Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
Liked This Beer
4.13 w/ 2,413 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,413 |  Reviews: 1,147
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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Photo of jminsc76
3.59/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Into a tulip, pours a thick brown head atop a black, impenetrable body. Thin lacing, the head doesn’t reemerge much after it warms.

Aromas of coffee, berries, cherries, and some mild cocoa. The nose is more intense than the taste, and quite pleasant.

Flavors of vanilla, roasts, a little caramel, some bitter hops, and a tinge of oak, the last particularly upfront and midpoint. Concerning a finish, it’s barely there, peters out. Disappointing.

A mouthfeel that’s medium-bodied, slightly dry.

Overall, drinks like a fairly potent stout, though lacks the oomph! of a Double Stout. Also, not too sure about the freshness. It doesn’t taste stale, but the lack of potency has me wondering how long it’s been sitting in the Whole Foods fridge. Sierra Nevada’s stout packs more punch than this.

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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 mulder1010
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into a tulip

A-- Poured dark cola and settled black, with just a touch or two of ruby at the bottom of the head. Light brown head that was maybe at the end a half a finger in height. On swirling got one and a half fingers that took it's time to die off. Solid coating of lacing.

S-- Really reminds me of root beer. Strange. Get a lot of Carmel, chocolate and molasses in the smell. Touches of wet leather as well.

T-- Chocolate and hop bitterness in the taste. Also get some Carmel again. Very smooth chocolate taste.

M-- Quite prickly to me. More carbonation than what I was thinking, or expecting really. Get root beer tastes again. Chocolate, Carmel, hazelnut, molasses, and a bit of burnt, sweet coffee finish. Medium feel and medium carbonation.

O-- Nice little stout. Well hidden ABV and easy to drink. A touch too carbonated but kind of adds to the drinkability to this. Easy to have one or two and be able to function well afterwards.

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Photo of KomodoDragon
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased a in a 22oz bottle, and went against form by drinking on a 90 degree day in VA.

A - Yep, black - with a voluminous 2-3" rapidly depleted head and terrific lacing.

S - Terrific robust roasted and chocolate smell.

T - Complex flavors... Creamy sweet caramel malt flavors up front, with a sweet lingering finish. Hoppy bitterness traces on the finish, highlighted with some warmth from the 8% alcohol ABV.

M - Creamy smooth feel, which was more pronounced as it warmed.

Everything you would expect in a stout plus some surprises.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.12/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From 22oz bottle to nonic pint glass on 4/22/11
*From notes

A: One black mother. A good pour yields a 1.5 finger bubbly head that leaves a fair amount of sticky lacing.

S: Some vinous funk and sour black cherry. Weird, unexpected and clearly unwanted.

T: Hardcore dark baking chocolate. Wow - this is quite dry, like drinking black coffee concentrate. That odd tartness pops up on the mid in the form of soggy dirt, though the malt rips through it and sends it to the background, as char and left coast hops finish this one off.

M: This screams for more substantial weight, as it comes off a bit flabby. The carbonation feels a bit overdone and forced.

O: I'd never had Big Bear Black Stout before, and my expectations were high. Sadly though, it seems as if something went wrong with this bottle. I'm guessing it was slightly skunked, though I'll need to try it again to confirm my suspicions. I love Bear Republic, and will definitely give this one another shot. As for this particular bottle....meh.

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Photo of kzoobrew
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep mahogany color though settles in as an opaque black color in the glass. Modest one and a half finger cafe au lait head set atop fades relatively quick leaving a decent amount of lacing. Not an overly impressive looking beer but it is what a stout should look like.

Holy hops, I was not expecting this. Sweet milk chocolate and an obscene amount of citrus hops flood the nose. It takes some time and focus to discover anything subtle beneath the huge aroma up front but there is something there. Pleasant roasted malt and molasses can be made out, but just barely. I am really digging this.

The flavor is a bit more balanced but not by much. Hops are a bit dominate, not bad but unusual for a stout. Strong citrusy fruit, the Centennial and Cascade really stand out. A decent balance of chocolate and roast lie just behind. Bits of burnt sugars and molasses linger softly on the back of the tongue.

Medium to full bodied stout, moderate carbonation. Big Bear lacks a bit of viscosity and creaminess I usually look for in a stout but the hop level does make up for it strangely enough. The finish is rather long.

Very tasty beer. With Bear Republic moving their bottle line up into Michigan this week this was my first chance to enjoy this beer. I had no idea what I was in for. Hopped to IPA+ levels with the roasted chocolatey flavors of a stout, how can you go wrong? Tremendously enjoyable and very well priced bomber. I may be picking this one up more often in the future.

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Photo of dgilks
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep, pitch black colour with a dense, dark tan head. Great head retention.

Rich and bitter cacao with mild coffee notes. Not at all sweet on the nose. Mild herbal hop character.

Smooth and roasty malts with nice herbal hops and good bitter chocolate. Evenly balanced and nothing over the top.

Medium to full body with moderate carbonation.

Overall this is a smooth, easy drinking Imperial Stout with lots of flavour but all of it being in balance. Great.

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Photo of WillCarrera
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours pitch black with a loose, foamy tan head. Nice lacing.

S- Big flavors are espresso or light coffee, bitter dark chocolate and some dark, fruity sweetness.

T- Big roasted malts, almost charred. There's a well-balanced hop character that provides some nice bitterness and resin-ey flavor. Alcohol is slightly warming but definitely in check, has a bit of dark fruitiness to it.

M- Medium to full bodied, nice and creamy, carbonation is just right to keep it from getting chewy. Finishes somewhat dry with a nice blend of burnt malts and some hop bitterness.

O- A great stout, full of well-balanced complexities. The 8.1% ABV is hardly noticeable and this beer is really drinkable in general. Definitely gonna have to pick this up again.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle. Poured into a tulip glass a dark brown bordering on black color with a really big tan head of 2-3 fingers. Head is a rich mocha tan color. Chocolate, muted coffee, and a subtle sweetness round out the nose. Sticky tan lace coats the glass. Medium mouthfeel. Slight sweet start that very quickly turns to a robust coffee and dark chocolate flavors with a building bitterness. Some licorice flavors as well. Overall, pretty flavorful but I wish it had a heavier mouhfeel to it to stand up to the flavors.

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Photo of micromaniac129
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought this baby at the Blue Dog.
Pours black with a deep tawny brown foamy head which was dense and high, fades to surface foam.
Must be well carbonated going by the churning foamy patterns.

Aroma is of a rich deeply roasted malt with sutle hints of coffee and alcohol.

Tastes great with rich deeply, almost burnt malty backbone. Threads of hoppy bitterness weave amongst the malts.
Sutle hints of coffee and chocolate round this beer out.

This is a thick and chewy brew with a touch og grittiness and ends bitterly well into the aftertaste.

A bold well made stout in my opinion.

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

Poured from bomber into pint goblet - No best by date visible.

A: Poured a used motor oil black with two finger head that dissipated into a thin tan creamy lacing, great webbing decent carbonation.

S: Roasted Malts with slight molasses/licorice hints.

T: Roasted malts with some light hops , slight licorice and black strap molasses,faint bitter coffee hues as well , chocolates are almost non-existent.

O: Overall this is a decent Stout,I would have liked more chocolate flavors in this , and maybe a bit more coffee, Still it's very drinkable and leaves a good toasty malt aftertaste.

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

Poured into a Dogfish Head Signature Glass (Goblet).

A- Deep black color, with a one finger bubbly dark tan head. The head bubbled away fairly quickly into wispy lace that hung around the edges. Retention was OK, but much of the lace was gone after I got down to the end of this review.

S- Light cocoa, malts, hint of black licorice. Lighter aromas (not "in your face"), but pleasant all-around stout smell.

T- Malts up front, hint of coffee, licorice notes, with a bit (very slight) alcohol note on the finish. Nice bite at the end, touches of bitterness throughout. Nicely balanced overall- I'd like to try one of these that's been in the bottle a few years.

M- Medium body for a stout- not too full, a bit on the lighter side for this style. Could use just a few more bubbles.

O- Slightly lighter than a Russian Imperial Stout, and that makes it a bit versatile as it goes down very easy. Very drinkable, even on a warmer spring day.

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Photo of SirSketch
3.86/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Very, very dark black beer. No light coming through, whatsoever. Dense brown head that stays around for awhile.

S - Dark roasted grains, coffee beans and just a bit of chocolate, as well as some earthy hops in the background.

T - Nice interplay of roasted, burnt, bitter grain flavor and a creamy milk chocolate sweetness, though it's mostly on the roasty side. Maybe some molasses flavor, too.

M - Fairly dry and medium-full bodied. Drinkable, too, for such a big stout.

O - Pretty happy with this beer. Not overly sweet or boozy. Completely worth the price @ only 5.99!

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

North of San Francisco, deep in the heart of wine country, Bear Republic Brewing Company stands defiantly: an oasis of beer in the Land of Grape. Having relished previous other Bear Republic brews, I eagerly anticipated waking this Big Black Bear.

This Big Bear Black Stout awakes to a monstrous beige froth that settles fervidly into an impenetrable body, dark and foreboding. Around the glass is slathered a gummy crust of lace. The Bear’s nose imparts a grizzly-like waft of cocoa powder; the Bear is embodied with the robustness of toasty malt, which overwhelms the palate, leaving a subtle tint of dark chocolate.

It is a superlatively balanced stout: while it possesses a light body, it still boasts some flexibility in the mouthfeel that is neither harsh nor puny. It is, as one girl noted during her adventures with some other bears: “Just right.” The Bear is perfect as a sessional quaff for any cold winter night – or in preparation for hibernation. Another wunderbrau from the folks who gave us Racer 5, a favorite IPA of this humbled correspondent.

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

This pours a perfect black with a frothy two finger khaki head that leaves great lace. On the nose the big note is bitter chocolate, but there is also dry espresso and dry roasted malt. In the mouth the bittersweet chocolate is foremost, but there is also a good deal of toasted malt and oats. The toasted flavors are a bit too much for my liking, but others might like it. The feel is medium full and fuzzy, leaving the roast and the bitter chocolate on the tongue for a long finish. I like this beer well enough but to me the taste would be much better if it were balanced like the nose: bittersweet chocolate being further ahead of the toasted malt, which got to be too much for me.

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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 ManuelHerrera
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bear Republic, I wonder how you do dark beer...

Well, turns out, as your Imperial Stout is a smack in the mouth!

The beer pours a dark brown with a curious thinness that matches a thin head and lacing. Isn't this stout going to be a second meal?

Smells like malt, dark chocolate and arabica coffee with smokiness deeply buried. At the outset, the flavor strikes of a barleywine, but mercifully lets up and makes for a smooth taste experience. You'd think heavy chocolate notes and malt would overwhelm the palate, but in truth it's the hops that steal the show. Bitter twinges of 80% cacao blend well with black licorice and smokey tabacco lacing.

The beer warms almost instantly and is careful to be relentless without overwhelming the palate. A must have for any dark beer lovers although I'm certain I'm drinking away any calories burned during exercise.

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Photo of laituegonflable
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark chocolatey colour, very black but brown at the edge. Head is massive, ochre in colour and beautifully thick, to the point of excess but with this gorgeous sinking pattern that almost looks like spun sugar. Lace is sticky and lovely. Fuckin' beautiful.

Smells dark and chocolatey. Sweet and rich with a touch of espresso, some licorice and a lovely hoppy note at the back; citric and a touch of nutmeg to it as well. Sweet, rich, dark but with a lift to it. Nice aroma.

Taste is very dark and chocolatey. Starts rich, with a mild berry/cherry character that develops from tart to quite sweet; vanilla on there and a good belt of rich cocoa on the late-mid. Some caramel coming through late and a drying, almost floury finish with a slight nip of port wine and a touch of piney, floral hops. Bit of tobacco on the finish as well.

Mouthfeel is smooth and complementary to the pleasant palate but a touch on the watery, glossy side. Would like more body, but otherwise very pleasant.

Enjoyable beer with suprisingly and tantalisingly clean finish. I could drink this beer. Hell, I would have sex with this beer.

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

i poured this robust stout into a comemerative disney collectors glass from mcdonalds of all places. (i'm packing the house up, and they were the only ones left)
What i could see of the color and head made mu mouth water. started off with an inch of head that settels to less than a cm, but never fades completely away.
smell to me was just the same as any other good stout. chocolate malts.
the taste and mouthfeel were really satisfying. After he first mouthfull i let out a sigh and reclined my chair. like the lable says, "heafty with caramel sweetness".
I'm only hals way through the bottle, but i feel like i would drink several of these if i had them.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 89.1% out of 100 with 2,413 ratings
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