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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,407 |  Reviews: 1,146
Photo of Kaiser81
3.76/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My buddy had it on tap and recommended it. So, I picked up a bottle.

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into my Delirium Tremens snifter.

A - Pours black with a finger and a half width of mocha colored head. it sits soft, like a pillow (2nd beer that had that today, but completely different style). There is a lot of nice lacing left on my glass

S - Dark fruits, roast, subtle hints of chocolate or cocoa powder, mocha, and coffee beans as it warms up just a bit. Just faint hints of everything. It's all swirled together.

T - A lot of roastiness dominates this. I get a tiny bit of hops up front, then fresh coffee roastiness, then a slight bitter finish that reminds me of coffee, though the taste is more like bittersweet chocolate.

M - Creamy, with plenty of carbonation, and somewhat chewy. Nicely done.

D - It's a stout; not sure I'd want more than 22 oz at a sitting, but I am enjoying drinking this, that's for sure.

It's a decent stout, and a great value for the money. But there are plenty of better tasting stouts out there.

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Photo of DoppleJock
4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type: 650ml bottle
Glass Type: Pint Glass

A: Deliciously dark. Two-finger head in a pint glass.

S: Slightly "roasty." Hints of caramel and chocolate.

T: Stronger than its smell, I found the taste to be REALLY roasted and malty. I'm a big fan of American Stouts and English Porters, but I may have found a new addiction to Russian Imperial Stouts too.

M: Strong roasted taste gave way to a smooth caramel aftertaste.

D: Russian Imperial Stouts are definitely stronger than the American Style Stouts I'm used to, but I still wish a had a glass large enough to pour the entire 650ml bottle into. Not a session beer for me, personally, but I wouldn't hesitate to split a bottle with friends.

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Photo of OlRasputin989
4.57/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into 16 oz. nonic

A: a dark black brew with some brown around the edges and a rocky, cappucino colored head that slowly disappears to reveal big chunks of lacing on the glass.

S: dark roasted malt aromas; coffee, dark cocoa and cocoa-dusted orange peel, vanilla, and a salty aroma.

T: upfront, flavors of roasted malts: sweet cocoa, vanilla and coffee with a hop presence noticeable in the aftertaste with some sprucey, orange-ey flavors. very nice.

M: a full body that could stand with the best of stouts. a velvety smooth entry with a fizz that gives the perfect transition to the off-dry, chalky-cocoa finish and gives you a little beer 'stache!

Overall, Amazing! This is not a Russian Imperial Stout. This beer is wholly American. The roasted malts are done to perfection and followed by crisp sprucey hops that can only be American. Great beer for the price(22 oz. bomber: $4.95), flavors, ABV, and drinkability!

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Photo of 1fastz28
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a completely black color with a big brown head, the smell is incredible, has a great malt aroma to it and is reminiscent of dark chocolate. taste is really awesome, had a full body and has a phenomenal roasted malt flavor, it really is a great beer. mouthfeel is full and rich and syrupy, just an awesome beer.

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Photo of CharlatanSin
4.09/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap into a pint glass at Toast on 124th street.

A: Lovely looking and is everything a stout should be. A deep space black, from which no light can escape. It's got a big, foamy dark tan head which leaves some of the thickest lacing I've ever seen.

S: Pretty weak. Typical stout bouquet of toasted coffee and a bit of chocolate, but it's all a bit weak for the style.

T: Sooo much better than the smell. It's got a very nice toasted coffee taste. The sweetness is more dark fruit than chocolate. My girlfriend thought I was nuts, but the taste reminded me of a Fig Newton. It's also got a prickly hop bitterness, which I'm not used to tasting in the style. I like it a lot. A nice sort of balance that I'm not used to in an Imperial Stout.

M/D: Smooth, but thin. Fairly high carbonation, and very resinous on the tongue. The hops add a nice prickle. The alcohol is completely hidden, and I had two of these before I realized I was buzzed, so be careful with this one. Bear Republic does it again!

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a snifter is a slightly viscous completely opaque black and produces a 1-finger head that is dark and creamy. The middle of the foam settles into the beer, but the ring around the edge remains and produces a thin lace pattern with every sip.

S: Caramel, coffee, and roasted malts are abundant in front of a piney hop aroma.

T: Begins with a bitter coffee flavor that moves to roasted malts in the middle. The taste finishes with a chocolate mocha and piney hop character that is beautifully blended, with nothing overwhelming anything else. If rolled around the tongue, the middle of the flavor also produces some caramel undertones.

M/D: Surprisingly dry finish is the most striking characteristic. The malts move from sticky to dry as the flavor develops. The finish is smooth but not creamy. There is a lot going on in this beer, and it isn't too heavy or overwhelming. It is very enjoyable and well crafted, with a perfect balance of flavors.

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Photo of 4000qtrap
4.44/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Source/Serving: Bottle

Smell: Raisins and chocolate, but quite mild actually.

Taste: Quite bitter up front followed by a massive wave of malts. The chocolate flavor is incredible. Dark roasted coffee, not at all sweet. Lingering chocolate for minutes. For a beer with so much a dark malt flavor, the beer is incredibly balanced with creaminess, bitterness, oily hoppiness, moderate alcohol, and amazing complex malt flavors. Thick, but delightful, mouthfeel.

Notes: A multidimensional beer that has so much going for it. And, one of the finest values in beer that I've seen. Fabulous!

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Photo of beer2day
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours very dark and foreboding. 1-finger tan oatmeal head, giving way to nice retention and lacing.

Sweet stout nuances are wafting to the nose here. Oatmeal, milk, anise are all present.

Milk cream persists on the initial presentation, but the alcohol creeps in at the end. Roast chocolate, faint coffee, burnt toast, faint caramel. and weak anise round out the flavors.

Body is very nice, just what you want from an RIS.

Drinks very well on a cold night.

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

Like the real American black bear this beer has a sooty black coat and a leathery-looking brown nose that sticks out its head. A strong enough light will pry out thin sheets of dark crimson which, at some angles, serve to underline the beer but never successfully negotiate the beer's opacity. This head persists no matter how long it's left sitting still.

This smells so good that I don't care to take a sip; I have to keep reminding myself to come up for air! Leave it up to a California microbrewery to design a rich, roasty stout that *also* brims with zesty hops. The balmy, becalming aura of Chinook and Cascade hops is tossed in a malty chocolate fudge, the combination is a source of great sensory pleasure.

The beer has more than enough maltiness to earn the rights to the word 'big'. It certainly has a big flavour: its taste of home-baked chocolate brownies and rocky road ice cream brings to mind a dessert of uncountable calories and obvious deliciousness. Notes of blackberry puree, dark caramel and coffee embellish an already scrumptious profile.

And for all their presence in both the aroma and flavour the tangy, vinous hops are transcended by that pleasant sweetness of the malts. The toffee-ish mouthfeel connotes sweet molasses and dark brown sugar; its modest but assertive roast mirrors a cinnamon or vanilla spiced coffee (for which it would make a worthy substitute).

The beer warms with exceptional grace and never let's on its true strength (if I am being mauled I certainly don't feel anything!) Although virtually everything about the beer echos the American style of brewing, it drinks with a kind of poise and balance that is much more characteristic of the classic English variations. It is a bear you can cuddle up to.

I'll swear allegiance to the Bear Republic. This West Coast brewery often goes overlooked in the discussion of great American micros and it's a wonder to me why that is; I can think of few breweries that offer a more reliable, first-rate lineup of regular releases than Bear Republic. Big Bear Black is one species you should most certainly hunt down.

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Photo of neorunner
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured into a tulip glass. Dark black with a smooth solid inch of head, able to make a small swirl in the head with my finger.

S- Bitter chocolate aroma and coffee smell. Mostly malty but a hint of hops can be detected.

T- Expresso and dark bitter chocolate malt flavors. Not a full body stout and I think this makes the bitterness more apparent. Slight heat apparent from the alcohol.

M- Not a heavy stout, more middle of the road body wise. Residual roast / bitterness aftertaste.

D- This was a tasty beer and best enjoyed when not rushed.

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Photo of dbossman
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Black with one finger head that is a dark tan; there is nice lacing here too

S: Chocolate and roasted malts are the most evident; there is also a slight coffee aroma

T: Chocolate undertones; there is also a fairly high hop presence--not overwhelming and actually a good balance to the roasted malts

F: Creamy; medium body with a nice mouth feel

D: A very good RIS and drinkable for what it is.

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Photo of WeedKing4
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber pours jet black. Smells of roasted malts and a hint of coffee. The taste is suprisingly sweet up front compared to other imperial stouts I have had. Has that roasted malt taste, with a hint of coffee, but a nice blend of hops mixed in too. Very interesting. Quite easy to drink and the abv% is well hidden. Kinda wishing I picked up a second bomber of this. Pretty damn good beer.

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

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a snifter glass. A pretty nice amount of sticky lacing.

Appearance is opaque black with a small tan/light brown head that dissipates into a small cap.

Smell is of coffee, roasted malts and a hint of dark chocolate. A little of the alcohol is present as well. Overall a fairly sweet aroma.

Taste is a nice blend of coffee and roasted bitterness as well as dark chocolate and hops. The bitterness of the brew is a little stronger than the sweetness but for the most part its pretty well blended. Quite tasty!

Mouthfeel is smooth and pretty full bodied but not quite as thick as other RIS' I've had. There is a good amount of carbonation leaving a nice little bite on the tongue.

Drinkability is pretty nice. It goes down nice and smooth and has a pretty good flavor. All in all one of the better examples of the style I've had but not the best but I certainly wouldn't mind having it again.

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Photo of Martin2D
4.02/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pitch black thin light tan head

S - Hops, coffee, roast, caramel

T - Not incredibly full and rich like a lot of RIS, but significantly roasty with a slight bittering hop presence. It is slightly sweet with vanilla flavors. Possibly lactose in this one. Aggressive roast especially on the aftertaste.

M - Heavily carbonated, very velvety and medium-heavy in body. There seems to be lactose thickening up the mouthfeel on this one.

D - Extremely drinkable. The really strong aftertaste detracts, but it's quite tasty.

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Photo of ericduran
3/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I wasn't terribly impressed by this beer. Their IPA is great and I was hoping for something equally worthy but it was not it.

Looks like a stout. Nothing really noticable about the appearance.

Smell. Roasted malts and yeast. Blah. Same ol' same ol'.

Taste. Weird oxidized (?) off flavors from the yeast. Hops are way too strong. Malts are just so-so.

Mouthfeel. Way too fizzy. Benefited from spending a weekend in the fridge. Took on a velvety consistency after that, but I'm not going to judge a beer after I've "fixed" it.

Drinkability. Meh, this is the last one I'm having of these. At least it was just $5 for a 22 oz bottle.

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

22oz bomber poured into a sampling glass.

Pours black with a small light brown thin head. Nose is sweet and strong, rich and boozy.

Taste is very strong and coffee with a lot of roasty bitter ness. Quite tasty but it's a bit watery, still very drinkable.

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Photo of albern
3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a nice thick, sweet imperial stout, but I wouldn't give this a "world class" rating. It pours a thick, inky black color, impenetrable to light. The head is thick, creamy, dark tan with a discernible orange hue. The beer retains well and laces very well. It is a thick meal of a beer. The nose is pretty indicative of what's to come. There are chocolate and dark roasted malts, some cherry dark chocolate notes, but there is also a definite whiff of ABV.

The taste follows suit. The beer is thick, creamy, nourishing, but it has a bit too much ABV presence. There are some charred notes, in addition to the chocolates and roasted dark malts. The warming alcohol and ABV just diminishes what could have been a better imperial stout. The beer is thick on the tongue, full bodied, and there is some ABV throatiness and charred remains in the aftertaste.

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Photo of cdkrenz
4.04/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Black is right. The head is a medium brown and standing about three-quarter inches tall before slowly fading to bumpy and frothy top.

S - Dark chocolate and malt with a hinting at coffee.

T - The flavors of long roasted grains and bitter hops round out a nice stout. There flavors of very dark choclate linger long after the pull is washed away.

M - Goes down easily for a stout while maintaining a nice subtle coarse texture that really assists in bringing out the robust flavors.

~ This is a solid stout. I'm not sure if I've ever had a Russian Imperial Stout before but I must say, I'm impressed. Thanks Mike and Ranee.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep brown/almost black with a thick tan head that collapsed a bi around the ring of the glass but held full in the center. Good lacing.

Lots of dark roasted and sweet aromas, plus this herbal/leafy edge. Coffee, burnt sugar, and green leafy scents. Very nice.

All kinds of layers here. French roast coffee, sweet cream, heavy molasses/cane syrup sweetness, prune like hints. Sweet and bitter intensity. Alcohol does show up, but it is fairly well hidden. Fantastic.

Smooth, decently carbonated, and no true cloying flavors even though this is a mouth coater.

Easy to drink. Big bomber went down super-fast. The best thing about this was that the bomber was just under $6.00. How can you miss? Terrific.

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Photo of ocelot2500
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, opaque brown that lets no light escape. Has a tight rising tan head that leaves a fair amount of lacing.

Smells of dark chocolate, espresso, molasses, and some brown sugar.

Tastes of the big roasted malts upfront that have a nice bitter bite on the end. The chocolate ends up being a bitter cocoa and complimented well by a dark espresso like flavor. Plenty to like in this brew. There are an assertive amount of hops that create the bitterness. Not very sweet which allows for more drinking. Alcohol is very well hidden.

The mouthfeel is full and creamy. Leaves a pleasant roasted bitterness on the tongue.

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Photo of deaconoflove
4.83/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ap. A slightly fast pour gave me a giant mocha brown head on top of a very very black beer. As the head receded somewhat, the lacing covered the entire glass. Nice.
Sm. This is good. Chocolate, roasted toasted caramel malt coffee with a lilttle citris poking out now and then.
Ta. More intense chocolate and roasted goodness, alternately sweet and a hint of bitter.
Mf. Smooth and tangy sweetness. Excellent carbonation and fullness.
Dr. This one goes down way way too easy.

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Photo of Dspohn
4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A. Totally black with a rocky tan head that left some nice lacing.

S. Lots of espresso, roasted malts, hops, and dark chocolate.

T. Great bitter coffee and hop taste that I really enjoyed. I haven't had many imperial stouts with the hop bill that this one has and I have to say I quite enjoy it.

M. Felt a little thin, but still pretty slick and nice.

D. Way drinkable. This bomber went down faster than most other high abv stouts.

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Photo of TheStoutAholic
4.76/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle poured into a Samuel Adams Perfect Pint.

A - The first think I noted was the thick long lasting head, that after it retreats back in to the body of the beer stays at about 1cm. It is a light head compared to other stouts in its class.

S - Like all stouts you can smell the dark roasted malts, and the slight aroma of coffee with a hint of chocolate.

T - Had notes of coffee chocolate, and went down smooth as velvet.

M - By far the BEST part of this stout was its Mouthfeel went down like liquid VELVET

D - This stout is very drinkable its 8.1% ABV and it is a nice heavy stout that tastes of a mixture of coffee, chocolate and the heavy dark malt.

This beer came to about $5 and it was totally worth it. I loved the taste it is the epitome of a Black Stout, B-E-A-utiful.

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Photo of BillyBroas
4.39/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured tet black, with a 2 finger tan & dense head. The smell, in my opinion, is the best thing about this beer. Every time I ducked my head in I got something different: Butter, chocolate, hops, molasses...

I felt that the taste didn't quite live up to the aroma, but it was still excellent. Rich and creamy, the mouthfeel was delicious. Black malt and chocolate were definitely present, and I'm glad for the floraly hops at the end.

Just a big great stout.

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Photo of andrewm190
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bear Republic has skyrocketed up my personal brewery rankings, and this one might but them at number one. I have yet to try a Bear Republic beer that isn't fantastic, and with this entry into my favorite style, they have come out again on top. Delicious chocolate smell with a fine crisp finish, this beer comes on strong but doesn't make the mistake of some of other stouts of being overbearing, particularly in aftertaste. The beer is dark and fairly pungent, and you can hold it on your pallet and imbibe with a feeling of delight, followed instantaneously thereafter the thirst for another sip.

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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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