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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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2,145 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,145
Reviews: 1,103
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.93%
Wants: 133
Gots: 155 | FT: 3
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: 2,145 | Reviews: 1,103 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ShadesOfGray
2.83/5  rDev -31.5%
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
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

Photo of GilGarp
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

After enjoying Bear Republic's other more hoppy offerings, I was really excited to see this one finally come to Colorado.

Served cool into a pint glass, Big Bear has very dark brown color on the pour but looks black in the glass. It has creamy bone white head but it's short-lived, unfortunately.

Aroma is not especially strong but it has all the right characterisitcs of a good stout - nice roastiness, black malt, and coffee.

Flavor is really enjoyable. Chocolate sweetness up front is followed by some well-judged bitterness. It seems the bitter flavor comes mostly from the hops but there is some dark malty goodness in there too. It finishes pretty dry with a pleasant after-taste.

Mouthfeel is really just about right. In fact, it drinks more like a regular stout. It's not super-thick but it has good body and very low carbonation, which I like. The alcohol is well-hidden so it never feels like an imperial stout until I finish the first glass.

Overall a very good version of the style. It isn't up there with the very best but it's certainly a worthy addition to the Bear Republic lineup. I'll be sure to pick up more next time I see it on the shelves.

Photo of bump8628
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Tight, creamy, light tan head sits on top of a black as night beer.

Big coffee character in this stout like a good espresso with an extra shot of bourbon. Notes of dark chocolate and charred sugar add complexity. Hops have trouble poking through the malt, but this is a well-aged bottle so I'm sure they've faded considerably.

I love the lower level of alcohol in this compared to others in the style, which makes it exceptionally drinkable, almost dangerously so considering this is still far from a session pint. A very well-crafted beer.

Photo of snpub540
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Like pouring a black void into my snifter. Totally opaque with no light getting through. A slight hint of brown at the base of the glass. A vigorous pour gave me a two finger fluffy head, but it soon settled into a thing ring of foam. Thin delicate lacing during the entire drink.

Smell was very complex and wonderful. A slight vinous hint, followed by raisins, caramel, coffee, and a slight hint of vanilla. Very enticing.

Taste is great. A nice balance between a caramel sweetness and a bitter roastiness. Bitter chocolate and coffee make up a very dry finish. Nice warming effect as it goes down.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and good. Alcohol is well hidden with the flavors. Very nice for a cold evening.

Photo of kylejohnson03
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a tulip glass. No freshness information on the bottle. Pours a jet black, with a one finger caramel head. Recedes quickly, minimal lacing and retention. Roasted malts, chocolate, and coffee notes all blend together. The taste is incredibly balanced, good amount of malt vs hops. The finish turns just a touch bitter, very well done. I wish the mouthfeel were just a touch thicker, but the medium carbonation is spot on, IMO. As a fan of rich stouts, I won't have a problem finishing this bottle at all. This beer was also a great value, definately one that will stay in my regular rotation.

4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

Photo of adamette
3.28/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Live review. Poured from the 22 oz. bomber that I bought at Save-On Tobacco & Beverage in Mentor a few weeks ago for $5.99 into my Samuel Smith pint glass. I had my eye out for this one for a while since I tried many of the other Bear Republic beers some time ago but did not see this one until now. No observed "best by" date.

A Medium brown head over a very dark black body that has only trace deep mahogany in front of direct light only. Reasonable lacing on the glass as I sip as well. The look of this style is always impressive and this version is no exception. The head stays put for more than 10 minutes, an incredibly long period of time if you ask me. 4.5

S Dark roast malt but an almost equal amount of hops to the nose as well. Interesting, inviting. 4.0

T Dark roast malt, big hops just as the smell suggested in a rather well balanced taste between the toasty roasted malt and the hops bitterness. The hops are probably too strong for my taste. 3.5

M A bit thinner than I like and more thin for the style. It remains a "big" beer but it dissapears quicker than I would like. I just had Rogue Shakespeare Stout and I thought that its feel was much better. I know that Rogue Shakespeare Stout is classified as an "American Stout" but they are both stouts. 2.5

D Not really that good. This remains a big beer with the roasted malt/bitter hops bigness and the elevated ABV. I will finish the 22 ounces but would not consider reaching for a second one. I probably should have shared this with someone else. 2.0

Photo of exparte
3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Strong floral hop aroma that overpowers anything else that may be in there. Beautiful obsidian color with a thick, rocky brown head that last beyond the final drop. Flavor of sweet caramel, roasted malt, bitter chocolate, and a slight alcohol tinge. Full bodied with soft carbonation and a long, bitter finish. This is a fantastic stout that's dangerous in its smoothness and high alcohol.

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

A: Pours a deep mahogany brown with a quickly dissapearing milk chocolate colored head

S: Roasted malt, chocolate, and some alcohol combine nicely with an earthy hop aroma, hints of brandy

T: A nice creamy flavor of malt sweetness, carmel, bitterswet chocolate, roasted malt, and alcohol, a fair amount of piney hop flavor and bitterness.

M: Medium body, creamy and smooth, nice balance between sweetness and bitterness.

D: One of the easiest and smoothest drinking imperial stouts I have ever had, simply delicious.

Photo of coldmeat23
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

This pours black, just like the label led me to believe it would. It has an almost two-finger head of cappuccino colored foam on top. This recedes to a spotty, craggy, surface covering. The lacing is sticky and abundant.

This has some big, rich, caramel notes that are mingling very nicely with a deep, rich, roastiness. Good presence of chocolates and a nice little hint of coffee. Minor notes of brown sugar and dark fruits.

The roastiness is deep and almost bitter. The caramel is not as sweet as the nose implied, but is sweet enough to balance out the roastiness. This has some mild hints of dark chocolate and some light traces of coffee beans. Lots of cocoa powder. The fish has a slight reappearance of the roasty batterness, combined with a very light hops kiss.

This a full-bodied beer. It has a light-to-medium level of carbonation, which suits it. It is smooth and lightly creamy, almost velvet-like.

This one is nicely drinkable. The 8.10%abv is well-hidden, but I have a feeling that it would sneak up on you, rather easily. It's big on the roastiness, so if that isn't your thing, then stay away.

Photo of Kaiser81
3.76/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My buddy had it on tap and recommended it. So, I picked up a bottle.

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into my Delirium Tremens snifter.

A - Pours black with a finger and a half width of mocha colored head. it sits soft, like a pillow (2nd beer that had that today, but completely different style). There is a lot of nice lacing left on my glass

S - Dark fruits, roast, subtle hints of chocolate or cocoa powder, mocha, and coffee beans as it warms up just a bit. Just faint hints of everything. It's all swirled together.

T - A lot of roastiness dominates this. I get a tiny bit of hops up front, then fresh coffee roastiness, then a slight bitter finish that reminds me of coffee, though the taste is more like bittersweet chocolate.

M - Creamy, with plenty of carbonation, and somewhat chewy. Nicely done.

D - It's a stout; not sure I'd want more than 22 oz at a sitting, but I am enjoying drinking this, that's for sure.

It's a decent stout, and a great value for the money. But there are plenty of better tasting stouts out there.

Photo of DoppleJock
4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type: 650ml bottle
Glass Type: Pint Glass

A: Deliciously dark. Two-finger head in a pint glass.

S: Slightly "roasty." Hints of caramel and chocolate.

T: Stronger than its smell, I found the taste to be REALLY roasted and malty. I'm a big fan of American Stouts and English Porters, but I may have found a new addiction to Russian Imperial Stouts too.

M: Strong roasted taste gave way to a smooth caramel aftertaste.

D: Russian Imperial Stouts are definitely stronger than the American Style Stouts I'm used to, but I still wish a had a glass large enough to pour the entire 650ml bottle into. Not a session beer for me, personally, but I wouldn't hesitate to split a bottle with friends.

Photo of OlRasputin989
4.57/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into 16 oz. nonic

A: a dark black brew with some brown around the edges and a rocky, cappucino colored head that slowly disappears to reveal big chunks of lacing on the glass.

S: dark roasted malt aromas; coffee, dark cocoa and cocoa-dusted orange peel, vanilla, and a salty aroma.

T: upfront, flavors of roasted malts: sweet cocoa, vanilla and coffee with a hop presence noticeable in the aftertaste with some sprucey, orange-ey flavors. very nice.

M: a full body that could stand with the best of stouts. a velvety smooth entry with a fizz that gives the perfect transition to the off-dry, chalky-cocoa finish and gives you a little beer 'stache!

Overall, Amazing! This is not a Russian Imperial Stout. This beer is wholly American. The roasted malts are done to perfection and followed by crisp sprucey hops that can only be American. Great beer for the price(22 oz. bomber: $4.95), flavors, ABV, and drinkability!

Photo of 1fastz28
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a completely black color with a big brown head, the smell is incredible, has a great malt aroma to it and is reminiscent of dark chocolate. taste is really awesome, had a full body and has a phenomenal roasted malt flavor, it really is a great beer. mouthfeel is full and rich and syrupy, just an awesome beer.

Photo of CharlatanSin
4.09/5  rDev -1%
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!

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a snifter is a slightly viscous completely opaque black and produces a 1-finger head that is dark and creamy. The middle of the foam settles into the beer, but the ring around the edge remains and produces a thin lace pattern with every sip.

S: Caramel, coffee, and roasted malts are abundant in front of a piney hop aroma.

T: Begins with a bitter coffee flavor that moves to roasted malts in the middle. The taste finishes with a chocolate mocha and piney hop character that is beautifully blended, with nothing overwhelming anything else. If rolled around the tongue, the middle of the flavor also produces some caramel undertones.

M/D: Surprisingly dry finish is the most striking characteristic. The malts move from sticky to dry as the flavor develops. The finish is smooth but not creamy. There is a lot going on in this beer, and it isn't too heavy or overwhelming. It is very enjoyable and well crafted, with a perfect balance of flavors.

Photo of 4000qtrap
4.44/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Source/Serving: Bottle

Smell: Raisins and chocolate, but quite mild actually.

Taste: Quite bitter up front followed by a massive wave of malts. The chocolate flavor is incredible. Dark roasted coffee, not at all sweet. Lingering chocolate for minutes. For a beer with so much a dark malt flavor, the beer is incredibly balanced with creaminess, bitterness, oily hoppiness, moderate alcohol, and amazing complex malt flavors. Thick, but delightful, mouthfeel.

Notes: A multidimensional beer that has so much going for it. And, one of the finest values in beer that I've seen. Fabulous!

Photo of beer2day
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours very dark and foreboding. 1-finger tan oatmeal head, giving way to nice retention and lacing.

Sweet stout nuances are wafting to the nose here. Oatmeal, milk, anise are all present.

Milk cream persists on the initial presentation, but the alcohol creeps in at the end. Roast chocolate, faint coffee, burnt toast, faint caramel. and weak anise round out the flavors.

Body is very nice, just what you want from an RIS.

Drinks very well on a cold night.

Photo of biegaman
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Like the real American black bear this beer has a sooty black coat and a leathery-looking brown nose that sticks out its head. A strong enough light will pry out thin sheets of dark crimson which, at some angles, serve to underline the beer but never successfully negotiate the beer's opacity. This head persists no matter how long it's left sitting still.

This smells so good that I don't care to take a sip; I have to keep reminding myself to come up for air! Leave it up to a California microbrewery to design a rich, roasty stout that *also* brims with zesty hops. The balmy, becalming aura of Chinook and Cascade hops is tossed in a malty chocolate fudge, the combination is a source of great sensory pleasure.

The beer has more than enough maltiness to earn the rights to the word 'big'. It certainly has a big flavour: its taste of home-baked chocolate brownies and rocky road ice cream brings to mind a dessert of uncountable calories and obvious deliciousness. Notes of blackberry puree, dark caramel and coffee embellish an already scrumptious profile.

And for all their presence in both the aroma and flavour the tangy, vinous hops are transcended by that pleasant sweetness of the malts. The toffee-ish mouthfeel connotes sweet molasses and dark brown sugar; its modest but assertive roast mirrors a cinnamon or vanilla spiced coffee (for which it would make a worthy substitute).

The beer warms with exceptional grace and never let's on its true strength (if I am being mauled I certainly don't feel anything!) Although virtually everything about the beer echos the American style of brewing, it drinks with a kind of poise and balance that is much more characteristic of the classic English variations. It is a bear you can cuddle up to.

I'll swear allegiance to the Bear Republic. This West Coast brewery often goes overlooked in the discussion of great American micros and it's a wonder to me why that is; I can think of few breweries that offer a more reliable, first-rate lineup of regular releases than Bear Republic. Big Bear Black is one species you should most certainly hunt down.

Photo of neorunner
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured into a tulip glass. Dark black with a smooth solid inch of head, able to make a small swirl in the head with my finger.

S- Bitter chocolate aroma and coffee smell. Mostly malty but a hint of hops can be detected.

T- Expresso and dark bitter chocolate malt flavors. Not a full body stout and I think this makes the bitterness more apparent. Slight heat apparent from the alcohol.

M- Not a heavy stout, more middle of the road body wise. Residual roast / bitterness aftertaste.

D- This was a tasty beer and best enjoyed when not rushed.

Photo of dbossman
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Black with one finger head that is a dark tan; there is nice lacing here too

S: Chocolate and roasted malts are the most evident; there is also a slight coffee aroma

T: Chocolate undertones; there is also a fairly high hop presence--not overwhelming and actually a good balance to the roasted malts

F: Creamy; medium body with a nice mouth feel

D: A very good RIS and drinkable for what it is.

Photo of WeedKing4
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber pours jet black. Smells of roasted malts and a hint of coffee. The taste is suprisingly sweet up front compared to other imperial stouts I have had. Has that roasted malt taste, with a hint of coffee, but a nice blend of hops mixed in too. Very interesting. Quite easy to drink and the abv% is well hidden. Kinda wishing I picked up a second bomber of this. Pretty damn good beer.

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

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a snifter glass. A pretty nice amount of sticky lacing.

Appearance is opaque black with a small tan/light brown head that dissipates into a small cap.

Smell is of coffee, roasted malts and a hint of dark chocolate. A little of the alcohol is present as well. Overall a fairly sweet aroma.

Taste is a nice blend of coffee and roasted bitterness as well as dark chocolate and hops. The bitterness of the brew is a little stronger than the sweetness but for the most part its pretty well blended. Quite tasty!

Mouthfeel is smooth and pretty full bodied but not quite as thick as other RIS' I've had. There is a good amount of carbonation leaving a nice little bite on the tongue.

Drinkability is pretty nice. It goes down nice and smooth and has a pretty good flavor. All in all one of the better examples of the style I've had but not the best but I certainly wouldn't mind having it again.

Photo of Martin2D
4.02/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pitch black thin light tan head

S - Hops, coffee, roast, caramel

T - Not incredibly full and rich like a lot of RIS, but significantly roasty with a slight bittering hop presence. It is slightly sweet with vanilla flavors. Possibly lactose in this one. Aggressive roast especially on the aftertaste.

M - Heavily carbonated, very velvety and medium-heavy in body. There seems to be lactose thickening up the mouthfeel on this one.

D - Extremely drinkable. The really strong aftertaste detracts, but it's quite tasty.

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,145 ratings.