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Big Bear Black Stout - Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout

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2,143 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,143
Reviews: 1,103
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.9%
Wants: 133
Gots: 155 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,143 | Reviews: 1,103 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jampics2
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
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!

Photo of Anthony1
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black with red around the edges, medium tan head, good lacing on the glass. Roasted malts are right at the front of the nose, some hop presence is noticeable behind, with a sweet fruity aroma as well. Taste is dark fruits, roasted malt, chocolate and coffee, like a souped up version of their Tribute Brown ale. Nice and hoppy, with some fruitiness near the end.

Photo of pastradul
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
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!

Photo of feelmefoam
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big Bear pours an opaque, impenetrable black color with no highlights whatsoever when held up to the light. The beer puts up a beautiful, two-inch, khaki-colored head full of pockmarks that holds up for a really long time and leaves pretty decent rings of lacing around the glass. A very inviting beer.

Pungent, slightly acidic hops mingle with a very heavy roasted malt character in the nose. Also on stage is a mild chocolate aroma, accompanied by some a little bit of coffee, too. A fragrant, decently complex nose.

This is a very tasty RIS, especially if you like hops (I certainly approve). The big roasted malt with brown sugar flavor shows up in the beginning, accompanied by chocolate-covered coffee beans through the middle, finishing with a barrage of earthy, slightly acidic, and moderately bitter hops towards the end. Sweet, roasty, chewy, and hoppy. This is good stuff.

This Big Bear has a nice, thick body that maintains a nice smoothness without being too syrupy. The carbonation is there, but stays in check and adds to the nice drying finish that is felt at the end of each sip.

The drinkability is good, but if you don't like hops in your stouts, this thing could get old after a while. That will certainly NOT be the case for me, as I can't seem to put this thing down, but I could see how some may see it as a bit overwhelming. Either way, Big Bear looks good, smells good, and tastes good and I'm loving every sip of it. Another solid brew from Bear Republic.

Photo of hardy008
3.05/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark brown to black in color with streaks of ruby visible when held to the light. has a one finger tan head with nice retention. Smells of coffee, dark chocolate, and hops.

The taste is very hop forward, with bitter coffee, and dark chocolate. Has a harsh burnt flavor to it, which I do not like, although the other flavors are decent.

Has a light to medium bodied mouthfeel with too much carbonation. Has a sticky feel to it, with a bitter burnt aftertaste. It is a decent beer, but not even close to being my favorite Russian Imperial Stout.

Photo of TommyW
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A- Pitch black with a thin, tan head.

S- Roasted malt with a touch of chocolate and a pretty large floral hop aroma.

T- Moderate roasted and chocolate malts with some notes of coffee bean. The hops are again noticeable here in a floral way. Alcohol is also slightly noticeable.

M- A little thinner on the tongue that i expected; crisp finish.

D- A really different RIS, not really what I expected, but still a nice beer.

Photo of jeremyn
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Black. Creamy milk chocolate head that lingers.

S: Flowers! Just a hint of roasted malt, fruit, and smoke. This is a stout?

T: More flowers! Sweet malt, only roasty on the back end. Not a lot of alcohol despite 8.1% abv.

M: Creamy, medium body with nice carbonation.

D: Very good.

The floral profile is a bit odd for a stout. It's nice, but it doesn't necessarily fit what I expected from a stout. I like it anyway though.

Photo of Daniellobo
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fairly well rounded and reliable stout.

Presentation: 22 oz brown bottle. Bear Republic/California bear seal with the name of the brew... A bit out of scale and poorly designed. Side notes offers brief brewmaster notes describing the brew, and an informal note to enjoy drinking with caution while looking out for some others of their brews. Unspecified date on the side... bottling date? (102709) Notes Alc. by Vol. (8.1%). Served into a snifter.

A - Black pour with dark brown edges, nice brown head with average retention and some lacing.

S - Subdued nose with roasted malt, chocolate, and a fruity, even perfumy finish.

T - Nice roasted chocolate profile, coffee, and a hoppy closing touch, nicely woven. A bit floral, and somewhat perfumy again.

M - Medium to full body with fine carbonation and a smooth and creamy feel.

D - Nice stout, not so much a sipper but nice nevertheless in the context of a sturdy stout.

Notes: It's nice, although I feel it could do with a broader range. And I'm ambivalent about the hop, floral profile... On the one had it is a touch too assertive for the stout, on the other those touches of perfume give it a rather special range.

Photo of erosier
4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours a thick black color that you cannot see through with a medium sized thick tan colored head that laces the glass nicely as it fades.
S: Smells of sweet roasted malts, some more bitter burnt malts, chocolate, coffee, caramel, some brown sugar/molasses sweetness at the end as well.
T: Tastes of sweet roasted malts, some more bitter burnt malts, chocolate flavors mixed with caramel flavors and coffee hints with some brown sugary sweetness mixed with some molasses and slightly earthy hops at the end.
M: Very smooth, thick bodied, warming, relaxing, perfect amount of carbonation.
D: Very drinkable, this is a rich velvety full flavored and full bodied beer that is a joy to drink.

Photo of dwilson01
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into an indian wells brewing co pint glass. This brew is dark, they're not joking when they call it "black." The head is thick, brown, and frothy. It reminds me of coffee. Clings well to the glass and receds evenly leaving a nice layer on the top.

The smell gives that it gives off is malty sweet, a little caramel as it says on the bottle but I definitely pick up mostly coffee, just not the roasted kind, it's smooth and dessert-like.

Oh man! I am excited, maybe it's just because I've had a few blander stouts lately that haven't delivered as much on flavor, but this one is noticably great tasting. It delivers everything in the nose, the caramel really comes through kind of reverseing positions with the coffee I got more of in the scent. Not a trace of alcohol at 8%, it's very sweet, and I honestly think this beer would go great paired with some chocolate because I don't get that flavor too much in the taste.

Very good mouthfeel, it's definitely full-bodied in a 100% meaning of the term. But at the same time it's not overly thick and is very enjoyable.

The drinkability is there for sure, it leaves my mouth feeling satisfied and slides down gulp after gulp like it's water.

Overall, great beer, I definitely recommend it to any fan of the dark brew family. Another awesome offering from the bear republic brewing company which has yet to let me down in terms of quality beer. I mean, it's big on flavor, bear of a smell, black on sight, with the mouthfeel of a stout...Big Bear Black Stout, yes I do believe it fits!

Photo of Chico1985
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours, big, black, and bearish. Enormous beige head rests up top. The head here takes a while to calm down. Stays great-looking the whole time, you barely see the top of the beer the entire time. Leaves crazy thick lacing. Smell is a bit weak (gets a bit stronger once the head shrinks a bit), chocolate, caramel and a bit of dark fruit. Also a strange smell that resembles old leather? This stout isn't quite as "hefty" as I remember. Definitely much easier to drink and watery than your average RIS. Subdued tastes of roastiness and light chocolate sweetness combined with some hoppy bitterness. Mouthfeel is a bit too watery for me and the tastes don't really stand out except for the amount of hops which is unusual in a stout. The highlight here is drinkability, one of the easiest-drinking RIS's I've had, good taste, no alcohol taste whatsoever and good price.

Photo of unHipHopHead
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz brown bomber

Appearance: wonderful fluffy pillowy head that leaves nice thick tan lace all the way down.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee and even some molasses or berry sweetness.

Taste & Mouthfeel: very smooth upfront with sweet caramel flavors that transform into some complex roasted coffee, berry and molasses with some good lingering bitterness like dark chocolate at the end. I can also really taste the hops in this one, unusual for a stout imo.

Notes: A very drinkable stout that delivers a good punch and satisfies that craving for a complex and flavorful stout.

Photo of mithrascruor
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice solid black color with a creamy tan head full of bubbles. Decent retention, leaving a heavy ring around the edge and some lacing.

Smell: Mild aroma of roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, and fennel.

Taste: Slightly sweet roasted malt and coffee flavor to start. A bitter roasted flavor comes in towards the finish together with a bit of spices. Slightly bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and medium-bodied. Not as creamy as I anticipated; slightly watery.

Drinkability: Pretty drinkable; minimal alcohol in the taste despite the high ABV.

A nice imperial stout, but not my favourite. Still enjoyable to try.

Photo of riored4v
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Poured 1/2 finger, tan head that faded to a ring quickly. Black body.

Smell was coffee, roasted malt, and some caramel. Slight molasses and dark, burnt bitterness.

Taste had some mild, roasty, burnt bitterness in the the finish. Roast throughout the flavor. Nice coffee flavors with mild caramel.

Mouthfeel was a bit thin on body, with light/medium body and medium carbonation.

Drinkability was good. No signs of ABV and a nice balance of flavors.

Photo of gatorbreath
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark, opaque, with a chocolatey colored mocha head that laces every glass. Smell is malty/chocolate/lightly of dark fruits/and some hops. Taste and mouthfeel are good. Malty overhaul with some same notes as the smells, mostly chocolaty/biscuity/malty with a touch of hops. Mouthfeel is halfway between medium-full bodied and coats the mouth without being overwhelmed. Drinkability is great for a stout. One that I have loved since the first taste.

Photo of jera1350
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Darkest shade of brown in color with a one finger tight head that leaves quite a bit of lacing.

Big nose of sweet caramel, raisin, fig and a pretty hoppy presence.

Quite different than the nose. Lots of toasted malt and quite a bit of chocolate and coffee. Light raisin presence with a moderate hopping.

Nice feel of soft carbonation. Lighter than usual body for the style. This only adds to the drinkability. Dry finishing.

So easy to drink for an IS. The hopping makes this a refreshing version. At $4.99 for a bomber, it's hard to think of a better deal for this style. It's not outstanding, but it is absolutely solid.

Photo of dudecandle
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Black body with dark, burnt-mocha head.

S/T: Very nice toasted oaky-vanilla presence, along with a mellow chocolate, light coffee, subtle dark fruit and some subtle hop herbage.

M: Very nice and full, with the vanilla giving a nice finish.

D: Absolutely drinkable. Alcohol is very subtle, though obviously, the ABV is a bit lower than most of the Russian style. All the flavors meld well together, and I'm a huge fan of the vanilla.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of joepais
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I poured it into tulip glasses split three ways. The brew produced a good tan head that trailed off to a light lace on top of a typical stout black body.

The aroma of hops was the first thing I noticed about this brew. Yes it from the west coast. It sort of reminded me of a great Divide is a lot of ways in the flavor department .It had a medium feel in my mouth with good carbonation. A easy drinking stout not bad at all and for the price a good beer.

Photo of ArrogantB
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle $5, not bad. Color was pitch black, looks pretty standard for the style. Smells nice, roasty. Easygoing taste, rich but not cloying, no alcohol burn but a good warming in the stomach. This is not my favorite stout but it is very well done and a great value for the price. Very easy to drink the whole bottle myself.

Photo of mgbickel
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Formed a massive, two finger, tan head. Very slow dissipation formed foamy pits and left behind large puffs of foam on the glass. The body is blackish brown and solid. You can force amber edges with backlighting.

The nose has sweet malts and dark coffee up front. There are some caramel and molasses notes in the background. The backbone of the nose is a roasted malt aroma.

The roasted malts open up the flavor gate and last throughout the aftertaste. The middle is a combo of coffee and molasses that grows into a sweet caramel finish. Black coffee accompanies the roasted flavors in the aftertaste.

The mouth feel is medium and slightly drying with mild carbonation.

Very drinkable with good (not great) flavors that hide the 8.1% ABV well. Will buy this one again!

Photo of chicano4craft
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a snifter. Black as night with a huge tan head. Very inviting. Decent lacing.

Grainy chocolate and roasted malted in the nose. Smells very clean for a RIS.

First sip is surprising. Not as heavy as I was expecting but still packed with huge flavor. The taste delivers the smells promise of chocolate and roast. Hops come through in the bitter finish. Good carbonation leads to a dangerously drinkable stout.

I love this beer. While Yeti is still king, this bear is a scrapper and ready to challenge for the throne. Whatever the heck that means!

Photo of djbreezy
4.63/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours a nice molasses brown with a solid head and lacing to match

Smell - Malt, molasses appear to be the prominent smells

Taste - Chocolate with roasted malts and a sugar/hop taste that is very unique to a traditional stout.

Mouthfeel - Chewy and smooth

Drinkability - Extremely drinkable for a stout

Photo of ShadesOfGray
2.78/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks Sideswipe! Even though I respect "The Bros" reviews, I have no idea how they gave this one an A+. Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Koningshoeven snifter. Pours a thin'er black with reddish tinge. Head is light brown last lasts pretty long, and when it dissapates...remains a thin surface head. Lacing is pretty good though...sticky and remains for quite some time.

Aroma is pretty bitter. Stout like characteristics, mostly overroasted coffee bitters...and that's about it...unfortunately.

Stouts are my favorite beer, but when they resemble too much bitterness, it kills it for me. This one flirted with that line. At first, I picked up a licorice or bitter chocolate, followed by hoppy bitterness that was strong and lingered for a few minutes. There wasn't much sweetness to compliment the bitterness. Medium to thin(for a stout) mouthfeel. Crisp and carbonated, another opposite of great stouts. Booze was pretty well hidden while cold, became more pronounced as it warmed up to room temp.

Photo of Clydesdale
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark, opaque black color, with garnet-brown highlights when held aloft. The brown head is tall and thick, with a densely frothy texture. Retention is excellent, with loads of sticky lacing clinging to the glass.

S: Thick notes of roasty, chewy dark chocolate and brown sugar. Bright citric and leafy hop notes, along with lesser hints of dark fruit and coffee.

T: A robust roasted malt presence with a big chocolate brownie flavor. A moderate hop bitterness is carried by a juicy citric (orange) flavor. I get a significant brown sugar flavor as well, which fades into a slightly fruity toffee character. A dose of leafy/piney bite and a little alcohol into the finish.

M: Fairly full-bodied. Intensely chewy, with medium carbonation. A nice balance between roastiness and creaminess.

D: Another big, impressive beer from Bear Republic. A robustly hoppy, fruity, brown-sugary stout that drinks like a liquid brownie. A wonderful blend of chocolate, roasted malts, and hop flavors. Also a relative steal for $4.50.

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,143 ratings.