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Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

1,124 Reviews
For Trade:
Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout

Brewed by:
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.10%

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

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-05-2001

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,124 | Ratings: 2,334
Photo of bassboneman
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This is a different take on a stout. At least IMHO.
There is a distinct raisin finish. The alcohol taste is very much in the front of this beer.
It isnt a very sweet beer nor is it a rounded experience - like with founders porter or anchor steam.
This is a good beer if you prefer a dry finish and a less sweet stout. This one isnt for me...
I am not sure how it got such a high grade - unless this particular bottle is old...
Granted I am on the east coast and this stuff is brewed on the west coast. Who knows...

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Photo of marieli
3.26/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Bottle. Looked okay. Smelled a bit fruity, light on coffee and chocolate. Not so rich. Feel was on thinner side and taste was consistent but nothing special. The alcohol was definitely present. Expectations were high based on overall reviews and scores but results very disappointing. Will try again at some point just to see if maybe one of us was having an off day!

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Photo of funjack5150
2.88/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

I'm not happy with this supposed to be an Imperial Stout. Drinks more like a Porter to me. Very thin on the taste. I like a creamy stout, but that's just me. This that's like a hoppy beer, although I love hoppy beer..... I DON'T want my Imperial Stouts to taste HOPPY!!!! If I want a "hoppy beer" I'll drink an IPA, thank you!!

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Photo of bigotecircus
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

A: Nearly jet black with a finger of rocky, dark tan head. Moderate head retention and a decent amount of lacing left behind.

S: Big burst of good roasted malt with a hint of dark chocolate, caramel sweetness,
and a touch of toffee.

T: Follows the smell quite nicely. Toasty malt up front, followed by a caramel-like sweetness and a hint of dark chocolate and toffee bitterness.

M: Smooth and toasty.

O: Bear Republic has nailed it again. This is a very approachable stout, but still drinks right alongside the best of 'em! Highly recommend this one.

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Photo of seedyone
4/5  rDev -3.1%

01/10/13 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Word has it that this needs to warm to room temp for flavor to develop. While still chilled the flavor is pretty intense. Nice balance, but not Black Ops or Bourbon County level. After letting this temper I was not that impressed. Good, but not great. Not sure the "Great Bear" applies, and of course "Good Bear" is way less impressive. I'd do it again, but....

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Photo of Phigg1102
4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deep black pour with a crisp tan head. Tons of chocolate and tobacco in the aroma with hints of leather and plumb. Very rich yet smooth taste. More chocolate and plumb, with a fair hop presence and deep roasted malt flavor. Rich mouthfeel without too much carbonation.

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Photo of delta490
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Poured pitch black with one finger of tan, slightly fizzy head. Left some lacing. Aroma is malty with notes of chocolate and coffee. Taste was big, with roasted malt in the forefront. There is also some sweetness and a little alcohol bite. Mouth feel is a little slick with hints of carbonation.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Roast coffee nose over a light sweetness and dark fruit
Pours opaque black under a 1.5" tan tinted white foam cap that dissipates to a thin film butt leaves rich lace.
Caramel on the palate sweetens the roast coffee giving it chocolate notes that are balanced by dark fruit flavors.
Medium full body, medium carbonation.

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Photo of EdwardK77
4.5/5  rDev +9%

A- Pours a nice head from a 12 oz. bottle into a stout glass. Good head retention remains over a dark colored stout.

S- Really nice coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit. Really nice element of sweetness that remains completely in check.

T- Perfectly in keeping with the smell and extremely well balanced. The coffee, chocolate, and balanced roasted sweet flavors are all there.

M- This is enjoyable because it isn't thin, it's right in the sweet spot of easy drinking stout perfection. It coats the palate and leaves a nice moderate stickiness behind. I'm appreciating the lack of effervescence as I feel that any of that would be distracting.

O- I've paid twice as much for stouts that aren't this good. It's certainly in the running to become a fridge regular.

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Photo of larryarms847
4.44/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown/black with a delicious looking caramel brown two finger head.

The aroma of roasted nuts and chocolate is very forward, with obvious roasted malts as well.

Sweet chocolate is back by caramel, roasted malts and a very nice nuttiness.

Mouthfeel is very very smooth (may have to do with the 2 years of age on this bottle), silky and goes down like chocolate water.

Overall, this is a very tasty stout that everyone needs to try!

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Photo of FLima
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deep black color with red highlights and a thick two finger caramel head with medium retention and leaving good laces.
Aroma of dark chocolate, coffee, licorice, dark fruits and caramels.
Bold roasted flavor with notes of expresso coffee, nuts, caramel, vanilla, prunes, figs, cocoa, charcoal and citrusy hops. Dry and bitter aftertaste with its lasting residual note.
Full body with appropriate carbonation. Somewhat creamy. Alcohol of 8.1% abv is very well hidden.
Although I was expecting a bolder beer (ps. this is not very young), this is a very tasty and balanced imperial stout. Its complexity improves dramatically after it warms up, but it is never overpowering.

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

12oz bottle into goblet

A: Standard stout appearance, frothy kaki colored head of about two fingers. No light is able to travel through this brew, a glinting ruby hue can be observed at certain angles. Carbonation looks low. Lacing and retention are moderate; body looks medium

S: Dark chocolate up front, bitter and bold. Smoke, ash, and roast are present but not overwhelming, some sweet malt aroma, some light caramel, anise, and subtle booze of chocolate liqueur. Burnt coffee and strong espresso upon agitation

T: Strong burnt/roasted malt immediately seizes the palate. After the initial burst of flavor rich chocolate blends of bakers and milk let on trailed by a faint nuttiness. Bitter before sweet in this case, prevalent hop presence picks up in conjunction with burnt wood and refined espresso/coffee grounds. The sweetness is attributable to caramel, hazelnut, notes of anise, and roasted/chocolate malt structure. The middle mouth is dominated by a hoppier play, even letting on some muted orange citrus. The finish is slightly astringent, but pans out with a nutty sweetness backed by molasses and dark chocolate

M: Creamy at times, but never chewy. Carbonation is light and fine, fills the mouth appropriately. After taste is somewhat sweet and somewhat dry, nice drinkability

O: Delicious and drinkable. One of the hoppier stouts I’ve ever drank, quite burnt and bitter at times. Although it’s not one of the most balanced stouts I’ve enjoyed, it is rather delectable. I wish the viscosity were increased slightly, but other than that this is a high quality beer

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Photo of barczar
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours an opaque onyx with a frothy mocha head that lingers.

Aroma is chocolatey, with roast malt and tar weighing in.

Flavor is sweeter than expected. Chocolate is at the forefront, but an acrid note kicks in mid palate. The finish is roasty and slightly charred, fairly bitter. I'm missing the hop flavor altogether.

Body is on the thick side, with low carbonation and noted alcohol warmth.

I don't like this nearly as much as I had hoped. Too much char and bitterness for my palate.

Update - Gets MUCH better as it warms and the acrid character goes away.

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Photo of avwrite
4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Dark, thick, a little frothy on the top, but over all a great looking stout. Was surprised how nice it looked considering how affordable it is.

Smell - A bit of coffee, a bit of chocolate, and a slight bitterness in the smell, but still masked by all the other flavors.

Taste - Fantastic. This is what it's all about. Goes down smooth, yet still thick enough to get that perfect stout texture.

Mouthfeel - a bit on the heavy side, but not to the point where I felt too full after. Perfect for a nice, meaty meal.

Overall - I love stouts, and the Big Bear certainly fulfilled the expectations. Once again, I can't stress enough that this is a great stout without paying the high price.

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Photo of MikeWard
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from 12oz bottel into a standard pint glass. Best by 7/14/14.

Great looking pour. Jet black, big light tan head, left some very heavy lacing. Carbonation low.

Aroma was an odd, though strangely not unpleasant, damp smell. also some faint malt and chocolate mixed in there. A little concerned now...

...But, taste was very good indeed. The chocolate and malt combined very nicely. Also something earthy in there, which made for an enjoyable all around flavor.

Mouth was a few notches above medium, not what I would call thick.
Overall, and enjoyable beer. Can't say I ever had a bad, or even poor beer from Bear Republic. Just wish there were more offerings in the 12oz style.

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Photo of babaracas
3.84/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A little hard to score as it's more of a 1.5x stout now... but it's good! Pours a very dark reddish brown with emissive edges, two fingers thick of dense tan head, sparse splatter of lace. Smell: roasty...wood smoke, dark fruit, caramel. Taste: fleeting syrupy dark chocolate, pine, roast, caramel, fig and raisin, brown bread, thinning out to a pine and date + raisin finish. Tasty, easy drinker.

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Photo of BB1313
2.99/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 2.75

Best by 7/14/14. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours black with a little light getting through; huge fluffy khaki head that fades very slowly and leaves great retention and lacing. The aromas are loaded with cocoa malts. Some hints of chocolate with a kiss of vanilla. The aromas are ultimately subtle. The flavors are pretty mellow and bittersweet. More milk chocolate along with some dark chocolate to give it a little bitterness. This one has some roasted coffee notes. More vanilla. Hints of caramel along with some dark fruits. Alcohol goes unnoticed. Mouthfeel is very nice. It's on the lighter side full-bodied and it's creamy and fluffy. Very smooth.

This is solid, but it's somewhat boring and not as bold as I was hoping for. It's crazy that it's 2014 and this is my first time trying this beer, so I had some high hopes. It's not bad, but it's nothing too special.

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Photo of Gryphon69
3.77/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

1 pint bottle
no visable date
purchased 8/13

A- Pours like its name, black with a medium tan head about 1 finger high. Decent lacing that sticks to the sides and left a ring around the base of the glass.

S- from the bottle comes some chocolates, dark fruit, caramels. from the glass, the dark fruits come first, then some cocoa, vanilla, some roast in the finish, but overall kinda sweet.

T- Malty, some cocoas, dark fruits, not getting much in the way of hops till the very finish and even then its just a slight bitterness that leaves it kinda dry. Still kinda sweet, guess I need to lay off the RIS before I try these other...stouts.

M- Light to medium, a tad thin to say medium. Slightly creamy and a slight slickness, makes it easy to drink.

O- I had to rescore this one as a imperal stout and not what I was thinking a RIS, big difference.
So as a IS this is a pretty good beer, a good combination of cocoa, dark fruit and malts. Has a certain creaminess that makes it easy to drink. Being a IS I was expecting more in the hops bitterness.

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Photo of watermelon
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. Bottled 3/25/13

A: Pitch black body with an off white head. Medium lacing with decent retention.

S: Coffee and chocolate.

T:follows the nose slightly bitter as well.

M: Smooth and carbonated. Bit of alcohol burn.

O: Good stout, killer price.

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Photo of 57md
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep dark brown with a finger of head that dissipated at a somewhat quick pace. The nose has the quality of roasted malts. The flavor profile is deeply roasty and the finish has a nice dry bitter roast quality. The body on this offering is perfectly hearty. I could enjoy a few of these anytime. Excellent.

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Photo of ExtraStout
4.8/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

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 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.

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Photo of dank203
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

pours into tulip, . getting a lack of real crazy flavors. but a beyond perfect balalance and drinkability. it does have faint notes of all kinds but it doesn't hit me as especially roasty, sweet, boozy, smokey, just a nice subtle meld. at 8%abv it's almost sessionable

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Photo of RickS95
4.76/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The look really does it for me. It's pitch black. No sign of light, even around the edges. The head is a faint brown color of both tiny and larger bubbles. It's not overly thick and doesn't retain well, but it leaves a ring around the top of the liquid and a patchy lace.

I dig the smell too. Full of chocolate and caramel malty goodness. It smells more chocolately than a lot of chocolate beers I've had. Smells like dessert.

The sip is of complete and total quality. It's very malty and the nose of chocolate and caramel carry over to the taste. I can't pick up any of the Cascade hops, and that's ok because in a stout I don't want a piney, citrusy taste. The taste is perfect just the way it is.

There's really nothing to improve on here. The malts provide plenty of sweetness and there's enough malt to give it some body. Very full and dessert-like. Not too sweet. While the hop presence is minimal at best, there's a lingering bitterness to let you know when it's time for a new sip.

Extremely easy to drink, and a joy to do so. Overall, it's one of the best beers I've had. I wish I didn't have to travel to get this.

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Photo of whitehorse
3.89/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

This stout pours with a color so black you cant see the light through it.
the head is a light brown color and is full and seems to stick around .
the only complaint here is the smell. it smells far to reminiscent of teriyaki.
a pint bottle for only 5 dollars i will defiantly be buying this again

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Photo of BierJager89
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Black with a mocha head.

S: Roasted barley and maybe coffee grounds in the nose.

T: Chocolate, coffee, toffee, a touch of alcohol, roasted malt, and very well balanced.

M: Full bodied, though less than smooth.

O: This is a good stout, but definitely overrated in my opinion. It's just kind of boring. Recommended, perhaps best if it's fresh (maybe it's supposed to be hoppy).

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,124 ratings.