I have been avoiding writing about this style for a while now. It’s pretty much everywhere and people seem to either love it or hate it. People that love it are often accused of lying about it to look like they are “with it.” Even though what “it” is, is scary, smells like a barber shop when the AC breaks down and tastes like spiked piss. Then this happened:
My TI: Flight!
Me: Kill! (Parade Rest)
My TI: Attention!
Me: Osama! (Attention)
Sorry about that. Back to your regularly scheduled programing.
True. Also discussed in this thread is if Whole Foods Girl is attractive with gauged earlobes. The short answer is, maybe.
I did no such thing.
Screw it. This is my review of Bear Republic Racer 5 India Pale Ale. Hat Tip: Sean, Tundra, Playa(Hate-ah)Manhattan, et al.
Ready your rotten cabbage, ladies.
For the record, I found this one as a single at Total Wine but I have seen it in numerous places like Fry’s(Kroger), Safeway and BevMo. Since I am in Arizona, this wide distribution is likely due to my location and thus cannot speak to how far their reach is. This isn’t the first time I have had this one, but it has been a long time. Since there are so many California brands in my area, there is a fair bit of difficulty in keeping up with all of them. Then there are the local brands which for the most part are as good or better, but the Arizona brewers tend to focus on styles that aren’t this extreme. The reason? When it’s hot out the last thing I want is an IPA and I don’t think I’m alone.
India Pale Ale tends to lose its potency over time. The oils and aromatics in the hops that dominate the style break down, particularly when it comes in contact with light. Yes, even if it is stored in a brown bottle. Because of this, I always recommend finding a local brewer that makes a good version of the style, for me that’s Four Peaks Hop Knot. Fresh beer is always better and somebody that makes it nearby will likely give you the best version available for the style. Don’t have a good one? The Stone “Enjoy Before” series is your best bet. It’s not always available, but they give you the date specifically because that is the date they recommend will meet their quality standards. The idea behind this style is they over-hopped the beer in England back in the day so it could make it to their English customers in India and still taste like a traditional Pale Ale.
I tried this once when I came across a Stone Ruination IPA at a gas station about a year ago. Note, I did not say Ruination 2.0, this was the original still sitting in the corner on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator at an Arco station. It was old, and quite frankly there is proof of concept as it tasted like a terrible pale ale. If you come across this one with the green label, avoid it.
Racer 5 is pretty good for the type of style it is. Without looking it up, I would guess it is the Cascade/Centennial Hop combination that I mentioned before. It’s made in the dry-hopped “West Coast” style that seems to generate the polarizing views. I’ve been drinking a lot of balanced or malty beers lately, so it was quite the experience and even cleared my sinuses. Very fragrant in the glass but it seemed to leave a dry, bitter feeling afterwards. There are a lot of citrus notes, and it is definitely not malty. Overall, it’s a good example of the West Coast IPA style so if this is the style you like, you will enjoy it. I’m not always up for it though. Bear Republic Racer 5 India Pale Ale: 3.2/5. Other good examples include the aforementioned Four Peaks Hop Knot. Of the nationally distributed brands Sam Adams Rebel IPA, Dogfish 60 or 90 Minute IPA, Stone Ruination IPA 2.0, New Belgium Ranger IPA, Elysian Immortal IPA and if you have Avery in your area, most of their versions are very good as well.
The alternative is finding one that pays homage to the traditional English version. Oskar Blues Pinner IPA is a good example. They don’t list the hops used on their website (surprise!) but I believe they lean heavily on traditional English hops. Interestingly enough, they were going for something else entirely when they made it. This one is very light, and it does not have a lot of body to it but it does taste more malty than what one would normally find from this style. The head in the photo disappeared rather quickly but to be fair, this is something I have found in all this brand’s styles.
I will say this one is almost sweet compared to Racer 5. Oskar Blues Pinner IPA: 3.2/5. Another version to consider is Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA, and if you look closely in the import section at Total Wine you will find actual English IPA from time to time. Not many other examples from the US come to mind.