Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

1,140 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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Reviews: 1,140 | Ratings: 2,385
Photo of Sammy
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

stout hopped up.and chocolate malt and very bitter. . Quenched the thirst and then some. Astringent, great with meat and salad. Had on tap a year later and licorice aroma prevalent. Beautiful black appearance. Good carbonation. A top notch stout and a top notch brewery..

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Photo of GRG1313
3.26/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Re-tasted on tap at Bear Republic 1/31/11 and while review below is accurate, it was much more "stoutlike" han indicated below(although one of my least favorite beers from a brewery that makes almost all really good brews)

* *

Vintage 2006 (although tasted on tap in 2009) Pours very dark brown, almost black with a tan head that is not long in the glass.

Nose is light grapefruit, pine and light undertones of fruity malt. Nose is restrained.

Flavors and basic appeal is also somewhat restrained. The body and flavors are not complex and are light simple malt/stone fruit but not very big and not very assertive and certainly not real complex. This is a basic "ok" drink. It was a treat to try the 2006 in 2009 but not something I'd go out of my way for again. All in all a bit thin in all respects. Not what you would expect in a "quality" craft stout.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black with a nice 1 inch chocolate milk colored head. Smells of dark roasted malt, coffee beans, and spicy herbal hops. Taste is super dark chocolate, espresso grounds, with a bit of herbal hops on the finish. Mild bitterness on the palate after each sip. Good carbonation with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, a good stout that is definitely worth seeking out. The price is also right seeing as it's around $3.99 a bomber.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

to me this one falls somewhere between a black ipa and a stout. it pours jet jet black, with a nitro looking 2 inch microbubble tan head. smells a little burnt, hoppy, and some dark roasted coffee. flavor is quite hoppy, especially at the end when the dark malts combine with it to form a really unique finish. the 8.1% abv is well hidden, and its excellent bang for your buck at under 5$ a bomber. body is full but this feels drinkable to me, just enough carbonation, and smooth as it goes down. an excellent stout, and a good first impression from bear republic.

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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 metter98
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a thin mocha head that quickly faded away leaving lacy patterns of bubbles on the surface.
S: There are aromas of burnt malts and roasted malts in the nose along with notes of chocolate and licorice.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and also has some coffee flavors as well as a moderate amount of bitterness, which particularly stands out in the finish.
M: It feels full-bodied on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation. There is warming from the alcohol in the finish.
D: The beer is rather easy to drink compared to others in the style because any traces of alcohol are well hidden from the taste.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ok, I buy the style characterization. But the beer does hinge on the gavity of an American Stout. Very drinkable and enjoyable for either because the beer emphasizes the intensity of flavor over gravity or feel. This beer is cramed pack full of strong cocoa flavors that will rival Rogues Mocha Porter. Balance that with a strong coffee (nearly espresso) flavor notes that also complement the sharp, American hops that do resemble the younger American Stout. Fresh and intense describe the flavors well. The body is full for a standard American Stout, but not chewy or dense enought for a RIS. I don't seem to care, where it drops off in thickness, it makes up for with drinkability. Still I keep comming back to that intense cocoa / coffee / nutty / toasty blend that makes this beer work for me. Another hats off to Bear Republic for another world class beer. By the way, this beer could win beauty contests with it's appearance that I just didn't describe very well.

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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 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 brentk56
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark brown color with tawny highlights and a nice tan head that leaves plenty of lacing

Smell: Smells as much like an IPA as a stout, with grapefruit hops mixing together with roasted coffee and woody notes

Taste: Starts out with a rich chocolate flavor that blends with dark fruits by mid-palate; after the swallow, the grapefruit bitterness arrives in a big way; woody dry flavors at the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body (just a bit thinner than it could be) with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: This stout hits most of the high points although I wouldn't characterize it as a RIS; it's really more of an American Double Stout in my book.

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

Appearance: Black and impenetrable, small frothy head.

Smell: Sweet malts, dark chocolate, a trace of alcohol.

Taste: A very chocolatey stout. Fairly pronounced hops presence, but it doesn't detract from the overall sweet, mellow taste.

Mouth: Full-bodied and rich, dry in the finish, goes down smooth with no noticable burn. Definitely a high point of the beer.

Overall: Great stuff. Hoppier than I was expecting, but not overly so; it still has a good balance, and a distinct malty sweetness. Reminds me a bit of Rogue's Imperial Stout, but mellower than that, and not quite so rich or complex.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.23/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Beerandblues2: Poured a light black color ale with a nice brown foamy head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of roasted bitter malt some discernable hops. Taste is dominated by roasted bitter malt with a bitter hoppy finish. Body is more watery then I would have expected for the style with no alcohol being discernable. Overall, I found that this one was way too dry and bitter to really please me.

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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 zeff80
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a dark brown color with a two-finger, caramel colored head. It left nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of caramel and chocolate. Also, a floral/hop aroma was present.

T - It tasted of chocolate and sweet, sweet caramel. It was sugary sweet with a subtle hop bitterness.

M - It was very smooth and soft. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good RIS. I wish it was available closer to home.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the first Russian Imperial Stouts I ever had. I can say that it certainly did not disappoint, even if it is a little different for the style.

A: Very black with a nice, tan head.

S: Chocolate, espresso, and hops. Quite hoppy for an imperial stout.

T: Plenty of hops along with chocolate and espresso.

M: Quite smooth with good carbonation and a slight alcohol presence.

D: Highly drinkable. Good all around stout. Very, very highly recommended to any hophead who is looking into branching out into RIS's.

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Photo of oberon
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark black with a mocha colored creamy head,big hop presence in the aroma for the style zesty and nutty with a little moch a coffee thrown in very nice.Wow where to begin on the flavors in this bad boy very creamy feel in the mouth, drier than expected some unsweetened chocolate and nutty earthiness with a background of zesty,spicey hop.Alot going on and way to easy to drink for the alc% every flavor u could want in a beer with a smooth creamy mouthfeel,just awesome.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 7/26/2011. Pours pitch black color with a small dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, light char, toast, toffee, molasses, dark bread, floral, light pine, raisin, and roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark and roasted malt notes; with good strength. Taste of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, toffee, molasses, dark bread, floral, light pine, light raisin, and roasted earthiness. No bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, toffee, molasses, light raisin, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of roasted and dark malt flavors with light fruitiness; and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a creamy, slick, and slightly chalky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with no warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an excellent imperial stout. All around nice balance and complexity of roasted and dark malt flavors; and very smooth to drink for the gravity. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opaque black topped by a full, foamy, dark tan head that drops but keeps a thin 1/8" surface covering and leaves nice lace throughout the glass. The nose displays a gently fruity (currant, black raspberry) dark chocolate, coffee, and sweet cocoa. The medium body teams with the very fine and moderate carbonation to create a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. The flavor is of a creamy sweet caramel and fruit-tinged toffee with a roasted edge. It starts with a bitter espresso note and warms into more softly roasted cocoa notes. Some alcohol is apparent but unobtrusive. It finishes drying with a lingering bitterness, mild roastiness and soft notes of mocha. Exceptionally well balanced. The bitterness builds on the palate throughout the serving but never goes out of bounds. A really nice stout with a very good drinkability. Well worth trying.

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Photo of chinchill
4.41/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

undated 22 oz. bottle served in pint glass.

A - Black with reddish brown edges. Frothy, mixed-density tan head with very good retention and exceptional lacing.

S - Dark roasted malts dominate, as they should, but there's also a spicy hop note and hints of coffee and caramel. Slight evidence of higher ABV.

T - A model stout, with all the elements that should be found present in excellent proportion. Rich dark malts without undue smokiness or burnt qualities accompanied by a near perfect hop flavor and bitterness. Higher ABV is almost completely hidden. Excellent finish and aftertaste!

M - Superb full body with above average carbonation for style that seems perfect.

O - I believe this is the best 'normal' stout I've ever had (i.e., excluding exotics like Founders CBS). Rather hoppy for style, but not radically so, and with great effect.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into a Unibroue Maudite snifter.

Pours a very dark brown/black with some garnet highlights just visible around the bottom of the glass with 1-2 finger widths of poofy tan head. Retains nicely into a creamy ring that leaves sticky lace down the sides of the glass. The aroma is sweet up front with chocolate and caramel that gives way to some coffee and dark fruit tones.

The taste is deep with chocolate sweetness, dark fruit tartness, roasted coffee and finishes with a burnt and hop bitterness combo. The mouthfeel is full bodied but imparts more of a viscous feel than a creamy one. Alcohol is present and while hidden for the most part, it does rear its head in the end to add a little oompth to the finish.

This is a really good Stout (Duh!) from Bear Republic. Tons of deep warming flavor and a well hidden ABV make this one highly drinkable and complex RIS. It definitely went down easy on this cold, winter's night.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired from jgaston courtesy of Birthday Club 2, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color with a thin brown head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of chocolate, roasted dark malts and a strong amount hops for the style.

T: Despite the appearance, the taste does not have the heavy maltiness, smokiness or sweetness as most big stouts. I consider that a good thing, but you’re looking for the typical stout-like taste you’ve got the wrong beer. All of the previously mentioned attributes are certainly present, but there’s a strong hops presence that dominates to the point that if you close your eyes, you might think you’re drinking an IPA. Only one other stout that I’ve had has even approached this type of flavor, much less done it this well. The after-taste is slightly bitter.

M: Smooth and very crisp for the style, medium body, light-to-medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Very tasty, goes down easy, a little bit filling, good representation of style while adding a very nice twist, good kick, as I stated earlier, it’s not your typical RIS, which is exactly what I like so much about it. It’s definitely a sipper and not a pounder, but it’s a very good beer.

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Photo of mactrail
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep and winey imperial stout. Tastes like licorice to me. Malty with endless dark roasted malt flavors. Lots of burnt notes and a bitter finish. A liqueur-like sweetness only partly masked by all the hops. Grows on you, thought. Seems more complex as you sip. Really rich with the whole spectrum of dark malt swimming across your palate.

Black color, nice head and mouthfeel. Drank at 21st Amendment, San Francisco (01/21/2012).

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

First had: bottle from Pinocchio's beer garden, Media, PA

Pours dark, completely opaque brown-black with a rich, full, beige head. Smell is heavy with semi-sweet chocolate and sweet malts. Taste is roasty, slightly earthy, and surprisingly light, with coffee tones and subtle caramel. A small amount of bitterness in the aftertaste. Smooth mouthfeel, light but rich. Highly drinkable.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a near black body with a thick, foamy tan head.

Smell: Earthy, roasted malts saturate the aroma, as well as hints of caramel and aniseed. A touch of dark fruits in the nose as well.

Taste: Sweet, full malt backbone with flavors of caramel, dark chocolate, and molasses. Smooth finish accented by a light, grassy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a silky, creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Easy drinking stout. An ample, respectable brew, but it lacks the complexity of other Russian Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours an opaque jet black in color with light hints of a rich dark brown when held up to the light and a moderate amount of visible carbonation near the surface of the beer. The beer has a half finger tall dark mocha head that quickly reduces to a small patch of large bubbles and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of dark roasted malts and burnt malt with notes of chocolate, coffee, and licorice.

T: The taste is very similar to the smell with a pleasant body of dark roasted and burnt malts which contribute some moderate lingering bitterness. There are notes of bittersweet chocolate, fresh brewed coffee, and licorice.

M: Full bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth with light alcohol warming in the finish.

O: Very enjoyable and easy to drink for the style, where the alcohol is well hidden from the smell and taste. A great sipping beer with good complexity.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,385 ratings.
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