Big Bear Black Stout - Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout

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BA SCORE
92
outstanding

1,110 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

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Reviews: 1,110
Hads: 2,233
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.44%
Wants: 145
Gots: 190 | FT: 4
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-05-2001

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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Big Bear Black Stout Alström Bros
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Reviews: 1,110 | Hads: 2,233
Photo of Sammy
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

stout hopped up.and chocolate malt and very bitter. . Quenched the thirst and then some. Astringent, great with meat and salad. Had on tap a year later and licorice aroma prevalent. Beautiful black appearance. Good carbonation. A top notch stout and a top notch brewery.. (271 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black with a nice 1 inch chocolate milk colored head. Smells of dark roasted malt, coffee beans, and spicy herbal hops. Taste is super dark chocolate, espresso grounds, with a bit of herbal hops on the finish. Mild bitterness on the palate after each sip. Good carbonation with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, a good stout that is definitely worth seeking out. The price is also right seeing as it's around $3.99 a bomber. (446 characters)

Photo of GRG1313
3.26/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Re-tasted on tap at Bear Republic 1/31/11 and while review below is accurate, it was much more "stoutlike" han indicated below(although one of my least favorite beers from a brewery that makes almost all really good brews)

* *

Vintage 2006 (although tasted on tap in 2009) Pours very dark brown, almost black with a tan head that is not long in the glass.

Nose is light grapefruit, pine and light undertones of fruity malt. Nose is restrained.

Flavors and basic appeal is also somewhat restrained. The body and flavors are not complex and are light simple malt/stone fruit but not very big and not very assertive and certainly not real complex. This is a basic "ok" drink. It was a treat to try the 2006 in 2009 but not something I'd go out of my way for again. All in all a bit thin in all respects. Not what you would expect in a "quality" craft stout. (858 characters)

Photo of metter98
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a thin mocha head that quickly faded away leaving lacy patterns of bubbles on the surface.
S: There are aromas of burnt malts and roasted malts in the nose along with notes of chocolate and licorice.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and also has some coffee flavors as well as a moderate amount of bitterness, which particularly stands out in the finish.
M: It feels full-bodied on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation. There is warming from the alcohol in the finish.
D: The beer is rather easy to drink compared to others in the style because any traces of alcohol are well hidden from the taste. (678 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the first Russian Imperial Stouts I ever had. I can say that it certainly did not disappoint, even if it is a little different for the style.

A: Very black with a nice, tan head.

S: Chocolate, espresso, and hops. Quite hoppy for an imperial stout.

T: Plenty of hops along with chocolate and espresso.

M: Quite smooth with good carbonation and a slight alcohol presence.

D: Highly drinkable. Good all around stout. Very, very highly recommended to any hophead who is looking into branching out into RIS's. (517 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark brown color with tawny highlights and a nice tan head that leaves plenty of lacing

Smell: Smells as much like an IPA as a stout, with grapefruit hops mixing together with roasted coffee and woody notes

Taste: Starts out with a rich chocolate flavor that blends with dark fruits by mid-palate; after the swallow, the grapefruit bitterness arrives in a big way; woody dry flavors at the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body (just a bit thinner than it could be) with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: This stout hits most of the high points although I wouldn't characterize it as a RIS; it's really more of an American Double Stout in my book. (664 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

to me this one falls somewhere between a black ipa and a stout. it pours jet jet black, with a nitro looking 2 inch microbubble tan head. smells a little burnt, hoppy, and some dark roasted coffee. flavor is quite hoppy, especially at the end when the dark malts combine with it to form a really unique finish. the 8.1% abv is well hidden, and its excellent bang for your buck at under 5$ a bomber. body is full but this feels drinkable to me, just enough carbonation, and smooth as it goes down. an excellent stout, and a good first impression from bear republic. (564 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ok, I buy the style characterization. But the beer does hinge on the gavity of an American Stout. Very drinkable and enjoyable for either because the beer emphasizes the intensity of flavor over gravity or feel. This beer is cramed pack full of strong cocoa flavors that will rival Rogues Mocha Porter. Balance that with a strong coffee (nearly espresso) flavor notes that also complement the sharp, American hops that do resemble the younger American Stout. Fresh and intense describe the flavors well. The body is full for a standard American Stout, but not chewy or dense enought for a RIS. I don't seem to care, where it drops off in thickness, it makes up for with drinkability. Still I keep comming back to that intense cocoa / coffee / nutty / toasty blend that makes this beer work for me. Another hats off to Bear Republic for another world class beer. By the way, this beer could win beauty contests with it's appearance that I just didn't describe very well. (969 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This poured out with a nice looking black color with a healthy brown head on top also. The lacing wasn't too bad here. The smell of the beer was chocolaty and roasted much like any stout should smell. The taste of the beer was rich with dark malts and some roasted bitterness. The mouthfeel was above average to me, I thought that the carbonation level was pretty good and the body itself wasn't too thin either. OVerall this wasn't a bad Stout, I'd say it worth having. (470 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.23/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Beerandblues2: Poured a light black color ale with a nice brown foamy head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of roasted bitter malt some discernable hops. Taste is dominated by roasted bitter malt with a bitter hoppy finish. Body is more watery then I would have expected for the style with no alcohol being discernable. Overall, I found that this one was way too dry and bitter to really please me. (422 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black and impenetrable, small frothy head.

Smell: Sweet malts, dark chocolate, a trace of alcohol.

Taste: A very chocolatey stout. Fairly pronounced hops presence, but it doesn't detract from the overall sweet, mellow taste.

Mouth: Full-bodied and rich, dry in the finish, goes down smooth with no noticable burn. Definitely a high point of the beer.

Overall: Great stuff. Hoppier than I was expecting, but not overly so; it still has a good balance, and a distinct malty sweetness. Reminds me a bit of Rogue's Imperial Stout, but mellower than that, and not quite so rich or complex. (600 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep, impenetrable mahogany. I do see dark caramel highlights at the margins though, so it isn't a complete and total ambient light sucker. The expansive, thickly creamy head of golden cocoa brown falls infinitesimally slowly and resembles a large scoop of coffee ice cream left to melt in the midday sun.

A tremendous stout nose with power to spare. While sweet dark chocolate is dominant, this is no one-trick pony. Next in line would have to be citric hops (thank you Bear Republic), then brown sugar, then molasses, and finally, coffee. That is pretty much my ideal stout lineup, in exactly that order.

BBBS is good beer, as I was pretty sure it would be. One caveat: if you're not fond of hoppy stouts, this one may not be to your liking. I am and it is. It's even more hopalicious than the nose let on. In fact, I never thought I'd say this, but it's too hoppy relative to the actual stout flavor. I like hops in my dark beer (I like them on a train, I like them on a plane, I like them in Big Bear, I like them anywhere), but I don't like them to overwhelm the business at hand, which is... heavily roasted malt, chocolate, molasses and all that other stouty stuff.

Chocolate malt is still holding down the fort, but the ramparts have taken heavy damage from the humulus lupulus barrage. It's also impressively sweet, as befits a beer to which both brown sugar and molasses have been added. This really is delicious stuff even though its balance is just a tad askew. The finish is long and roastyhoppy with sweet just winning out over bitter. The mouthfeel is a notch shy of full with an impressive smooth silkiness.

Big Bear Black is great beer, but would benefit from being more classically stout-like. Even I need a break from overwhelming hops once in a while. As hard as it is to believe, sometimes I just wanna be 'mauled by malt', to paraphrase the BR website. Can't decide between a hop monster IPA and a darkly chocolatey double stout? Bear Republic has placed both in one bomber for your convenience and your drinking pleasure. (2,056 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Poured a thick black, opague oil like liquid. A nice small tan colored head was present at the start, which hung around for a decent amount of time. A nice long lasting lace was left to cling to the side the whole time, looked pretty good.

S - Lots of coffee and chocolate tones set the stage here. Hints of french vanilla and sugar swirled around and really gave this a nice robust dessert like feel.

M & T - Very nice here, great feel, very frothy and creamy like a milkshake. Great consistency. Big flavors of roasted dark chocolate and coffee. Big suprise was the huge hop presence here. Very dry hoppy finish, but also in the taste. Hints of pine and orange were definatly present and made this a very intresting brew to say the least. Could not really tell which was more dominant, but both were very welcome.

D - Awesome, is the only word that comes to mind. This was extremely drinkable, and even at 8.1%abv not a hint of alcohol was to be found anywhere in this. Not too heavy, but no where near thin, perfect drinkabilty, even on an abnormally warm early spring evening. A+ (1,097 characters)

Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a dark brown color with a two-finger, caramel colored head. It left nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of caramel and chocolate. Also, a floral/hop aroma was present.

T - It tasted of chocolate and sweet, sweet caramel. It was sugary sweet with a subtle hop bitterness.

M - It was very smooth and soft. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good RIS. I wish it was available closer to home. (412 characters)

Photo of oberon
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark black with a mocha colored creamy head,big hop presence in the aroma for the style zesty and nutty with a little moch a coffee thrown in very nice.Wow where to begin on the flavors in this bad boy very creamy feel in the mouth, drier than expected some unsweetened chocolate and nutty earthiness with a background of zesty,spicey hop.Alot going on and way to easy to drink for the alc% every flavor u could want in a beer with a smooth creamy mouthfeel,just awesome. (484 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a near black body with a thick, foamy tan head.

Smell: Earthy, roasted malts saturate the aroma, as well as hints of caramel and aniseed. A touch of dark fruits in the nose as well.

Taste: Sweet, full malt backbone with flavors of caramel, dark chocolate, and molasses. Smooth finish accented by a light, grassy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a silky, creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Easy drinking stout. An ample, respectable brew, but it lacks the complexity of other Russian Imperial Stouts. (536 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opaque black topped by a full, foamy, dark tan head that drops but keeps a thin 1/8" surface covering and leaves nice lace throughout the glass. The nose displays a gently fruity (currant, black raspberry) dark chocolate, coffee, and sweet cocoa. The medium body teams with the very fine and moderate carbonation to create a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. The flavor is of a creamy sweet caramel and fruit-tinged toffee with a roasted edge. It starts with a bitter espresso note and warms into more softly roasted cocoa notes. Some alcohol is apparent but unobtrusive. It finishes drying with a lingering bitterness, mild roastiness and soft notes of mocha. Exceptionally well balanced. The bitterness builds on the palate throughout the serving but never goes out of bounds. A really nice stout with a very good drinkability. Well worth trying. (843 characters)

Photo of Kegatron
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into a Unibroue Maudite snifter.

Pours a very dark brown/black with some garnet highlights just visible around the bottom of the glass with 1-2 finger widths of poofy tan head. Retains nicely into a creamy ring that leaves sticky lace down the sides of the glass. The aroma is sweet up front with chocolate and caramel that gives way to some coffee and dark fruit tones.

The taste is deep with chocolate sweetness, dark fruit tartness, roasted coffee and finishes with a burnt and hop bitterness combo. The mouthfeel is full bodied but imparts more of a viscous feel than a creamy one. Alcohol is present and while hidden for the most part, it does rear its head in the end to add a little oompth to the finish.

This is a really good Stout (Duh!) from Bear Republic. Tons of deep warming flavor and a well hidden ABV make this one highly drinkable and complex RIS. It definitely went down easy on this cold, winter's night. (941 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired from jgaston courtesy of Birthday Club 2, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color with a thin brown head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of chocolate, roasted dark malts and a strong amount hops for the style.

T: Despite the appearance, the taste does not have the heavy maltiness, smokiness or sweetness as most big stouts. I consider that a good thing, but you’re looking for the typical stout-like taste you’ve got the wrong beer. All of the previously mentioned attributes are certainly present, but there’s a strong hops presence that dominates to the point that if you close your eyes, you might think you’re drinking an IPA. Only one other stout that I’ve had has even approached this type of flavor, much less done it this well. The after-taste is slightly bitter.

M: Smooth and very crisp for the style, medium body, light-to-medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Very tasty, goes down easy, a little bit filling, good representation of style while adding a very nice twist, good kick, as I stated earlier, it’s not your typical RIS, which is exactly what I like so much about it. It’s definitely a sipper and not a pounder, but it’s a very good beer. (1,322 characters)

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a bomber of this for $3.99. Pours jet black, nice and creamy tan head. Aroma is nice and roasty. Taste is medium to heavy bodied, nice roasted malt and a great hop backbone to it. Awesome mouthfeel, well balanced, and goes down wicked smooth. A great stout, hides the ABV well and is definitely one of the better beers of this style I've tried. (351 characters)

Photo of mactrail
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
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). (431 characters)

Photo of Slatetank
4.58/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on cask at Al's of Hampden - served at cask temp in a 14oz Nonic.

A - The color is onyx with a slight crimson hue at the glass base. The translucent clarity is nice to look at in the flourescent lighting. The cap of rocky beige is appealing with tight bead and moderately good lace cling - it was worthy of beer porn pics.

S - The smell of this stout is very good - it has your usual coffee and caramel components, but seems elevated by an espresso-like quality, bitter notes of cocoa and slight toasted grain roastiness in the smell w/ a mild sweet crystal malt quality and hint of dried cherry. You don't sense any alcohol in the aroma which is a surprise for a big stout.

M - The feel is luxury in stout form -smooth as silk with only slight bitter edges poking out and hints of roasted texture that border on char, but don't really go there. The hop acidity acts as a foil to the caramel sweetness the malt delivers. The texture is semi-dry in the last taste and the beer is what I consider balanced in the best sense of the word.

T - The flavor follows the alluring mouthfeel with its dark cocoa/espresso taste. The slight molassess and roasted flavors go well with a slight pine and citrus tinge from the hops. The taste has slight toffee notes which come and go with an earthy vanilla bean type accent. The nice thing is how well the flavors glide into each other, no pause or stutter in the yeast or malt with hops, they all cooperate in a synergistic way which is extremelely pleasurable.

D - I could drink a beer like this repeatedly if it weren't for the 8% octane -the flavor hides it so well, but I tend to go for cask beers in succession that are slightly milder in strength. I don't think you could find many cask American Stouts that are easier on the palate for the abv -this is a truly quality cask brew, sad to see it go. (1,858 characters)

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours almost opaque with a big tan head off a strong pour. Nose is mildly malted. Flavor is smooth with a touch of sweet that morphs into a roasted and hearty flavor. What is left afterwards is a strong, earthen flavor on the tongue. Feel is good. Great carbonation and highly drinkable. Pretty damn good stuff. (311 characters)

Photo of Jason
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz brown bomber, no freshness date but the 8.1% should keep it fine on the shelf for a while.

Appearance: The light brown foamy tan head looks appetizing, as black as you can get in colour … what else would you expect from a big stout.

Smell: Fragrant aroma of unsweetened dark chocolate and mild espresso … hint of molasses as well. Dark berries and a hidden alcohol are there to boot.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy … and a kick of crispness at that. Layered complex burnt character lingers right under the strong arm of maltiness. The fresh hoppiness drops a thick blanket of bitterness and oily hop flavour. Touch of yeast with black currant in the back with a subdued alcohol.

Notes: Where the hell is the 8.1% abv? So deceiving and very drinkable, very well put together. I’d say I would make this a session beer but I would not last too long … (876 characters)

Photo of russpowell
4.58/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Starts out with a crazy/chunky brown bublly head and jet black body that when held to an intense light source reveals mahogony/ruby pigmentation. Big lace all the way down the glass.

Smells of molasses, rum, fruitcake and alcohol

Taste: Bitter hopiness on tounge is sync with licorice, dark rum/molasses and hints of chocolate. A faint hint pepper and maple syrup?? Aftertaste of hops hits the back of the tounge and throat.

Syrupy chewy mouthfeel with a just right carbination level, as balanced as an Imperial stout can get.

Super effort, doesn't quite hit all the notes to get full marks, but will drink any chance I get! (636 characters)

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,110 ratings.