Black Racer | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

very good
107 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 107 | Ratings: 530
Photo of ckollias
4.21/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed this bottle in a Belgian Tulip glass.

A: Pours a dark blackish hue with some ruby highlights and an tan head frothy head that slowly dissipates down the side of the glass leaving a great trail and solid lace.

S: Hoppy bitter aroma with a raisin malt backbone

T: Tart and bitter hoppy flavor up front that mellows out a little and ends on the hoppy side of dry.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: Excellent brew – complex flavors and aromas and enough alcohol to make it interesting.

 504 characters

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.

 453 characters

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.

 1,223 characters

Photo of DIM
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

a: Dark chestnut brown; pours with a sticky, medium sized off-white head.

s: A nice combination of roasty cocoa and piny, pithy grapefruit.

t: Tastes as the smell suggests it would only more so. A surprisingly strong roasty char for some reason plays extremely well off the earthy, pithy citrus from the hops. There is a lingering charred pine tingle that I really enjoyed.

m: Heavy for an IPA I guess and just about right for a stout this size. Worked fine for me.

o: A style I tend to avoid, but I really took to this one. I think this drinks more like a hoppy syout than other Cascadian Black whatever whatevers I've tried. Regardless of why I liked it so much, the point is that I did.

 693 characters

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.

 847 characters

Photo of wvsabbath
4.24/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Serving Type - 22oz bottle

Appearance - Dark tan, black with a nice foamy, thick 1 inch head, tons of sticky lacing.

Smell - Piney, grapefruit hops, orange, smokey malts. A little cocoa and molasses, but not as strong as previous black ipa's ive had.

Taste - Starts out with a nice smoked malt profile, mixed with some sweet citric hops and sugars. Cocoa and molasses are prominent throughout the drink. Coffee and a licorice flavor add some boldness that works well with the orange and tangerine.

Mouthfeel - At first the tongue gets loaded with malts, cocoa and coffee. After a few sips the citric fruits come out on the palate, along with more malts and cocoa. Aftertaste is smoked malts, cocoa and citric fruits.

Overall - Very tasty and easy to drink. Has a unique flavor that other black ipa's don't have. The smoked malts and cocoa are a dominate flavor with strong citric fruits at the backbone. A nice, pleasurable drink that im glad I got to try. Bear republic keeps its rolling...

 998 characters

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.

 1,273 characters

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.

 1,289 characters

Photo of GilGarp
4.49/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber served cold into a goblet.

Black Racer lives up to its name in appearance. Black in color and with a creamy white head. It has good retention and nice lacing as it settles.

Aroma is nice and hoppy, fresh, and citrusy with a hint of the underlying dark malts. Very much similar to Racer 5 except for that last part.

Flavor is bold and bitter with a pleasant hop flavor and dark roasty malt base. It has good balance and doesn't get too bitter from the combination of hops and malt. A nice level of sweetness evens things out.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and nicely carbonated. It has good balance and depth of flavor to keep things interesting.

Overall a really enjoyable dark IPA. I figured if it was based on Racer 5 it had to be good.

 747 characters

Photo of Brutaltruth
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed form the bomber in a pint glass, this interesting black ipa pours a thick dark blackish brown with a nice tan head that dissipates to a thin foam with light lacing. Nose of heavy citrus, thick molasses, chocolate, bittering hops, and syrupy sweet malts. Flavors are up front with bitterness and sweetness as chocolate malts and hops make a play for the front. Rich citrus hop flavors of grapefruit and bitter orange mingle with molasses and heavy sweet malts that comes off extremely well balanced for such a heavy handed profile of hops. Smooth yet bitter aftertaste is lightened by crisp carbonation that lightens the mouth feel with sweet dark malts.
Intense and bracing.

A hop heads delight who looks for some balance to their brew with a malt backbone.

 772 characters

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.

 337 characters

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.

 529 characters

Photo of Chico1985
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've caught this a few times on-tap now, listed as 8.2% ABV...

Pours dark but not quite black, some translucence there. Thick beige head does stick around for the duration eventually becoming a cap, pretty nice lacing left.

Nose is pretty hoppy, lots of pine, fruit and resin with some roasted/chocolate in the back. Good but strength fades with time.

Taste is good, a decent balance between stout and IPA but leans more towards the hops. Lots of grapefruit, pine, slightly dank, some citrus and tropical there too. Big chocolate/cocoa powder and roasted malt back it up.

A bit high on the carbonation for me, some alcohol bite. Quite bitter.

Yet another good variation of Racer 5, though I'm not a huge fan of black IPAs so it's not one of my favorites. For the style it's good though, nice elements from stouts/IPAs.

 823 characters

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,

 561 characters

Photo of ONUMello
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Very dark brown with a one-finger tan head
S: Lots of pine hops, a bit of molasses and citrus
T: Matches the nose. Distinct pine initialy, then a fair amount of citrus, a touch floral and roasted malt to round it out
M: Medium-bodied with a nice crispness
O: Very distinct, especially with the pine. If I didn't see the color I would almost peg this as a full-bodied DIPA. I like it

 422 characters

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.

 528 characters

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.

 1,479 characters

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

 730 characters

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.

 654 characters

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.

 589 characters

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!

 784 characters

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.

 476 characters

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.

 327 characters

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.

 446 characters

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.

 794 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.