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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.

2,165 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,165
Reviews: 1,106
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: 2,165 | Reviews: 1,106 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of froggyfrog
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber bottle served in a snifter.

Black as a black bear's black hair with a nifty little khaki colored fluffy head.

Smell is sweet with roasted malt notes, dried walnut shells and rubbing alcohol.

Taste is very smooth. It brings to mind your usual flavors: chocolate and coffee and roasted malts. Alcohol is also noticeable here. There is a roasted nuttiness throughout and it closes with an elevated level of zesty hops.

An exceptionally smooth stout. Inoffensive and well-crafted. I believe this is my first offering from Bear Republic and what a bang-up beer it is.

Drink it chickenheads!

Photo of supernaut
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dropping back down from some bigger Imperials, this beer caught me off-guard....

Poured out deep opaque black with a montrous pillowy head. Did I leave some soap in the bottom of this glass? Major head retention and thick chunky lacing...

Wow, what a smooth stout. a subtle burnt-caramel note kicks it off, with the ubiquitous coffe and bittersweet chocolate to follow. A slight smokiness at times combines with some malty sweetness. A hint of chicory, and the slightest faintest taste of (maybe I'm imagining this) cinnamon, or at least something with a tiny bit of spice.

On the backside, you get an earthy resonation with an incredibly mouth-wateringly smooth finish, if not just a hair on the dry side.
Moderately viscous for this style and quite simply, a well balanced stout.

Very impressed with this beer. The lower ABV (as compared with some of the big guns above 10%), probably allowed this beer to achieve such a great balance without having to overwhelm.

Absolutely worth coming back to again and again.

Photo of Ego
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

found @ Decicco market, pelham, ny

music : voivod - nothingface

half a finger of tan/brown head, dark and opaque but not as dark an opaque as some other RISs. not to detriment, just a note. it doesn't pour thick like some, overall a good looking RIS if nothing to special, the lacing is very good and a thin film is left all the way down the glass as you swallow this libation de noir...

someone melted a frappucino and burned it, added chocolate, and threw in a few raisins for good measure.. and made it a beer. toasty dark caramel in a wash of dark chocolate and dark fruit notes, delicious. like most good RISs you could stick your nose in this all damn day and enjoy it, perfect snifter fodder for the inner beer snob in you...

taste etc...
the nose knows. everything I described in the nose is present here in the same manner. The carbonation is quite lively which saves this from being watery. The hops are present in the back of the aftertaste after the burnt coffee notes fade. Bitter burnt chocolate is present but not uber sweet (which is perfect for me). For some reason I want this to be just a touch thicker.. but not much, it is damn close. This leaves a nice burnt offering in the mouth after the sipping... not as burnt as Dragonslayer... maybe the bitter of the hops seem to balance it more (I actually like more of the burnt tones myself). Burnt bitter chocolate, that might just sum it up period.

tasty as hell. if this was local I would definitely buy it more often. I get Old Rasputin and Perkuno's Hammer readily and enjoy them a hair more, but I would not be averse to picking this one up sometims as a change up in my standard RIS. A little thicker or creamier and this would slay. All in all a great example of the style, this one drinks too well also for the ABV, and isnt a total killer ABV compared to some. what can I say? I enjoyed this one a good deal.

Photo of alexwag
3.45/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'd never even seen Bear Republic on the East Coast until I moved to Manhattan. Had this in my frige for a while, preparing to tackle it. May be a bit old (that is to say, had time to ferment more), as I've had it for a bit and it appeared to have been in the store for a while. That said, here goes ...

A- Pretty freakin' dark. A little bit of color sneaks around the sides when held up to the light, but otherwise: no dice. Thick, mocha head, pretty good lacing.

S- Dark, rich and boozey. Lots of chocolate, caramel, various maltbombness. Some burnt/toasted as well.

T- Sort of tart, pretty alcoholic tasting. Flavor stays on top of the tongue instead of branching out. Lots of maltiness, but not as much as I expected from the smell. In fact, surprisingly curbed flavor.

M- Smooth, creamy, rich, but lacking a little something -- as I said, it just doesn't "spread out" -- seems contained. Strong alcohol detracts a bit IMO, but that's what one gets in this style, yes?

D- Again, it might just be this bottle judging from the other reviews, but overall I think this is just ok. I've definitely had better, and despite the smell and appearance, the actual drinking experience is underwhelming and canned, sort of. I tried to give it time to open up but it never really did.

I'll probably give it another try someday based on its category ranking and the aforementioned peer reviews, but I'd go for something else if I wanted sure satisfaction.

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

Well named as this is black as night. Nice half inch tan/brown head hang outs a little but fades to a nice creamy looking film on the top. Enticing.

Very sweet dark chocolate aroma and caramel malitness.

Tastes different than expected. More bitter than expected. The bitterness might be accompanied by some kind of fruit. But the chocolate and caramel malt in the aroma are also certainly present and the chocolate punches you in the face in the finish. Has a real kick to it.

Thick and creamy.

This is a pretty good strong stout.

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

Very,very dark brown in color with a creamy light brown finger thickness of lasting head. Nice lacing on initial pour.

Sweet chocolate first off on the nose...roasty malt hint of coffee on the finish. Good smelling stout...rich aroma.

Dark, rich mocha flavor with roasted malts and caramel following. I think this would make a nice breakfast beer if there was such a thing !?!?

Smooth, kind of creamy medium body brew feels good in the mouth.

Not as chewy as one would expect from a beer this dark and rich looking, but a nice one to savor, not guzzel.

Definitely a tasty stout, worthy of a try.

Photo of nickss
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Almost black... very very dark and completely opaque. 1" rocky head leaves beautiful lacing on the sides of the glass.

Some alcohol is initially perceptible in the aroma, along with roasted malt, dark cherry and chocolate. Very nice aroma.

Very smooth and enjoyable taste. Not as in your face as many other stouts i've sampled from this style. That's not to say it is not as well crafted, just a touch more subtle. Lots of roasted malt and toffee tones. The alcohol that was in the aroma is nowhere to be found in the taste... it becomes slightly more noticeable as the beer warms. Additionally, caramel notes become more prevelent after awhile.

While the carbonation level is about right (not highly carbonated), this brew is a bit too thin for me... I'd prefer for it to be a bit thicker and a bit more chewy.

For a brew of this abv, this beer is extremely drinkable. The alcohol is barely noticeable, the brew isn't thick, and the flavour is subtle which makes it easier to quaff (if one was so inclined.. not saying its a good idea).

This was the first brew I tried from Bear Republic, and I am pleased. Very solid brew, and one I could see myself drinking quite often if it was available to me.

Photo of germaniac
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black, tinged with dark crimson highlights. Leaves a big foaming, bubbling mound of creamy head. Roasted smelling, coffee beans and dark chocolate all over the place. Taste is all smooth rich chocolate, malted sweetness, and roasted coffee goodness. Finishes with a crisp hop bite. Very nice, way too easy to drink for a rich, roasty stout that weighs in at this abv.

Photo of Matthew
4.72/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured out of a bomber. Big thick tannish head that settles a bit but has great retention and great lacing. This beer is opaque black.
Big caramel aromas, slight toffee, some dark roasted coffee and some smokey malt. I couldnt keep my nose out of the glass, this beer just smells so damned good!
Incredibley smooth sweet toffee and caramel blended with bitter chocolate and a slightly spiced hop character to balance the heavy malt out to near perfect.
Nice and chewey moutfeel that really coats your taste buds with flavor.
The drinkability of this beer is very good. So tastey that you just want to keep drinking it and you could because the 8.1 is nowhere to be found...until it creeps up on you. This is an exceptional beer and I cant wait to pick up some more.

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

This beer poured a dark black with a bit of a glow to it that let in a little brown light around the edges. The head was tan and poured initially very tall but fell to a ring around my glass that left some nice lace.

Smelled of dark sour fruits, mostly prunes and raises but in the background there was a smooth creamy roasted malt and a strong smoky caramel sweetness.

The flavor began with an initial dry roasted coffee nip but then transitioned into a plumb skin sourness. It then continued into a smooth chocolate and espresso and finished where it began with the dry roasted coffee. Well done!

The mouth feel was light to medium bodied with a full mouth of tiny bubbles. Over all, the dry coffee notes were a bit much, but the dynamics were fantastic. At $3.99 a bomber, this is a steal.

Photo of pentathlete
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picture perfect jet with a tiny-bubbled head and loads of coating on the glass. Coffee and dark roasted barley all through the nose. Creamy dark chocolate and coffee flavors with a nice balancing hop presence to keep things from being too sweet. Mouthfeel is creamy and full. Very drinkable for the ABV. This is a keeper.

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

Very dark brown with a dense chiffon like tan head. Sheets of lacing. Almost a picture perfect look.

Nice smell of roasted malts, coffee and molasses cookie.

This is a sweet beer. Lots of nice roasted malts that almost seem smoky. Plenty of espresso notes, but there is a lot of a sweet sugar thing going on. A little bitterness emerges later. Nice semi-dry finish.

The mouth is sturdy and substantial The sweetness cuts in to the drinakabilty a bit, but still an enjoyable beer. My wife really liked this one!

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

Split this 22 oz bomber with my fiancee. Like some other big high ABV stouts, this one is best in smaller quantities.

Pours the deepest darkest black as can be expected. A big tan frothy head sits on top, happy to stick around for a while. This is what a stout should look like.

Aroma is rich malty toffee and espresso, with sweet notes that stand out when the head is large, and disappear when the head decreases.

The flavor is roasty chocolate malt, with a nice sweet creamy undertone that ends with a very firm hop bitterness and alcohol bite.

Mouthfeel is rich and creamy.

Overall a pretty good stout. I am not a stout fan in general, but this is a good one!

Photo of bennetj17
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark but not a slow as some Imperials. Looks flat at first but the head takes time to develop becoming a dark tan crust on top of the beer. The smell is not overly strong, with aromas of coffee beans and hints of chocolate. The taste starts out sweet with chocolate ovetones, then dry roasty coffee flavors come though in the finish. I'm not noticing much bitterness. Thick, full body, but not real chewy- it is quite smooth. Carbonation is great. Good enough to drink a few of these... Cheers...

Photo of Calico
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pitch black. Small head but fairly good retention. Foamy, frothy rather than lacy.

S - I detected chocolate, prune, maltiness. Very pleasant to sniff. Almost makes me think of pipe tobacco.

T - Chocolate and coffee notes with a little raisin. Bitterness hits the back of the tongue but is well balanced by malty sweetness. Slight coppery taste, but this does not strike me as a flaw. Tart. Finish is complex, at once bitter, tart, and sweet. Sweetness lingers longest. Alcohol heat almost burned in this pint, not as well hidden as I remember from having this out of a bottle.

M - Rich in carbonation. Not at all creamy from body, but it feels thick nonetheless because of the bubbles.

D - This one hits me hard. Bottled, I remember it being more deceptive. Here I can taste the 8.1%. Almost couldn't finish my pint. Delicious, but something to savor in small quantities.

Photo of Tupperwolf
3.63/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a black-coffee color into my nonic glass, coming together to be a rich near-black color that shows a few glimmers of ruby when held up to the light. A centimeter-thick tan head rises with some coersion and falls to a tan ring of small bubbles and some tan froth over the surface.

Whoa, smells like mocha ice cream, creamy, a little too-sweet coffee flavors. Lots of bursting sacharrine chocolate coffee scents. A little too 'fake' smelling to me, perhaps; Not enough smoky or hop bittering balance, the scents of coffee and chocolate that should be enticing are allowed to run amok and are a little sweet and rich.

The flavor also carries a lot of sacharine, it's like a black cup of coffee with five packets of Equal sugar substitute added. Very, very rich and sugary. It tastes good, I suppose.... a lot better when paired with some chocolate, I think, but would benefit from the addition of some balancing bitterness.

Too slick, too sugary even on the mouthfeel; It's thick and rich, but not chewy, and those sugary flavors don't benefit the feel by adding a kind of honeyed slickness.

I've really, really enjoyed Bear Republic brews so far and this one falls a bit because it's one-sided. This beer would be totally great with a bowl of chocolate ice cream, but it's unbalanced by itself.

Photo of joecast
4.02/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

this may be called "black stout", but there is a bit of crimson showing when held to light. fairly viscous pourshows its gonna be a sipper and not to be messed with. light on the head side of things with just a thin covering of tan bubbles.

light alcohol in the aroma covered well be some over-ripe dark fruits. was expecting a bit more coffee, dont know why, but its not really there. heavy roastedness keeps the nostrils occupied.

taste is pretty smooth with seemingly no noticeable alcohol. hop bitterness keeps everything in check, with mostly roasted malts filling out the rest of the pallate.
the taste doesnt really knock you over, but letting it warm shows just how smooth this can be. maybe thats the real strength of the beer, its hidden high abv. very full roasted malts with just a slightly sweet finish.

a really good, easy to sip strong stout. unfortunately, with the brashness of the competition, it may leave this one easily forgotten. but what do i know, it is in the top 100 afterall.

Photo of rajendra82
3.41/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I acquired this bomber from BA RedwoodGeorge in a trade. The artwork and the description on the label implied an imposing stout. The pour however looked a little less strong, with the stream looking thin and reddish brown. When in a pint glass, the look was reddish dark brown, with a creamy khaki colored head that left a lot of lacing.

The smell was very light with a touch of mocha. The taste was quite unlike a typical Imperial Stout, with a lightly roasted sweet taste. The body was bordering on being too thin, and the hops more evident than typical, but not due to a heavy dosage of them. Mouthfeel was creamy and airy, almost like a nitro pour.

A smooth and easy drinking beer, but a bit too far off the mark for an Imperial Stout. I doubt this would age well at all. The good thing about it was that the 8.1% ABV was certainly nowhere to be found in the taste. Went down easily.

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

Appearance: deep evil black in color with a 1.5" light brown colored head. The head had some big bubbles floating in it. Some light lacing develops.

Smell: nice combination of roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, and some pine needles.

Taste: the flavor is bold as roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, molasses, piney bitterness, and a hint of alcohol.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp at the start, but mostly smooth with a prickle of crispness at the finish. Aftertaste is long on the flavor components.

Drinkability: nice drinkability, could easily substitute for one of my three meals of the day.

Photo of blitheringidiot
4.57/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Double duecer bottle with a label indicating some flavor info and a map to the brewery.

Pours a magnificent black as night black as coal in a Hennepin tulip glass topped with a dark tan craggy spotty solid head cap

Delicious nose of bright bubble gum hops and roasted malty goodness. That's nice! Reminds me of fesh FFF Alpha Klaus. The citus orange and tangerine nose is killing me. Awesome.

First swigs: Rosted malts meets an ungodly amount of hops. Best guess is a Simcoe but I just checked the website and it is Chinook and Cascade. A clean lingering leafy grassy aftertaste. Somewhere in the middle there is a spritz of lemon.

Feel is medium to full bodied with a gentle flow of carbonation. A hidden 8.1% ABV is well introduced.

Last swigs: Perfect for a week that I vowed to knock out some of the best beers in my stash. This one fit right in! Thanks to fellow BA GueuzeDude for the (presumably) fresh bottle. Just Wow! 247/4.23

Beer is good. Happy hoppy RIS traded beering.

Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.46/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A - A dark brown color with a thick head with the carbonation cascading down the sides continuously in some convextion like action. Lacing clings all over the sides after the monsterous head dissipates to a managable level. That's a pretty beer!

S - Pine hops make the strongest appearance with some coffee and slight chocolate malt odors.

T - Bitter. An initial hop kick than a coffee and hop induced bitterness. It's good, but a tad one dimensional.

M - Not as thick as I expected (probably from that head), also it isn't that refreshing a beer. Dissapointing is this category.

D - Not bad. Since it is predominantly bitter, would work well with food. I wouldn't want to session it though.

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

The pour from the 1 pt 6 oz bottle is a dark cola color--nearly black. A good sized brown head forms and there remains lacing throughout the bottle.

Smell is roasted choclate, sweet carmel, toffee, licorice, dried fruit, and of course coffee. Alcohol peaks through as well, but no real hop smell to note. Very nice

The taste pretty much reflects the smell. Chocolate and toffee are the main flavors. It's surpisingly sweet right before the bitter roasted barley comes through. Well balanced and put together. The hops, although present, don't run the show. It's the malt through and through. Bitter they may be. Slight alcohol warmth, but otherwise it's well hidden.

The finish is very clean for how full and chewy the beer is. Creamy, sweet, roasty goodness. A great beer and a great stout.

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,165 ratings.