Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

1,137 Reviews
Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout

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

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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,137 | Ratings: 2,378
Reviews by zander4dawin:
Photo of zander4dawin
3.06/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Looks good but feels too light and crisp for a "big" stout. Big Bear Black Stout is black as night with a quickly receding soapy mocha colored head. The taste overall is smooth, malty, with a light smokey flavor that hits at the ends and lingers. Not a bad beer but so many better options in the imperial stout category.

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More User Reviews:
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 Jason
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz brown bomber, no freshness date but the 8.1% should keep it fine on the shelf for a while.

Appearance: The light brown foamy tan head looks appetizing, as black as you can get in colour … what else would you expect from a big stout.

Smell: Fragrant aroma of unsweetened dark chocolate and mild espresso … hint of molasses as well. Dark berries and a hidden alcohol are there to boot.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy … and a kick of crispness at that. Layered complex burnt character lingers right under the strong arm of maltiness. The fresh hoppiness drops a thick blanket of bitterness and oily hop flavour. Touch of yeast with black currant in the back with a subdued alcohol.

Notes: Where the hell is the 8.1% abv? So deceiving and very drinkable, very well put together. I’d say I would make this a session beer but I would not last too long …

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Photo of woodychandler
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I frankly had no idea this was an RIS when I grabbed it out of the to-go cooler at the local neighborhood bar where I go to play trivia. I was just astounded that they had a Bear Republic beer and in a bomber, vice a sixer, no less! I had set it aside awaiting the right moment and when my trivia partner bailed for tonight, I decided to do some bottle drinking at home. I am going to put some of this aside to blend with Sam. Smith's Organic Raspberry Ale later.

From the bottle: "Big Bear, as the name implies, is a hefty black stout. This stout boasts a rich, caramel sweetness lavished by a robust deep roasted heartiness you can really sink your teeth into ..."; "Brew Master Notes - Drink responsibly. Don't get mauled. Be on the lookout for other rare species of fine specialty ales from the Bear Republic. CHEERS!"; "COME VISIT US at our pub & brewery".

I poured a dense finger of deep-tan head with good retention on this humid late afternoon in early June. They got the species right in that this Bear was Black! I have written in ink that was less black than this beer. It disallowed light penetration in the same way that a black hole sucks up light. If I ever found myself inside this beer, I would be utterly lost. The nose smelled of this morning's coffee, commingled with piney hops. Now, if you think that I am kidding about the roasty coffee aroma, please note that I am a retired US Navy sailor and I take my coffee like I once took my women - hot and black! You have to spoon my coffee out of the pot because it is so thick that it won't pour. I once spilled some over the side and the Coast Guard thought it was another Exxon Valdez. You get the idea. Mouthfeel was medium, but not as full as might have expected from this bear. Lots of coffee and dark chocolate on the tongue initially, but slowly, out of the darkness came the piney hops and just a tad bit of caramel sweetness as advertised. Shit, the f**kin' thing's mauling me, just as they warned me about! More of that confounded truth in advertising. Now, it's sinking its teeth into me! OMFG, I just wanted to drink a bear, I mean, beer, not die. Finish was smoky, chocolaty, roasty and I was finished. Warming, the finish took on a fudge-like aspect, both in terms of taste and mouthfeel. Dang, this was real good and I think they still have some over at my local. Definitely worth revisiting, especially if I bring a rifle and re-read Faulkner's "The Bear" ahead of time. You got me on this go-'round, you ursine sonnuva beechnut tree, but things will be different the next time we meet!

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Photo of depotmashman
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Very good ......

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

Deep, impenetrable mahogany. I do see dark caramel highlights at the margins though, so it isn't a complete and total ambient light sucker. The expansive, thickly creamy head of golden cocoa brown falls infinitesimally slowly and resembles a large scoop of coffee ice cream left to melt in the midday sun.

A tremendous stout nose with power to spare. While sweet dark chocolate is dominant, this is no one-trick pony. Next in line would have to be citric hops (thank you Bear Republic), then brown sugar, then molasses, and finally, coffee. That is pretty much my ideal stout lineup, in exactly that order.

BBBS is good beer, as I was pretty sure it would be. One caveat: if you're not fond of hoppy stouts, this one may not be to your liking. I am and it is. It's even more hopalicious than the nose let on. In fact, I never thought I'd say this, but it's too hoppy relative to the actual stout flavor. I like hops in my dark beer (I like them on a train, I like them on a plane, I like them in Big Bear, I like them anywhere), but I don't like them to overwhelm the business at hand, which is... heavily roasted malt, chocolate, molasses and all that other stouty stuff.

Chocolate malt is still holding down the fort, but the ramparts have taken heavy damage from the humulus lupulus barrage. It's also impressively sweet, as befits a beer to which both brown sugar and molasses have been added. This really is delicious stuff even though its balance is just a tad askew. The finish is long and roastyhoppy with sweet just winning out over bitter. The mouthfeel is a notch shy of full with an impressive smooth silkiness.

Big Bear Black is great beer, but would benefit from being more classically stout-like. Even I need a break from overwhelming hops once in a while. As hard as it is to believe, sometimes I just wanna be 'mauled by malt', to paraphrase the BR website. Can't decide between a hop monster IPA and a darkly chocolatey double stout? Bear Republic has placed both in one bomber for your convenience and your drinking pleasure.

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Photo of oberon
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark black with a mocha colored creamy head,big hop presence in the aroma for the style zesty and nutty with a little moch a coffee thrown in very nice.Wow where to begin on the flavors in this bad boy very creamy feel in the mouth, drier than expected some unsweetened chocolate and nutty earthiness with a background of zesty,spicey hop.Alot going on and way to easy to drink for the alc% every flavor u could want in a beer with a smooth creamy mouthfeel,just awesome.

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Photo of Popsinc
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice looking pour with a rich bronze head. The nose is lightly roasted . Great taste of dark chocolate, roasted malt and hints of vanilla bean. Smooth coffee notes with nice hoppiness showing its face on the finish. A very rich, smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Excellent stout.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Black as a black bear with a monster, dark tan head that pitted slowly and laced my glass.

Smell – Amazing balance to the nose of this stout. The dark, roasted, burnt malt aroma is there along with a significant hoppy balance. Add to this the terrific molasses, dark maple, and cane sugar. To top things off, the dark, ripe fruits (mostly Bing cherries, tobacco, apricots, and browned bananas) add a level of complexity that is beyond reproach. There’s also a nice woody/sherry compliment.

Taste – The sherry and wood come out more in the taste but, incredibly, all of the aspects of the nose are here as well. This is a wonderfully balanced stout that doesn’t rely on one, good, strong flavor. You could drink this with anything from fish, roast beef, tenderloin, Caesar salad (there’s a nice bitterness in here that would go great with salads), or buzzard meat.

Mouthfeel – Creamy and smooth yet quite refreshing from the hop profile. This is a mouthful indeed.

Drinkability – Most 4.0+ stouts that I’ve rated have one thing in common: They should be drank by themselves, alone to save the flavors. This here is your “all purpose” stout, perfect for any occasion.

Comments – I would have had to pretend to like it anyway since skyhand was sitting next to me and wouldn’t shut up about how great it is, so it was a real bonus that I liked it so much.

Update – I partake of this regularly but thought it would be fun to age a bottle for a year, so I popped an ’05 vintage in June 2006 just for the hell of it.

The alcohol and sharp sugars come out much bigger after a year in the cellar. I especially enjoyed the malty tang that almost seemed reminiscent of a barrel-aged stout. This beer is great as is or layed down for a year.

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Photo of aszatk01
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown, near black with a generous tan froth. Strongly hopped aroma. Light an fruity. Coffee flowing over Cascades. Tastes slightly sour like powdered cherry drink mix. Lemony with a healthy dose of java, chocolate, brown sugar, and caramel. Light to medium body (for style). Very hoppy yet extremely drinkable. Not very typical for an RIS but quite nice none-the-less.

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Photo of t2grogan
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%

Photo of hopsleeroy
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Black stout with little light coming through and 2 inch head that disppeared quickly.
S-Very chocolate smell, some roast malt smell, not picking up a lot of fruit, mild vanilla. Just OK aroma.
T-Roast grain, chocolate, some earthy wood flavors mixed in and a little bit smoky. There was a chalky taste that was not totally pleasurable on the backside. Pleny of hops in this one balancing out the sweet. Hope came thorugh as it warmed and it became more complex.
M-Very creamy with good carbonation
D-Dangerously drinkable. It gets better as it warms and begins to change the flavor making me want to drink more.

Fine beet-very enjoyable.

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Photo of tbryan5
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of LSUExplorer03
3.92/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Appearance was chocolaty, dark brown with light brown

S - Smell was rich with a sweet character apparent. Nothing too
overwhelming or aromatic, however.

T - Taste was above average. I got some chocolate, along with
some smoky hints up front with strong malts in the back.
Not too much hop balance.

M - Medium to thick body

D - Drinkability was above average. I picked up a little of an
"alcoholy" taste, and for only being 8.1%, this was a bit of a

Overall, the beer was good and I would definitely buy another; however, for the ratings this beer has received, I was a little disappointed.

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Photo of Dmann
4.7/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is an exceptional stout! It poured a very very dark brown with a small brownish head that soon settled into a creamy layer of foam leaving slight lace down my glass. The smell was great with a great roasted maltiness and hints of carmel. The flavor was stunning and sweeter than I was expecting, but it all worked wonderfully. The roasted malt flavor created a great semi-sweet flavor and there was a slight smokiness in the finnish that really topped it off. The mouthfeel was smoothe and creamy and there was absoloutly no hint of the %8.10 abv. Another winner from Bear Republic!

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Photo of drewkennedy
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of blitz134
4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nearly opaque black with only bits of red at the edges. Single finger dark tan to light brown head on the pour. Lacing grips the glass as the head keeps hanging around.

Smell is hop dominated without much else. Mainly Cascade hops with their typical grapefruit citrus aroma. Maybe a hint of alcohol in the nose. I would like to have picked up on some typical stout aromas in this one. Without any form of toasted anything or coffee aromas I can't rate the smell high. Its just all hops.

What the aroma lacks the taste makes up for. This stout is hoppier than most but still has the typical stout flavors in the forefront. A good dose of strong dark toasted malts with bits of chocolate and an expresso finish. A hop bitterness picks up as well with some floral sweet flavors. This is a very nice tasting stout which is a bit different than most other stouts with its hop presence.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and thick. Coats the mouth well. Filling like a stout should be. Drinkability is good to boot, a good thick heavy feeling that probably wouldn't dissuade most from finishing the bomber.

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Photo of Ldgrem
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of JasonA
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure a RIS could pour better. Darkedy dark. Thick, mocha head. Doent look like its going to settle ... ever (it never really did).

Smells roasted malt, ome choc and coffee. Too bad I have a cold, wish I could smell more.

Yummy bicuit, dry, some hops. Very nice finish. Cant taste the ABV, somewhat sad ;)

Feels very smooth, sits well in the mouth.

I could drink this all the time. I will say I think it may feel a bit more like an American Sout than a RIS due to dryness and hoppyness.

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Photo of dandaugherty1221
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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

A 22oz bottle from Kappy's in Malden, MA (great beer selection; try it). The beer was almost black with a thick mocha head. It had a sweet chocolate aroma, but tasted more dark chocolate and espresso. Very smooth, a drinkable beer. I'd buy this again.

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Photo of csmartin6
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of warnerry
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Slight hiss as the cap is removed. Pours black with three fingers of brown head. Head is pillowy and has good retention.

S - A mix of sweet and earthy roasted malts. Subdued but good.

T - Roasted malts up front with a nice earthiness. No real sweetness in the taste. Some dark bittersweet chocolate and ome slightly sour notes as well. Hints of dark fruit and a slight alcohol presence.

M - Mouthfeel is a bit thin for my liking, but not watery. The earthiness lingers on the tongue for quite awhile and is a bit drying.

O - Nice to see a stout like this that isn't sweet, but the intense earthiness reduces the enjoyment just a bit.

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Photo of grynder33
3.39/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beautiful dark color, with a small chocolate type head. The aroma was slightly malty, little bit mocahish, but weaker than you would expect.The first sip was thick and syrupy, like a porter, there was a slight sweetness that seemed to expand and hang around ,
theaftertaste was thick and curranty almost medicinal. Nice bold Brussels lace. Everything was fine except the aftertaste. Its ok but there are better out there. Mackerson is smoother and not quite as bitter

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,378 ratings.
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