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Big Bear Black Stout - Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,019 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,019
Reviews: 1,093
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.14%
Wants: 120
Gots: 135 | FT: 5
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: 2,019 | Reviews: 1,093 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of colts9016
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to donkeyrunner for this bottle.

Poured into a pint glass at 51 degrees

Appearance: A very deep dark brown like used motor oil for the color of the beer. There was a one finger tan head that had some retention to it. The clarity of the beer is mostly opaque there is some visible brownish garnet highlights on the bottom of the glass. There is some lacing on the glass.

Nose: A roast malt with caramel, molasses, chocolate and coffee for the initial aroma. There are fruity esters in the background of the beer. There is a noticeable hop characteristic, like the citrus and floral aroma. In the depths of the beer is a slight burnt character.

Taste: A wonderfully roasted malt with molasses, chocolate, coffee for the first flavor. In the background of the beer is fruity esters, resins, and floral. The fruity ester are citrus like.

Overall: The mouth feel is slightly carbonated and the body is medium full. The finish is medium and a last for a few moments on the palate. This a very nicely balanced RIS, sadly it is not as deep, complex and full body like a great RIS. Not to be sad on this, this brew is not bad but really really good. Up their with the great. This beer is complex rich but not as full of a body as I would have like to see. A really good beer none the less.

colts9016, Feb 27, 2009
Photo of ritzkiss
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle pours a dark brown, hints of light getting through the glass on the edges. 2+ fingers of chocolaty head which sticks around and leaves lots of lacing down the glass. Great head retention, tons of little bubbles, looks good.

Smell is nice roasted malts, a little bit of coffee and some cherries in the back. Nice.

Taste is loads of malt, some coffee, chocolate. Bitter mouthfeel (from the nice balance of hops), nice carbonation. Another West Coast stout that has the hops balance (like Sierra Nevada) but this is a big brew.

Hides the ABV really well. This is really nice stout, not a big body but somewhere in the middle - right where at some point you forget you're drinking a big beer and regret it later. Maybe a bit too heavy on the bitterness without some other flavors to balance it out, but overall - good beer!

ritzkiss, Feb 22, 2009
Photo of Iceman77
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Big Bear pours thick and dark, you can almost see the thickness in the body as you pour it from the bottle. With a semi gentle pour i got about 1-2 fingers of latte colored head that receded to a nice surface film. The aroma is very clean, the main scent is of malts and light hops, perhaps a hint of coffee. The flavor is very bold, a lot more hops up front than you typically find in a russian imperial, but a welcome flavor for sure. Continuing the glass you get everything from chocolate to currant and a bitter sweetness. The mouthfeel is a little on the bitter side, but this is probably the only negative thing I can say. I am going to be bummed when this bottle is done, this has just vaulted way near the top of my list of favorite imperial stouts.

Iceman77, Feb 22, 2009
Photo of leif86
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown 22 oz bottle.

A: Dark brown body with a finger's worth of tan head that is quick to leave. Moderate lacing.

S: The pleasing scent of dark chocolate with subtle coffee notes. Slight generic fruitiness in the back.

T: The chocolate notes compliment the hops well. A bit dry with a hint of espresso that yields to a nice grape like sweetness. It all stays with you for a bit.

M: Silky. Nice and creamy. Prefect carbonation.

D: Supposed to be 8+% ABV? Doesn't taste like it, after this bottle it may feel like it.

leif86, Feb 20, 2009
Photo of farrago
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dense two finger head which bursts into large popping bubbles across the top, leaves a good lacing down the glass sides. As one would expect from the name, pure black in color with only the smallest suggestion of orange around the outside. The nose is actually somewhat lowkey, doesn't force the coffee bean, carob, toffee on you and leaves sufficient room in your nostrils for things to move about, delivers green grape, red cherry fruit scents, whatever orange citrus might be there mostly drowned out, overall clean over complex. Medium-bodied, same demeanor in the mouth, presents suave coffee, dark chocolate, toffee and licorice nuances without any bitter or toasted archness. Allowing for this, the hops do create an erect gait and contribute to a dry mouth feel. Less fruit here and more dried fig or golden raisin. Can't find fault with the carbonation level. Tapers off at the end, not greatly, yet enough to get you reaching prematurely for a replenishing next sip. I suppose it's a question of expectations of this beer style versus intentional brewery stylistic expression.

farrago, Feb 18, 2009
Photo of schroederm
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

In a snifter:

Webby lacing that is quite abnormal and very cool. Head is foamy and thick and sticks around. Some chocolate and coffee in the smell. Unfortunately a bit off balance in my opinion: an excellent bitter isn't well rounded by light maltiness. A little too thin for an RIS. Alcohol is hidden well and a lighter mouthfeel makes it pretty drinkable.

Overall: A solid and delicious RIS. Although not my favorite, I will definitely buy more.

schroederm, Feb 15, 2009
Photo of pants678
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Wow, okay, now that's a Russian Imperial. It poured pitch black with a good beige head.

Wasn't able to get a good read on the nose, out at a bar. Sort of an espresso mocha came out.

The taste was strong chocolate as opposed to coffee with more than hints of caramel. Really like a bottled brownie. So smooth, no char or burned texture. An even flavor, didn't change much from bottom to top.

Like syrup but without feeling like molasses. All in all a very solid, one of the easier RIS out there in terms of covering the alcohol. Feel but did not taste.

pants678, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of sweetbrew82
4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. into a snifter/ no freshness date

P: Pours deep leathery brown from the bottle, sits an oily, pitch black that is quite determined to keep all light out. The head of this black bear is magnificent! Huge, healthy, 3 fingered mocha brown head is ultra-thick, moussy, creamy & whipped with everlasting retention. Uber-sticky webs of lacing continually blanket my glass with each and every sip. Now that's how an American Stout should look.

A: Damn this bear's got hops! Big citrusy hops, roasted barley, chocolate, coffee, and a bit of alcohol. Powerful, deep, and enticing.

T: Those citrusy hops are even better than the aroma. This might be the hoppiest stout I've ever come across, and I love it! Deep, roasted malts, chocolate, and molasses held up by a sizeable caramel spine. Bitter coffee really comes forth in the middle, and chocolate takes over on the finish. It's weird to find this much hops in a stout like this, but they balance things out nicely and work really well. This is outstanding!

M & D: Full-bodied, thick & rich, chewy & smooth. Drinkability is great, I know so because this 22 was gone frighteningly quick.

Notes: In case you haven't noticed yet, I love Big Bear Black Stout. It's a deeply roasted, powerful stout that'll satisfy your sweet tooth while providing all of us hop-heads with our bitterness fix. It's your all-in-one dealer! Another great beer from Bear Republic. Highly recommended

sweetbrew82, Feb 12, 2009
Photo of olmatty
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Pours a one finger light tan head with some moderate lacing and a deep black colored beer.

Smell- Bittersweet chocolate and espresso coffee with a slight biscuity malt and a touch of yeast in the nose.

Taste- Moderately chocolately, somewhat dry, a bit of licorice, Italian espresso and bitter hops continue on the palate.

Mouthfeel- Smoothly carbonated and bitter without biting.

Drinkability- If the bottle didn't say 8.1 ABV I'd think it was 5. Smooth and very dangerously drinkable for the style.

olmatty, Feb 10, 2009
Photo of sonicdescent
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown, almost black and completely opaque. Starts off with a generous two finger frothy tan head that dissipates into a thick crown.

Smells of chocolate and toffee and a little bit of booze. Dark fruit is also present. Fairly complex.

Taste is fairly calm but interesting none the less. Your typical RIS flavors start at you but this turns into a fruity treat. Very good stuff, nice to have something different.

Mouth 's body and carbonation are in the medium range.

I probably would skip this one again, but it was interesting to try this time.

sonicdescent, Feb 10, 2009
Photo of skrib09
4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pitch black imperial stout with a light brown head. good retention.

smells of roasted candy. the more i smell it the more smoke flavor comes through.

tastes really sweet with roasty notes. great flavor. i am impressed. good balance of roasted malt and sweetness with some alcohol in there.

smooth feel, a hint of alcohol.

great drinkability for an imperial stout!

skrib09, Feb 08, 2009
Photo of JoeBloe
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured this bomber into a stout pint glass where it threw up a head that overwhelmed the pour - tight and meringue like - the color here was a coffee brown with with a lot of particulate matter visible - don't know what's up with that but it still tasted real good -i'll need to get hold of another to see the sediment/particulate re-occurs

JoeBloe, Feb 08, 2009
Photo of jgap
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black into a stone RIS glass with substantial head that lingers and eventually fades to a lace that lasts throughout. Smell is thick, roasted malts and hops. Slight alcohol finish. Taste is toffee, burnt malt, and lots of coffee. Strong hops and light alcohol finish. Great, full beer.

jgap, Feb 08, 2009
Photo of birchstick
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - jet black with a chocolaty head
S - chocolate malts with some nice toffee notes
T - burnt malts stand out the most. There are some chocolate tones as well. There is some slight grapefruit hop on the finish.
M - goes down too smoothly. Nice carbonation but just a tad bit thin.
D - This is a great RIS. A little more on the hoppy side, but it is very enjoyable nonetheless.

birchstick, Feb 08, 2009
Photo of LumpyGuitar
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in trade from MASPuros, thanks again!

Poured into a 1l glass mug. Deep brown/black color with a finger of dark brown head. Head retention is average and theres a little bit of lacing.

Smell is of dark roasted malts, bitter hop, and some molasses.

Taste is moderately complex. Roasted dark malt dominates. Notes of chocolate, molasses, dark fruit and spice blend in the finish. It's hard to detect the flavor sometimes as the bittering covers some of it. Alcohol is undetectable, which makes me happy.

Mouthfeel is very smooth and heavy bodied. I'm pleased with the carbonation level, and I'm happy that the ABV is only 8. I'm rather annoyed with the trend of going for a super-high ABV in stouts, as the alcohol gets too strong to enjoy the full flavor.

Drinkability is good. This isn't my favorite stout but it is good. I could drink this paired with some nice barbecue.

LumpyGuitar, Feb 03, 2009
Photo of Bung
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 0z bomber. Black pour with a nice dark tan frothy head, which lasted the entire mug. Some light lacing. Roasty aromas of coffe and malt, some earthy hops. Dark chocolate and heavily roasted/burnt malt, finished rather clean. Quite drinkable. Somewhere between a RIS and a dry stout. A bit too dry to me, which is saying something because I enjoy a dry stout, but still good.

Bung, Feb 02, 2009
Photo of hophead247
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle..Pours a deep black with a creamy light tan head that sustained and left some lacing. Aroma was a mix of citrus hops followed by a nice roasty/chocolate malt balance. Really liked how the hops and roast came together in the nose on this one. Flavor of cocoa, roasty, coffee, lingering hop bitterness, some caramel.

hophead247, Feb 01, 2009
Photo of cpn920
3.43/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a very dark brown with red on the edges of the glass when help up to light. Head was tan that didn't stick around long. Smell was surprisingly hoppy. I was expecting a stronger malt aroma which was overshadowed in my opinion by the hops. Taste was also hoppy and bitter. It wasn't the bitterness I was anticipating or wanting. Tastes sweet with a bitter finish with modest carbonation. This was not as enjoyable as I was expecting and I won't be rushing back for another. Certainly there are better versions of the style that are just as available.

cpn920, Jan 31, 2009
Photo of jwinship83
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- pours a black colored body that when held up to the light shows hints of red around the edges. A finger of head lasts the entire glass and leaves a solid wall of lacing as I go down the glass. Perfect.

S- roasted malts and coffee dominate the nose. Something sweet in here as well. Dark fruits like figs or raisins probably.

T- lots and lots of dark roasted malts upfront. Some licorice, coffee, and figs in the middle, and a healthy dose of hops in the finish.

M- medium to full bodied with the right amount of carbonation. Very nice.

D- a great beer that's commonality makes me overlook it most of the time. Easy to finish, but I don't think id want to attempt a second bomber. The price makes it something I should pick up more often than I do.

jwinship83, Jan 30, 2009
Photo of bovinecrusader
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into oversized pinot glass.

Beautiful looking pour, with appetizing coffee-ice-cream colored head. Body of beer has colors of dark birch, almost black, with deep bronze edges. Consistent head retention and lacing throughout.

Hops add some dried cherries to an otherwise sharp, roasted nose.

Quite refreshing stout on the palate: crispness and sustained hop bitterness add structure, keeping the beer rich yet uncloying. I'm actually pleased to find more hop-forward stouts which aren't obviously chocolatey and coffee-like. This beer definitely has those tried and true flavors as a backbone, but has great hops to balance. Touch of spice and a lingering mesquite-y dry finish.

Dangerously drinkable. Again, the hop crispness make it a refreshing, yet rich drink, with the ABV very disguised.

Solid beer. I know if I could restrain myself for another 15 min to let it come to room temp, it'll only get better, but its already gone as I type this last sentence. As always, Bear Republic delivers.

bovinecrusader, Jan 29, 2009
Photo of tmoneyba
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle at The Local, SD, CA.

Poured black color with an average frothy brown head that was mostly lasting with good lacing.

Heavy roasted sweet malt aroma.

Medium body with a smooth texture.

Heavy roasted balanced flavor with a medium bittersweet finish of moderate duration.

This is a standout beer.

tmoneyba, Jan 27, 2009
Photo of Riccymon
3.48/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bomber a nearly opaque, cola black with about a quarter inch of brown head. Smell is a bit roasty, but mostly hoppy with a little booziness as the glass warms.

Taste is... hoppy. When the beer was colder, I got some coffee notes, but during much of the hour and a half I sipped at it, it drank like an APA with some cola and bitter chocolate flavors. Not as out-and-out hoppy as Storm King, for instance. It wasn't -not- tasty by any means, just a little one dimensional to me.

Mouthfeel was silky smooth and a nice aspect of the beer. I also found the beer fairly drinkable, but then again, I sipped it for quite a while. If you enjoy hops in your RIS, you'll probably enjoy Big Bear.

Riccymon, Jan 26, 2009
Photo of BeerBelcher
3.53/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

I am surprised to read that this is an Imperial Stout rather than just a stout, although I suppose that the 8.1% ABV I saw listed on the bottle is explained by that style. However, in all other respects other than ABV, this beer seemed mild to me, much more like a stout than an imperial stout.

Color was dark and head was pretty tall and tan. Aroma was not very rich, but was pleasantly roasty. Flavor was a good "burned pizza crust" roastiness, but I didn't detect much of the chocolate, coffee, or dried fruit notes that are usually present in this style. Mouthfeel was decent, but pretty thin compared to other RIS's.

A good beer, but not up to the competition in the RIS/Imperial Stout category. For that reason, I'd be reluctant to recommend, despite a good review.

BeerBelcher, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of eagles22
4.63/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: 22oz bomber nice pitch black body with a froathy white foam head

Smell: exceptional...very rich of dark chocolates and also malts and caramel

Taste: wow almost perfect ...great texture also wondeful balance of flavors...i get alot of dark chocolate and roasted malts..nice bite at the end too

Mouthfeel: very smooth and rich

Drinkability: very high for an RIS also for an 8.10% beer very well hidden

eagles22, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of jayfarley3
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured form a 22oz bomber into a pint glass. Appearance is nearly pitch black with a frothy tan head that sticks around for a while. Smells of dark roasted malts, chocolate, hops. Tastes of roasted malts, a bit of coffee and chocolate malts. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy smooth. This beer is very drinkable especially for the high 8.1% abv. I would definitely recommend this stout to anybody.

jayfarley3, Jan 24, 2009
Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,019 ratings.