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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.

2,016 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,016
Reviews: 1,093
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.14%
Wants: 119
Gots: 134 | FT: 5
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
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Ratings: 2,016 | Reviews: 1,093 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of taez555
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%

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.

taez555, Oct 25, 2003
Photo of Jason
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%

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 …

Jason, Oct 22, 2003
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.6/5  rDev +11.1%

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.

WVbeergeek, Oct 22, 2003
Photo of kevinl6
5/5  rDev +20.8%

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.

kevinl6, Oct 17, 2003
Photo of LiamStLiam
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%

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.


LiamStLiam, Sep 22, 2003
Photo of Boilermaker88
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%

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.

Boilermaker88, Sep 22, 2003
Photo of beernut7
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%

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.

beernut7, Aug 31, 2003
Photo of dwarbi
4.63/5  rDev +11.8%

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!

dwarbi, Aug 29, 2003
Photo of Rumrunner
4.47/5  rDev +8%

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.

Rumrunner, Aug 22, 2003
Photo of aaronh
4.63/5  rDev +11.8%

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.

aaronh, Aug 04, 2003
Photo of tavernjef
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

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!

tavernjef, Aug 04, 2003
Photo of grynder33
3.4/5  rDev -17.9%

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

grynder33, Aug 03, 2003
Photo of ADR
4.47/5  rDev +8%

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

ADR, Jul 19, 2003
Photo of brakspear
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%

A very tasty stout, that despite its elevated alcohol content,still is very drinkable. It pours deep black, befitting its name, with a slight creamy tan head that collars to the inside of the glass. The aroma is malty, with roasted barley dryness and slight hop spiciness rounding out the nose. The taste is malty sweet, but not cloying, with a generous bitterness from the roasted malts and barley and hop load. As other have noted for an imperial stout, the body is not overwhelming, which makes the beer easier to drink than it should be.

brakspear, Jul 19, 2003
Photo of johnrobe
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%

This brew looks good, smells good, and the flavor is good. However, the mouthfeel is a bit lacking. Measured against other imperial stouts, it falls short in that category. As a regular ole stout or foreign extra it would be adequate. The color is opaque black with a light tan head that leaves plenty of lace rings. The aroma is milk chocolate, a bit of coffee and some molasses lurking in the background. The flavor is of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, caramel, with some roasted barley bitterness rounding out the finish. The mouthfeel is slightly chalky (gypsum?) and a bit thin, not the least bit syrupy like other imperial stouts.

johnrobe, Jul 03, 2003
Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4/5  rDev -3.4%

If there is one style of beer that I think is the most overrated, it's the American micro (imp) stout. I can appreciate the strongest versions, which have a good balance of malt AND hops (like Expedition), but the thinner, bitter versions don't really float my boat. This beer reminded me of the Victory and the Rogue. Mostly hops, somewhat dry and thin. Pours nice, smells nice, tastes nice. Overall, a pretty good drinking experience. How beers like this end up rated in the top 10-20, however, I don't understand. As is the case with the micro IPA's, they start to taste alike, IMO. If you like the Victory and Rogue, you'll like this. I still prefer the Samuel Smith, with it's balance and smooth taste and body.

JohnnyDuvel, Jun 28, 2003
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Appearance: black as the darkest night, with a tall, fantastic, booming, cocoay/brown head, leaving chocolatey lace.
Aroma: creamy, dry, with faraway hints of coffee, becoming more prominent by the second. Another case of an unfolding flavors.
Smooth first sip, "ah," I'm thinking, "that goes down easy." But, oh, no, don't be fooled, the finish is thick and long, and the effect is powerful!
Rich, coffeeish, with a full, warm rum/cognac feel.
Excellent texture, lush, long-lasting, dark and rewarding flavors, full and roasty and delicious.
More earthy, espresso-like dominate the palate, and more, fruitier flavors show up and intermingle, giving off more and more to appreciate.
Alcoholic content is also a kicker, and seems to get stronger, darker, more wicked as we go. I save a small sample as a pick-me-up in the morning, throughout the day, when the man's getting me down, anytime's the right time.

feloniousmonk, Jun 25, 2003
Photo of beerguy101
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%

Dark black color, small head. Big coffee and toffee aroma. Roasted and toasted. A big bold stout. Big full bodied stout, but not chewy. Blast of complex flavors; Caramel sweetness, chocolate malt, coffee, toffee and a hint of vanilla. AND A WHOLE LOT MORE. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and dry. Aftertaste is slightly bitter that lingers a round a while. No alcohol bite, despite an 8.1%. Great stout.

beerguy101, Jun 25, 2003
Photo of jcalabre
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%

Originally sampled on 5 July 2002. This stout has a light brown, frothy head and a black (no surprise here) body. Great roasted taste, but it's a very drinkable stout. I'm surprised that this is listed as a 'sweet stout' instead of an Imperial. From Bear Republic's web page: http://www.bearrepublic.com/frameset.html

"Big Bear, as the name implies, is a hefty, black, Russian
Imperial-style stout..."

jcalabre, Jun 18, 2003
Photo of Brent
4.72/5  rDev +14%

Each beer I try from this brewery makes me want to find more. This is simply an outstanding stout. Big, hearty and ... smooth - sounds like an oxymoron, but it is true. The first mug was pretty cold - muted aroma of bittersweet chocolate. Creamy dark roasted malt, just the barest touch sweet with a clean finish. Smooth as silk. The second mug was allowed to warm, and a bit more bitterness emerges at the back of the tongue, still smooth. This beer seems to blend elements of the dryness of and Irish stout, the malty heft of an English sweet stout and a touch of the hoppyness of an American interpretation. KO's Young's Luxury Double Chocolate from the top of my sweet stout list.

Brent, Jun 14, 2003
Photo of BierReise
4.1/5  rDev -1%

This has to be the best stout I've had in recent memory. Pours dark black and I could see no light coming through. Creamy dense head that is light brown in color and lasts the duration. My first impression when I opened the bottle was that this is a hoppy stout. After I poured it the aroma was sweet with chocolate, roasted malt and caramel standing out. Also a definate hop presence. Extremely smooth and drinkable despite its 8.1% abv. Flavor is an excellent marriage of malt and hops. Sweet, robust and displaying a complexity not often found in this style. It's no wonder it's a gold medal winner.

BierReise, May 31, 2003
Photo of Bierman9
4.43/5  rDev +7%

A fantastic looking stout! It is not entirely opaque or black, yet a very dark mahogany tint, with a touch of ruby gleaming from within. The initial pour produced a Guinness-like cascade effect, with a monster, frothy topping. The head was tan and similar to that of a milk-shake. Lasted all day, leaving an exemplary display of lacework in the glass.

The nose emits an inviting roasty malt aroma, with hints of sweetness and chocolate. Similar somewhat to Mackesons, or Dragon from Jamaica.

Oh! How the bier caresses the tongue! The body is almost full...almost there....almost....and has a bit of chewiness to it. It has a silky smooth feel passing over the tongue, gliding effortlessly, like Peggy Fleming traversing the ice at Grenoble....

A lovely, yet subdued, sweetness underlies the wealth of roasty malt flavors which envelope the palate. The roasty chocolate taste lingers on and on, well after the dryish finish. A bit of hopping produces a slightly bitter aspect, though not to the detriment of the bier at all. Having just popped this after a hectic day at work, and not having eaten since noon, I can feel the alcohol warming things up belly-wards.

This one's a keeper. I haven't really been into stouts too heavily for a while now, but this one wouldn't be turned aside. Vielen Dank to Gusler for making this part of a treasure chest sent Northeastward! Zum Wohl!!

overall: 4.5
appearance: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5


Bierman9, Apr 29, 2003
Photo of MJR
4.47/5  rDev +8%

Appearance: What seems to be pitch black, is actually an incredibly dark reddish-brown. The body is opaque, with a tan head that starts out a full finger thick and shrinks to a small cap. Leaves an interesting lace pattern on the glass.

Smell: Very rich aroma of roasted grains, cocoa powder, and caramel. I could just smell this one for a while...

Taste: The flavor is extremely rich and creamy with a balance that starts out more to the sweeter side. What stands out the most to me is the strong roasted flavor. Lots of dry, bitter coffee character here. Underneath that is a hefty sprinkling of cocoa powder and a shot of sweet caramel. Small hint of licorice. A touch of green, leafy hops show up on the tail end. There's an alcohol note, but it's covered quite well by the other flavors. Finishes with a firm bitterness that seems to never end...

Mouthfeel: Full and round with a thick and chewy mouthfeel. The alcohol helps to dry the finish out a bit, but it doesn't take away from the weight of the brew.

Drinkability: Make no mistake...this is a big brew, in body and in alcohol. This is a great beer to slowly sip and enjoy, alongside a good book. I wish this one was available in my part of the country...

MJR, Apr 19, 2003
Photo of Wildman
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%

This beer poured jet black and formed a huge medium tan foamy Guiness like head that behaved like a float as it subsided, leaving lattice lace coating the glass as it subsided. An aroma of malt, chocolate and coffee. A flavor of malt, coffee and chocolate. A little lighter than I thought it would be, but a fine stout nontheless. It's a shame I have to go to Kentucky to get this or Liquid Solutions. Come on Bear Republic, visit Ohio sometime.

Wildman, Apr 12, 2003
Photo of BigHead
4.72/5  rDev +14%

Mmmm....beer. This is quite the good stout! Black as night with a nice thick head about 1/2 inch thick, lovely. Chocolate and earthy roast permeate the air as I bring the brew in for my first taste. A sweet, caramel flavor with chocolate roasted taste infused for my pleasure. The roasted flavor of sitting on my patio drinking a coffee in the morning. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer.

BigHead, Apr 05, 2003
Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,016 ratings.