Black Racer | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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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: 529
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 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 SHODriver
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured into a nonic pint to a deep black with a finger of dense light tan head that retains well with good lacing
S: smells of citrus, pine and earthy hops with the faintest hint of roasted malt
T: citrusy hops with grapefruit and orange flavor with a bit of roasted malt profile. slight pineyness and a touch earthy. swallow brings a blast of oily and resinous hop flavor with a bit more roasted malt and a slight coffee/chocolate
M: lighter side of medium on the palate with slightly prickly carbonation. a bit dry on the finish but the oily hops coat the palate as well. interesting
O: looks good, tastes good and smells good. this beer is a real winner with a lot of hop flavor but the dark malts could have stood to bring more flavor into the mix than just performing a color shift.

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

22oz into a tulip. Pours a deep coffee brown/black w/ a big tan head, good uniform lacing.

Aroma is lots of pine and citrus with just a hint of roasty and chocolatey malt. Relatively subdued.

Taste is more pronounced, but not much better defined. Orange, grapefruit and piney hops serve as a counterweight to a fairly neutral dark malt base. There's just a touch of chocolate and roast, but it doesn't stand out as it does with some other ABAs. If I close my eyes it almost tastes like a regular IPA.

Mouthfeel is balanced and medium-bodied.

Overall a good enough beer but not in the same league with some of the better American black ales out there.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: black, tan colored head, plenty lace.

S: some pine, citrus, roast and chocolate.

T: pine and bitterness, mild citrus, chocolate, roasted malts, coffee and flowers.

M: medium body, low carbonation.

O: nice ABA with pleasurable pine notes. Original racer definitely better, but this is good.

Thanks Alex!

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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 BlurryVisi0n
3.99/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Completely dark brown, some might say black. The head an easy tan color rose to maybe 1/2" off the body. Settles real quick after just the first sip. Sticky lacing on the wall of the glass.

Smell:You smell and you would definitely like the light sugar-caramel scent. Comes off a little piney.

Taste: Definitely has IPA qualities, floral and gently bitter. malty and has a smoothness to it that is just awesome. Has a sweetness to it feels of light molasses and little bit of citrus.

Mouth: What lingers really is a roasted maltiness, the glass down and only thing that can tame the taste is a slice of cheddar.

Overall: I bought this on chance and definitely money well spent. Thank you Mike at Superstar Beers, until next time. Salud!

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Photo of Jimmys
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

bomber into SAVOR snifter. cant find a bottled on date.

A: very dark brown body. head is off-white and frothy. good retention. great lacing.

S: fantastically fresh American hop aroma works with a rich malt presence. dark malt.

T: roasty. a little astringent. tobacco and a bit of smoke in the middle of the drink. much more malt here than indicated in the aroma.

M: mild carb on a medium/full body.

D: very tasty Black IPA. get it fresh.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bomber, bottled Jan 21, 2013. Muchas gracias to doktorzee for carting this back from Cali for me.

This beer pours a very dark mahogany-tinted brown colour, with three fingers of puffy, rocky, and creamy beige head, which leaves some lovely dense treeline lace around the glass as it slowly melts away.

It smells of roasted, somewhat charred caramel malt, bittersweet chalky cocoa, aged citrus rind, vegetal pine hops, and some mild spicy pepper notes - which make it hard to shake the idea of mole sauce. The taste is medium baker's chocolate, toasted dark bread, kind of musty, fruity citrus, last autumn's fallen pine combs, a twinge of cold coffee, and loitering vegetable greens. No earthly sign of that 8 points and change ABV.

The carbonation is lightly frothy up front, and quickly settles to a pleasant lilt, the body a sturdy medium-heavy weight, the dark ale really delivering here, and mostly smooth amongst a wee clamminess. It finishes quite off-dry, the judicious chocolate malt kind of throwing its heft around, while the hops maintain their pithy holding position.

A surprisingly malt-forward example of an ABA, especially coming from this brewery. Not a bad thing per se, but I was kind of hoping to see how these guys approach this hybrid style with their usual arsenal of hopitude. In the end, a decent, mildly hoppy dark ale, with a boozy punch that you sure don't see coming.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz, March '13 release
5oz mini snifter

A: Pours a nice dark brown color. Layer of tan head. Some lacing sheeting. Pretty BIPA.

S: Roast. Chocolate. Hops. Mostly pulling piney earthy hops over the really juicy fruit ones.

T: This is really good stuff here. Up front you get nice pine like hop character. Bitterness isn't too aggressive. Then you get the meshing of the chocolate and roast character. The malt bill isn't too thick and still lets this drink like an IPA more than a hoppy porter. Dry finish.

M: Medium bodied.

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Photo of lsummers
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured on tap a pitch black with a two finger light tan head. Sticky lacing that clings.

Smell is pretty well balanced with some nice roasted grain and piney citric hops. Baked goods and fresh grassy notes.

Taste is roasted oats and nutty brown bread with that piney hop forward bitterness. Ends on a burnt brown sugar sweetness.

Mouthfeel is fairy round and sticky, still light enough to not weigh it down to much.

Overall this is a great example of a black ipa. Reminds me of some great porter qualities mixed with that hop sweet bitterness we all love. The blend of qualities is very well balanced.

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Photo of micromaniac129
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a brown black with garnet highlights if you hold it to a light. the head is beige and a bit small but it lingers on for quite a while and leaves generous amounts of lacing as it fades.
The aroma is fantastic. Richly aromatic with grapefruit and citrus hops. Floral hops add depth to the aroma which can be detected far from your glass.
The strong hop bouquet pairs well with the taste. It tastes as it smell with a rich and deep hop character. Citrusy hops and floral hops make for a fantastic taste and malts which played a minor roll in the nose are up front and in your face.
malts had a rich roasted taste with hints of molasses and licorise.
The feel is thick on the palate and slick and syrupy, I didn't dig that part. It's only mildly bitter which makes for an easy drink.
A well made well balanced beer thats easy to drink.

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Photo of mactrail
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The aroma is really appealing and different. It even smells dark, with the burnt sugar scent mixed with piney hop aromas. It makes me think of roast pumpkin and vanilla. I like this for being less hop-dominant. They call it an IPA, but I think it's correctly categorized as a Black Ale that happens to be pretty hoppy.

Quite dark, of course, with a handsome beige head. Pleasantly sudsy in the mouth. A little sharp and slightly slick. Huge nose of flowery and piney hops. Somewhat fruity, but no single flavor stands out. A little on the dank side but a more open and clean flavor for the most part. The touches of toffee, charred grain, and pineapple upside-down cake add to the complexity. Substantial bitter aftertaste, finally. From the 22 oz bottle for $6.59 at Baron's Marketplace, Point Loma Blvd.

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Photo of nmann08
3.82/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served from a 22oz bottle.

Pours a dark brown, almost black with an off-white thick head, great head retention.

Smell wise, pulling out molasses, some fruit, pine smell from the hops. There is an interesting smoke smell that is coming through, which I usually enjoy, but this seems misplaced.

It starts with malts, almost sweet, then turns into a bitter piney taste leaving a lingering smoke aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is fine.

Overall, this is an OK representation of the style. Its good, but so many better examples of better American Black Ales out there.

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Photo of Dope
4.09/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No bottle date but released fairly recently.

A: Pours a very dark brown, almost black pour. Big, fluffy light brown head. Head fades slowly with great retention. Almost solid walls of lacing left behind. Excellent.

S: Lots of pine and grapefruit with a bit of resin. A hint of chocolate but the hops rule here.

T: Again with the pine, resin, and bitter grapefruit. Roasted malt is more noticeable here but still mostly obscured. A little bit of chocolate and char tries to battle it out with the bitterness. Wave of bitterness in the finish. More pine and resin mainly with some cocoa. Lingering resinous hops in the aftertaste.

M: Medium bodied, unremarkable.

O: Nice black IPA. A lot more balanced than your average Racer 5 or Racer X but still the roasted malt barely has a chance to get going. At the same time, doesn't have quite the sharpness and quality of flavors that I get from something like a Racer 5. Not very bitter either. Good but not great. Feel like it's missing something. I still enjoyed it plenty, it's just hard to follow up the act of their other hoppy beers I think.

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

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a very dark, almost black coloring with ruby highlights around the very edges and a thin, filmy, light tan coating of surface head. Aromas of roasted hops, resiny and slightly charred, and a touch of tropical fruit sweetness. Flavors of dark, sweet malt in the backbone, both fruity and a touch of molasses, with a resiny, bitter, slightly fruity hops overlay and a kiss of smoke and roast. Very balanced, on a full, smooth body. Tasty brew. The aftertaste has smoke, bitter hops, and roast, as well as a touch of chocolate. Very layered and dynamic. Slightly bitter, roasty finish that lingers long enough to entice more drinking.

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Photo of flexabull
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep dark black color with a very nice light tan colored head.

Aromas are of roasted malts and hints of pine needles.

Taste is malty up front, roasted malts, cocoa beans, and light coffee. Finish is lightly bitter, with pine needles, and mineral hoppiness.

Mouthfeel is crisp and clean, with decent body.

Overall, a pretty nice Cascadian Ale, but I'd like too see more hop flavors. Good beer, but second tier compared to others in the style.

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Photo of Zorro
3.92/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Clear black colored beer with a tall light brown colored head.

Smells strongly hoppy with scents of pepper and pine with some carrot and smoke.

Starts out mildly sweet with a malty flavor of mostly patent malt. Medium bitterness with a taste of carrot and onion. Pretty much an Imperial IPA with Dark malt added.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall and OK beer, Onion flavor doesn't belong in this style though.

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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 CommanderOfAwesome
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2013 bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a deep dark crimson black with excellent 3 finger dark khaki brown head.

S: Sweet dank citrus hops. Tropical fruits a plenty. Aroma is heavy on the hops.

T: Dark chocolate malts, with some nice sweet fruit finish. Pretty sweet with a bit of a piney finish.

M: Smooth, medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Getting chocolatey sweet finish.

O: A very solid BIPA that I would love to be year round. Doesn't have the hop bit bitterness that racer 5 has, but this is a solid/fantastic BIPA offering.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours an almost opaque super dark crimson-brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, burnt cocoa, and subdued hop aromas. Taste is much the same with char and citrus zest flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Dogfish Head pint glass. Pours a very dark ruddy brown with a fine one finger light tan head with great retention and lacing. Nice lightly herbal, piney hops, hints of malt and citrus. Flavor follows, with piney, citrus hops, light and toasted malt very well balanced and integrated. Lingering citrus hop and light toasted malt finish. Medium body with light creaminess. A somewhat understated black ale, but the mellow balance of the hops and toasted malt is very nicely done. A great tasting alternative from some of the more assertive hop-forward black ales. The hops are pleasantly fresh tasting. I like the mouth scourging hop bombs, but I will definitely buy this again too.

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Photo of IronLover
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Totally black color. Poured with a short beige foam that quickly reduced to a wispy cap. Slighlty pungent citrus hop aroma with graint, charred dark malt and coffee aromas in the backgrond. Truly amazing that these two aromas can shine through in the same ale. Pungent citrus hops up front with dark malts beneath. Flavor quickly rolls to ripe grapfruit only to transition to charred malt and coffee flavors toward the end. Finishes with a bitter, black malt and citrus hop aftertaste. An overwhelming ride for the taste buds.

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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 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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Black Racer from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
3.92 out of 5 based on 529 ratings.
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