Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

2,407 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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Ratings: 2,407 |  Reviews: 1,146
Photo of dwilson01
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into an indian wells brewing co pint glass. This brew is dark, they're not joking when they call it "black." The head is thick, brown, and frothy. It reminds me of coffee. Clings well to the glass and receds evenly leaving a nice layer on the top.

The smell gives that it gives off is malty sweet, a little caramel as it says on the bottle but I definitely pick up mostly coffee, just not the roasted kind, it's smooth and dessert-like.

Oh man! I am excited, maybe it's just because I've had a few blander stouts lately that haven't delivered as much on flavor, but this one is noticably great tasting. It delivers everything in the nose, the caramel really comes through kind of reverseing positions with the coffee I got more of in the scent. Not a trace of alcohol at 8%, it's very sweet, and I honestly think this beer would go great paired with some chocolate because I don't get that flavor too much in the taste.

Very good mouthfeel, it's definitely full-bodied in a 100% meaning of the term. But at the same time it's not overly thick and is very enjoyable.

The drinkability is there for sure, it leaves my mouth feeling satisfied and slides down gulp after gulp like it's water.

Overall, great beer, I definitely recommend it to any fan of the dark brew family. Another awesome offering from the bear republic brewing company which has yet to let me down in terms of quality beer. I mean, it's big on flavor, bear of a smell, black on sight, with the mouthfeel of a stout...Big Bear Black Stout, yes I do believe it fits!

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Photo of Chico1985
3.96/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours, big, black, and bearish. Enormous beige head rests up top. The head here takes a while to calm down. Stays great-looking the whole time, you barely see the top of the beer the entire time. Leaves crazy thick lacing. Smell is a bit weak (gets a bit stronger once the head shrinks a bit), chocolate, caramel and a bit of dark fruit. Also a strange smell that resembles old leather? This stout isn't quite as "hefty" as I remember. Definitely much easier to drink and watery than your average RIS. Subdued tastes of roastiness and light chocolate sweetness combined with some hoppy bitterness. Mouthfeel is a bit too watery for me and the tastes don't really stand out except for the amount of hops which is unusual in a stout. The highlight here is drinkability, one of the easiest-drinking RIS's I've had, good taste, no alcohol taste whatsoever and good price.

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

22oz brown bomber

Appearance: wonderful fluffy pillowy head that leaves nice thick tan lace all the way down.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee and even some molasses or berry sweetness.

Taste & Mouthfeel: very smooth upfront with sweet caramel flavors that transform into some complex roasted coffee, berry and molasses with some good lingering bitterness like dark chocolate at the end. I can also really taste the hops in this one, unusual for a stout imo.

Notes: A very drinkable stout that delivers a good punch and satisfies that craving for a complex and flavorful stout.

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Photo of mithrascruor
3.83/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice solid black color with a creamy tan head full of bubbles. Decent retention, leaving a heavy ring around the edge and some lacing.

Smell: Mild aroma of roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, and fennel.

Taste: Slightly sweet roasted malt and coffee flavor to start. A bitter roasted flavor comes in towards the finish together with a bit of spices. Slightly bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and medium-bodied. Not as creamy as I anticipated; slightly watery.

Drinkability: Pretty drinkable; minimal alcohol in the taste despite the high ABV.

A nice imperial stout, but not my favourite. Still enjoyable to try.

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Photo of riored4v
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Poured 1/2 finger, tan head that faded to a ring quickly. Black body.

Smell was coffee, roasted malt, and some caramel. Slight molasses and dark, burnt bitterness.

Taste had some mild, roasty, burnt bitterness in the the finish. Roast throughout the flavor. Nice coffee flavors with mild caramel.

Mouthfeel was a bit thin on body, with light/medium body and medium carbonation.

Drinkability was good. No signs of ABV and a nice balance of flavors.

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

Pours very dark, opaque, with a chocolatey colored mocha head that laces every glass. Smell is malty/chocolate/lightly of dark fruits/and some hops. Taste and mouthfeel are good. Malty overhaul with some same notes as the smells, mostly chocolaty/biscuity/malty with a touch of hops. Mouthfeel is halfway between medium-full bodied and coats the mouth without being overwhelmed. Drinkability is great for a stout. One that I have loved since the first taste.

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Photo of jera1350
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Darkest shade of brown in color with a one finger tight head that leaves quite a bit of lacing.

Big nose of sweet caramel, raisin, fig and a pretty hoppy presence.

Quite different than the nose. Lots of toasted malt and quite a bit of chocolate and coffee. Light raisin presence with a moderate hopping.

Nice feel of soft carbonation. Lighter than usual body for the style. This only adds to the drinkability. Dry finishing.

So easy to drink for an IS. The hopping makes this a refreshing version. At $4.99 for a bomber, it's hard to think of a better deal for this style. It's not outstanding, but it is absolutely solid.

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

A: Black body with dark, burnt-mocha head.

S/T: Very nice toasted oaky-vanilla presence, along with a mellow chocolate, light coffee, subtle dark fruit and some subtle hop herbage.

M: Very nice and full, with the vanilla giving a nice finish.

D: Absolutely drinkable. Alcohol is very subtle, though obviously, the ABV is a bit lower than most of the Russian style. All the flavors meld well together, and I'm a huge fan of the vanilla.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Yum de dum, a big black stout. Fair thickness, deep blackness. Great aroma, more than just typical chocolate and coffee, but a hop quality as well, no noticeable alcohol.

Again, taste, hoppy. This is a big beer. Everything is full bodied, the warming effect, the malt, the hops. Good mouthfeel, gets a little complacent/thin towards the end. Very drinkable, quite affordable for what it is.

Second review: Had it on tap at Hollingshead. And while I'm mentioning that, if you are a Packers fan, and in the OC, and like beer, you MUST go here during a game. Opener, even better. Anyways, solid, solid stuff.

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Photo of joepais
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I poured it into tulip glasses split three ways. The brew produced a good tan head that trailed off to a light lace on top of a typical stout black body.

The aroma of hops was the first thing I noticed about this brew. Yes it from the west coast. It sort of reminded me of a great Divide is a lot of ways in the flavor department .It had a medium feel in my mouth with good carbonation. A easy drinking stout not bad at all and for the price a good beer.

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

22oz bottle $5, not bad. Color was pitch black, looks pretty standard for the style. Smells nice, roasty. Easygoing taste, rich but not cloying, no alcohol burn but a good warming in the stomach. This is not my favorite stout but it is very well done and a great value for the price. Very easy to drink the whole bottle myself.

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Photo of mgbickel
4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Formed a massive, two finger, tan head. Very slow dissipation formed foamy pits and left behind large puffs of foam on the glass. The body is blackish brown and solid. You can force amber edges with backlighting.

The nose has sweet malts and dark coffee up front. There are some caramel and molasses notes in the background. The backbone of the nose is a roasted malt aroma.

The roasted malts open up the flavor gate and last throughout the aftertaste. The middle is a combo of coffee and molasses that grows into a sweet caramel finish. Black coffee accompanies the roasted flavors in the aftertaste.

The mouth feel is medium and slightly drying with mild carbonation.

Very drinkable with good (not great) flavors that hide the 8.1% ABV well. Will buy this one again!

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Photo of chicano4craft
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a snifter. Black as night with a huge tan head. Very inviting. Decent lacing.

Grainy chocolate and roasted malted in the nose. Smells very clean for a RIS.

First sip is surprising. Not as heavy as I was expecting but still packed with huge flavor. The taste delivers the smells promise of chocolate and roast. Hops come through in the bitter finish. Good carbonation leads to a dangerously drinkable stout.

I love this beer. While Yeti is still king, this bear is a scrapper and ready to challenge for the throne. Whatever the heck that means!

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

Appearance - Pours a nice molasses brown with a solid head and lacing to match

Smell - Malt, molasses appear to be the prominent smells

Taste - Chocolate with roasted malts and a sugar/hop taste that is very unique to a traditional stout.

Mouthfeel - Chewy and smooth

Drinkability - Extremely drinkable for a stout

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Photo of ShadesOfGray
2.83/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks Sideswipe! Even though I respect "The Bros" reviews, I have no idea how they gave this one an A+. Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Koningshoeven snifter. Pours a thin'er black with reddish tinge. Head is light brown last lasts pretty long, and when it dissapates...remains a thin surface head. Lacing is pretty good though...sticky and remains for quite some time.

Aroma is pretty bitter. Stout like characteristics, mostly overroasted coffee bitters...and that's about it...unfortunately.

Stouts are my favorite beer, but when they resemble too much bitterness, it kills it for me. This one flirted with that line. At first, I picked up a licorice or bitter chocolate, followed by hoppy bitterness that was strong and lingered for a few minutes. There wasn't much sweetness to compliment the bitterness. Medium to thin(for a stout) mouthfeel. Crisp and carbonated, another opposite of great stouts. Booze was pretty well hidden while cold, became more pronounced as it warmed up to room temp.

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

A: Pours a dark, opaque black color, with garnet-brown highlights when held aloft. The brown head is tall and thick, with a densely frothy texture. Retention is excellent, with loads of sticky lacing clinging to the glass.

S: Thick notes of roasty, chewy dark chocolate and brown sugar. Bright citric and leafy hop notes, along with lesser hints of dark fruit and coffee.

T: A robust roasted malt presence with a big chocolate brownie flavor. A moderate hop bitterness is carried by a juicy citric (orange) flavor. I get a significant brown sugar flavor as well, which fades into a slightly fruity toffee character. A dose of leafy/piney bite and a little alcohol into the finish.

M: Fairly full-bodied. Intensely chewy, with medium carbonation. A nice balance between roastiness and creaminess.

D: Another big, impressive beer from Bear Republic. A robustly hoppy, fruity, brown-sugary stout that drinks like a liquid brownie. A wonderful blend of chocolate, roasted malts, and hop flavors. Also a relative steal for $4.50.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

After enjoying Bear Republic's other more hoppy offerings, I was really excited to see this one finally come to Colorado.

Served cool into a pint glass, Big Bear has very dark brown color on the pour but looks black in the glass. It has creamy bone white head but it's short-lived, unfortunately.

Aroma is not especially strong but it has all the right characterisitcs of a good stout - nice roastiness, black malt, and coffee.

Flavor is really enjoyable. Chocolate sweetness up front is followed by some well-judged bitterness. It seems the bitter flavor comes mostly from the hops but there is some dark malty goodness in there too. It finishes pretty dry with a pleasant after-taste.

Mouthfeel is really just about right. In fact, it drinks more like a regular stout. It's not super-thick but it has good body and very low carbonation, which I like. The alcohol is well-hidden so it never feels like an imperial stout until I finish the first glass.

Overall a very good version of the style. It isn't up there with the very best but it's certainly a worthy addition to the Bear Republic lineup. I'll be sure to pick up more next time I see it on the shelves.

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Photo of bump8628
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Tight, creamy, light tan head sits on top of a black as night beer.

Big coffee character in this stout like a good espresso with an extra shot of bourbon. Notes of dark chocolate and charred sugar add complexity. Hops have trouble poking through the malt, but this is a well-aged bottle so I'm sure they've faded considerably.

I love the lower level of alcohol in this compared to others in the style, which makes it exceptionally drinkable, almost dangerously so considering this is still far from a session pint. A very well-crafted beer.

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Photo of snpub540
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Like pouring a black void into my snifter. Totally opaque with no light getting through. A slight hint of brown at the base of the glass. A vigorous pour gave me a two finger fluffy head, but it soon settled into a thing ring of foam. Thin delicate lacing during the entire drink.

Smell was very complex and wonderful. A slight vinous hint, followed by raisins, caramel, coffee, and a slight hint of vanilla. Very enticing.

Taste is great. A nice balance between a caramel sweetness and a bitter roastiness. Bitter chocolate and coffee make up a very dry finish. Nice warming effect as it goes down.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and good. Alcohol is well hidden with the flavors. Very nice for a cold evening.

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Photo of kylejohnson03
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a tulip glass. No freshness information on the bottle. Pours a jet black, with a one finger caramel head. Recedes quickly, minimal lacing and retention. Roasted malts, chocolate, and coffee notes all blend together. The taste is incredibly balanced, good amount of malt vs hops. The finish turns just a touch bitter, very well done. I wish the mouthfeel were just a touch thicker, but the medium carbonation is spot on, IMO. As a fan of rich stouts, I won't have a problem finishing this bottle at all. This beer was also a great value, definately one that will stay in my regular rotation.

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4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in a tulip. The beer menu lists the ABV at 9.1%. but BR's and BA's website agrees on 8.1%. Fair enough.

A: Average sized creamy, light-brown head has good retention and subsides into a thin creamy film. A consistent sheet (more like a goose-down comforter, really) of lace coats the entire glass. The black body is murky and completely opaque.

S: Enormous malt backbone: roasted chocolate, caramel and molasses. There is a medium strength hop aroma, but it is not distinguishable enough to pick out the varieties. (A quick check on the website reveals Centennial and Cascade.) While complexity is not the BBBS's strong suit, it is improved and rounded out by the peaty, leafy yeast component.

T: Same as the nose. Alcohol is really noticeable. I'm starting to wonder if the beer menu was right. Brown sugar and, I really doubt myself on this one, but I thought I noticed some grape flavor or other dark fruit. Whatever it was, I didn't mind it. The flavor lasts all day in your mouth. Just sweet enough and plenty bitter.

M: Full, and creamy and chewy at the same time. Perfectly carbonated.

D: A simple and straightforward RIS, the Big Bear Black Stout's drinkability is top notch. Another high quality offering from a consistently great brewery.

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Photo of adamette
3.28/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Live review. Poured from the 22 oz. bomber that I bought at Save-On Tobacco & Beverage in Mentor a few weeks ago for $5.99 into my Samuel Smith pint glass. I had my eye out for this one for a while since I tried many of the other Bear Republic beers some time ago but did not see this one until now. No observed "best by" date.

A Medium brown head over a very dark black body that has only trace deep mahogany in front of direct light only. Reasonable lacing on the glass as I sip as well. The look of this style is always impressive and this version is no exception. The head stays put for more than 10 minutes, an incredibly long period of time if you ask me. 4.5

S Dark roast malt but an almost equal amount of hops to the nose as well. Interesting, inviting. 4.0

T Dark roast malt, big hops just as the smell suggested in a rather well balanced taste between the toasty roasted malt and the hops bitterness. The hops are probably too strong for my taste. 3.5

M A bit thinner than I like and more thin for the style. It remains a "big" beer but it dissapears quicker than I would like. I just had Rogue Shakespeare Stout and I thought that its feel was much better. I know that Rogue Shakespeare Stout is classified as an "American Stout" but they are both stouts. 2.5

D Not really that good. This remains a big beer with the roasted malt/bitter hops bigness and the elevated ABV. I will finish the 22 ounces but would not consider reaching for a second one. I probably should have shared this with someone else. 2.0

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Photo of exparte
3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Strong floral hop aroma that overpowers anything else that may be in there. Beautiful obsidian color with a thick, rocky brown head that last beyond the final drop. Flavor of sweet caramel, roasted malt, bitter chocolate, and a slight alcohol tinge. Full bodied with soft carbonation and a long, bitter finish. This is a fantastic stout that's dangerous in its smoothness and high alcohol.

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

A: Pours a deep mahogany brown with a quickly dissapearing milk chocolate colored head

S: Roasted malt, chocolate, and some alcohol combine nicely with an earthy hop aroma, hints of brandy

T: A nice creamy flavor of malt sweetness, carmel, bitterswet chocolate, roasted malt, and alcohol, a fair amount of piney hop flavor and bitterness.

M: Medium body, creamy and smooth, nice balance between sweetness and bitterness.

D: One of the easiest and smoothest drinking imperial stouts I have ever had, simply delicious.

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Photo of coldmeat23
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

This pours black, just like the label led me to believe it would. It has an almost two-finger head of cappuccino colored foam on top. This recedes to a spotty, craggy, surface covering. The lacing is sticky and abundant.

This has some big, rich, caramel notes that are mingling very nicely with a deep, rich, roastiness. Good presence of chocolates and a nice little hint of coffee. Minor notes of brown sugar and dark fruits.

The roastiness is deep and almost bitter. The caramel is not as sweet as the nose implied, but is sweet enough to balance out the roastiness. This has some mild hints of dark chocolate and some light traces of coffee beans. Lots of cocoa powder. The fish has a slight reappearance of the roasty batterness, combined with a very light hops kiss.

This a full-bodied beer. It has a light-to-medium level of carbonation, which suits it. It is smooth and lightly creamy, almost velvet-like.

This one is nicely drinkable. The 8.10%abv is well-hidden, but I have a feeling that it would sneak up on you, rather easily. It's big on the roastiness, so if that isn't your thing, then stay away.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,407 ratings.
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