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:
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Ratings: 2,423 |  Reviews: 1,149
Photo of BedetheVenerable
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22oz brown pop top with nice ditty about the beer on the label

Appearance: Pitch black with a beautiful creamy dense dark tan head; when held up to a bright light, there are some beautiful ruby tints here, where light just BARELY gets through

Smell: Dark fruity alcohols, bittersweet chocolate, some mild herbal hop presence...this is pretty nice overall; it smells smooth and mild

Taste: Bittersweet chocolate, roasted malts, some mild sweet dark fruit. Ends with dry, dusty, roasted malts.

Mouthfeel: Rich and creamy

Drinkability: Pretty high, especially for the abv

Conclusion: This mouthfeel and basic flavors of this are awesome; it's bittersweet and highly drinkable as well. The only real problem here is that there doesn't appear to be a ton of depth here; what's here is really tasty, it's just not as complex as a lot of imperial stouts are.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.3/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

@Atwoods 9/11

Inky black with a cocao colored head. Looked good at first but the head faded to a thin collar before I was done. Left three very nice and very symmetrcial lace rings while it was there though.

Scent is dominated by Chambord-esque dark fruit. Taste also relies heavily on dark fruit with an oppressive char character--not so much roast malt as just plain char. Thin, inky body. On the plus side, it doesn't taste like %8.1 abv.

I expect more from Bear Republic. This Impy lacked the complexity and intrigue necessary for a good RIS and comes off as a cheap and touristy. Boo.

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Photo of donniecuffs
3.92/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

(From notes)

A: Thick blackness, with a tan head that didn't last too long, but laced fairly well.

S: Deep roast malt nose, with secondary cocoa, caramel, and espresso.

T: Roasted malt and cocoa come to the forefront, with some caramel, toffee, pine, brown sugar, and coffee dissolving into the mix to the finish.

M: Not as syrupy as most Russian stouts; silky smooth, non-carbonated.

D: Very drinkable for a Russian stout, but too strong to make a session out of the experience.

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Photo of oakbluff
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark ebony, thin mocha head, soapy lacing. Nose-chalky mocha, stewed fruit, hops. Taste- cola, dry burnt roast, sweet milk chocolate and dark fruit. Finish- dry from roast and bittering hops. Little heat detected. Very drinkable. classic american impy.

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Photo of thegodfather2701
2.75/5  rDev -33.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

A-poured into my chimay chalice. Its nowhere near as thick and dark as other RISs. Its black, but not pitch black more like a shade darker than cola. Head dissipates quickly leaving a slight ring of foam and leaves some slight lacing.

S-Not much going on here in comparison to other RISs. It smells sweet, mostly of brown sugar, not much coffee or roasted malts. Very weak nose.

T-I must say I was surprised by the first sip, there is more flavor than the nose would lead one to believe. However, the flavor isn't really like the nose its more robust with iced coffee dominating, some roasted malts, and it has some hoppiness to it as well.

M-very thin for an RIS it feels more like a stout or porter.

D-very drinkable RIS, I see this beer as a beginners RIS not very complex, thick, or high in alcohol content for the style.

Overall, this was very disappointing, even for only spending just under $5.00 on a bomber. I was expecting much more. I wish I had of spent a couple more dollars and tried something else. Even in its price range this doesn't compare to other RISs such as Storm King and Old Rasputin, which blow this away. I rarely say this, but I do not recommend this RIS unless you are trying to branch out into the style and do not want something too overpowering.

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Photo of slk22
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opaque and black in color with a red/brown head. Head was very thick with nice retention. Very inviting. Aroma was obvious, but not jumping out of the glass. Nice balance of bready and roasted malt notes. Flavor began with a nice roasted malt and included notes of coffee and caramel. This sweetness was nicely balanced by some hop bitterness in the finish, which was not overpowering and did not linger. Body was medium to full with medium carbonation and very smooth. Overall, while this beer did not seem to have anything unique about it, it is solid with a wonderfully balanced flavor and nice mouthfeel. A nice representation of the style, which I will definitely have again.

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

Reviewed from notes. Consumed 3/17/09

Picked this up in honor of St. Pats along with a 6'er of guiness for the GF. Poured from a 22oz bomber into an oversized wine goblet. Moderate pour evokes the scantest of latte-esque head that readily clings to the side of the glass leaving a full and fine lace. Color is black on black. Expected to see some ruby edging, but none was apparent.

Nose- This was poured a bit cold so the nose is not at its fullest. Initially I get caramel, molasses, and some smokey peat.

Pallate- Massive roasted notes in the form of slightly burnt toast, sweet caramel, and molasses. Some coffee, coco, and hints of vanilla. Thick and chewy but not cloying. Very good. Hints of the 8% abv in the finish. Finish is long and dry with notes of caramel and peat.

Mouthfeel- Bitter, active, and Chewy.

Drinkability- One is enough at 8%, but its very tasty.

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Photo of kegger22
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured black with a modest brown head that quickly dissipated to the barest of collars. The aroma was understated, to me, chocolate and coffee. The taste came through with bitter, dark chocolate dominating and coffee in the background. This changed as Black Bear warmed, to a less bitter chocolate and more coffee, I did like the warm up. I read one BA's observation that Black Bear was best served at room temperature, I will try that. Feel was rich, creamy and satisfying, full bodied. Drinkability was above average, but remember to respect beer, it is an 8.10 ABV.

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Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.51/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Big, creamy, tan head on top of a pitch black body with garnet edges. Lacing is unbelievable

S- Dark fruits with a smooth, roasted aroma

T- Big mocha milkshake flavor. Sweet and roasted, with a very faint alcohol characteristic. Hops contribute to the bitterness of the roast and add some cinnamon flavor. Some molasses

M- Smooth and creamy with plenty of sticky tension to enjoy

D- Really hits the spot at the right temperature and the right time of day.

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

appearance - Black color, nice tan head.

smell - Roasted malts, some dark fruits, and caramel present.

taste - Dark Chocolate, molasses,and caramel. Smooth taste, with some bitterness.

mouthfeel - Medium body.

drinkability - Nice drinking, stout. Was decent, above average. Worth a try.

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Photo of kiddynamite920
4.57/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Almost as dark as it gets, I can see the faintest bit of light shining through around the edges of my glass, maybe I'm fooling myself. Very nice 1-2 finger tan head that looks oh, so tasty.

S: Wow this smells fantastic. So rich and complex with coffee, chocolate, toffee, caramel malts aromas. I'm also picking up a fruity, malty smell. Very nice smelling beer.

T: Very sweet and malty. The alcohol is hidden very well for an 8% beer. Chocolate and coffee are very strong flavors, yet there is a sticky caramelly taste as well. Absolutely divine.

M: Nice and medium-bodied, just how I like my stouts. There is enough stickiness so that it resides on the tongue for a good period of time, but it is smooth enough to go down easy.

D: This beer is very drinkable and tolerable. Altogether a very well made Imp stout. I am thoroughly enjoying this one.

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Photo of SurlyDuff
3.82/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This sucker is bottled, but never seen it near me. Enjoyed this one a trip down to Healdsburg last week.

Dark? Dark indeed. Granted i've seen blacker elixirs, pitch black (ie-abyss), but this poured deep enough to satisfy my careful eye.

Aroma has a bit more coffee than i'd enjoy, but as far as the style goes, it's well enough in line. Some hop kick surprisingly, and some cocoa.
Taste is big, obviously, but sweetness hits immediatly, along with a slight lactic creaminess.

Mouthfeel is a bit sweet and syrupy.

I'm afraid to say that this beer could just lose itself into the burgeoning Impy Stout market. It needs perhaps a recipe tweak to make it a really stand-out A+ stout.

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Photo of Foxtrot
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pour produced a typical darker than night body with dark brown/ruby hues seen at the edges of glass. Big tan head slowly dissipated over the course of about 10 minutes to a small foam. Looking pretty good so far.

Aroma's are big on hops with piney bitterness being the most prevalent with subtle hints of caramel, toffee, and molasses mingled with its hoppy goodness.

Holy Cow! This beer is even more hoppy than I had anticipated. Big flavors of hops and bitter citrus sting the palate followed by a relatively light dose of dark malts, and caramel to just barely balance this bad boy out. This must be the hoppiest RIS I've ever had, and Bear Republic pulled it off quite nicely.

Mouthfeel was just a tad short of being full bodied. Still good, but I think a bolder body would have aided this beer tremendously. Still good in my opinion, but could be better.

This is phenomenally smooth beer, despite the strong hop presence.

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

Poured from the bottle to a pint glass. Pours black with dark red highlights if held up to the light. With the pour comes a nice big light tan head. The head quickly retracts to about a one finger head that is nice and rocky and frothy and leaves great lacing down the glass. The smell is what I was expecting as it's an Imperial Stout, chocolate, coffee, roasted malts. The chocolate stands out the most to me in the smell. Despite the chocolate being upfront in the smell the coffee dominates the taste. The chocolate is still there and the roasted flavor is pretty apparent. Theres also a bit of a nut taste in there. Pretty good stuff. Mouthfeel is kind of thin and creamy, not bad but I was hoping for something a bit thicker, still not bad. Drinkabilty is good. Not to high of an ABV but not something I would drink all night, still easily drinkable. Overall a good stout for a cheap price. I think I paid under $4 for a bomber so not bad. I'll pick it up again.

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Photo of COBeerBuff
4.57/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Trying this beer on a cool, rainy July day...

Appearance: Pours an opaque black. Not even the slightest twinge of light makes it through this monster of a pour. A thin half-finger of mocha colored head dissipates quickly leaving a film and a ring around the glass.

Smell: Caramel and chocolate malts and sweetness abound. Hints of vanilla and coffee linger as well. This smells awesome. Some alcoholic esters sting the back of your nose, but it's definitely not enough to distract you from all the great smells you are enjoying.

Taste: Chocolaty, malty goodness through and through. The sweetness is one of the most noticeable aspects of this RIS. Notes of caramel and butterscotch present on the sides of the tongue as this travels through your mouth. This is finished off by some hints of vanilla and some spices (cloves and cinnamon to be exact) on the very tail end.

Mouthfeel: For an RIS, the mouthfeel is surprisingly light. The stout pours like velvet, and looks rich and creamy, but its creaminess extends to the flavor only. The richness slides lightly across the tongue and down the gullet leaving less of an aftertaste that one would expect from a decadent RIS.

Drinkability: As other reviews have stated, the 8.1% ABV is deceiving. The light mouthfeel combined with the incredible sweetness do wonders to mask the high ABV. The slight scent isn't close to enough to be off-putting, and the other properties of the beer more than make up the difference. This is definitely an RIS that will become a winter (and sometimes summer if it is cool enough) staple in this house for years to come.

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

Lightly chilled and poured into a Duvel glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: The beer pours out very dark, almost black with hints of mahogany color. The 1" thick light brown head recedes slowly leaving behind a layer of foam and a ring around the glass. Initially sipping leaves heavy lacing and while the lacing becomes lighter over time it persists well through the entire beer.

Smell: The aroma is dark with roasted malt and dark chocolate. There are fruity and floral components from the citric hops and some brown toffee and molasses. As the liquid warms the aroma acquires some coffee notes as well.

Taste: This flavor is quite complex and multi-layered with roasted dark malt, dark chocolate, molasses, and fruity citrus (grapefruit primarily) weaving in and out over time.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is medium to full-bodied and very smooth. There is moderate carbonation that is very persistent and the finish is long and dry with some roasted malt and chocolate gradually fading into the final dry bitterness from the hops.

Drinkability: This is a sipping stout with lots of complex roasted malt and hop flavor so that one serving at a time is fine, but it is definitely a beer to return to again and again.

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

Pours black with a small/medium tan head. Nice lacing. Aroma is very nice hops with roasted malt. Very nice and balanced smell. Taste is big roasted malt with coffee notes. Significant hops in the finish add some freshness with a touch of citrus. Bitterness from roasted malt and hops. Full bodied but not too heavy. Very balanced and drinkable, more so than many other imperial stouts. Overall this is a very nice imperial stout.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. Pours black with a tall, pillowy tan head that holds decent retention and leaves some lacing on the glass. Aromas are roasted malts and coffee, with some dark chocolate hints. Mouth-feel is medium bodied and coats the palate well. Tastes are similar to aromas - very roasted and robust - bittersweet chocolate, black coffee, and molasses. Also some mild ripened dark fruity esters, but nothing overwhelming. Alcohol is completely concealed. It's somewhat sweet, but finishes nicely balanced with the roasted malts providing some bitterness with the hops. Overall, solid recommendation for the style. It's nothing outrageous, but very satisfying.

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Photo of DukeofAle
4.8/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

There probably isn't anything I cn add to what's been said. This is an Imperial stout - and it lives up to the name. To get this style - one of my favorites - I usually have to travel out of state. But I found this at Cyclone Liquors in Ames. It's big, bold, creamy, and sports a thick, long lasting head. Best of all, it tastes great - though not less filling.

It's the second beer from Bear Republic I've tried and both are excellent.

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Photo of jpro
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a nice, opaque black with a coca-cola esque head. Aroma is pretty awesome: roasted malts, coffee, chocolate and caramel. The taste is even better: chocolate cake, coffee notes, sweetens towards the caramel at the end and finishes with a wonderfully balanced hoppy bitterness. Also, some slight bits of nuttiness and maybe some dark fruit. This is good stuff! Mouthfeel is full-bodied, wholesome and hearty, yet deliciously smooth. For the style, this is very drinkable -

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Photo of brundo4
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. brown bomber into a Brooklyn Brewery snifter. This stout settles jet black and looks solid as a rock. A small espresso-tan head forms but dissipates quickly. Thick with good carbonation. The lacing is small but somewhat sticky. This just begs for a whiff.

Yeast comes first up to the nose. Then a deep, bitter chocolate maltiness. Very smoky and roasty. Notes of nuts, toasted bread, and a nice sourness overtop. Carmel, a bit candied, maybe cherries or brandied cherries. Malt dominates this dark, deeply inviting stout. Let's take a dive.

First taste is bitter, very nutty. A subtle malt sweetness, a bit like plum, comes sneaking up followed by a bitter, smoky, espresso aftertaste. This is such a well-executed beer. So balanced. No single flavor outshines the others. The taste is so subtle, a magnificent blend. So mellow for 8.1% ABV. The light bitterness beckons you back with every sip.

And so smooth too! It's striking how graceful it feels. Thick, but not too much so, not light, not heavy. Drinks like a dream. Just the right carbonation. A very dangerous and delicious stout.

This is a treat. Not too sweet like some stouts, this Big Bear Black Stout is right on the money of what a solid stout should be. No gimmicks. This is a beer lover's brew.

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

Poured into the Sam Adams glass.

From a 22oz. bomber.

This is the third different BR beer I've tried and I have yet to be disappointed.

A - Pours a very dark brown with a nice tan head that has chunky bubbles and is about .5 inches. Its very oily, creamy and smooth.

S - Sweet roasted malts and some nice heavy chocolate notes. Very appealing smell, some sweet alcohol notes as well.

T - Sweet malts up front with, chocolate cake as well. There is a hint of coffee was well with some nuts in there to. The hops are surprisingly very active throughout, especially with the bitterness and some flowery character on the back end as well. All BR beers that I've had have a very distinct hop character. Some mild cherry flavors are also detected.

M - Smooth, creamy, oily and well carbonated.

D - ABV isn't as high for a RIS but still up there. Good choice though.

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

Pours a jet black, with ruby highlights when light is shone through. Smell is of coffee and sweet malt. Taste is surprisingly hoppy, nice piney, earthy hoppyness, with solid malt backbone. Roasted bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is rich, nice, low carbonation levels. Drinkability is quite good. A good pick from Bear Republic.

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Photo of omnigrits
4.9/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I enjoyed this one at room temperature and I think it's a lot better for it, as are most darker beers. I must get myself another one and cellar it for a while.

Pours opaque black with a light tan head that sticks around and leaves moderate lace on the glass. The smell... oh my goodness, does it get much better than this? Chocolate, coffee, berries, molasses, vanilla, lots of roasted malt, obviously, and a vague hint of the 8.1% ABV. All are present on the tongue along with a bitter finish. A very light and delicate mouthfeel for such a big beer. This is a very well made stout. I only knocked half a point off the drinkability because of the ABV - I'll always do that for relatively high-alcohol beers, no matter how good they might be, because they're not for knocking back all evening.

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

22 oz bottle purchased at Jungle Jim's for me by a friend last Thanksgiving. Poured into a Terrapin snifter.

A: Pours a pitch black without the slightest hint of color around the edges. There is a one finger thick brown head that has decent retention and lace. If the retention and lace were a bit better it would have gotten a perfect score here.

S: Chocolate, molasses, and coffee make for a very nice aroma.

T: Initial flavor of the parts of the aroma mentioned above that is quickly washed away by a truckload of hoppiness. I did not expect this level of hops in this one. The bitterness lingers through the finish. I really like the departure of having a nice load of hops in a stout, but it takes away from the malty sweetness you expect from the style a bit too much for me.

M: The feel is thick and smooth. There is just a bit too much prickliness from the carbonation and/or hops for me.

D: The big bitterness in this one makes it a bit of a slow go for me, but it is by no means a struggle.

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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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