1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.

1,939 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,939
Reviews: 1,088
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.14%
Wants: 112
Gots: 125 | FT: 6
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Big Bear Black Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,939 | Reviews: 1,088 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Trueant1


4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark brown. Sits in the glass as dark as a black bear. Has a light brown head....like the black bear does.

Smells weaker than I thought it would be. Hints of espresso, milk chocolate, oily hops, sweet dark fruits. Wish this beer had a smell that could fill the room, I would rate it all 5's.

Taste is exceptional. Like the smells but the hops are more intense...the bitterness that is...and a very very good way. The extreme bittrness meshes and ballances off with the STRONG malts. The malts are toasty and roasty!

Mouth feel is perfect. THis beer eats like a black bear does. IF a big grizzley was to eat beer, he would choose this one.

Another exceptional brew by Bear Republic.

Notes: Really like all beers I have tried from this brewery,,,, expecially this one and Hop Rod. I am now a huge fanof BEAR REPUBLIC.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2007 01:45:48 | More by Trueant1
Photo of rye726


4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poired into a snifter glass at 45F.

Close to black, but more of a dark brown color. Thick tan head that quickly settles to a nice cover.

Nice citrus hops up front. Roasted black malts rounded out with caramel and some vanilla.

More roasty malts and bitter hops. There is also ripe fruits, molasses and a smoke taste. Nothing outstanding here, but a nice hoppy stout.

Fairly dry, similar feel to a big Irish stout. Nice full body and well carbonated.

Well balanced and quaffable. Good pub beer to go with a burger or fish and chips.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2007 03:23:02 | More by rye726
Photo of jim102864


3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Nice bomber bottle the contents of which were poured into my nonic glass. Dark black appearance with a skim of head and that's about it.

The aroma presented itself as the contents warmed. Raisens, figs, prunes along with the scent of buttery homemade taffy. Nice.

Taste: mild bitterness with dark fruity esters in the finish. Nutty and smokey too.

Mouthfeel was buttery and creamy with a mild alcohol tweak in the finish.

The style is Russian Imperial but the taste is your average stout. Don't get me wrong, this is a nice brew, probably better on tap. I wasn't bowled over but I did enjoy the offering. I just felt this one was a little wanting. I seem to recall enjoying this on tap at Hop Devil, so I'll look for it there again if it's available during my next visit to NYC.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2007 15:18:40 | More by jim102864
Photo of crayphish


4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This Russian Imperial Stout pours a completely opaque black liquid. An initial half inch head dwindles quickly to sparse foam patches. No lacing at all. Smell is heavy toasted malts, burnt coffee. Hints of sweet vanilla become more evident as the beer warms. Some dark fruits are evident. A slight hop bittering. Mouthfeel is simply a thing of beauty. A crisp creaminess evaporates quickly leaving the palate clean and refreshed. Very smooth, alcohol content is disguised beautifully. This is my second beer from Beer Republic, and I am thoroughly impressed.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2007 03:25:33 | More by crayphish
Photo of Risser09


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

22oz bomber poured into a large snifter - $4.99 for this 2007 bottle - Served at cellar temperature

Appearance: Pours a dark black color with no sign of light showing through. The head is only a 1/2 inch tall but it sticks around for a little. It is a dark tan head. A vicious swirl doesn't create much lace.

Smell: After opening I could immediately smell a strong aroma from the bottle and soon after pouring. It is a fresh smell, full of hops and malts. It is slightly vegetal and earthy, with a mineral/soapy aroma. Perhaps this is just a hop variety that imparts a different aroma.

Taste: The taste is dark and rich with ample amounts of sugar. There is no cloying bitterness! YES! Dried fruits fill the flavor spectrum. Plum is a heavy hitter, and is followed by raisin, blueberry and an espresso flavor. I am left with a chocolate malt flavor and a bitter and sweet finish.

Mouthfeel: Smoothe and quite coaxing, this beer is medium bodied with a lot of flavor and a little bit of booze. The alcohol isn't over the top for a RIS, but adds to the warmth in my stomach. Carbonation is lively at first and gets thrown out before it reaches first base.

Drinkability: Very nice. I will easily be able to drink this whole bomber by myself. It is not a great beer, but at $4.99 for a single bomber, is pretty damn good! In a world of price escalation, this one is a true winner. If you live anywhere west of PA, you should be able to get this one pretty easily. Nicely done.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2007 02:41:52 | More by Risser09
Photo of jjayjaye

New York

3.53/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque darkness with a full finger wispy tan head that fades fairly quickly. Some lacing observed. The smell is solid roasted malt and unsweetened chocolate without being real aggressive. Adequately carbonated, the mouth feel is medium-full bodied. A tingle from the alcohol, the 8.1% ABV is also present in the swallowing breadth. Full flavored, the taste roasted malt and coffee taste is slightly more bitter than my favorite RIS and the aftertaste lingers some. Not my favorite by any means, but a good drinker and worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2007 22:58:37 | More by jjayjaye
Photo of srandycarter


4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Into the tulip.

A - Black - the florescent cannot penetrate. Head smalls over time. Tenacious thin lacing.

S - First note -green, pickled olive. I kid you not. Once settled down, deep malt and chocolate, some coffee.

T - Toffee chocolate. Yum. Sweet and bitter chocolate. Good finish.

M - Good carbonation and coating.

D- Another great product from Bear!

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2007 05:08:21 | More by srandycarter
Photo of jasonjlewis


4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance. Huge frothy head that is 3 fingers thick that clings very well.

Smells: Chocolate and caramel malts with chinook hops. Slight licorice and tofee undertones.

Taste is of rich chocolate malts with a roasted characteristic. Caramel malts pull through followed by a dry and abrasive chinook hop bitterness. Licorice and toffee are undertones

Mouthfeel has a slight creaminess but is a little over carbonated (taps fault maybe?)

This beer is very nice and easy to drink. Well craft RIS.

Serving type: on-tap

11-23-2007 01:47:06 | More by jasonjlewis
Photo of DIM


4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: Pitch black, no highlights at all. Small light tan head with some lacing.

s: Fairly strong smells of coffee and dark chocolate. The alcohol is somewhat noticeable.

t: Roasty dark chocolates and espresso are bold and very upfront. A bit of bitterness from the hops presents itself at the end.

m: Very thick with decent carbonation. Perhaps a bit too dry.

d: I'm glad for the chance to try this, but there are much better RIS's out there. I doubt I'll try it again.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2007 23:49:40 | More by DIM
Photo of aerozeppl

New York

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

Split a 22oz with my gf.

A- Nice jet black color into the glass.Minimal chocolate head.

S: Chocolate, roasted malt, coffee and some toffee thrown in as well. Nice big smell

T: Chocolate and coffee. With a nice earthy tone in between.

M: Medium body. I could stand for the body to be a little thicker. Carbonation is just right for me however.

D: Really enjoyed this one. While definitely not a session beer it was rather drinkable. Sometimes it's good to not spend 1.5 hours drinking one beer.

4.99 for the bomber.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2007 21:41:56 | More by aerozeppl
Photo of NitroGen


4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

P: 1PT.6fl oz 8.1% ALC by VOL Dark Brown Bottle with no discernable date stamp

A: Thick dark midnight black pour with a two finger roasted caramel foam head that slowly lowers to a light cover with a thicker ring and heavy lacing.

S: Deep and full nose of dark roasted espresso, bittersweet chocolate and a wild grainy finish.

T: The tip of the tongue is hit with an earthy hop grainy bite and then blindsided on both sides with bittersweet chocolate, robust roasted coffee, without the cream, with a pleasant vanilla, dark caramel …. with nary a hint of alcohol.

M: Medium body and well balanced from beginning to end and with a very pleasant yet complex finish. This is not a gentle stout, as it really shakes up the mouth!

D: I really like this and will use it as an example of a big beer stout to friends wanting to venture into the dark side while they leave their corona at the beach.
I will be picking this one up and would call this a session beer with training wheels.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2007 06:53:58 | More by NitroGen
Photo of atsprings

North Carolina

4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Boston Lager glass a nice deep opaque black with a decent tan head that slowly diminished and left spotty lacing. The aroma was roasted barley with some mocha aspects as well. The taste was dominated by roasted barley with dark cocoa and burnt espresso right behind. More hops than you would expect come through as well, especially in the finish. The beer is medium bodied with somewhat hidden alcohol. This is a very enjoyable Imperial Stout that I would love to see here in NC.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2007 22:02:25 | More by atsprings
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly

New York

4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber, served in a pint glass.

A - very dark brown color with a small tan head that faded to a ring leaving bits of lace behind.

S - sweet roasted malt, pleasant aroma.

T - sweet roasted flavor of malt with a bitter, espresso coffee like finish.

M - medium/full bodied, mild carbonation.

D - a bit heavy, but drinkable none the less.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2007 00:21:14 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of hellcatsjg


4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Nearly pitch black. A bit of light is able to pass through. Fingers worth of tan head that turns to a thin layer that sticks around for the duration. Tiny bit of lacing as well.

Smell: The good stuff. Chocolate, caramel, toffee, coffee. What a stout should smell like.

Taste: Very good. Much like the nose. Chocolates, caramel, toffee. All put together with a roasted nutty flavor. Finish is a good coffee flavor.

Mouthfeel: Thick and creamy. Leaves a good amount of roasted coffee flavor behind.

Drinkability: Good beer. Nice and creamy and sweet, without the bitter hoppiness that some stouts like to add in. The best stout I've had in some time. Definitely worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

10-20-2007 01:56:31 | More by hellcatsjg
Photo of ralree


3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Black with a 2-finger tan head. Sufficient carbonation. Decent lacing.

S: Dried fruit predominant with roasted malt in the background. Perhaps some chocolate. Too sweet for a stout.

T: Alcohol heavy and really fruity and sweet. Reminds me more of a Belgian than a stout. Not too bad though - plums and fruit are the first taste, followed by a very good chocolate and roasted caramel malt flavor. Final flavors are roasted malt, mild hops, and a little bread. I like everything about the taste except the beginning, which is a major part.

M: Dry and non-astringent. Carbonation is near-perfect. Medium-bodied.

D: The alcohol hinders the beer a bit in this category since it's so strong, but it's not bad. It actually goes down pretty smooth, but I like quite a few other stouts better.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2007 22:11:58 | More by ralree
Photo of jeffjfindley


4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Not as black as promised, but a truly remarkable beer. Very drinkable at 8%. Smell is the only characteristic of this beer that is not outstanding. Flavors of dark chocolate & coffee mingle with the perfect amount of hops. Mouthfeel is sexual, thick and warming. Alcohol isn't shy by any means, but doesn't overpower a perfectly crafted flavor. I won't hesitate to eat this beer again, ever.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2007 04:12:44 | More by jeffjfindley
Photo of BretSikkink


4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Foamy brown head, thick and tight and plentiful. Opaque and black; just right.

Dark chocolate, slightly burnt, and molasses in the nose.

Roasted character is pleasant, with a big dash of malt while the hops play a bitter and oily part in keeping it balanced.

Creamy and yeasty mouthfeel, nicely hidden alcohol.

Really good stout.

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2007 05:28:30 | More by BretSikkink
Photo of ZimZamZoom

West Virginia

4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into goblets.

This RIS pours very black with a nice fluffy tan head. Rich aroma of chocolate and coffee and roasted dark malt. Taste is smooth and chocolaty, with coffee, dark malt and ripe prunes coming through.

Big bodied and creamy in the mouth. This is a real nice evening sipper. I split the bomber but I could have sipped another glass after mine was gone.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2007 12:40:28 | More by ZimZamZoom
Photo of Stoneman78


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

A- Pours the blackest of hues, I can barely detect tinges of dark brown on the edges, head is a huge pile of tan craggy/foamy goodness that is slightly diminishing, leaving sticky lace on the glass
S- Aroma dominated by big roasted malts, sweet dark chocolate, some piney hops in the background with a hint of alcohol
T- initial taste follows from the aroma and is dominated by roasted malts and very subtle chocolate flavors, some slight tones of caramel, toffee, and espresso, bitter hops show up in the middle and remain throughout a dry finish
M- Medium/full-bodied stout with a mostly watery texture, carbonation is too biting for this genre
D- This is a well-balanced IRS that is not too overwhelming at 8%abv, overall this is a good, solid entrant is this category that falls short of some of the top dogs but would be good in a pinch

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2007 04:03:51 | More by Stoneman78
Photo of Atron67


4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- poured a dark black stout with a big fluffy white head. the liquid is clear but dark, no particulates, heavy lacing on the glass

S- a roasted malty scents. bitterness prevents the malts from being too sweet

T- a heavy maltiness with a strong roasted flavors and a really strong bitterness on the back

M- a solid, heavy body with a very thick. A strong carbonation

D- a solid great stout

Serving type: bottle

09-29-2007 22:30:21 | More by Atron67
Photo of JerzDevl2000

New Jersey

4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up in Boston the last time I was up that way. I loved Bear Republic's other offerings that I've sampled, and this tends to be one of the styles that I always enjoy, since I've never had a bad brew of this type. This beer didn't disappoint me at all, but if you're looking for a tough-as-nails, motor oilesque, knock ya on your ass type stout, this isn't it by a longshot. Nevertheless, I am finding it pretty enjoyable!

Of course, this pours dark, but it's NOT thick at all. The head was decent but there isn't much of any lacing to be found here. I was expecting dark chocolate, roasting, and alcohol in the taste, but what I get here is a coffee flavor, above all else. Very little espresso, chocolate, currant, and licorice can be detected here, and calling this a Russian Imperial Stout is quite a stretch from the truth. This isn't a bad beer by any means, since it is solid, well-crafted and leaves a pleasant, mellow aftertaste. It just doesn't compared to the Victory Storm King and Stone Russian Imperial stouts, in more than one way.

The 8.10% ABV can be felt here, but it's not an overwhelming wallop. Most heavy stouts would be on my to-drink list after a strong meal, but in this case, I'd rather have it for a snack with some biscotti or the like. It's different from what I've had before, but not bad. I just wish it was a little more filling and robust. It's only worth a try for someone new to this style and wanting a light introduction...

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2007 08:23:12 | More by JerzDevl2000
Photo of Overlord


3.63/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a big black, opaque color and a thick cream head that disippates over five or six months.

The smell, and taste, are of burnt carmel, coffee, some chocolate tones, coffee, maybe a hint of sweet berry, coffee, and licorice. Also coffee. As you may imagine, I found this to be a predominatly coffee-ish stout with some other flavors mixed in to spice it up.

Slightly thin in mouthfeel, and the head and carbonation started ferociously and were gone relatively quickly. Still, at 2.99 you won't find many better stout bangs for the buck (except for deschutes obsidian stout).

Serving type: bottle

09-19-2007 08:37:49 | More by Overlord
Photo of MmmIPA


3.28/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass.

Two finger brown head that fell pretty fast off this style of beer.Impenatrible black body with some red highlights to it.Bitter chocolate taste and some sweet chocolate in the nose and some fruit also.Creamy mouthfeel with the diffenet taste and feel of alcohol,it burns your throat.Not much lacing is left if any.I dont know if this impy stout ranks up there with the other ones Ive had.There is a berry taste somehwere in there as well.Ide like to have this beer in six months to a year and see how it mellows.There is also a smell that im not familliar with when I dring the glass up to my mouth.There is also some licorice in here also.Not a bad beer but not a impy stout that I will come back too since I have better choices.I think there is bakers chocolate in there and some sort of a hop.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2007 20:36:19 | More by MmmIPA
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired from jgaston courtesy of Birthday Club 2, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color with a thin brown head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of chocolate, roasted dark malts and a strong amount hops for the style.

T: Despite the appearance, the taste does not have the heavy maltiness, smokiness or sweetness as most big stouts. I consider that a good thing, but you’re looking for the typical stout-like taste you’ve got the wrong beer. All of the previously mentioned attributes are certainly present, but there’s a strong hops presence that dominates to the point that if you close your eyes, you might think you’re drinking an IPA. Only one other stout that I’ve had has even approached this type of flavor, much less done it this well. The after-taste is slightly bitter.

M: Smooth and very crisp for the style, medium body, light-to-medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Very tasty, goes down easy, a little bit filling, good representation of style while adding a very nice twist, good kick, as I stated earlier, it’s not your typical RIS, which is exactly what I like so much about it. It’s definitely a sipper and not a pounder, but it’s a very good beer.

Serving type: bottle

09-16-2007 04:20:19 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of Floydster


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

1/2 liter stein from Hollingshead's Delicatessen in the city of Orange

This brewery is full of surprises and I can honestly every single of their beers is very good

This pours about the blackest I have seen a stout like this with a head like Guinness, but much thicker

Smell is strong and full of sweetness

This beer is way heavy, but one could still drink a lot of it because it so good and smooth

Beautiful texture and great Imperial Russian from Bear Republic

Serving type: nitro-tap

09-14-2007 04:51:05 | More by Floydster
Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,939 ratings.