Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
2,423 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,423 |  Reviews: 1,149
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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Photo of birderbeerer
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a one finger head and some lace sticks to the glass.

Aroma is malty and sweet. No sense from the aroma that this is a big beer. Mellow.

Taste is roast. Coffee, some dark chocolate dryness. But not overly roasty. It's balanced with a mild sweetness from the malt.

Good beer but doesn't stand out as excellent. Drinks like a non-imperial stout. Very well done and evenly balanced. Tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of BigHeavy
4.74/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into my shiny new Boulevard tulip glass. Beer was allowed to warm for thirty minutes after removal from the fridge.

A: Bear pours nearly black, per the name. No light getting through this one. A small one finger tan head formed atop the dark liquid and dissipated quickly. As the beer is emptied from the glass via drinking, minimal lacing appears.

S: Huge chocolate aromas hit you at first. You really have to search for other aromas in the beer. I found some faint citrus hops in there, as well as some dark fruit. As the beer warms, the other aromas are more easy to pick out. I could smell this one all night.

T: Simply divine. Big citrus hop flavor up front, one of the more hoppy stouts I have had, maybe just a notch below Old Rasputin. Roasty/coffee flavors come through as beer warms. A little bit of residual sweetness and lingering hop bitterness keeps you coming back for that next sip.

M: Obviously a very full bodied beer, but lacks the mouth coating abilities of some other Imperial Stouts. A little creamy as well.

D: Incredibly drinkable, cannot for the life of me find the 8.1% ABV. Creeps up on you. Definitely COULD have another bomber, but probably not the best idea. For me it's best enjoyed in small servings over a long cold night.

O: Absolutely what I think an American Imperial Stout should be: hopped up. Though in my mind a notch below Old Rasputin, it's way up there on my list of favorite American Craft brews. Totally worth the $4-5 you see this for at most stores in the Midwest.

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

22oz bomber poured first into a pint and the remaining in a tasting glass, drank 1st. Fresh from Abe's of Bethlehem.

A- nearly pitch black with cola like hues. Perfect light khaki head.Beautiful creamy lacing.
S- Aggressive rich malty character. Hops are very forward... and it borderlines as a black IPA. Piney notes present.
T- Very well balanced between smokey, hoppy, roasty, and dark indugence. The beer is a little on the acidic side and a little sweeter than i prefer, kind of tangy. Dark fruits like raisins and prunes are present.
M- Carbonation is moderate and delicious. Beer is attenuated with hops very well so they really compete with the malts for the aftertaste.
D- Kind of on the lower ABV for a RIS, however this is very good and quite enjoyable for being on the lower spectrum of an RIS.

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Photo of JLeege
3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- poured into a fluted glass. Pretty much black, with a large off white head. Good head retention and lacing.

Smell- Roasted malts, a little bit of dark chocolate, piney hops.

Taste- Chocolate and coffee notes through out. Lots and lots of hops in here as well. Mostly of the pine variety. Subtle caramel as well. Finishes hoppy and dry.

Mouthfeel- Very light in the mouth, all things considered. Goes down easy. ABV's not noticed at all.

Overall- Good beer, but to hoppy for my preferance* for an imperial stout. Borderline dark IPA. I would definitly drink this again and again, but not for the typical big stout qualities.

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Photo of zhanson88
3.81/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours pretty close to pitch black with over two fingers of light tan head. Lacing is gorgeous, tons of chunky

Smell: This beer smells of roasted malts, a bit of coffee, and hops. Pretty nicely balanced, this is definitely more hops than you usually see in a RIS.

Taste: plenty of roasted malts and a bit of coffee. There is a lot of hops on the back end. This a very balanced stout, not the craziest most flavorful stout out there by any means, but still good.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Fairly heavy and pretty smooth drinking overall. This beer is certainly worth a try for stout lovers. It is different and unique. Very nice effort.

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

Poured into my trusty oversized Dogfish Head snifter.

A: Comes out of the 22oz. bottle black as night. However, the liquid that came out of the bottle before it gathered had a reddish hue to it. The five finger tan head stayed beautiful and silky throughout the session.

S: Very hoppy and fruity for a stout, and the roasted malt, chocolate, and caramel notes hit the nose hard, yet awesomely! I detected a tinge of bitterness.

T: It was almost as if that under the dark sludge, there was an IPA buried in there. Milk chocolate... on the front and finish! The way the roastiness wraps itself around the chocolate and caramel sweetness was a astounding. This was the most dessert-like stout I've had in a while. The chocolate here was more of the Hershey's variety, as opposed to gourmet dark chocolate cacao such as Dagoba. Smooth!

M: Thick enough, but I've had much thicker. I'll stick with milk (chocolate) as the best was to describe this brew in general. And the alcohol detectability?... nada!

D: I used to this was the sweetest stout on the face of the planet. I can't imagine why because this was a very disciplined and well put together stout indeed. Also, what a bargain for only $4.99. I've never had a bad beer from Bear Republic.

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

Serving Type - 22oz bottle

Appearance - Blackish tan, thick tan 2 inch head, nice lacing.

Smell - Barley, coffee, chocolate, some yeast and hops. Malts and alcohol are also present

Taste - Been waiting awhile for this beer, so expectations are high. Huge coffee and malt flavor kicks off this stout. Chocolate mixed with nut and spices leaves a nice aftertaste. This stout is pretty intense, treading on imperial status. Has a nice hop undertone also.

Mouthfeel - Its rather thin so it doesnt ruin mouth. Its smooth and a little bitey/bitter, but not a crusher. I wouldnt switch gears to a pale ale or ipa but its pleasent and enjoyable to drink.

Drinkabilty - Its bold and strong enough, the 22oz is enough. One fantastic stout for its taste, smoothness, and boldness. Would love to try this oak or whiskey barrel aged, wow. Killer winter beer here.

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Photo of jhammel01
4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black, no light penetrating at all! Coffee colored head, thick and rocky and almost never goes away.

Dark Chocolate scent, roasted malt, hazelnut, Freshly brewed coffee.

Great robust flavor. Tons of roasted malt flavors, more chocolates in the finish. Very very chocolatey, like chocolate milk. Awesome malty bite in the end with some lingering hop spiciness.
Mouthfeel is on the thicker bodied side without too much carbonation. Perfect level of carbonation for the style

Frankly exactly what the style embodies. A robust, chocolaty, Coffee infused stout. An outstanding beer!

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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 BigB415
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the stout that got me into stouts. Very mellow compared to other stouts. A good session beer but at 8.1% you might forget you're drinking a beer since the alcohol is barely noticeable. A definite recommendation for anyone starting out in stouts. One of my favorite Bear Republic beers.

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Photo of ChugginOil
4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Black as night, a lot of head with pretty sticky lacing.

S- Hoppy and malty with coffee and a hint of chocolate. Alcohol is barely present.

T- Toasty malt is mixed with some coffee a bit of cocoa and some sweetness followed by some booziness.

M- Full body feel with good carbonation that works and turns out pretty smooth.

D- Sits a bit heavy but that's expected from a big stout like this. I would like to put this away for a year to see how it develops.

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Photo of brendan13
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours pitch black with an impressive inch of beige head that slowly falls away. Leaves plenty of lacing down the glass.
S - Bittersweet chocolate and light coffee with some dark fruit & berry notes.
T - Not unlike the smell but the fruit & berry flavour comes through a bit more. Also some piney and floral hops are detectable.
M - Medium to full bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. A decent bitterness as well.
D - A very nice beer indeed. I'll try to get more.

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

A: Very dark with just slight light peeking through at the edges. A fine brown head with excellent lacing.

S: Dark chocolate and sweet cherries. A decent amount of caramel is present, too.

T: Chocolate covered black cherry flavor is the most prominent, but not the candy cherry flavor that some beers have... it combines beautifully with the subtle hops to give an actual sour cherry flavored aftertaste. It definitely has a fruitier flavor than most stouts mixed with bold dark chocolate. I don't really notice much coffee flavor. Alcohol is very well hidden.

M: Just right in this department. Nice and carbonated to fill up the mouth. Finishes dry and lingers nicely.

D: All around a great west coast stout. The perfect amount of subtle hop spice to give a kick and make it stand out. I returned to this beer after having a positive drinking experience before, and I was not disappointed. Recommended!

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 2,423 ratings
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