Black Racer - Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Black RacerBlack Racer

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very good

106 Reviews
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Reviews: 106
Hads: 509
Avg: 3.92
pDev: 20.41%
Wants: 14
Gots: 22 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Bear Republic Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  8.10% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: avaldivia on 07-27-2011

Black Racer™ blends Bear Republic's love of hops with the Pacific Northwest's appreciation for dark ales. Our pit crew brews this award winning ale which boldly defines a new frontier of flavors and always maintains pole position. Race to the Dark Side™.

Bronze 2011 Great American Beer Festival American-Style Black Ale
Gold 2012 World Beer Cup American-Style Black Ale
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 106 | Hads: 509
Photo of RickS95
2.16/5  rDev -44.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

It's dark brown, almost black and the head sort of resembles an IPA. A tan, meringue-like head that looks like a cross between a bad IPA and a creamy stout. I assume that's the idea.

Almost completely devoid of smell. I stuck my nose into the drink and only then did I pick up anything. Mostly pine, literally nothing else is there.

I've tried and tried black IPAs and I just don't get it. Not sure if it's an acquired taste, but similar to a kriek, it totally misses the boat for me. It's like two competing flavors that work well individually, but are complete disasters when put together. Some pine and some malt. They just don't work.

Some resiny pine and some char. They provide a bitterness, but not in a good way.

I give up on the style. I can't get used to it. It just doesn't work.

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Photo of t420o
2.91/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bear Republic Black Racer

Reviewed April 3, 2013

A- pour produces a 2 finger frothy mocha head with good retention. Beer is brown with chestnut hues. Good lacing. 4

S- toasty, chocolate, sweet, a little boozy, hops are very subdued. 3

T- too sweet, chocolate and molasses, biting bitterness that didn't play that well off of the heavy malts. Boozy. Would have liked more citrus and pine from the hops rather than just bitterness. 3

M- syrupy. Medium body. 2.5

O- I love Bear Republic, and until now hasn't had a beer from them that I felt was a "miss". This definitely missed the mark. I love Racer 5 and Racer X, but won't revisit this one. 2.5


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Photo of barleywinefiend
2.96/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured a deep brown with a nice white cap, good head retention with some spotty lacing and a nice ring around the glass

S: Light toast, chocolate, musty grains, Earthiness and pine needles

T: An initial moderate roast with chocolate, a noted musty grains with ablend of citrus and pine hop presence. The taste of this beer in no way reminded of a black IPA or CDA. I was expecting a more hop forward punch.

M: Medium bodied, well carbonated.

O: I love Racer 5 and I really enjoy a wellmade CDA. This is not one of them. The hops seem to have been muted, the roast was moderate but this beer seemed to be sloppy in a way and there was a weird, musty graininess that really had no pop or freshness.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.11/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Cost was $6.50. 8.10% ABV confirmed. It says brewed in Cloverdale, which I thought was strange seeing as Bear Republic is in Heraldsburg. Maybe I'm just not in touch with Bear Republic's operations as much as I should be. 1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard silver pressure cap served into a conical Samuel Smith's pint glass in me gaff in low altitude, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery.

Served cold, straight from the fridge in keeping with directives on the label. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a 5+ finger head of nice light khaki colour, good cream, good thickness, and good (6+ minute) retention for the high ABV. Body colour is a nontransparent solid black; opaque. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Appealing for a black IPA. Pretty much what you'd expect; there's nothing unique or special here.

Sm: Smells like an IPA. There're delightful pine and floral notes. Some oily hops, maybe even some nectary notes. I get no roast at all. A hint of dark malts. Some caramel. An above average strength aroma. No yeast character or alcohol comes through. I'm excited to try it.

T: Piney hop notes, hop oil, floral hops, caramel, and dark malts. Thankfully, there's hardly any roast. No alcohol comes through. No yeast character. Fairly balanced for what it is. Cotton candy/candy floss. Not a whole lot of depth of flavour here. Nor is there much complexity or subtlety. Just a decent merging of a hoppy build with a darker build. It comes off forced and unnatural. This is one of the better beers in the style that I've had, but it still misses the mark.

Mf: Smooth, wet, and overcarbonated. Decent presence on the palate. Too thick. The body is too full for the lack of diverse or deep flavour.

Dr: Drinkable and enjoyable, but not a great beer in the style. To be honest, few are. But Bear Republic brings a sincere effort to the table and it's not bad for what it is. Even at its pretty fair price point for a bomber, I wouldn't get it again. Hides its ABV decently. I'll finish this bottle, but it'll take me a while. It feels like it has no reason to be a Black IPA - they could just as easily have made an IPA and it'd be better. That don't bode well; the style of a beer should be motivated.


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Photo of ArrogantB
3.16/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle $6.99? Dark brown that is almost black but not quite. Aroma of dark malts, bit of citrus. Flavor is more dark malts and slight bit of orange, hops, meh. This sort of reminds me of the collaboration they did with Stone. I honestly expect more considering this is themed like Racer 5. Racer 5 is much better.

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Photo of Ego
3.2/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

bottle code:
04-03-13 (so fresher the hops probably would pop more but this was bought from a good store that has zero sunlight getting in)

basically black, kind of really a super dark ruby tone if you hold it up to the light, quick one finger of head, I literally turned around to change the channel on TV and the head was gone except an O-ring clinging for dear life up the sides of the perimeter of the glass, oddly
lacing is quite good, a pretty good looking brew

licorice and molasses, muted pine notes, dry cocoa... reminds a bit of dark Caribbean rum

taste etc...
pretty full bodied, slightly prickling carbonation, kind of chalky cocoa and almost ashy (in a good way), the hops are muted but noticeable under the choco blanket, the flavor of chocolate/mild coffee lingers for some time, you also get some warming in the gullet from the
kicked up ABV

I didn't love this beer. It was quite good enough to keep sipping but yet I never stopped and said "that pops" (you know, like buddy christ), so... I prefer this style to have a deeper flavor. This is not a bad beer by any stretch so I recommend trying it as it's take on the style might be more up your alley.

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Photo of beagle75
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint glass.

A: Slightly hazy, dark brown color with one finger of light beige foam head. Heavy lacing remains on the glass.

S: Restrained chocolate roast is balanced with equally mild piney hops. Weak overall, but showing potential. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins barely off-dry, with slightly scorched malt that otherwise lacks roasted qualities. Hops aromatics consist of a combination of floral herbs and grapefruit peel that are apparently muted and transformed by the proximate malts to end up as a flavor close to dark berry. Acidity is mild into the middle where malt is decidedly brown-cakey and slightly unctuous. Aromatic pine persists in the mildly bitter finish. No alcohol is detected.

M: Medium viscosity, slightly creamy and astringent on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: It is difficult now to avoid comparing new black IPA recipes to Firestone Walker's outstanding Wookey Jack--and in this case, the comparison is not a favorable one. Black Racer underwhelms the senses for such a strong beer at 8.1% abv. It is not a matter of errors, but rather a misbegotten role of easy-drinker being forced upon it. Racer 5 may be able to pull off such a role, but this beer seems caught in no-man's land.

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Photo of Brad007
3.46/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pitch black with a frothy brown head into my glass. Nice amount of lacing. So dark, that it compliments my glass.

There's just a touch of spicy hops in what otherwise resembles an imperial stout. Cocoa, cream and coffee. Hmm.

Flavors remind me of an odd snack that I enjoyed as a kid: potato chips and chocolate syrup. They tasted delicious together but they don't make much sense. Piney hops clash with stout characteristics.

Leaves an imprint of cocoa, coffee and cream at the back of the throat. Hops? They faded before long.

I may have some harsh words here but keep in mind, anything that's hoppy by nature should always be consumed as fresh as possible. I had a chance weeks ago to pick this up. That's my fault. It shouldn't deter you from enjoying this beer though.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle. Pours dark brown black with a big creamy tan head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is roasted chocolate malts with some rye notes.

The flavor is some sweet chocolate malts with a lot of acidic roast bitterness with some pine. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation.

Overall, a decent black IPA.

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Photo of ElSid
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The Beers of California


A: Black like the name with hues of deep brown in the light. Foamy coffee toned head with variable sized, persistent bubbles.

S: A vein of brown sugar and dark bread run through the nose with notes of flowers, citrus, and mint.

T: Shakable foundation of brown sugar and bread which attempts to support the dank nugget of floral, piney, and citrus hops. Strong bitter finish with a mineral-like edge in addition to moderate warming alcohol.

M: The usual medium feel and supporting carbonation. Hop oiliness gives the feel syrupy linger.

O: Obsessed with the IPA, the west coast continues to spew out variations to keep the public interested. This Black IPA lacks malt complexity and sports an average hop profile. Overall, a lackluster offering from Bear Republic.

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Photo of ryannosaurus
3.49/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Very dark, light tan head settles down quickly to a light lace. Intriguing aroma notes of caramel and hops, taste has a bold bitterness, caramel, burnt sugar, herbs and roasted grains. Mouthfeel is sharp and cleanly wet. Overall, a nice mix of hop bitterness with both highly roasted and some sweeter dark crystal notes. I'm good with the 70 IBU bitterness, the hop flavor is indistinctly herbal and not really engaging me. Aroma just keeps getting better as the beer warms. Not typically my favorite style, but well crafted enough I will certainly try it again.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.57/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a fading, light-tan head.
Nose shows piny and grapefruit hops. Also some roasted malt.
Flavours are more aggressive with roasty bitterness, sharp pine and grapefruit. Some alcohol shows too.
Too highly carbonated for this kind of beer.

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Photo of gillagorilla
3.59/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Max's (from notes).

A: Black with no lacing.

S: Sweet malts and roasty pine. Tiny bit of citrus. Smells like a barleywine.

T: Mainly pine and malt. A bit roasty. Kinda like an old IPA or bad barleywine. Nice flavor though. Malty with a sweet finish.

M: Slightly crispy.

O: Good, but not one of the better Racers.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.62/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz, bomber poured into a large wine glass, the Black Racer pours dark and with ruby highlights. Offers a decent cap of foam and some muddled piney notes on the nose along with some light chocolate notes.

Taste and body are a bit thin given the expectations of the pour. Touch of light chocolate, slightly coarse in nature though not overpowering. Feel is a bit chalky but balanced with a touch of sweetness.

Offers a nice deep hop aroma but is profundly lacking in bitterness in my view. A hoppy black ale indeed nonetheless. Quite solid and worth a visit,

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Photo of Sammy
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed on tap at the Tap Room. A story of Cascade, emphasizing the hop as opposed to roast. A sipper, as alcohol warming. Piney aroma. Some toothpaste taste, also apple cidery in the finish. 75 IBU Black with lace and some head. Not bad, worth a try, however not the best of the style.

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Photo of McStagger
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: murky dark dark brown. Hint of ruby on the edge. Not actually black. One finger head. Moderate retention. Brown khaki in color. Can't tell carbonation level due to color.

S: Toasty notes. Torched nuttiness, caramelized sugar. Doesn't overpower hoppiness, though. Grapefruit citrus, some evergreen. Still malt forward in the nose.

T: roast malt I the beginning. Translates to burnt nuts (pecans, perhaps) and charred grain. . Hoppiness finally breaks through in the end. Traces of tropical fruit come through. Finishes a bit prickly and spicy. Aftertaste of big grapefruit. Alcohol heat acce ntuates the hoppy side of this beer.

M: A touch thin and fairly carbonated. The lively carbonation detracts a bit from the roasted qualities of the beer.

O: pretty good. Not great though. Friend of mine plugged it as better than Woo key Jack. He lied through. Won't seek out, but would order again.

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.66/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle with my FW snifter glass
Notes from 01/16/2015

A: Dark chocolate brown edges concentrate into more of an inky black as you gravitate towards the body center. Not terribly viscous on the pour but opaque enough. Some lively dark tan suds froth over top and eventually settle out to a crown around the glass walls. Nice ribbons and chunky globs of lace get left in its wake.

S: Smells like I may have picked up an older bottle. More malt forward here with a bit of burnt caramel action. Lightly smoky on the roast with that scorched caramel presence and a touch of sweetened breads. Hops are coming off a bit stale to me. Laced with pine and herbals mostly. An old sample or really just not that great. Kind of disappointed either way.

T: Mostly sweet and roasty malts here. I get dark toffee with burnt toast and grains. Lightly charred and having a bit of spent coffee note to it. The beer brings through an astringent bitterness midway with some aged hop flavors of pine and dank herbal spice. Some moments of orange peel hidden in there as well. Alcohol is well balanced. Not a favorite in the style at all. A bit of a letdown for me really.

M: The body seems big for the style and heavier on the palate. Light cream texture to it with and even amount of carb to help spritz things up. Sort of astringent with the bitterness. Lightly drying in the finish with not much lingering action.

D: This was not the black version of Racer 5 I was hoping for. Hops were quite understated leaving mostly roasty malt and charred caramel. Chalking it up to being an older bottle. Will require a revisit if I happen upon this one again.

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Photo of JordonHoltzman
3.66/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

poured from a bomber into a large cognac glass. date on the bottle reads 4/30/2013
pitch black body, with no real head but some white bubbles that stick to the sides of the glass.
a great and well balanced aroma of dark roasted malts and coffee and citrus notes. the hoppy citrus notes however are not as prevalent as i imagined, perhaps because of the length of time I waited to drink it.
The taste also agrees that the hop flavors have faded a great deal. coffee notes, almost burnt roast.
mouthfeel is good, well carbonated.

Overall, I'm not sure what to think. Racer 5 IPA is one of my favorite IPAs out there, and had high expectations for this beer. I was planning on doing a taste test between this and Sublimely Self-Righteous, but think i'm gonna save that one for tomorrow. Maybe this beer had a different, and maybe better profile a year ago. I will have to try a fresher bottle and maybe re-review at a later date.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.67/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

650ml bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. I take it this is either new, or is seasonal in a season I've never been in California before, because I can't believe I've not had it otherwise.

Pours a deep dark nondescript colour somewhere between brown and black, with tinges of ruby at the edges. Head is wonderful: fine, mild and creamy in colour, pocked with bubbles that give it a liveliness. Body looks pretty tame for 8.1% ABV: quite light and very fast moving. We'll see how it holds up.

Nose is lively at first, with a strong, pungent citrus aroma permeating everything. This settles down once it's been swirled a bit, with the volatiles dematerialising quickly. There's still a dusky orange character, backed up with some faint nutty grain characters, and perhaps a little spiciness, although it may just be that zesty orange rind character. It was powerful when first opened, after it settles, it's decent, but it's not wowing me.

Taste is again, decent enough, but a little by the book. Mild entry with some hop presence running from front to back: but it's generic hoppiness, some bitterness, some citric bite and it doesn't develop as it goes along. In the end the hops just drop out, leaving an empty graininess standing awkwardly by itself. I think it's a little embarrassed.

Feel is fine. Light, but with some support.

Overall, it's a decent beer, really. But I was expecting something so much better from Bear Republic. Really, this should be setting the standard for a West Coast IBA, but it really feels like this is a phoned-in effort, and much more of a follower than a leader.

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Photo of babaracas
3.67/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a very dark brown, opaque in the glass, with two finger thick tan head, spray of lace down the glass. Smell: not much going on... rye-ish graininess, chocolate and grapefruit note. Taste: pine, lemon peel, milk chocolate note. Lighter medium bodied, creamy, lower carbonation, but nice. Nothing special going on, but was enjoyable.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from Belmont Station. It's been a long long time since I've had a Bear Republic beer.

Essentially black with very dark brown highlights, this beer is capped with a dense, light brown head with excellent retention and lacing. The nose is solid. Moderate pine aromatics with some citrus (valencia oranges) are present, mildly resiny with a nice pine oil-like pungency. Behind that, there is a rather pronounced malt complexity - creamy, roasted malt characteristics, a touch of charred malt and some dark chocolate. The combination of the hops and the roasted grain is intriguing, but this really is closer to a hoppy stout.

The palate opens with a moderate sweetness, grainy, caramel-like and unmistakably so, with a mild bitterness and moderate hop flavor. The juiciness from the hops coupled with the chocolatey sweetness from the grain really does bring to mind a stout with citrus peel. Coffee and cream are prominent, especially on the mid-palate. A little bit of a cola-like sweetness is present on the finish. Mildly sweet and with a moderate pine bitterness on the finish, this medium-light bodied beer has a fantastic creamy carbonation. Unfortunately, though, the palate is just a hair watery. While the alcohol is higher than it needs to be, it is not particularly noticeable. A solid effort.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.69/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

650 mL bottle poured into an oversized snifter. Bottled 4/30/13. Didn't check at the store. Doh.

Appearance - Black, but brown at the edges. Small khaki head. Settles quickly with some legs inside the glass.

Smell - Muted grapefruit and pine hop aroma. Resiny. Chocolate roast.

Taste - Chocolate and hop flavors seem to alternate. Hoppy up front. Grapefruit first. Chocolate kicks in with some sweetness and then hops come back, but more of a resiny pine flavor. The very back end is coffee malt bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Medium-heavy body. A little sluggish. Medium carbonation.

Overall - I'll need to revisit this when it's fresh. Not bad, but certainly not what it should be, I'd hope.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.69/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A-Pours very dark. Moderate light penetration. Slighter tanned head leaves plenty of lacing.

S-Surprisingly modest. Lacking the intense hoppiness I was expecting. Lots of roast and even some char. But its decidedly lacking in the hop category.

T-Shockingly similar here. Lacking the power I want from my greens. Bear Republic always brings the boom with the hops...except here. Strong roast instead.

M-Drinks easy, no booze. Pleasant carbonation. Semi-soft bitterness.

O/D-Sort of a disappointment. Anything else with the word 'Racer' has been an absolute stud. This one is the runt unfortunately.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.72/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours near black that turns a deep, dark, brilliant ruby when held up to light. The head is light tan and a finger in thickness with good retention. Strong lacing with great stick.

Smell - A strong mix of roasted malt and a citrus/pine hop character. Light cocoa notes. Traces of smoke.

Taste - Fair balance of light roast coffee and bittersweet citrus. Orange pith. touches of toffee and pine. While both the roasted malt and the hoppy citrus play prominent roles, I feel both come across as fairly bland; moreso the malt side, especially at warmer temps. The flavor struggles to find a real identity. It's delicious, but not ideal.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Semi-dry finish.

Overall - It seems this is a style that will promise forever, and never deliver. I'm always looking for that strong hop punch combined with a solid, well developed roasted malt backbone. I've yet to find it, and frankly I don't know that I ever will. I don't know that it's possible for those two extremes to cohabitate in the same beer. This one had the right balance, but missed the ideal strength of either end. It's not bad, but it's fairly muddled. I don't know that I'd give this one another go.

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Photo of Vec2267
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Dark brown to black, ample beige froth with large bubbles, nice lacing

S - Cocoa and char dominate

T - Cocoa up front followed by piney bitterness, subtle roast/char on the finish

M - medium, creamy but not syrupy

O - An interesting balance and interplay between the sweetness of the cocoa and bitterness of the hops and the char. This is an interesting diversion from some of the more common styles, but nothing compelling.

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Black Racer from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 106 ratings.