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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.

2,163 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,163
Reviews: 1,105
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.93%
Wants: 138
Gots: 164 | 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: 2,163 | Reviews: 1,105 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of timtheenchanta
4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
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.

Photo of BlackJeremiah
4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

Photo of mcallister
3.48/5  rDev -15.7%
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?

Photo of granger10
4.5/5  rDev +9%
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.

Photo of EPICAC
4/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

Photo of yemenmocha
3.78/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

Photo of Toddv29424
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

Photo of sacrelicio
4.77/5  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!!!

Photo of cbl2
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

Photo of EvilKeith
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
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!

Photo of asabreed
4.82/5  rDev +16.7%
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.

Photo of jmz62565
4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

Photo of veggiemafia
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

Photo of akorsak
4.02/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

Photo of jackorain
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle fridge cold poured into pint glass

A-Black color dark tan 1 inch head with really high crown

S-Roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, mild green hop,

T-Roasted malt, coffee, very chocolatey, bitter green hop with a malty sweetness on the finish to balance out the hops, one really good beer.

M-Medium to thick body, cabonation is light to medium but maybe still a little to bubbly for a stout for me.

D-I could drink for the whole night.

Overall, this is one very good beer

Photo of nlmartin
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer came to me thanks to dhchatfield.

The beer was served in a Imperial Pint glass.

Appearance: The beer is black with a slight ruby opaqueness to light. The head is a finger high with a burnt creamed coffee coloration. The head has great retention and leaves rings around the glass.

Smell: The smell of the beer is a bit of a let down. The beer has a understated mocha java smell. The beer has a bit of berries and black currant fruityness. Vague undertows of pine resin and citric smells hops rise out of the beer. Alcohol is well hidden in the smell. The beer is missing something that would make it great smelling.

Taste: The beer has a mildly roasted espresso and powdery cocoa combination. The beer has loads of sweet mollasses and brown sugar sweetness. The beer has a good hoppy citric taste. The hops are more than what would suggest themselves in the smell. The alcohol is well covered and incorporated into the flavor. The beer is missing something in the way of flavor that would make this one a great beer.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer is very smooth and creamy. The alcohol is well masked in the taste and smell. The beer is just shy of being full bodied. The beer is a dam fine beer drink by many of my standards. The beer is missing a certain unnameable something that would make it great. I will definately give this beer another try some day.

Photo of dirtylou
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Re-reviewed for the context of Imperial/Russion Stout Session...8th in line for myself, expatsteve, DaPeculierDane, and Golden2wenty1

appearance: pours the lightest of the stouts...a creamy lighter mahogany shade...creamy tan head with a decent lace

smell: the one blatantly hoppy stout of the night...normal imperial stout characteristics are a little lacking here, as coffee/chocolate are minimal on the nose

taste: oddly sour I thought, very green-hop driven...lightly sweetened chocolate, tart cherry. This one fairs a lot better isolated from the huge malt alcohol bombs. I will re-visit this on an isolated night soon to further judge

mouthfeel: creamy, tart, one of the lighter stouts of the night

drinkability: pretty good

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

Dark brown, near black with a generous tan froth. Strongly hopped aroma. Light an fruity. Coffee flowing over Cascades. Tastes slightly sour like powdered cherry drink mix. Lemony with a healthy dose of java, chocolate, brown sugar, and caramel. Light to medium body (for style). Very hoppy yet extremely drinkable. Not very typical for an RIS but quite nice none-the-less.

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

This beer pours an opaque black color. The head is three fingers in height, rocky, and tan. Lacing is thorough. The aroma is wonderful: chocolate, toffee, cream. The taste is like the aroma but with a little more toffee than chocolate. The mouthfeel is nearly full bodied with nice carbonation. Overall, this is a really good stout that I would certainly drink again if it were available in Minnesota.

Photo of westweasel
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bomber bottle.

The beer pours out black with a tall beige head. The aroma definitely contains
hops. There's a slight citrusy smell mixed in with some roasty malt scents.

The taste is excellent. A strong hop presence even in a stout. There are
also some roasty flavors in here. A little carmel. This is not sweet by any means.
The mouthfeel is very full and thick. It has a very dry finish.

This beer has excellent drinkability. Even though it is somewhat bitter, it is not
overpowering. You should be able to drink a few and enjoy them all.

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

22oz bottle
Pours thick and black with dark tan head. This is a great looking stout.
Smells of malty goodness with a tint of alcohol and a small punch of piney hops.
It tastes of burnt malt with the perfect amount of hops to bitter this great tasting stout. This is very well balanced and I was very suprised at the hop content in such a black stout.
It coats the mouth well and the carbonation pushes the flavor along very nicely for a fantastic finish.
I loved this beer, as I love most of Bear Republic's beers. Writing this makes me want to go to BevMo and pick up more Bear Republic. I will definately have this again.

Photo of ultralarry2006
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 0z. bomber. Left an espresso foam brown head, about two fingers deep, receding to lasting surface skim, and good lacing. Body was the deepest brown, almost black.

Smell - Dark bready malt and some PNW hops - that is, dark bread, caramel, chocolate, and citrus. Smell is rich and mouthwatering.

Taste - every bit as promised by the smell, and more. The dark bread, chocalate, caramel, and toffee, washed with a restrained, but nicely counterbalancing lemony hop bite, and some alcohol warmth ( but not harsh ). Finishes with toffee and lemon.

Mouthfeel - full, smooth, slight hop oil slickness, low carbonation, slightly drying.

Drinkability - goes down well, and is very good ale. Rich and satisfying. Could go for two bombers in a session if I'm offsetting my beer with food, and not drinking beyond that, but if not, then one per session would suffice, although I'd be eagerly looking forward to the next session to enjoy more of this in that case.

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,163 ratings.