Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

1,142 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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Reviews: 1,142 | Ratings: 2,390
Photo of fishacura
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bomber. Probably one of the best beers I have ever had.

Pours a dark rich color with a nutty brown foam. Smell is sweet and malty with hints of molasses, almost chocolate. This is one of the best tasting stouts I have had. A nice hoppy finish to balance the initial sweetness of the sip. Bear Republic really is top notch. If you can find this, try it!

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Photo of matty
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First A+ I've ever given!!Black colored beer with a rich creamy head.Aroma is rich chocolate.Taste is cream,chocolate and sweetened coffee.After over 300 beers I've finally found the perfect brew!!Like swallowing liquid silk.Great job by Bear Republic,this is something to be truly proud of!

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Photo of BigB415
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the stout that got me into stouts. Very mellow compared to other stouts. A good session beer but at 8.1% you might forget you're drinking a beer since the alcohol is barely noticeable. A definite recommendation for anyone starting out in stouts. One of my favorite Bear Republic beers.

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Photo of beerbart
5/5  rDev +21.1%

If you could make hot cocoa with coffee and brown sugar and no milk... and then turn it into a beer... a double dark chocolate.

It's sweet. It's bitter. It's effen chewy. Probably too much of those three qualities for some folk.

I like it best of all.

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Photo of kevinl6
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

If you look at my other reviews, you'll see that I rarely give one '5', so it should be obvious what I think of this beer!! This is my favorite beer, without a doubt. Appearance is a black hole of a beer, with a 1 finger tan head. Smell is the perfect aroma of smoky, roasty, chocolaty,etc. Taste is pretty much the same as it smells...perfect. Again, a beautiful combination of chocolate, coffee, roasty, smoky....
Mouthfeel is very full and creamy...flawless. Drinkability is insane as the 8.1 ABV isn't even noticeable. The perfect beer IMO.

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Photo of streamrunner
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm writing more in this review than I need to because I have to meet the minimum of 250 characters but let me say I read this site quite a bit but have only written a couple of reviews. No need to go into details here. This is the best beer I've ever had in my life and I've tried hundreds.

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Photo of samie85
4.97/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz. into a pint glass.

A- Very dark brown/black with a one finger, tan head. Head retention is pretty good.

S- It smells amazing! All sweet chocolaty, and roasted malt. Smells like it's going to be pretty creamy.

T- Taste is chocolate and roasted malt up front with a hop bitterness and smoky quality near the end. Really good.

M- Mouthfeel is really smooth and creamy. Carbonation is perfect.

D- This really is an easy drinking beer. Alcohol is hidden well.

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Photo of laintringulis
4.92/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in a wide mouth goblet.

Pours a dark black with large thick dark beige head. Light lacing present.

Smells. Very complex in the smell. Moderate spicy alcohol, bitter roasted coffee, coconut/coconut milk, pineapple sweetness, and brown sugar/caramel malt. A more pungent molasses spicy as it gets warmer.

Initial full caramel maltiness with a pleasant sweetness of dark fruit and molasses. Progresses into a nice roasted coffee, light chocolate and nut flavor and finishes with a nice coffee and alcohol bitterness. I don't really taste a pineapple flavor to it, but I am convinced I smelled it. Light coconut flavor up underneath it all.

Excellent mouthfeel. Just the right about of oiliness and hops to cut it. Full bodied, almost chewy. Could have been a little chewier. Very creamy.

Easy to drink if you like stouts. I think this is easily sessionable

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Photo of RootedFool
4.92/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Purchased a bomber at the North Coast Co-op in Eureka, California.

Poured straight down into a goblet. Pitch black body with faint ruby highlights when held to the light. The head is nearly an inch, chocolate milk in color, big pizza crust bubbles -- scant lacing holds to the glass.

Hearty nose here: dark chocolate, roasting coffee, hints of sourdough. Solid, hefty wollop of an aroma.

Taste opens with a broad sweep of burnt-black bitterness that holds on throughout, but toward the finish becomes not unpleasantly sour/acidic. In the middle some chewy malts stomp in -- succulently sweet -- and balance brilliantly with the bitterness. Aftertaste is, as mentioned, sharply bitter, and also has a deep roasted character. The high ABV isn't noticeable in the taste at all.

Mouthfeel: creamy, rolls around my palate with authority, and with enough carbonation to be just noticeable.

Nothing about this Big Bear is small!

Be careful.

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Photo of omnigrits
4.9/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I enjoyed this one at room temperature and I think it's a lot better for it, as are most darker beers. I must get myself another one and cellar it for a while.

Pours opaque black with a light tan head that sticks around and leaves moderate lace on the glass. The smell... oh my goodness, does it get much better than this? Chocolate, coffee, berries, molasses, vanilla, lots of roasted malt, obviously, and a vague hint of the 8.1% ABV. All are present on the tongue along with a bitter finish. A very light and delicate mouthfeel for such a big beer. This is a very well made stout. I only knocked half a point off the drinkability because of the ABV - I'll always do that for relatively high-alcohol beers, no matter how good they might be, because they're not for knocking back all evening.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.89/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Jet black except for a little clear maroon on the bottom of the glass. Head is small from the get-go.

Smell: Dark chocolate, coffee, bourbon, smell is very dark and deep, strong and slightly sweet, like some chocolate frosting thrown in there.

Taste: Big and bold, boozy and hoppy. Definitely has a bourbon-y kick, hops are very good, lots of coffee and chocolate. I could sip this all night, just excellent.

Drinkability: I was hoping for a gigantic stout when I got home from work today, and I was happily appeased.

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Photo of Jordan
4.88/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big Bear Black... A blessed experience. So easily quaffed, you must take care or without realizing it you will have slammed the bottle down in complete abandon. Powerful cocoa, molasses, roasted notes on the nose and palate. Rich malt profile. Exceptional all around.

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Photo of washburnkid
4.87/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed in a snifter.

A: Small light brown head over a pitch black body that barely allows lighter hues to pull through in the light. A tan ring retains well, but only slight lacing to speak of.
S: Huge nose of sweet malts, balanced out by bitters from hops and chocolate, with a whiff of ripe fruits notes and irrefutable oats.
T: Bitter chocolate malts and hops come right out, showcasing this beer's impressive balance. A smack of fruits hits with vague notes of caramel, and some roasted barley. Hints of molasses and warmth as well.
M: Medium body; oily and slick mouthfeel to boot. Solid carbonation.
D: This beer has an incredible balance. It doesn't overwhelm with coffee malts, and has a warm (but not too boozy) character about it as it warms. A stout for a hophead, perhaps? I look forward to trying this beer on tap someday.

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Photo of NDPDuke
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in a tulip(all I had at the time) via trade from Nitrogen (thanks again buddy).

APPEARANCE: Black tinge with a thin head. Good looking stout already.

SMELL: Strong smell. Deep, roasted malts, molasses and a hint of chocolate. Awesome smell

TASTE: Wow...this is a great tasting RIS. Soft and smooth, yet extremely strong in flavor. Molasses, roasted malts,and hints of chocolate. Nice undertone of hops really makes this a great beer.

MOUTHFEEL: Perfect flavor and strength. Creamy and not too strong. You can't even taste the alcohol.

DRINKABILITY: For being over 8%, this beer is easy to drink. I would get murdered by this beer because I would love to continually go back to back on this beer.

Overall, this is a fantastic beers. One of my favorite beers that i have tasted. Once again, thank you Nitrogen!

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Photo of jmbranum
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer on tap at the brewery last week while visiting CA, but this review is of a 22 oz bomber.

Surprisingly, I like it better in the bottle. More complexity.

Deep black brew with giant tan fluffy head. Incredible toasty aroma. Perfect taste. Certainly some dark chocolate, slight tinge of berries and wine notes. Maybe some brandy. Velvety fluffy mouthfeel. Supremely drinkable. It is a very high ABV but you can't feel it.

Hard to find anything to fault in this beer. Maybe my new favorite stout.

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Photo of aforbes10
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I bought this bottle in Chicago about 3 months ago now and i think its high time to drink it. Pours surprizingly brown (as opposed to the expected total blackness) with a puffy head and lots of little bubbles. Nice filmy lacing. Odor is fairly wonderful mix of chocolate cherries, hops and a hint of boozy booze. Taste is amazing. Full-bodied chocolate, lightly bittered. Hops, mochachino and dark cherries....all blanded together into an orchestra of flavor. As it warms it becomes magnificent. Velvet mouthfeel, not particularly heavy for the style, which is welcome. A great beer. Holds up to the hype in every way and very inexpensive as well.

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Photo of Jaynuze
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

S - Poured from a 22 oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.
Appearance - dark black with a light chocolate brown hued head; fluffy and thick.
Smell - Notes of caramel, chocolate malt, and coffee.
Taste - Smooth taste without a bitter finish. A light coffee flavor with hints of chocolate malt. Possibly one of the smoothest tasting and finishing stouts I've had in quite some time.
Mouthfeel - light but solid ... very filling
Drinkability - Smooth finish with a fantastic taste ... it is way too easy to plow through several bombers. Though it is +8%, it is not very noticeable. A fantastic interpretation of the style; I will certainly be going back to the store for more. Simply put, this stout is a Big Teddy Bear ... strong in character with a soft and subtle character. Fantastic.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brewed with "Belgian & English roasted barley and crystal
malts", Chinook and Cascade hops.
OG=1.076, 8.1% ABV, 68 IBU.

Pours out black with deep-brown accents when held to a halogen light, forming a modest dark-tan head with good retention and stunning, delicate lacing. Carbonation is mild to moderate. Aroma is redolent with mild fruity Cascade hops with an emphasis on prunes, vanilla, and milk chocolate. As it warms, I get the suggestion of alcohol. Mouthfeel is wonderful...creamy smooth with a medium-dense body. Taste is exquisite...starts with very nicely balanced Cascade, but it's very subtle in it's bitterness and has just enough fresh fruit (not citric or piney) taste to offset the deeply roasted grains in the malty and rich body. The middle has the requisite coffee, chocolate, and dark fruits with a very well-balanced smooth bitterness. The finish is rich with gradual release of more roast malt, pleasant chalk, grain, hop flavor, and vanilla...lingering pleasantly on the tongue, but never overpowering it. The finish is just dry enough such that it begs you to drink more. As it warms, the flavor profile is rock stable. Absolutely no off-flavors. Clean as a whistle.

This is an absolutely beautiful beer. I could drink pint after pint of this. The alcohol is exceptionally concealed. In many ways it reminds me of Old Rasputin, with it's wonderful complexity and exquisite balance. The flavors are perfectly in union here. This brew has everything going for it...wonderful look, aroma, taste, mouthfeel and drinkability. Dangerously drinkable and highly recommended!

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Photo of monkeylovebeer
4.83/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours with a beautiful chestnut brown head with a huge aroma of roasted malt and barley.

Black as a bucket of angry squid, this brew doesn't show a trace of bitterness--it goes down as smooth as a well-poured Guinness from your local pub. Hints of licorice (black, of course) and a nice caramel finish belie the high-alcohol content.

This may very well be my current favorite domestic stout. I'll just have to try another to make sure.

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Photo of Wildman
4.83/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer poured jet black and formed a huge medium tan foamy Guiness like head that behaved like a float as it subsided, leaving lattice lace coating the glass as it subsided. An aroma of malt, chocolate and coffee. A flavor of malt, coffee and chocolate. A little lighter than I thought it would be, but a fine stout nontheless. It's a shame I have to go to Kentucky to get this or Liquid Solutions. Come on Bear Republic, visit Ohio sometime.

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Photo of deaconoflove
4.83/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ap. A slightly fast pour gave me a giant mocha brown head on top of a very very black beer. As the head receded somewhat, the lacing covered the entire glass. Nice.
Sm. This is good. Chocolate, roasted toasted caramel malt coffee with a lilttle citris poking out now and then.
Ta. More intense chocolate and roasted goodness, alternately sweet and a hint of bitter.
Mf. Smooth and tangy sweetness. Excellent carbonation and fullness.
Dr. This one goes down way way too easy.

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Photo of rwrk42
4.83/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pour: As black and dark as they come with a brown head that holds well and clings to the glass
Smell: Roasted coffee & malts with nice chocolate aroma
Taste: Immediate taste of strong coffee, malt and slight chocolate. Just the right amount of hops in this one to help it finish strong. An incredibly smooth Stout.
Best Russian Imperial Stout I have ever had. So smooth you would never notice the 8.1% abv.

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Photo of asabreed
4.82/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bomber into a pint glass.

Appearance: Black as black can be, with a tan 1/2" head that leaves some good lacing on the glass.

Smell: Rich stuff here, and extremely complex. Unsweetened chocolate, powdered chocolate, hints of coffee, roasted malts, raisins, maple, dark berries, and some slight bitterness with the hops to round things out. Extremely balanced and hard to get your nose out of.

Taste: Everything from the aroma comes through amazingly here. A bold powdered chocolate and toasted malt fullness with coffee and mocha in the background. The dark berry characters come through near the finish, which is slightly sweet at first, then dry, letting the hops come through while still having some chocolate and sweetness on the tongue. Absolutely wonderful stuff, and I don't see how this can get any better.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and velvety, with the perfect amount of carbonation. How is it this silky?

Drinkability: One of the best versions of the style I've ever had, hands down. A bomber is extremely easy to finish (you can call that good or bad, though I say the latter), and an extremely fine treat indeed.

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Photo of crayphish
4.82/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This Russian Imperial Stout pours a completely opaque black liquid. An initial half inch head dwindles quickly to sparse foam patches. No lacing at all. Smell is heavy toasted malts, burnt coffee. Hints of sweet vanilla become more evident as the beer warms. Some dark fruits are evident. A slight hop bittering. Mouthfeel is simply a thing of beauty. A crisp creaminess evaporates quickly leaving the palate clean and refreshed. Very smooth, alcohol content is disguised beautifully. This is my second beer from Beer Republic, and I am thoroughly impressed.

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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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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,390 ratings.
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