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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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2,144 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,144
Reviews: 1,103
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.93%
Wants: 133
Gots: 155 | 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: 2,144 | Reviews: 1,103 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of smcolw
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Small head for the style, but nice lace. Nearly black in color; no light can penetrate the glass.

First whiff: refrigerator. Second whiff: mild black patent malt, some chocolate and mocha.

Excellent balance. Noticeable hop which is unusual for the style. Nice chocolate-coffee flavors. Rich body with good carbonation. The aftertaste is largely hop tinged with bitter darkened malt.

This is an exceptional (imperial) stout. Delicious and rich; to be sought out.

Photo of umustdrink
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Last of the case :(

A - Pitch black dark as night color, completely opaque. Head is a very light brown and retains at a thick quarter inch. Lacing is medium and sticks in sheets a few mm above the head.

S - Dark roasted coffee malts, chocolatey and creamy with hints of vanilla, cream and burnt sugar.

T - Bitter caramel to start, into a rich toasted malt, again very coffee-like and chocolatey, finishes dark and toasted. I sense a very defined hop flavor in this stout, which is very interesting (and good!).

M - Medium consistency with a chalky texture and minimal carbonation.

D - Overall I think this is my favorite Bear Republic beer I've tried, and among my favorite RIS's. Excellent beer and a must try if possible.

Photo of mjgardner
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aquired from umustdrink. Tasted with bross242 and dannosparks. One of 31 beers tasted in a great day of beer drinking.

Appearance - Very dark brown/black with a nice tan head with a one finger head that retains well. Very good lacing.

Smell - Big roasted chocolate malt with coffee and perhaps a bit of licorice.

Taste - Roasted caramel, chocolate malt with a bit of chalkiness.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

Drinkability - This is a very drinkable stout. The alcohol is hidden very well so be careful. This is definitely one of my favorite Bear Repulic brews. Get you hands on it if you can!!

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

When poured in the glass, it was on the verge of being black, but had a deep reddish hue when looking up at the light. The smell of roasted malts was very evident with a fair amount of chocolate in the nose. The taste was of roasted malts and bittersweet chocolate. It was thick, bittersweet and very tasty. Just love this Bear Black Stout. The flavor and aroma was not overpowering, but, very pleasant.

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

Had this in a 22 oz bomber at 55-60 degF.

Poured a very dark brown with a tan/khaki head of almost 2 inches. The head went down fast to a 1/2 inch. Some lacing when swirled.

A mild roasted malt aroma.

Bitter coffee was the dominant taste with mild chocolate in the finish. There was also a slight sweetness and acid in the background. With time the bitterness mellowed.

When first poured the foam took the edge off the bitterness, pleasant feel to it. Foam tasted good but not as creamy as some. From taste and mouth feel you wouldn't know that it was 8+% abv. Dry on the tongue.

Good dessert drink or if you in the mood for coffee or chocolate.

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

Appearance: It's very dark and nearly black with a thick, creamy tan two finger head. Absolutely gorgeous beer. Head retention was very good and a thick coat of lace remained after the head subsided.

Smell: It's mostly a dark chocolate and espresso mix. Very well blended. There are additional notes of vanilla and roasted malts. Also a slight hints of cherry and other dark fruits are present.

Taste: Very smoky tasting. Dark chocolate and espresso flavors shine through and are very good. Vanilla and slight cherry notes add to the mix. This is a very well done beer that only gets better as it warms a little.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's light to medium bodied. Very, very smooth and drinkable. At 8.1%, it's strong, but not overly so. It works well for this beer. Overall, this is a fine stout. Definitely recommended.

Photo of mcarroll10177
3.86/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

poured from the 22 oz bomber into a pint glass

A- black as night with dark tan head with good retention and tons of lacing on the glass

S- huge roasted malts in the nose followed be big alcohol scent

T- roasted almost burned flavor, followed be black coffee and some alcohol. Not as balanced as I would have liked

M- spot on for a stout thick with just the right amount of carbination

D- lack of balance hurts this beer some age may do wonders for this beer.

Photo of cichief
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 22oz. bomber.

A- Pours deep brown, almost black, nearly opaque. With a light brown head that dissipated fairly quickly.

S- Smells sweet, of chocolate or espresso, inviting.

T- Bold and powerful, very sweet, chocolaty, a fairly strong alcohol burn in the finish though.

M- Smooth, very small bubbles, very thick on the tongue.

D- Very good, if it weren't 8.1% ABV, it might be an everyday beer.

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

Eagerly anticipated trying this after enjoying the Racer 5 about a week ago and couldn't hold out any longer.
Pours a near black though it can be seen through barely when held to light. Brown head that leaves great layers of lacing, sort of a fizzy sounding head which was a little less creamy than some others.
Pretty good smell, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and a little coffee all in there.
Caramel and chocolate mostly in the taste, though some french vanilla is subtle and even more subtle the coffee. No alcohol present whatsoever. When it warms it doesn't expand as well as other examples of an RIS probably because of a little less alcohol used, so it helps and hurts where taste is concerned.
Mouthfeel was good, though not as full as I'd like. I can't quite sink my teeth into it as the bottle says but I'm not far from it either. Drinkability is through the roof. If there were such a thing as a 5.5 for completely ridiculous I would honor this beer with such a rating. Hands down the easiest drinking RIS I've had to date and I doubt much else will compare. I wish I had many more of these for the future.

Thanks for the bottle Talisker.

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

22 oz. to snifter.

poor big bear, this was compaired with the stone RIS, which sorta blew this one out of the water, but i will try to review it on its own merits...

black body with a lumpy, cushion-y brownish-tan head with accompanying lace. nose is chocolate cream, citricy hops, molasses, and coffee. taste is quite good, surprisingly hoppy with roasty-toasty malts, chocolate, and, well, reread what i wrote for the smell, though, a bit sweeter than i would have guessed. mouthfeel is a solid medium body that seems to waver above and below the line between sips, quite a smooth finish, and a long one i might add. very drinkable, not as big as other stouts, but it holds it own quite well. this was the second time i've had BBBS, and i still like it! then again, i don't think there is a single bear republic beer that i don't like...

Photo of illidurit
4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from 22 oz bomber into Rogue pint glass. Jet black body with a dark tan fluffy head of a perfect 2 fingers that reduces down to a cap, leaving some nice lacing.

S: Smells of semisweet dark chocolate, a bit of cocoa, coffee.

T: Dark chocolate and roasted malt dominate the initial taste with some dry hop bitterness in the end. Exceptional balance.

M: Really nice and smooth, but medium bodied, which is kind of odd for a RIS but it works fine here. Carbonation is a bit high.

D: Excellent, I wish I had bought more.

Photo of willjschmidt
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass.

A: Color is ink black but changes to dark red when held in front of a light. A huge, thick dark tan head forms. Is recedes slowly leaving a lot of lacing up the entire length of the glass.

S: Dark chocolate and espresso.

T: A very smooth and very balanced stout. Dark chocolate and espresso at the start, then some toffee. The finish is nicely balanced bitter and oily hops. A very flavorful IRS stout, maybe not as complex as some of the best but still very good.

M: Medium to thick bodied with pleasant tastes and just the right amount of carbonation.

D: A very drinkable IRS, the alcohol is incredibly well hidden. It is very smooth, easy to drink and flavorful. Another solid offering from Bear Republic, one of my favorite breweries.

Photo of rkuhnel
4.53/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have been waiting for just the right moment to try my 22 oz bottle of Big Bear. I have been real impressed with what Bear Republic does so I have really been looking forward to this beer. It looks initially as if splashed in my glass like it was black used motor oil , but when held up close to light you discover it is really a very rich red. The head is fairly large and was the color of coffee with cream. Huge chunks of lacing were left as it settled. Overall the appearance, for a dark beer, is simply outstanding. The body and mouthfeel are not as heavy as its appearance would suggest but are velvet smooth, and both on the teeth and tongue are a sensory delight. The nose is roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, spicy fruits, hops, and a touch of alcohol. Flavors are a mirror of the nose, but are even more intense, with the roasted malts and chocolate dominating. After all this, the finish surprisingly has a nice little bitter twitch. Overall it is very well balanced, and remarkably drinkable. I consider this at the very top of all the imperial stouts I have tried. It lived up to my expectations and more.

Photo of Gatch
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It's about time I tried the Big Bear. Bear Republic is one of my favorite breweries, so I have high anticipation for this beer.
A - Nearly pitch black but if held up close to light, it's a deep blood red. The head is surprisingly thin, but a thick, dark coffee ice cream color which craters after a minute or so. A much better, creamier head formed when I poured the rest of the bomber.
S - Hoppy for an Imperial Stout. Then again, it's a NorCal beer. Roasted malt, chocolate, dark spicy fruits, and alcohol make out the nose.
T - Boo yah. I'd been craving a dark roasty beer all day and this is exactly what I needed. The roasted malt, dark chocolate, and alcohol make a great combination. The body is on the medium side, so it almost seems like a heavy porter. I was tasting some chocolate milkshake when I took the first sip after the second pour from the bomber, which was very good and it stayed around.
M - The malt sticks to the palate and leaves a great smoky/roasted taste. A light body for an Imperial Stout, so the mouthfeel could be better, meaning thicker and more full-bodied. This would be a great thing if my expectations weren't for a thick, dark beer. The alcohol is very undetectable and the carbonation is low, which makes it smooth.
D - The lighter-than-normal body attributes to the drinkability. In no way is it filling or overwhelming. The flavors don't consume the mouth, but slide around to hit every part of it, which I like. The alcohol is very light, if noticeable at all. I love the roasted characteristics of this brew. A very consistent and well-rounded Imperial Stout. Where some heavy IS's can have a lot of variables, this one stays true to the style. Heavy IS's may also not be for every beer lover, but I think Big Bear is an incredible example of this style and a great IS for anyone, be it the first time IS drinker or a seasoned veteran. I don't think Bear Republic can brew anything but an amazing beer.

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

22oz. bottle poured a dark brown with a large tan head that leaves a few specks of lace around the glass. Smell has some chocolate and roasted malt notes with a faint scent of alcohol. The feel is a little light which isn't bad but surprising along with the fact that I can see my fingers on the glass though this brew. The taste has some dark roasted malts a bit of chocolate and a slight after taste of alcohol. I could easily drink this bomber but I can't help to think that this brew is a little bit on the week side and would probably make an excellent session beer if it was on draft.

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

Picked up a bottle at Julio's Liquors in Westborough, MA.

A: Jet black hue with barely perceptible ruby highlights. Opaque. Thick buff colored head. The beer has got legs.

S: Dark fruit ester (prunes/plums) aromas dominate. Hoppy notes also strong. Coffee smelling malt aromas subtle, balanced, and supportive of other aromas.

T: Intriguing combination of sweet dark chocolate roasted malt and hop flavor. Hop flavor might actually have the edge on this one. Dark fruit esters also noticeable. Finish is a roasted/hoppy bitter but not dry.

MF: Full mouth filling feel. Very smooth and easy drinking. Alcohol warming. Low carbonation.

D: Great stout with typical West Coast hop focus. Very drinkable - hides its alcohol well.

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

A - Poured a thick black, opague oil like liquid. A nice small tan colored head was present at the start, which hung around for a decent amount of time. A nice long lasting lace was left to cling to the side the whole time, looked pretty good.

S - Lots of coffee and chocolate tones set the stage here. Hints of french vanilla and sugar swirled around and really gave this a nice robust dessert like feel.

M & T - Very nice here, great feel, very frothy and creamy like a milkshake. Great consistency. Big flavors of roasted dark chocolate and coffee. Big suprise was the huge hop presence here. Very dry hoppy finish, but also in the taste. Hints of pine and orange were definatly present and made this a very intresting brew to say the least. Could not really tell which was more dominant, but both were very welcome.

D - Awesome, is the only word that comes to mind. This was extremely drinkable, and even at 8.1%abv not a hint of alcohol was to be found anywhere in this. Not too heavy, but no where near thin, perfect drinkabilty, even on an abnormally warm early spring evening. A+

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

A: Poured into a Sam Smith's nonic pint glass. The result: a black body with mahogany/crimson hues when held to the light, and a 1/2 finger chocolatey tan foamy head that settles slowly. Nice rings of lacing all the way down.

S: Roasted malt, some powdered cocoa and a faint hint of hazelnut coffee as it warms. Not particularly strong in the nose, however.

T: Balance is the key word. When it's colder, the dominant tastes are roasted malt, some brown sugar and a burnt charcoal bitterness to finish it all off with. As it warms, chocolate/cocoal becomes more evident, along with dark berry sweetness, a hint of coffee and a basic dry bitterness at the finish. Also a hint of alcohol warmth, but the alcohol is well hidden.

M: Smooth all-around. Medium-to-full bodied. Perfect level of carbonation -- enough to keep it from feeling flat, but not enough to give you a fizzy feel to it.

D: Very good.

Notes: I'd consider this to be on the "lighter side" of Russian Imperial Stouts, but it's heavy enough to meet the style. Nicely blended profile of sweetness and bitterness, along with a smooth feel, makes this one a keeper. Enjoy.

Photo of wcudwight
4.51/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Received in the Double Trouble BIF. Thanks boolshot and marvz.
Perfect appearance for a stout. Black with a massive froathy tan head. That holds forever. Lot's of chocolate in the nose. Coffee and some floral hops. This is one of the hoppier stouts that I've had and man is it good. Deep rich chocolate, with a slight mocha flavor and some nice fruitiness. Green apple is what the fruit flavors seem like to me. Also some cherry.
Kind of thin for a Imp Stout but it seems to fit the beer for some reason.
If there ever was a session RIS this is it. I had no problem finishing my bomber during my fantasy baseball draft. In fact, it was gone half way through the draft.
Highly recommended. A must try.

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

Pours black with a fine tan head that leaves surprisingly good lacing.
Smell is of chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and faint hops.
Very balanced with a lot of separate tastes including dark chocolate, dark roasted malts, some sweetness and even a pleasant bitter burnt taste.
Mouthfeel is medium but very creamy with a bit of carbonation up front and a dry finish.
Certainly a very drinkable beer though more than one or, at most, two would be enough with the ABV.

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

I'm going to be honest... I had this beer both with and without my steak dinner, and alone and with a big, thick, juicy, spicy steak... its a brilliant beer.

Into a goblet, pours midnight black, dark as can be, with a huge tan head of creamy froth, lacing that falls down the glass but doesn't stick. The aroma is just under hefty, plenty to smell, but also a little fleeting. There is lots of coffee and espresso, chocolate, molasses, black sugar, and a faint leafy hop. The taste is much like the aroma, but even better. Boundless chocolate and espresso, roasted malts play prominently, but there is that leafy, earthy hop profile that makes this one stand out from the crowd. Combine that all with a mouth thats smooth and creamy, light and underplayed carbonation, and a perfect alcohol warming, with none of the bite... and I could sure use another.... please? no?... damn... A wonderful beer, very very good.

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

Not sure a RIS could pour better. Darkedy dark. Thick, mocha head. Doent look like its going to settle ... ever (it never really did).

Smells roasted malt, ome choc and coffee. Too bad I have a cold, wish I could smell more.

Yummy bicuit, dry, some hops. Very nice finish. Cant taste the ABV, somewhat sad ;)

Feels very smooth, sits well in the mouth.

I could drink this all the time. I will say I think it may feel a bit more like an American Sout than a RIS due to dryness and hoppyness.

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

A - Pours a pitch black color with a thick brownish tan head

S - Lots of roasted malt aroma with a subtle coffee/chocolate thing goin on

T - Like the smell, the roasted malts are prevalent in the flavor. I can still get the hint of coffee/chocolate there too, but mildly

M - Unbelievably smooth with a medium to full body

D - Quite possibly the best all around stout I've ever had, and I've had quite a few. If your a fan of stouts and porters, I HIGHLY recommend that you try this bad boy

Photo of uberabr
4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a bomber into a brandy glass. Pitch black with beautiful 2 finger brown head. Tons of carbonation and moderate lace.

Smell is deep and rich. Dark molasses with light roasted notes, hints of chocolate, cream, and the somewhat solvent-like booze that is expected with this style. Taste is rich and deep, but not so deep that it gives me a headache. Excellent. Milk chocolate, molasses, mild caramel, and some nutty almond qualities. It's deep but well rounded and somehow, quite light and easy to drink. Between this brew and Racer 5, I'm really starting to like this company.

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

Served from a 22 oz bomber into a US pint glass.

Pours a perfectly opaque black with slight ruby edges, and about two fingers of long-lasting tan head.

The nose is full of roasted malt and coffee notes, with hints of bittersweet chocolate, followed by a nice hoppy finish.

The flavor is similar, with a big roasted, slightly smoky, malt flavor up front. The espresso flavors are also fairly predominant, and the whole taste ends with pronounced American hop notes, slightly citrusy.

The mouthfeel is good, well-carbonated for the style, but ever so slightly watery.

Drinkability is good for the style and strength.

Overall, a very good RIS. Not the best, but definitely one of the better. Bear Republic manages an excellent balance between the malt and hops characters of this ale; that said this is definitely an RIS for hopheads. I've bought it before, and I'll buy it again. Recommended.

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,144 ratings.