Beer of the Week: Bear Republic's Elusive Racer X
For many years, Bear Republic's Racer X felt like a thing of urban lore. The beer would be exposed in brief, Bigfoot-like sightings, only to retreat without a trace. According to legend, if you gaze into a mirror and say "Racer X" three times, you'll immediately grow a beard of hops. That, or you'll get pretty thirsty.
In the Racer family of brews, X ("10") sits nicely between the ubiquitous Racer 5 and the elusive Cafe Racer 15 (which just won a silver medal in the Double IPA category at the Great American Beer Festival). Despite the name, Racer X isn't simply an amped up version of its younger sibling. Racer 5 is dry and driven by notes of citrus and tropical fruit. The hops in Racer X take a more resinous, piney route, backed by a much sweeter malt backbone that smacks of honey graham crackers. The beer effectively bridges the gap between the West Coast tradition of bone-dry, aromatic IPAs, and the East Coast approach of maltier IPAs with heavier body and more residual sugar.
For the first time, finding Racer X isn't akin to hunting the Loch Ness monster. The brew has just started to reach shelves in 22oz. bottles. When pairing Double IPAs with food, it's important to find flavors that can hold up to the bitterness and higher alcohol content. Hops tend to compliment salty flavors, but boozy notes don't always pair nicely with sweeter flavors. We'd suggest picking up some umami-heavy cured meats from Fatted Calf or Boccalone to pair with this brew. The hoppy notes will tease out the more subtle flavors of the charcuterie, while the salty meat will serve to temper the beer's bitterness. On the dessert front, you'll need something with a rich depth of flavor that plays to the beer's malty side. We recommend some salted caramels or "bacon crack" from local chocolatier Nosh This.
Consume this beer as fresh as possible for optimal experience. Call ahead to better beer shops for availability.