Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

2,402 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,402 |  Reviews: 1,145
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 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 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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Photo of avaldivia
3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Bear Republic.

A: Black. Very black. Nice mocha colored head with great lacing.

S: Roasted malts. Perhaps a bit of coffee. nice fruity scent on the end.

T: Nice coffee, roasted malts. A little bit of a dark fruit taste. Well balanced.

M: Thick. Not overly carbonated.

O: I good, affordable, easily available stout. Not my favorite in the style, but a solid entry.

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Photo of Rizalini
3.4/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into my Deschutes tulip...

A - Pours black, not seeing any red on the sides. Very foamy light brown head that fades leaving spotty lacing.

S - Big molasses smell, and some dark fruit notes. Good roasty malt backbone.

T/M - Slightly bitter, with a warming molasses flavor, and a pungent finish. Medium mouthfeel with descent carbonation.

O - I was a little disapointed with the lightness this beer posessed. I wonder if the beer was old, or if that's just the beers flavor profile. It really doesn't even taste like stout, more like a porter.

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

22oz bottle poured into a goblet.

A: Pours a very deep dark brown with reddish highlights when held to the light. Head is a creamy beige that lasts a long time

S: Coffee, caramel, malt, roasty, some slight fruitiness.

T: coffee, caramel, a hops background, hints of molasses, a solid roasted barley bitterness.

M: Medium mouth feel. No cloying feeling. Nice lingering dryness

O: Nice. I really like this. It is a hot and humid evening and this is going down smooth. I will buy this again.

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Photo of July2Nov
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark, dark brown almost like a bear!!! had a tan foamy two-finger head that withered away to a thick lathered lacing.

Smell: I can smell this one a full two feet away. Lots of molasses coming out with bits of dark chocolate and coffee. Also, has a fruity character near the end.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Thought this would be much heaver than what it was. As the nose indicated, molasses, chocolate and coffee flavors come out, but also you get some dark fruits flavors with a hearty malt profile, with a slight hoppiness. It's carbonation is light and it has a thin water-like mouthfeel, especially right before you gulp it down, then the roasted espresso flavor pours out, making it a heartier beer. Chalky and dry aftertaste leaves you licking the roof of your mouth, trying to get the last morsel of this beer.

Overall: For a 8.10% abv this bear is so very deceiving. Excellent American Double Stout. There's a reason it's rated as high as it is....because it's good.

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Photo of Briken
3.71/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep brown with sizeable tight brown head with nice lacing. Caramel and chocolate aromas. Chocolate and caramel espresso balanced with a very roasty linger helped by a bit of pine. Good bite for a stout with a moderately full body.

Fairly easy drinking hearty stout. Cheap for an imperial stout, I think there are plenty of better ones out there but if you’re in the mood and don’t want to dip into the cellar or drop $10-12 this is a good choice. Flavors are clear with nothing really taking over and a nice hop profile with the alcohol well blended.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep black color with a small brown head on top that fades rather quickly leaving behind a little bit of lace, sporadically formed on the glass.

S: Nice roasty malt aroma, nice dark chocolate, some dark fruity, and surprisingly hoppy. A bit of citrus fruit comes through as well.

T: Similar to the aroma, the beer has a nice roasty flavor with both some dark and bitter chocolate. The flavor profile is even hoppier than the aroma, a bit of citrus and some light pine even. Finishes quite dry and bitter.

M: Medium bodied with low to medium carbonation. Drinks smooth and easy, but seemed a touch thin, or possibly I just prefer my Imperials a bit creamier. A very small problem for a solid beer like this.

O: A very nice beer, easy drinking with a great flavor profile. Bear Republic continues to churn out solid beers at a great price.

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Photo of Rutager
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance. Pours nearly black with a creamy, thick, tan and slightly orange, finger of head.

Smell. Caramel and some roasty malts. A little raw sugar molasses and woody vanilla.

Taste. Big, sweet roasty malts, butterscotch, molasses, some earthy and grassy hops.

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body with really smooth, low carbonation.
Overall. Nice big stout. Sweet, but not too sweet. Complex, but easy drinking. Nothing to get upset about here.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from thetomG about a year ago. Just getting around to it now.

From a bomber into a snifter

APPEARANCE: A clear brown pour yields a two finger, medium-thick, fluffy, off-white head with great retention. Dark brown, almost black body with low carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a full wisp cap and leaves some immediate lacing. A full film cap remains until the end leaving some nice looking lacing down the glass. Nice head, but body could be darker and thicker for the style.

SMELL: Nice nose of roasted malt, some coffee, and a decent citrus hop presence. Surprisingly hoppy for over a year in the cellar. Light notes of chocolate and coffee are there, but the roasted malts and citrus hops steal the show.

TASTE: Roasted malts with a good dose of sweet caramel through the middle. Some coffee, espresso, and chocolate notes at the swallow with a good deal of bitterness and citrus hop flavors. Still very hoppy for the age. A roasted and citrus hop bitter aftertaste that’s very bold and lingers nicely on the palate. Quite tasty stuff.

PALATE: Medium body and medium-higher levels of carbonation. Creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes slightly mouth-coating. Very stuff, but could be thicker and heavier for top marks.

OVERALL: Pretty surprised how hoppy this one was after sitting for over a year. I usually like my imperial stouts a little more roasted and less hoppy, but this one just worked for me. Perhaps the extra time in the cellar has done it some good. This was a great brew that I thoroughly enjoyed, and would think it could hold it’s own against some of the more sought after brews in the style. It might not be as big as some of the others, but don’t let that deter you. Give it a go if you get the chance. Thanks again thetomG!

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

Purchased right before Thanksgiving 2007, I'm finally getting around to drinking this, at almost 4 years of age. The beer's been exposed to less than ideal cellar conditions for a few months, but for the past year and a half, has been in a cool, dark cellar at 55-60F

Pouring black with a dense, dark brown head with great retention and nice lacing, this is an attractive RIS. The nose is very nice. Taking on a pleasing, oxidized raisin with a mild prune character, there's some sherry as well. All of this works quite nicely with the mellow cocoa, mild cocoa , making this almost liqueur-like. Nice stuff.

The palate opens with a pleasing blend of fruity, mildly tart cherries, raisins and a mild prune character. This works really nicely with the dark chocolate and cocoa that are present. Mildly bitter with a grainy, mildly dusty cocoa character, the balance of flavors here is rather stellar. A mild coffee liqueur character rounds out the palate. The finish, however, is mildly dull, here. This is where the dulling effect of age and oxidation is most noticeable, with a touch of a papery feel. Mild bitterness, mild cocoa and moderate fruit are also present. Medium in body with moderate carbonation, this is a beer that I'm really enjoying, and will have to have again and preferably fresh.

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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!!

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

I'd been wanting to try this one for a while. A friend brought it to a tasting, so I finally got my chance.

A: Black with a thin tan head.

S: Huge roasted malt and dark chocolate aroma with a bit of wet dog in the background.

T: Roasted malts, dirt, espresso, leather, smoke and some charred wood. Very dry, very bitter and pretty good. You definitely have to be in the mood for this one.

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

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass...

A-Pours just about opaque black and had about a 2 finger caramel head that dissipates quickly to little or no head leaving minimal lacing...

S-Bitter chocolate, espresso, roasted nuts and malts...smells sweet...and inviting...

T-Very tasty, right away bitter chocolate and roasted nuts up front, has a nice smooth malty oaked like finish with a slight dryness to it...

M-medium to full bodied, creamy and robust, medium to high carbonation. a lingering chocolate dryness within the mouth...

O-A very nice Stout here, you should have at least one of these on hand at all times lol...cant go wrong with its price as well...and for being 8.1 you can hardly tell...nice brew

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Photo of r0nyn
3.43/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my La Fin du Monde tulip. Shared with BAs infi, brun and emonte.

Dark murky brown fills the glass, as is typical of most stouts. Decent sized head that doesn't linger around too much and leaves some loose, spotty lacing. Not really very viscous. Lots of big malty notes in the nose, followed by some distinct coffee aromas commingling with burnt cocoa and sugar. A mild, fleeting hoppiness can be detected on the back end. Nothing really to go wild over as I've smelled better stouts.

Roasted malts greet the palate at first sip, providing most of the brew's flavor along with a surprising hoppy component that serves as a foil to the sweetness. Burnt molasses and sugar nuances wash over the tongue next, coupled with a sharply astringent coffee bite that's a bit jarring and leaves the tongue with a slightly acerbic finish. Odd, really. Mouthfeel is decently full and weighty, but it has nowhere near the oomph of the great imperial stouts. Leaves a slightly sticky finish with a fair bit of carbonation and zip.

I think I went into this stout with some high expectations, which is why I'm a bit disappointed in it. It didn't really stand out to me in any way and it definitely could have done a few things better. But I don't really regret buying it ($5 a pop isn't terrible) and I would likely have it again in the future.

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Photo of infi
3.52/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber, courtesy of BA r0nyn.

Poured into Corsendonk tulip.

Typical dark, black looking stout. Thin mocha colored head that dissipates away quickly. Little to no lacing to be spoken of. Smells of some bittersweet chocolate, caramel-like sweetness from the malts, and some burnt coffee roastiness. Nothing really innovative, but more so textbook. Sweetness is the biggest component on the nose, though.

Taste begins and is mostly comprised of the toasted and sweet qualities of the malt, aligned with hints of burnt, overcooked caramelized sugars. Flavor profile falls back upon a dark, bittersweet chocolate-like dryness and thin sourness from the bitter coffee beans. Considerably average at best, but still a nicely crafted stout.

Mouthfeel is more on the thinner side of medium, with not much carbonation to be felt and a little slick, oily coating upon the palate. Not a bad stout, but not outstanding overall. Could probably use some aging to have some of the flavors be more pronounced.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 1/8" mocha colored head which faded to lace. Black coffee in appearance. All I get off the smell is mild hops. Taste and body were a big step up. It's thick and rich with roasted malt, some fruity hops, and a touch of raisin. And there's a slightly sour and acidic long finish to it.

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Photo of Diesel76
4.57/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

As far as stouts go, this one is quite exceptional. It has a nice thick pour and great taste. It has some fantastic aromas and is by far one of my favorite stouts.

I had over looked this beer many times at my local beer selling establishment... but am very happy I finally picked one up. I will be back for more!

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,402 ratings.
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