I'm Richard Norgrove from Bear Republic. Ask Me Anything.

Discussion in 'Ask Me Anything' started by Racer5Brewers, Apr 30, 2020.

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  1. Karl_Ejnar

    Karl_Ejnar Initiate (0) Apr 19, 2020 Denmark

    I am going to brew a bohemian pils, in the strong and bitter end of the scale with a twist of Sorachi Ace hops in the late hop and dry hop additions. I use Saaz all the way from bittering to dry hop, and would like to hear your opinion on a good ratio between Saaz and Sorachi in the late additions, so the Sorachi will not overpower the Saaz aroma and flavor?

    Kind regards
    Karl Ejnar, Copenhagen
  2. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    We have a distributor for TN, but they don't take Hop Rod Rye...
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  3. BrianMcBride

    BrianMcBride Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2019

    Hello Richard!
    Big fan down here in San Diego. Curious why I never see Racer X? Is it only brewed at certain times of the year? Maybe the distribution radius doesn’t include SD? Do you still brew it?

    Brian McBride
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  4. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    Yes... Ryan works at our Rohnert Park Pub. He is a staple of our bartender crew.
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  5. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    Thank you for the recommendation...
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  6. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    We hope to see you come back thru and visit us again... we have a new pub in Rohnert Park and the county could use the tourism when this all passes.
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  7. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,552) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Richard, thanks for participating!

    I am a homebrewer and one of the challenges of a homebrewer (and commercial brewer too) is ‘managing’ hops within the brewery.

    Below is something I posted in a past BA thread:

    But the variation of hops from crop year to crop year (and hop farm to hop farm, hop harvest time (early harvest, late harvest), etc.) is where the skill of the brewer comes into play.

    There is a great discussion on pages 239 – 240 of For the Love of Hops by Stan Hieronymus where the headbrewer of Bear Republic (Richard Norgrove) mentions how he makes a consistent beer of Racer 5 IPA given that hops vary with the location they are grown, the particular year’s crop, and other variables. His last quote is revealing: “So, how do I make Racer taste the same when hops change? That’s what makes it craft.”

    Can you please provide further insight here? How can we brewers know how to best utilize specific hop crops in our brews? I have attended various presentations on the topic of hop evaluation at a number of National Homebrewers Conferences (now branded as HomebrewCon) but how do I ‘translate’ rubbing, sniffing, etc. of hop pellets to understanding how a hop product will express itself in a finished beer (e.g., after boiling, after the fermentation process, etc.).

    Thanks in advance for helping me to be a more consistent brewer.

    #47 JackHorzempa, Apr 30, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
  8. t420o

    t420o Initiate (0) Jul 16, 2009 Colorado

    I’m from CA (lived in CO for 4 years now), but Bear Republic was one of the breweries that got me into craft beer about 12-13 years ago. One of my all time favorite beers is Hop Rod Rye. Do you still brew and distribute this beer? I haven’t seen it around in a very long time.
  9. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    Freshness is really the reason why these smaller craft breweries are opening up all over, that being said we ship our beer out within a week of packaging. There is just so much saturation in the market that it makes it a challenge as a west coast brewery to get fresh beer out to the east coast.
  10. t420o

    t420o Initiate (0) Jul 16, 2009 Colorado

    Haha, didn’t see this before I posted. Same question! Love that beer so much

    edit: would be curious about Red Rocket also.
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  11. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    Hop Rod has been moved to our legacy series, so we don't produce it year-round.
  12. Rajaholick

    Rajaholick Initiate (162) Jan 9, 2011 Minnesota

    Thanks for creating racer 5 and hop rod rye, both beers we're instrumental in developing my craft beer taste!
  13. charlesanaheim

    charlesanaheim Initiate (67) Apr 16, 2018 California

    Good morning Mr. Norgrove,

    First and foremost, thank you for doing this AMA.

    I would love to ask you a little about your collaboration project with Charbay Winery/Distillery assuming that there is not a NDA in place.

    1. Were the beers you supplied the same kinds as the ones you bottle or was it a contract brewed recipe?

    2. Do you mind sharing how many gallons of beer you supplied in what styles?

    3. What is your opinion on distilling ready made beer instead of the traditional mashing/fermentation followed by distillation?

    4. In your opinion, how much of the price tag $399/750ml of Charbay Hop Flavored whiskey is influenced by having to purchase beer from a third party instead of mashing/fermenting their own?

    5. If Charbay release III is distilled from your pilsner, how is the end product so hoppy?

    6. Why do the hop flavors fade in IPAs/pilsners but not when distilled?

    7. Why do you think other distilleries do not pursue this beer-distilled whisky style?

    8. Why do the few that do pursue this beer-distilled whisky style often end up with a bad product?

    Thank you kindly for all this.
    #53 charlesanaheim, Apr 30, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  14. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (9,804) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    Racer 5 and Hop Rod Rye were once common here in NW Washington. After the trademark kerfuffle with Central City over their Red Racer beer, I gave up on BR beers in favor of the smaller, local (although based in a whole different country) brewery. It seems others have as well, as bottles and draft of BR have become nearly non-existent around here.

    Are still satisfied with the steps you took then? Would you like a do-over?
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  15. Icedraisin

    Icedraisin Initiate (0) Oct 18, 2019

    Ask anything? Yay!
    I'm a mead guy, but I think this question will transcend product: When making mead, the temperature seems to be a factor (maybe just due to the variety of yeast?)--am I supposed to be monitoring ROOM temperature, or the temperature of the MEAD?
    Nothing but love,
    Bastard Jeff from Seattle(ish)
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  16. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    The world of beer is changing so fast... so think of this... Covid hits and you loose 100 percent of your draft business, you see an uptick of your Off-premise sales... (stores) by say 18-22%. Draft sales account for say 40%of my overall business total... so we have a net loose of say 20%... then throw in California's strict guidelines, and local heath dept stepping into your mfg facility, which was good so we had quickly adjust to social distancing guidelines to get the beer flowing again... and its been a crazy ride. The Bear also had to furlough 65+ people from our Pub\tasting room operations, and figure out how to do to-go food and beer at light speed. The supply chains challenges for ingredients, cans, glass, and hops all strained. I could completely understand why small independent brewers like myself are going to take big hits and losses. I am so glad of my Fathers/my partners... early days work on establishing Bear as a regional/National brewer interms of distribution, for our packaged product. The newer model is to forgo this old way... and go direct. The scary part is as local bars and restaurants reopen, they will be going back to those small brewers with there hands out demanding credit for old stale beer. After all Beer is liquid bread... I could go on and on... I am glad I have distribution partners who will help shoulder that burden and Liability together...but things are going to change, and my big challenge will be navigating these new uncharted territories.
  17. warrendietrich2001

    warrendietrich2001 Crusader (716) Feb 13, 2013 Nevada

    I also ruined a dinner at Cyrus by drinking too much at the brewery before dinner. Stayed at Hotel Les Mars my wife says we had a nice time. All I remember of that trip is how much fun I had at the Bear Republic!
  18. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    The world is become more and more hyper local, and It think its going to very hard for newer brewers to establish a National Presence... remember much of the appeal of hpyer local is its freshness and rareness... so to expand is very much counter to that approach... hope that makes sense..
  19. eppCOS

    eppCOS Poo-Bah (2,003) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado

    Thanks for the perspective, Richard; I hope BR thrives in the long-term and here's to the next in-person pint in Healdsburg! Love that town, and we stop at The Bear every time we're in the valley. Such a great community spot.
  20. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    Ok as the Market is demanding... we have started to new series of Brews in our 16oz can format, The Challenge Series... and IPA driven, Hop Driven series... designed to educate folks that we make more than just Racer 5.... after all we help create the category of West Coast IPA. This new challenge series is race inspired, and allows the brew team to explore all elements of new IPA's.... ie Mango IPA... what is that? when I started if said you were going to a Mango Milkshake IPA, with no Mangos in it... you would be laughed out of the bar... did I say I was old school....
    Second series is the Factory5 series... same ideas on exploring styles but we have no limits here...
    FYI... check out all the artwork for these series... Most People don't know or realize I have done all the logos and graphics work for Bear since day one...

    Lastly... look for a Beer called Bear Necessities coming your way... in a throwback package to save money and create a value beer/brand for folks as I think times will be tough for awhile. I brand that you can support your local fav priced to compete with the Global Big guys... but keep your money local... Think Generic Packaging...IF I ever figure out how to post a picture I will soon the beer and Packaging are off for approvals now...
  21. bauers

    bauers Disciple (399) Feb 6, 2011 California
    Society Trader

    Richard - I loved all the single hop ipas you did at the pub in Healdsburg (the "rebellion" series, iirc the name correctly.) I'm wondering if doing something like that in cans released only at the Rohnert Park pub might get some of the crowd who like to get those limited releases....

    I'm a big fan of Cafe Racer - one of the best "West Coast" TIPAs around. I haven't seen any bottles of it in the Monterey area... but hoping that you have a distributor down here I could ask.

    Many thanks for doing all the great Bear Republic beers I've enjoyed over the years!
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  22. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    No we care about Colorado for sure... we keep being told over the years is that its harder and harder to break back into Colorado. Our Distributors do what they do, but as the years have gone on they push back to the brewers to provide more and more support in forms of discounts, sales, incentives..."Sales people in the Market" after that there is not much money left to work with... also with the Hyper local markets now... this new approach by self distributed brewers dictate that the beer be days old,.. not weeks old...and its fair to say that this gets used against us in markets (or Works against us) as the beer travels further and further away from Cali. I don't know what the answer is... but to ask if you see it buy please... because it is getting rarer and rarer... Chris has so many great options at Falling Rock to choose from locally...
  23. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    cheers and thanks for the questions... lets have a virtual pint soon. "ZOOM".. as we plan a Hang out maybe when this forum comes to a conclusion...look for it soon
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  24. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    ok... lots to try and answer... RacerX has taken a back seat over last several years to many other double IPA's that we have produced. Mach10, Apex, and Fastback Racer to name a few... also the Pliney crazyness in my own back yard, was one the reasons to let this beer lay in waiting for a Comeback release... maybe 2020 will be the year... but Honestly its been several years now...
  25. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    Not really very soon... can you recommend a distributor... ??
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  26. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    this one is a big one... the beer world has been changing so much, and push for Hyper local is causing the distribution companies to consolidate rather than expand... entry to market is also a bigger challenge, Chain distribution is driving this also the independent breweries and self distribution is changing the whole market.
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  27. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    Red Rocket has been shifted into our legacy series, so we are not brewing it year-round anymore.
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  28. ILeftNJ

    ILeftNJ Initiate (76) Mar 21, 2014 Pennsylvania

    Hi Richard;
    Thanks for doing this. What's the deal with pilsners? I am in Easter Pa and we are blessed with many great craft and micro brewers. I am mainly a pilsner drinker and there are several really nice ones (Yards, Sly Fox). Some brewers only put Pilsners on for short runs or not at all. Any insights on trends? I am older Boomer and shy away from hi ABV beers.


  29. DefenCorps

    DefenCorps Poo-Bah (6,119) Jan 18, 2007 Oregon
    Society Trader

    Not really a question, but mirroring what @John_M said about missing Racer X ( and 5, for that matter). One of the best, most refreshing pints I've had was of Racer 5 over Christmas 2008 when my best friend and I, after hiking thru Mt Tamalpais, found ourselves at a cafe that had fresh Racer 5 on. I still remember how damn delicious that beer was!
  30. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,200) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    All of which I've tried of course. They were good beers as well, but they never scratched the itch that only Racer X seems to be able to touch. Really hope it makes a comeback sometime soon.
  31. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    Red Rocket is in the same category, it's been moved to the legacy series
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  32. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,200) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    Fresh Racer 5 is really pretty hard to beat. And so I have a similar story.

    Some years ago, a friend of mind at work did a favor for me, and I wanted in a very small way to return the favor. I told him I would pick up a growler of something over at a local taphouse (Pint Defiance in Tacoma), and wanted to know what he liked. He mentioned that he really loved bright, citrusy IPA's. As luck would have it, PD had just put on a fresh keg of Racer 5, which I figured would be pretty much perfect. After getting a fill, I figured I should probably do a little quality control assessment, so I asked for a quick taste of it before leaving. I tell you Dyan, the beer was so damn fresh and citrusy, I started to rethink giving the growler to my friend (after all, there was plenty of other stuff at PD I could pick out for him). I ended up giving it to him anyway, and he was completely overjoyed. He had planned to drink it over the weekend, but he told me after just one glass he couldn't put it away, and before he knew it the Racer 5 was all gone (I gather his wife wasn't entirely pleased, as he was a bit under the weather at dinner time).

    Fresh Racer 5 is indeed a think of beauty, and is a creature I encounter far too infrequently here in the NW.
  33. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    ok... this is a tough one for me... Since I have taken over some of out lying distributor partners need more loving attention... I will check with my Sales team and see what I can do shaking the trees.
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  34. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    For the last several years... we took a break from brewing Racer X, we focused on making several different double Ipa's< Drift Racer, Fastback Racer, APEX, and Mach10... it may be time for the X to reappear... and yes it has always been brewed and released at the same time each year around Fall...
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  35. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    First off lets say that this is such a great question. I have 25+ years of experience and in that 25 years only missed Harvest in Yakima, only twice when both of my kids were born.

    A little secret is I don't select alone anymore... it was a powerful lesson for me. The Bear does it as a Team, PK, Roger, Rob K, big Joe, and Me all make the choices year to year. This Team mindset has help to contribute to house flavor. Also we because of our size and scale blend hops from many different farmers to make our own blend. The amount of variation from year to year along with farm to farm is crazy. We also weave years into years to make sure we don't blend in to much of one character... so lets say in Jan... the blend may be 70-30 and by the end of the year it could be 40-60.... so you don't see the shift in blending... I can't give you all my secrets but I will say that without my Team mates its so hard to rely on single pallet
    this where I see your challenge... also know we blend lots from farmers and manage a high percentage of our own pellet blending... which is a whole facet most brewers don't or can't manage because that requires long time commitments to farmers... 5+ years out... ok Good Luck and happy brewing.
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  36. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    What.?.. I love it... I haven't started drinking yet but soon... but now going to find that song??

    Gaily bedight, a Gallant Knight, In sunshine and in shadow, had journeyed long, Singing a song, In Search of Eldorado
    But we grow old... This knight so bold... and O'er his hear a shadow... fell as he found that looked like Eldorado...

    EAP... enjoy
  37. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    we don't make it as much... more of a pub offering these days...
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  38. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    I thought of another answer... sometimes we will make a hop tea... to compare differences in varietal to varietal, year to year... etc. use the same amounts per volume and times...or steeping times... hope this can start a new adventure for you... HOP TEA.. enjoy isn't brewing so much fun
  39. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    thank you and glad I could help... what would you recommend to me as a steady beer you enjoy that is your fancy at the moment...
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  40. Racer5Brewers

    Racer5Brewers Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2020

    .... I'll do my best... we are just great friends so
    no NDA's
    Racer 5 can go into a bottle, Keg, or the pub... or into a tanker truck to Charbay... thats how it all started... Great in and Great out...
    Big question... we supple 200bls to 500bls at a time... of racer5. He also takes Big Bear Stout and makes his S Whiskey... Now over the years we have put away over 10 years now... beers like Red Rocket, Hop Rod Rye... Peter brown... single malts etc etc....a Rye... just be patient that is my next sandbox to play in... Bear Republic Distilling is a real thang and we have invested in inventory...
    Well frankly I love it... did you know that Jimmy, and Jack both use hops in there washes... so in some respects your bourbon started life as a beer...
    Its part of it... but not all of it... it could be that it is double and triple distilled and done on a single pass through a French Alembic still
    Have you tried our Pilsner Double Aught...its also a character that the distiller manages... after all think of his equipment... i'm sorry to say but I know it helps...for sure
    It in intensifies the aromas... he capture it...
    Its not traditional...
    Its about the distiller, and equipment... kind of like racing...skill is required and obtained over years and mistakes... don't want to go down a rabbit hole but there are lots of factors
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