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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.

2,021 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,021
Reviews: 1,094
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.14%
Wants: 120
Gots: 136 | 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: 2,021 | Reviews: 1,094 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tweeder263
2.95/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured out hard and got rewardedwith a hyge tan/brown head.Looks very thick black and nice.Smell is very subtle slght roasted smell but nothing pronounced.Taste surprised me being very astringent and dry.Alcohol hidden nicely.Nice mouthfel to it.Wasnt very impressed due to taste,,i actually pourd out the last few sips.

tweeder263, Oct 30, 2006
Photo of Mdog
3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark brown with tan head.

Smell: Dominated by a smell that I just can not identify. Possibly anise? Almost smells like smoked meats? A little bit of alcohol in there too.

Taste: Roasted malt, mostly coffee-type bitterness. Very earthy.

Mouthfeel: Seems a little thin for the style but all right.

Drinkability: Goes down easy, maybe a little too easy for its strength.

Picked this up across the border in Wiscoland. Even after looking at other reviews I just can't identify the smell of this beer. Taste is pretty straightforward, maybe not as complex as some other imperial stouts. An interesting beer.

Mdog, Oct 24, 2006
Photo of laintringulis
4.93/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in a wide mouth goblet.

Pours a dark black with large thick dark beige head. Light lacing present.

Smells. Very complex in the smell. Moderate spicy alcohol, bitter roasted coffee, coconut/coconut milk, pineapple sweetness, and brown sugar/caramel malt. A more pungent molasses spicy as it gets warmer.

Initial full caramel maltiness with a pleasant sweetness of dark fruit and molasses. Progresses into a nice roasted coffee, light chocolate and nut flavor and finishes with a nice coffee and alcohol bitterness. I don't really taste a pineapple flavor to it, but I am convinced I smelled it. Light coconut flavor up underneath it all.

Excellent mouthfeel. Just the right about of oiliness and hops to cut it. Full bodied, almost chewy. Could have been a little chewier. Very creamy.

Easy to drink if you like stouts. I think this is easily sessionable

laintringulis, Oct 21, 2006
Photo of dblinkhorn
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance - Pours with a soapy and somewhat rocky tan head that retains quite well. Excellent, full lacing is left as you drink. It ends up at the common creamy cap on top of the beer. It is opaque black in color.

Smell - Slight hop bitterness with notes of caramel and molasses. A slight metallic tinge accompanies a very rich roasted (almost burnt) malt character. Also there are some aromas of coffee and chocolate, but only slight. Little alcohol aroma is detected.

Taste - Strong oily hop character with black liquorice flavors right up front. Moderate caramel and molasses sweetness just behind this with some brown sugar flavors as well. The malts really come through toward the finish and again taste very roasted and almost burnt. Dark bitter chocolate and coffee also play a small role in the finish. Aftertaste is overwhelmingly rich roasted malts with some lingering caramel sweetness. Very little earthiness, but some is present. I find this flavor somewhat undesirable, so the less the better in my opinion. A very slight background warmnth from the alcohol all the way through the taste.

Mouthfeel - Full-bodied and dangerously smooth. The carbonation is fantastic. No harsh bite at all to it, but the carbonation really allows the flavors to explode. Very refreshing and massaging mouthfeel between its body and carbonation. Excellent!

Drinkability - It's a stout, so that means strong flavors, a heavy and full-body, and this beer follows suit. Probably, I'd be lucky to through more than one 22oz bottle of this stuff.

A fantastic stout from Bear Republic, another great California brewer. This is a no-nonsense stout that is true to its style, in my opinion. Strong flavors and a full, heavy body make it a great example of the RIS. Highly recommended! A must have!

dblinkhorn, Oct 15, 2006
Photo of rsyberg01
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

S - 22 oz. bomber. No freshness date.

A - Black, light breaks through around the edges. Head is a good solid brown that goes about a finger to 1 1/2 finger. Lacing is ok, I expected more.

S - Roasted malts, slight fruitiness which is interesting because it smells like, like pear or apple. Dark fruits as well, hints of vanilla, a hit of oak as well. Unique in a great way.

T - Roasted coffee, mocha chocolate flavour, slight tartness, creamy vanilla, fruityness goes hand in hand with the tartness. Hints of light fruit again. Alcohol is nowhere to be found. Dried bing cherry hits in the finish with a slight undertone of hop, very good indeed.

M - Creamy that is well accompanied by a good amount of carbonation. I kind of expected it to be heavier with the name "big bear black stout." Pretty average IMO.

D - Considering the mouthfeel, I would say it is very drinkable. Personally I think it would make good as a session brew.

rsyberg01, Oct 13, 2006
Photo of HoustonTX
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The infamous Big Bear Black Stout. Considering I just got hit by a deer today. I figured this would be an appropriate beer to review, as I sure as hell would never want to hit a bear. Uggh, my poor car. Anyways. back to the beer.

Pours big and bold. Large frothy mocha head, that has seamless consistency. Big large bubbles lay slightly ontop and rest with ease. Molding and adhering to the head. Foam has subsided to a large ring of lace. Carbonation is just right. Color is onyx black, just pure non-opaque. Can't get much darker than this one. Head has excellent retention. Now let's check out the smell. Surprisingly, the first thing that comes to the nose is a large dose of piney hops. A small trace of anise. Sticky caramel malt. Along with some fruit esters. Possibly some citrusy natured hops as well. Kind of blending along with the other fruit. Overall, a pleasant RIS smell. Very western RIS in nature.

Now for the fun part, the first taste. Wow, this is delicious. Loads of coffee and caramel upfront. It's not the normal strong-bitter coffee flavor, but a more light creme espresso flavor. Hops are definitely there. What is great about the hopping on this one, folks. Is that it blends perfectly with the rich dark coffee flavor. It's impressive, and balanced to perfection. A well flavored hop/coffee bitterness profile, with resounding fruit undertones. Slowly lingering and creamy on the mouthfeel. But, light enough to keep on drinking. This is a very good RIS.

Top-notch RIS, thank you very much to Ken for the sample.

HoustonTX, Oct 12, 2006
Photo of TechMyst
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

CONTAINER TYPE: bottle (conditioned)
FRESH: pretty sure
PURCHASED @: Binny’s
COST: $5
HEAD: 2 finger; light brown; slowly disapating (only IS I’ve seen develop a head)
LACE: huge rings (again, only IS I’ve seen this do)
TRANSMITTED- dark ruby
AROMA: robust roasted malts
MOUTHFEEL: med. to heavy; carb. sting
PALATE: very resinous
TASTE: no cloying sweetness; welcome to the dark-side
COMMENTS: most roasted nut flavor of any IS so far

TechMyst, Oct 10, 2006
Photo of Erdinger2003
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice black body with a brown head that isn't rententive nor does it have very much lacing, it does have a little lacing. A slight vanilla flavor with coffee, cocoa, and molasses. The taste is great with some vanilla and cocoa with raosty flavors, it was very nice. Mouthfeel is good and smooth. Overall it was very good and I can't wait to have another.

Erdinger2003, Oct 06, 2006
Photo of timtheenchanta
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black. Completely opaque. Thick tan head that's very rich and creamy. Loads of lacing all down the side of the glass. Gorgeous sheets of foam all over the glass.

Rich roasted toffee, alcohol, dark chocolate and earthy tones make up the taste and smell of this one.

The mouthfeel is huge and creamy. The alcohol is slightly warming but not bad by any means. Many thanks to Boolshot for this beer.

timtheenchanta, Oct 02, 2006
Photo of BlackJeremiah
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a snifter.

A: Black, with a luxurious cream-colored head. Lots and lots of lacing, giving this one a sinfully decadent appearance.

S: Roasty malt, black currant, surprising citric hop presence. Smells unlike any other stout I've tried, almost fruity, like a Belgian-Stout hybrid.

T: Definitely an original that reflects the scent. Lots of fruity hop quality, blending extraordinarily well with malty roastiness. Candied brown sugar flavors again reminding me of Belgian beers, but the flavors are definitely within the stout regime. A very incredible combination of tastes and characteristics.

M: Heavy mouthfeel belies the fruit character--definitely a stout feel. Coats the palate and leaves the roastiness, but eschews the cloying stickiness of some.

D: I wish, I wish I had another bottle. The unique flavor profile here is addictive and delicious.

BlackJeremiah, Oct 02, 2006
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber that has sat patiently in the DBF for far too long. It is time...

Poured into my Duvel tulip glass, this beauty of a beer is the essence of darkness. Inky, darkest-of-night blackness. Sucking the light in, perhaps. A toffee-colored layer of thick, long-lasting, and lace-producing head remains perched atop the ink below it. Aromas are heavenly...a mixture of milk chocolate, espresso, caramel, roasted malt. The flavor carries all of this as well. Splashes of chocolate and caramel initially, the middle sees some of the chewy grains, with a co-op of ABV and choco-bitterness at the end (what a finish!). Surprisingly, it was slightly on the less-than-big side in the mouthfeel. Still, this is one mammothly drinkable beer. A nice nightcap to a busy day.

OldFrothingSlosh, Sep 30, 2006
Photo of mcallister
3.45/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A very dark chocolate brown. Big thick rich tan head with sticky thick lacing. Some of the best retention I've witnessed in a beer.

Dark chocolate with a roasted malty aroma. Black currant, black cherry, and other dark fruits abound. As well as hints of vanilla and distant coffee.

Somewhat thin watery mouthfeel. Roasted chocolate flavors, with a malt backbone. Seems somewhat out of whack and slightly sour. Dark fruit galore lead by currant, and cherry but nothing really says come and get me.

I wouldn't be drinking many of this one. A bad batch?

mcallister, Sep 30, 2006
Photo of granger10
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep motor oil texture pours into the glass with a medium tight capucino head. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of dark chocolate and earthy flavors. A touch of fruityness in the aroma also. Taste begins with a baker's chocolate type sweetness. Gets a bit deeper with molasses and maybe some butterscotch flavors. A nice bit of earthiness and hoppy resiny flavors counter the sweetness. Darker chocolate is controlling. Some slight espresso roast is in there. Finish stays a touch sweet but has a nice warming and hoppy flavor. Too drinkable and too complex to sip even though its up there in abv. Must get more.

granger10, Sep 25, 2006
Photo of EPICAC
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I purchased this at Downtown Wine & Spirits recently. I let it warm to around 50º F and served it in a New Belgium glass.

Appearance: Pours an opaque black, with a fluffy, light-brown head that thins to a patchy film leaving light lace on the glass.

Smell: Rich aromas of dried fruit and chocolate, with light aromas of roasted coffee.

Taste: Notes of sweet chocolate and fruit are followed by a cherry tartness in the center, and a strong roasted coffee bitterness in the finish, with a light alcoholic bite.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with low to moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: The alcohol is well hidden, it's a very pleasant beer to drink.

Overall: A nice RIS, this one was a bit on the sweet side, though it was still very good.

EPICAC, Sep 24, 2006
Photo of yemenmocha
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Opaque as opaque gets. Nice white to light tan head that retains well.

Nose is very dopplebocky, with malt and roasted malt and a pleasant cereal to oatmeal component.

Palate is malty sweet, maybe chocolate toffee bar with some little candy sprinkles inside, but then the Bear Republic character comes through with their use of hops. Easily recognizable as a Bear Republic product.

Finish is big on the toffee malt again, but after several seconds it is a little astringent.

yemenmocha, Sep 24, 2006
Photo of Toddv29424
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black color with a moderate head. Smell is faint and sweet, a bit like chocolate with a hint of hops. The taste is huge, and pretty dynamic. The first taste is a bit fluffy, with a chicory-like flavor added. Next is a syrup-like toasted-malt mixture. The tail has a bit of alcohol, but it’s wonderfully balanced by the hugeness of the rest of it.

Toddv29424, Sep 13, 2006
Photo of sacrelicio
4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is great. Midnight black, good tan head, nice retention. Thick oily appearance. Smell is of coffee, chocolate, caramel, molasses, a little hop spiciness. Taste is roasty, with coffee with cream and sugar prominent. Smores galore with chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow after the coffee. Unusual but interesting notes of tar and oil, with sweet corn and black olive braced by bitter hops bring up the finish with a smoky, meaty aftertaste. Mouthfeel is good but nothing super special.

EDIT: As the beer warms and I get a little buzz, I notice baking cookie and cinnamon in the smell and wine like flavors---flavor would be 5.5 or 6 if I could do it. Is this Shiraz or stout?

Great beer, interesting, hides the alcohol well...Bear Republic is the SHIT!!!

sacrelicio, Sep 09, 2006
Photo of cbl2
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11/17/2004 $4.99 22 oz. 8.10% No best by date.


Pours a thick viscousy ink black with a half inch of brown head that has excellent retention, and resembles tan colored cream.


Beautiful aroma of chocolate, coffee hints of fresh fig. Extremely complex, I can't wait to taste.


Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner. Supple, smooth, with flavors of sweetened coffee with plenty of cream. Hints of ripened fruit and a kick of alcohol are present in the finish. An absolute delight.

Is there anything Bear Republic can't do? Currently 3 for 3, this may be my new favorite brewery.

cbl2, Aug 28, 2006
Photo of EvilKeith
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours into the imperial pint glass nearly black in color with faint ruby highlights. The head is two fingers of camel colored rootbeer float-like dense foam. The lace is generously thick and sinfully sticky.
The smell is sweet roasted malts, ripe dark fruits, dark roasted coffee beans, and creamy milk chocolate with the alcohol hidden beyond detection.
The taste is sweet. Notes of bitter-sweet cocoa, toasted almost charred flavors. The alcohol is more overt than the scent would indicate. The alcohol lends a spicy edge to the mix. Hops bring just enough bittering to keep the malty sweetness in balance.
Crisp, creamy mouthfeel. Medium heavy body. Moderately active carbonation, for an RIS, but here it is not out of place.
This was really a treat. Full, rich, complex flavors.
Thoroughly enjoyed this one after supper. Sweet enough to be served as a dessert beer. FIND THIS, and give it a try!

EvilKeith, Aug 18, 2006
Photo of asabreed
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bomber into a pint glass.

Appearance: Black as black can be, with a tan 1/2" head that leaves some good lacing on the glass.

Smell: Rich stuff here, and extremely complex. Unsweetened chocolate, powdered chocolate, hints of coffee, roasted malts, raisins, maple, dark berries, and some slight bitterness with the hops to round things out. Extremely balanced and hard to get your nose out of.

Taste: Everything from the aroma comes through amazingly here. A bold powdered chocolate and toasted malt fullness with coffee and mocha in the background. The dark berry characters come through near the finish, which is slightly sweet at first, then dry, letting the hops come through while still having some chocolate and sweetness on the tongue. Absolutely wonderful stuff, and I don't see how this can get any better.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and velvety, with the perfect amount of carbonation. How is it this silky?

Drinkability: One of the best versions of the style I've ever had, hands down. A bomber is extremely easy to finish (you can call that good or bad, though I say the latter), and an extremely fine treat indeed.

asabreed, Aug 15, 2006
Photo of jmz62565
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This pours a jet black with a huge tan foamy head. Very impressive looking. The smells include coffee, chocolate,and a small amount of dark fruit. The taste is awesome with coffee and chocolate dominating this beer. The high alcohol is well hidden and there is a hidden sweetness in this beer, mollasses? I think the thing I like about this beer the most is that coffee and chocolate and not dark fruit dominate the flavor. The m/f is medium with all the flavors mixing very well. An excellant beer that I will savor. I got the growler at Half Time in Poughkeepsie. Cheers.

jmz62565, Aug 13, 2006
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1 Pt 16 oz bottle poured into a goblet.

Looks Funktasticle!!! Extremely dark brown-near black in color. Massive and expansive 3" frothy mocha colored head, very thick. The head lasted until the very last drop while leaving really nice lacing all over the glass. The "eye" of the head remained bubbly and dense the entire time.

The Nose is very potent. Heady-sweet malt (carmel and brown sugar) One of the more aromatic stouts I've had. It also has some hints of leafy-green style hops.

Tastes smokey with dark/bitter chocolate>Roasted coffee with a oatyness. Sweet carmel malt and a good balance of "green" fresh hops. Starts sweet and roasty finishing bitter and a bit "earthy" from the hop effect. The Balance of Roasty and sweet malt with a bitter hop finish is done well.

This Full body stout feels sticky but smooth, the frothy mocha-like head sticks around til' the very last drop giving this an extra amount of softness. The Carbonation is very good so there is an underlying crisp effect that makes this feel just right.

The 8.1 % ABV is really very drinkable for this style, it goes down really easily because it keeps you interested until the very last drop. Still, it's two or three of these bombers max for one night!

The enjoyable and sustained excellence of the look, aroma, taste and feel makes this one of my favorite big stouts.

GratefulBeerGuy, Aug 12, 2006
Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark brown/black in color, nice carbonation, small creamy dark tan head, nice lacing throughout the drink.

S - Scents of sweet malts, slight spices, yeast, and toffee/caramel notes.

T - The taste is kinda sweet malty, with some toffee undertones. Also a slight alcohol taste.

M - Medium body.

D - Drinkable. I believe this is my first RIS, not bad, different than a regular stout. Would recommend though.

Wasatch, Aug 12, 2006
Photo of veggiemafia
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled courtesy of Chappy052, a fine man and a fine BA if there ever was one.

Pours very dark brown, not quite black, with ruby highlights and a prodigious khaki/crema colored head.

Smells are very dry, intense roastiness, coffee and espresso, not so fruity. I like this, becuase I really like a grainy character in lots of beers, and you get that roasted grain thing very prevalently here.

Taste is more of the same, coffee and grains with a herbal kind of earthy hop presence as well that really brings out some brightness in this and makes it work.

Mouthfeel is fairly creamy, medium-bodied for a RIS, if anything.

This may be a little dry to drink a lot of, but still a very fine beer.

veggiemafia, Aug 07, 2006
Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a bomber served in a Three Philosophers glass. The stout is cool.

Appearance: The beer is pitch black with no hints of anything beyond the off-white head. That head laces nicely.

Smell: The stout has a roasted aroma with undertones of chocolate and wine.

Taste: The ale has a big taste, with chocolate and roasted malts leading the way. There is a slight undertone of vanilla and no hop presence.

Mouthfeel: The hops and vanilla flavors are good, as are the toasted malts. Nicely done by Bear Republic.

Drinkability: The ale is smooth without a killer hop profile. The vanilla hints are very nice, as well.

akorsak, Aug 03, 2006
Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,021 ratings.