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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.

2,162 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,162
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: 2,162 | Reviews: 1,105 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Vancer
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Exceptional pour – coal black night with a big, creamy, frothy, foamy ivory head. Major lacing all the way down.

A rich malty aroma of chocolate and coffee greeted my snout.
But holy moly,what’s up with this pine kick? On a RIS? Someone drop pine cones in the hopper? It does grow on you, but it sure took me by surprise – not unpleasant though.

Very rich and creamy brew, a good sipper with the 8% abv. I’m impressed with Bear Republic, and look forward to some more Black Bears.

Photo of ProudBeerSnob
4.44/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A great food beer. Solid enough to stand on its own in the style, but not overpowering the food. Very drinkable for an Imperial, which I suppose is my only "criticism." I'm not normally a fan of Imperial stouts, because of that "bite." This stout smells more like an imperial than it tastes like one, which makes it VERY drinkable. Glad I have a bomber so I can top of my glass halfway through.

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I brought a bottle of this back from LA a month ago. Finally I opened it and it was awesome, Bear Republic should start distributing around here for my sake.

The color was opaque black with a thick tan foam fed by decent carbonation. The aroma was dark too, with sweet malts and burnt malts. The flavor was mostly sweet, with some dark fruits and more toffee than coffee. A little bit of bitter hops in the after-taste. The body was thick and chewy, almost perfect.

Excellent RIS.

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

Not even the midday SoCal sun can punch through this one.

From the zesty entry to the vapid, dry finish, this stout is layered with comnplexities to please most any fan of the black oil.

Built on a sturdy backbone of deeply roasted malts, this stout offers a palate-pleasing mouthfeel and well-hidden abv.

Photo of bignick
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle purchased from Wine Gallery in Brookline. Poured into a pint glass.

This is a very good beer, but for the style, it is only somewhat above average. It pours near black with a thin, foamy head. The taste is very nicely chocolately, as opposed to coffee. There is a smooth creamy mouthfeel, but it is a bit thin going down. I like the richness of the taste, but as good as this is, there are better RIS's out there.

Photo of Brian700
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark black with a huge creamy brown head. There is really good lacing going on.

The aroma is of chocolate and dark fruit.

The flavor follows the nose. There is a lot of chocolate, molasses, and dark variety fruit flavors. There almost seems to be a bit of ginger here. It took me a long time to put my finger on it. It is in the aroma a bit too. It leaves you with a touch of heat.

The mouthfeel is full bodied with medium carbonation

This is a very drinkable beer. I loved this one. Familiar and unique all in one.

Photo of Westsidethreat
3.71/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Uber dark brown, almost black body. Gorgeous fluffy oatmeal colored head forms unique mounds like mashed potatoes.

S: Sweet & roasted malts. Bittersweet chocolate, burnt coffee and licorice.

T: Smoked peat starts off immediately. Tangy, slightly sour. Roasted coffee flavors finish off the party. Alcoholic personality is present.

M: Bit thin and prickly for the style.

D: Not a bad beer but I wouldn't search it out.

Photo of TheBungyo
3.83/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ok, I liked a big head on my beer but this was a tad too big (3 inches or so). The body is every bit as black as a stout should be and the head looks like Cappuccino. Nose is a weird milky sweetnes that I don't really care for. Taste is slightly sweet chocolate, big sweetness kind of from out of nowhere, roasty coffee and a tinge of hops. This was the first Imp Stout that really blew me away in my early BA days. I still think its good, but a little too sweet for my tastes now. Mouth is pretty spot on for the style. If this was on tap, I wouldn't need my arm to be twisted to make a night of it, though as I said, the sweetness might get to me.

Photo of denjen
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought at/Price: Binny's / $4.99
Dennis: One of the first bear republic brews I think we've tried, this definitely sets a good tone for the brewery. The smell of this stout when opened is perhaps a little sweeter than expected (molasses perhaps) but the taste is a bit more mellow. Nicely hopped, there's just a twinge of bitterness on the swallow (probably where that 8.1% alcohol is hiding) but over all everything is nicely balanced to make a pretty darn good stout.
Jen: I am very impressed with this stout. It starts off with a nice toastiness to it with hints of chocolate and coffee. It is followed by a mouthful of malts and roasted nuts that is quite delicious. It ends with a bit of a hop bite, but nothing too overwhelming or detracting from the rich malts. It is creamy and smooth with a good balance of a good thick body and a vibrant finish. This stout is a bargain and is definitely necessary for a stout lovers fridge.

Photo of JayTheFinn
3.78/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a damn good RIS, but not my favorite.

It's got a good, dark brown but not completely black look. What a massive head! Three tan fingers that holds...and holds...and holds...jesus!

Nothing crazy-exciting in the smell, maybe a little chocolate, a toasty kinda burnt smell.

I taste the chocolate and a dry chalky burnt flavor. The sweetness level is low in this one, for me anyway. I taste more salt or soy sauce-like flavors than I care to. But overall the taste is still quite good.

Creamy, smooth mouthfeel with steady bubbles rising up the sides.

Drinkable, yes, most definitely. Although one is more than enough.

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

Appearance: Not really black, as the name suggests, but very dark, opaque brown. Fabulous, fluffy head, a creamy nougat brown. Great retention.

Smell: Pretty subdued for an RIS, but good. Espresso, dark chocolate, malted milk, caramel, brown sugar, and even some clove and anise. Light esters, maybe from hops or alcohol, which is somewhat vodka-like. Very lush, deep, and inviting.

Taste: Ooh, now that's nice. A dark forest of baker's chocolate, rich caramel, and lots of burnt notes. Light berries. This is an atomic malt bomb, but it does have a current of fruity hop oil. It's not as complex as some other entries in the style, but it's still damn tasty.

Mouthfeel: Rich and grainy, viscous but well-carbonated and bouyant.

Drinkability: This has a very clean and dry finish, so even though it's fairly heavy and high in alcohol, it's very drinkable.

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

22 oz. bomber, served lightly chilled in a big chalice. It pours black with a 1 inch khaki/yellow head of variable-sized bubbles that leaves big pits as it recedes. It looks quite majestic and retains a cap of foam that leaves moderate lacing throughout. The smell is more hoppy than malty, with a big grapefruit/pine hop resin aroma that overtakes that malts. The hops also dominate the flavor, with citric/pine being the most prevalent, but there are also lots of roasted/coffee malts and notes of chocolate and caramel malts to balance the big bitterness. The body is medium to thick, which isn't thick enough for my imperial stouts - I want to almost chew on them - but that is about my only complaint with this beer. Overall it is a pretty good example of the style and I didn't have any problems finishing this one myself.

Photo of briman
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from bottle into standard pint glass.

Pours almost pitch black, some ruby highlights around the edges when held up to the light. Nice thick, fluffy dark tan head....great retention, the best I've seen so far, lots of lacing.

Aroma is roasted malts, caramel, & coffee.

Taste is slightly sweet upfront...caramel malt, touch of bittersweet chocolate, moving more towards dark roasted malt through the middle. Finish is dry, with a nice cofee bean bitterness.

Medium-full body, doesn't seem highly carbonated, but it's got just the right amount. Smooth, very easy drinking stout...great flavor, not too strong, not too weak. Well balanced, and easily the kind of beer I would drink again and again.

Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.82/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - light cannot escape the blackness of this stout, it wells up a acorn brown 3/4 finger thick head, no visible carbonation

S - mmm, smells stouty, very rich dark aroma, the typical coffee and chocolate aromas, mixed in with the bouquet are hints of vanilla, hops and alcohol

T - not what i expected, i expected it to be sweeter, but it is much better, a hint of sweetness, but mostly bitterness, at first its an alcohol bite, then its got a great coffee flavor, no sweetness, a great bitter flavor

M - a dry bitter beer, very tasty, needs a little sweetness, chocolate or vanilla or whatever, for balance\

D - moderate, great on hops and bitterness, could be too bitter for some, very tasty IMO, but as i said before, needs a stronger hint of sweetness

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

Poured a deep dark black some dark brown highlights and a creamy tan head.

Smell had a mixture of sweet chocolate, dark fruit, alcohol, and a touch of anise.

Taste is full of classic stout flavors - big burnt malts, bitter chocolate, a touch of coffee, plus a few others including some nice hints of dark cherries and raisons. Has a nice bit of earthy bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is creamy with a medium body to it, slightly warming.

Overall a pretty decent Imp stout.

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

Pours absolute black with a tan head and generous lacing.

Smell is sweeter than expected. Milk chocolate with bitter coffee undertones.

Taste is is once again sweeter than expected of an imperial stout. Sweet chocolate with generous dark fruit notes. Finish is more creamy than dry. Although there is a definite bitter coffee flavor, hops are rather subdued for the style. Sweet dark fruit lingers after the finish. High ABV is well concealed.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Surprisingly smooth.

This is a different take on an imperial stout. Not as hearty as expected. Sweetness prevails. Still this is an interesting and tasty treat.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured deep black beautiful stout color with amber colored head that melts to a very think lacing.
Aroma is toasted malts and bittersweet chocolate and raisens.
Taste is raisens, toasted malts, and bitter chocolate to me. I don't notice a coffee flavor but that is ok...it is nicely balanced without it...finishing to a perfect bitter hops...zero citrus.
Mouthfeel is incredibly rich and creamy...carbonation just smooths throughout your mouth as you savor this intense beer.
I honestly don't notice the alcohol in the smell, taste, or aftertaste.
I honestly AM feeling it as I finish this wonderful brew.
Not a session for me...but, oh, I love it.

Photo of Stubbie1
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

WOW is a good way to start off with this brew. Black as black can be in color with a deep dark brown/black head. Nice and thick is the head and it did stay for some time before finally fading to a thick lace. Nice! Deep dark roasted malt hits the nose, chocolate and coffee, the deep dark roasted type hit the nose. After you fight your way threw this, a hint of alcohol is at the end. Thick and sticky in the mouth with the deep roasted flavor and the 8.1 is well hidden. This beer is well worth looking out for and will be on my list of beers to enjoy again.

Photo of bruachan
4.09/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

not black (but pretty damn close. dark brown with rooteeresque wisps up top). big coffee flavor appears after a dry chocolate and piney hop aroma

definite smokiness and a fairly bitter finish. sizeable hop flavor—very resiny

not a big beer. RIS might be a stretch. it is very flavorful and bitter, but RIS? i'll sleep on it

mos def enjoyed it. they're big on IPAs at BRBC so it's nice to have a changeup

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

Dark, charred yet barely translucent blood; crater-pocked 33%, cotton candy textured, beige foam cap. Cherry cordial aromas dominate a struggling earthy pine hop scent. Sweet roasty malts. Big sweet date sugar cherry flavor all floating in a chocolate infused bourbon. Vinous middle yields to a roasted malt finish, almost coffeeish. Alcohol apparent for most of the swallow and lingers in the aftertaste, which is predominantly sour. Super sticky lacing. Slick mouthfeel, medium body. Roasted malt quality expands as the beer warms. A bit on the sour side, but the roasted malt quality is magnificent. Another fine offering from Bear Republic.

Photo of HimerMan
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At Stout, NYC in bottle. Excellent head, chocolate in the palate, strong finish. Highly suggest trying if you enjoy rich, full-flavored stouts with robust and clean taste. Didn't wait long to enough to check for hoppy finish if warmed, however, this one is smooth enough where it will go down without having the opportunity to let it go warm. Highly suggest trying if you are interested in robust, full-flavored and delicious stouts.

Photo of DaggerEyes
2.13/5  rDev -48.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

I don't know if I got a bad bottle of this stuff or what but this Big Bear Black Stout was a total let down and almost undrinkable...

Pours a deep bark black with a rich creamy mocha head.

Lovely nose with scents of milk chocolate and raisins.

The entrance is very active, slightly smokey and sweet, on the finish the beer is somewhat bland and has an AWFUL milky-chimical taste on the after taste. I feel that something had to have been off with this beer because I couldn't even finish it due to the offputting after taste.

Judging by everyone else reviews I think I got a bum bottle, hopefully when I get another some day this beer will redeem itself

Photo of Terp96
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow. This is a great Russian stout.

Pours a deep brown, black with a thick tan head. Lacing is great throughout the glass.

Smell is of coffee, chocolate, roasted nuts, and hops. The hop presence makes this one stand out for me.

Taste is phenomenal. Sweet up front but quickly followed with the roasted malt flavor and a dry hoppy finish. Dark fruit taste up front but a nice hop finish. You can definitely tell this one is from the left coast.

Mouthfeel is good as well. Syrupy but not too thick. The sweetness sticks to your mouth but not in a bad way. It offers a nice balance to the dry finish.

Overall, well done and a great stout but not very drinkable in my opinion. I love this beer but I can only handle so much at a time.

Photo of brewcrew76
3.92/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber

A - Solid black with a brown creamy foamy inviting head.

S - Strong chocolate and dark roasted malts followed by grapefruit, citrusy hops. I was a bit surprised by how stong the hop presence is in the aroma.

T - Roasty chocolate, coffee, hint of figs and raisins. Then the hop wallop hits you. It abruptly changes to a sour bitter roasty flavor. Leaves a quite bitter black coffee, roasted malt taste clinging to your mouth.

M - Medium body. Creamy with a good deal of carbonation. Hint of alcohol in the finish.

D - A nice RIS. A bit too much of the sour bitterness in the middle for me but still enjoyable. I would definitely try it again.

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

Pours a nice deep black with a creamy tan head. The head sinks to a nice thick film that holds nicely and leaves nice lacing. Smell of sweet caramel malt with a nice roasted background. Also some cherry smell. Taste gives a much more bitter blast than i was expecting from the smell. The roasted flavors come through especially strong. This bitterness hangs in the aftertaste. Full cloying mouthfeel. One of the nicer stouts that i've had in a while. Bear Republic puts out another winner, wish they were more available in the area.

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,162 ratings.