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Black Bear Porter | Sunday River Brewing Co.

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Black Bear PorterBlack Bear Porter
34 Ratings
Black Bear PorterBlack Bear Porter

Brewed by:
Sunday River Brewing Co.
Maine, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
An opaque black bear, big bodied, malty & hoppy aroma with thick roasted coffee undertones.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-14-2005

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 34 |  Reviews: 22
Reviews by BuckeyeNation:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Grizzly bear brown rather than black bear black. The opacity of the beer, other than a wide band of amber along the bottom edge of the glass, leads me to think that the brewery's claim of a 'robust porter' may not be that far off the mark. We'll see. Even though the toasted tan head was small after a spirited pour, it's persisting nicely.

I like the nose quite a bit. It's impressively roasty, as much as some stouts anyway, and is chock full of bittersweet chocolate and ground coffee beans. On second sniff, chocolate leads coffee by a fairly wide margin. It may be a wee bit short of robustness, but it's no wilting flower of a porter either.

Black Bear is delicious beer, in large part because it favors the end of the porter spectrum that I prefer. That is, the big end. While it may be far from a truly robust porter, it's more than full enough and flavorful enough for the stated style. There's plenty of roasted barley on hand, which is a good (and necessary) start.

It's hard to tell if the considerable bitterness is due to a generous roasting time or to Cascade hops. Perhaps a little of each. Those who don't care for hoppy stouts won't be pleased, but those of us who like a little grapefruit pith to lighten the chocolate and coffee barrage will be. I've had more than a few stouts that would quake before this roaring Black Bear of a porter. Good stuff!

Obviously, when this much malt is on hand, the body is going to be on the full side. It's also supremely smooth and even qualifies as lightly silky as it warms. Enough carbonation is at work behind the scenes to give the beer life without making a nuisance of itself. No drop-off here. Damn, who are these guys?

Sunday River Black Bear Porter is the best beer that I can remember drinking that is produced by a brewery previously unknown to me. It's everything that I ask for in a porter and is light years ahead of the usual thin, dark lagerish gruel that many craft brewers insist on releasing. This one is worth seeking out. Thanks to nouseforotacon for the bottle.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of lordofthewiens
3.61/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 12oz bottle, this beer was black with some red highlights. It had a thin tan head. Really average aroma: some malt, a little coffee. Not very exciting. Fortunately, it had mor taste than the aroma foretold. Very nice espresso flavor, with a tiny bit of hops. Pretty good beer.

 283 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.2/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beautiful, super-sticky lacing left about the pint after pouring resembles brewers yeast along the sides of a fermenter! The remaining creamy, tan head holds quite well, and the black/deep mahogany body beneath is hazy qith only a thin edge of ruby showing through the base of the glass.

Yeasty and hoppy fruitiness (crisp apple, berries, pear, citrus); a bit of cocoa; and some ash-like, coffee-ish, and black-chocolate roastiness reside in the nose.

Silky smooth across the palate with a dextrinous, medium body and restrained carbonation.

The fruitiness found in the nose reappears right up-front in the flavor, followed by a dollop of caramel nougat that almost immediately turns to cocoa. How the fruitiness just steps aside, I don't know; but from there the roastiness begins to rise, and along with it some dark malt acidity just as the bitterness steps in. It's just slightly harsh at this point (the swallow), kind of like burnt coffee - but in a good way, and the procession of flavors seems to reverse itself, turning back to softer, sweeter flavors of cocoa and caramel nougat... only to fade in the aftertaste as it turns back to bitter, burnt roastiness with some leafy, grassy, and citrusy (definite grapefruit) hops making an appearance.

Very nice!!! An interesting ride. The change of flavors is compelling, and adds to its drinkability as the complexity keeps you coming back. Beyond two pints I'm not sure it would hold, but throughout the first one you might very well think that you'd like three! Well done.

 1,546 characters

Photo of Denzo
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of charlesw
3.56/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

So, yeah... Yeah. Well. Yeah. It's beer. What can I say? OK, it wasn't bad. It was even pretty good. Lots of coffee/dry chocolate/smoke. A bit on the dry and thin side FOR MY TASTE but not dry or thin. Big head! Really black - no light shined through my glass! Pretty good. I'd like it thicker and sweeter to tone down the dry smoky flavors just a bit. Pretty darned close to really good - just a little bit of work to do there...

 430 characters

Photo of deltatauhobbit
2.87/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From a 32oz can, yes, you read that right, a 32oz can!

Pours a dark brown, almost black color, small light tan head that fades quickly but leaves a thin cap on top, not much lacing on the glass as it empties.

Smell is fairly mild and boring, only picking up faint whiffs of roasted malt and maybe a bit of coffee.

Taste is a mixture of roasted malt and metal, the metallic taste is quite pronounced and is quite the distraction, mild coffee like flavor, carbonation is medium, fairly thin without building any significant creamy mouthfeel.

Pretty disappointing other than the novelty of such a large can.

 608 characters

Photo of BuckSpin
2.83/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Presentation: 11oz bottle in a classic conical pint

Side note - kids dug the label, FWIW

Initially a scent of black licorice, which gives way to sharp molasses, then that little bit of black coffee thats been left by some lazy co-worker in the pot (so he (or she) doesn't have to say they emptied it and would have to brew a new pot) and subsequently becomes scorched, then dull & oily, Oh yeah, some mild milk chocolate as well.

The head is a dandy, a fat 2 fingers of thick, sticky, solidily tight blond coffee foam that actually sets up like the head on an A&W root beer float, dancing like a bobber, then settles to a 1/4" of the same as a floater. The color is a deep ruddy-mahogany, murky, with the center contents almost opaque, blood ruby light creeping around the glass edges.

The taste is initially sharp on the tongue, tawny 20 year port, dried pit fruits, the oddest sun warmed bitter citrus (blood orange?) quality on the palate. There is no real backbone or body to this porter. Where's the burnt coffee and the milk chocolate? The tawny port, slightly oaked hues return on the throat, a subtle warming of the mouth & teeth, then a puckered, bitter finish.

I just did not enjoy this. I feel I owe it another shot, and will give it one. That said, it did share some fruit qualities that Old Leghumper has, but that dog is a much, much better porter than this bear. If you like tawny port perhaps this may be for you, but I'm going to try this again to be fair & sure. Stay tuned...

 1,509 characters

Photo of dsa7783
4.38/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Single, twelve-ounce bottle just copped from Nikki's Liquors in Providence, RI for $1.59...
Appearance: Deep, dark, ebony hue with a literally Gigantic foamy and frothy tan head that exhibited enormous staying power before very slowly dissipating...
Smell: Roasted malts, deep, dark chocolates, slight vanilla in the nose... Great stuff...
Taste: Roasted chocolate, deep, dark, mocha, spicy espresso, and rich latte nuances..
One of the best American Porters I've sampled...
Creamy, rich, medium-bodied mouthfeel... Great level of drinkability... Very tasty and flavorful...
Highly recommended...

 596 characters

Photo of objectivemonkey
3.83/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black with ruby hue, agressive pour yielding a one inch head shrinking to a nice film, pretty good lacing. Aroma has nice coffee hints with chocolate and a husky malt on the weak side. Taste has a slightly biting coffee thing going on up front, like coffee grounds, that returns at end and has pretty high carbonation. Through the middle its smoother, the bittering hop countered by a chocolate/caramel that feels thin but warms up nice. Overall, not to shabby, glad I got it.

 489 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.83/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark, dark brown (nearly black); beautiful beige head that lingers throughout the tasting...some light lace.

Chocolate aroma--a little bit chaulky.

The flavor has some nice coffee flavors. Slight sweetness is countered by the hop presence. The hop lasts through the swallow and finishes the aftertaste. Silky richness to the beer without being too heavy. High carbonation.

A nice porter that is well worth seeking out

 426 characters

Photo of RevCraig
4.25/5  rDev +15.5%

Photo of williamherbert
4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black darkness. There are specks of yeast-sediment floating in the stagnant, tar-like body. Absolutely a black hole.

Malty but with a surprising hop flourish. Fresh, flowery scent.

Mild coffee flavor, but has an underlying sweetness. Has a nice hop kick that offers an excellent balance. Great balance of sweetness and hops.

Nice thick flavor and fee. Has a nice, smooth feel afterward. A bit chalky but in a good way. Excellent, balanced porter. Has a nice, strong flavor,, but not overwhelming. A good combination of different flavors.

 552 characters

Photo of Icemann383
3.49/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Forebeer1
3.76/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of WesWes
4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a dry, toastey, black malt scent along with a slight chocolate malt aroma. The taste is good as well. It has a chocolatey feel that goes down easy and finishes dry and quite earthy. It's full of black malt flavor. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is an interesting beer. It's fully loaded with specialty malts which aid in it's complex aroma and taste; a good drinker.

 539 characters

Photo of crwills
3.15/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased a bottle of this at Beers of the World in Rochester, and shared it with my wife on St. Paddy's day. Not sure what the story is regarding the Sunday River vs. Stone Coast versions of this beer; did the brewery change its name, or did one buy the other (the bottle has both names on it).

Anyway, this poured a pitch black (very stout-like), with a milky tan head that stuck around a bit. Aroma is a little bit one-dimensional -- chocolate milk and cappuccino, with very little else.

Flavour is very smoky, with a lot of dry chocolate and tobacco flavours. Would be nice, except the mouthfeel is overly watery for the style. The cough medicine aftertaste also drops it down a few half-points in my books.

Average porter with some flaws that could be fixed to make it good.

 789 characters

Photo of Naes
3.67/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This porter pours out brown in color with a small dark tan head.
The aroma is dominated by roasted malt and has a bit of chocolate and caramel.
The flavor is less sweet than the smell implies. There is a coffee presence and the chocolate essence is more like a semi sweet one. The roasted malt does not surface in the flavor as much as it does in the aroma.
The mouth feel is medium in body with moderate levels of carbonation.
Overall, this is a pretty good porter.

 471 characters

Photo of Mack
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of tgbljb
3.98/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Selection of the Beer-of-the-Month Club
Poured a very deep brown color with nice puffy tannish head. Beautiful lacing as the head slowly fell. Smell is a pleasant mixture of dark fruit (plums) with bitter chocolate and coffee. Taste id of roasted malt, more dark fruit and a suprising hop bitterness at the finish. Nice full and creamy mouthfeel. Very drinkable. I really enjoyed this beer.

 391 characters

Photo of NEhophead
3.3/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 fl oz brown bottle served in a nonic.
No best before date printed.

Deep, mud brown in color. Creamy, light brown head wtih pools of large bubbles; good retention. Thinly webbed lacing with good strength.

Young, rough floral hops. Big whaffs of dark chocolate, mocha, and espresso. Hazlenut, dried toffee. Aromatics are rather mild, but robust for a Porter.

Sweet, milk and dark chocolate with faint hints of vanilla. Chewy and dry roasted malts with hints of peanuts. The chocolatey richness is soon overtaken by an intensely biting, floral hop presence. Off-bitterness with an unsweetened caramel make a train-wreck of the sweet, rich creaminess. The aftertaste is semi-sweet and very earthen.

Full in body; aggressively rough on the palate. A grittiness that leaves a dry, powdery texture on the palate.

Good eye candy, promisingly rich & creamy aromatics, but an overkill use of hops. Unbalanced in flavor and texture, that is almost unpleasant at times.

 976 characters

Photo of riversider76
3.8/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a orange hue.Thin tan head, with some lacing. Smell is of roasted,malts with a hint of fruit. Body is thin with some carbionation. Taste is roasted up front with, this finish is hopped, with a chocolate undertone. Not bad at all!

 251 characters

Photo of Ivanhoes_Backpack
3.34/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Photo of lupercmda
4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Fish113d
3.05/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served chilled into a pint glass, it pours an dark brown color (standard) with a bone-colored surface layer with slight cling on the glass.

Aroma is quite stale. Some dark roasty malts, and a bit of cocoa, but nothing really doing here.

Sipping reveals a thin, malty body with a sharp edgy bit of carbonation hitting my tongue while a roasty, burnt flavor hits my palate along with a bit of chocolate malt. Finish is bittering but light. Bland really.

Drinkable if you want to have a solid session brwe you can "pound" all night long, but I've had a lot better porters.

 574 characters

Photo of andyjeigh
3.94/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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Black Bear Porter from Sunday River Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.68 out of 5 with 34 ratings
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