Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

1,144 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: 1,144 | Ratings: 2,398
Photo of cjgiant
4.34/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap:
Dark bar, so body looks black; even holding to back light I get nothing. The head, in a regular shaker pseudo-pint never leaves. Curtains of lacing; swirls don't remove the curtains, but do produce a classic "lace" pattern.

Nose is roasted malt, pure and simple. It leans a little chocolatey, but only in impression. A light charred wood bitterness accentuates this claim.

Pretty damn smooth beer, this one. If i didn't know better, I'd think it's possible this was on nitro. Not too heavy, though probably just past medium. Muted carbonation that sometimes comes with a thicker feeling beer leads to this silky smooth feel.

Taste is just classic stout. This is a beer I'd expect from breweries like this and AleSmith and Schlafly. Roasted malt producing cocoa maltiness and charred bitterness. I'm sure there are hops, but to me they help that roastiness shine (maybe a light classic citrus-pine as it warms).

Just a thoroughly enjoyable beer if you like the classic version of the style. A must try to see where you stand, IMO.

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Photo of Nicolaiw
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours black with tan head.
Aroma has roasted malt, licorice, coffee,
Taste is roasted malt, little coffee, licorice root, little vague, little sweetness in the finish.

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Photo of Stoutmaster9
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. Savored with a chocolate muffin.

Black. Thin head, vanishing quick.

Bittersweet Chocolate with malt, roasted bold. Slight coffee, more than a hint of figgie licorice.

Taste tends to follow the nose. Simple and strong. Bitter, bold and boozy ... Grand!

The earthy-smooth aftertaste counters the bitterness nicely!
Better to enjoy this one on the cold side; as it warms up, this bear gets brutal.

Not my last Bear bomber, t' be sure!

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Photo of BRiddoch
4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark coffee color with a small dark tan head. Slightly sweet odor of dark fruits. Sweet rich smoky caramel taste with a smooth finish. Great stout.

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Photo of Inpraiseoffolly
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark brown almost black with a brown head ,heavy lacing on the glass.Licorice molasses brown sugar aroma. These come through in the taste also with a pleasant sweetness balanced perfectly by moderate hopping .Heavy body like a stout should have.Love it ,if you like heavy balanced flavorful stouts you will probably like this.If you think IPAs are the be all end all stay away

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Photo of princessbay710
3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Beautiful black pour with a light cocoa head. I can't smell anything at the moment, as I am sick, but 4ish seems to be the general consensus. First thing I taste is the caramel malt, slightly alcoholy. It's a bit one dimensional to me, but bold. Nice mouthfeel.
Note to self: Was worth the try, probably won't be having again.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Really dark brown color with brown head. Aroma has chocolate malt, fudge, brownies and a hint of dried plums. Taste starts with a light fruit note and milk chocolate. Roasty but really balanced. Medium body with lower carbonation. Overall it's a really good imperial stout but not something impressive.

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Photo of hman43
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: It pours black with a dark brown head.

Smell: The aromas are a combination of roast, caramel, and floral and citrus hops.

Taste: There is a complex balance between the malts and the hops. the flavors of citrus, floral, and and hints of apricot line up the hops. The malts are a combination of roast with caramel in the background. The finish is a combination of bitterness from the malt and to a great degree the hops.

Feel: It has a moderate body with somewhat high carbonation.

Overall this is a stout that provides a balance between the malts and the hops with it being a little hop forward in the finish.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
3.21/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Unknown vintage; drank 11/5/14 @ the Yarchives.

Brown/black hue.

Dark tan head; a curtain of lace.

Black licorice & fresh earth nose.

Medium thick, flat mouthfeel.

Fresh earth & mild black licorice flavors up front; a mild pickle juice hop presence emerges as this warms. This is something no imperial stout should be; boring & forgettable.

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Photo of the_awesometeer
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer is a dark black with a thin foamy brown head. The beer has a nice chocolate smell and roasted nuts with coffee. I get a hint of piney hops under all the deep dark aromas. The beer has a rich chocolate flavor and roasted malts. The coffee flavor is also very strong. The malts bring a slight sweetness under the roasted bitterness. The mouth-feel is very thick and smooth.

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Photo of Act25
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Love the brewer, the county, the attitude.

A: Pours a dark brown-black color with a 1 inch tan head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smell: Smells IPA-like, with citrus / pine hops mixing with sweet malt, earthy, roasted coffee, and fresh sawn wood notes

Taste: Starts out with a sweet chocolate flavor that blends with dark cherry and plum ripe fruits, then in the long finish it's hops, pine, cedar, fresh cut, woody dry kindling flavors into the finish. Sweet and pungent balance.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, with good weight, sticky, and low carbonation.

O: An American Double Stout / RIS that's sticky, sweet, with balance, hefty and smooth. Try 24.

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Photo of leaddog
4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - Pours a dark chocolate brown with four fingers of frothy mocha head.

Smell - roasted malts, cocoa, coffee bean, hint of black licorice, and earthy and leafy hops.

Taste - Roasted malts followed by the bitterness from the cocoa and coffee bean. There is a caramel sweetness that is present as well. The earthy and leafy hops make their presence known followed by the hint of licorice.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full bodied with light to moderate carbonation. Finishes smooth with a lingering bitterness from the malts, cocoa, and coffee bean.

Overall - A big roasty stout from Bear Republic that is dangerously smooth. All flavours work in unison with one another. A nice find here in Cowtown.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Here comes the thick black stout with 1/2" brown head. Aroma hits the chocolate and roasted coffee from the malt feels, but also drops a substantial Cascade hop contingent.

This is quite a hoppy stout. No aspect is underdone, its big on the roast, malt and hops. Thankfully the mouthfeel doesn't reveal a lot of alcohol. Yeast is neutral. Chewy.

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Photo of Gajo74
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a jet black color with a mocha head. This eventually dissipates into a thin ring of lace.
I'm drawn in by the sweet and cocoa crispier like aroma. Very pleasant, warm and inviting.
In the flavor, there is sweetness; dark fruit, alcohol, nutty and, most prominently, cocoa. There is also a nice hops presence in the finish that is bittersweet. Moderately full and velvety in the mouthfeel. Nice alcohol warming without being boozy.
This is a real quality stout by a great brewery.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.97/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Blu Wolf Bistro in Rochester, NY.

This one pours a pretty ominous dark black, with a small head, and just a little bit of lacing.

Smells like roasted malt, piney hops, licorice, and black coffee.

This is a really solid stout here- it doesn't have a whole lot of sweetness. It's definitely West Coast in style, as there's some definite hop bitterness, with roasted malt, and burnt coffee, with a hint of licorice. I don't really get the caramel flavor the description promises.

This is medium bodied. I wish it was a little creamier, it almost feels a bit ashy on the palate.

This is a solid, old-school stout. Not my favorite in this range, but still very good.

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

Love this stuff. A local pizzeria makes a dessert using this stout and espresso gelato to make a float. We make it at home using coffee ice cream. Excellent. Have used other stouts, but this one works the best.

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Photo of puck1225
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Very dark brown with a nice light brown head and lacing. Sweet chocolate smell. Taste is of chocolate and licorice, with a bit of coffee and toffee. Enjoyable!

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Photo of biboergosum
3.93/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle - I've oft come across this brew in my wanderings, but never pulled the trigger on it, for one reason or another. Now, of course, it plops right down into my lap (courtesy of my fave local bottleshop).

This beer pours a solid black abyss, with subtle basal amber edges, and four fingers of puffy, rocky, and chunky brown head, which leaves some thickly splattered op-art lace around the glass as it lazily sinks out of sight.

It smells of bittersweet chocolate, bready and doughy caramel malt, some free-range roast, cafe-au-lait, a hint of Scandahoovian licorice, real vanilla, a mixed tropical fruitiness, and leafy, piney, and slightly perfumed floral hops. The taste is lightly toasted, bready and sugary caramel/toffee malt, lush medium cocoa, well-creamed coffee, vanilla cookies, muddled dark orchard fruit (very berry-forward), black licorice, and some down-low earthy, leafy, and piney green hoppiness.

The carbonation is quite understated in its punch-clock frothiness, the body a solid middleweight, mostly smooth (just a bit of that as yet masked booziness showing up to mildly ill applause), and somewhat creamy. It finishes well off-dry, the lingering caramel, chocolate, vanilla, and milky notes ensuring that outcome.

Overall, I'm certain that this was the shit, bee's knees, boss, whatever, back when it had fewer throne-usurping competitors out there, but now it ranks as merely really good, instead of existing among those elite ranks that big-ass American stouts can attain in these current Halcyon days.

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Photo of Furlinator
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at O'Donovan's Pub on 08/12/16.

Opaque black with a thin tan head that fades to a thin ring on top and leaves spots of lace. Roasted malt, cocoa and subtle herbal aromas. Big roasted malt and cocoa and faint coffee flavors with faint earthy hops on the finish. A fairly standard but, solid stout.

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Photo of Franziskaner
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Black in color with no light penetration. There's a solid inch of densely packed brown froth resting on top. The aroma is of dark malt, chocolate, caramel, and piney hops. The taste is on the sweeter side with luscious milk chocolate, caramel, and some piney hops to give it a nice bitter finish. The mouth is rich, creamy, and smooth.

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Photo of Bruno74200
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Coffee, cocoa powder, dark berries and hoppy. Balanced between the roasty and nutty malts and the oily hops. Very drinkable, doesn't seem like a double stout, it's not boozy at all. It could easily be a session beer, but watch out. Dry and smooth mouthfeel

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Photo of MattyG85
4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours midnight black with a moderate amount of bubbles. Solid finger of tan head which settles into a thin creamy layer.

Smell: A roasty and rich dark malt driven aroma with a scent of chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Dark roasted barley malt with a scent of chocolate, coffee, caramel, toffee, toast, biscuit, and nuts with yeast. Sweet hints of vanilla and molasses. Nice hints of licorice along with some dark fruit hints of raisin, fig, and prune. Also some hints of earthy hops. A very solid aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a roasty and rich dark malt driven taste with notes of chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Dark roasted barley malt with notes of chocolate, coffee, caramel, toffee, biscuit, toast, and nuts along with some yeast. Sweet taste of molasses and some vanilla. Some good notes of black licorice. Dark fruit notes of raisin, prune, and fig. Background notes of earthy hops. A very nice taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Creamy, chewy, and pretty smooth with a drying finish.

Overall: A very good Imperial Stout. Good roasty malt notes with some nice licorice and dark fruit undertones.

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Photo of cbenson
4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look: As dark as they come. Looks exactly like iridescent black paint. The head is tan and fairly dense with long retention.
Smell: Intense even for a stout. Chocolate, caramel, licorice, oak, alcohol. It kind of smells like rum.
Taste: Tons of chocolate with notes of licorice, toffee candy, and espresso. The malts are doughy. Alcohol is very noticeable.
Feel: I expected it to feel thick and dull but it was surprisingly full-bodied and prickly like grape soda. Perfect balance.
Overall: Typically I don't enjoy beers that can't mask their alcohol well but something about the combo of chocolate, hearty malts, and the yeast make this beer amazing. I only wish it were on the lighter side for being a desert beer. I feel like I'm drinking a whole cake.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black. Quite outstanding head volume, world class lacing and retention.

Outstanding nose of semi-sweet dark chocolate, roast, caramel, vanilla hints and a light berry like note.

Light full body that is extremely smooth with a solid creaminess. World class carbonation with just the right carbonation / body balance. The middle provides a nice effervescent burst that trails into a finely bubbled prickly finish.

The flavor profile is world class. Balance is near perfect for this stout that brings a nice pine middle bitterness that compliments the roast. It begins with a mild roast character that has just enough bite. Caramel provides a higher level of sweetness than most stouts and shines after the middle as the chocolate influence maximizes. You don't taste the alcohol, but it makes its presence in the very dry lingering finish and with a bit of heat.

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Photo of arlo19
3.48/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Solid stout. Nothing jumps out, but it is well balanced and malty. Not much carbonation or aroma. Very drinkable. Inexpensive so that makes it one I'll return to.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,398 ratings.
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