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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.

2,173 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,173
Reviews: 1,107
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.93%
Wants: 139
Gots: 166 | 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: 2,173 | Reviews: 1,107 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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

22oz bottle from pentathlete as part of the OneBox BIF. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1 1/2" dark brown head above the almost opaque dark brown brew. Head lasts very nicely, with delicate lacing. Aroma is coffee, chocolate, and light piney hops. Taste is well-balanced, with mocha giving way to moderate hoppiness. Mouthfeel is creamy smooth, and drinkability is great as well. Don't know how I've missed this one this long, but I'll have to revisit again soon.

Photo of Prufrock
4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber poured into a pilsner.

pitch black color; a touch of brown comes in around the edges when held up to the light. tan, inch-thick head that leaves clumps of lacing.

what an aroma. pine, sweet chocolate, molasses, coffee, and a touch of rindy citrus.

taste doesn't disappoint. malty, sugary chocolate with a bittering aftertaste of piney hops and dark chocolate. incredibly drinkable.

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

Deep, dark, seemingly impenetrable black that yields ruby highlights when held up to the light. 1 finger of rich tan head, doesn't last, no lacing.

Nose is strong bitter coffee/chocolate. Some bitter, piney hops also come out.

Flavor is up front coffee/chocolate. Bitter hops on the finish, also hints of a bitter, strong molasses. Complex and interesting. Not as hoppy as Yeti, not as thick, rich and dark as Stone RIS, (but what is?). A worthy entry into the Imperial/Double stout arena.

Mouthfeel is rich and chewy. Nice!

Drinkability is as good as any of this style. 2 bombers would be better than 1. The bitterness/hoppiness is not a barrier to drinkability as some can be.

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

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a dark black body with a faint glow of light around the edges of the glass. The head is creamy smooth tan but it is not very big and it last through the entire beer.

S- The smell of deep roasted chocolate nibs and earthiness from dark roasted grain is very strong. A very faint hop bitterness is in the finish.

T- The beer has a big thick roasted malt flavor with some chalky qualities to the taste (but in a very pleasant way). The finish is a mild hop bitterness with a faint soy sauce note. The taste of dark rich malt hangs on at the finish.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a bit of a silky texture. There is a bit of fizz that adds nice depth. No real alcohol warmth.

D- This beer has nice big rich dark grain flavors. There are no real dark fruit or lighter grain notes just big dark grains. The hop bitterness is mild but it lingers in the finish balancing the grain.

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

Black with a touch of ruby to light, nice brown to dark brown head, and nice carbonation. Light sweet chocolate, roasty, and coffee aromas. Rich robust chocolate and caramel sweetness with a nice roasty balance. A touch of alcohol on the finish but nicely balanced. Medium-full bodied and creamy smooth with a strong roasty dry and light coffee finish.

Per BR website:
Belgian and English roasted barley and crystal malts.
Louisiana sweet molasses and dark brown sugar.
Chinook and Cascade hops.
og 1.076, ABV 8.1%, IBU 68.

(22 oz.)

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

Black with mocha head. Lacing is ferocious. Glorious deep resinous dates and figs, anise, and espresso. Wicked nutty! Caramel and toffee goodness. Taste is dark chocolate covered raspberries, tobacco soaked in hot cocoa, bitter herbs in dirt. Feel is medium-thick with a smooth, low carbonation. After the sweetness has subsided a bit and the small alcohol warmth has passed, it finishes with enough bitterness on the tongue to welcome another sip. As someone noted earlier, this is not unlike a dark chocolate milkshake.

This is like an amped-up Shakespeare that loses only a bit of its drinkability along the way. Bigger body and caramel sweetness, but certainly wonderful. One of the best stouts.

Photo of scooter231
3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another tasty Bear Republic. Pours a deep, dark, almost opaque color. Smell is coffeeish and chocolatey, with a deep roasted flavor. Taste is quite nice- more coffee and chocolate, with an espresso hint, not toooo bitter- really lovely stout.

Mouthfeel is chewy- very chewy, and full, and creamy. Just good. Quite drinkable for a stout, which is hard to do- good.

Photo of tgbljb
3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very deep brown, almost black color with modest tannish head. Smell is a tantalizing mixture of coffee, cocoa, roasted grains, and a dark fruits. Taste is also very enjoyable with dark fruits (cherries, figs, dates, prunes) making themselves known along with chocolate and coffee. A nice hoppy bitterness arises at the finish along with an alcohol note. A very drinkable beer for 8.1%, almost too easy, because the alcohol sneaks up on you.

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

Appearance - Dark brown. 2" frothy beige head with great retention. Lots of carbonation. Thick lace.

Smell - Chocolate. Roasted malt. Coffee, cappucino. Dark fruit. Smoke? Nice balance of hops mingling throughout.

Taste - Bitter hops mix with the flavors of bitter dark chocolate at the front. Caramel. Sweet, dark roasted malt. Some fruit (raisin) as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel - Rich and round with good carbonation.

Drinkability - Outstanding!! Long bitter finish. Smooth. Excellent as the beer approaches cellar temperature. Thanks to BA tryemall for the sample as this beauty is unfortunately not available around these parts.

Photo of nortmand
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pitch black pour, with a finger of tan head.

Smell is caramel dominant with a roast background. Alot of caramel and cascade.

Wow. Alot of crystal malt in this brew. Caramel malt with roast in a supporting role. Huge cascade flavor.

Full bodied and the immense amount of crystal malt gives a nice rounded, smooth finish. Very drinkable and very delicious.

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

Ebony--not exactly midnight black--liquid, with rosewood highlights, fills the pint glass. A healthy, one-inch deep pile of umber fluff leaves a decent webbing of stringy lace. Tempting smells of chocolate shortbread batter are rounded out by suggestions of prune, currant, and pralines, although the nosefeel would benefit by being fattened up a bit. Still, nothing prepares me for the taste... holy wow... dark chocolate truffles, charcoal-roasted toffee bars, mocha buttercream. There's no danger of things becoming too sweet, as an aftertaste of slight vanilla extract bitterness arrives to balance things out. Mouthfeel is effortlessly light and satiny, with no alcohol effects noticeable whatsoever. The chewiness of bigger-bodied stouts is not missed. Drinkability here could be measured in seconds if I wasn't making the attempt to suck out every last molecule of flavor from each gulp.

Ahem... this is... er... really, really fucking good...

Photo of PatYoda
4.55/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours dark brown with a nice light brown head that leaves behind great lacing and ring around the snifter. Smell is very chocolatey and roasted. The chocolate is an equal combination sugary milk chocolate and bitter dark chocolate. A little alcohol in the background, but not much. Taste is almost as much chocolate as the Rogue Chocolate Stout! This actually reminds me quite a bit of that beer. The roastiness is there as well, though in much smaller quantities as in most Double Stouts. Actually this is by far the smoothest and most easy drinking double stout I've had, and I'm loving it.

Too bad I split the bomber with my girlfriend. Maybe I can snatch the rest from her. Anyway, the mouthfeel is a bit thin, which works well with the easy going flavor here, but I feel that it's just a tad too watery for my tastes. Very clean finish with only a little lingering hop bitterness to go along with the dark chocolate bitterness. It's nice to see that some brewers still emphasize a little restraint within this style, and that this beer is great despite not being way over the top.

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

Very dark color with soft tan-colored head that is thick and foamy with excellent retention and even better lacing. Aromas of sugar and cocoa are most apparent. The taste is interesting and complex with a profile that contains a fair amount of hop bitterness. A lovely bittersweet finish that leaves behind just a slight sourness. Despite the high ABV, this beer is very easy to drink.

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

Pours a clear dark brown stout that isn't quite able to block all light. Tall and frothy light brown head that is very thick.

Smell is fruity and chocolate and coffee is a slight bit of acid in the scent. The scent of kahlua and nuts float to my nose on the alcohol fumes present. Fruity scents exist mainly as raisins, figs, and cherry scents.

Taste is extremely mild and very creamy at the very start much like a chocolate malt. Big chocolate flavor is what hits me first and then the coffee. After a bit the more bitter flavors appear in the taste profile mostly chicory and faint citrus hops. This loses some points in the flavor for lack of complexity, that it will get back in the drinkability department. This is simply a near perfect stout that emphasizes the chocolate flavor.

Mouthfeel is chocolate milkshake, I seriously doubt that this can be improved upon.

Perfect drinkability here. Tasty and so easy to drink a Budweiser fan could drink this. This is basically a terrific chocolate beer milkshake. I love this stuff and will buy much much more.

Photo of Px2GrafX
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

presentation: 22oz. bomber with an illustrated bear inside of a circle inside of a star in the center of the label. "bear republic" is across a banner over the top of the label, and "big bear black stout" is in big letters around the bear. 8.1%abv displayed. bear republic's interpretation of their stout along with brewer's notes and a map showing the brewery location are on the left side of the label. no freshness date to be found.

appearance: pours a deep black with dark, dark brown highlights in a snifter glass. head is a half-inch walnut color after an aggressive pour. head drops to a thin capper fairly quickly. lacing is nice, however.

smell: chocolate and coffee in the first nose. roastiness and some caramel as well. some earthy hop aromas.

taste: more chocolate and burnt coffee. very roasty with a nice hop bitter balance. currants, molasses and some light anise. some alcohol in the finish. finish is roasted bitter-sweet chocolate. aftertaste is a roasty bitterness. did i mention roasty?

mouthfeel: surprising light-medium body with an even more surprising heavy carbonation. mini burps after almost every sip. rolls around a bit harshly and swallows just as harsh. mouthfeel and swallow thicken and smooth as the brew warms.

drinkability: drinkability is pretty good with a somewhat crisp and below average light mouthfeel for a double stout. alcohol is there but well masked. would probably make a good session stout for a double. more of a sipper as the brew warms.

overall: pretty good double stout, but i'm not too sure what all the hype is about. everything about this beer is better at close to room temperature. mouthfeel is lacking, but improves with warmth. pretty good aroma and flavor. excellent try and i won't turn one down, but there are better out there. thanks a bunch to mlh1227 for sending me this.

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

A: Black with a ruby tinge, small head & lace. A stout needs more head retention & lacing though!

S: Chocolate & roasted malt.

T: Bittersweet chocolate, roasty aftertaste. Only a hint of warming sherry in the background, it REALLY hides its alcohol well.

M: Syrupy, chewy, moderate-heavy body, medium carbonation.

D: Great!

Thanks MDS!

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

I've been sitting on this bottle for a while, so now that it's nice and aged let's have a go shall we?

Pours an opaque black in color with a light tan head that had a good amount of retention. Nose is very full, roasty toasty with a very pronounced hop character as stouts go. Taste is multileveled, lots of nice rich roast and dry baker's chocolate, some dark fruit as well. Hops are definatly in there, much more to the front than is the norm.

A very well made big stout, highly quaffable.


Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,173 ratings.