Bear Republic: Racer 5 (USA: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Apricot with a crisp frothy head that is just off white. The beer sparkles in a haze from not quite settling before the pour so some sediment is still free floating. Very low carbonation main body.  The head leaves a slight trail around the rim as the beer diminishes.

Nose: Fresh apricot, pineapple and custard cream biscuits. Shortbread as well. Slight gooseberry sharpness. The apricot seems more dried apricot on a deep lungful. Custard slices. Cream.

Body: Bitter hops and sweet peaches. White grapes, pineapple. Toffee sweetness. Solid in its bitterness, but never too strong. Elderberry or tart gooseberries.

Finish: Very buttery shortbread into growing bitter hops. Light honey. The bitterness really hits here and dries the tongue. White grapes again.

Conclusion: For some reason I always think this is a Canadian beer. It isn’t. It’s a Californian beer. I’m guessing neither place would appreciate the mix up.

So here is a beer of the old favourite style, the IPA.  The beer is very much USA style. Big and bursting with fruitiness. This beer comes in with a touch of sediment at the bottom to make it bottle conditioned, which may or may not make the CAMRA real ale fans happy. For me its welcome as it seems to bring a bit of extra thickness to the beer.

So this thing is apricot, bitter, fresh and fruity. It’s got a massive aroma, great range on the nose as well. The body is a touch simpler but balanced great. Its got a similar style to the Sculpin IPA in the fruitiness, but its touch thicker body makes a lot more grip for the apricot flavour to fight the bitterness To my mind this makes it work a touch better.

It’s probably the best apricot flavour based IPA I’ve had. Yes I have had so many good IPAs that I need to make my praise that specific.  It’s all in the balance. Too many IPAs ratchet up the bitterness without counterbalancing the flavour well. This keeps it just on the correct side of the razors edge.

Now as the curiously over specific complements earlier may have hinted at, I have had better IPAs.  Wipeout IPA and Hopwired for example.  However this is still a great beer. Tart enough to refresh, bitter enough to kick and sweet enough to enjoy. Even better the bottle conditioning has stood it in good stead on its long journey.

A beer you should race to get (ho fucking ho ho)

Background:  I first became aware of Bear Republic in Japan where an American Navy man at the bar recommended it is a true taste of home.  At the time I went for a Hair Of The Dog beers instead but it has always stayed on my radar since.  This was picked up at The Brewdog guest beer section and due to a problem with the new delivery partners took a damn age to turn up.