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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.

2,143 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,143
Reviews: 1,103
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.9%
Wants: 133
Gots: 155 | 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: 2,143 | Reviews: 1,103 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of stephendr
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle - color dark black – thick coffee color head - nose of coffee bean , anise , pine hopps , earthy , and coco – taste of chocolate , pine hopps , bitter baking chocolate and - body creamy , gummy and sharp – aftertaste of chocolate , earthy , and hopps

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

Black, pure and simple. Regardless of the light behind it, this beer was absolutely impenetrable. Creamy, amber-tinted head, which didn't hang around for long. Delicate but stubborn lacing. When a stout looks like this, I'm intrigued.

Surprisingly reticent nose. Some very forward malt, with vague hints of chocolate, coffee, and undefined citrus.

Wonderful balance of roasted malt and bitter hops. Espresso is definitely there, along with hint of black currant pastilles.

Creamy, smooth, and full-bodied in the mouth. Rich, thick texture. Pure pleasure.

Dangerously drinkable. For a full-bodied stout, this is extremely easy to consume.

Photo of jj21
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bomber
Pours a deep mahogany into Guinness tulip with a dense, slightly red, head with little to no carbonation. Aromas of sour dark fruits and chocolate are very prevalent and intoxicating. The taste delivers everything promised by the aroma- and more! I couldn't put this down! The flavor was so good and developed more and more as it warmed turning to sour cherries and coffee. Unbelievably, this beer was very light mouth feel, making it soooo easy to drink. And this is 8.1%? Where's the alcohol hidden? Dangerous! I could drink this all day and be happy with it. Incredible.

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

Appearance- Pours a deep drown with medium mahagony highlights and strong bubbling. Great head with a very thick retention that leaves concentric rings of light tan foam.

Smell- Light creams and molasses with smokey and roasty malts throughout.

Taste- Starts with some bitter roasty malts and hops. The middle is a bit smoother, allowing the creamy flavors to develop more. The finish brings the cream, roast, hops mix all together nicely.

Mouthfeel- Very smooth and very mild for an RIS. But still a top contender for all others to follow.

Photo of Morris729
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep black ruby in color with a tall and frothy dark tan head that dissipates in chunks leaving behind a rocky lace. Chocolate malt dominates the nose with additional aromas of cappuccino in the background. Taste begins with milk chocolate quickly followed by a burnt maltiness and unsweetened baking chocolate as well as a peaty earthiness. Turns a bit acidic and astringent towards the end with a lasting bitterness in the aftertaste. The alcohol level is well hidden.

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

a - pours black with a half-inch tan head, thin retention, mostly on the edge, good lacing

s - good balanced nose of dark chocolate, roasted malt, and coffee, slight alcohol presence

t - slightly sweet roasted malt up front, nicely balanced coffee and dark chocolate in the middle and a long finish of the same, alcohol really not noticeable

m - maybe a tad bit thin bodied for what I like in a RIS, but pretty close, fairly dry finish, little carbonation

d - quite drinkable, for an RIS, the alcohol is hidden very well

Another very solid offering from Bear Republic. Very good RIS and a good value too.

Photo of SteveO1231
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. brown bomber, no freshness date indicated. Pours pure blackness with a thick foamy tan head, head settles rather quickly into a thin layer of tan foam. Chunky-as-hell lacing. Aroma is absolutely righteous, chocolate, vanilla, coffee beans, touch of oak, and bourbon ever so faint fruitiness way in left field. Smells delicious! Full bodied, thick creamy texture, plenty of caramel sweetness up front. Creamy milk chocolate taste with a dry, espresso bite. roasted malts. Finish full of earthy, wood characters. A slight pine resin bitterness is left on the palate. Alcohol is pretty high but not tasted, this beer goes down way too easy. Excellent RIS!


Photo of rousee
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Stout the way it is meant to be done. Dark onyx color with a fairly dark tan head, The smell is tremendous. Fresh roasted dark chocolate and wood with some elements of peat and lichen with some rocky dustiness and rustic hearth feel also. Somewhat earthy and muddy.

Very strong notes of chocolate and coffee with some burnt wood elements. These are apparent on the palate and nose. I wish I had tried this beer sooner. Once again, not only has Bear Republic brewed a fantastic interpretation of the given style , they sure have made it extrememly smooth and drinkable. This does seem to have a firly high abv--u cant taste it at all....Tremendous !!

Bear Republic seems to hit most of the styles pretty well. My opinion is they are an excellent brewery.

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

Appearance: Black and impenetrable, small frothy head.

Smell: Sweet malts, dark chocolate, a trace of alcohol.

Taste: A very chocolatey stout. Fairly pronounced hops presence, but it doesn't detract from the overall sweet, mellow taste.

Mouth: Full-bodied and rich, dry in the finish, goes down smooth with no noticable burn. Definitely a high point of the beer.

Overall: Great stuff. Hoppier than I was expecting, but not overly so; it still has a good balance, and a distinct malty sweetness. Reminds me a bit of Rogue's Imperial Stout, but mellower than that, and not quite so rich or complex.

Photo of flexabull
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A great Thanksgiving nightcap...

Pours a deep dark black, with a nice big tan head.

Aromas are of coffee, and a slightly vegetal note.

Flavors are excellent. Coffee... deep dark chocolate, a bit of alcohol, and a sweet roasted creamy malt finish.

Mouthfeel is above average.

This is another well done Bear Republic offering... certainly worth a try.

Photo of woemad
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big-ass bomber purchased at Huckleberry's in Spokane for $3.49 a few months ago. Today I decided to bust this out as a little Thanksgiving treat for myself.

Poured what looks like a midnight-with-no-moon shade of black, until held to the light, when it takes on a deep brown color at the edges. A big, thick tan head sits atop the beer and takes it's time to dissipate, leaving sheets of lace on the sides of my pint glass.

The smell of this beer is typical for an imperial stout. Lots of dark fruit, along with a more subdued, brown sugary sweetness. Not as robust smelling as an Old Rasputin, which leads me to suspect it will be a little bit milder in the taste.

Not a bad guess. This is among the more easy going impy stouts I have had. It's not bad tasting at all, but not quite the massive blast of flavor that many of the style are. Most of it's impact comes upfront, with a big blast of bitter dark fruit flavors combined with a dry hoppiness that smacks the palate like a brick. But then the brown sugary sweetness kicks in, and closed out the proceedings combined with a sharp dry note at the swallow.

This beer has a rather sticky mouthfeel. It's a little too thin for the style, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, its not a thin beer by any means, just a little thinner than I was expecting.

Not a bad beer at all, though it could use a little help in the mouthfeel department. If I didn't already have Old Raspy, Thor's Thunder, and Poseidon within attainable distances, I'd probably be more impressed by this beer. If I didn't have to go to work soon, I'd have a Poseidon next to compare the two. Alas, there's no time for such a comparison.

Photo of phisig137
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black, and lets not light through, even around the edges. Creamy one finger head has nice retention, and gives way to some wispy lace.

Aroma is big time chocolate, with some plums and a touch of coffee as well. Perhaps more cocoa than chocolate.

Flavor is malty sweet up front, with light caramel flavors, and again some huge chocolate. This RIS is more chocolatey than some chocolate stouts I've had. Finish is dominated by roasted grain bitterness, and a touch of hops. Not harsh in any way, and well balanced. No alcohol presence. Mouthfeel is creamy and coating, thanks to light smooth carbonation. Drinkability is excellent.

A fantastic impy stout from Bear Republic. I find this to be one of their more balanced beers, and is very enjoyable. Highly recommended.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.18/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bomber into my Dogfish snifter.
Thanks to Boolshot for the opportunity to taste this.

Pours a dark black with little to no head to speak of. Smells hoppy with a dark cocoa scent lingering with some alchohol.
Taste is overly hoppy. Not really strong hops, but they dominate the taste. Underneath the hops there are some reminders of the base of a good stout. However they are not easy to find.
The beer has a good mouthfeel. Not cloying with a nice coffee aftertaste. This is a good west coast hoppy stout. I prefer my stouts with much less hops, however this is very sessionable and good for its style.
Would recommend and will seek out more Bear Republic beers.

Photo of dbalsock
3.15/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I just wasn't digging this brew. It's not bad, but I can't call it better than average for imperial stouts.

Appearance: Pours black with a reddish tan head. The head retention is moderate, but the color of the head is pretty fantastic. There is some lacing, but i'm used to more intricate patterns.

Smell: Alcohol, roasted and chocolate malts lead the way through the nose.

Taste: The heary hops kick in with the dark malts to create an interesting dichotomy. It doesn't seem balanced or like a compromise, but more like an argument between the two, in which both are refusing to budge. The alcohol cuts its way in too in a way that's a little too much more my palate.

Mouthfeel: The alcohol sting and intense bitterness make this too busy and not interesting enough.

Drinkability: Like I said above, the alcohol detracts and it's like there's a war in my mouth with every sip. I can see some people really enjoying that, however.

Photo of trep
3.13/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22ozer thanks to IntriqKen.

Pours a dark black, but not completely opaque. Bubbly brown head fades to leave a thin layer of head and a bit of lacing. Aroma has notes of coffee and chocolate, and bit of alcohol, not much though. None of the aromas are very pronounced. Bland and dull, very average.

Incredibly hoppy for an imperial stout. Notes of coffee and chocolate. Probably the most bitter imperial stout i've had. Dark fruity flavors under the hops, but never have a chance to escape the blanket of hops. As it warms it gets less bitter and more vinous, cool. Not bad, but certainly a west coast rendition of the style. Although it works with IPA's and IIPA's, I'm not feelin' this too much.

Good carbonation and medium-full body. Nice balance mouthfeelwise, but the over-the-top hops don't really do much for me. I'd like to see what this tasted like if it were more malty.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a near black body with a thick, foamy tan head.

Smell: Earthy, roasted malts saturate the aroma, as well as hints of caramel and aniseed. A touch of dark fruits in the nose as well.

Taste: Sweet, full malt backbone with flavors of caramel, dark chocolate, and molasses. Smooth finish accented by a light, grassy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a silky, creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Easy drinking stout. An ample, respectable brew, but it lacks the complexity of other Russian Imperial Stouts.

Photo of AndoBrew
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

*I like it and will not buy again*

app: brown water coffee look.. not to exciting looking.. nice tan head.

smell: smells faint but rich, blood meal dark roasty malts, strong pungent cheese. YUM YUM. but faint.

taste: little rich flavor then dry almost sour watery tones.. first thoughts are: OVER RATED! lets try again. same thing with a little booze in it this time some coffee on the finish, very nice very drinkable very boaring. not rich and huge like the kings of the style. I think it should be called Big Bear Cub black stout.. but dont get me wrong.. its good.

little rich flavors pop up for a second.. then sour dry water and thin weak booze.

mf: thin spritzy and bright. not great

drinkable?: yep, nothing to stop you.

Photo of hanco005
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up on a recent trip to WI. Not available in MN to my knowledge. It’s a bomber and I poured it into a pint glass…twice

A—solid black with a inch dark brown fluffy head that slowly fades to a thin sheet, lacing is spotty

S—alcohol and soy jump out right away, followed by some milder dark fruit aroma, chocolate and bread are present, some hints of coffee are there, too

T—not really like the smell, chocolate, coffee, caramel, all blend together perfectly. This is great.

M—thick and chewy, a bit oily, too, full bodied, good carbonation

D—very good, not crazy about the smell, but the taste outweighs it, it’s a sipper for sure and one I will return to again

Photo of RidiculedDisplay
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another amazing offering from Bear Republic, the beers of whom, I might remind many, are available for $3.49 a bomber recently in many places! Such a great deal for amazing beer. Anyway:

Appearance: A dark milk chocolate tan head, pouring a slight froth which settles like an ominous haze over the body. Dark, dark black body, with a tiny hint of amber. Lacing is spotty but present.

Smell: Wow. A biscuity butterscotch. Coffee, dark and milk chocolate. A strong hop backbone.

Taste: Agreed with the surprising and refreshing hop presence in this one. Hits you at the end of dark and milk chocolates, chocolate covered cherries, coffee/espresso, and cream. Hops assert themselves in bitterness and slight orangey/citrusy presence, mixing with the chocolate flavors to literally make a kind of chocolate-covered orange flavor. Yum.

Mouthfeel: A little fizzy, but overall smooth and creamy. Little to no alcochol burn. Very well balanced.

Drinkability: Amazingly drinkable for an IRS. Very complex, very good.

Photo of hckyfn9999
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a huge tan head, with good retention. Smells of raspberry, sweet chocolate, and dark roasted coffee. Taste is of sweet chocolate and roasted espresso initially followed by a strong showing hops. Very hoppy for a stout as others have noted. I like it. Mouthfeel is pretty good. This is a very drinkable stout that shows no signs of 8% alcohol.

Photo of Reidrover
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber from Capital Market, Salem Very nice looking beer, black with the brest hints of mahogany round the very edge. Large light brown head, creamy and thick. Bold malty/burnt aromas.Dark coffee in aspect Complex malt driven taste to this one, some good hopping in the middle of the tongue levels it out a bit, then a slightly sour berry finish followed by burnt malt bitterness and a finishing hop makes an appearance. Very nice on the palate, smooth and with little carbonation, goes down well, alcohol is barely noticed. Good Imperial Stout, easilly drinkable but perhaps not top of the class more like a "B".

Photo of Graham21
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got a bottle of this in Ft. Collins this summer. Poured into a pint glass. This stuff is black but a bit of dark red shows through when held up to light. The head was a 1/4 inch thick, tanish, brown in color, and coated glass well.
S- Roasted malts, mollases, nuts, beef, slight coffee undertones.
T- Very dark rich coffee flavor, accompanied with a thick but crisp maltiness. Metalic flavors present. Some fruits. something dark like plums. Some hops present. not pickin up on the caramel people have noticed, but there is a faint chocolate taste.

This is a very good, bold, stout. Nice and crisp but also creamy in areas. Great carbonation. Two Thumbs Up!

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.

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.

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

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,143 ratings.