Bear Republic Brewing Co.
from United States (California)
53rd highest rated brewery (of 635)
Highest RatedHop Rod Rye (91 / 100) Average score72 / 100 (Very Good)
Lowest RatedRebellion (Premiant) (47 / 100) Number Tried24
Reviewed by Jez on 19.08.17 in bottle
76 / 100
22oz brown bomber shared with me by Aaron in Denver.

Pours a deep golden, almost trending towards amber in the deeper parts, with a frothy, messy head that leaves chunky lace. Body is slick and quite heavy, with some slow broad carbonation. Looks good.

Nose is very orangey. It has a slight barley sugar, boiled orange lolly character to it, which is rather pleasant. There's some brighter, peppery tones as well, which lift it up. It's quite sweet and rather sharp, which is a nice combination.

Flavour is also good. It's smooth and sweet through the centre of the palate, more of that light toffee character combined with stewed orange. There's a pleasant bitterness towards the back, and the body evaporates a little bit which gives it a bit more punch. It's nice.

Feel is fairly weighty, but with a slight froth from the carbonation which leavens it a little.

It's a pleasant, subtle and well-structured beer. The balance is good—it really helps the drinkability. Very nice.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.25
Cafe Racer 15
Reviewed by Jez on 24.12.15 in bottle
86 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Shared with Sam in Sydney.

Pours a very clear, deep golden colour, with a very frothy just off-white head that leaves intricate speckling and islands of coarser bubbles in its wake. Body is firm but still quite fluid, holding nice fine carbonation. Looks good.

Nose is very pleasant, with redolent stewed orange characters, peppered with sharper notes of pine and mint. It's one of those noses that you know comes from hops, but which provides delicate non-hop characters as its defining aromas. Very pleasant indeed.

Palate is also extremely good. That stewed orange character is beautifully put together, forming partially of citric hop notes, and partially from a smooth, but robust malt sugar sweetness. Other lilting citric tones bounce around the outside, providing a crisper tone to balance this, with a peppery bite of bitterness on the back. It's lovely stuff.

Feel is very smooth and very clean, with a lightness that belies its weight at almost 10% ABV.

Overall, genuinely cracking beer. Very nice IPA, amped up in all the good ways, but maintaining its approachability and drinkability. A genuinely very fine entry indeed from Bear Republic.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Black Racer
Reviewed by Jez on 05.05.13 in bottle
66 / 100
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.

appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Double Aught
Reviewed by Jez on 24.07.12 on tap
57 / 100
Had on-tap at the brewery in Healdsburg.

Pours a clear golden colour, with a very light body. Head is a fluffy, but loose-bubbled white. Patchy, bubbly lace and streaming carbonation rounds out the picture. Not bad.

Aroma is grainy and pleasantly crisp. Some German noble hop characters come through and a light touch of honey. Again, it's not bad. Not exciting, mind, but not bad.

Taste progresses in a similar vein. Mild grain characters, moderate sweetness on the front, with a bready mid-palate that retains its sweetness and omits any fragrance or hop characters. Finish is empty, and crying out for some crispness or true hop bitterness. Pretty average stuff.

Feel is light, which is suitable enough, but it doesn't have much to work with here.

It's not bad. It's drinkable, it's light, but it should be better. This is like Bear Republic saying "Oh, a pils? Yeah, that's that really dull style of beer: we can do that with our eyes closed." But pilseners are a much better style than this very ordinary example would have you believe.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Reviewed by Jez on 24.07.12 on tap
64 / 100
Had on-tap at the brewery in Healdsburg.

Pours a hazed, deep golden hue, with a firm, chewy body. Head is a white, verging on creamy, forming a solid fine crown that leaves great lace. Carbonation is decent. Looks pretty good overall, stylistically and aesthetically.

Some medicine is immediately noticeable on the nose, backed up by a solid grain note. Hints of black cherry, pepper and other sharper fruit notes with some phenolic elements coming through. Not bad.

Slight grain entry and stonefruit pith or skin leads to a crescendo of spice and some phenols on the mid-palate. Bright finish with a touch of astringency, and more of those cherry notes givine a flourish of sweetness and a determined bite.

Feel is light and crisp. Pleasantly so, in fact.

It's not bad, all up. It perhaps turns up that astringency a little too much, and doesn't gain much in the way of complexity from it. But it's solidly made, and perfectly pleasant to drink.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Rebellion (Premiant)
Reviewed by Jez on 18.07.12 on tap
47 / 100
(Not Great)
Had on-tap at Bear Republic in Healdsburg. Each of the Rebellion series uses a different hop, and it seems most of the reviews have been conflated under one entry. This is clearly wrong.

Pours a hazed golden hue with a solid body. Head is white and relatively full, collapsing pretty quickly to a solid if forgettable ring. Lace is patchy and intricate.

Not much on the nose, unfortunately. Sweaty, with a slight bready grain character. Some funky, earthy, but ultimately flaccid hops. It gives the impression of a wet Chux wipe that's been left out unrinsed for a day. Eh.

Light leafy freshness on the entry of the palate, noticeably more herbal and more pleasant than the aroma. Some honey comes through to give sweetness, along with a light bitterness on the finish. This means the sweetness doesn't cloy at least.

Feel is crisp and bright enough for the style.

Overall, though, this seems like a pointless beer, using a pointless hop. According to my research Premiant is like a "high-alpha version of Saaz with less aromatics"? Why would anyone want that?

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Speed Bump
Reviewed by Jez on 02.07.12 on tap
75 / 100
On-tap at the brewery in Healdsburg, CA. Seems like a light version of Red Rocket, although they listed Red Rocket as an "Amber" on their list, and this as a "Red Ale".

Despite this listing, it pours a deep amber colour, certainly more amber than red, with a fine but full head of off-white. Lacing is messy and complex, and the body is solid for a relatively low ABV beer. Looks good.

Nose is bright with a full bouquet of the typical hops you expect. Citrus, a touch of pine and some sweeter fruits that blend with the malt into a fresh cement and dust aroma of huskiness. Good stuff.

Tasty palate, although a little thin. The clean hop character carries on the fragrance into the flavour. Spicy, a little chlorine, juniper and holly. Very light, but punchy malt gives a touch of mild roast to the mix without providing any more body.

It's a tasty beer: a nice clean mixture of malt and hops. It's missing a bit of body, but you expect that from this ABV level, so it's forgivable. The advantage of course is that it's more drinkable for it. Good stuff.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Rebellion (Sonnet)
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 19.05.12 on tap
63 / 100
Had on tap at the Local Taphouse Darlo.

Pours a slightly dirtied orange colour with slow bead, opaque cloud. Head is jaundiced white, dense and foamy. Lace is pretty nice. Good-looking IPA.

Smells English hoppy. Plenty of herbal notes with sage prominent among them. Hint of lemon, some vanilla cream and puffed rice notes as well. Decent, but doesn't quite pop with hop complexities like I want from any IPA.

Taste is fairly decent; smooth palate. Malt upfront with some salted caramel edge, sweet but a touch of savoury. Hops take over midway with a big earthy herbal character. Lot of hempseed, maybe some nutmeg, pepper and sniseed. Slight touch of citrus, pineapple that lifts it slightly, but yeah, not quite as exhilarating a hop as others Bear Republic have used.

Bit sharp around the edges; decent body carries it through but the rough edge is unmistakable.

Nice IPA. Not a brilliant IPA, but nice. The hop is good quality and well used, but there's just too little here to get me all hot and wet.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Rebellion (Sonnet)
Reviewed by Jez on 04.05.12 on tap
75 / 100
On-tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney. It seems like most of the series have been conflated into one "Rebellion" entry, but each is hopped with different hops, and really should be listed as separate beers.

Pours a cloudy orange colour, with a good firm head of off-white that forms nice concentric rings as the beer goes down. Body is thick but silky. Looks good.

Nose is oddly herbal (perhaps oddly only because I don't think I've had Sonnet before), but it has a sweetness to the herbal characteristics. Soft spearmint, sweet basil and sage come through. It also has some sweetish lemon aromas, but it's not overly fruity overall—certainly more herbal.

Taste also carries on this slightly green organics theme, with pot-pourri coming off in a fragrant burst, again with that soft sweetness, giving a suggestion of lavender cake. There are some citric rindy characters, and a powdered sugar sweetness. This is all cut by a pleasant crispness, and a balancing but not overt or astringent bitterness.

It's an interesting hop. I feel as though it's used to about its optimum here. I can't help but think that any more of the herbal characters and it would become harsh and cutting. Here, it sits softly and gives some unique and interesting flavours to the beer.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Rocket Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 08.12.11 in bottle
72 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a delicious red colour with clear body. Head is cream-coloured, quite frothy and bubbly but a bit whispy; not a lot of lace. Looks nice, but nothing special.

Smells pleasantly hoppy. Nice malt to it with sticky English toffee and brown sugar, then a minty and spicy hop note, with a nice citrus tang and a touch of fresh berries. Pleasant, fresh and sweet. Good balance.

Taste is quite malty really. Lots of sweetness with toffee, caramel and rye bread. Slight tang glides over the top, never really assertive with a slight cider acidity and light lemon notes. Finishes clean and well, but never pummels the palate into accepting its unquestionable greatness. Bit brassy, bit minty, slgihtly spicy and slightly dry but ultimately quite fresh and drinkable. Good red ale.

Bit watery throughout, more presence on the back than anywhere else.

Nice, fresh brew. Doesn't have the ashy bitterness of an IPA but at the same time it could have upped the hops a bit and I wouldn't be complaining.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Pete's Brown (Tribute Ale)
Reviewed by Jez on 09.05.11 on tap
65 / 100
From a hand-pump at Toronado in San Francisco.

Pours a dark reddish-brown colour. Clear enough. Head if fine, but not the creamy solid mess I'd expect froma hand pump. Lacing is chunky and solid, at least. Very fine carbonation, but it also looks latent and flat. Not bad, but not huge.

Roasty and mild nose, with a bit of grain and light thin filtered coffee. It's all a bit gritty and dirty, only challenged by a slight sweet vegetables character. Not all that appealing.

On the palate, it's very smooth from the hand pump, but overall if feels a bit thin in flavour. Some mild grain that gives a cereal sweetness with a slight dusty cocoa note. Long finish which gives off the most interesting characters of cherry and marzipan. Not bad.

Very smooth, but light on the palate gives it an adorable texture.

Overall, it's drinkable, but it's missing something—maybe it's depth, or maybe it's fullness of palate. Overall, it's good, but I was hoping for great.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
XP Pale Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 01.05.11 in bottle
66 / 100
Pours a very light golden colour, pale even for a pale ale, but wonderfully bright and clear. Head is frothy and full, lacing is strong. Looks the part: a bright and attractive American Pale Ale. Ticks all the boxes.

Nose is mild and pleasant, with a dominant, but not particularly pungent fruity hop aroma. Hints of pineapple and lemon are most noticeable, but without the strength to suggest a particularly hoppy brew. It's just bright, pleasant, clean and approachable.

Taste is similar in profile. Hops form the basis of the flavour, but the volume is way down. There's an earthy bitterness, but it's almost on the level of a selzter-water bite, little more. Minimal sweetness means the beer stays reasonably crisp, but it also means there's very little depth to the palate.

Feel is a bit too spritzy as well, with the carbonation giving a bit too much effervescence, which overpowers the light body.

OK, I get that this is the more soft and approachable end of Bear Republic's range, but I was a little disappointed all the same. It's a solid, but not particularly interesting APA. I was hoping for something more.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Big Bear Black Stout
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 14.03.11 in bottle
80 / 100
Pours a dark chocolatey colour, very black but brown at the edge. Head is massive, ochre in colour and beautifully thick, to the point of excess but with this gorgeous sinking pattern that almost looks like spun sugar. Lace is sticky and lovely. Fuckin' beautiful.

Smells dark and chocolatey. Sweet and rich with a touch of espresso, some licorice and a lovely hoppy note at the back; citric and a touch of nutmeg to it as well. Sweet, rich, dark but with a lift to it. Nice aroma.

Taste is very dark and chocolatey. Starts rich, with a mild berry/cherry character that develops from tart to quite sweet; vanilla on there and a good belt of rich cocoa on the late-mid. Some caramel coming through late and a drying, almost floury finish with a slight nip of port wine and a touch of piney, floral hops. Bit of tobacco on the finish as well.

Mouthfeel is smooth and complementary to the pleasant palate but a touch on the watery, glossy side. Would like more body, but otherwise very pleasant.

Enjoyable beer with suprisingly and tantalisingly clean finish. I could drink this beer. Hell, I would have sex with this beer.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 5.0
Racer 5 India Pale Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 07.12.10 in bottle
67 / 100
Pours a burnished amber colour with off-white head, moderate upon pouring, good retention. Lace is very good indeed. Thick, curtainy, like a funeral veil. Slow bead; yeah looks pretty good.

Smell is citric. Very hoppy with slight resinous notes. Lemon, lime, slight woodiness and a hint of wax. Slight malty undercurrent. Raisiny edge to the malt. Quite nice, but not mind-blowing as an IPA.

Taste is quite nice. Malty for the most part with raisiny edges and an apricot tinge, cake-batter sweetness and then hop notes come in midway. Citric and quite tangy, without a lot of complex hop flavour but provides a nice floral finish that hangs around pleasantly. Again pretty good but could use more hop flavour.

Nice and filling mouthfeel, good texture atop a nice body. Suits the style and the flavour well.

A good solid IPA. It isn't blowing my mind, but there's lots of nice West Coast hop character and a good balance struck for nice easy drinking.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Rocket Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 03.06.09 in bottle
81 / 100

Pours an excellent deep red hue with an insanely creamy head of beige foam. Lacing sticks to the glass like honeycomb; thick and heavy and chunky. The retention on the head is amazing too, staying solid and sticky all the way down. An amazing looking beer.

Very nice balance of hops and malt on the nose. Some nice citrus pine notes with a sweet treacle toffee character underneath. The hops are certainly the more dominant part, but the richness and body of the malt adds some gravitas to the brew.

Great dark sweet notes on the front palate, which are leavened by sublimating hop vapours, and a residual bitter character on the back. Nice roasted caramel notes, with a prickly resin backbone. The body is surprisingly light, given the big flavour profile and the rich malt notes. But it works well, again adding a leavening note on the palate.

They say this is a barstardised style of beer. They're probably right. But it works very well, with big characters from a surprisingly low ABV. It's exciting and rewarding, but still smooth and drinkable.

Keep barstardising, Bear Republic!

appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Hop Rod Rye
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 26.12.08 in bottle
87 / 100
Pours a delightful bronze colour with a beige, dense head with topographic contours appearing across the top but otherwise fine, fine retention. Gorgeous bead running in reverse cascades up the beer and especially around the edge of the glass. Slightly thin lacing and slightly translucent. Overall, damn goddamn arse fine-looking bastard of a beer.

Nose - oh, that is so the shit for which I'm looking. Delicious pungent smell of hops with a deliciously sweet character of candied orange. But mostly I'm sticking around for those delicious hops. It's beautiful, aromatic and delicious and makes me want to dance with sugarplums. Not complex, but pungent and sublime.

Palate has intense hops all the way through, but it's a very well-balanced feel with no mouth-puckering bitterness until the very end of the palate, by which time it's just a subtle lingering but intensely hoppy finish. Has bold, malty characters adjacent to the bitterness which makes it full-bodied and tasty and just very enjoyable. Alcohol is mostly hidden but I sense a slight vodka-like hint at the back. Mouthfeel is smooth and warm and fuzzy.

Only the Americans could brew a beer this adventurous and yet succeed so comprehensively.
appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Big Bear Black Stout
Reviewed by Jez on 02.10.08 in bottle
86 / 100

Pours a very, very deep black-brown, opaque almost. Only the very edges, tilted and held towards light, give you any indication this is anything besides pure black. Head is a rocky, fluffy cushion of light brown, densely-bubbled foam, fed by an initial cascading carbonation. Lacing is exceptionally good, leaving geometric patterns down the length of the glass. Wonderful.

Very nice blend of hop fragrance and sweet dark aromas on the nose. A pleasant citrus/grapefruit/vegetation character layers the top, while a deep undertone of chocolate and molasses adds weight and body to the smell. Wow, what a wonderful blend.

Taste is also amazing - an initial light hoppy bitterness crescendos to a delicious resiny bite, layered with hazelnut tones, before the palate dries out to a long, roasted chocolate finish. There's such a perfect balance here between the wonderful fragrant hop notes and the earthy tones of the roasted malt.

And does it say 8.1%?? Where on earth is that alcohol hiding? Not a hint of heat to it, I would almost have sworn this were a beer to session like there was no tomorrow, so smooth and drinkable is it.

A top-notch beer, not just full of character, but full of intelligent character. Well balanced, well rounded and well conceived.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Racer 5 India Pale Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 21.09.08 in bottle
71 / 100
(Very Good)

Hazy, glowing golden orange body, with languous bubbles of fine carbonation. Head it creamy white, leaving amazing lacing. Great looking IPA.

Smell is also great, a beautiful tropical fruit hit - tastes of passionfruit, pineapple, menthol and pawpaw. It's not as overtly powerful as it could be, but it's very nice all the same.

Taste is a resinous bitter character, quite sharp, but clean and fresh, full of character. There's not a huge amount of complexity there, but it's tasty. Strong and robust hop bitterness that resonates through to the back palate. Mouthfeel is a little thin, surprisingly, but the sparkling character matches the hop bite nicely.

This is a pretty decent IPA - it doesn't knock my socks off, but it's solid, drinkable and enjoyable. At least it's a good example of the style.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Hop Rod Rye
Reviewed by Jez on 17.09.08 in bottle
91 / 100

Pours a dark, brownish cherry-red, perfectly clear, with a huge pillowy head of beige foam. Lacing is out of this world, clinging like crazy to the edge of the glass. Little carbonation, and the viscosity looks high. Awesome looking beer.

Amazingly powerful and complex nose - aromas of pineapple, sweet citrus, molasses, rosewater, and tantalising hints of vanilla, resin, wintergreen and cut grass. Oh my. The plethora of flavours presented here is extraordinary. Such a wide swathe, but all intermingling, bouncing off one another, in a seeming anarchy that makes a peaceful whole. What a wonderful smelling beer - possibly the most blissfully aromatic brews I've ever sampled.

Taste is also fantastic. A delicious initial sour character bites the front of the tongue, before a welling up of juicy, luscious hop bitterness cushioned on a base of almost fruit sweetness. Tangy, slightly sour finish that leaves you wanting more, more, MORE. Mouthfeel is very nice, with a very slight effervescence on the tongue which coincides with the crescendo of hops.

Wonderful, wonderful beer - what a top notch drop. This will easily be one of the hardest things I have to leave behind here in the States when I return to Oz.

appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5