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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.

2,169 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,169
Reviews: 1,106
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.93%
Wants: 138
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: 2,169 | Reviews: 1,106 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of brentk56
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark brown color with tawny highlights and a nice tan head that leaves plenty of lacing

Smell: Smells as much like an IPA as a stout, with grapefruit hops mixing together with roasted coffee and woody notes

Taste: Starts out with a rich chocolate flavor that blends with dark fruits by mid-palate; after the swallow, the grapefruit bitterness arrives in a big way; woody dry flavors at the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body (just a bit thinner than it could be) with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: This stout hits most of the high points although I wouldn't characterize it as a RIS; it's really more of an American Double Stout in my book.

Photo of Budlum
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pouring this stout produces a towering, dense, tan head that very slowly recedes leaving some lacing on the glass. The body is a deep black color with shades of red offering a little more light and clarity than most stouts.

The nose is pretty straight forward and inviting. A rich, roasted barley smell blends with light coffee and smoke aromas before a strong and sharp hop presence hits the nose. A light, sugary sweetness is noticeable over a big sniff.

A subdued and smooth roasted barley flavor leads this beer off with hints of charcoal in the background. The charcoal flavor is quite strong and holds through most of a sip. Hop flavors are pronounced yet blanced cutting the roasted flavors nicely. The finish sees the departure of the hops as the toasted barley flavors seem to regain strength.

The mouth presence has good carbonation but it feels a little too watered down for a stout.

Drinkability is pretty good. It is easy to drink and offers solid flavors throughout.

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

A: Jet black with a full, light tan head. Head calms down a bit, leaving a thin layer, but stays smooth and creamy on the top throughout most of the drink. Lacing does nothing but cling to the side of the glass.Looks yummy.

S: Roasted malts, coffee and chocolate hit at first. Some slight dark fruit, like currants, are there, but very faint. Some slight grass/pine hops around as well.

T: Roasted malts are the leader here. Slight chocolate and some toffee in there as well. Hops lend there hand, making this somewhat hoppier than expected, which I'm not too big a fan of in stouts, but this is nice. Ends semi burnt and smokey with a faintly dry and apparent bitter finish.

M: Medium body with medium carbonation. I think this mouth feel lacks a bit compared to what a RIS should be. Too bad. Other people seem to get smoothness, but sadly, I dont feel it.

D: Overall, a very drinkable stout. I think the mouth feel drags it down in the end, but still pretty tasty. If your in the mood for a tame, somewhat hoppy, tasty stout, then this is your beer.

Photo of mynie
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Perfect black. Totally, complete opaque. A giant, chocolate brown head sticks atop the chalice.

Smells of deep roasted grain, dry west coats hops, raisins, chocolate, wood chips, and a light zing of alcohol. Very nice.

Tastes start zingy sweet, big grain and yeast, that moves into a middle of roasted chocolate malt and dry hops, and ends on a supreme, extra bitter roasted dry malt. Once again, very nice.

A superb stout. Maybe a bit too tame to be considered a superb RIS, but a wonderful beer nonetheless.

Photo of grub
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

got this bottle in a recent trade with BigLove. thanks travis!

pours an opaque black with an inch of thick, dense brown head. drops very slowly and leaves tons of clumpy lace behind.

aroma is good. coffee and dark chocolate. roasty and slightly sweet malt. caramel.

taste is good. tons of roast. bittersweet chocolate. coffee. bit of alcohol. biscuity malt. caramel. not as much depth as i expected.

mouthfeel is good. carbonation level is moderate, but feels a touch high. bit of astringency. body is not quite as big as expected.

drinkability is good. alcohol is balanced well, but the bit of astringency takes away from the drinkability. it comes across more burnt/ashy than just roasty.

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

22 oz. Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Deep black in color. A huge fluffy three fingered tan head stays for the entire sample. Sticky lacing crawls all over the glass.

S: Roasted coffee beans. Dark chocolate. Sweet molasses and dark fruit.

T: Deep rich roasted coffee and milk chocolate is followed by a slight pine hop bite. Rich caramel malts and molasses balance this stout out perfectly. Dark fruits and more roasted bitterness that finishes slightly dry.

M: Thick and creamy smooth. Minimal carbonation. Very clean and dry.

D: Highly drinkable for the style. Lacks in complexity for the style but more than compensates in overall balance. The alcohol is well hidden and each sip leaves you craving another. A must try!

Photo of phishgator
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was poured into a pint glass. The color was opaque with a large thick, foamy, tannish head that stayed intact for awhile. The aroma was some coffee, but a lot of a strong hops. The taste was a clean bitter bite upfront and all the way through. The stringent coffee taste was cutting through the roasted, choclatety malt. The bitterness numbs the mouth completely. The beer goes down smooth and the taste is unique.

Photo of dherling
3.43/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured out a very very dark brown, opaque, with a tight, bubbly tan head. The nose has a big dark fruit character, malt and balanced hopping, cherry, alcohol, and prune. The taste is creamy, smooth, with light coffe and chocolate notes, malt, caramel, buttery. An extremely clean mouthfeel. This is far subtler than expected, with a super clean, somewhat creamy finish. One notable characteristic is how well it hides the alcohol. The downside is a lack of character, or complexity. I let this warm up a bit, and some bittnerness starts to come through, but nothing new in terms of taste.

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

I'll admit BA convinced me to try this beer. One of my favorite styles, but Bear Rupublic's I often overlook. I love the brewery, so here we go!

Looks like a stout to me. Black. Carbonation forms a thin but invincible khaki head. These guys put 5-star heads on their IPAs; this is just as firm but not nearly as big or pillowy, but it does leave a spotty lace on the glass. Something cool is happening: the foam has formed a series of rings. Thick and dark near the glass, a ring of almost no head, then the khaki layer, and finally a thick oily dark glob in the middle. So cool I gave it a 4.5.

The smell- I detect the same BR yeast, and much of the same grain bill as the Racer 5. Additionally there are the obvious roasted malts; they are both sharing the nose in equal proportions.

Very approachable stout. The roasted malts definately leave their mark, especially in the aftertaste, but they don't dominate the beer. There is just as much big ale body as there is the dark stuff. Yummy NW hops provide solid bitterness, although there are some clashing flavors there. They seem to have the right idea, but haven't quite nailed all the details. Mineral water at first, with a strong pale ale flash, eventually morphing into a long bitter chocolate malt fallout. I gave it a 3.5, because it's quite good, certainly above average, but not outstanding.

Great mouthfeel. Soft soft carbonation; creamy, but not nitro creamy- more like chocolate milk creamy. Racer 5 has this same "undercarbonated, yet perfect for the beer" vibe, which supports my yeast theory further.

For the style, this is a very drinkable beer. I look for more balls in my RIS's, not necessarily with abv, but more beastly flavors, more complexity, and better balance would take this one to the next level. Having said that, drink it up because its good! Cheers!

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

Bomber purchased at (I think) Beers of the World in Rochester, NY, sometime in Summer 2006.

Poured pitch black with a small, bubbly head that faded quickly. Tiny bit of lacing, but not a lot. Aroma is smoky, like fresh baked pumpernickel bread, with dry espresso and dark chocolate.

Taste was well balanced -- sweet malts (chocolate, roasted caramel) with decent, fruity hop backbone. Dry and relatively bitter for an IRS throughout. Sour cherries and dark cocoa in the aftertaste. Hard to go wrong in this style, for me, and this one is right up there!

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

Deep black with a one finger bubbly cocoa head.
Roasted malt aroma, slightly sweet and bready, hops lingering way in the back.
Rich, roasted flavor with dominant chocolate/coffee notes.
Full mounthfeel with a rich tongue coating. It doesn't expand but rests and lingers, maintaing the flavors between sips.
A most excellent stout. I wouldn't get tired of these flavors and would enjoy sipping one after another.

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

This beer poured a very dark chocolate brown with a very dark tan head. The head was very thick and lasted the whole beer, with a nice amount of lacing. The aroma was that of a toasted malt and chocolate coffee, with a slight hint of hops.

The taste was a very toasted malty flavor with just a slight bitterness at the front. The back had a nice dose of hops, but not too strong. The mouthfeel was good, with the CO2 being perfect and the thickness being just right for an RIS.

Another great beer from Bear Republic and a nice RIS that is a year round standard, not a special release. Worth a try if your a Bear Republic or RIS fan.

Photo of tonistruth
4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- deep brown perhaps black in color, some red hues where light sneaks through at the bottom of the glass, three finger fluffy dark tan head, great retent, little bit of lace

S- sweet, caramel, but mostly roasted & burnt malts

T- roasted caramel malts, sweet cream & burnt malt aftertaste, lost of roasted flavors, only slight hints of alcohol in background

M- carbonation tickle, medium body, smooth and creamy, slight warming at finish

D- alcohol just about undetectable, even when warm, flavor really shines as brew warms. Definetly for stout lovers, i'd love to have many more of these. Yummy, very much so.

Photo of BeerNinja007
4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into my mug. $4.99 at Premier in Kenmore, NY.

Pours a very dark black color with nothing showing through when held to the light, not even around the edges. Big rocky light brown head, 4 fingers high. The carbonation is beautiful to watch as the bubbles cascade upward to join in the foam, like an upside down waterfall, made all the more apparent by their background of dark dark beer. They should make a screen saver out of this.

The aroma is so well-rounded that it's hard to dissect. I think I detect smoke, chocolate, molasess, raisin, maybe some dark fruits- perhaps cherry, and a bit of orange or something else citrusy. A whiff of pine stands out as the most easily discernable element. The whole ensemble begs to be inhaled deeply.

Taste is smoke and coffee up front, bitter dark chocolate chiming in soon after and lingering on throughout, again something citrusy -grapefruit!- in the middle and in the aftertaste. There's something big that I can't identify- after writing this I'm sure I'll scroll down and see it someone else's review and kick myself for not catching it. (Edit: Oak. It is the oakiness that I couldn't put my finger on.) The bottle makes note of "a rich, caramel sweetness", but I'm not getting much of that (if at all). Maybe a hint in the aroma but not in the taste.

The chocolate and grapefruit do a really good job of covering up any alcohol that would be apparent in the finish. Alcohol isn't apparent anywhere, carbonation level is good (not too much, as one might expect from a visual inspection soon after pouring), and mouthfeel is moderately slick.

Overall very good beer and a good bargin. I will definately continue to pick this up in the future. Very similar to, but a little better than, the 8 Ball Stout I had a few nights ago.

Photo of peabody
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out a very black red with no light permeating this brew. Three fingers of brown suds and the bubbles are huge. Lacing is very evident here as the sides of the pint glass are overtaken by the foam.
Smell is a dark chocolate caramel with coffee overtones. Very malty and sugary. Very slight yeast. The blackness is the smell as well as the look.
Taste is wonderful. Smokey and fruity with coffee and caramel and malt. The hops are the perfect bitterness here. Dark Cherry Cordial I have read as a description of other beers and I think it might just apply here.
Mouthfeel is oily and dark maltyness. Kinda like the oil in roasted nuts. Aftertaste doesn't last very long so this makes you take that next drink pretty quickly.
Drinkability, don't know. Can't get it around here. If I could, even at 8.1%abv, I would still drink a lot of this stuff. Great all around dark beer here. mmm

Photo of velo343
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass out of a 22oz bottle.

Appearance - Almost pitch black in color, some very dark brown hues are visible. A large, thick dark brown head that really sticks to the sides of the glass caps it off.

Smell - Chocolate and coffee really dominate. There's a lot of roasted, toasty malt smell as well, finished nicely with a nose-filling hop aroma. T

Taste - Very chocolately, some brown sugar as well, like caramel. There is also a fresh, slightly grassy hop character, but it's extremely well balanced by the overabundance of malt.

Mouthfeel - Like drinking melted chocolate - this is a thick, sweet beer that really sticks around, letting you enjoy the great flavors after the beer's all gone.

Drinkability - A fantastic, extremely well-balanced RIS. Great flavors, great mouthfeel, and looks like everything I'd want in an RIS. Of course, there is that 8.1% alcohol that I didn't notice at all, which could make some trouble after a while.

Photo of Phatz
4.58/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a spectacular roasty malty sweet smooth stout just they way I love it.

Appearance: Pours a dark black color with thick creamy light brown head (good retention). Lacing lined most of the glass.

Smell: Caramel roasty chocolate a hint of smokiness and coffee. Rich nose.

Taste: Smooth roasted malt dark chocolate hints of vanilla and sugar, dark grain, and molasses; boozy bourbon or port note. A light acidic hop attribute blends right into the alcohol and cherry back end; and then on the swallow more raw sugar malts and vinous grape, and dry aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Absolutely velvety smooth across the palate with a nip at tongue in the finish.

Drinkabilty: This is a very friendly dark milk chocolatey stout that is ver easy to drink. Wit the big ABV, it catches up with you quickly making it a one and done type of beer. After a later dinner and desert Open a bomber and sip it until bed. Terrific.

Hope this is helpful.

Photo of aforbes10
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I bought this bottle in Chicago about 3 months ago now and i think its high time to drink it. Pours surprizingly brown (as opposed to the expected total blackness) with a puffy head and lots of little bubbles. Nice filmy lacing. Odor is fairly wonderful mix of chocolate cherries, hops and a hint of boozy booze. Taste is amazing. Full-bodied chocolate, lightly bittered. Hops, mochachino and dark cherries....all blanded together into an orchestra of flavor. As it warms it becomes magnificent. Velvet mouthfeel, not particularly heavy for the style, which is welcome. A great beer. Holds up to the hype in every way and very inexpensive as well.

Photo of klewis
4.63/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours thick and black with a big foamy head. Tons of thick lacing on the glass.

S: Deep malty aroma of chocolate and espresso.

T: A big complex taste that starts with an earthy, almost oak, flavor followed by the taste of freshly roasted coffee.

M: Full-bodied, thick, and creamy like a RIS should be. Ideally the carbonation could be a bit less, but this is still quite nice.

D: Tasty, smooth,and with a $3.99 price tag, this stuff is deadly. Quite possibly the best bang for the buck I've ever had.

Photo of Foxman
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour says it's a rich espresso brown, but the eyes see an obsidian velvet black, save for a thin bottom margin of garnet. Two fingers of light tan mousse head sustain some time. Harps of lacing pluck the inside of the glass.

The aroma delivers the dark coffee earthiness of roasty, toasty malt, slightl charred and molasses sweet. Cocoa, raisins, and dried apricots join a peppery citrus spread of hops and an inkling of alcohol.

Upon sipping, the roasted malt is burnt-sugar sweet and bitter, as well as rich with espresso, dark chocolate, toffee, and black strap molasses. A flutter of gently spicy dry grapefruit hops floats on a soy and sherry bed that wraps around a slinky strain of alcohol. Grain revisits with burnt biscuit, and the finish is a lingering mingling of residual black sweetness and a crisp bitterness. Complex and artfully blended, it's deep, dark, and damned good.

Surprisingly medium bodied, it seems to thin even more, advancing rapidly away from the palate, but not without a bitter glow in its wake.

This is a beer that is simply a joy to drink, despite the fact it never wows or astounds. The winding progression of flavors lulls one into a comfy, happy trance, and it speaks to a sage blending of top-notch elements. The ABV is gutsy, but it's also nicely incorporated and willing contributor to a warm, drinkable presentation. This Big Bear Black Stout is a big bear of a black beer.

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

A 22oz bottle from Kappy's in Malden, MA (great beer selection; try it). The beer was almost black with a thick mocha head. It had a sweet chocolate aroma, but tasted more dark chocolate and espresso. Very smooth, a drinkable beer. I'd buy this again.

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.62/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours A dark ruby color with glints of mahogany, this is definitely not a black beer by RIS standards. The head is enormous and lasts forever. Complete coating lace covers the entire glass. The aroma is packed with rich cocoa chocolatey flavors. There is a good measure of coniferous hop aromas as well, with tar and grapefruit edges. Roasted coffeish barley is also very noticeable in the aroma.

The taste is a very rich and complex mix of all the delicious stout flavors. There are dark chocolate flavors that are so fresh and extactly like 90% cocoa dark chocolate that my eyes water. The dark roasty espresso favors are equally vivid. In the midst of the dark malt nirvana lies an impressive Pac North West hop presence. There is plenty of piney resiny, grapefruity bitter hops. Very fresh and bitter. The mouthfeel is very thick with lots of malt and bitterness all over the palate. The finish is quite bitter and full of roasted malt flavors.

Amazing, absolutely amazing stuff. Under 5 dollars at Premier Gourmet in Bufallo. Worth every penny if you like big, very rich stouts.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.23/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Beerandblues2: Poured a light black color ale with a nice brown foamy head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of roasted bitter malt some discernable hops. Taste is dominated by roasted bitter malt with a bitter hoppy finish. Body is more watery then I would have expected for the style with no alcohol being discernable. Overall, I found that this one was way too dry and bitter to really please me.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.41/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a pint glass, the beer pours dark brown with about an inch creamy tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. It smells like roasted malt, coffee, some citrusy hops, and bittersweet chocolate. It tastes like roasted malt, coffee, bittersweet chocolate, molasses, dark fruit and also an earthy taste. More of the taste comes out once it warms up a bit. Mouthfeel is medium, and it's smooth and creamy. Drinkability is very good too, the alcohol is barely noticable so it's pretty easy to drink. I think this is a pretty good beer, I like it a lot.

Photo of Cresant
4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured this undated 22 oz. into a nonic. Huge bubbles made a huge, four finger of tan head. Sticky lace clings all down the glass. Body was an inky black/brown color.

Smell was fresh grains and alcohol soaked raisins. Soda bread and coffee beans.

Taste was slightly medicinal. Ripe plum juices and molasses. A nice bitterness accentuated the sweetness. The hops brightened as the beer warmed. ABV was well hidden. Very nicely done.

Mouthfeel was creamy and smooth. Body was full to medium density. A very drinkable beer.

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,169 ratings.