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Big Bear Black Stout - Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,853 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1853
Reviews: 1084
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 10.12%

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: 1,853 | Reviews: 1,084 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of dar482

New York

4.68/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

The beer comes in a black color with a big tan brown head.

The aroma has very "stout" qualities. Roasted malt, a bit of coffee, and chocolate, along with some milk stout lactose.

The flavor follows as a solid stout all the way through. There's some again of that milk stout flavor, but mostly dominated by medium roasted malt and a bit of smoke. There's a hint of bittersweet chocolate int here. However, it's almost a good thing with all the sweet beers out there that this is not dominated by chocolate or coffee flavors.

The finish has a big bitterness of hops and roast on the back. It's a wonderful highlight of the beer.

The body on this is medium and very good for 8.1% ABV.

I was pleasantly surprised by the beer and it is surely better than Yeti. I would drink a lot of this regularly as it really exemplifies Imperial Stout flavors without messing around.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2013 06:51:22 | More by dar482
Photo of joe1510


4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

22oz Bomber

I was waiting to drink this on a cold night and here it is. Poured Big Bear Black into a snifter. Now this stuff looks tasty. A big creamy tan head sits on top of the opaque black body. Not one glimmer of light shows through this beer. The head leaves sticky, moderate lacing.

The smell is packed full of dark flavors. Lots of molasses up front. The more you take in the more everything else comes out. Brown sugar, dark malt, rum soaked raisins, and chocolate This smells like dessert in a glass. I even get a hint of cream.

Wow!! This stuff is huge on flavor without being overpowering. The flavor profile changes throughout the entire drink. Every inch of your mouth gets hit with something different. I try and figure out how it's all layered but it's too difficult for me so I'll just give you the flavors I'm getting. I'm getting every flavor that's in the scent. The molasses is more subdued than in the nose but there is a nice addition of roasted malt and faintly bitter coffee. Finishes with a hint of vanilla. I can't even tell there is any alcohol in the here. Very very good.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side of medium. In my opinion it could be a little thicker and heavier but not by much. The tastes explode all over the inside of my mouth. As it warms there is a barely perceivable alcohol warming in the throat.

The drinkability for such a big beer is exceptional. The alcohol is so well hidden I could easily see it catching up on people if they didn't know it was there. I took off slightly for mouthfeel because it is a little lighter than I'd like but that actually adds to the drinkability.

Overall Big Bear Black Stout is an outstanding beer from Bear Republic. This is the perfect beer to drink on those upcoming cold winter nights and my fridge is going to be loaded up with bombers. Wow!!! Very impressive!

Reviewed: 11/1/06

Serving type: bottle

08-19-2013 03:34:21 | More by joe1510
Photo of woosterbill


4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber from way back in 2009, forgotten in my cellar until now.

A: Dark brown body under a finger of tan head. Ok retention, good lace. Not bad.

S: Pleasantly old, with spice, chocolate, graham cracker, coffee, and raw cocoa powder. Really nice.

T: Chocolate, molasses, raisin, port, coffee, pepper, and residual hop bitterness. Tasty.

M: Medium-to-full body, moderate carbonation. Solid.

O: This aged a lot better than I expected from such a relatively low-ABV Imperial Stout, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who tried a pour. Really complex, and only slightly oxidized in a rather pleasant way.


Serving type: bottle

08-17-2013 17:07:49 | More by woosterbill
Photo of CA_brewster


4.26/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Big Bear is black with a light brown, creamy head. This beer smells of roasted malt, caramel, some definite hoppiness and a hint of vanilla. Deep roasted coffee-like flavor full of roasted malt, burnt caramel and some hops. All in all incredibly balanced in terms of flavor. All the flavors really blend together very nicely in this imperial stout and make it quite drinkable. The 8.1 abv is hidden quite well. Goes down smooth, thick mouthfeel with just a bit of some alcohol and hop bitterness. Fairly light carbonation. Overall: an absolutely delicious big beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-14-2013 22:26:18 | More by CA_brewster
Photo of shand


4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, here's another winner from Bear Republic that gets absolutely no hype because it's readily available. This is just a smooth, tasty, and extremely drinkable big stout. I'm not sure if I've had a stout of this ABV that's as drinkable as Big Black Bear is. The mouthfeel is just so perfect, it compliments the creamy chocolate, roasted malts, and leafy hops this beer has to offer.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2013 03:28:12 | More by shand
Photo of superspak


4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 7/26/2011. Pours pitch black color with a small dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, light char, toast, toffee, molasses, dark bread, floral, light pine, raisin, and roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark and roasted malt notes; with good strength. Taste of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, toffee, molasses, dark bread, floral, light pine, light raisin, and roasted earthiness. No bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, toffee, molasses, light raisin, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of roasted and dark malt flavors with light fruitiness; and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a creamy, slick, and slightly chalky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with no warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an excellent imperial stout. All around nice balance and complexity of roasted and dark malt flavors; and very smooth to drink for the gravity. A very enjoyable offering.

Serving type: bottle

07-25-2013 04:15:04 | More by superspak
Photo of Fatehunter


4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into an imperial pint glass. One finger of head on a pitch black body.
The aroma is woody with roasted malt and some molasses floating in the background.
The taste has great balance and complexity. There's some vanilla in the back; roasted malt and moderate bitterness throughout; finish is clean.
The texture is perfect. Soft texture with low carbonation, like drinking velvet.

Serving type: bottle

07-25-2013 01:34:27 | More by Fatehunter
Photo of LI_PO12


4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into stout glass

Appearance- Jet black, light tan head with good retention

Aroma- Chocolate, caramel, toffee, roasted malt, coffee, light piney hop presence

Flavor- coffee more apparent here, chocolate, caramel, more roasted character than the aroma, a good bitterness, slight hop presence, really not much alcohol for an 8%

Mouthfeel- Medium, moderate carbonation, slight alcohol warmth

Overall- Can't believe I waited this long to try this. For the price I can't think of many better, a very delicious and drinkable imperial stout.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2013 04:34:05 | More by LI_PO12
Photo of TBoneJones


3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours jet black in my pint. Perfect thick caramel-colored head.
Smells like dark cocoa, chalky malt. Nondescript in a way.
Tastes like a somewhat choco-coffee and grainy/ mildly bitter take on an imperial stout... not a favorite profile of mine, but in this it seems to work. A hop presence in the bitter (but not overly so) finish. Balances well for what it is, but it lacks a certain robust sweetness, something I prefer in heavier stouts.
Mouthfeel is medium thick, somewhat sticky.
Overall where this beer impressed me is in its drinkability. Up front chocolate turns to bitter coffee, im not blown away by anything in particular, but im able to finish the pint easily; I don't feel like im drinking an 8. % beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-03-2013 00:59:40 | More by TBoneJones
Photo of AlCaponeJunior


3.7/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance is black as diesel with a 1/4 finger light brown head that didn't last long but left some lacing.

Aroma is is dark chocolate, coffee, caramel malt, brown sugar, molasses, figs, and a little non-specific dark fruits. Flavor follows suit, with a fair amount,, but not too much sweetness, and a fairly good amount of hop bitterness to balance the sweetness.

Alcohol isn't very noticeable when drinking, but there is a slight warming after each sip. The body is pretty thick, carbonation is pretty low.

Overall it's quite tasty, which is what all of Bear Republic's beers have been that I have tried so far. For the price it's a damn nice bomber of stout too.

Serving type: bottle

06-24-2013 00:08:12 | More by AlCaponeJunior
Photo of StoutItOutLoud


4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber (4.99) to tulip. Purchased > 6 mos ago, consumed 6-22-2013

A: opaque, dark brown at the edges. Thin brown sugar head dissipates quickly, but there is some head (1-2mm) maintained throughout, irregular lacing
S: dark chocolate, very faint coffee aroma. dark fruit (cranberry, raisin) FAR more prominent than expected
T: licorice, fruit, slight roast bitterness... not picking up much hop flavor, but earthy
M: oily, but smooth, thinner than expected for 8.1%

closer to an English style stout or porter (IMO similar to St Peters Porter), very drinkable

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2013 00:51:47 | More by StoutItOutLoud
Photo of Crafty99


4.54/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Overall, a great stout. Pours a clear dark brown with minimal head. Taste and smell is a good balance of malt, molasses, and a little bitterness. Perfect carbonation and viscosity. Paid 5.99 for a 22 oz bottle. Will definitely seek this one out again.

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2013 22:01:43 | More by Crafty99
Photo of hooliganlife


3.91/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

this is 3-4 years old, not sure on the date.

poured chocolate brown with a hint or cola. light creamy head.

sweet, candy, light roasted malt with espresso.

similar to the nose, a nice amount of sweet citrus hops still holding strong. the roasted malt was complimented with the sweetness and light coffee flavors.

mild to moderate carbonation, smooth body.

god damn this aged like a champ, on accident.

would drink again

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2013 00:25:54 | More by hooliganlife
Photo of bdonbdonbdon


4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

I've always been a huge fan of Bear Republic. This stout did not disappoint me at all. I wish there were more Stout's of this caliber coming out of San Diego and SoCal in general. Racer 5 is my all time favorite beer by Bear Republic; however, this is a very close second!!

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2013 02:42:41 | More by bdonbdonbdon
Photo of sweemzander


3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours pitch black in color. Some good tan forth formed.

(S)- A mellow roasted character meets a mountain of raisin and subtle coffee grounds.

(T)- Kind of dry, but a good coffee roastedness combined with plenty of raisin sweetness.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Pretty classic stout flavors with a mild bitterness.

(O)- It really is a classic RIS for sure. Nicely balanced and smooth.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2013 19:35:36 | More by sweemzander
Photo of ThisWangsChung


3.66/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle into a tulip. From notes.

A: Pours a dark ruby color that actually reveals some suspended sediment when held up to the light. Otherwise, it's nicely opaque. The head is a two finger khaki shade. It fades slowly but surely, however it leaves little lacing on the glass.

S: I note some licorice, dark fruits, touches of both smoke and citrusy hops, along with a hint of roast. A rather nondescript aroma for an imperial stout; it's more befitting of a good single stout.

T: This one seems to be dark fruit and licorice forward. I notice some caramel in the midtaste, and pleasantly balanced citrusy hops on the back end. The hops also provide some herbal and peach qualities. It seems to be mellow and balanced to a fault - however, this would make a great everyday stout due to its easygoing nature.

M: It's light, clean, and dry. If the bottle didn't say 8.1%, I'd wonder if it was really 5% or so; the alcohol is concealed superbly given its lightness. It doesn't offer much in the way of richness, however.

O: I was unsure how to grade this one. As an imperial stout, it's rather meh - but as a regular stout, it's damn good. For better or for worse, this drinks like a 5% single stout...except that it's really 8.1%. Since Bear Republic doesn't call it an imperial stout, I'm grading it as a single. Ergo, I'm willing to overlook some of its flaws and appreciate it as a decently priced (for a bomber) everyday drinker.

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2013 18:54:27 | More by ThisWangsChung
Photo of Nugganooch


3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber served in my Sierra Nevada balloon glass
*notes taken on 04/18/13

A: A dark mahogany brown on the pour that sits totally opaque and jet black once collected in the glass. There forms a light brown sugar colored head on top with only some moderate retention. Sifts down back into the body leaving some clumsy trellising and light dots of stick down the glass after each sip.

S: Smells of dark roasted grains, molasses, burnt caramel sugars, and dry roast coffee. There is an overall earthy quality to the aroma and a bit of ash coming through as well. Pretty nice nose, very appropriate for the style with some deep roasty notes.

T: Prominent roasted barley flavors bring forth a smoky char and notes of dry roast coffee that envelope a bed of sweet molasses, scorched caramels, and some dark chocolate. There is a bit of licorice and dark fruit detected that was not apparent within the nose as well as a little earthy pine and citrus dusting of hops. Overall bitterness is moderate to low however with just a dash of alcohol spice in there. Has a nice smooth balance. A touch heavy on the Roasted Barley for my tastes but still very solid. Similar to Rasputin for me.

M: Moderate sized body that does lean towards the thinner side as it tends to get little watery at times. Overall smooth and creamy feel with a little chalkiness midway there and a nice drying finish. Very slick and clean with some light alcohol warming.

D: A solid stout with some real deep rich roast barley flavors. Lots of dry roast coffee and ashy charcoal. I think the mouthfeel does fumble a bit and it is definitely not your thick Impy. More along the lines of a Double Stout which to me offers more quaffability. Factor in the very reasonable pricing and year round availability however and the Big Bear Black Stout is pretty hard to beat.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2013 19:59:24 | More by Nugganooch
Photo of mfnmbvp


4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle (1 pint 6 oz) with no apparent freshness information provided. Picked this up from the local beer store for $4.99 just moments ago. My second beer from Bear Republic, with fairly high expectations, since I'm in the mood for a good stout, and I quite enjoyed the first beer I had from them, the Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye.

Poured into a Firestone Walker pint glass.

A - Pours an opaque oily black body with a quarter inch of creamy chocolate head that dissolves quickly. Very thin wispy lacing. Second (far more aggressive) pour yields about three fingers of the same beautiful chocolate milk mocha colored head. Lots of lacing the second time around. Looks amazing.

S - Warm dark chocolate aroma. Dark candied fruits. Toasted malts. Little bit of pleasing alcohol smell. Bit of vanilla / oak wood, perhaps.

T - Light, sweet, and even hoppy in the beginning, and then gives way to a most robust dark chocolate / roasted coffee bean presence. Fresh hops and coffee bean bitterness. Warming alcohol. Sweetened tea leaf like taste in the finish. Fruity fermented grape / fig / date flavor. Very smooth, subtle, and complex. There is a lot going on here.

M - Resinous hoppy bitterness, yet smooth and creamy, paired with some dark candied fruit sweetness. A lovely feel and aftertaste.

Overall, extremely impressive. Very well bodied, and well balanced, and so highly drinkable, masking it's 8.10% abv deceptively well. A remarkably awesome beer, one I would happily revisit. Of the two Bear Republic brews I've tried, they were both very good, but this Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout takes the cake so far. Definitely one of the best stouts I've had yet.

Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout ---4.5/5

Serving type: bottle

03-19-2013 19:56:50 | More by mfnmbvp
Photo of AmitC


4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a snifter glass.

Color is dark black inside the glass and deep brown with moderate thickness while pouring. One finger thick light tan colored head with decent retention. Excellent lacing. Opaque. Slight shining brown hues in the head.

Aroma is full of big dark and roasted malts. Strong dark chocolate may be and some coffee. Slight sweetness and smoke. Burnt wood like notes. Slight warmth.

A good amount of hop bitterness. Very charred and burnt up roasted malt profile. Charring upfront. Some booze and warmth are felt. A very strong burnt up taste with good bittering flavors overall.

Mouth feel is full bodied with decent alcohol warmth. Decent thickness. No astringency as such except for some burnt up flavors.

This is one solid American Double stout. Very likable.

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2013 15:11:22 | More by AmitC
Photo of Murrhey


3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a standard pressure-cap bomber into a shaker pint glass in high elevation Libby, Mont. Reviewed live. No best-by date readily available.

A- Half-finger mocha colored head, quickly evaporates. Black body, no light permeates. Sassy looking beer.

S- Mocha, dark chocolate, alcohol and toffee. Warm and apealling.

T- Coffee, chocolate, some toasty notes and alcohol. Not bad.

M- Thick and grainy.

O- I wish I had more to say about this beer. Good. Simple.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2013 02:41:10 | More by Murrhey
Photo of srhoadsy


4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured slightly chilled into a snifter.

Pours a deep black with about half an inch of light brown head that leaves a light surface layer and light lacing.

Aromas of chocolate, dark roasted coffee and dried fruits.

Tastes follows through the aromas. Nicely balanced.

Medium bodied with a sweet finish and moderate carbonation.

Overall a nicely balanced imp. stout. At 8.1% it is dangerously sessionable.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2013 22:49:52 | More by srhoadsy
Photo of ItsTheLimit


4.36/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 22oz bottle into imperial pint glass.

Beer pours a deep black that little to no light shows through. Produces a thin head that is off-white to almost a light tan. Though the head quickly dissipates, it does leave nice, soapy lacing.

Smells of dark fruit, plum, chocolate and roasted malt. Really absorbing.

Taste is relatively straight forward and follows the smell. Finishes with a slight alcohol heat and some hop bitterness, which balances the sweetness of the caramel malt.

The mouthfeel is deceptively light, considering the appearance. Nice carbonation and not overly heavy, despite the style. Definitely wouldn't recommend drinking this all night, but it's not as monstrous as some imperial stouts can be.

As usual, another fine beer from Bear Republic. Also, considering the fact that the price is relatively low, this is definitely something I can see myself purchasing more of. Bear Republic continues to release excellent beer that doesn't hurt my wallet.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2013 01:08:37 | More by ItsTheLimit
Photo of MattSweatshirt


3.76/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured out what seemed a little light coming from the bottle but I’m not getting any light coming through it in the snifter. An aggressive pour yields a thick brown head that retains and laces nicely.

Upon cracking this I got a whiff. There is an assertive aroma of dark fruit, chocolate, and roast.

Straightforward is the name of the game with this stout. It’s got everything you want with dark fruit, chocolate, and roasty notes. No wow factor though.

Feels a little thin but is smooth and creamy.

The value on this beer is hard to beat. 3.99 for a bomber that tastes great.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2013 05:54:05 | More by MattSweatshirt
Photo of spinrsx

Ontario (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz Bottle from Bevmo La Quinta CA for 5.50$

Appearance - Dark black/brown colour with an average size fizzy/frothy beige head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some great lacing. The head lasted for 5-6 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, smoke, coffee

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, dark chocolate, and lots of coffee. There are also some smokey/burnt notes and a bit of a nuttiness. It ends with a chocolatey aftertaste with a lingering coffee bitterness.

Overall - Despite the higher ABV it's still very drinkable and not too in your face. A great mix of flavours and well crafted. You can tell it's made from quality ingredients.

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2013 02:45:12 | More by spinrsx
Photo of yamar68


4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to alelover for this one!

Great looking stout... coffee black with a solid finger of sticky khaki carbonation. A bit of alcohol slick is left behind from the head.

Great nutty coffee aromas, caramel, hot vanilla, simple syrup, roasty malts, grainy bits... classic. Bittersweet.

Lots of bitter coffee and chocolate flavors... vanilla syrup, oily mouthfeel but pretty dry on the tail end. Tasty. Thanks Joel!

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2013 21:26:32 | More by yamar68
Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 1,853 ratings.