Virginia Black Bear
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery

Virginia Black BearVirginia Black Bear
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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #556
Ranked #7,080
4.02 | pDev: 8.71%
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery
Virginia, United States
Virginia Black BearVirginia Black Bear
Reviews: 29 | Ratings: 161 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Treyliff
3.62/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

16oz can poured into a snifter

A- pours jet black in color with a one-finger creamy dark tan head that reduces to a film on top

S- sharp metallic note dominates the aroma up front, undertones of charred malt, chocolate, coffee, citrus & piney hops close it out

T- big hit of piney and citrus hops immediately that dominates up front, mid-palate brings out undertones of char, dark chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and licorice. The finish gives more of an onslaught of piney and citrus hops that lingers

M- medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel that continues into the finish

O- way to hoppy, so much that it overpowers the roasted notes of the stout, which is pretty hard to do

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Photo of Riff
3.82/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown color with a light brown head, tall head that lingers for quite some time. Smell is sweet dark fruit notes, followed by dark chocolate, hint of coffee, and roasted malts. Taste is dark chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, little smoke. Notable bitterness that does linger at the finish. Creamy and smooth. This is nice, that feel is awesome and I don't find the bitterness to be overwhelming.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Sampling a 750 ml bottle at cellar temp poured into a snifter. THe beer pours a jet black color with a fluffy khaki colored head of 4.5 cm foaming up in my glass, even after a gentle pour. The foam is fading slowly to a sturdy surface layer that remains throughout the sampling.
The aroma is dark chocolate and cacao with some coffee grounds and roasted malt. I actually get a little bit of char and some dark fruit mixed in on this fairly complex nose.
The first sip reveals a silky smooth textured body with fine gentle carbonation that rolls across my palate. This beer is great with its physical traits.
Flavor is roasted malt and some roasted malt, a little dark chocolate and coffee grounds and then a very roasty finish, that borders on some bitterness. the bitterness is not from hops though just black malts. I dont really get any hint of the booze so that is well hidden.
this is a very nice olde school imperial stout with none of the adjuncts or sweetness that many of the beers coming out today possess. Glad to have tried it and will pickup some other bottles from this brewery next time I travel to PA.

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Photo of Dewsby
3.86/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L) This RIS looks fantastic, pours a lovely, oily dark brown reminiscent of espresso. The head is a dark khaki with great retention and lacing.

S) The smell is very roast forward, and some hoppiness can be detected. There is a smidgen of yeast on the nose, it almost has that "homebrew" smell.

T) The taste is similar to the nose. Lots of roastiness on the palate, but maybe a touch too much black malt and hops, the bitterness is a tad astringent.

F) The mouth-feel for this beer is rich and creamy, an absolute pleasure to sip.

O) I would recommend this to Virginian RIS drinkers, a really solid local.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
1.94/5  rDev -51.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

L: pours a see through black with a 1/2 finger of mocha head that lingers. Pitch black in the glass.
S: molasses, black licorice, dark fruit juices. Everything I don't want to smell in my stout.
T: not good. 1 sip and done. Tastes just like he nose.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This one pours a very dark black, with a creamy looking head, and a good level of lacing.

Smells like bitter burnt pine, kind of like an evergreen forest fire, with super bitter roasted malt, smoke, and dark chocolate.

Most Lickinghole stouts are super, super bitter, and this is no exception. It's got a very clean and roasty bitterness, and tastes black as night, with heavy, heavy roast, searing piney hops, light smoke, and very dark chocolate. There's basically no sweetness. This is super burly and I dig it- lots of stouts these go for the ultra sweet route, so it's nice to see the opposite.

This is pretty thick bodied, a bit creamy, with an ashy and bitter finish.

Sometimes it's nice to have a stout that'll put some hair on your chest.

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Photo of avalon07
3.84/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

L: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a black color and a thick texture. There was a big, tan-colored, very long-lasting head. Incredible lacing. A very good-looking beer.

S: A fair aroma of malt, chocolate, coffee, and some hops as well.

T: Tasted of a fair shot of roasted malt, some coffee (not quite enough), dark chocolate (again, not quite enough), a light hops presence, a little chalk, and an oaky quality. Not quite as robust (or boozy) as some other RISs, but it's still an interesting flavor. A solid flavor, but it isn't as aggressive as some of the style.

F: A well-carbonated beer with a super dry finish. Medium-bodied.

O: Virginia Black Bear is an uneven beer in many respects. Nonetheless, it's worth a try.

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Photo of delta490
3.99/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It's a deep brown with light only getting through at the base of the glass. There is about a finger of creamy dark tan head that settles down to a thin covering, leaving substantial sticky small head. The aroma isn't particularly robust but it does have dark roasted malt and a little bit of alcohol. The taste is similar but the roasted malts are much more robust, the alcohol is much more in the background, and there's just a hint of earthy hops. The body is rich and thick, mostly smooth with a little tingle from the booze.

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Photo of Fantific
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured out of a bottle dated 11/4/2015 into a sniffer. A dark brown hue with about half an inch of light brown foam. Smells of chocolate and dark malts, also caught some vanilla, slightly sweet, really nice. Tastes like a traditional imperial stout, but with chocolate, some coffee and a distinct bitterness at the end. Very creamy mouth feel. Overall a solid beer with my only suggestion be that it's less bitter.

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Photo of Pourharddrinkslow
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a large mocha head and lacing that stays as your drink. The smell is bitter dark malts, coffee, and dark chocolate. The taste is mostly bitter roasted malts, oaky and smokey, no sweetness. Thick, creamy and medium carbonation... great mouthfeel. Overall this is a great beer. Usually bitter stouts aren't my style but this one is excellent.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.07/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Nice aroma with dark fruit that is notably sweet. Mild and soft roast. Shifts in time to a more neutral presentation with the yeast seeming to present more strongly.
Poured with minimal head at first and then as I got more aggressive the head expanded quite a bit. Black bear body.
Even with a 2015 bottling it has a pretty young and sharp "bite". Strong bittering on the finish grows through the extended lingering. Seems a mix of hops and malt contributing to the finish. Up front there is a nice mingling of tastes with some candy sweetness, not very bitter roast, dark fruit towards berry, and some fresh fruit from hops with a small amount of grass. A nice mix.
Solid full body with softness and fullness from the carbonation.
This is a solid RIS. Nothing seems to make it stand out but that is no slam on how enjoyable it is.
Thanks to CJgiant for this sample courtesy of NBS BIT #3

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Photo of tbryant21
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black. Aromas of chocolate, hints of booze, and subtle coffee notes. Flavor of chocolate and coffee and the chocolate and coffee linger during the after taste.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750 into a snifter, the beer is jet black, with a tall, frothy, light tan head. Great cling to the glass as you drink. Aromas of toasted oats, subtle milk chocolate, heavy roast, hints of booze, and subtle coffee notes. Flavors are heavily roasted forward, with a solid 1-2 punch of bitter roasted coffee followed immediately by bittersweet baker's chocolate. Wow, the flavor profiles really burst onto the palate. Smooth and robust in mouth, with a dry edge, the beer has a heavy chocolate and roasted aftertaste, with hints of smoke and char. The finish is slow, smooth, and dry, with a solid chocolate and coffee linger. Really solid beer.

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Photo of Pencible
3.09/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured an opaque black with thick dark tan head.
S: It smelled like roasted coffee and semi-sweet cocoa powder, with some citrus zest.
T: It tasted like bitter citrus hops and rain, with some bitter dark chocolate and unsweetened espresso. It had a lasting bitter aftertaste.
M: It was watery with little carbonation. Fairly light body.
D: This was an interesting stout. I've certainly had better attempts at a hoppy stout (e.g. Black Xantus). This would have been better off without the hops, which just muddled the scent and taste. The body was weak also, and the finish was harsh, so it was not easy to drink. A lot of age may help, but this beer--as the brewery intended--is simply not very good.

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Photo of oldn00b
4.01/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is a pretty standard imperial stout, but really nicely done. Definitely the best thing I've had from them to this point.

It's a gorgeous beer - dark, but a beautiful ruby around the edges when held to light. Nice head forms and a nice amount of lacing.

Nose is a bit light and lacking imo, because there is a lot more to this than comes through there. Typical roasty malt notes but not really notes of anything else.

Flavor is pretty great - huge malt bill. Roasty, dry, slightly sweet to offset the bitter.

Truly the win here is how this beer looks and feels. It has a near perfect weight and mouthfeel.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a nice inky black with a deep brown head (that does gush a bit late for me, be careful). My pour had the head remain in a thin film atop the beer, as well a thick at the edges with copious lacing.

Early, the beer shows its roasty nature, but also an overripe vegetable note. This does fade, but there's also a little char and a hint of cedar in a warmer beer.

Taste doesn't throw me any curveballs. Roasted and charred notes are predominant. Woodiness behind the char (cedar?), hint of burnt coffee, cocoa, vegetal and woody bitterness accent the main flavors.

Fuller body, very light chalky/woody consistency across the tongue. Nice carbonation level.

A bolder, roasted and short of smokey wood stout. Definitely worth a shot.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice cocoa brown head that doesn't entirely dissipate and leaves a nice creamy film on the surface. The beer itself is an opaque dark brown rather than the black normally seen in other versions of the style.

The smell is pretty good. The aroma contains notes of bitter dark chocolate and a moderate roasted cocoa note with an interestingly creamy sweetness from some of the grains. The smell also has a moderately strong bitter hop note to it.

The taste is fairly good. The taste has the same notes as the smell. The taste contains bitter dark chocolate notes with coffee in it. The creaminess from the grains isn't as present as it was in the smell though. The hop notes are bit stronger and more bitter than in the smell, which turns it into a slightly more hoppier RIS than usual.

The feel is fairly good. The beer has a heavy body that lies on the border between medium and heavy. The biting carbonation also gives some nice texture to the fairly smooth and slightly creamy body. Overall, it's a fairly drinkable beer.

Overall, a very nice RIS and worth getting. It isn't heavy on any one note while providing a nice and roasty chocolate experience with a nice hop bitterness to it. Essentially, it's nicely balanced RIS that is pretty drinkable. Go for it.

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Photo of JebBeerFish
3.09/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

I traded for this beer. Pours a very dark black with 1/2 head on gentle pour. Aroma, while not strong, is of bitter coffee. Taste is one dimensional - bitter coffee. I appreciate the trade and glad I had, but much many, many better Russian Imperial Stouts out there.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black. Medium khaki head. Wispy surface.

Smell - Intense roast. Coffee. Burnt malts. Some chocolate and sweetness.

Taste - Sweet right up front, but roasted malt takes over. Some milk chocolate behind it. Bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy. Medium body.

Overall - Well made imperial stout. Heavy roast and not to sweet.

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Photo of ThaneMcC
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After sampling this dark, smoky concoction at a local shop, purchased a growler full.
Pours a deep dark brown with solid tan head and fine residual lacing. Smells floral, pine, citrus hops, and dark roasted malts. Tastes sweet malts forward but overpowered by the piney, floral hops, some smoky notes with a hint of leather, carob, bitter endnote, a fair amount of astringency. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a tacky texture like soap, but not unpleasant. Almost creamy.
Overall, I enjoyed this beer. It’s incredibly smoky and leathery – which is my normal cup of . . . beer. The hops dominate the flavor profile, and it’s unlike any RIS I’ve had. More akin to a Dark IPA

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Photo of argock
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750 ml brown bottle into a clear glass tulip. Bottle #1455 handwritten on the label in marker. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA).

A: One of the best looking beers I have poured in a long while. The body is black topped with an amazing 2-finger dark beige head with incredible retention and band after band of thick lacing. Impressive.

S: The aroma is more on par with a Cascadian Dark Ale with very prominent piney, floral, and lemon-lime citrus hoppiness. This seems almost soapy. The dark malts and roastiness are there but are even to a little less than the hoppiness. Alcohol is hidden. I don't detect yeast character as the hops and dark maltiness battle it out.

T: The flavor is more Cascadian Dark Ale than RIS -- a big-bodied CDA to be sure, but the slightly soapy, floral, pine, and lemon-lime citrus hoppiness are not upfront in the flavor but more in the moderately bitter back-end. The dark, mildly roasty maltiness comes through more through the early and mid-palate with some dark chocolate and roast flavors. The roast carries through to the finish, which along with the pine and floral hoppiness makes for a strange somewhat clashing aftertaste. This ale is more hoppy than either fresh Victory Storm King or GI Nightstalker, although it is closer to Nightstalker. Alcohol is pretty hefty in the mid-palate.

M: Very creasmy, this is excellent, with low carbonation and medium-full body.

O: Not a favorite as it is very hoppy to the point of crossing into Cascadian Dark Ale territory. It reminds me of Wookey Jack and the Stone Obsidian Anniversary ALe of a couple of years ago without the bigger body.

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Photo of spacecake9
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from bottle # 97.
A - A black brew with an attractive tan head that settles quickly but never completely leaves.
S - The aroma is of dark coffee.
T - Initially I was put off by the roasty / burnt flavor but I grew to like it. Some coffee, some sweet notes, some bitterness. I did not really sense the alcohol.
M - Medium mouth feel, low carbonation..
O - This is a beer that grows on you as you drink it. The burnt flavor was stronger than I've tasted in any other RIS but after my first glass I was digging it. A Very good brew.

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Photo of rjs246
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

LCCB does such a great job with their fancy beers and such a lousy job with their readily available stuff. Seems like a bad business model but anyway, this was ridiculously delicious.

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Photo of obywan59
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle # 1025. I think this is my first capped 750ml brew as opposed to corked and wired.

A pour into the bottom of my glass yields a black bodied brew with a 3 1/2 finger dark tan head that leaves rather spectular lacing.

Smell of coffee and dark chocolate. Moderate burnt malt backed up by a definite herbal/ripe citrus character of the hops (more pronounced from the bottle than the glass).

Rather sweet for a stout in my experience, as per my liking. Still, the bitter qualities surpass, compliments of the burnt malt and high alpha hops. Dark chocolate and acidic coffee in the forefront with hints of sweet dark fruits and and a booziness that seems on the verge of mellowing out. An occasional faint whiff of hops.

Medium full in body with noderate sting. Syrupy and sticky on the tongue and a bit drying. Warming in the throat.

Wow! An awesome brew! One of the best Russian Imperial Stouts I've sampled, with the attributes of the sweet malts and the noted hop presence. Very satisfying!

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Photo of craigyrex1985
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

Outstanding stout! Pouring dark black with a tan head. I believe this would be much better with a few more months of aging in barrels. Unable to compare to Despot since I have not tried but being the base beer for what is considered another amazing RIS this beer can stand on its own.

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Virginia Black Bear from Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 161 ratings