California’s Bear Republic Brewing has pretty good distribution in North Jersey, so it is easy to find and sample their beers. In fact, their distribution is so widespread, and Bear Republic beers are so easy to find, that I was positive I had reviewed one of their beers on Tilting Suds already, but I either cannot find the review, or beer has finally addled my mind to the point where I am recalling phantom reviews.
The Racer 5 India Pale Ale is a typical West Coast IPA, plenty of hops balanced nicely by the malts. The initial aroma is some grapefruit and pine from the hops and some bread from the malts, with the hops taking over in the taste. The 7.0% ABV is not noticeable at all. This is a very good IPA, 7.5/10.
The Hop Rod Rye is a different creature altogether. Brewed with rye malts, this beer pours a clear mahogany with a slight head which is retained to the bottom of the glass. The rye malts bring an earthy spiciness to the nose and the tongue, and the piney hops explode out of the glass. The rye malts and the hoppy bitterness try to outdo each other, almost like they are dueling to the death, and there is a mild brown sugar flavor that ties all of these flavors together. The 8.0% ABV is buried underneath all of these competing flavors, and is only noticeable when the glass is considerably warmed. The Hop Rod Rye is outstanding, 8.5/10.
As Bear Republic’s beers are so widely available, I have a tendency to skip them when I am making my selection in favor of beers that are obscure and/or beers with limited releases. That is a big mistake on my part, as Bear Republic is doing God’s work when it comes to brewing.