Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
92
outstanding
1,125 Reviews
Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,125
Ratings:
2,341
Avg:
4.13
pDev:
9.69%
 
 
Wants:
177
Gots:
235
For Trade:
4
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 1,125 | Ratings: 2,341
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.

 339 characters

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

 256 characters

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.

 1,209 characters

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.

 760 characters

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.

 881 characters

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.

 162 characters

Photo of Zebulan
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz into a Belgian beer glass.

L: Nice dark black pour with tan head. Head disappears rather quickly.
S: Unremarkable smell. Faint sweet smell; faint chocolate or caramel smell.
T: Roasted malts and caramel taste. Just a little warm and boozy but not offensive at all.
F: Smooth feel. Warm in the mouth. Balanced all around.
O: Really nice and solid American stout. Great example of a classic stout. Would recommend you try it if classic stouts are your thing.

 488 characters

Photo of Immortale25
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Dogfish traditional oversized snifter. No freshness date.

A- Pours a mostly opaque black color with a 1/4 inch tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a half sheet of sheer surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves small clots behind

S- Dark roasted malt with a pronounced earthy hop presence. Also a bit of booze fume.

T- Dark roasted malt brings some caramel sweetness and a bit of char to the table. Somewhat high level of hop bitterness for the style but it reacts well with the roastiness. Alcohol is concealed rather well.

M- A bit sharp and moderately viscous. Medium carbonation and a full body.

O- A hop-forward but well-balanced stout.

 720 characters

Photo of unclekeith
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bomber in a Teku

L: Jet black with a thin beige head - quickly dissipating to a tiny collar
S: Roast malt, caramel, chocolate
T: Follows the nose
M: Creamy, a tad thinner than expected
O: Great roasted stout, nice sweetness, wish this was readily available in Alaska

 267 characters

Photo of Reema
4.71/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Serving type: 12 oz bottle into a shaker pint

Pours extremely dark brown (essentially black) with mocha colored suds. Smells of dark chocolate, coffee grounds, slight vegetal hoppiness, and a pleasant caramel toffee scent. Taste reflects the smell perfectly. Dark chocolate, stronger coffee flavors, stronger hops bite and flavor, along with a nice caramel toffee flavor. Initial dark chocolate and coffee flavors flow into a hops vegetal flavor which finalize with a pleasant caramel malty sweetness. The feel is thick with moderate carbonation. Works well with the heavier flavors. Overall this is a good stout with a strangely pleasant hops flavor and bitterness that really work well. It's darn good!

 705 characters

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

Dark chocolate and espresso - on the nose and the tongue. Appearance is feint black with nice tan lacing. Full bodied, but not boozy. A little sweet on the finish.

 163 characters

Photo of mvanaskie13
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into small chalice, color is black, head is light tan, some light lacing

Smell is a little boozy, followed by some roasted malt and coffee grinds

Taste is big, heavy roasted malt, then some coffee grinds, booze is noticeable in the finish.

Mouthfeel is a bit heavy, but expected, strong presence and large bitterness and sweetness that comingle - need some dessert to counter balance the big presence.

Overall, very good strong, sweeter stout, fairly bitter and strong mouthfeel

 489 characters

Photo of thepenguin
3.89/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Reviewed 2/4/12

L: Black as the next imperial stout. Pretty decent lacing.

S: Roasty to say the least -- somewhere between black chocolate and a bold roast coffee. Rich dark malts; you can really pick out the chocolate malt. A hint of alcohol.

T: Pleasant dark malt and hop bitterness merge as one, complimenting the other and lingering after the sip. Slightly dessert-like, but bitterness runs the show here. A little bit of discernable alcohol.

F: Very little carbonation. Body is medium-full; lighter than expected yet slick. Slight alcoholic warmth.

O: This is a decent imperial stout, but quite hoppy and bitter and lacking in maltiness to balance it out; in that sense, it seems somewhat unidemensional and I wouldn't call this one world-class. Also, while aroma is pretty nice, I would have preferred a thicker mouthfeel and slightly more carbonation.

 873 characters

Photo of bgold86
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty average stout, helps that it's pretty cheap. Not much to talk about here, it's serviceable at 8.1%, taste is kind of ok, some dark dried fruit and chocolate notes.

 170 characters

Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into Speiglau Stout glass.

Dark beer with tan head.

Aroma is roasty like coffee beans.

Taste is roasty caramel malt creamy mouth feel.

 164 characters

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

Look: Dark body. Rich looking. Semi-persistent mocha head.
Smell: Medium roasted grains. Medium dark fruit. Chocolate and some alcohol.
Taste: The taste follows the nose.
Feel: Medium body. Medium carbonation.

Overall - World class basic stout.

 259 characters

Photo of dar482
4.04/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer pours in a dark brown color, sitting black in the glass with a light brown head.

The aroma offers spicy hops, anise, licorice, milk chocolate, cocoa, a touch of date and raisins.

The flavor follows with intensely bitter chocolate covered with anise flavor, a bit of caramel sweetness balances out that bitterness up front, but then the palate is lingered with more spicy hop character and licorice bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium to medium minus.

A good stout for 8%, although under more familiar 10% imperial stouts. It lacks in sweetness and mouthfeel, with a bit too much hop intensity.

 606 characters

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

Appearance: Black with a short brown head.

Smell: Roasted malts, caramel, coffee, yeasty.

Taste: Similar to the smell. Pretty dry, just a little bitter at the end. Some booziness, but not much for an 8.1% ABV stout.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thick, lightly carbonated.

Overall: Good strong stout.

 292 characters

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

Look: A thick mahogany body, with a sliver of a tan head which, instead of lace, leaves a stretch of film along the sides of the glass. Interesting.

Smell: A sort of grainy, farmhouse smell mixes with dark malt. It's like chocolate wedding cake at a hipster barn reception.

Taste: Rich and malty, with sweet, buttery caramel malt mixing with bitter baking chocolate and coffee beans. The finish has a soft, sugary impression lined with a hint of pepper-spiked espresso. Lacking the fruit flavored and additional bitterness that would give it more grown-up complexity.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. The carbonation is minimal, giving the beer a flat, lackadaisical feel. I know carbonation for this style should be no more than moderate, but the lack of flavor here makes the beer fall even more flat.

Overall: I adore Bear Republic, and based on the reviews, I thought I was getting something extra special here. I was therefore quite disappointed--I've had much more complex Imperial Stouts. This was so smooth and sweet, it reminded me more of a Milk Stout. Will have to try again in a different setting (this was on tap).

 1,132 characters

Photo of HamdenHector
4.04/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: deep brown; virtually black - no highlights; 1 finger medium tan head that receded to a patchy cap; very nice lacing;

S: deeply roasted grains; bittersweet chocolate; a little alcohol; as it warms, dark fruit becomes evident;

T: follows the nose; lightly smoky from mid-palate on; mild bitterness on the finish;

M: medium bodied; moderate carbonation;

O: Style wise, it rates highly; personally, I didn't find it that interesting;

 437 characters

Photo of Chcshammonde
4.51/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Really dug this one. It's nice to enjoy a really flavorful stout without having to be concerned with drinking too much of it due to high ABV. You can slam this one, and the beer overall really is delicious. Raisins, figs, chocolate, malt, caramel and hop flavors abound. Somewhat light in body for a stout, but offset by rich and creamy mouthfeel. At 6 bucks a bomber you can't lose here.

 393 characters

Photo of DenverHopHead
3.96/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 22oz bottle with a best by 9/30/15 date; into a pint glass.
Appearance - pours dark, but more brown than black. Sits dark in the glass, but against the light, there is plenty of crimson. Thick, bubbly mocha head that recedes quickly. Lacing is scattered.
Smell - roasted coffee and whoppers.
Taste - French roast and a chocolate malt shake.
Feel - creamy mouthfeel and the ABV is masked like a lower ABV stout!
Overall - solid imperial stout stands up, but doesn't necessarily stand out.

 502 characters

Photo of scotorum
4.14/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Bought in November 2013 and cellared since then.

Poured from the 22 oz. bomber into a Samuel Adams nonick.

a: Opaque black with clear ruby highlights at the bottom. Inch thick tan head receded to uneven surface foam and dense patterned lacing.

s: Dark chocolate and alcohol.

t; Follows the nose with mellow smoothness, followed by smoke and a moderate hop bite. Later some subtle dark fruit notes emerge.

m; Medium, good body and carbonation tingle.

o; A very good chocolaty stout with a nice higher-octane balance between flavorful malt and hop bitterness.

 565 characters

Photo of Bone53
3.61/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter with a best by date of 07/14/2014. I assume its been atleast a year since bottling

Appearance: A dark brown pour with no light coming through, and a finger light brown head. Leaves plenty of lacing

Smell: Heavy on the dark fruit and wine-like tannins with a very subtle roasted malt character

Taste: Strange, slightly off putting dark fruit notes upfront with a slight roasted malt/espresso finish. The finish makes the flavor slightly more enjoyable than the smell

Mouthfeel: Light medium body, and very, very light for the style. Its too drinkable for an imperial stout if that makes sense.

Overall: As i seek out highly rated beers, and stouts especially since its one of my favorite style, this offering falls short for me. I find this a bit far from an A beer. Its heavy on the odd dark fruit/sweet, wine-like tannin notes and light on roasted malts/coffee/chocolate. Furthermore, the mouthfeel lacks that thick, chewy body that makes you savor every sip. I wouldnt recommend this stout as there are countless better ones on the market, nor am i going to seek this out again. I find this beer overrated to say the least

 1,173 characters

Photo of anon
3.41/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours nice enough. Black with a small head that sticks. I agree with other reviews I've seen on this one, the alcohol comes through strong in this one, as if it were barrel aged. Not a bad thing per se, but not something I was expecting from a regular imperial stout. I get lots of deep roast and caramel but any other complexities are blanketed by the alcohol. Does go down smooth and lingers on the tongue. I'm not sure what to think of this one, not my favorite in the style but not terrible by any means. Eh.

 512 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,125 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe