The newest regular feature to the 99 Bottles blog has been a long time coming. It's something I promised on Day 1 and have yet to deliver. Excuse ... excuse ... excuse. Here we go.
There are extraordinary, limited beers. There are exceptional seasonal beers. I review many of them because I want this blog to introduce folks to the newest and best beers out there.
But there are days when I don't want to think about the beer I'm drinking. While that sounds like code for some sort of deep, dark depression, what I really mean is that beer is supposed to be simple. Sometimes I don't feel like going to a bar and trying the latest funked-up, $18 sour beer. Sometimes I just want a beer I know I like. This is my first review of one of those beers.
Bear Republic's Racer 5 is one of my go-to beers. It's a classic West Coast IPA, and it's one of the best. You can buy it almost anywhere on the East Coast for a reasonable price. That's a very important qualification for a go-to beer.
Brewed in Sonoma County, Calif., Racer 5 is proof that great beer comes from wine country. I discovered this beer I can't remember when, and it was one of my many gateways into craft. I quickly discovered this was no entry-level brew.
The beer pours a beautiful golden color with a nice, white head. It's heavily hopped with Chinook, Cascade, Columbus and Centennial, and you smell all of that in the nose. Citrus and pine are dominant.
The motto on the bottle says "There's a trophy in every glass," and I can't disagree. The beer is bitter but balanced by a bready backbone. I never find the hops overwhelming. In fact, this beer is sneaky-easy to drink for an IPA of 7 percent ABV and 75-plus IBUs. The finish is dry, which is just how I like it.
If you're already a craft beer expert, I'm preaching to the choir. If you're looking to expand your horizons, by all means try this beer. It won't let you down.