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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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2,173 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,173
Reviews: 1,107
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.93%
Wants: 139
Gots: 166 | 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: 2,173 | Reviews: 1,107 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of ericduran
3/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I wasn't terribly impressed by this beer. Their IPA is great and I was hoping for something equally worthy but it was not it.

Looks like a stout. Nothing really noticable about the appearance.

Smell. Roasted malts and yeast. Blah. Same ol' same ol'.

Taste. Weird oxidized (?) off flavors from the yeast. Hops are way too strong. Malts are just so-so.

Mouthfeel. Way too fizzy. Benefited from spending a weekend in the fridge. Took on a velvety consistency after that, but I'm not going to judge a beer after I've "fixed" it.

Drinkability. Meh, this is the last one I'm having of these. At least it was just $5 for a 22 oz bottle.

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

22oz bomber poured into a sampling glass.

Pours black with a small light brown thin head. Nose is sweet and strong, rich and boozy.

Taste is very strong and coffee with a lot of roasty bitter ness. Quite tasty but it's a bit watery, still very drinkable.

Photo of albern
3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a nice thick, sweet imperial stout, but I wouldn't give this a "world class" rating. It pours a thick, inky black color, impenetrable to light. The head is thick, creamy, dark tan with a discernible orange hue. The beer retains well and laces very well. It is a thick meal of a beer. The nose is pretty indicative of what's to come. There are chocolate and dark roasted malts, some cherry dark chocolate notes, but there is also a definite whiff of ABV.

The taste follows suit. The beer is thick, creamy, nourishing, but it has a bit too much ABV presence. There are some charred notes, in addition to the chocolates and roasted dark malts. The warming alcohol and ABV just diminishes what could have been a better imperial stout. The beer is thick on the tongue, full bodied, and there is some ABV throatiness and charred remains in the aftertaste.

Photo of cdkrenz
4.04/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Black is right. The head is a medium brown and standing about three-quarter inches tall before slowly fading to bumpy and frothy top.

S - Dark chocolate and malt with a hinting at coffee.

T - The flavors of long roasted grains and bitter hops round out a nice stout. There flavors of very dark choclate linger long after the pull is washed away.

M - Goes down easily for a stout while maintaining a nice subtle coarse texture that really assists in bringing out the robust flavors.

~ This is a solid stout. I'm not sure if I've ever had a Russian Imperial Stout before but I must say, I'm impressed. Thanks Mike and Ranee.

Photo of OtherShoe2
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep brown/almost black with a thick tan head that collapsed a bi around the ring of the glass but held full in the center. Good lacing.

Lots of dark roasted and sweet aromas, plus this herbal/leafy edge. Coffee, burnt sugar, and green leafy scents. Very nice.

All kinds of layers here. French roast coffee, sweet cream, heavy molasses/cane syrup sweetness, prune like hints. Sweet and bitter intensity. Alcohol does show up, but it is fairly well hidden. Fantastic.

Smooth, decently carbonated, and no true cloying flavors even though this is a mouth coater.

Easy to drink. Big bomber went down super-fast. The best thing about this was that the bomber was just under $6.00. How can you miss? Terrific.

Photo of ocelot2500
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, opaque brown that lets no light escape. Has a tight rising tan head that leaves a fair amount of lacing.

Smells of dark chocolate, espresso, molasses, and some brown sugar.

Tastes of the big roasted malts upfront that have a nice bitter bite on the end. The chocolate ends up being a bitter cocoa and complimented well by a dark espresso like flavor. Plenty to like in this brew. There are an assertive amount of hops that create the bitterness. Not very sweet which allows for more drinking. Alcohol is very well hidden.

The mouthfeel is full and creamy. Leaves a pleasant roasted bitterness on the tongue.

Photo of deaconoflove
4.83/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ap. A slightly fast pour gave me a giant mocha brown head on top of a very very black beer. As the head receded somewhat, the lacing covered the entire glass. Nice.
Sm. This is good. Chocolate, roasted toasted caramel malt coffee with a lilttle citris poking out now and then.
Ta. More intense chocolate and roasted goodness, alternately sweet and a hint of bitter.
Mf. Smooth and tangy sweetness. Excellent carbonation and fullness.
Dr. This one goes down way way too easy.

Photo of Dspohn
4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A. Totally black with a rocky tan head that left some nice lacing.

S. Lots of espresso, roasted malts, hops, and dark chocolate.

T. Great bitter coffee and hop taste that I really enjoyed. I haven't had many imperial stouts with the hop bill that this one has and I have to say I quite enjoy it.

M. Felt a little thin, but still pretty slick and nice.

D. Way drinkable. This bomber went down faster than most other high abv stouts.

Photo of TheStoutAholic
4.76/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle poured into a Samuel Adams Perfect Pint.

A - The first think I noted was the thick long lasting head, that after it retreats back in to the body of the beer stays at about 1cm. It is a light head compared to other stouts in its class.

S - Like all stouts you can smell the dark roasted malts, and the slight aroma of coffee with a hint of chocolate.

T - Had notes of coffee chocolate, and went down smooth as velvet.

M - By far the BEST part of this stout was its Mouthfeel went down like liquid VELVET

D - This stout is very drinkable its 8.1% ABV and it is a nice heavy stout that tastes of a mixture of coffee, chocolate and the heavy dark malt.

This beer came to about $5 and it was totally worth it. I loved the taste it is the epitome of a Black Stout, B-E-A-utiful.

Photo of BillyBroas
4.39/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured tet black, with a 2 finger tan & dense head. The smell, in my opinion, is the best thing about this beer. Every time I ducked my head in I got something different: Butter, chocolate, hops, molasses...

I felt that the taste didn't quite live up to the aroma, but it was still excellent. Rich and creamy, the mouthfeel was delicious. Black malt and chocolate were definitely present, and I'm glad for the floraly hops at the end.

Just a big great stout.

Photo of andrewm190
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bear Republic has skyrocketed up my personal brewery rankings, and this one might but them at number one. I have yet to try a Bear Republic beer that isn't fantastic, and with this entry into my favorite style, they have come out again on top. Delicious chocolate smell with a fine crisp finish, this beer comes on strong but doesn't make the mistake of some of other stouts of being overbearing, particularly in aftertaste. The beer is dark and fairly pungent, and you can hold it on your pallet and imbibe with a feeling of delight, followed instantaneously thereafter the thirst for another sip.

Photo of GordonQuid
3.84/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 22 oz bomber.

Jet black with a two inch tan head that quicky dissapates to a half inch head with thick lace.

Smells of black patent, raosted caramel malts and vanilla bean.

Taste is a full bodied elixir of coffee, roasted almods and vanilla. Very low hop profile. Rich and chewy texture.

Would only have one of these bad boys in a sitting.

Photo of CityBoy1986
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a pint glass.

The pour is black with ruby undertones. A tan head lingers for a while and leaves a good amount of lacing.

The nose is mostly chocolate with hints of coffee and some dark fruits. The taste is of the same flavours, but the fruits have more of a hold than they do in the nose.

The mouthfeel is medium-bodied and is almost like drinking creamy milk. Drinkability is very high; the ABV is very well-masked.

This is a very nice stout; I only wish I could have it more often.

Photo of FickleBeast
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a Dogfish Head snifter.

A - pours pitch black with one finger of sticky foam that lingers and clings to the side of the glass

S - Sweet, dark roasted malts, plum, hints of coffee - very aromatic

T - initial surge of chocolaty sweetness, followed by a quick punch of coffee. As it warms, the chocolate flavors intensify.

M - silky smooth, the coffee astringency refreshes the palate

D - the 8.1% ABV is undetectable, and the chocolaty goodness of this beer goes down easy. Very smooth and drinkable.

Overall, a great beer. I would certainly get this again.

Photo of Vengeance526
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black color with a rich tan head that retains nicely and leaves a good bit of lacing.

Lots of chocolate in the nose along with some roasted coffee and a little smoke.

Taste begins with notes of roasted chocolate and espresso. Some sweet caramel comes in the middle and gives way to a slightly smoky finish. Now I expected the big malty flavors to be quite dominant, but being that this is Bear Republic, there just had to be a good helping of spicy hops in the mix as well. The end result is quite amazing and put an interesting spin on the style.

Medium bodied with a smooth and creamy feel. An all-around great RIS. Once again, B-R delivers another winner. This is one I know I'll be enjoying again soon.

Photo of littlekidlover
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I can't believe it took me this long to try this bear, I had paid more attention to the Hop Rod and Racer 5. The appearance is impressive, inky black with a tan head that reduces quickly. The smell is espresso, dried fruit, and licorice. The taste is the same, with a little dark chocolate and raspberry. The mouthfeel is silky and satisfying. Great drinkability, for as long as you can last.

Photo of jdg204
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Been a big Bear Republic fan since I had my first Racer 5 last year and I quickly consumed the other standard offerings (Hop Rod and Red Rocket). However, I'd always had trouble finding Big Bear until I found some at Abe's Cold Beer in Bethlehem.

A: Deep brown color and a nice tan head that didn't last long but left plenty of lacing.

S: Dark roasted coffee and smokey notes along with a hint of spicey hops.

T: Starts out with a dark roasted, chocolate flavor that joins with some dark by mid-palate. The hoppy bitter finish provided a good balance, delivering a good overall flavor.

M: Medium body with moderate carbonation.

D: A rock solid brew though I'm not sure if it wouldn't be better classified as a Double Stout rather than an RIS. Good to see that Bear Republic has got a great width of expertise beyond just hoppy brews, an impressive brewery. This is nice sipping beer for a long autumn night, enjoy it as such. It might be just short of a must try, but this is pretty solid brew and one most BA's would enjoy.

Photo of rhinos00
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage. Poured into a pint glass.

A- Pours a dark, chocolate brown with two fingers width of cocoa colored head. Zero visibility.

S- The nose was a little too dimensional for me. An underwhelming chocolate malt aroma came to the forefront with a slightly roasted character in the background. A bit of sweetness was in there as well.

T- Getting some complexity here. Big chocolate sweetness up front. Caramel malts transition into a roasted, charred flavor. A little rough around the edges in the back end, but overall was pretty enjoyable.

M- A little on the thin side for an imperial stout. Still I liked the sticky sweetness this beer offered.

D- I would have never guessed this was over 8% abv. Went down pretty easily.

Overall, a solid offering. Just lacked a little here and there, enough to make a difference in the end. Still, for the price this is definitely recommended.

Photo of matty
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First A+ I've ever given!!Black colored beer with a rich creamy head.Aroma is rich chocolate.Taste is cream,chocolate and sweetened coffee.After over 300 beers I've finally found the perfect brew!!Like swallowing liquid silk.Great job by Bear Republic,this is something to be truly proud of!

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

Poured vigorously from a 22oz bomber into my Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Liquid is a murky bistre, bordering on black with a two-finger thick custardy tan head with excellent retention and dense, uniform, sticky lacing, but thin legs. Towards the bottom of the glass, the opaque quality fades as light is transformed to dark goldenrod highlights.

Brown bread, roasted malt, hazlenuts, carmelized apple peels, with supporting aroma of coffee and milk chocolate. There is also an iron or even blood-like note. Depth/intensity improves of all of the above improves greatly when the beer warms up.

Astringency and bitterness is stronger than the nose lets on - coming from a combination of deep roasted malt and Jefferson-pine bark (sort of a lemon infused vanilla) like hops. Dried apple, pluots, toffee, and citrus round out the palate. Finish reveals an added complexity to the malts, though the hops prevent differentiating between the layers of roast level or malt type, like you can do with the better English porters (for example).

Rich milky texture, moderate carbonation. Not much warming from the alcohol - ABV is on the lower end of the style.

The hop aromas, flavors, and balance against the malt all suggest a California or at least "west coast" signature take on the RIS. Not quite what I look for in a stout, but I can understand someone rating this very highly if their tastes lean more in this direction.

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

Presentation: 22oz brown pop top with nice ditty about the beer on the label

Appearance: Pitch black with a beautiful creamy dense dark tan head; when held up to a bright light, there are some beautiful ruby tints here, where light just BARELY gets through

Smell: Dark fruity alcohols, bittersweet chocolate, some mild herbal hop presence...this is pretty nice overall; it smells smooth and mild

Taste: Bittersweet chocolate, roasted malts, some mild sweet dark fruit. Ends with dry, dusty, roasted malts.

Mouthfeel: Rich and creamy

Drinkability: Pretty high, especially for the abv

Conclusion: This mouthfeel and basic flavors of this are awesome; it's bittersweet and highly drinkable as well. The only real problem here is that there doesn't appear to be a ton of depth here; what's here is really tasty, it's just not as complex as a lot of imperial stouts are.

Photo of donkeyrunner
3.3/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

@Atwoods 9/11

Inky black with a cocao colored head. Looked good at first but the head faded to a thin collar before I was done. Left three very nice and very symmetrcial lace rings while it was there though.

Scent is dominated by Chambord-esque dark fruit. Taste also relies heavily on dark fruit with an oppressive char character--not so much roast malt as just plain char. Thin, inky body. On the plus side, it doesn't taste like %8.1 abv.

I expect more from Bear Republic. This Impy lacked the complexity and intrigue necessary for a good RIS and comes off as a cheap and touristy. Boo.

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,173 ratings.