Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

2,411 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: 2,411 |  Reviews: 1,147
Photo of UMNbeerhunter
3.46/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Town Hall stemware glass on 3/5/11.

Pours with tons of carbonated fizzy, brown head. Good lacing that really sticks to the glass after the foam dissipates.

Smells of lots of roasted coffee and malts. Not as powerful as many other stouts but still has a lot of the chocolate/coffee smell.

Tastes as it should but the tastes seem subdued. I look for more in my stouts. More chocolate, more coffee, more taste in general.

Mouthfeel is medium and more carbonation then most of the style. Its light without much resin leftover taste.

Drinkability is moderate. There is no doubt it is a good beer but it falls short of many of the same style. I won't seek this out again as there are better out there and just as available.

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Photo of PrivateEquity
4.31/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Nice thick foamy light brown head. Black as stouts should be. It looks very appetizing. Great lacing shows the quickness in which this beer was drank.

S - Sweet, light coffee chocolate smell.

T- Sweetness is right on target. Alcohol taste is hardly noticeable, which is nice for 8.1% alcohol.

M - Medium body (almost light for a stout), with okay carbonation, maybe just a little more would be nice. Very smooth beer.

D - Bomber went down quick. Almost drank too fast to finishing rating the beer.

Overall - Excellent stout. The appearance of this beer is top notch. Very little weakness in this beer.

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Photo of Axic10
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a thick dark black (no light comes through when held to light) with a half finger of tan head that settles down to a ring around the top for the rest of the drink.

Smell: Roasted coffee, roasted malt, dark chocolate, licorice and a slight alcohol burn.

Taste: Dark chocolate, roasted malt, roasted coffee/espresso, black licorice.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied and creamy.

Drinkability: Overall an enjoyable stout from Bear Republic, which is a good deal for the price, but with other stouts out there, I'm not sure if I'll make this a regular buy or not.

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Photo of negroobserver
2.93/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

22oz bottle. 8.1% abv. No production or expiration date.

C: Dark, almost black. In direct sunlight, very little sunlight penetrates the glass. Pours with about 1 1/2 inches of cappucino brown head, which dissipates over two or three minutes and leaves behind ample visible lacing on the glass. You will also find a cocoa powder colored sediment at the bottom of your glass (not uncommon), which tells me that its unfiltered.

S: Coffee. Roasted malts. Nutty overtones. Light hint of chocolatey sweetness.

T: Roasted nutty taste is at the forefront on this beer. Strong presence of alcohol. There is a moderate bitter finish with a smoky aftertaste and a hint of alcohol.

M: Light carbonation. It has a light, almost watery texture for a stout.

Overall Grade: C

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

Poured from a 650 ml bottle into a standard pint.

A: the name. Light carbonation is visible. Pours about a 1 finger, frothy, brown-white head.Settles pretty quickly, leaving some persistent residue behind as it does. Eventually leaves just a smattering of bubbly carbonation on the surface. Fair amount of sticky spider web lacing. Head renews with each pour.

S: Roasted coffee, malt, yeast, black licorice, a little dark chocolate, and oak.

T: Coffee, black licorice, and oak. Just a hint of sweetness.

M: Rich and hearty body. Bittersweet aftertaste lingers. High alcohol profile.

D: Sip and enjoy. The only thing is, it's gone just a little too soon.

Atmosphere is great. Dark and intimidating appearance. Nice frothy head, and enough lacing. Nose is full of character. Nice grain profile, woody, and some sweet components. Flavor is well-balanced delivery of grains and bittersweet. Overall, this is a great quaff.

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Photo of axeman9182
3.36/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle split with my cousin. My half was poured into my Bruery tasting tulip.

Big Bear Black Stout pours stout black. The light tan colored head tops out at three fingers in height, while subsequently displaying average retention and solid lacing. The nose is a bit muted. It's heavy on roasted grain, rather than a coffee or chocolate aroma. The flavor is a little bit more vibrant, but suffers from the same issue of bluntness. It's more general roast than any specific dark malty flavor. There's just a bit of anise in the background as well. The body is solid, if just a bit light for the style (which I suppose should be expected, given the relatively low ABV for an imperial sout). The carbonation though is a bit overdone, and mutes what should be a malt forward beer. Big Bear Black Stout is a decent beer, but there are many top tier imperial stouts out there that would command my money before this one.

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Photo of scottbrew4u
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 22oz. pours a jet black color with a half inch of bubbly tan head that keeps the bubbles around for a while.

S: Ashy, licorice, roasted and burnt malt, caramel, molasses and bitter dark chocolate. Some herbal and spicy peppery hop notes.

T: Bitter belgian chocolate, molasses, burnt and roasted malt, hint of licorice and brown bread. More bitterness from spicy, peppery hops. Finish is bitter but balanced well.

M: Medium to full body beer with crisp tight carbonation and some alcohol warmth.

D: Amazing full flavor and fresh tasting. A testament to the ingredients and the brewers. Such a great example of the style. Smooth aftertaste makes it easy to want more. Try this beer if you love stouts!

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Photo of TheFightfan1
3.78/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter,Poured pitch black with a very creamy thick coffee colored heading.Left tremendous lacing all over.

Smell is all dark chocolate,with a solid backing of licorice.Some espresso aroma's as well.

Taste and Mouth were a little weak.I would say medium bodied. Although this looks like a big beer with the look it was kind weaker than expected. The roasted malt flavoring is there but not in full force. It seemed they were shooting for a hoppy double stout as the feeling was very resiny and dank.

A good drinking stout but not something I would have more than two glasses of.

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Photo of goalie33
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a tulip glass.
A) Stout dark with a thin layer of mocha head on top. Too dark to see any carbonation in the beer. Doesn't leave much lacing on the glass.
S) Sweet roasted coffee, some slight undertones of chocolate and black licorice.
T) Fairly mild taste. Dominant flavors are espresso and some chocolate. Flavors get stronger as the beer warms.
M/D)Medium to full body, low carbonation. Nice, creamy texture. Very drinkable, but not quite sessionable. A very good dessert beer.

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

Black pour with some light getting through on the edges, tan head with good retention and attractive lacing. Not the in your face aroma that I expected - some smoke, a pinch of dark chocolate and that's about it. Starts off with a small amount of carbonation and malt sweetness which slowly creeps along towards a slightly sour & bitter finish. You'll find the aroma elements mirror flavors on the palate. Medium body, moderate carbonation, minimal alcohol warmth. Nice Imperial Stout overall.

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

Almost black with caramel highlights. A thick creamy head that's cocoa brown in color and it lasts for days.

Sweet dark chocolate with some citrus hops, brown sugar, coffee all come out in the nose.

Lots of heavily roasted chocolate malt and molasses covered citrus hops bounce around on my tongue.

The feel is smooth but not silky is full but not mouth coating so in other words not quite a perfect big stout feel.

The hops cut down on the drinkability a bit since they tend to almost dominate the traditional stout flavors.

This beer is good, but I'm not sold of hop centered stouts.

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Photo of Gushue3
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-pours black with gigantic frothy off white head.

S- smelling some chocolate and roastiness.

T- malty and roasty. Little bit of chocolate and a hint of booziness. Not one flavor overpowers.

M- smooooth.

D- definately could drink this all night. Nice balance of flavor and smooth on the lipslips

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

22oz bombers poured into a Snifter

A: HOLY HEAD! I poured very gently into a slightly wet snifter and the head just grew insanely big (3+ fingers big). light brown, frothy/foamy, and it didn't recede... when it finally did start dissipating, it became very pillowy. Impressive. Body is pitch black. Leaves good lacing. So far this is quite the experience!!

S: Dark candied fruits, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, floral hops.

T: The base is roasted malts and a little char/smoke with bakers chocolate while on top of it is espresso and grassy/citrus hops. There's a bit of molasses sweetness, though not very strong. A little dark fruit, not as much as the nose suggests. Alcohol is barely noticeable. Finish is dry, char, floral hops. I'm not digging the hops that much and wish there was a bit more depth of chocolate/malts.

M: Medium to high carbonation, medium body, not all that smooth, somewhat chewy and a good amount of stickage.

D: At just 8.1%ABV and the alcohol completely hidden, it isn't hard to plow through a bomber, but the heavy hop presence slows things down. I'm not a big fan of Stouts with hop bitterness (not to be confused with roast malt 'bitterness').

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Photo of nickd717
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Most tickers have some beers they're just flat-out embarrassed not to have ticked. This is one of those for me. Fortunately tonight is a night when I put one of those Little Fockers to bed. Bomber from BevMo, aged about a year to year and a half in the cellar.

Very nice appearance, darkest brown in color with a lasting two finger creamy tan head and thick lacing.

Nice stouty aroma of roast, coffee, molasses, and dark chocolate. Hints at a drier, roastier beer.

The flavor is indeed dry and roasty. Bitter dark chocolate, molasses, anise, and some considerable hop bitterness.

Smooth and dry yet fairly resinous palate without being too full in the body.

An enjoyable imperial stout, subtle at only 8%, and very drinkable for the style. Not too tough to finish the whole bottle.


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Photo of caddybuyer
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.

A-Black pour, but not a thick and oily as some stouts, with a thick dark tan head. This head is impressive, creamy, rocky with huge craters, and laces very nicely.

S-You can tell this is a Bear Republic brew from the citrus hop profile, which asserts itself immediately along with roasted malts, coffee, and a hint of anise. Not an overwhelmingly rich nose, but nice nonetheless.

T-Bittersweet bakers chocolate and black coffee, a hint of vanilla and anise, a wee bit of dark fruit, and big smack of citrus hops adding in a sour and bitter note. This is decent, but the whole bittersweet/sour thing is a bit unbalanced.

M-A bit thin for an RIS, but well balanced carbonation-wise.

D-Fairly decent drinking stout, but there are many, many other examples of an RIS that spank this.

I love Racer 5, Hop Rod, and Red Rocket to death, and was hoping for great things from Bear when it comes to an RIS. This was a bit of a letdown. This is not a bad beer by any means, but when I want an RIS, I want richness, some sweetness, some body. A decent brew, but I just cracked open a Ten Fidy, and comparing the two was like the difference between drinking a diet coke and a chocolate malt. (even accounting for the differences in ABV) Enough people really love this brew, and I'll give this a whirl again simply due to my love of this brewery, and hope that my tastebuds are simply off tonight.

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Photo of jizdepski
3.36/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured an impressive and thick head, full 1 1/2 inches out of the glass while holding firm. laced and retained well throughout. smells hoppy, woody and has a roasty/sweet quality as well. taste is at first quite hoppy, with near burned caramel malts and some chocolate. also getting a sour graininess. not a super aggressive stout for an imperial. got much sweeter as i forged on to finish the large bottle. almost too sweet. finishes fairly clean for the style and semi dry. mouthfeel is just ok, creamy, but just a little low on carbonation. full bodied enough, though flattish and not really that "bite" i was hoping for. drinkability is ok. nothing spectacular. many better imperial stouts out there, but this is also better than many.

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Photo of chicagoabbot
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz into a snifter...not the blackest stout pour ever, but it's pretty dark. Not the most overpowering stout aroma either, but there's a lot to like hear and it hints at a good bitter balance.

I know that once upon a time stout was 'stout porter'. This beer makes me think of that because it's almost closer to a big porter than most big stouts, with tons of lactic acid sourness. Not that it's bad. On the contrary, it add to the zestiness of this beer. It's not as malty or bitter as many huge stouts either. Another thing I like about this beer is that they didn't try to get too fancy and 'bring out' vanilla flavors or oak-age, which I think is often a mistake with big stouts if the barrels are too young--it just gets too sickly sweet.

Real clean, super drinkable big porter/big stout. Highly recommended.

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Photo of elgiacomo
4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, unknown date.

Pours dark brown with a large brown head that leaves plenty of lacing and holds a nice cap.

Aroma is roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, some grass/herbal quality, a touch oxidized. Good strength.

Flavor is chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, dark fruits, some citrus & grassy hops. Moderate sweetness. Some alcohol on the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied (albeit a bit thin for an Imperial Stout), creamy, low to medium carbonation.

Very nice Imperial Stout although not as big as others in the style, but this helps the drinkability as this goes down really nice.

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

This brew pours a jet cola hue with decent carbonation that leaves behind a two finger head and sporadic clingy lacing,the smell is quite nice with hints of mocha,smokey embers,charcoal and a light tinge of bourbon,it has a nice easy bodied nicely carbonated mouthfeel to it with tastes of blackberries,mocha,dark smokey malts,milky coffee an finishes with a dark fruit hoppy bitterness that rounds it out quite nicely,overall its a decent drop without being adventurous i mean its very easy to drink but there is no wow factor in there to make it truly memorable.

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Photo of dubinsky
4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz bottle into my C&B Bruges snifter.

A - Pours completely pitch black with a foamy tan head. When i first opened it, there was a fairly big pop from the air being released, and the pour yielded a rather large head. I'm hoping this one's not over-carbonated. As the head is receding, its leaving a nice thick lace behind.

S - This stout is rather floral and a tad hot. The first smell i get is a strong alcohol burn, but what follows is great. The deeper you smell, the more you are able to pick out aromas of unsweetened dark chocolate, coffee and molasses.

T - Oh how bitter-sweet it is. In the best kind of way, this is a fairly sweet stout, what i would expect, but on the way out, it kicks your taste buds with some hop bitterness so that you remember that it was there, leaving your mouth a tad dry with the hop oils resting on your lips and tongue.

M - Thank god its not over carbonated. This beer is smooth and creamy.

D - At 8.1 abv, i was expecting more of a boozy effect, but other than the smell i'm unable to find the 8.1. Its very drinkable, and for this style i really appreciate it. I can easily enjoy this one on my own and not feel like i need to split it. Also, at around $4, you cant go wrong. Thanks Bear Republic for making and awesome, accessible beer as always.

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Photo of beertunes
3.47/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into 10oz glass. The beer was mostly black, with slight dark brown translucence, and had less than 3/4 inch of light brown head that had medium retention and decent lacing.

The aroma was nicely rich and roasty, with some grainy malt in the background and no noticeable hop presence. The flavor had some nice roast as well, just not as bold as in the aroma. The malt has a bit bolder presence, but there was a bit of a weird tang on the finish that could have been hops or yeast, I couldn't really sort it out.

The body was far thinner than I look for in the style. Drinkability was decent, but that weird finish cost it a half point. Overall, a decent beer that's not really that far away from being great. Worth trying.

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Photo of TheKingofWichita
3.17/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep pitch black color with a thin brown head and barely any lacing. Has some ruby hues when held to light. Smells of coffee and roasted malts. Tastes of coffee, chocolate, and tons of roasted malts. A little too much malt. Almost no hops here. Mouthfeel is thick and has very little carbonation. Drinkability is medium.

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

Poured from a 22 into my snifter.

This beer pours a dark brown with longer lasting head than a porno.

the smell is a nice roasted malt and hint of hops.

really excellent balance between malts sweetness and bitterness with a bit of hop flavor

mouthfeel is surprisingly light for an imperial stout

high drinkability

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

Dark Black with 1 finger brown rocky head.

Smells of rroasted malts and caramel with hops coming thru somewhat pine and earty.

Taste is pretty balanced between the creamy roasted malts and pretty big bite of earty hops. You still get a bit of sweet caramel.

Full body with mild to med carbonation, good alcohol warmth with some bitter hops and a decent dry finish.

Not your normal stout. Pretty big hops here make this an interesting departure from traditional stouts. If you like stouts and hop driven brews you should give this a go.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: pours a deep dark brown, not as opaque as some imperial stouts, but definitely dark. Generous light brown head with heavy lacing and good retention.

S: notes of bitter cocoa, roasted barley, and licorice up front . Some notes of caramel in there as well. The finish has a nice bitterness to it.

T: huge roastiness up front with chocolate, coffee, and roast in full effect. A nice malty sweet back bone which holds up all of the roast character. The finish features a decent dose of hop bitterness. Very well balanced and full flavored.

MF: smooth body with moderate carbonation.

D: this is a great imperial stout...loads of the roasted flavor I love with a big malty backbone. Great price too.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,411 ratings.
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