Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

2,404 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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,404 |  Reviews: 1,146
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!

 592 characters

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.

 678 characters

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.

 293 characters

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.

 463 characters

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.

 475 characters

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!

 907 characters

Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22-ounce bomber into an Adirondack brewpub pint glass. Thanks Onenote81!

A: Black with a two-finger head of brown foam. Left some awesome sticky lace on the walls of my glass and there was no seeing through this dark brew.

S: Roasted, spicy malt aroma with some bittersweet cocoa, oak, carob and licorice. Zesty, herbal hop aromas blend in as well.

T: Huge doses of roasted malt bittersweetness carrying flavors of anise, burnt wood, cocoa powder and molasses. Herbal, earthy flavor blends nicely with an herbal and citrusy hop finish that is dry, sweet and roasty in nature.

M: Big, bold, flavorful and full-bodied. Lingers with a burnt sweetness and slight alcohol sting.

D: A deep, dark and delicious RIS from Bear Republic. The 8.1% ABV isn't even all that noticeable with such deep character and balance going on. Would pair nicely with roasted meats or just simply enjoyed on its own to bring the warmth back to your internal organs after being out in the snow in the winter.

 1,000 characters

Photo of kinged8th
3.76/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just starting to try these stouts. This being my third I was really impressed with this beer. This is a good one for novices to start out with. Not too strong or weak. It pours black as night and leaves a nice head. I didnt detect an overwhelming dominance of malt, coffee, chocolate, or hops. Its balanced really well. Ill drink this one again.

 345 characters

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

Picked up a bomber of this because I had realized this was the only Bear Republic beer (available in my area) that I have not had yet! And apparently Bear Republic doesn't know their own beers. Per their own website this is an American Stout, not a Russian Imperial Stout as listed here on BA for some reason.

Pours DARK black. We're talking Wesley Snipes. Fluffy light tan colored head recedes but leaves some nice lacing throughout the session.

Lots of roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits on the nose... but hops as well? I'm guessing Cascade were used at least for aroma, because it sure as hell doesn't smell like Centennial. I'm a little worried, because while I like me some hops, I like my stouts to taste like.. a stout!

Taste is wow. Very smooth. One of the smoothest 8% beers I've ever had. Bitter Chocolate and roasted malts come through, but it's balanced brilliantly with just the right amount of hops. The secret in this beer has to be the bitterness of the hops and the bitterness of the chocolate and/or roasted malts pairing perfectly. I'm pretty sure a lot of time went into this beer.

Mouthfeel is quite smooth. Decent amount of carbonation. I wouldn't necessarily want anymore, but maybe could handle a little less. After a few sips it starts sticking to your ribs a little bit, but again the alcohol is incredibly well hidden.

Sextremely drinkable. I'm going to be paying for this 8% later, but it will be well worth it. The only other "hopped" stout that I have had was the Black Sun Stout from Three Floyds. This kind of reminded me of that, except you don't taste the hops as much in this beer. Basically I'm trying to say that if you like that beer, try this one. And vice-versa.

 1,711 characters

Photo of david18
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought a 22 ounce bottle of this and enjoyed it at home one evening. I've had this beer several times and was surprised to see that I never reviewed it.

This beer is a perfect combination, or compromise, between the really big russian and american imperials and the lesser stouts. Very bold in flavor but not an alcohol bomb. Color is very dark with a very dark head, like an imperial. Aroma was roasty but not overwhelming. Flavor was powerful but not overpowering, balanced with hops, malt and dark, coffee roast. Overall, easy enough to drink in an evening.

One of the better stouts.

 591 characters

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

I was hoping this was going to be a celebratory beer for the Vikings Monday Night Football win over the Packers, but...not so much. Either way thanks to Blake for the brew.

A: I poured it slowly into a New Belgium tulip. There was a nice rich blackness coming from the bottle it glimmered with some deep rich brown hues as well. It formed a very complete brown head.

S: A decent amount of coffee and chocolate, there are also some dark fruits in the nose.

T: Elements of coffee and bitter chocolate, it has a hop profile as well. There is a slight taste, while mild, of syrup...perhaps richer honey or molasses?

M/D: Nice body, it had a good creamy texture to it. However, seemed a little lacking compared to some of the RIS I have had, not bad...just not what I was expecting. Still a good beer worth trying.

 816 characters

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

Poured a very dark brown with brown highlights that had a half finger of head and left somw frothy lacing sticking to the glass. Surprisingly the nose was quite hoppy alongside caramel, chocolate, slight coffee, and some roasty notes as well. Upfront on the palate it was also quite roasty with chococlate, slight hoppy, caramel, and coffee accents. The brew was medium in body with a good amount of carbonation which had a sweet, slight astringent, and mild hop bitter bite. It drank good and drank the majority ghetto style straight out of the bottle.

 553 characters

Photo of TCgoalie
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It is hard to say much about the appearance of a stout other than the head and lacing. I could tell the color, but of course, it will be black. What I can tell you about the appearance is that the head remains in a thin form over the beer, but the lacing is great. All kinds of mess left on the sides of the glass.

The aroma has large notes of chocolate alongside pine hops. The hop smell reminds me of the west coast variety. I am also getting some bourbon sweetness. Overall, the balance of smells is good.

I have had RIS's that have a more robust flavor profile than this one, but even with the muted flavors, I feel that they are well placed. The biggest players in the taste are chocolate, pine, soil, coffe, and a pinch of bourbon.

This brew is medium to light in the mouth which is unusual for a stout of this style and ABV.

This is one of the most drinkable RIS's I've had. A solid drink in which I would gladly have again.

 936 characters

Photo of tchenery
4.7/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge stout head on this monster! It's nice and foamy, a deep off-white tan color. The beer itself is opaquely black. Looking good.

Smells good, kind of a roasted/caramel/dark chocolate aroma.

Nice roast taste to it. It has that soft coffee bitterness as well. It tastes like a big toasted marshmallow.

Very smooth for a beer this big in ABV. Nice full body, but still "thin" in Guinness terms. Excellent beer, very drinkable and I will definitely go back to this one in the future.

 485 characters

Photo of kgrober
4.58/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Part of an Autumn tasting @ Grapevine in Fort Mill, SC.

Poured from bomber to pint glass.

Appearance was very nice, a chunky thick brown black with minimal creamy head.

Crisp toasty notes of malts & coffee/espresso with nice balance of alcohol to flavor. Hint of bourbon at finish that lingers with the bitterness of the hops in this stout.

Bready, but very drinkable as a stout should be.
A fine example with the complexity so well layered the alcohol all, but disappears.

 480 characters

Photo of seand
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very dark opaque brown, with a medium amount of tan head. Enough retains around the edges to leave a solid amount of lacing.

S: Thick nutty sweetness, with strong roasted malt notes. Fairly subdued overall.

T: Strong roasted malts, with nutty notes. Not overly sweet, and finishes with a biting hop note. No real boozy-ness, the alcohol blends in well.

M: Very thick mouthfeel, some chewiness. Medium carbonation.

D: Quite easy to drink; I could drink quite a bit of this, though the ABV is high enough that it wouldn't be a good idea.

 550 characters

Photo of OakedCanuck
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz poured into MS tulip

A - Black with brown edging against a light. Large, dark tan 3 finger head with nice lacing

S - Surprisingly strong hops on the nose, lingering roast chocolate and coffee

T - Roast coffee and bittersweet chocolate. I pick up some nuttiness, like hazelnuts. Some citrus from a strong hops presence.

M - Medium body, a little oily and somewhat thin. Bitterness bites the back of the mouth.

D - Easy drinker. Not sure if this should be considered a Russian Imperial Stout though.

 507 characters

Photo of MeMyselfNAles7
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a superb brew from BR, hope they keep up the great job.

Pours a dark brown brew with a beiege medium crown. Full carbonation, thick body. No alchol scent present, sweet malts, roasted caramel with some pleasant cocoa hints. Starts you up with the roasted caramel going on to the sweet malts, then turning towards some chocolate and dark coffe at the aftertaste. Very refreshing, nice drinkabilty. A superb balanced brew. This RIS is my 3rd brew from the BR and so far the ones I've tried are top notch. This Big Bear B Stout aint the exception. Highly recommended for the RIS lovers.

 592 characters

Photo of beergod1
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with red highlights around the edge of glass, with a thick and extremely persistent tan head. The aroma is Sweet and creamy, with Dark chocolate, espresso, and roasted malt. Really smooth and creamy, a little burnt caramel with a nice long finish, and a slight hop fade. Really a great stout with plenty of flavor, nice mouth feel and a lasting finish. Bear republic is 4 for 4 with great is the Brown ale.

 432 characters

Photo of jamex
3.87/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Russian River tulip. Paid $4.49 for a 22oz bomber in San Diego, CA.

This guy pours a deep black. Light cannot pass through this beer. A beer producer a nice, foamy head when poured. Bubbly and clingy to the sides of the glass.

The beer smells of molasses, malt, toasted nuts and twigs, brown sugar and honey. Some hints of coffee, rum and soft leather.

You are hit with some chocolate, coffee and alcohol upon sipping. There's some vanilla hiding in there. Maybe licorice slipping out. The boozy taste could have been less, leaving me with an aftertaste that is faintly unpleasant.

Good carbonation; light and creamy but I could have handled it a bit thicker.

 677 characters

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

Bomber split with a friend and poured into my Aventinus Eisbock glass.

Appearance: Again, like most of the style it is dark brown almost black. Very little head both initially and throughout, mostly just a dark tan ring.

Smell: Mocha on the nose, again big coffee, and big chocolate.

Taste: Had this beer immediately following a founders breakfast stout, and frankly they are very, very close, in flavor. Coffee flavors seem a little milder in this Bear Republic version. Like the founders, rich mocha flavors with nice hop balance with a "just right" level of bitterness.

Mouth feel: Smooth and creamy on the palate.

Drinkability: Again, this beer is rich enough where I don't see having many in a session.

A solid RIS, almost a breakfast stout.

 755 characters

Photo of PintOHops
4.62/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Glass - Tulip

A - Pitch black with a 3-finger tan head, the retention seems to be pretty good. It held a thin tan ring atop my beer for most of consumption and left a few splotches on my glass.

S - A little dry with rich dark chocolate and slight coffee. Raisin with plum, fig, hint of charcoal. Slight alcohol is present with a soft Rum like quality, subtle vanilla in there as well. A lot going on in the aroma for sure, very inviting.

T - A bit of alcohol upfront that quickly unfolds into layers of rich, bittersweet chocolate, smokey charcoal, muted vanilla and licorice. An herbal hop flavor is there but not over powering to the rich malts. It finishes with a bit more alcohol, herbal hop, rich dark chocolate and soft bitterness. It's so well balanced and hides the alcohol very well.

M - Smooth with an almost moderate crispness to it and a medium-full body, but more on the full side.

D - Not one to drink more than a snifter or two for sure. I was very impressed with this beer, such a rich smokey brew for a nice cold day. God I gotta get more of it! I highly recommend this indulgent brew to anyone! It's worth stocking up for sure. Cheers!

 1,158 characters

Photo of JosiahS
4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

g: tulip

Almost completely black, it gave off a huge head mocha colored head, very creamy. Lacing is scattered but sticks well. half finger head holds throughout consumption.

Although this is a stout, i smell those hops that Bear Republic seems to favor so much. It gives off a papaya, mango aroma. Getting past that, a milky, nutty aroma is present, along with chocolate, not really any coffee to mention. A little date with brown sugar is there, if you dig for it. As it warms, some tart apple or white grape appears, most likely from the alcohol.

Mmm.. Liquid heaven. I haven't has a bad beer from Bear Republic so far and this one doesn't disappoint. Once swallowed, an immediate realization that this this beer is on a different league that the rest becomes apparent. It has rich smooth body, lent by the alcohol. Some bright cherry and chocolate mix extremely well with the papaya/mango-like hops in a way that i haven't tasted before. It finishes rich and sorta nutty. Lots of chocolate throughout.

Although BR is known for Racer 5, Hop Rod Rye, ect. This beer is not overly hopped or overly bitter, it's just right. I could drink this anytime, but of coarse, the winter season just adds to the experience. Top notch beer.

 1,234 characters

Photo of xanok
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another year round RIS that I have regular access to. This makes me a happy BA.

A-Fairly standard RIS appearance. Black as night body, although the head seems a bit more foamy than average. Lacing doesn't last too long.

S-Sweet molasses, dark fruit. Very little hints of chocolate and coffee. Maybe because it's a bit colder than serving temperature.

T-Hops are a bit more noticeable than an average stout, but they just give bitterness moreso than flavor. There are some roasted notes, but the sweetness of the dark fruit and bitter chocolate come up bigger in taste here.

M-Body is a bit thin for an RIS (not storm king thin). Carbonation is average for the style. The hops leave a lingering bitterness in the aftertaste.

D-Smooth and tasty. 8.1% abv is already low for the style, add in the fact that's well-hidden, and one of these bombers will disappear quickly.

 872 characters

Photo of AleWeizengarten
3.93/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours solid midnight brown with big, foamy cloud-like head that stays with a lacing that splotches the glass in alluring patches. Caramel roast scent draws you in. Great balanced, sweet hops and malty smoothness hides the 8.1 ABV amazingly. Extremely drinkable, could be

 270 characters

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,404 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Learn More