May 13, 2013

Bear Republic Black Racer IPA

California’s Bear Republic Brewing make a couple of my all time favorite hop-forward beers in their Racer 5 IPA and Hop Rod Rye. Both are premium examples of what can be done with the hop flower and how best to exploit its wonderfully fruity, piney and biting traits. So how does the brewery go about convincing me to fully enjoy one of my least favorite styles?

If any one brewery has the chance to turn me into a fan of Black IPAs, it’s these guys. What they do with their Hop Rod Rye is astounding. That said, the company has taken their knowledge of West Coast IPAs and crafted a beer that utilizes a healthy dose of crystal malt and roasted malt to bring us the 8.1% ABV and 75 IBU Black Racer IPA.

The result is a dynamic beer with mounds of fruity hops and just enough roast character to let you know it’s there without distracting the palate. The beer is well balanced and just like the other two mentioned, is quite tasty.


Black Racer pours with a creamy, light tan head atop the cola brown liquid. The beer has outstanding lacing as the head drops slowly.


Tropical fruits (orange, tangerine) mix smoothly with a light background of dark malt and subtle roast. There’s a decent bit of pine in play, as well, which keeps the fairly balanced nose leaning more toward the hops.


The roasty nature fo the dark malt comes out nicely here, but isn’t too assertive. The citrusy and piney nature of the hop blend arrives soon after and balances out the subtle char and caramel before fading through a moderate-to-high level of bitterness in the lasting and warming finish. The medium body gives the beer a bit more of a weighty feel to go with its darker appearance.


This is a pretty solid beer. It’s got a great hop character and a lower level of dark malt influence than I was expecting, which makes for an easy drinking and balanced beer. It may look dark and porterish, but Black Racer is all IPA. I’m not sure that I’m still fully sold on the style as there are more bad examples of it than there are good, but Bear Republic certainly do have themselves another tasty brew on their hands with this one.

Rating: 4/5

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