Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

1,141 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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 1,141 | Ratings: 2,385
Photo of DaggerEyes
2.13/5  rDev -48.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

I don't know if I got a bad bottle of this stuff or what but this Big Bear Black Stout was a total let down and almost undrinkable...

Pours a deep bark black with a rich creamy mocha head.

Lovely nose with scents of milk chocolate and raisins.

The entrance is very active, slightly smokey and sweet, on the finish the beer is somewhat bland and has an AWFUL milky-chimical taste on the after taste. I feel that something had to have been off with this beer because I couldn't even finish it due to the offputting after taste.

Judging by everyone else reviews I think I got a bum bottle, hopefully when I get another some day this beer will redeem itself

 667 characters

Photo of chicagoanbeerone
2.15/5  rDev -47.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

very rich dark stout that smells well , a nice smooth bitterness , quite tastey for a stout, can not tatse the alchol heavy but not to over done more simple. The stout needed more flavor from hops and maybe coffee would have been nice overall i would pass on this beer

 268 characters

Photo of tigg924
2.2/5  rDev -46.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: dark brown in color with minimal head, clear, low carbonation...I wish this had a better head to it.

Smell: coffee, dark chocolate, and some funky medicinal smell

Taste: dark chocolate, hops, coffee, and some medicinal aftertaste

Mouthfeel: light bodied, low carbonation, bitter with slight sweetness

Overall: Probably my least favorite from the brewery so far. I think it is the aftertaste that is throwing this one way off..It is a bit like bitter medicine mixed with Bosco. I like a lot of stouts and appreciate a good bitter one, but this one was a bit of a disappointment.

 593 characters

Photo of jmerloni
2.46/5  rDev -40.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A - Dark brown body with nothin' shining through. Big beige head that laces well. Looks good.

S - Meh. Not much on the aroma. Oak, molasses, milk chocolate.

T - Meh. Even less here. Dry chocolate, artificial vanilla, dead hops. This is pretty bad.

M - Hits grainy chocolate and comes apart like a soda whose flatness is accelerating. Meh again.

D - Bear Republic is one of my favorite breweries - I ADORE Racer 5 and Hop Rod - but this beer is a disaster as far as I'm concerned. I'm not even going to bother going into where this beer could be better because it's a synopsis that is a couple paragraphs long. In short, this is a mediocre beer that was rained on and left outside mistakenly overnight. Wouldn't recommend it, and I wouldn't get it again.

 757 characters

Photo of n2185
2.68/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours black with a finger of beige head that recedes into a thin ring with a little lacing.

S: Roasted malts up front followed by some creamy chocolate aromas. There are some dark fruit aromas in there as well and some light citrusy notes from the hops.

T: Roasted malts with a bit of semi-sweet chocolate and some roasted coffee notes towards the finish. A bit bland, really.

M: Medium body and carbonation, this beer has a watery feel to it for a stout.

O: Not a very good beer. Just bland and watery overall with no defining characteristics to set it apart (in a good way) from the masses of other imperial stouts.

 624 characters

Photo of jsh420
2.73/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a dark dark brown with a 1 finger head that left spotted lacing

smell is not very strong but i was able to pick up roasted malts and hops

taste is way to thin and watery not what i want or expect in a RIS - tastes of watery roasted malts choclate and hops

mouthfeel is very watery and well carbonated

drinkabilty is good just for the fact you can pound these if you wanted to but if i am going to drink a stout this watery hand me a cheap guinness

overall i was disappointed in this offering from bear republic since they put out good ipa (racer5 hop rod) but some breweries cant do every style

 605 characters

Photo of thegodfather2701
2.75/5  rDev -33.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

A-poured into my chimay chalice. Its nowhere near as thick and dark as other RISs. Its black, but not pitch black more like a shade darker than cola. Head dissipates quickly leaving a slight ring of foam and leaves some slight lacing.

S-Not much going on here in comparison to other RISs. It smells sweet, mostly of brown sugar, not much coffee or roasted malts. Very weak nose.

T-I must say I was surprised by the first sip, there is more flavor than the nose would lead one to believe. However, the flavor isn't really like the nose its more robust with iced coffee dominating, some roasted malts, and it has some hoppiness to it as well.

M-very thin for an RIS it feels more like a stout or porter.

D-very drinkable RIS, I see this beer as a beginners RIS not very complex, thick, or high in alcohol content for the style.

Overall, this was very disappointing, even for only spending just under $5.00 on a bomber. I was expecting much more. I wish I had of spent a couple more dollars and tried something else. Even in its price range this doesn't compare to other RISs such as Storm King and Old Rasputin, which blow this away. I rarely say this, but I do not recommend this RIS unless you are trying to branch out into the style and do not want something too overpowering.

 1,282 characters

Photo of vkv822
2.79/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle into tulip snifter.

Pours black with a thick, foamy light brown head.

The aroma and taste are a bit muted, but consist mainly of some roast malts, lending a slight cocoa and coffee character.

Nice medium to full body with light carbonation.

A decent Imperial Stout overall, and would do in a pinch to satisfy a craving for one, but nothing too memorable in the large world of Imperial Stouts.

 408 characters

Photo of ShadesOfGray
2.83/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks Sideswipe! Even though I respect "The Bros" reviews, I have no idea how they gave this one an A+. Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Koningshoeven snifter. Pours a thin'er black with reddish tinge. Head is light brown last lasts pretty long, and when it dissapates...remains a thin surface head. Lacing is pretty good though...sticky and remains for quite some time.

Aroma is pretty bitter. Stout like characteristics, mostly overroasted coffee bitters...and that's about it...unfortunately.

Stouts are my favorite beer, but when they resemble too much bitterness, it kills it for me. This one flirted with that line. At first, I picked up a licorice or bitter chocolate, followed by hoppy bitterness that was strong and lingered for a few minutes. There wasn't much sweetness to compliment the bitterness. Medium to thin(for a stout) mouthfeel. Crisp and carbonated, another opposite of great stouts. Booze was pretty well hidden while cold, became more pronounced as it warmed up to room temp.

 1,003 characters

Photo of funjack5150
2.88/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

I'm not happy with this supposed to be an Imperial Stout. Drinks more like a Porter to me. Very thin on the taste. I like a creamy stout, but that's just me. This that's like a hoppy beer, although I love hoppy beer..... I DON'T want my Imperial Stouts to taste HOPPY!!!! If I want a "hoppy beer" I'll drink an IPA, thank you!!

 329 characters

Photo of negroobserver
2.93/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

22oz bottle. 8.1% abv. No production or expiration date.

C: Dark, almost black. In direct sunlight, very little sunlight penetrates the glass. Pours with about 1 1/2 inches of cappucino brown head, which dissipates over two or three minutes and leaves behind ample visible lacing on the glass. You will also find a cocoa powder colored sediment at the bottom of your glass (not uncommon), which tells me that its unfiltered.

S: Coffee. Roasted malts. Nutty overtones. Light hint of chocolatey sweetness.

T: Roasted nutty taste is at the forefront on this beer. Strong presence of alcohol. There is a moderate bitter finish with a smoky aftertaste and a hint of alcohol.

M: Light carbonation. It has a light, almost watery texture for a stout.

Overall Grade: C

 764 characters

Photo of waldowin
2.96/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a dark-coffee brown, with a thin tan head, that fades to a ring fairly quickly. Not as dark or thick as I expected from an imperial stout.

Smells of coffee, oak, and a hint of bourbon. Surprisingly not alcohol-heavy on the scent.

Taste is of roast, coffee, and toffee, with a hint of salt, which is probably the hops. The malt, alcohol, and hops, are not very aggressive here, and are almost overpowered by the coffee.

Mouthfeel is slightly gritty, and a little bit thin. A little bit slick and oily on the sides of the mouth.

It's not bad, but it's not one I'd buy another of. I tend to like my russian imperial stouts very, very rich and hearty however, so that may have knocked it down a bit in my review.

 718 characters

Photo of SmashPants
2.98/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle: standard brown long-neck ping glass, "big" U.S.-style label. The quality packaging has me looking forward to a great beer.

Appearance: liquid jet back with a 1cm thick tan head with good retention. So far so good!

Aroma: dominated by heavy roasted malts, some caramels and coffee / biscuit. A touch of citrus hops underneath, which is odd for a Stout.

Taste: goes all wrong for me here. Not really too much going on - it actually tastes like a standard Milk Stout with some roasted malt poured in. Very disappointing. Definitely doesn't taste like an Imperial Stout.

Aftertaste: pretty much follows the taste. Lingers reasonably well, but only with a bittering off-malt flavour - which is never pleasant.

Mouthfeel: reasonable mouthfeel for a Stout - low carbonation and heavy body.

Overall: I was expecting big things from this beer, and unfortunately it didn't deliver. I will openly admit that I generally drink English / Irish / Australian Stouts & Porters, so maybe I am not used to the U.S. versions yet. Will have to try a few more then revisit this beer later.

 1,082 characters

Photo of BB1313
2.99/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 2.75

Best by 7/14/14. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours black with a little light getting through; huge fluffy khaki head that fades very slowly and leaves great retention and lacing. The aromas are loaded with cocoa malts. Some hints of chocolate with a kiss of vanilla. The aromas are ultimately subtle. The flavors are pretty mellow and bittersweet. More milk chocolate along with some dark chocolate to give it a little bitterness. This one has some roasted coffee notes. More vanilla. Hints of caramel along with some dark fruits. Alcohol goes unnoticed. Mouthfeel is very nice. It's on the lighter side full-bodied and it's creamy and fluffy. Very smooth.

This is solid, but it's somewhat boring and not as bold as I was hoping for. It's crazy that it's 2014 and this is my first time trying this beer, so I had some high hopes. It's not bad, but it's nothing too special.

 881 characters

Photo of ericduran
3/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I wasn't terribly impressed by this beer. Their IPA is great and I was hoping for something equally worthy but it was not it.

Looks like a stout. Nothing really noticable about the appearance.

Smell. Roasted malts and yeast. Blah. Same ol' same ol'.

Taste. Weird oxidized (?) off flavors from the yeast. Hops are way too strong. Malts are just so-so.

Mouthfeel. Way too fizzy. Benefited from spending a weekend in the fridge. Took on a velvety consistency after that, but I'm not going to judge a beer after I've "fixed" it.

Drinkability. Meh, this is the last one I'm having of these. At least it was just $5 for a 22 oz bottle.

 635 characters

Photo of tewaris
3/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bomber poured into a snifter.

Black Stout? More like brown stout. Looks dark brown and rather watery with a small head in spite of a vigorous pour. Head retention is alright for whatever it's worth, and there's some sticky lacing too.

Aroma is fairly standard with dark maltiness, roast, and possibly spice. Tastes sweet, sharp, and strongly roasty. Bitterness is thankfully only medium. Roast pretty much rules this beer but doesn't get tiring.

Mouthfeel is extremely disappointing with not much to show for an 8.1% "stout" beer... tastes just too watery for its size, perhaps because of the high carbonation. Overall unimpressive.

3, 3, 3, 3, 3

 653 characters

Photo of tweeder263
3.01/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured out hard and got rewardedwith a hyge tan/brown head.Looks very thick black and nice.Smell is very subtle slght roasted smell but nothing pronounced.Taste surprised me being very astringent and dry.Alcohol hidden nicely.Nice mouthfel to it.Wasnt very impressed due to taste,,i actually pourd out the last few sips.

 320 characters

Photo of champ103
3.05/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pretty much pitch black. Almost no head and no lace. Just an extremely small tan cap above the thick black liquid.
S: Nondescript burnt malt. A bit of chocolate and caramel with some floral hops. Soy sauce. Really nothing above average.
T: Burnt malt again. Woody flavors, and lots of soy sauce. Plenty of hop bitterness.
M/D: This is very thick, syrupy, and chewy. A nice creaminess. Lots of alcohol that shows. I don't really want more than a bottle, and could easily split this with a couple of people.

I am not a big fan of the soy sauce flavor. Other than that, it has a fairly bland taste. Overall this is not a beer that I will get again.

 649 characters

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.

 320 characters

Photo of hardy008
3.06/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark brown to black in color with streaks of ruby visible when held to the light. has a one finger tan head with nice retention. Smells of coffee, dark chocolate, and hops.

The taste is very hop forward, with bitter coffee, and dark chocolate. Has a harsh burnt flavor to it, which I do not like, although the other flavors are decent.

Has a light to medium bodied mouthfeel with too much carbonation. Has a sticky feel to it, with a bitter burnt aftertaste. It is a decent beer, but not even close to being my favorite Russian Imperial Stout.

 546 characters

Photo of Kookiekwan
3.09/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours black, has a tan one finger head with decent retention and moderate lacing. The aroma was of roasted chocolate with hints of fruity/berrylike hops. The taste is of roasted malt with mocha, and I could detect the high alcohol % in its bitter coffee-like finish. The beer is medium bodied and goes down smooth but the high alcohol content might deter you from having too many in one night.

Reflection: This is an average American stout. If you know someone who is just starting out trying different styles of beer, this would be a great one to throw at them for a stout.

 587 characters

Photo of alexhahn82
3.1/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Black. Light head that finishes with some lace.

S - Not too much of a smell, a hint of some yeast, a hint of pepper on the end.

T/M - Tastes of coffee, creamy mouth feel, finishes with a strong chocolate/coffee bitterness, yet very smooth.

O - Overall, wow, an insanely good straight forward beer for the style, not an imperial, but an impressive 8.1%, Bear republic seems to take pride in everything they do, most breweries would try to pass this off as an imperial and they are so modest at Bear Republic its just a "plain old stout", hats off to you guys!! Do an imperial version and I may die!

PP (Price Point) - $6 for a 22oz bomber of 8.1% ABV, this is a smooth beer, no hint of the ABV, bang for the buck is insane! Seek and destroy!!

 749 characters

Photo of justintcoons
3.1/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours black with a thin head that dissipates quickly. Low carbonation and weak lacing.

N: Very subtle notes of coffee and chocolate with a lurking watermelon saltwater taffy scent.

T: Bitter dark chocolate, roasted barley, toffee, cola, hint of coffee and an almost salty grapefruit taste?

M: Medium bodied, smooth and clean.

O: Easy drinking and good overall but lacking in flavor.

 389 characters

Photo of drinkiusmaximus
3.11/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Black as night with a fingers width coffee colored head. Little retention and slight lacing.

S- sort of weak for an imperial stout, picking up roasted malts a little fruitiness in the way of berries and dark fruits.

T- I would love for something to stand out here, kind of disappointing.

M-medium to thick but leaning more towards medium.

D- Not terrible but I will not be sad when the bomber is empty.


 419 characters

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.12/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From 22oz bottle to nonic pint glass on 4/22/11
*From notes

A: One black mother. A good pour yields a 1.5 finger bubbly head that leaves a fair amount of sticky lacing.

S: Some vinous funk and sour black cherry. Weird, unexpected and clearly unwanted.

T: Hardcore dark baking chocolate. Wow - this is quite dry, like drinking black coffee concentrate. That odd tartness pops up on the mid in the form of soggy dirt, though the malt rips through it and sends it to the background, as char and left coast hops finish this one off.

M: This screams for more substantial weight, as it comes off a bit flabby. The carbonation feels a bit overdone and forced.

O: I'd never had Big Bear Black Stout before, and my expectations were high. Sadly though, it seems as if something went wrong with this bottle. I'm guessing it was slightly skunked, though I'll need to try it again to confirm my suspicions. I love Bear Republic, and will definitely give this one another shot. As for this particular bottle....meh.

 1,007 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,385 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.