Is Bear Republic Racer 5 worth all this fuss?

I've been looking forward to trying this beer. There was a frenzy of excitement on the beery twittersphere when word got round that some had landed this side of the pond, and you'd think from all the wet knickered beer geeks squelling about this beer that it's a messiah of a brew, a revelatory beer, nirvana for hop fiends. Well I can tell you now, it ain't.

What it is, is a really well made, tasty American IPA.

The colour is a bright clean gold, it looks good but the
bubbly head dissapears quickly and the bottle conditioned carbonation is a touch lifeless.

The aroma is... Actually a little disappointing? It smells good but I was expecting much more juicy hops. I think a big bottle might have faired better on its travels, although this is, as far as I know, relatively fresh.

The flavour fares much better.

It's initially sweet and slightly oily with a good whack of fresh and piney American hops, then a medium bitter finish with a nice layering of hop flavours: bitter orange, fresh yellow grapefruit, resinous pine, a touch of lemon and a slight rosemary herbyness in the aftertaste.

It actually gets better as it comes up from fridge temp and a decent pungent hop oil bitterness kicks in alongside a more citrusy hop flavour.

Is it better than most? Yes. Is it better than the best? I'm not so sure.

But it's pretty difficult to get over here, and longing certainly makes the heart grow fonder...

Now, when are they next shipping some over?

p.s. Interestingly on the side of the bottle it says "Real Ale is alive, Yeast is good", which made me laugh, then shake my head at my own depressing beer geekery.


  1. Never had it, but it does come with a massive rep!

  2. I love Racer 5 but I've never had a great bottle of it in the UK. About 3 years ago, The Rake got a few kegs over and it was sensational. I've been to the brewery and it's fantastic. I've had it in American beer bars - delicious. In bottles in Britain? Disappointing in comparison. The difference, for me, is a juiciness instead of that herby, pungency. And that makes a big difference! I still love the beer though and I still buy it whenever I can.

  3. It's probably not just a question of freshness in terms of age, it's also how it was handled on its journey here. Lots of physical movement and temperature variation won't do much for those volatile hop flavours. And don't forget it will vary from batch to batch anyway, even when fresh! Sounds like a Twissup in California is the only fair way to judge it ...


  4. It's an outstanding beer, in Locale. I have had it around the US, elsewhere than just up at the brewery, and it fades.

    I think Mark BBB is right, it's the way it's handled.

  5. Dean opened a bottle in Foleys the other night. I tried it, not sure how fresh it was, but for the amount of hype that came along with the beer, I thought it sucked.

  6. I must admit I was disappointed when they only had small bottles in Utobeer as I knew it wasn't going to be at it's best. That said, it was still a let down. From the above it seems as though perhaps the only fair way to try it is over the pond.

  7. Thanks for this post Neil and apologies for my long comment.

    I bought 3 bombers off BrewDog last year and it was delicious. A sensational balance of West Coast hop aromatics, a decent but not oppressive bitterness and really elegant grain. Really liked it so grabbed 6 more. All were great.

    When I saw the 330mls I grabbed 4 and was disappointed with each & every one of them. All had faded & become caramel-led.

    I really think moving beer about can do severe damage to it and have no doubt that it's even better superfresh in the US.

    So get to the US and drink lots & lots for QC purposes!

  8. I can believe that. I do sort of brush past that fact in the post, but without having tried a bomber (or keg) myself, it's hard to be definitive.

    I've said before that as a rule the larger the container the better hops will fare over time.

    Will have to try this beer again in a different format.

    Still, I can only judge a beer on how it is when I taste it.

  9. I'd agree with what Rick says. The bombers that were here last October were great. Unfortunately if left too long they do fade.