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Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
2,418 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,418 |  Reviews: 1,149
Photo of azdback
3.74/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Stone Imperial glass. Deep, dark black. Just the lightest of off black highlights. A pretty aggressive pour results in a little over a finger of light mocha colored head. Lace isn't sticking now but we'll see.

Smell is of dark roasted malts. Chocolate and coffee lead the pack. There is just a hint of smoke or char and maybe some sweet molasses and tart cherries.

The taste has lost a lot of the nose. The char and super roasted malts remain, but the chocolate and coffee aren't there. Kind of a disappointment.

Mouth is a bit crisp and the carbonation is prickly. Body is medium and the finish is average and dry for a Double Stout.

Overall I didn't enjoy this one, but didn't hate it either. A great and reasonably priced Double Stout to maybe start your beer journey with but not one you will enjoy well into it.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This poured out with a nice looking black color with a healthy brown head on top also. The lacing wasn't too bad here. The smell of the beer was chocolaty and roasted much like any stout should smell. The taste of the beer was rich with dark malts and some roasted bitterness. The mouthfeel was above average to me, I thought that the carbonation level was pretty good and the body itself wasn't too thin either. OVerall this wasn't a bad Stout, I'd say it worth having.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a bomber of this for $3.99. Pours jet black, nice and creamy tan head. Aroma is nice and roasty. Taste is medium to heavy bodied, nice roasted malt and a great hop backbone to it. Awesome mouthfeel, well balanced, and goes down wicked smooth. A great stout, hides the ABV well and is definitely one of the better beers of this style I've tried.

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Photo of MsRif
3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Rich dark brown color with a light beige head that does not recede completely and leaves some small amounts of lacing. Aroma is that of dark chocolate, sweet malts and a bit of roasty-ness. Taste is that of a chocolate bar dipped in coffee and then roasted with malts. YUM.

Mouthfeel is medium but it feels heavier because of the richness of the flavor. Very, very drinkable...this was a favorite of my brother who usually hates beer.

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.73/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

We pour a brew of the darkest brown-black. It puts up a one and a half finger head of latte colored bubbles. This shows good retention, and never really goes away. The lacing is very sticky, creeping and oozing around the glass. Carbonation appears medium, but it is hard to see, and the same goes for haze and sediment. The aroma is of deep chocolate, as in a tootsie roll. This is sweet, with bitter chalkiness. There is the added sweetness of fruit, but this seems soaked with booze. The coolness of heavy creamer and the steely bite of raw coffee come in for the balance. The malts are heavily roasted, to the point of being charred and smoky, with an almost woodiness about them. With warmth there is a strong licorice note. As we sip, the flavor begins with lactic sourness, grassy hops, and darker malts. There are also citric hops and metals, which cut the darker flavors quite a bit. At the peak of the flavor, and through the middle, we see char and unsweetened cocoa. This quickly calms down with cutting white sugars, and cleaner, less smoky malts. The finish revives that curious souring flavor, with thin hop oils, and a burnt malt to pucker the last drops of each sip. The aftertaste breathes of strong coffee bean, hollow steel, sticky sweetness, and white sugars. This is all wrapped up in a smoky cloak. The body is light to medium and the carbonation is medium. There is definite drying astringency from the bittering chocolate and coffee flavors. With each sip comes nice cream and smack, but less slurp. The abv is appropriate, and this is wildly drinkable.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was the look, and then the smell. The color was beautifully rich in color, and the head retained forever. The aroma then set things up with full inclusions of everything you would expect. What was really nice was when the beer warmed, and everything calmed down a bit. On the down side, the beer was thinner than one might like, and it really doesn’t give enough substance behind the nice base of flavors and aromas built.

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

Poured into a pint glass from a bomber I picked up from CBX.

A-Poured aggressively into my glass to see what kind of head I could get. It is the most "chunky" I've ever seen on a head. Nice brown color with good lacing as it goes down.

S- Sweet smell, but what is surprising is the hops on the nose. Very unfamiliar to me for a stout in my limited experience.

T-Man this is good. Very sweet chocolate is present to start with a nice bitterness coming through at the end.

M- Some kick, you know you're drinking 8% on this one. A nice sting but not too overpowering.

O- Very glad I picked this one up. Been trying a lot of stouts lately but this one is a much better quality than I've experienced thus far. Great brew, def. recommend.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.55/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Deep deep near black. Head is thin and leaves a couple rings of lacing.
S- The smell is less roasted and more sweet than expected. Caramel, vanilla, light chocolate.
T- It's a tasty beer, but the sweetness is overwhelming the roasted malt. Caramel heavy, with notes of vanilla and espresso. More roasted malt flavor would be appreciated.
M- Medium-light body for a double stout. Body is somewhere between a normal and double stout. Smooth body, sweetness lasts on the tongue.
O- A good stout, but I found it leaned a bit too much on the sweet aspects of the beer. Still worth a try.

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

Bottle served in a Stone IRS Snifter

Appearance: Pours a deep dark black with a large, creamy tan head. Good lacing.

Smell: A lot of specialty malt aromas including caramel and chocolate. There is also a noticeable citrus hop presence.

Taste: Very smooth and well balanced. Good malty backbone with some caramel and chocolate notes similar to the nose. Finish is slightly bitter with some slight citrus hop flavor.

Mouthfeel: Fairly dry for a big 8% stout. Very easy to drink. Even my wife had several sips.

Overall: An excellent beer that is easy to drink and well balanced. Definitely worth buying again.

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Photo of mattyb
3.18/5  rDev -23%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bomber, no date that I could see.

Overall this was just an average stout to me, nothing special.

A - It poured a nice dark brown, first pour had a small head, second pour I was a little more aggressive and got an one inch head.

S - Smelled of chocolate and malt.

T - Pretty straightforward, nothing too complex, some chocolate malt, and a hint of vanilla.

M - A little thin mouthfeel with good carbonation

O - Like I began with, just an average stout for me.

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Photo of mltobin
3.73/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber, poured into a pint glasss.

The appearance is a dark brown color with a short tan head. The nose on this stout contains roasted malts, caramel and some coffee. While the taste of this offering from Bear Republic has vanilla, smoke, espresso and black licorice. The mouthfeel is medium with a decent carbonation level. Not a great stout, but a tasty one.

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Photo of marty21
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at The Alibi Room

A: It’s a dark brown, almost black with 1 finger worth of very light brown head. Settles to a nice cap and left tons of lacing.

S: Dark roasted malts with some dark chocolate and coffee. I do get a hint of alcohol on the nose as well.

T: More dark roasted malts along with the dark chocolate and coffee. There also seemed to be enough hops in this stout to actually taste them.

M: Medium carbonation with a medium body.

O: Big Bear was a really tasty and easy to drink stout especially for it being relatively higher in alcohol.

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Photo of Rschis16
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Flat black in color, no room for light. Little tan head that doesn't stick around for too long, but does leave nice lacing. The smell is simply awesome. Huge amounts of caramel malts and dark roasted malts combine into a sweetish aroma that begs you to take a sip. Every whiff is aromatic, smelling slightly sour almost, but with a woody back that sets everything off. Very balanced nose.

Doesn't taste like other stouts I've had. This one is medium to full in body, with a certain sourness from a combination of the caramel malts and wood-like smokiness. The sourness has a sweetnes to it that goes well in balancing other flavors of dark roasted malts that sit in as the backbone while those other flavors go to work in making this a very unique stout. The caramel malts through and through become the main character of this beer. They offer a sweetness that outshines other, traditionally simpler stout flavors. Those dark roasted malts give this beer a perfect background on which to other tastes can play around on your palate. Such a unique beer is nothing less than I'd expect from a good brewery. The three others I've had from Bear Republic (Hop Rod Rye being my favorite) have all been stellar. This is no exception, so buy if you see it. Decent price for the bomber as well.

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

Appearance - Pours a very dark black liquid with about a half fingers worth of mocha colored head that quickly disappears. Not as thick as i like my stouts, looks a little thin and highly carbonated. Carbonation running from the bottom of the glass up to the top quickly.

Smell - Burnt roasted malts, a hint of vanilla and bitter chocolate. A mild espresso note runs in the background to hold it all together.

Taste - Very impressive. Again like the nose, nice roasted malts and bitter chocolates. right up front you are met with the bitterness, in the middle of the tongue comes the malts and ends with a very nice chocolate/coffee taste. Great tasting beer.

Mouthfeel - A little to thin and carbonated than i like but not that bad.

Overall - I really enjoy this beer, it is readily available and only 6 bucks a bomber. It is my go to cheap good tasting stout. Is it the best stout I've ever had? Far from it, does it still hold its ground in this category? Absolutely.

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Photo of JohnnyChicago
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Split a 22oz bottle; poured into a snifter.

A: Pours near-black with a coffee-coloured head. Looks enticing!

S: Nice stout aromas. Chocolate and molasses with some roast and burnt toast.

T: All the flavours in the nose are present, but damn is this one hoppy stout! Yeah, a bit too much IBUs for my likes (at least when I'm not expecting it). It actually now borders the line of Black IPA.

D: Drinkability is just average. It does feel heavier than its ABV, but the mouthfeel is nice, so no worries.

Overall: Middle-of-the-road stout for me. The price cannot be beat and its definitely unique, but this is a bit too boozy and hoppy for an American Double Stout.

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.89/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle. Pours a dark black color with a half inch of light brown head. Good amount of lacing. Aromas of roasted malts, booze, vanilla, some dark chocolate and sweet coffee. There's a lot going on here. Taste is more of the roasted malts, burnt coffee and dark chocolate. Has a surprising amount of alcohol taste for a beer that is 8.1%. A hint of vanilla towards the end. Pretty heavy beer with a small amount of carbonation. Overall, a solid Imperial Stout worth having again.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.83/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a generic hefeweissbier glass in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live.

A: Pours a beautiful tan colour three finger head of good cream, great thickness, and good retention (even in spite of its 8.1% ABV). Colour is a predictable solid black. Very appealing overall.

Sm: Cream, chocolate, coffee, roast, and caramel. Biscuity. I can't wait to dive in. The aroma is of moderate strength.

T: Caramel biscuity goodness bulks out the body, which consists of some nice chocolate, caramelized malt, light roast, cream, and vanilla. It's complex yet balanced. I do think the climax is a touch too bitter, and the caramel is too dominant, but overall it's a solidly built stout. It's got depth of character and it's inspired.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with coarseness and dryness emergent at the climax. Suits the flavours of the body nicely.

Dr: Very drinkable, especially considering the high ABV. A complex stout that's worth trying for any beer advocate. I'm quite pleased, especially for the affordable price.

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Photo of MVotter
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - The Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic pours into a chalice black...total darkness, with the thinnest tan colored head.

S - Sweetish malts, chocolate, caramel.

T - Ahh, coffee, for sure; balanced with some hop-tang. The taste, for me, was actually a departure from the smell. I thought there was going to be a dominant chocolate taste, but this baby keeps its bite! The dry, coffee taste prevails.

M - Medium...definitely not a heavy body. Some slickness.

O - A classic stout. If you like your imperial stouts more dry than sweet, more espresso than chocolate...meet the Bear. Very nice. Mmmm, with a kick. Impressive.

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Photo of harrymel
3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle date: unk

A: pours a black ale with a singer of dark mocha head, this falls to a scattered sheet of the same. Sheeted lace. Clarity irrelevant.

S: Nice resiny hops over the top of dry, coffee and nutty malts. Nice dark bitter chocolate smells as well. A hint of ink.

T: Dry and malty. Coffee, soil, hint of anise, and a small hint of praline.

M: A little thin for the style, but with low carbonation and these complement well.

O: I like this beer very much. I think this is more like a standard Stout, not an Impy, but the ABV merits it's label. I always enjoy when this beer is on the shelves.

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

A - Typical black color with a huge light brown head. Great lacing and pours very viscous.

S - A lovely chocolate roasted aroma from the very beginning with a vanilla sweetness buried in there. A nice caramel whiff from the grain bill in there as well. Rich, robust, roasted, and very aromatic.

T - A little lighter than the aroma would suggest but it starts off with a bittering and slightly acidic roasted malt flavor. Hints of mild chocolate and thin molasses. Finishes semi-neutral with a chewy black malt and toast flavor.

M - Medium to heavy body with low volumes of carbonation but still fills the palate. A little rough on the palate but still easily drinkable. ABV doesn't play a major role but the viscosity makes it a sipper.

O - A very traditional stout with all the right elements. No bells and whistles to get you distracted and it is kept simple. A very solid beers that should be included with all traditional stout comparisons. And at $5/22 oz. bottle it's incredibly difficult to pass up.

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Photo of mostpoetsdo
3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep brown with mahogany hue streaks, light-tan head, good ring or two of lacing. Decent head retention.

S: Malt forward, not too roasty, toffee and chocolate. Hints of coffee beans.

T: Nothing really dominates in flavor: the standard coffee up front, a jello pudding pop-like chocolate taste, and a hint of raisins. Fairly earthy/woody.

M: No alcohol burn, medium body, soft carbonation, smooth.

O/D: A rather lackluster Imperial Stout. Nothing stands out or makes its present clear. Maybe it's better from a bottle?

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

Pours very well for tight forming milk chocolate looking foam presentation, along with a pitch black opaque body. Reddish hues show up on the lining of my pint glass, when held up to very bright light.

The aroma is cocoa, and coffee up front. Afterwards, I detect a boozy woody smell, but the wood smell may be from my cabinet I stored my glass in.

The taste is boozy as well. There is a bourbon like quality here. Chocolaty, powdery in the feel with mild carbonation. Leaves the palate dry, but not warmed up like a boozy beer sometimes does.

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Photo of juju7
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Yeah, it's good alright.
Definitely a bit more hop aromas than a lot of other Imp stouts. Insanely smooth and chocolatey without the dry roast. Some sweetness upfront but it all gels together very nicely with lowish carbonation and a tasty, long finish.
Highly recommended.

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

Bomber thanks to [email protected] Liquor

Oily black with a heaving sudsy mocha coloured head. Lacing and retention are very healthy indeed.

Nicely thick and tangible roastiness, comprised of charcoal, espresso coffee and sweet dark chocolate, with dusky, smoky vanilla and liquorice undertones. Some fruity esters, caramel malts and a touch of fortifed character.

Quite similar. Mildly smoky and pungent roast backbone of sweetened espresso and peppery cocoa, with notes of cassia, vanilla and porty raisins drifting around the palate.

Smooth and silky, although not at all thick or trying. Carbonation is appropriately mild. Dreamy mild roasty bitterness and fresh finish lingers nicely.

Deliciously flavoured and refined, with a deceptive lightness that makes it massively drinkable. Possibly my favourite stout around 8%.

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

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Mahogany brown, nearly black in the center, with a creamy tan head. Great retention and good chunks of lace down the glass.

Smell: Very smooth and subtle aroma. Chocolate malt, roasted malt, a bit of coffee.

Taste: Very balanced. Chocolate malt seems to be the strongest, but a nice roast character is present as well. Some complex sweetness, with cocoa, molasses, and brown sugar all noticeable. A light coffee bitterness helps close out the end.

Mouthfeel: The best part about the mouthfeel is how smooth and creamy. The carbonation is relaxed but noticeable. A lighter than medium body surprises me given a nice ABV.

Overall: This is a very balanced and tasty stout. No one flavor really stands out or really blows me away, but this is a nicely done beer.

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Photo of readbaron
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark, opaque, with a finger of tan head.

Smell is okay, but a little bland. All malts/bread. Maybe a faint bit of sweetness at the end.

Taste follows the nose - a bit more complex. Malt heavy, initially a lot of breads then fades into some chocolate sweetness. Also a fair bit of char.

Mouthfeel is good. A bit light for an imperial stout. Nicely carbonated and nearly creamy.

A subtle take on an imperial stout. Not my favorite, but would make a nice introduction for folks that aren't familiar with the style. Also, an excellent value, if you're concerned with that.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 2,418 ratings
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