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Big Bear Black Stout - Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,185 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,185
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: 2,185 | Reviews: 1,113
Photo of washburnkid
4.87/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed in a snifter.

A: Small light brown head over a pitch black body that barely allows lighter hues to pull through in the light. A tan ring retains well, but only slight lacing to speak of.
S: Huge nose of sweet malts, balanced out by bitters from hops and chocolate, with a whiff of ripe fruits notes and irrefutable oats.
T: Bitter chocolate malts and hops come right out, showcasing this beer's impressive balance. A smack of fruits hits with vague notes of caramel, and some roasted barley. Hints of molasses and warmth as well.
M: Medium body; oily and slick mouthfeel to boot. Solid carbonation.
D: This beer has an incredible balance. It doesn't overwhelm with coffee malts, and has a warm (but not too boozy) character about it as it warms. A stout for a hophead, perhaps? I look forward to trying this beer on tap someday.

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

Solid toasted light brown head, retains well and never truly disappears after shrinking from its original inch-thick size. Color is cola brown veering toward fudgy black, although not as jet/ink-black as others in the style. Nice thick honeycombs of tan lace cling to the glass.

Aroma is dark baking chocolate with a coin-y smell backing it up. Further back is fig and plum and hardly any trace of alcohol, although that could change is it warms.

Hadn't detected any coffee in the aroma, but that roasty bitterness appears on the tongue in full. Also not surprised to get some bitter cocoa/baking chocolate backup. Pretty nutty, and the hops are showing up for work in this big boy, that's for sure. A pervading hop grassiness/astringency makes its mark on this stout. Very light soy sauce in the finish, along with more roast/coffee action. Pretty dry, and not as sweet as some others of the style. I'm not getting any of the "rich caramel sweetness" promised on the label. But I'm not complaining either.

Good silky tone to the texture, but also plenty of carbonation tingle. Not incredibly thick, but certainly what I'd call a "busy" mouthfeel.

Not my favorite R.I.S., but definitely a recommendable, enjoyable, solid, well-made stout. One of very, very few robust beers that I'd ever say this about, but it might fare even better barrel-aged.

Photo of jujubeast6000
3.26/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed 9/5/2008 (bottle):

Pours a very black body, brownish on the edges. Tan head, big bubbles, lastingish. Hoppy alcoholy aroma, little dark malts like coffee. Alcohol off the first sip, watery. Nuttiness & some coffee. Sweet, almost like a sweet stout.

Photo of stephens101
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A thin, bubbly, dark tan head disappears after a minute or so and leaves some small spots of lacing behind. Color is pitch-black and ominous. Toasted malts, burnt sugar, taffy and dark chocolates float to the nose. After your olfactory sense filters through those complexities, a subtle earthiness and some pine push through.

Initially tastes of deep, dark chocolate with little to no sweetness noticeable. Big roasted malts come into play right before a nice hop bitterness is noticed. Underneath it all exists some very slight caramel sweetness, an almond nuttiness and a nice alcohol heat. Mouth-feel is on the heavy side of medium. It goes down smooth and doesn't weigh on the stomach. A quick shake results in a good blast of carbonation bubbles, which leads to an openness on the palate.

Many times Russian Imperial Stouts can be cloying or terribly unbalanced. This is not the case with the Big Bear, as Bear Republic, who don't seem to be able to do any wrong, have made another near-perfect brew.

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

Nose is rich and very malty - lots of raisin and chocolate/coffee. Hint of hops. Smells very good.

Pours jet black with a nice little creamy-thick head. Look good. Good bit of yeast in the bottle.

Nice and stoutish for sure. Good tart vein running throughout like raisin tartness or hops. Softer malt than the nose indicated. Dull notions of bittersweet chocolate. Soft overtones of sweeter chocolate and coffee. Mild roasted sugars. Hints of wood. Finishes a little dry and tart. Tastes pretty good. Feels pretty good. Pretty good drinkability.

Dark and dry. A slow drinker.

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

Pours a dark black color. One and one half inch head of a dark tan color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of sweet malt, good hops aroma, slight alcohol, and slight roasted malt. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is very smooth, slightly thick, and has an average carbonation. Tastes of slight roasted malt, then hops come through nicely, then sweet malt, some alcohol throughout, and the finish is a blend of sweet and roasted malt. Very refreshing and easy to drink RIS. This is definitely worth a try.

Photo of clayrock81
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a thick, black body with one-finger tan head that leaves lace ring around the glass. Mostly roasted malts. some toasted, in the smell along with caramel and hints of coffee and something else (molasses, honey?). Man this is a real smooth and creamy beer, and for a RIS w/ 8% alcohol they hid the alcohol well and were able to to still balance it between caramel and some minor cocoa w/ roasted and coffee malts for a great blend and a dry finish. Even has a minor citric hopbite on the backend as well. A great sipper that's dangerous b/c I could drink it all night.

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

This beer pours a nice dark, dark brown nearly black with a nice thin cream colored head. It disapates quickly but the very dark color of the beer is impressive.

Malt is the dominant scent with a nice bit of alcohol as well. It has a subtle chocolate aroma to it that is very appetizing. Upon the second or third smell I'm bringing out hints of toffee too. Light scent of oatmeal is also present.

Mmmm! This beer is tasty. Chocolate is one of the dominant tastes, the oatmeal, toffee and malt are also present but what is surprising is the AWESOME blend of hops. They def shine through and I don't feel as though I could smell them. There is also a nice hint of coffee to the taste which creates a nice bit of complexity which I really like. It is not overly sweet but overall I'd say its a PERFECT stout.

The mouthfeel is nice, perfect amount of carbonation and it is just heavy enough to make this a solid beer to cap your night off with. I highly recommend it.

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

How many small black bears are there? While you count I'm runnin! Pours a midnight black color with some viscosity to it. A soft and bubbly head with ok retention but limited lacing. The head did hide to the edge of the glass but did remain through the tasting.

The nose is malt oriented. There is a nice chocolate note with a more generic malt backing. Some minor sweet caramel and toffee notes with a light roast character. Some almost lactic notes, more along the lines of a oatmeal aroma than milk or sour. Some noticeable hops, but still limited. Some coiny notes but light. Some yeast notes but also light.

The taste is similar. The chocolate comes out a bit more and really lingers into the finish. Some astringency but light. This is a bit off set buy the creamy oatmeal like taste/feel. The malt is limited somewhat. There isn't any of the caramel and toffee notes that was in the nose. Some light fusel notes but ok. The hops come out more with a earthy and resiny taste that linger into the finish. Some sudsy and metallic notes but light.

The body is moderate and would like a bit more depth for a 8+ beer. Some creamy notes up front and astringent notes on the back end. Carbonation is a bit light but ok. Overall a good beer with some minor problems but very nice to drink.

Photo of hoplover82
4.72/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep rich viscous black liquid that has a thin creamy head that dissapates fast but leaves great lacing, but could have better retention.

The aroma is outstanding!!!! Hops, hops, and more hops! I love it. Smells like Dales Pale Ale, so must be centennial hops. Some solid roasted malt in the back. Very nice.

The flavor is very balanced between malts and hops. Lots of roastiness and hops.

Big body and very creamy.

Very VERY drinkable.

Photo of RonfromJersey
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black body with ruby highlights. Big beige microbubbly head. Good stretchy lacing.

Nice enticing coffee and cocoa aroma. Also features some dark fruit.

Taste starts coffee au lait with a hunk of chocolate. Low undercurent of dark fruit leads to sneaky hop bite at the swallow. Alcohol completely masked.

Smooth, slick oily mouthfeel. Surprisingly easy drinkability.

A tasty and not overpowering imperial stout, not too big for a bomber.

Photo of Magpie14
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: dark walnut and black, very black. The cap was of whipped brown sugar and cream that stayed around and kept the glass company. It also left a nice city skyline of lacing at the rim of the glass

S: the first waft of smells gathered a dark roast of malts, black coffee, and a mixture of brown sugar with black strap molasses. Also, a light whiff of tart-fruity hops

T: well, with my first sip, I was surprised by the dosage of hops. It evens out the playing field of flavors, almost too much. I find that the hops take away from the dark and sweet notes I smelled before. I was looking forward to my tongue being able to taste what I smelled. However, my tongue was not totally disappointed as this stout still boasts roasted malty notes with molasses and buttery brown sugar. Let's not forget the semi-sweet chocolate coffee notes that augment the malt base quite nicely. It still is a nice and sweet stout, just that it has plenty of greens

M: creamy, very slick, and heavy with a fair full bodied feel. This stout has some nice features...

D: not a bad showing and hop fans will dig this in a stout. Has nice finish and maintains a rich flavorful body

Photo of TheodorHerzl
3.93/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours an opaque black with a minimal brown head on it. Not much lacing to speak of, but the head stayed for the entire beer.
Smell: I get plenty of chocolate, toffee, roasted malt, and even a touch of grassy hops on the nose. The smell is quite rich and makes me think I am about to drink dessert.
Taste: The flavor profile combines roasted malt and chocolate as the most dominate flavors. I also get secondary flavors include toffee, espresso, and an earthy grassy hoppiness finish the beer off.
Mouthfeel: This beer is quite full bodied and almost borders on the "chewy" realm, but overall is quite smooth and creamy.
Drinkability: This is a beer I could get used to having around for when I'm in the mood for a RIS, and at a very good price.

Photo of julian
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Thinnish in texture, dark brown / near black in color. About a 1/2 finger foamy mocha brown head. Lacing is pretty much non existent. Head disappears rather quickly.

Smell: roasty, coffee, burnt malts, molasses and a mild hint of dark fruit.

Taste: Lots of roasted, burnt malt flavor mixed with coffee and chocolate. As it warms, it really opens up in flavor. I'm now detecting some dark fruits, candi sugar, molasses, vanilla...very nice!

Mouthfeel: Great. What you'd expect from a solid, great tasting and expertly crafted RIS.

Drinkability: Well, at first I wasn't won over by this beer. Don't get me wrong, it had nothing wrong with it, but based on the reviews I guess I was expecting more. I took my time drinking it and glad I did. This is a stout that should be allowed to warm over the course of consumption. The flavors really open up and there is actually some complexity that I believe would be lost if you were to skip this (vital) step. Great, affordable, accessible beer that I will definitely be keeping in frequent rotation at home.

Photo of rwrk42
4.83/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pour: As black and dark as they come with a brown head that holds well and clings to the glass
Smell: Roasted coffee & malts with nice chocolate aroma
Taste: Immediate taste of strong coffee, malt and slight chocolate. Just the right amount of hops in this one to help it finish strong. An incredibly smooth Stout.
Best Russian Imperial Stout I have ever had. So smooth you would never notice the 8.1% abv.

Photo of Hornet2003
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

650mL Bottle purchased at Steamworks Liquor Store West Vancouver.

Appearance: Jet black with a nice 2 finger tan head on a normal pour.

Smell: Sweet candi sugar and some hops. Smells like a hash lollipop(yes, I've been to Amsterdam) to be perfectly honest. Grassy, sweet and intoxicating.

Taste: Chocolaty sweet with some grassy hoppy flavour. Also, a bit of a fruity Belgian yeast character to it.

Mouthfeel: Smooth as silk. Nothing to complain about apart from a slight alcohol burn in the mouth.

Drinkability: For what it is, the drinkability is very high. But at 8.1%, one bomber is more than enough. Share it with a friend.

Overall: Great imperial stout....I'm really enjoying this. the flavours are all I expect in a strong stout. Typical Bear Republic hoppiness and great smooth chocolaty maltiness.

Photo of colts9016
4.13/5  rDev 0%
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.

Photo of ritzkiss
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
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!

Photo of Iceman77
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Photo of leif86
4.42/5  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.

Photo of farrago
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

Photo of schroederm
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

Photo of pants678
3.62/5  rDev -12.3%
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.

Photo of sweetbrew82
4.75/5  rDev +15%
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

Photo of olmatty
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,185 ratings.