Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
Liked This Beer
4.13 w/ 2,414 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: 2,414 |  Reviews: 1,147
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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Photo of BigMike
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours as dark a brown as possible before becoming black. A beautiful melted coffee icecream colored head.

Initial aroma is surprisingly citrus hops. Followed immediatly by bitter sweet chocolate, black licorice, dark roasted malts and espresso coffee.

Just like the nose there's a good amount of hops. Lots of orange and tangerine. Roasted chocolate notes and espresso. Alcohol isn't noticable until it hits the gut and the warmth begins.

Smooth on the tongue with just the right amount of carbonation.

An excellent hoppy stout. If you like your stouts with tons of hops you'll like this one.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a perfect pint.

A- pours a very dark brown with a robust 2 finger tan head. Very puffy and foamy head...looks great

S- I'm getting a cola smell that I usually end up picking up when drinking brown ales...a little bit of chocolate and coffee in there too, but not much. Not what I expected based on the style

T- bitter chocolate and espresso, but not to the point where it makes you pucker...its the GOOD kind of bitter. And dear god is it magnificent.

M- carbonation level is great...if anything, its a little thin. Reminds me more of a softer stout than a thicker, meatier one that I'm used to drinking in the style

D- the ABV is hidden well...this is a real easy drinker. Great beer

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

Had this on 2010-09-18 n Columbia, PA from a 22oz bomber.

A - Black, black, black with a tan head that fades quickly.

S - Chocolate, fig, expresso, molasses and a hint of licorice.

T - Echoes the smells with the additional hop flavors and bitterness mixed with some sweetness that dries quickly and leaves a great roasted grain and bitter taste. Alcohol taste is present but very understated. Delicious.

M - Light to medium body and medium carbonation. Light and refreshing. Not creamy.

D - Very drinkable for this style. Plenty of flavors but not stodgy about it. Good beer.

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

Grabbed a bottle to try.... can't remember where... think I was drunk.

- Fluffy light mocha head... nice healthy ring of lace... quickly down to a soft and thin layer... rich and black... barely see ruby around the edges.

- Fantastic grain, cocoa, coffee... oats.. bitter bitter bright hop... mmm...

- Nice roasty malt... almost a smokey flavor... woody, grainy,... light coffee.. chocolate malt... bright bitter hopping,..

- Light and creamy... hardly seems as strong as it states. Slightly chalky and drying.

- Overall this is a killer stout... I can see why it has the great grade it has. So smooth...

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been a while since I popped one of these...

Poured from a bomber into a Stone Brewery pint glass...

A - Poures black with a three finger tan head. Decent head retention and lacing...

S - Lots of coffee and chocolate notes...

T - Good amount of dark roasted malts in this one. Chocolate notes also come through. Ends with a little bit of smokiness. Very smoth. Abv is very well hidden...

M - Medium bodied with not to much carbonation...

D - Used to be one of my go to beers a few years ago when I was first getting into craft. Surprised to see they hiked the price up on these. While I would definitely recommend this to somebody getting into the style, I wouldn't consider it a must have. All in all, a good brew, but something I probably won't be buying to often...


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Photo of robwestcott
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured black from the bottle to a dogfish head signature glass with a thinnish short lasting mocha colored head with nice big bubbled retention.

aroma of melted dark chocolate and strong black coffee.

thick and creamy coffee with toffee and black currant / dark fruit notes followed by a baking chocolate bitter bite.

creamy, medium carbonation, smooth to the tongue. slightly more bitter than other stouts i've sampled.

drinkable enough - though 1x bomber will be plenty.

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

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a clear pint glass. Paid $4.29 - good price compared to other brewery's stouts.

A-Pours a deep, dark brown almost black hue with a two finger, creamy tan head with good retention that recedes into a blotchy lace.

S-Dark chocolate and toasted malts. And coffee with a nicely balanced hop bill that includes Centennial and Cascade.

T-Rich malt and dark chocolate with a slight coffee taste. Slight alcohol present in the taste too. Sufficiently hoppy, clean, and well balanced. A very straightforward stout.

M-Very smooth, full bodied, and nicely carbonated.

D-This is a very drinkable stout. I rated this as an American Stout per the brewer's website instead of a Russian Imperial Stout here. Not as rich and robust as an RIS, but a very fine American Stout.

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Photo of mephifaust
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A: Dark to obsidian with dark tan head - one finger high. Foam lacing lingers as you drink.

S: chocolate, malty goodness with hints of alcohol

T: heavy malt background of chocolate and willamette hops flavor

M: medium to light body

D: high - good drinking beer

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Photo of jpmclaug
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Stone IRS snifter

A - Black body with a brown-tan head on top. Sticky lacing on sides of glass

S - Roasted malt flavor with what seems to be a citrusy hop flavor mixed in. Maybe reminiscent of a weaker Night Stalker?

T - Nice hop presence up front and finishes with a lingering roasted malt flavor with a hint of dark chocolate. Not much coffee in this and not much hop presence in the finish. Decent beer but I don't know if it has all the flavor of a true RIS.

M - medium to heavy body with a fair amount of carbonation. Not as thick as I would expect for the style.

D - Pretty good brew but isn't as big in body or flavor as I would hope for a RIS. However it does have an enjoyable hop presence. I would pick this up again if I was in the mood and the beer is really reasonably priced. However I would not go nuts trying to get this one.

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

Poured into a Stone IRS tulip

A - Black with a 3-finger dark tan head that is extremely bubbly and is hanging around for quite a bit.

S - Sweet milk chocolate and coffee with a surprising amount of dark berries. Almost smells like a raspberry-chocolate truffle. Nice.

T - Dark (almost burnt) roasted malts and bitter chocolate dominate. There is a slight hop bitterness that balances out the malt sweetness nicely. Touch of dark berries carries through from the nose. No alcohol detected.

M - Smooth and creamy with a medium-heavy body, prickly carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - Solid stout, could easily sip on this for a while. Very flavorful, yet balanced, and an absolute steal at under five dollars for a 22.

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

I had this on cask at Al's of Hampden - served at cask temp in a 14oz Nonic.

A - The color is onyx with a slight crimson hue at the glass base. The translucent clarity is nice to look at in the flourescent lighting. The cap of rocky beige is appealing with tight bead and moderately good lace cling - it was worthy of beer porn pics.

S - The smell of this stout is very good - it has your usual coffee and caramel components, but seems elevated by an espresso-like quality, bitter notes of cocoa and slight toasted grain roastiness in the smell w/ a mild sweet crystal malt quality and hint of dried cherry. You don't sense any alcohol in the aroma which is a surprise for a big stout.

M - The feel is luxury in stout form -smooth as silk with only slight bitter edges poking out and hints of roasted texture that border on char, but don't really go there. The hop acidity acts as a foil to the caramel sweetness the malt delivers. The texture is semi-dry in the last taste and the beer is what I consider balanced in the best sense of the word.

T - The flavor follows the alluring mouthfeel with its dark cocoa/espresso taste. The slight molassess and roasted flavors go well with a slight pine and citrus tinge from the hops. The taste has slight toffee notes which come and go with an earthy vanilla bean type accent. The nice thing is how well the flavors glide into each other, no pause or stutter in the yeast or malt with hops, they all cooperate in a synergistic way which is extremelely pleasurable.

D - I could drink a beer like this repeatedly if it weren't for the 8% octane -the flavor hides it so well, but I tend to go for cask beers in succession that are slightly milder in strength. I don't think you could find many cask American Stouts that are easier on the palate for the abv -this is a truly quality cask brew, sad to see it go.

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

22oz bottle into pint glass.
A: Pours a bold, deep black body. The body shows no light making it through the glass. The head, a rich tan in color, retreats quick to a solid layer along the top of the glass. No lacing is left behind.

S: Notes of coffee and licorice, all blended together with a nice sweetness. A bold, yet subtle aroma overall. Molasses is a very subtle, but distinct aspect of this aroma.

T/M: A smooth mouthfeel of mild carbonation, a perfect stout representation. Great notes of chocolate and roasted nuts. A nice and hoppy stout, this is a perfect marriage of hops and complex malt profile. A sweet finish with a nice bit of liquor and coffee. The nose suggests just what the finish of this beer represents. The lingering taste is a warm note of molasses. As the brew warms it releases a hints of layered malts.

D: A really nice stout, a easy sipper that hides the ABV very well. A brew that I could drink a few of. The complex flavors only develop as brew completely warms, making the complete drinking experience, just that, complete. This is a friendly bear of a stout.

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Photo of biglite351
3.35/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - red around the edges. Fast falling creamy head that leaves some lacing.

S - strong stout scent. Heavy malts and mild chocolate. Maybe some caramel, but something bitter at the end. Were it just a bit stronger I would have hoped the rating.

T - mild bitterness through the entire run. Light smoke in the roasted malts. Maybe some coffee in the end.

M - heavy coating. Tingle on sides of tongue, but almost feels like an alcohol burn as opposed to the usual feel.

D - would do, but not as first choice.

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Photo of Spider889
3.69/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Black pour with a thin two finger mocha colored head. No lacing.

Smelly very hoppy with some slight roasted notes.

Taste is much the same, nice roasted malts, some delicate sweetness balanced by some big hop bitterness.

This was a very thin/watery brew, very light bodied for a stout. Drinkability is low because I just wasn't all that impressed. There were another three or four stouts on tap that night (one a Jackie O's Black Ryno) so I couldn't justify getting a second. Not bad, and I'd happily drink it if it were the only stout and that was what I was in the mood for. However, ultimately this one fell a little short for me.

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

From notes 08/04/10

Served from a 22oz bomber into a glass mug.

A- Motor oil dark, cloudy, 2 1/2 fingers of tan/brown head, really bubbly, large amounts of lacing.

S- Bittersweet chocolate, heavy malt, coffee, pecans.

T/M- Chocolate, roasted coffee, creamy, frothy, baked nuts.

D- Awesome. Thick, but not filling. I could easily make this my late fall/winter session if it did not have the high ABV. I am thoroughly impressed and highly recommend this beer.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 89.1% out of 100 with 2,414 ratings
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