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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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2,183 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,183
Reviews: 1,113
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.93%
Wants: 141
Gots: 170 | 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: 2,183 | Reviews: 1,113
Photo of Pabs311
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- dark black stout, as expected. thin rich mochas head tops this bear with minimal head and lacing.

S- dark roasted malts, coffe, bitter sweat chocolate. nothing special here.

T- pretty similar to the smell. bittersweet chocolate, coffee and some dark roasted malts. nothin special.

M/D- medium bodied, low carbonation. easy drinkin stout. for me, did not live up to the hype i've heard about this beer.

Photo of EgadBananas
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This is a wonderful stout. Black as night, fluffy tan head, lots of lacing. Smells of slight hops, roasted malts, hints of bitter chocolate and coffee. Taste is similar with a bit of hops with a deep roasted malt backbone, coffee, and chocolate. The only real complaint I have with this beer is that it is just too thin... I don't buy that this is an RIS...if this was just an American Stout, the thinner body would be suitable, but it's just not on an Imperial Stout. Regardless though, this is an amazing beer and should not be missed. It's great and very affordable considering the size and style of the beer.

Photo of chasebrownyeah1
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big Bear Black Stout ABV: 8.1%

A: The beer pours a pitch black fluid that leaves a half inch tan head that quickly falls to a minimal to no head.

S: Smells of malts, fruits, and caramel. Has a very distinctive smell that lingers in your nose. Almost a very sweet smell with the addiction to the other items I have listed. The alcohol is apparant in the smell.

T: Taste very sweet and kind of sour. Has a fruity caramel kick that leaves a strong caramel taste in the aftertaste. Also can taste some floral aromas. The flavors go together relatively well!

M-D: As stated in the taste, the flavors just explode once they touch the tip of your tongue. Its a good dark beer with an exhilerating taste that leaves you ready for the next sip!

Photo of thetomG
3.96/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bomber into a tulip. Very dark brown inn color with a few fingers of BEAUTIFUL tan foamy bubbly head. The head on this one was one of the best I've ever seen! Mouth-watering! Foam dissipates over time but leaves tons of lacing up along the glass. Very good looking beer.

Aroma and flavor are similar - primarily a strong amount of smokey/roasted malts with hints of molasses and caramel. Some bitterness and a slight twinge of booziness in the finish. The bitterness takes away some of the drinkability on this one for me, but nevertheless this is a nice stout.

Photo of TheHoppiest
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a large snifter. Pours a black-brown with a 2" tan head that slowly reduces. As I drink it, it leaves soapy lacing down the sides.

Has a nice roast malt smell, some coffee and dark chocolate, with underlying hops.

Though I'm expectng a typical stout, I first notice that this is a hoppy stout. This surprise is quickly replaced with the taste of bitter coffee, vanilla, and roast malt.

The mouthfeel is thinner than expected for a stout. Gets creamier as it warms.

Would have again, but not seek it out.

Photo of mwa423
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Jet black with a small tan head that quickly died but left a good lacing.

S - Lots of sweet malt that reminded me of malt extract, some coffee, and light chocolate.

T - Simple and exceptional stout. Roasted malt fills the mouth followed by a slight tangy hop bite. The rest of the flavor is the same sweet malt that reminded me of malt extract.

M/D - Mouthfeel is slightly thin, but very smooth and slightly creamy. Very drinkable stout which will be disappearing from the my glass far too quickly given the abv.

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

Pours a thick black with a small amount of tan head that laces thickly around th etop of the glass. The aroma is an overwhelming amount of sweet malt with hints of caramel and toffee with a smaller amount of hops present in the nose. The taste isn't as syrupy sweet as I would have thought with a hefty amount of hop bitterness present, especially in the aftertaste. Well balanced and very easy to drink if a little thick. A great taste with very little hint of the large amount of alcohol present.

Photo of zoso493
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep, dark cola color that at first glance appears to be pretty black, but when held up to the light, a garnet border becomes evident. Atop the beer is a thick two-finger head that has above-average retention. A fair amount of sticky lacing gets left on the glass as well.

Smell: Right off the bat I can tell this is going to be a hoppy stout. I used to think that hops didn't belong in a stout, despite the fact that I'm a huge hophead, until I tried Surly Darkness. There is a good bit of citric and piny hops in the nose, but there's also an encouraging reinforcement of malts. As far as the smell goes, the malts don't seem to to be too dark or chocolately, but have a bit of a toasted, buttery character to them.

Taste: The hops are certainly present in the taste but perhaps not as much as the smell might have indicated. I'm not sure how old this bottle is, but it may be that once upon time they were more assertive. Now, the toasted, butterscotch malts make themselves the most known. I generally prefer my imperial stouts to have a darker and more chocolately malt character to them, as this tastes more like your average stout, but this is a good beer all the same.

Mouthfeel: Big Bear's mouthfeel is not quite as large as its namesake, unfortunately. This is an exceedingly thin stout and if I could swish it around in my mouth without tasting it I would never in a million years guess this was a Russian imperial stout. It's still pretty smooth, but I need my big stouts to have big bodies as well.

Drinkability: The alcohol is absolutely absent in this beer and the beer otherwise does not seem like a high ABV brew. Because it's not too big or thick, this is an exceptionally drinkable stout. This bomber is getting put away very quickly and I could certainly make a session out of this brew.

Overall, Big Bear is a good stout but not a big one. I've enjoyed this bottle without a doubt but it's just a bit on the light side to really qualify as a great RIS. That said, it's a very drinkable and smooth beer and I would happily drink this again. This is the third offering from Bear Republic that I've had and they've never failed to impress me.

Photo of scottyshades
3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a completely opaque black color with a big fluffy and creamy khaki colored head. Retention is pretty good too. This may be one of the blackest beers I've seen

S: Roasted malts, coffee/espresso, lactose, molasses, wood, toffee, caramel, vanilla?, and lots and lots of hops. Pretty damn good nose. Everything seems to be in place. Overall, there is a big roasty character.

T: The flavor is unique...lots of complexity, but the overall profile seems to be pretty mellow. Malts give off roasted/slightly burnt flavors, lots of caramel, molasses, dark fruit (figs), toffee, vanilla, and slight coffee. Lactose is pretty apparent. Hops are definitely present, but hard to really taste- mostly providing a slight citrus twang and a good dose of bitterness. To be quite honest, the flavor is a little watery or bland...I don't know

MF/D: Lighter in body for the style, carbonation is a little intense for my liking. Lingering citrusy/sour/bitter finish.

Notes: I had higher hopes for this one, but it is still good, and really drinkable. The flavor is a little watered for me...I guess I am moving away from stouts in general. But at $5 a bomber, I'm sure I'll revisit this.

Photo of Haybeerman
4.59/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black color; no light comes through - even on the edges. Poured a thin tan head that dissipated to a broken skim. Lacing washed a bit down the glass.

S: Chocolate, bitter coffee, toffee, burnt caramel. Very inviting.

T: Bitter chocolate and toasted malts most prominent; coffee, burnt caramel, toast and roasted nuts. There's bitter hops in the finish to balance, but not to note.

M: Full body. Low carbonation. Smooth, rich and creamy.

D: Smell as outstanding. More drinkable that many of the style.

Photo of CHickman
4.67/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours opaque black in color with a huge 2 finger creamy/foamy chocolate malted-like head that lasted a minute or so; great lacing that left rings and looked very impressive.

Smells of sweet malt, floral hops, caramel, cocoa, and toffee. Very hoppy aroma for a stout, which is nice, especially mixed with the chocolate malty tones.

Tastes of sweet malt, floral hops, caramel, chocolate, cocoa, grass, brown sugar and toffee and/or coffee; there might be light floral hop spices, but this is one tasty stout - delicious. I love the hop and stout combo, which to me made this beer a very nice surprise and worth the cost (it was expensive at a bar for a bomber). The ABV is so well hidden by the taste that you can get hammered from this brew.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, with little to no carbonation and a light and somehow crisp feel - a very refreshing stout, which seems odd since most stouts are heavy feeling, but this one just seemed light.

Drinkability was excellent, as this was awesome and tasty.I really enjoyed this beer. Will definitely seek this out again and highly recommend it for any stout lover who likes IPA's.

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

Pours a luscious opaque sable with a thick, frothy beige head - most inviting! Rich, oily aroma has tones of molasses, coffee and unsweetened chocolate. Flavor is malty with tones of coffee, molasses and licorice and just a hint of cinnamon. Texture is tingly and fairly smooth, quite pleasing. Worth a try.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.23/5  rDev -21.8%
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.

Photo of jmbranum
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer on tap at the brewery last week while visiting CA, but this review is of a 22 oz bomber.

Surprisingly, I like it better in the bottle. More complexity.

Deep black brew with giant tan fluffy head. Incredible toasty aroma. Perfect taste. Certainly some dark chocolate, slight tinge of berries and wine notes. Maybe some brandy. Velvety fluffy mouthfeel. Supremely drinkable. It is a very high ABV but you can't feel it.

Hard to find anything to fault in this beer. Maybe my new favorite stout.

Photo of mdfb79
3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 4/26/10 notes. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a black color with two fingers of brown head. Nice lacing and retention.

s - Smells of coffee, toffee, chocolate, and toasted, caramel, and roasted malts. Pretty nice.

t - Tastes of bitter chocolate, hops, coffee, and roasted malts.

m - Medium to full body and low carbonation. Smooth and creamy.

d - A decent RIS. It smelled very good but wasn't the biggest fan of the bitterness in the taste. Willing to try again.

Photo of jampics2
4.23/5  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!

Photo of Anthony1
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
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
3.93/5  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!

Photo of feelmefoam
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
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
3.06/5  rDev -25.9%
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
3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
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
4.21/5  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
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
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
4.75/5  rDev +15%
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
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
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!

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,183 ratings.