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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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2,171 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,171
Reviews: 1,107
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.93%
Wants: 139
Gots: 165 | 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: 2,171 | Reviews: 1,107 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a deep dark black color with no noticeable clarity even when held to the light. There was a small head (1/8") of tan bubbles that dissipated pretty quickly. There was minimal lacing.

Aroma: Lots of chocolate with some toasty notes and a little bit of floral hops to round out the whole presentation. There is a mild spice from the alcohol that is noticeable even when the beer is cold.

Taste: The flavor follows the aroma pretty closely in that there is quite a bit of chocolate and toasty notes. The flavor is really clean with very few esters. The alcohol is as noticeable as any fruitiness. It tastes like this beer was fermented cool, and they took their time with it.

Opinion: This is a really good beer. I like the overall flavor and aroma presentation, and it still stays really drinkable. This beer is rather dangerous in that I want another one, and I am still warming up from the first. I like this, and would like to drink more. I would recommend this beer, no doubt.

Photo of awall422
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

dark black body topped with an inch of frothy, tan bubbles that linger on and on. smells like molasses and toast. taste is smooth. sweet, rich and roasty with a hint of bitterness in the back end. goes down so easy for an 8% abv beer. this is a great RIS, it's exactly what i want in the style, more of everything good about a stout, but without going too far. i could put down a couple bombers easily.

Photo of swizzlenuts
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer is black as fuck, and pours like motor oil. Big head and very good lacing. Lots of coffee and chocolate in the nose of the beer. The beer has a lot of chocolate and coffee malts with a great bitterness. The flavours don't really knock your balls off, but they just taste really fucking good. The mouthfeel is a bit creamy, slightly watery. Incredibly drinkable.

EDIT: After having a few more, I find the flavour of this stout undeniably awesome. It has a nice balance of coffee/chocolate with a perfect hint of hops.

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

I'm writing more in this review than I need to because I have to meet the minimum of 250 characters but let me say I read this site quite a bit but have only written a couple of reviews. No need to go into details here. This is the best beer I've ever had in my life and I've tried hundreds.

Photo of thethrone
4.41/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a beautiful deep black with a solid tan head that slowly dissipates. No visible carbonation, heavy lacing on the glass.

S - Rich roasted malty aroma. Chocolate, coffee, molasses, and just a hint of dark fruit.

T - Tastes of dark bitter chocolate. As it warms, more of the sweetness comes through. Just what you'd expect from an RIS

M - Medium-full body that is very creamy. Roasted bitterness lasts through the end. No alcohol burn to speak of.

D - A terrific brew that goes toe to toe with the heavy hitters. I will certainly come back to it again in the future.

Photo of daythree16
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque dark brown/black. Tan head that fades fairly quickly but leaves some good lace.

Smell is strong chocolate malt and a hint of roasted goodness. The taste is sweet, like chocolate syrup. There is also a really nice bitter, smoky finish.

Mouthfeel is creamy but not as thick as some imperial stouts, and the drinkability is very high. Pretty good RIS.

Photo of MuenchenerKindl
3.92/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber to a pint glass the liquid is brown and has ok carbonation. The head is 2 fingers tan and leaves little lace.

The smell is ok, roasted malt not very chard, pretty mild.

The taste follows, much like a typical stout but a tab bigger. The roasted malt is mild yet flavorful, Kinda a real nice starter RIS.

The mouthfeel is thinner then most yet the carbonation is average for a reg. stout.

The drinkability is good a fine impy stout, and drinkable to most with out being real big.

Prosit, MK

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

Woo Bear Republic!

A - pours a black body with a thin chocolate head that subsided. Dark mahogany around the edges of the glass when held up to light. Solid lacing

S - a lot of dark, roasty chocolate maly up front. Some sweet, syrupy, caramel malt aroma as well. Hints of hoppiness and booze

T - roasty dark chocolatey goodness oh yes. Delicious! Caramel malt is there. Again, hints of hoppiness and even lesser hints of booze. Is it even there?

M - smooth and delicious. Medium-full bodied. ABV amazingly completely hidden more or less

D - d here is all about delicious LOLz. As a result of this awesome flavor, amazing smoothness, and hidden ABV the drinkability of this beer is off the charts. Bear Republic rock the casbah again (and again). These dudes rule so much. Start distributing in GA ASAP PLZ! Highly recommended.

Photo of corey0212
4.72/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This was the first Imperial Russian Stout I ever had, seemed like a good time to go back and give it a formal review...

Pours midnight black, some dark brown highlights around the edges when held to light, big rocky/foamy tan head fades somewhat slowly, leaves a foamy film on top of the beer, a few stray big bubbles floating around, just a few spots of lacing on the glass. Big roasty smells just pop out of the glass, dark chocolate, strong coffee aroma, dark fruits in the background, and just a hint of alcohol. Taste is burnt coffee,, molasses, bitter dark chocolate covered espresso beans, spicy alcohol on the lips. For me, it's just the littlest bit over-carbonated, but it's a minor complaint for such an outstanding brew. A total classic, one that will be enjoyed in my house for years to come.

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

Big Bear Black is NoCal smooth - and northern California does some nice stouts. Bear Republic is beginning to shape up as one of my favorite brewers. Their Racer IPA is a topper in that field. I visited their Healdsburg pub a few years ago unaware they were such capable brewers. I sampled Big Black, loved it and forgot about it. When I return I'm getting a hotel near the brewpub and staying for two or three days. God only knows what local treats await. This is a heckuva stout, balanced, a bit lighter bodied than anticipating, but heavy on flavor.

Big on taste,
Big on flavor.
Big Bear's Black
One to savor.

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

Bomber into a Unibroue tulip.

Pours an opaque, near-black body with an impressive pillow of tan head that retains well, coating the backside of the glass with thick lacing. Reminds me more of an American Double Stout than a RIS; the earthy hoppiness in the aroma is off the charts. Also joining the aroma are rich, intoxicating notes of cookie dough, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and caramel.

Flavor is packed with an initially smooth hoppy and sweet chocolate blend, and transitions quickly to a finish of smoked malt, dark chocolate, and resinous hops. The mouthfeel is a bit thin and overly carbonated for a big stout, but the bitter chocolate aftertaste is a nice touch. I remember liking Big Bear Black Stout a whole lot more the first time I tried it. Nevertheless, it still lives up to the Bear Republic name, delivering a complex, tasty stout that I'll be sure to have again.

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Would someone please tell these b*stards to put all their beers in 6-packs?! I love the beers, but at almost 5 bucks for a bomber it is getting to be expensive!

This beer is incredible. Very nearly black color. Roasty chocolate mocha scent...milk chocolate and a decent amount of hops that almost go undetected in the nose.

I notice the uber-fine carbonation foremost that tickles the palate so well. Awesome taste. Cocoa and hops, what could be finer?! Bitter finish that lingers on for a while...what fruit is there is apricots and bing cherries.

One of the best stouts out there, period. Fans of stouts must try this.

Photo of champ103
3.05/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pretty much pitch black. Almost no head and no lace. Just an extremely small tan cap above the thick black liquid.
S: Nondescript burnt malt. A bit of chocolate and caramel with some floral hops. Soy sauce. Really nothing above average.
T: Burnt malt again. Woody flavors, and lots of soy sauce. Plenty of hop bitterness.
M/D: This is very thick, syrupy, and chewy. A nice creaminess. Lots of alcohol that shows. I don't really want more than a bottle, and could easily split this with a couple of people.

I am not a big fan of the soy sauce flavor. Other than that, it has a fairly bland taste. Overall this is not a beer that I will get again.

Photo of jcdiflorio
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

reviewed on 7/1 fom a 22 oz. bottle,served into a nonic glass. Poured an opaque,black with a dense,creamy 2" tan head,very good retention falling into a pillowy layer leaving a few clumps of lace down the glass.

Very roasty aroma,strong carmell maltinesss with some slight vinious qualitys,earthy/woody with citrus and some slight hints of a metallic aroma.

Strong carmalized maltiness upfront,leaving a sweet taste thereafter,dark fruitiness,strong hop notes take over mid-taste with citrus/woody with slick oily resinious flavors. Well balanced for the strong tastes,imperial all the way!

Heavy bodied,chewy with a good bit of cloying,filling not a beer i'd want to drink more than a couple of. Was a cross between a stout and an ipa with the big hoppy bite and lots of malt,interesting beer.Would make a good winter warmer for me,i'll give this one another try again since i recently became avalible in my area. Thanks to Sudsdog for the send.

Photo of Tilley4
3.73/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'm pretty sure that I got this one from Hopsleeroy, so thanks go out to you, Lee!

This pours out into my Duvel tulip totally black... no light at all coming through... slowly forms a very sizable light brown head that is quite persistent... shelves of lacing down the glass throughout as well...

Aroma of very dark chocolate and some deep dark coffee, maybe a hint of espresso....I think I might detect a hop presence as well..

Hmmm... this one started out terrific with a big bitter dark chocolate malt presence that just sort of fade out to...nothing... Weird! It's almost like the malts don't have any complexity to them beyond the initial rush of chocolate.... no coffee, no hops... just dark roasted chocolate malts that fade quickly..

A bit disappointing, I must say. This wasn't bad, don't get me wrong. I was really expecting to be blown away by this and I just wasn't. Sort of an average RIS...

Photo of blakesell
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the tap into a standard pint glass.

Appearance- Beer pours a very dark brown, not quite black with a creamy cap that quickly subsides to a lighter murk across the top. Light lacing rims the glass.

Smell- Tobacco, tar, pine, dark roasted malts, lactose, brown malts, "C" hops, very refreshing aroma on this one.

Taste- Roasted malts, non malted and black patent maltiness, a hint of smoke malts, light on the tongue. Hops are present and balanced, lightly bitter, not warming.

Mouthfeel- Lightly creamy, roasty, highly carbonated, medium-bodied, effervescent.

Drinkability- Very nice beer, I will revisit it one day.

Photo of jmalex
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Purchased for next to nothing at Vidalia's in Lansdale, PA. I love that place.

APPEARANCE: Pours just about as black as you can get into my Victory becker glass. A one-finger, tan head forms on top and slowly shrinks to a hearty collar with nearly a full surface of foam.

SMELL: Heavy aromas of dark chocolate, coffee, some dark fruits, and a decent dose of a warming alcohol. Bitter burnt malts and a very light citrusy hop aroma lurk in the background.

TASTE: Absolutely one of the more bitter Russian Imperial Stouts I've had. Bitter black malt and a robust hop bitterness cut through the sweetness and surpass it quite a bit. The underlying malt is mostly chocolaty but feels a bit empty, which doesn't help it come up to reach the bitterness. The finish leaves still more hop flavor and bitterness which lingers and lingers.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium full in body which approaches on syrupy and slick. Carbonation is medium to low and appropriate.

DRINKABILITY: Definitely one to sip all night. I wouldn't mind it at all if this beer came in a 12 oz. bottle. A bit more balance would go a long way for this beer.

Not too bad. I'm certainly enjoying it. I'd probably buy this again as long as the price was right.

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

Attempted to pour this vigorously into an imperial pint, but only got three inches of beer before the head rose to the top of the glass. Huge thick head that was sticky and lasted for quite a while, and left lacing from top to bottom. Black liquid with dark cola color around the edges. I smell chocolate right away, nice. Nice thick, but not to thick mouth feel. Kind of a rich malt, chocolate taste, maybe a little coffee, with hops noticeable. Oh so good. very smooth as all the carbonation seems to have left after the pour. Will buy again.

Photo of rodrot
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured totally black with a nice 1 finger tan colored head. Lots of coffee in the aroma, but with a nice dose of roasted malts as well. Very nice so far. Flavor was full of coffee, licorice and ripe fruits along with chocolaty notes in the finish. Spicy hops were a little evident towards the finish as well. Mouthfeel was medium-full in the palate, but the beer went down fairly easily anyway. I could probably down two bombers of this stuff in one sitting. A great stout that I hope will one day be available in North Carolina. Recommended.

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

In goblet.

A- Dark chocholate, with a one finger latte head.
S- Roasted malt so fresh, it smelled like I had just brewed it myself.
T- I have had this in a bottle before and it didn't stand out to me as it did on tap. Everything that you want from an imperial stout.
M- Thick and malty, leaves the lips slightly sticky.
D- I could easily put a few of these away if the keg was next to my couch, instead of a 5 mile drive away.

Photo of Kolsch
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz Bomber.

Pours black, can't see anything thru this beast.

Smell is sweet caramel, slightly bitter chocolate.

Taste is smooth, creamy and I can't believe this is 8.1 ABV. Don't detect traces of coffee as others have said.

Overall: I was expecting a sweet, coat your tongue, can only drink one of these type of Stouts. Quite the contrary: Absolutely easy drinking, with little after taste, and one of the best IMP Stouts around!

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

Pours slightly viscous with a nice coffee colored head. Its amazing how smooth this beer pours. You can really see the just how thick and rich this beer is going to be based on how it fills the glass.

Smells of sweet coffee, bitter chocolate with a toasted malt side as well. It definitely comes across as a roasty, slightly smoky strong stout. No complaints from the smells, overall it is rich and appealing.

Taste is oh so smooth. Its way too drinkable for being over 8%. The dryness is there in the finish but before that comes a lot of deep dark sweet malt tastes. The sweetness really draws you in and the strength is hardly noticeable. Lots or roasty, smoky tastes as well. Love it. Excellent beer.

Photo of philbe311
3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Opaque jet black... thin foamy tan head...

S - Roasted malt... Cocoa... Caramel... Faint scent of black licorice...

T - Hoppy... Smokey flavor... Coffee... Bitter dark chocolate...

M - Rich... Medium bodied... Lingering dryness... Smokey feel...

D - Solid stout... A little too hoppy for my liking... One or two per sitting... 8.1% ABV bites by the 2nd glass...

Photo of misterdmac
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into imperial pint glass.

Can hardly see through this one, nigh pitch black...heady espresso color, slightest transparency under the light. Sticky, light coffee, two-finger head that rises above the rim of the glass.

Nose is of dark chocolate and a sweet espresso shot. Present alcohol behind a sweet maltbomb backbone.

Espresso, dark chocolate up front. Subtle dark fruits, roasted malts, and a smoky bitterness in the finish.

Carbonation is just right for me. Not at all drying but I don't get that lingering syrupy sensation in the back of my throat. Nice. Pretty big body, but this one's so delicious I'll call it mad drinkable.

This is another success from Bear Republic. Simplistic approach to a stout and a really solid beer, all told. Price was right, too at $4.69 a bottle. Word up.

Photo of DoubleJ
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber from Pacific Park Market, on to the beer:

A hoppier and fruiter RIS in comparison to others. In fact much of the time, I though I was drinking a dark IPA. Sweet lemon, some hop juice, and minor notes of fruity esters were more dominant than the traditional roasted cocoa flavors. Easy to knock back and a different viewpoint of the style, being it's lighter and fruitier.

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,171 ratings.