One Less Bear

It’s a sign of what may be seen more and more in coming years but the very neighborhoods that have been gentrified are going to become too costly to stay in and issues with landlords are going to start to arise.

Case in point is Bear Republic. One of their (3) locations was in Healdsburg but with wine tourism spiking and building maintenance costs not being covered, they have decided to close that location and focus on their brewpub in Rohnert Park, and its production brewery in Cloverdale. The custom 15-barrel brewhouse from that was stationed in Healdsburg will move to Cloverdale.

As sales have slowed, margins tighten and any unexpected cost especially one from a landlord who can charge higher rents to newer occupants will cause re-trenchment and more big trucks with fermenters being driven from one spot to another.

Racer 16oz

Bear Republic Brewing has started sending out cans of their iconic Racer 5 IPA. I certainly hope that this emergence will mean that customers will pick it up because they see a can that says IPA and discover or re-discover this gem of a hoppy beer. Secondly, I hope it means that Bear Republic will start canning their other beers as well as well as one-off’s and seasonals.

Flagship Beer Review # 3 – Racer 5 from Bear Republic

Our 3rd Flagship comes from Bear Republic, here is my review of Racer 5. I can’t divine a brewed on date so I opened with hope for hops and hops I got. A strong wood chip aroma graced my senses and I knew I was in safe hands. A nice bitter kick hits the side of the mouth with each sip. It straddles the line of strong with a sessionable side. Very piney flavor. Very much a throwback to the West Coast style back before the IBU race really started to heat up.

Featured Review – Fastback Racer from Bear Republic

Bear Republic has added to their Racer series with a new car style, so to speak, Fastback Racer DIPA.

The beer pours a pretty bright and orange and clear. Lovely bit of foam on the top with nice bubbling to it. A cross of pine and orange peel greets the nose as I stick it into that foam. This really tastes strong and I would classify it as a triple or Imperial. I mean 10.4%! That strength comes through in the flavor. Everything else comes in behind that power which makes it a bit of a disappointment, I guess. Citrus is peeking out here and there but not very often. It makes the beer a bit one dimensional.

Really Fast

The “racing” series from Bear Republic has a new addition arriving this month with Fastback Racer DIPA making a limited appearance. Headlined by Citra and Ekuanot hops, the beer will be in both six pack and 22oz formats.

Wild Bear

If you like joining clubs and/or you don’t want to trek to Healdsburg, California then Bear Republic has a deal for you.

They have just announced the Wild Club.

Joining gets you access to handcrafted and limited production beers. “As a member you will receive four shipments a year of our barrel aged, hand crafted beer. These beers are produced in extremely small batches, so most will be exclusive to program members.”

More info from their press release, “In the Wild Program, our brewers have free reign to be creative in their craft and will use many different techniques such as:
•Fermenting with Wild Yeasts & Bacteria
•Aging with Fruit & in Spirit Barrels
•Inoculating for Secondary Ferment in the Bottle”

The first shipment will be in December and will include –

Barrel 188: This Little Figgie
“Soda pop cola sweetness, creamy mouthfeel, brandy booziness, huge malt and fig flavors.”

‘Twas The Beer Before Christmas
“Peanut butter roast malt character, dried apricot dustiness, clean tartness, cognac from Old Baba Yaga.”

Goat Rock Funk – Exclusive to VIP members
“Lemon-lime tartness, citrus and pineapple notes, fruity and estery nose, woody tannic backbone”

Bay Area Craft Beer for Thanksgiving

Instead of sitting down with a bunch of folks around a turkey and a jiggly plate of canned cranberry, I set sail with beer pilot Rich north to Santa Rosa and beery points around it.

I will be writing about it with a critical eye over on Food GPS later this month (so my thoughts can gather like swallows heading to Capistrano).  But first, some of the beers that I encountered on menus…..


BarrelWorks in Buellton


Stumptown in Guernville


Bear Republic in Healdsburg


Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco


Russian River in Santa Rosa

FoodGPS Teaser – Top 10 Beers of 2012

For every 10 Best List, there are a few honorable mentions. And in the craft beer world, many honorable mentions. But I have decided to tease tomorrow’s FoodGPS countdown list with the three that I agonized over not including. So here are beers 11-13 that I wish I could have cheated and snuck in….

13. Bear Republic – Dry Creek Home Grown
Our tribute to the annual hop harvest brewed with Cascade hopes grown in the Dry Creek Valley just 10 minutes from our pub & brewery. I said, ” The aroma alone is worth the price of the pint. Citrus and flowers spring up. Nice light bitterness that doesn’t interfere with the flavor and is distinct, not a muddle of hops. Makes me want to visit this Dry Creek.” Might be available on tap. Window may be closed on it though since it is a fresh hop beer.

12. 21st Amendment – Hop Crisis
A imperial IPA aged on oak using Columbus, Centennial and cascades as the bittering hops and dry hopping with Simcoe, Ahtanum, Amarillo, and Cascades. I said, “Big but not muddled DIPA that shows off the oak aging and finishes strong with a great pineapple, citrus fruit bitterness that really worked well together. Not super aromatic but just a great beer. Super smooth.” This one is canned and is available in San Francisco and via Let’s Pour at times.

11. The Bruery/Hangar 24 – Ichigo Highway
The base style is a sessionable sour red ale that we aged in oak barrels along with a whopping amount of strawberries, most of which were picked from the fields besides Hangar 24’s brewery. I said, “Nice whiff of strawberry. Initial taste is sourness followed by a jam taste. Tastes really fresh. Good sparkle to it. Some farmhouse notes as well. Excellent mix of flavors.” Head to Bruery Provisions for this fruit find.

Whiskey and Hops

If you can’t get enough hops and must have it in every spirit you drink, well you are in luck. A distillery fronted by Marko Karakasevic has made two version of hop flavored whiskey using Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA.

Yoy can get Charbay Hop Flavored Whiskey R5 Clear or the more expensive Charbay Hop Flavored Whiskey R5 Aged.

The website goes on to say, “The beer is distilled in double copper alambic charentais pots 24 hours a day for nine days straight before being aged for 22 months in French Oak. The result offers a definite whiskey taste profile with clear notes of hops, fruit, and malt when sipped. Distiller Marko Karakasevic, who started such experimentation with a pilsner-fueled light whiskey for Charbay nearly fourteen years ago, says he used 6,000 gallons of Racer 5 to produce 590 gallons of the spirit.”

Karakasevic is also working on a version using Bear Republic’s stout.

Stone cannot stop collaborating

We all should be familiar with the brown bottle with a troika of names on it since Stone has gone full tilt with their collaborations.

And now a new one to add to the mantle….TBA. Looks like a brown ale with molasses and brown sugar and they have gone east coast / west coast just like the More Brown than Black by drafting in Bear Republic of California and Fatheads of Pennsylvania Ohio. Review to come later!