Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

2,407 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: 2,407 |  Reviews: 1,146
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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Photo of mikereaser
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle on 7/4/11, this is probably a year or two old at this point.

A - Pours a pitch black with a nice amount of tan foam that slowly faded with lots of oily lacing when i swirl the glass
S - caramel malts, roasted malts, chocolate
T - slightly burnt taste to it overall, some bitter chocolate, brown sugar and caramel, the burntness to it is a bit too strong for me, but not bad
M - medium bodied with some decent carbonation, not too little to be completely flat but not too much to where its fizzy. There is a burnt finish as well
D - It goes down pretty easily but there isn't alot to write home about. It would be a good beer for someone who isn't into drink alot of stouts


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Photo of threeviews
3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a Bomber into a short-stemmed tulip glass

A- Pours an oily black with a tannish head which has nice retention (1+ minute)

S- Sweet to the nose and somewhat hard to place (like the Bourbon Barrel Dogfather from Laughing Dog Brewery in Idaho)...there are some notes of chocolate, caramel, vanilla and some other sweetness...perhaps dark fruits(?)

T- Smooth and lacing, as a strong ale should only gets better as it warms up a bit

O- I'm grateful that I purchased two bottles, as I am much happier after the second trial...this stout boasts every flavor that I look for in an imperial stout. The carbonation is not overpowering and neither is the alcohol...this brew is well-balanced and would recommend it to all of those who enjoy dark, robust brews.


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Photo of brystmar
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: pitch black with brown head; good lacing adorns my glass. The head disappears faster than anticipated but reappears with a good swirl.

S: mostly hops in the nose; roasty malts and bitter chocolate too. Hints of booze.

T: hoppy but not bitter up front, chocolate and caramel sweetness follow, well balanced with delicious malts. Finishes dry with lingering bitterness with more hops.

M: somewhat creamy but suffers from over-carbonation.

O: a solid (semi-)imperial stout.

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

Had on tap at Tap and Barrel in Smithtown, NY. Served in a tulip glass.

Look: black body with a thick, brown head. Great retention and lacing. Looks good.

Smell: molasses, some dark chocolate, and brown sugar. Smells good.

Taste: follows the nose with chocolate malt, some molasses, and a little roastiness, a little sweet, and pretty good. A little light in flavor for an IRS, but its still good.

Feel: medium tending towards full, silky, lightly carbonated, and pretty spot on for the style. Easy drinking for the style at 8.1% alcohol, I could have a few of these if I wanted to and had nowhere to go.

Overall: a pretty solid imperial stout though nothing about it really makes it stand out against a style that is filled with amazing alternatives. Worth a try, especially if you're a Bear Republic fan. Cheers!

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Photo of SkitzIrish3
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Poured from a 1pt. 6oz. bottle, this big, black bear of a beer leaves two fingers of head atop a body so dark I felt my pupils expanding.

S- Sweet caramel and dark fruit smell; toffee, coffee, complex and desirable. The smell is truly orgasmic compared with an everyday stout like Guinness.

T/M- So what’s it taste like? Well, for my palate-in-training: complex. Definitely a mild toffee and coffee, with a moderate bitterness and a mild bite of alcohol in the back. The caramel is there, the chocolate is there, but everything is well rounded. The feel is smooth, certainly not light but it isn’t going to get stuck in your throat either. It's going down very easy even on a full stomach. This beer makes for a hell of a dessert.

The note taking has slowed me down a bit and yet I’m still noticing the 8.1% ABV. I’m glad I tried this and will definitely pick up another in the future. Hopefully I can find others brews in this style worthy of comparison. (Any suggestions?)

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

Poured from a bomber into a tulip.

A: Pours dark black, head fizzes up like crazy! Head is cappuccino colored, sticks around for a while and leaves a pretty decent amount of lacing.

S: Roasted malts, chocolate, and caramel...mmm...this beer smells delicious!

T: LOTS of chocolate, and some java as well. A little caramel too. Tasty, tasty brew. Hoppy bitterness on the back end.

M: For there being so much carbonation when you pour it, the mouth feel is silky. Clings to the tongue.

O: Damn good imperial stout.

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

Big thanks to optimator13 (Evan) for this bad boy!

A - Thin dark black pour with tons of carbonation and a huge head.

S - Sweet chocolate, dark fruits, caramel, a little sweeter than expected.

T - Dark roasted malts, chocolate, raisins, figs, caramel.

M - Thin and light bodied. Goes down smooth with a little alcohol burn.

O - Enjoyed this beer. A touch sweeter than I like my imp stouts, but the drinkability is surprisingly good despite the sweetness. A winner in my book

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

Grabbed this bomber at the store the other day because I am running seriously low on ticks in my beer fridge. Poured into a DFH snifter glass.

Beer is black / dark brown and hazy with a nice brown head of small bubbles, the head has retention and leaves rings of lacing all the way down the glass.

Beer is medium to heavy in body with a mild sweetness, pleasing, moderate roast, a nice finish with good levels of bitterness. The beer has this fudgy quality to ti that I really like. It took me a while to finish it but it was very good.

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

A- Most stouts look this same. Black or black with a super dark brown hue. This was black. Thin bubbly tan head that doesn't stand around for too long. Mild lacing

S- Chocolate cake. Yum!

T & M- Chocolate and char. Bit of molasses and charcoal. Faint earthy notes. Good hop profile. Not a sweet stout. Has a dry biting finish, but up front and through its creamy with a medium to thin-medium body and hints of sweetness and hops. Low carbonation, but its perfect. Incredibly balanced.

O- A great brew. 8.1%abv is still pretty decent in my book. Alcohol is hidden well. And this is at a great price too. Excellent stout!

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Photo of n2185
2.68/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours black with a finger of beige head that recedes into a thin ring with a little lacing.

S: Roasted malts up front followed by some creamy chocolate aromas. There are some dark fruit aromas in there as well and some light citrusy notes from the hops.

T: Roasted malts with a bit of semi-sweet chocolate and some roasted coffee notes towards the finish. A bit bland, really.

M: Medium body and carbonation, this beer has a watery feel to it for a stout.

O: Not a very good beer. Just bland and watery overall with no defining characteristics to set it apart (in a good way) from the masses of other imperial stouts.

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Photo of vandemonian
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bear Republic Brewing Big Bear Black Stout is a very nice, and quite dry, Imperial stout. If you like that type of beer, then you'll love this.

A: Black colour and a 1 cm head that fades quickly to lacing around the rim. 4

S: Roasty malt with some nice hoppiness too. 4.5

T: Roasty and sharp at the beginning with some subtle charcoal flavour. The aftertaste is bitter. This is a rather dry imperial stout. I prefer a little leftover sweetness... but I have a sweet-tooth. 4

M: Foamy. 4

O: This is a nice stout.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I frankly had no idea this was an RIS when I grabbed it out of the to-go cooler at the local neighborhood bar where I go to play trivia. I was just astounded that they had a Bear Republic beer and in a bomber, vice a sixer, no less! I had set it aside awaiting the right moment and when my trivia partner bailed for tonight, I decided to do some bottle drinking at home. I am going to put some of this aside to blend with Sam. Smith's Organic Raspberry Ale later.

From the bottle: "Big Bear, as the name implies, is a hefty black stout. This stout boasts a rich, caramel sweetness lavished by a robust deep roasted heartiness you can really sink your teeth into ..."; "Brew Master Notes - Drink responsibly. Don't get mauled. Be on the lookout for other rare species of fine specialty ales from the Bear Republic. CHEERS!"; "COME VISIT US at our pub & brewery".

I poured a dense finger of deep-tan head with good retention on this humid late afternoon in early June. They got the species right in that this Bear was Black! I have written in ink that was less black than this beer. It disallowed light penetration in the same way that a black hole sucks up light. If I ever found myself inside this beer, I would be utterly lost. The nose smelled of this morning's coffee, commingled with piney hops. Now, if you think that I am kidding about the roasty coffee aroma, please note that I am a retired US Navy sailor and I take my coffee like I once took my women - hot and black! You have to spoon my coffee out of the pot because it is so thick that it won't pour. I once spilled some over the side and the Coast Guard thought it was another Exxon Valdez. You get the idea. Mouthfeel was medium, but not as full as might have expected from this bear. Lots of coffee and dark chocolate on the tongue initially, but slowly, out of the darkness came the piney hops and just a tad bit of caramel sweetness as advertised. Shit, the f**kin' thing's mauling me, just as they warned me about! More of that confounded truth in advertising. Now, it's sinking its teeth into me! OMFG, I just wanted to drink a bear, I mean, beer, not die. Finish was smoky, chocolaty, roasty and I was finished. Warming, the finish took on a fudge-like aspect, both in terms of taste and mouthfeel. Dang, this was real good and I think they still have some over at my local. Definitely worth revisiting, especially if I bring a rifle and re-read Faulkner's "The Bear" ahead of time. You got me on this go-'round, you ursine sonnuva beechnut tree, but things will be different the next time we meet!

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

A- Pours thick black. At first, it has at thick frothy head, but it falls back quickly and only maintains a film, albeit thick for a film. Laces nicely.

S- Cocoa and molasses strike the nose first. A hint of caramel sweetness also comes out.

T- Cocoa and dark malt are the dominant flavors. There's a drop of caramel to sweeten it up a little. Between the hop profile, the roastiness, and the cocoa, it was a very bitter drinker compared to the average RIS. Somewhat like bittersweet chocolate.

M- Thin, but creamy smooth. Lightly carbonated. Dry, slightly sticky finish.

D- Very drinkable. Smooth as well. There was a bit too much cocoa for my liking though. It was somewhat relentless on my palate. I'm usually all for cocoa bitterness, but this was a bit over the top and it diminished the drinkability. Perhaps a smaller bottle would have been less overwhelming.

A good RIS, but a bit unbalanced, and strangely in favor of bitterness.

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Photo of drinkiusmaximus
3.11/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Black as night with a fingers width coffee colored head. Little retention and slight lacing.

S- sort of weak for an imperial stout, picking up roasted malts a little fruitiness in the way of berries and dark fruits.

T- I would love for something to stand out here, kind of disappointing.

M-medium to thick but leaning more towards medium.

D- Not terrible but I will not be sad when the bomber is empty.


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

i can't even remember the first time i had this one.

must say that is is a very eclectic american double that especial shows in age. has the dimension something between a baltic porter, and english foreign export and an american porter. nice and lean with a mineral harsh tannin hint that rides along with the high alpha acid bittering. a tad oily and grippy. but with a corresponding sweetness. hints of licorice, vanilla and big full bodied grapiness. nose is apple and burnt malt and caramel undertones. hints of baltic mineral and wet saddle sours notes. hits all the bases fantastically.

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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 mater
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-As you would Has a 1.5 finger tan head with good lacing.

S-Roasty malts, coffee, chocolate and some hops.

T-Same as the smell, but the hops are stronger in the taste. Can't detect any alcohol.

M-Thought it was a tad thin for a RIS, but it still went down smooth.

O-Decent brew, but there's plenty of better stouts to be consumed.

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Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just a text book stout where everything is almost perfect. $3.49 at the brewery. A freaking STEAL if you ask me.

Roastiness is what this one is all about. Fantastic dark malts with the perfect hop bitterness.

A - Black with light brown edges when swirled. Head retention awesome and lacing second to none for a stout at Double stout clocking in at only 8.1%

S - Roasty. Coffee. Light expresso like chocolate, dark malts - everything I look for in a double stout.

T - Follows nose to a T. Nothing wrong with this stout. What a text book stout should be based on.

M - A little bitter but it goes perfect with this stout. Creaminess would have taken away from the roasty aspect of this beer. Easy drinking for 8.1% without being thin. Spot on.

O - Near flawless for a non-barrel aged stout below 9%. A touch more chocolate flavor would have made this beer a perfect 5 across the board but HEY! I'm not complaining. Well done BR!

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Photo of ckeegan04
4.46/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pitch black with a solid two finger cap of brown foam. A perfect looking stout. Light carbonation bubbles quickly rising to the top give the head excellent retention.

S - Roasted malts with hints of chocolate and coffee. A light fruitiness as the beer warms. The big roastiness certainly dominates the nose though.

T - Surprisingly strong fruity bitterness up front quickly matched by roasted malts. Strong taste of bittersweet chocolate and roasted coffee. No alcohol is noticeable at all in this one.

M - Medium to full bodied and rather creamy. Carbonation is just high enough without being too much.

O - Great American double stout. Bear Republic does it again. Price is reasonable and product is as good or better as any of the regular releases out there...and it even beats some of teh hyped stouts.

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Photo of justintcoons
3.1/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours black with a thin head that dissipates quickly. Low carbonation and weak lacing.

N: Very subtle notes of coffee and chocolate with a lurking watermelon saltwater taffy scent.

T: Bitter dark chocolate, roasted barley, toffee, cola, hint of coffee and an almost salty grapefruit taste?

M: Medium bodied, smooth and clean.

O: Easy drinking and good overall but lacking in flavor.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,407 ratings.
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