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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.

1,953 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,953
Reviews: 1,089
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.14%
Wants: 114
Gots: 127 | FT: 6
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Big Bear Black Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,953 | Reviews: 1,089 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Mark


4.68/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Finally had a bottle of this and it is my favorite Imperial now. Black as night with a lasting tan head that left solid lace. Aroma is subtle roastiness with chocolate malt. Exceptional smooth roasted tast with solid malt, a bit of alcohol can be detected, but not overpowering like some others. Mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side but does an Imperial have to be like drinking 30 weight oil? This went down incredibly easy and didn't fry me. I have to find more!

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2004 12:24:27 | More by Mark
Photo of ManekiNeko


3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber served at cellarish temps in a Westmalle goblet.

Appearance: Jet black topped by a smallish light brown head which recedes to a light film and a smallish ring after a minute or so. Very impressive sheets of lace were left.

Smell: Dark roasted coffee with hints of spruce. Odd whiffs of mint, too. Faint twinge of booze on the nose as well.

Taste: Roasted malt goodness with a twinges of prunes. Softly bitter hops on the aftertaste. Overall, a hearty and dark malt bill. Nummy.

Mouthfeel: Thin in body for an imperial stout, in my experience. This isn't to say it's like water - it's definitely got a solid medium body - more that I expect an imperial stout to be able to hold a spoon upright. This could maybe hold up a chopstick.

Drinkability: A great benchmark for the style. Hits the right notes, I think there are better imperial stouts out there (SK and BBCS spring immediately to mind).

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2004 02:29:00 | More by ManekiNeko
Photo of Skidz


4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a medium-dark brown that finishes dark with deep amber sides. Good 1 1/4 finger head with good lacings. Smells of coffee, roast grains, chocolate and caramel.

Very bitter up front with coffee & cream flavor combining to balance it out. Tapers out to a nice smooth sweetness of the chocolate and caramel. Finishes with a nice bitter taste at the end that is combined with the sweet sweet taste of alcohol.

Besides the initial bitterness that normally would be a turn off for me, the beer quickly gained steam and impressed me greatly. A wide variety of flavors make this a great beer to try, or drink regularly. The smoothness/creaminess of this was kind of unexpected, but enjoyable nonetheless. Medium bodied, makes this a slight disapointment in the mouth however, but it makes up for it in taste. Drink to you can't anymore, that's how this one goes down.

A solid 'A' in my book.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2004 03:45:12 | More by Skidz
Photo of winomark


3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a deep black with a beautiful light chocolate head that clings to the glass.

Aroma: Lots of chocolate and roasted malts. Alcohol sweetness definately present.

Taste: Loads of chocolate and coffee throughout the palate. Coffee dominates the finish. Alcohol is well hidden. Slight hop herbaceousness. Nicely done.

Mouthfeel: Flavorful and coating, but suprisingly, not too thick. Light and crisp on the finish, which is wuite long.

Drinkability: A very good stout, but a bit underwhelming IMHO. Not as big as I was expecting. Worth a try if you can find it.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2004 15:45:12 | More by winomark
Photo of HiroProtagonist


4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Lucky Lab in Multnomah Village. Arrived with an espresso-foam colored head. The brew itself appear to be only nearly black, not quite black as the name implies...I know this conflicts with the previous reviews, but this is what I observed. It smelled mostly of roasty chocolate malts, with a tad of floral hoppiness to top it off...promising. The taste was big, with dark chocolate and smooth cola flavors with a bouncy bitter finish rounding it all off quite nicely. The stout was full and satisfying. The drinkability was good, due to the smoother cola tones. The alcohol was completely hidden. Overall a very good and kickin' stout, for big beer lovers.

Serving type: on-tap

01-06-2004 04:18:31 | More by HiroProtagonist
Photo of WaltTrombone

New York

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

This poured with the expected black body, topped with a khaki head. The aromas were malt, prunes, caramel and coffee. Tastes were coffee, prune, malt, grapefruit, caramel, leather, charcoal. The mouthfeel was smooth, light, and creamy, I only gave it a good because I thought it could have been a little thicker and creamier. The finish was grapefruit, coffee, and charcoal.

Maybe a little hoppy for a stout, but good complexity, and still goes down pretty smooth.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2004 21:25:13 | More by WaltTrombone
Photo of OatmattStout


4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Great smell of roasted coffee beans and chocolate. Really nice light brown head with good lacing. Man is this one rich and delicious. First flavor that I got was packed with espresso beans and dark roast coffee. Then a wave of bittersweet chocolate takes over. Lastly a really nice juicy hop finish cleans the whole thing up in a strong cup of espresso with lemon rind kind of way. This stuff is straight forward and awesome. For as velvety and rich it's mouth feel is it still has good drinkability because it is not to sweet and hops do a good job of cleaning up after each sip.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2004 04:43:31 | More by OatmattStout
Photo of francisweizen


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

This is another excellent brew from Bear Republic, man is this one kick ass brewery or what? This brew pours our an opaque dark black colour with a huge espresso/tan coloured head. The aromas are a bit subtle to my nose, but I get some nice floral hop notes, and some great chocolatey roasted malt notes. The aroma is very clean and fresh for an imperial stout. The taste is a wonderful blend of cascade hop bitterness, and floral hop goodness with some citric hop notes in the finish. This is very well balanced for such a big brew, and the 8+% Abv goes unnoticed. The mouthfeel is actually quite light and thin for this stout, but it actually works quite well here. The lighter body and well balanced flavor of this big bear give it a '5' in the drinkability department in my book. A new classic.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2003 01:54:31 | More by francisweizen
Photo of Imbiber

New York

4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Jet black with a tan-coloured head. Not big with aromas, but on the tongue there is a good mix of roast, chocolate, malt, and hop flavours from this full-bodied strong stout. Quite rich, but doesn't really drink like a beer over 8%; a session on this one could be potentially dangerous. A well-crafted beer, but one which belies its strength.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2003 02:36:26 | More by Imbiber
Photo of ElGuapo

New Jersey

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

Deep black brew topped in a pretty small coating of tannish lace that did not die at all from the level it was at. A roasted coffee aroma hits the nose first, followed by some sweet chocolate notes. All the while, your nose is bombarded with tons of hops. It is a bit bitter with citrus notes in the mix.

The brew is pretty full in body and it is just oh so smooth. The flavor is big and bold. It starts hoppy, floral at times and it is also citrusy and bitter. It has a nice bite at the start, and they balance a bit later. Roasty grains and coffee flavors jump in next only to be met with sweet chocolate shortly after. It gets roasty again near the finish and then dries out with nice coffee flavors and touches of hops. The complexity of this beer is incredible, and it maintains such a great balance through out. Although it is a pretty big beer, it seems like it would not scare too many people away. I could definitely sit down with a few and not regret it a bit. This is a great piece of work.

Serving type: on-tap

11-21-2003 05:28:40 | More by ElGuapo
Photo of RoyalT


4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Black as a black bear with a monster, dark tan head that pitted slowly and laced my glass.

Smell – Amazing balance to the nose of this stout. The dark, roasted, burnt malt aroma is there along with a significant hoppy balance. Add to this the terrific molasses, dark maple, and cane sugar. To top things off, the dark, ripe fruits (mostly Bing cherries, tobacco, apricots, and browned bananas) add a level of complexity that is beyond reproach. There’s also a nice woody/sherry compliment.

Taste – The sherry and wood come out more in the taste but, incredibly, all of the aspects of the nose are here as well. This is a wonderfully balanced stout that doesn’t rely on one, good, strong flavor. You could drink this with anything from fish, roast beef, tenderloin, Caesar salad (there’s a nice bitterness in here that would go great with salads), or buzzard meat.

Mouthfeel – Creamy and smooth yet quite refreshing from the hop profile. This is a mouthful indeed.

Drinkability – Most 4.0+ stouts that I’ve rated have one thing in common: They should be drank by themselves, alone to save the flavors. This here is your “all purpose” stout, perfect for any occasion.

Comments – I would have had to pretend to like it anyway since skyhand was sitting next to me and wouldn’t shut up about how great it is, so it was a real bonus that I liked it so much.

Update – I partake of this regularly but thought it would be fun to age a bottle for a year, so I popped an ’05 vintage in June 2006 just for the hell of it.

The alcohol and sharp sugars come out much bigger after a year in the cellar. I especially enjoyed the malty tang that almost seemed reminiscent of a barrel-aged stout. This beer is great as is or layed down for a year.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2003 04:01:46 | More by RoyalT
Photo of goz


4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black, with a large dark tan head that is a bit rocky, mostly lasting, and laces in sheets. Aroma is enormous, with a lot of chocolate, coffee, caramel, and a generous dose of hops. Flavor is equally large - tons of chocolate, middle becomes more coffee like, and ends with a very big and tasty hoppy bitterness. Full bodied, amazingly flavorful and complex - definitely one that needs to be consumed above fridge temp. I'm going to have to do a side-by-side with some Storm King since they are both amazing brews.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2003 20:45:27 | More by goz
Photo of taez555


4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a rich black, almost reddish hue in the right light, body with a BEAUTIFUL thick fluffy brownish tan head. It looked like chocolate milk whipped up till it was frothy.

The nose was a rich chocolate. Soft and very subtle citrus tones sat in the background. touches of pineapple, coconut even. hints of spice. But for the most part dark rich chocolate smells.

The taste was very full bodied and yet oh so smooth. Malted barley, chocolate, espresso, a very mellow caramel. A nice soft even bitterness with a fruity citrus hop taste. A little touch of saltwater and some hints of pine needles. The citrus actually leaned more towards the fruit rather than the peel. Like fresh grapefruit, lime or pineapple rather than just the peel itself.

It ends with a stronger citrus hop bitterness and fades off slowly.

All I can say is where did this beer come from? Wow. Beautiful to look at, smells great and tastes just as amazing. All the flavors are in your face but just perfectly mellow at the same time. I didn't even know it was 8% till I came here to review it and looked the %, it's so well hidden. Not as complex as Victory Storm King, but man.. this beer definitely gives it a run for its money.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2003 06:43:35 | More by taez555
Photo of Jason


4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz brown bomber, no freshness date but the 8.1% should keep it fine on the shelf for a while.

Appearance: The light brown foamy tan head looks appetizing, as black as you can get in colour … what else would you expect from a big stout.

Smell: Fragrant aroma of unsweetened dark chocolate and mild espresso … hint of molasses as well. Dark berries and a hidden alcohol are there to boot.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy … and a kick of crispness at that. Layered complex burnt character lingers right under the strong arm of maltiness. The fresh hoppiness drops a thick blanket of bitterness and oily hop flavour. Touch of yeast with black currant in the back with a subdued alcohol.

Notes: Where the hell is the 8.1% abv? So deceiving and very drinkable, very well put together. I’d say I would make this a session beer but I would not last too long …

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2003 22:20:03 | More by Jason
Photo of WVbeergeek

West Virginia

4.6/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearqance: Deep black with a tan thin head massive beer deep dark and robust thin lacing. Aroma: Deep caramel notes with roasted chocolate coffee notes what a wonderful rich spectrum of aroma. Taste: Slight hop character wonderful layers of roasted malt and coffee notes rich and syrupy goodness milky sweet and big. Mouthfeel: Full body stick to my gums good wow. Drinkability: Still incredibly drinkable wow just about one of the smoothest creamiest beers I have ever tasted.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2003 21:15:55 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of kevinl6

South Carolina

5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

If you look at my other reviews, you'll see that I rarely give one '5', so it should be obvious what I think of this beer!! This is my favorite beer, without a doubt. Appearance is a black hole of a beer, with a 1 finger tan head. Smell is the perfect aroma of smoky, roasty, chocolaty,etc. Taste is pretty much the same as it smells...perfect. Again, a beautiful combination of chocolate, coffee, roasty, smoky....
Mouthfeel is very full and creamy...flawless. Drinkability is insane as the 8.1 ABV isn't even noticeable. The perfect beer IMO.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2003 00:25:21 | More by kevinl6
Photo of LiamStLiam

New York

4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

When I heard here at BA that a new brewery was being represented in the beer stores of Massachusetts, I knew I had to try it.

I got lucky one afternoon at my third-favorite beer store and found five varieties of Bear Republic in 22-ouncers.

I did not get all five. (not yet anyway), so I opted for my favorite style -- stout -- and a seasonal -- Hot Rod Ale -- because seasonals are not around all the time.

This beer could become a regular pick-up for me. I enjoy stouts a lot, and I have some particular favorites. This is right up with them. Pours very dark, a little bubbly and a tannish, thin head.

Smells good and sits nicely in the mouth. What surprised me at the end of the bottle was that I could have easily opened another. That's not true with some of my other favorite stouts.

I am the kind of guy who likes to find a brewery that makes beer well, then work through all its styles. I am definitely go to continue to pursue this brewery. This is a bottle worth its price. I hope to find some on tap.


Serving type: bottle

09-22-2003 19:24:06 | More by LiamStLiam
Photo of Boilermaker88


4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle, this beer has a malevolent osidian color. No lighter edges, no highlights, just midnight, no-moon, black. Had a very thin, quick to fade mocha colored head. The smell is unbelievably rich, of carmelized sugars, bottom-of-the-pot burnt coffee, dark fruit, and alcohol.
The taste is a blitzkreig on the tastebuds. First comes a wave of chocolate malt, burnt and bitter. Then, the counterattack of caramel and toffee, prunes and dates for a balancing sweetness. Lastly, it finishes with a mild alcohol flavor and a parting shot of hops bitterness.
Feel is full-bodied, thick, and almost chewy.
As imperial stouts go, this one is a wonderfully complex, well balanced example. The alcohol uses concealment well and can easily outflank and ambush the unwary. Definitely one I'd come back to again.

Serving type: bottle

09-22-2003 04:31:44 | More by Boilermaker88
Photo of beernut7


4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is new on my list of heavy favorites. Pours a heavy black-hole dark liquid with a creamy head and wafting an equally dark black malt aroma with an obvious hop spice. The thick heavy body supports the flavor of chocolate and patent malts with a bold rounded bitterness that sits upon the palate like a 500 pound gorilla. The presence of a heavy-duty caramel sweetness and alcohol warmth flow through the brew and last into a heft thick finish. Very well-balanced and complexly flavorful.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2003 16:45:49 | More by beernut7
Photo of dwarbi

New York

4.63/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Possibly the most beautiful looking and smelling beer I've ever had. A rich dark beer with a creamy khakhi head. Tremendous, comprehensive lacing. Semi-bitter tasting (like good chocolate). Noticeable toffee flavors as well. Dusty but robust feeling. Loved this bomber. Please O please, come to NY, Bear Republic Stout!

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2003 01:51:36 | More by dwarbi
Photo of Rumrunner


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

22oz. bottle

A stout with a road map to follow. Many scents and flavors.

It poured a dense dark brown with a big copper tan head. The head left all too quickly though. The lacing is okay. Scents are very strong toffee, some coffee, fruit and a mild chocolate at the finish.

The flavors start with some molassas and toffee. They then blend to a roasted coffee flavor. A very enjoyable bitter dark unsweetened chocolate bite finishes the flavors. The after taste is mellow and becomes carob.

This stout is meduim in body. It does not feel as thick as others. It has a crispness to the mouthfeel. A smooth drinker for sure. Drink it slow, enjoy the journey.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2003 04:43:28 | More by Rumrunner
Photo of aaronh


4.63/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep brown with reddish highlights, this ber is topped by a thin tan head. Slight amount of sediment from the bottle started to slide into the glass. Very rich aroma, with strong chocolate and dark fruity notes and a nice coffee component as well. The taste is very heavy on the dark chocolate notes, with some milk chocolate in there as well. Very noticeable coffee flavors as well, followed by excellent roasted barley. While most of the taste is sweeter, a nice bitterness finishes it up and leads to the bitter chocolate and coffee aftertaste. Gets a little sweeter as it warms. Mouthfeel is very thick and rich, yet doesn't get too heavy as to make drinking it a chore. Man I like these imperial stouts. Is this as good as Old Rasputin? Maybe. I guess I'll have to break open a bottle of that real soon. But I'm glad this is a 22 oz. bottle. No problems killing this one tonight. This one went down way too easily. Big Bear is a Big Beer, and now a Big Favorite of mine.

Serving type: bottle

08-04-2003 03:35:50 | More by aaronh
Photo of tavernjef


4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This stout pours like most with a leathery brown color and settles nothing but black, solid black, the head grows up from the pour with strength to about 3/4 inch high and is cocoa brown, thick spongy foam and tightly frothed, settles slowly and lace sticks well in thin sheets of the same color all over eventually giving way to lots of strings.

Smell is deep, slightly rich and creamy with a good sense of sweet chocolate and darker malts with a hint of coffee.

Taste is a complex richness of chewy dark malts, favorable sweetness in the chocolate areas, quite solid and full, with a bit of molasses, nice moderate bitterness blended in from hops, note of dried fruits and one nice thickly sticking finish of chocolatey/coffeeish dryness that lingers long. Mega yummy!

Feel is full and creamy smooth and makes for one amazingly easy drinkable Imperial Stout. Warms ya up; very good stuff, Yum!

Thanks to xlperro for the bomber!

Serving type: bottle

08-04-2003 03:13:49 | More by tavernjef
Photo of grynder33


3.4/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beautiful dark color, with a small chocolate type head. The aroma was slightly malty, little bit mocahish, but weaker than you would expect.The first sip was thick and syrupy, like a porter, there was a slight sweetness that seemed to expand and hang around ,
theaftertaste was thick and curranty almost medicinal. Nice bold Brussels lace. Everything was fine except the aftertaste. Its ok but there are better out there. Mackerson is smoother and not quite as bitter

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2003 20:25:08 | More by grynder33
Photo of ADR


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

Thick blackish pour, completely opaque. Multi-bubbled head of dark tan color. Head diminishes in 40 seconds or so but clings to the glass in admirable fashion. A slightly oily lemon and dark coffee mark the aroma, with some strawberry fruit. Certainly a black java sense to the flavor, but with an interesting nutty quality that's somewhat unusual in an Imperial. Great bitter charred roast aftertaste. Quite a beer in many ways, coating, good smooth mouthfeel, and a slightly different take on flavor. I would certainly drink this baby again, probably the next time I make it to California.

Source: Liquid Solutions

Serving type: bottle

07-19-2003 18:21:15 | More by ADR
Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,953 ratings.