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Big Bear Black Stout - Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,852 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1852
Reviews: 1084
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 10.12%

Brewed by:
Bear Republic Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  8.10% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Big Bear is a big, black, stout you can really sink your teeth into. The bold, roasty, caramel malt flavor is balanced by Centennial and Cascade hops.

2009 California State Fair – 2nd GOLD
2009 LA International Beer Competition – GOLD
2007 Great American Beer Festival® American-Style Stout – SILVER
2002 World Beer Cup - GOLD

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-05-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,852 | Reviews: 1,084 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Ryan011235


4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Studio 35 on 9/22/12

A) Well, it ain't black. Dark brown; looks close to black but the stem and top of the glass reveal deep ruby. Wispy head with a thin line around the collar. Papery thin lace.

S) The aroma has a fair amount of roast. Lots of [sugary] molasses and some burnt chocolate. Pretty big aroma.

T) Though it does have some molasses sweetness in the mid section there is a lot more roast, proportionally. Some chocolate and caramel. The finish is dry and very slightly ashy.

M) The feel is great for the style - medium-full with some sticky hops and a touch of alcohol awareness. Rolling carbonation.

D) Really good, well-balanced imperial stout. This is a case of less is more. Recommended.

Serving type: on-tap

10-29-2013 22:39:31 | More by Ryan011235
Photo of Dsimenson


4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Draft poured into a Pilsner, no big head, but lovely lacing. It has the dark brown-black color of used motor oil--I love it! My nose is not so discerning, but I detect malt, hops, and a bit of fruit in the aroma. The flavor starts out very bold--hops, coffee, figs, some malt, very well balanced. Mouthfeel is medium to thick. Overall this is an iutstanding stout. I think this one has even more character and complexity than Sierra Nevada Stout, which I really like.

Serving type: on-tap

10-05-2013 19:34:09 | More by Dsimenson
Photo of Axnjxn

North Carolina

4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

on draft at beer study in chapel hill, into a bear republic shaker.

pours an opaque black with a nice creamy beige head with terrific lacing. the smell has chocolate, coffee and hops on the nose. taste starts out with the malty chocolate goodness but then has some surprising hop profile. real enjoyable and tasty. creamy feel. tasty. medium bodied, mild carbonation.

overall a great stout!

Serving type: on-tap

09-27-2013 20:35:58 | More by Axnjxn
Photo of Michael_D

New York

3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Coles. Dark dark almost black pour. Looks like a black bear. Smells like dark chocolate, hops, coffee. Not like a bear. Not a super heavy body, but full flavored. Chocolate, coffee aftertaste, and hops. Great balance. Makes me feel like a bear.

Serving type: on-tap

01-31-2013 02:52:38 | More by Michael_D
Photo of elNopalero


3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours a dark brown in color with thin creamy foam. My pour is not as dark nor as opaque as I would have expected.
There are aroma of cocoa and vanilla lending their complexity to the roasty notes. The flavor is dominated by roast notes with some sweet vanilla and dark cocoa. Rougher than I remember, and rougher around the edges than I enjoy. Would be interested in trying this with some more time on it.

Serving type: on-tap

08-30-2012 19:35:37 | More by elNopalero
Photo of mactrail


3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep and winey imperial stout. Tastes like licorice to me. Malty with endless dark roasted malt flavors. Lots of burnt notes and a bitter finish. A liqueur-like sweetness only partly masked by all the hops. Grows on you, thought. Seems more complex as you sip. Really rich with the whole spectrum of dark malt swimming across your palate.

Black color, nice head and mouthfeel. Drank at 21st Amendment, San Francisco (01/21/2012).

Serving type: on-tap

03-17-2012 19:25:24 | More by mactrail
Photo of Mebuzzard


4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is quite the beer. I've had it in the bottle before at a good price. Found it on tap ... had to get it.

Black pour. That's about it. Black. Off brown head, thick and soft.

Aroma is good, nothing fantastic...until it warms. The leather and toffee come out more. Hops are piney and somewhat grassy. The malt is rich. Coffee beans, dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate is prevalent here. Bitter to add to the earthy hops. A good feel to this one. Bity and smooth. Caramel is baked, almost charred. Toffee. Raisin. A bit of leather on the almost-end. Roasty throughout. A very nice beer. The abv is well hidden, easy to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

02-15-2012 23:14:39 | More by Mebuzzard
Photo of williamjbauer

West Virginia

4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap served in a pint glass

A - Deep dark brown mahogany with 1 finger ecru head with good head retention and good lacing.

S - Big roasted barley chocolate and coffee note with a little citrus hops.

T - Great, follows the nose with some sweet malts to start and a nice bitter finish.

M - Full bodied, moderate carbonation.

O - Nice flavorful, silky Imperial stout, this is REALLY good, try it.

Serving type: on-tap

02-07-2012 17:51:10 | More by williamjbauer
Photo of angelogarcia3

New York

4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is an excellent beer with a beautiful black midnight color with a very dark tan head. Sapsuckers in Huntington, NY serves this beer in a large snifter glass. Allowing the drinker to swirl the beer and get a good nose full of the aromas of dark chocolate, and cocoa. My first feelings on my first sip is thick and which with the flavors of chocolate remind me of hershey's chocolate syrup. At 8.1% ABV it's almost like drinking a chocolate liquor. Though I can drink alot more of this Big Bear Black Stout versus a chocolate liquor.

Serving type: on-tap

12-12-2011 22:34:49 | More by angelogarcia3
Photo of marty21

Manitoba (Canada)

4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at The Alibi Room

A: It’s a dark brown, almost black with 1 finger worth of very light brown head. Settles to a nice cap and left tons of lacing.

S: Dark roasted malts with some dark chocolate and coffee. I do get a hint of alcohol on the nose as well.

T: More dark roasted malts along with the dark chocolate and coffee. There also seemed to be enough hops in this stout to actually taste them.

M: Medium carbonation with a medium body.

O: Big Bear was a really tasty and easy to drink stout especially for it being relatively higher in alcohol.

Serving type: on-tap

10-14-2011 19:06:58 | More by marty21
Photo of mostpoetsdo

Rhode Island

3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep brown with mahogany hue streaks, light-tan head, good ring or two of lacing. Decent head retention.

S: Malt forward, not too roasty, toffee and chocolate. Hints of coffee beans.

T: Nothing really dominates in flavor: the standard coffee up front, a jello pudding pop-like chocolate taste, and a hint of raisins. Fairly earthy/woody.

M: No alcohol burn, medium body, soft carbonation, smooth.

O/D: A rather lackluster Imperial Stout. Nothing stands out or makes its present clear. Maybe it's better from a bottle?

Serving type: on-tap

09-12-2011 00:56:04 | More by mostpoetsdo
Photo of avaldivia


3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Bear Republic.

A: Black. Very black. Nice mocha colored head with great lacing.

S: Roasted malts. Perhaps a bit of coffee. nice fruity scent on the end.

T: Nice coffee, roasted malts. A little bit of a dark fruit taste. Well balanced.

M: Thick. Not overly carbonated.

O: I good, affordable, easily available stout. Not my favorite in the style, but a solid entry.

Serving type: on-tap

09-08-2011 15:04:03 | More by avaldivia
Photo of SkunkWorks

New York

4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Tap and Barrel in Smithtown, NY. Served in a tulip glass.

Look: black body with a thick, brown head. Great retention and lacing. Looks good.

Smell: molasses, some dark chocolate, and brown sugar. Smells good.

Taste: follows the nose with chocolate malt, some molasses, and a little roastiness, a little sweet, and pretty good. A little light in flavor for an IRS, but its still good.

Feel: medium tending towards full, silky, lightly carbonated, and pretty spot on for the style. Easy drinking for the style at 8.1% alcohol, I could have a few of these if I wanted to and had nowhere to go.

Overall: a pretty solid imperial stout though nothing about it really makes it stand out against a style that is filled with amazing alternatives. Worth a try, especially if you're a Bear Republic fan. Cheers!

Serving type: on-tap

07-01-2011 00:51:42 | More by SkunkWorks
Photo of goalie33

New York

4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a tulip glass.
A) Stout dark with a thin layer of mocha head on top. Too dark to see any carbonation in the beer. Doesn't leave much lacing on the glass.
S) Sweet roasted coffee, some slight undertones of chocolate and black licorice.
T) Fairly mild taste. Dominant flavors are espresso and some chocolate. Flavors get stronger as the beer warms.
M/D)Medium to full body, low carbonation. Nice, creamy texture. Very drinkable, but not quite sessionable. A very good dessert beer.

Serving type: on-tap

02-18-2011 07:19:51 | More by goalie33
Photo of TheKingofWichita

North Carolina

3.15/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep pitch black color with a thin brown head and barely any lacing. Has some ruby hues when held to light. Smells of coffee and roasted malts. Tastes of coffee, chocolate, and tons of roasted malts. A little too much malt. Almost no hops here. Mouthfeel is thick and has very little carbonation. Drinkability is medium.

Serving type: on-tap

01-16-2011 00:34:37 | More by TheKingofWichita
Photo of BigB415


5/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the stout that got me into stouts. Very mellow compared to other stouts. A good session beer but at 8.1% you might forget you're drinking a beer since the alcohol is barely noticeable. A definite recommendation for anyone starting out in stouts. One of my favorite Bear Republic beers.

Serving type: on-tap

12-01-2010 23:58:21 | More by BigB415
Photo of mephifaust


4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A: Dark to obsidian with dark tan head - one finger high. Foam lacing lingers as you drink.

S: chocolate, malty goodness with hints of alcohol

T: heavy malt background of chocolate and willamette hops flavor

M: medium to light body

D: high - good drinking beer

Serving type: on-tap

08-28-2010 03:54:06 | More by mephifaust
Photo of Spider889


3.7/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Black pour with a thin two finger mocha colored head. No lacing.

Smelly very hoppy with some slight roasted notes.

Taste is much the same, nice roasted malts, some delicate sweetness balanced by some big hop bitterness.

This was a very thin/watery brew, very light bodied for a stout. Drinkability is low because I just wasn't all that impressed. There were another three or four stouts on tap that night (one a Jackie O's Black Ryno) so I couldn't justify getting a second. Not bad, and I'd happily drink it if it were the only stout and that was what I was in the mood for. However, ultimately this one fell a little short for me.

Serving type: on-tap

08-15-2010 06:20:54 | More by Spider889
Photo of SpeedwayJim

New York

3.25/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Blind Tiger NYC with schen9303. Served in a tulip.

A: Served with a .5 finger semi-fine, light coffee head with moderate retention. Beer is opaque black. Lacing is sparse and with little stick.

S: Vanilla, lactose, toasted malt, chocolate, licquorice, and brownie. Subtle hop aroma at the end. Nose is overall slightly coarser than I had hoped but complexity is there. Lack of soy sauciness and dark fruit lets me know this is the hoppy, coffee interpretation of the RIS

T: Dark chocolate, brownie, lactose and toasted malts dominate the experience. There's a bit of coffee here and a sprinkle of hops there but this really reminds me of an imperial milk stout that's been intensly hopped. It's not usually my thing but it would work here except for the coarseness the toasted malts bring to the palate. Finish is grainy and messy. Leaves a linger burnt malt and lactose flavor.

M: Medium bodied, slightly carbonated and coarser than I would like. Perhaps its being served too cold? But even as I let it warm, it still doesn't coat my palate and throat like I think its supposed to. Finish is messy and just a bit oily which at least ends this one right.

D: Mediocre at best, I'm not sure why this one is so beloved. Complexity is there as well as a nice, hoppy stout aroma, but the mouthfeel leaves something to be desired and as a result, doesn't allow the flavors to meld quite right. I'd have this one again to give it another shot, but as it is, there are better RISs out there.

Serving type: on-tap

05-02-2010 02:45:19 | More by SpeedwayJim
Photo of jampics2


4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I drove home from Dark Lord Day 2010 through not one but three torrential downpours. There were times we felt like we were out of control, cruising through a sheet of white rain. Our only motivation to keep going was a stop at Fat Heads for one of their fantastic headwiches.

I was thrilled to see this on tap. A 10 oz pour into a snifter from the tap. Served WAAAY too cold, I let this one warm up then went to town.

Beautiful black with a cappunchio head that sticks around.

Chocolate, hops, and coffee in the nose. Very balanced. The roast and hops are grooving together.

Taste is darn close to perfect. Cocoa powder, nice hoppy bitterness that doesn't cross the line to ruinous but gives the palatte a work-out. Amazing flavor.

Mouthfeel is clean, smooth, viscous, but could be thicker like New Holland's fantastic Night Tripper.

Really enjoyable overall, the snifter went great with my food and went down easy, even after drinking so much at DLD the day before this was a standout beer. Worth the trip, but I could do with less rain next time!

Serving type: on-tap

04-27-2010 19:53:47 | More by jampics2
Photo of pastradul


3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This pours practically black, with a nice dark brown head on it! The initial smell is that of lightly smoked chocolate! A very interesting nose on this one. As you sip this beer you primarily taste the smoked chocolate and coffee with a nice barley finish. The mouth feel is a little more carbonated then i would prefer...but that is probably because all the stouts I have been drinking have been years past vintages or barrel aged brews. Over all this is a great beer to finish off the evening with. Pick up a bottle if you see one or order a pint if possible! Give this one a solid 4.5 as well!

Serving type: on-tap

04-14-2010 16:06:09 | More by pastradul
Photo of Beerandraiderfan


4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Yum de dum, a big black stout. Fair thickness, deep blackness. Great aroma, more than just typical chocolate and coffee, but a hop quality as well, no noticeable alcohol.

Again, taste, hoppy. This is a big beer. Everything is full bodied, the warming effect, the malt, the hops. Good mouthfeel, gets a little complacent/thin towards the end. Very drinkable, quite affordable for what it is.

Second review: Had it on tap at Hollingshead. And while I'm mentioning that, if you are a Packers fan, and in the OC, and like beer, you MUST go here during a game. Opener, even better. Anyways, solid, solid stuff.

Serving type: on-tap

02-12-2010 16:22:57 | More by Beerandraiderfan


4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in a tulip. The beer menu lists the ABV at 9.1%. but BR's and BA's website agrees on 8.1%. Fair enough.

A: Average sized creamy, light-brown head has good retention and subsides into a thin creamy film. A consistent sheet (more like a goose-down comforter, really) of lace coats the entire glass. The black body is murky and completely opaque.

S: Enormous malt backbone: roasted chocolate, caramel and molasses. There is a medium strength hop aroma, but it is not distinguishable enough to pick out the varieties. (A quick check on the website reveals Centennial and Cascade.) While complexity is not the BBBS's strong suit, it is improved and rounded out by the peaty, leafy yeast component.

T: Same as the nose. Alcohol is really noticeable. I'm starting to wonder if the beer menu was right. Brown sugar and, I really doubt myself on this one, but I thought I noticed some grape flavor or other dark fruit. Whatever it was, I didn't mind it. The flavor lasts all day in your mouth. Just sweet enough and plenty bitter.

M: Full, and creamy and chewy at the same time. Perfectly carbonated.

D: A simple and straightforward RIS, the Big Bear Black Stout's drinkability is top notch. Another high quality offering from a consistently great brewery.

Serving type: on-tap

01-24-2010 15:18:41 | More by FeDUBBELFIST
Photo of CharlatanSin


4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap into a pint glass at Toast on 124th street.

A: Lovely looking and is everything a stout should be. A deep space black, from which no light can escape. It's got a big, foamy dark tan head which leaves some of the thickest lacing I've ever seen.

S: Pretty weak. Typical stout bouquet of toasted coffee and a bit of chocolate, but it's all a bit weak for the style.

T: Sooo much better than the smell. It's got a very nice toasted coffee taste. The sweetness is more dark fruit than chocolate. My girlfriend thought I was nuts, but the taste reminded me of a Fig Newton. It's also got a prickly hop bitterness, which I'm not used to tasting in the style. I like it a lot. A nice sort of balance that I'm not used to in an Imperial Stout.

M/D: Smooth, but thin. Fairly high carbonation, and very resinous on the tongue. The hops add a nice prickle. The alcohol is completely hidden, and I had two of these before I realized I was buzzed, so be careful with this one. Bear Republic does it again!

Serving type: on-tap

01-03-2010 02:10:38 | More by CharlatanSin
Photo of donkeyrunner


3.33/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

@Atwoods 9/11

Inky black with a cocao colored head. Looked good at first but the head faded to a thin collar before I was done. Left three very nice and very symmetrcial lace rings while it was there though.

Scent is dominated by Chambord-esque dark fruit. Taste also relies heavily on dark fruit with an oppressive char character--not so much roast malt as just plain char. Thin, inky body. On the plus side, it doesn't taste like %8.1 abv.

I expect more from Bear Republic. This Impy lacked the complexity and intrigue necessary for a good RIS and comes off as a cheap and touristy. Boo.

Serving type: on-tap

09-12-2009 01:32:56 | More by donkeyrunner
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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 1,852 ratings.