste hoppy, go down smooth, and really satisfy. If that’s the case, then Bear Republic Racer 5 India Pale Ale fits the bill.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. The label indicates this is a bottle-conditioned beer and big yeast chunks fall to the bottom of the glass. The color is a hazy light orange/dark amber color topped by a frothy white head which leaves generous lacing all the way down.
The aroma is very inviting with strong citrus notes and a touch of candy sweetness.
There’s just something about that first swig of a robust IPA. Racer 5 is about as full-bodied as an IPA can get as it immediately slams the palate with hop bitterness. It’s a combination of citrus and an almost sugar-like dryness (sugar is indeed dry - try eating a teaspoon of sugar and tell me if it’s refreshing). The hop bitterness lingers on the tongue for quite some time, with a pleasing candy-like sweetness.
What’s interesting about this beer is the finish. Some IPAs tend to be tart and bitter like lemonade, but Racer 5 has an iced tea-like flavor on the backend. It’s very refreshing and a nice change of pace. Another unique aspect to this beer is it’s one of the few IPAs I know of that is bottle-conditioned. I drank the beer both with and without the yeast and didn’t notice any difference in taste.
This would be an absolutely perfect beer if not for two minor flaws. Firstly, the robustness of the palate becomes a little mild towards the end. Secondly, the big yeast chunks get stuck on my tongue and in the back of my throat which is rather annoying. I don’t understand why the label seems to indicate they should be drank along with the beer (I’d avoid them next time).
For such a big-bodied beer, Racer 5 is surprisingly drinker-friendly. Maybe I’m biased because I’m a hophead, but I was impressed by how easily it went down. The mouthfeel is pretty much perfect as it’s not too intense, and surprisingly gentle if not a tad thin. This makes the beer chuggable, but I’d drink it at a normal pace in order to savor it.
At 7% ABV, this is right on the cusp between a regular and double IPA. The alcohol is non-existent in terms of taste detection. I could see myself drinking several of these in a row, especially if spicy food was involved.
There are many beers that have a lot of name recognition in the beer geek community and Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA is one of them. I’m actually a little sorry I waited as long as I did to try it, but glad I finally did. While not the best IPA or beer ever made, it’s still everything you want in a great beer.
NOTE: see my 2017 re-review here: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2017/07/bear-republic-racer-5-ipa-2017-re-review.html