Black Racer | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

very good
107 Reviews
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Black RacerBlack Racer

Brewed by:
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.10%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by avaldivia on 07-27-2011

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Reviews: 107 | Ratings: 530
Photo of Flounder57
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass at the Avenue in Allston.

Appearance: This beer poured a small mocha head that reduced to a thin layer. It is a pitch black color with no clarity or bubbles seen coming up through the glass. Super nice mocha lacing on the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Roasted notes, chocolate, smoke, citrus, and resiny piney hops.

Taste: Same as above with burnt flavors, ash, and bitterness in the end. Pretty characteristic of black ales.

Mouthfeel: light camp fire notes, a little chewy, full bodied, and low to medium carbonation.

Overall: Pretty nice black ale. Another one to add to the lineup.

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Photo of shand
4.37/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black Racer has a beautiful pour - it pours a very deep crown with a massive mocha head that retains very well. The aroma is strong on the grapefruit hops, and the taste delivers on that strong at first, but also provides a nice chocolate and roasted malt finish. Very well balanced and composed. The mouthfeel is great, it's big and smooth, and the drinkability is fantastic. Yet another winner from Bear Republic. Their hoppy beers are truly some of the best on the planet. This beer is maybe a little more malt-forward than expected, but when the flavors work so well, I can't complain.

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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 Philousa
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This pours an abysmal black with a red tinge against the light. I catch some flakes suspended in the drink, though I don't see sediment in the bottom of the bottle. Either I got to this too late or they didn't do a good job in the filtering department. The creamy, tan brown head dissipates from one finger to a thin, even layer on top with decent lacing. Tons of milk chocolate aroma starts things out while this is still cold. Undoubtedly some black patent and chocolate malt in there. Pine sticks out like a sore thumb as it warms, with grapefruit and some rye spice poking out with a swirl. Smooth chocolate, almost like chocolate malt ice cream, starts the flavor profile, moving to caramel and cream. The bitterness is pronounced, as it should be, spicy, earthy, and citrusy. The earthiness comes through in a barkish, almost harsh type of way. The feel is middling, though more on the viscous side of the scale, while the beer prickles the tongue in a way an overcarbonated drink might. The finish is dry.

This is a fine Black IPA on the top of my list if it weren't for Wookie Jack.

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Photo of ocelot2500
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep cola color with an off-white head that leaves little bits of lacing.

Smells of roasted malts with some hoppiness to it.

Tastes of the deep roasted malts with hop notes throughout. Roasted malts lead off with some burnt sugar type notes and a little sweetness. Cocoa notes come through in the middle. Pine and grassy hop notes come through rounding everything out.

Mouth feel is medium with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Overall, I find myself enjoying this.

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Photo of Kendo
3.87/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured from the bomber into a tumbler-style pint glass. Body is black with a half-finger tannish head. Leaves some splotchy lace behind.

S: Chocolate malt and juicy citrusy hops with a touch of pine. Not terribly strong, but a good nose for this style.

T: Big on roastiness up front - roasted malt, chocolate malt, a touch of charcoal. Finishes with a tannic, woody bitterness. Earthy with some pine needles thrown in. Very bitter in the aftertaste (think pine resin and, if you can imagine aging a beer in pine barrels, I think it might taste like this somewhat). Alcohol was noted early, but after a few sips I got used to it and kind of forgot about it. In a lot of ways, that sums up this beer: I wasn't enamored with it at first, but after a few palate adjustments, it turns out OK.

M: A bit thin/watery. I wonder if a bigger malt foundation would soften that strong bitterness at the finish. Carbonation is light, making this one feel a bit creamy - though its lack of heft keeps it from getting there. Call it medium in heft, but be prepared for an argument, as in many ways it feels lighter.

O: Decent. I've had plenty that are better in this style - which I'm quite fond of - which makes this a bit of a disappointment from a brewery that usually impresses.

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Photo of brureview
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark opaque chocolate in a tulip with a 1 finger head.
A tulip is an excellent glass for this IPA- and most IPAs.

The suggested serving temp is 40-45F- which is too low for most beers, especially IPAs.
Some pale ales can be served at this temp. I served the beer at about 45F.

The aroma was a light vanilla-chocolate from the head. There was grapefruit in the aroma when I opened the bottle, but not in the glass.

The mouth feel is lightly carbonated-less carbonation works well in this IPA.

The taste was coffee with some lemon. It is not strong- I would have preferred a stronger taste, quite good nevertheless. Perhaps this lighter taste contributes to the general balance of the beer- which is very well done.

I especially enjoyed the finish- excellent bitterness- just the right amount with good hoppiness.

Overall, an excellent Black IPA, and very different than other IPAs. It's underrated and mellower than most IPAs. I especially like the balance of hops, bitterness, and aroma.

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Photo of spoony
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From a 650 ml bottle (dated April 3, 2013) into a tulip.

A-The brew was poured cool, at 38 degrees, and it poured heavy and syrupy. The color is virtually black and not much light makes it through the center. There is a fat one-finger head of mocha-colored foam that drops a cap quickly, but leaves nice lacing.

S-The smell is very reminiscent of an IPA with citrusy hops (mostly orange, some lemon), floral notes, and pine. A touch of spice, too. Underneath the hops is a milky-chocolate malt note. No char or roast here.

T-The taste is similar to the smell with lots of hoppy citrus flavors and a peppery, orange spice. The milky chocolate fades a bit as the brew warms and some caramel notes come through. A touch of bitterness from both the hops and roasted malts peaks out. Alcohol is well-integrated, but noticeable.

M-The brew feels heavy with fine, long-lasting carbonation.

O-I continue to have a hard time getting into Bear Republic beers. This is an assertive, full-flavored black ale, but something about this beer is off-putting to me. Perhaps it is the hops they use, which are impressive in strength, but balance strangely against the malts, in my opinion? Or perhaps it is the slightly heavy feel? Whatever it is, this beer (like Racer X) just doesn't turn my screws.

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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 jdense
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle enjoyed at home in tulip glass, March 2013 bottling date.

Black as night body, tan head, good lacing. Citrusy nose, minimal roast aroma. Taste is on the sweet citrus side, once again not a lot of roast, close to style. Medium mouthfeel, good effervescence. I like how they minimized the roast, too many breweries are a bit heavy handed. Easy drinking, I wonder how this is a bit fresher...

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.79/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured at The Top in Gainesville. Black pour with super thin white head. Aroma of dark roasted malt and pine hops. Pretty straight forward aroma. Flavor follows aroma exactly, buy with a thickness to the beer I was not expecting. Hops cut through the thick, somewhat chocolatey, malt making it pretty easy drinking. Nicely done black ipa, but outside of Wookey Jack this style can only excite me so much.

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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 hoody711
3.92/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

$6 for a bomber of Bear Republic anything is a sure thing. Hooray for black IPAs.

A - bomber into tulip. Thin head with a tan film on top of a jet black beer. Good lacing.

S - mostly mild fruity hops up front. Deep breaths yield roasty malts, a touch of dark chocolate. Definitely some booziness in there. I clearly have no clue what I'm talking about, but it's pretty good.

T - I'm getting mostly roasty dark chocolate. In the middle of each sip, the hops make themselves known, but they're in the background, just like the nose. A nice warm alcohol burn at the end.

M - not heavy and oily like I expected. It's not light, but it's somewhat refreshing for a big dark beer. The alcohol lingers but not too long. Sweetness of the chocolate really lasts the longest.

O - a pretty good black IPA, I guess. I'd like a more hoppy nose, and a more hoppy taste. Basically I would like a little more IPA in this blend, but it's pretty good.

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Photo of Pencible
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured a nearly opaque black garnet with moderate tan head.
S: It smelled like dry dark chocolate and some coffee with a little citrus hops.
T: It tasted like grapefruit and citrus zest and dark chocolate, with a little copper and espresso and honey. It had a clean bittersweet aftertaste.
M: It was thick with a little carbonation. Nice full body.
D: This was a solid black IPA. The scent was good, the taste was better, and the body was great. The finish was smooth with well hidden alcohol, so it was easy to drink. Yum.

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Photo of cvm4
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours dark as a cola with some light brown edges to it. Has a frothy light tan head with great lacing.

S - Pine hops, nuts and light malts.

T - Chocolatey hops, oddly enough, with big roasted malts and a bitterness throughout.

M - Just right for the style. Medium bodied and carbonation. Very smooth but yet robust.

O - It's really hard to go wrong with this style.

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle. Pours a pitch black color with an inch of khaki head. Lots of lacing. The aroma is roasted malts, sweet grapefruit, pine, some chocolate and earth notes. The taste is more of that sweet grapefruit and citrus along with roasty chocolate. Slightly bitter pine along with dark chocolate towards the end. Smokey, roasted malts at the finish. Mild alcohol presence. Somewhat of a creamy mouthfeel. This beer is a nice balance of hops and the chocolatey, roasted malts. Overall, a well crafted Black IPA worth seeking out.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.06/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at The Local Miami. Served in a Sweetwater pint glass.

A- Pours a mostly opaque black color with a 3/4 inch light brown head that bears great retention time before slowly winding down to a

S- Interesting aroma full of hops and mocha. Slightly musty with notes of pine, lightly roasted coffee and a tad of smoke.

T- Very different from other black IPAs I've had. The emphasis is mainly on the roasty malts than the hops though it is still bitter. The result is a more balanced black ale that's very straightforward in its execution and not very complex, though very drinkable.

M- Semi-bitey from the hops and mild booze. Medium carbonation and a fullish body.

O- A unique take on the Black IPA. Not as amazing as Bear Republic's other offerings but still quite tasty.

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed 5/27/13

Appearance: Despite the name of the beer, this is really more of a dark brown than black - pours with a creamy, tan head - fades to an interesting web of wisps, leaves a few spots of lacing but nothing exceptional

Smell: Roasty, lightly burnt, and some West Coast hops - roasted grains - some burnt, borderline charred notes, lightly vegetal, kind of smells like burnt popcorn - grapefruit and pine shine through the dark malts, hoppy, with a potency that actually seems to increase as it warms up

Taste: Hoppy chocolate and burnt coffee, basically - dark chocolate, baker's chocolate, cocoa, and burnt, dry chocolate malts - hints of burnt coffee - fleshy grapefruit and orange, with some rind - some vaguely tropical, hoppy notes too - some caramel malts, cooked bread, and burnt caramel - kind of balanced, in a weird way

Mouthfeel: Medium body, nice carbonation, smooth, with some chewiness

Overall: Did you know? Black Racer is made by harvesting the engine sludge that results from attempting to use Racer 5 IPA instead of gasoline.

This is an above average black IPA. It's not the best in its category, but it's interesting. I would have expected a more intense hoppy presence from Bear Republic. But the hops here are pretty good. My only complaint with this beer is the weird, vegetal, burnt popcorn-like aroma (which slightly impacts the taste). Regardless, this is definitely worth a try. I'd be surprised if this is a limited, brewed-once beer.

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Photo of AgentMunky
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a DFH signature glass. About six weeks old?

A: Moderately creamy/sparse head atop a black beer that is immune to light.

S: Hops! And nutty, smoky scents.

T: Beautifully balanced and well-made. Roasted malts are hugely dominant, especially on the lingeringly bitter aftertaste, but aside from the charred, roasty flavours, there is a subversive American hop element injecting a disconcerting citrus into the mix. Overall, it's really great.

M: Creamy and robust. I'm a big fan.

O: A wonderful beer that comes highly recommended. Interesting, drinkable, and -- most importantly -- tasty.

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Photo of gpogo
4.26/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A- Black. Tan head that drops to a foam ring.

A- Sweet citrus hops, orange, mango. Some weird smell I can't place smokey sortof. When it was cooler I got some roasty malt smells, but the hops have taken hold as it warmed.

T- Initial bitterness on the draw, piney citrus hop flavors. Some roast malt flavors. The bitterness sticks around into the aftertaste with some slight chocolate. Some light grassy vegetable hop flavor with a spicy hit in the aftertaste. Slight alcohol warmth.

M- Medium full and super smooth. Not crisp, chalky, but smooth. Medium carbonation that you know is there.

D- Super enjoyable brew, maybe not the best hot weather beer, but enjoyable.

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Photo of Oakenator
4.6/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown to black, but with some opacity when held up to light. Full finger of head and some lacing on the glass.

S: Hoppy, yet malty.

T: Crisp hops up front give way to a full malt flavor towards the back. Mocha flavoring comes through nicely. Well balanced and very enjoyable.

M: Generous hopping keep it somewhat lighter but this is still a very full bodied beer.

O: Really nice and hope to see this one more.

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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 Bouleboubier
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

(on tap at Monk's Kettle, SF)

A: dark brown hue....voluminous, sudsy-loose head, lots o lace

S: toasted cookie, sweetish roasted grains, and refreshing herbal/piney hops

T: bittersweet treacle-ish and a mellow bitter/spicy, citrus hop flavor.... tasty residual malt sweetness - leans more toward a rich malt flavor than most black IPAs.... mild-moderate floral-alcohol finish/aftertaste

M: remarkably clean after all.... attacks the palate initially with a semi-sharp hop bitterness, but washes out with a mildly-dextrinous residual finish

O: as far as "American Black Ale"s go, this is one of the more enjoyable I've had... much more malt-forward (which I love) but with more than enough hops to balance yet not go overboard

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Photo of scottfrie
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle into SN ipa glass.

A: Pours a dark cola brown with a large three finger, rocky, light tan head that took forever to fade into thick chunky film leaving streaks of sticky lace down glass.
S: In your face bright hoppiness. I get pine, grapefruit pith and slight mint.
T: Follows the nose, super fresh and bitter pine, leafy grass and citrus with a minty finish. Aftertaste sweet with fruit nectar and a tiny bit of deep dark roasted grain.
M: Medium body, clean, bitter, slick and oily mouthfeel, soft even carbonation. Drinks well.
O: One of the best most hop forward black ipas I've had. Could hardly tell this wasn't a normal dipa.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.06/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Not a bad price $7.99 for the bomber from Halftime beverage.

A - Well it's pitch black that's for sure with a 1/2 inch of fairly deep mocha head. If I didn't know any better I would think this is a stout.
S - Citrus and tropical hop sweetness mixed with some mild roasts and some cocoa poweder. It doesn't smell too roasty which is a surprise.
T - Balanced is the best way to describe it. Some citrus and piney hops, somewhat resinous clinging to the palate after each sip with a mild bit of chalky yeasts and a touch of roast. If anything I would say it could use more roast balance and give it more complexity but it's kind of good the way it is.
M -Smooth, hides the ABV well, a very well crafted Black IPA.

Overall it's a shame this is a limited thing it's a very smooth IPA with some roasty compliment taste. Nothing offense, or light about it just a damn good beer.

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Black Racer from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
3.92 out of 5 based on 530 ratings.
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