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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.

1,113 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,113
Hads: 2,262
Avg: 4.13
pDev: 14.04%
Wants: 154
Gots: 205 | FT: 4
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Big Bear Black Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,113 | Hads: 2,262
Photo of Dsimenson
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Draft poured into a Pilsner, no big head, but lovely lacing. It has the dark brown-black color of used motor oil--I love it! My nose is not so discerning, but I detect malt, hops, and a bit of fruit in the aroma. The flavor starts out very bold--hops, coffee, figs, some malt, very well balanced. Mouthfeel is medium to thick. Overall this is an iutstanding stout. I think this one has even more character and complexity than Sierra Nevada Stout, which I really like.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

on draft at beer study in chapel hill, into a bear republic shaker.

pours an opaque black with a nice creamy beige head with terrific lacing. the smell has chocolate, coffee and hops on the nose. taste starts out with the malty chocolate goodness but then has some surprising hop profile. real enjoyable and tasty. creamy feel. tasty. medium bodied, mild carbonation.

overall a great stout!

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Photo of alaimoa
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz with no freshness date purchased about 6 months ago
Pours jet lack with thin layer of caramel color head that barely appears

Smell roasted coffee, burnt chocolate and hint of raising sweetness. Not overpowering just very pleasant

Taste: upfront roasted chocolate/ coffee and a bittersweet flavor in the back
Can't even taste any alcohol which is amazing at 8.1%.. Sessionable imperial aside from likely passing out after 2

Mouthfeel could be a tad thicker with a bit more kick from the roasted malt

Overall I am enjoying this a lot and would buy again. It's less complex than some of the really bold imperials that throw a ton of different flavor notes in them.. This is simple, well balanced and very drinkable

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Photo of kbrown
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bomber enjoyed on the patio.

Appearance- Oily black darkness. Head dissipates fast to a caramel colored rim.

Smell- Roasted malt, sweet caramel, cocoa, but not as much aroma as I wanted.

Taste- Decent chocolate & carmel flavor, but clearly not high calibre. Some nice berry flavor adds needed depth.

Mouthfeel- Soft & frothy with a sharp carbonated edge underneath.

Overall- Doesn't have the strong, flavorful malty backbone that many superior Imperials have. Too many better options out there to ever buy this again.

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Photo of ISmith87
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sun Devil Liqours find in Mesa. 22 oz bomber poured to stout glass.

A - 4.25 - beer is very dark brown black color with minimal head and no lacing.

S - 4.25 - chocolatey coffee roasted malt smells balanced with hoppiness

T - 4.0 - don't get me wrong this beer is great but its definitely not as complex as other stronger stouts, coffee, chocolate, very slight creaminess, balanced by hop bitterness, what an imperial stout is defined by

M - 4.0 - medium body. Alc hidden, roasted aftertaste.

O - 4.0 - good beer, just not great. Its a good beer i would buy again if I wanted a bomber of stout for 4.50.

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Photo of itlnstallion11
4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Let me start by saying this is a really good stout!

a-motor oil black, tan head that doesn't really last long and lacing is mediocre

s- molases, chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, raisins

t- amazing, sweet like sugar cane upfront with a nice roasty chocolate flavor. finally ends with a little bitterness that lingers on the palate like the smell in left in your house after using the fireplace.

m- full bodied loveliness

O- get it if you can, a sweet stout, very sweet to me! Not bitter, but leaves a little bite for you to consider it "well balanced."

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Photo of joe1510
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
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

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Photo of woosterbill
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
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.


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Photo of CA_brewster
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

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Photo of shand
4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

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Photo of Fatehunter
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

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Photo of LI_PO12
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of TBoneJones
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
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.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

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Photo of StoutItOutLoud
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
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

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Photo of Crafty99
4.55/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

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Photo of hooliganlife
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
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

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Photo of bdonbdonbdon
4.68/5  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!!

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Photo of sweemzander
3.97/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.5/5  rDev +9%
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

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Photo of AmitC
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

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Photo of Murrhey
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
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.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,113 ratings.