A Bitter Bite Without Imbalance
A Review of Racer 5 IPA by Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Posted on 6/23/2011 by Chops
These days it frightens me whenever a brewery takes the time to label an IPA as aggressive. There is an unfortunate trend in the microbrew world right now where breweries seem to be in an unspoken competition to create the most insanely bitter IPAs they can imagine. This is not a good thing and will often destroy a beer. IPAs are supposed to be hoppy and bitter. There's very little mystery behind the style and there is no need to out-hop the competition. So here I am about to embark on Racer 5 journey, billed as ''an aggressive styled IPA'' from a brewery whose motto is ''Bigger is Better.'' Fingers crossed, please don't be that beer.

Racer 5 is a really nice looking IPA with that classic golden tone. I'll admit that the aroma made me a bit nervous. There is a lot of hop sting on the nose and you can barely make out the citrus undertone. It smells much stronger than it's 7% ABV and actually borders on imperial territory.

But something magical happened with that first sip. Bear Republic completely caught me off guard with a savory brew. Racer 5 certainly has an aggressive quality, but there is no sign of competitive imbalance. The hop flavors are big and strong right off the bat, but are not overtly bitter. You catch a lot of the citrus underbelly in the middle ground, then the finish is surprisingly mild and dry.

Racer 5's hook is definitely the mouthfeel, which has an incredibly steep slope. Huge up front with a fast dissipation. It's actually pretty cool, the beer equivalent of doing a shot. I completely see now why Bear Republic bills it as aggressive. In this particular case, the warning applies. This is not a ''holy hell, please get this horrendous taste out of my mouth'' aggressive. This is simply a ''prepare yourself for a bite'' aggressive.

Overall, Racer 5 is a very nice IPA, but is certainly more hoppy and bitter than average. Hops heads will really appreciate this beer and love it's unique bite, but I doubt fans of sweeter beers would enjoy it. Novices shouldn't come anywhere near this beer. The aroma alone would make their knees buckle. I definitely recommend trying Racer 5 if nothing more than to see what resides on the more bitter edges of the spectrum (for standards that is, not imperials). It's the beer you want when you crave that hop sting.

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Racer 5 IPA by Bear Republic Brewing Co.
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