Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
2,432 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:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,432 |  Reviews: 1,152
Photo of GordonQuid
3.84/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 22 oz bomber.

Jet black with a two inch tan head that quicky dissapates to a half inch head with thick lace.

Smells of black patent, raosted caramel malts and vanilla bean.

Taste is a full bodied elixir of coffee, roasted almods and vanilla. Very low hop profile. Rich and chewy texture.

Would only have one of these bad boys in a sitting.

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Photo of CityBoy1986
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a pint glass.

The pour is black with ruby undertones. A tan head lingers for a while and leaves a good amount of lacing.

The nose is mostly chocolate with hints of coffee and some dark fruits. The taste is of the same flavours, but the fruits have more of a hold than they do in the nose.

The mouthfeel is medium-bodied and is almost like drinking creamy milk. Drinkability is very high; the ABV is very well-masked.

This is a very nice stout; I only wish I could have it more often.

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Photo of FickleBeast
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a Dogfish Head snifter.

A - pours pitch black with one finger of sticky foam that lingers and clings to the side of the glass

S - Sweet, dark roasted malts, plum, hints of coffee - very aromatic

T - initial surge of chocolaty sweetness, followed by a quick punch of coffee. As it warms, the chocolate flavors intensify.

M - silky smooth, the coffee astringency refreshes the palate

D - the 8.1% ABV is undetectable, and the chocolaty goodness of this beer goes down easy. Very smooth and drinkable.

Overall, a great beer. I would certainly get this again.

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Photo of Vengeance526
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black color with a rich tan head that retains nicely and leaves a good bit of lacing.

Lots of chocolate in the nose along with some roasted coffee and a little smoke.

Taste begins with notes of roasted chocolate and espresso. Some sweet caramel comes in the middle and gives way to a slightly smoky finish. Now I expected the big malty flavors to be quite dominant, but being that this is Bear Republic, there just had to be a good helping of spicy hops in the mix as well. The end result is quite amazing and put an interesting spin on the style.

Medium bodied with a smooth and creamy feel. An all-around great RIS. Once again, B-R delivers another winner. This is one I know I'll be enjoying again soon.

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

I can't believe it took me this long to try this bear, I had paid more attention to the Hop Rod and Racer 5. The appearance is impressive, inky black with a tan head that reduces quickly. The smell is espresso, dried fruit, and licorice. The taste is the same, with a little dark chocolate and raspberry. The mouthfeel is silky and satisfying. Great drinkability, for as long as you can last.

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Photo of jdg204
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Been a big Bear Republic fan since I had my first Racer 5 last year and I quickly consumed the other standard offerings (Hop Rod and Red Rocket). However, I'd always had trouble finding Big Bear until I found some at Abe's Cold Beer in Bethlehem.

A: Deep brown color and a nice tan head that didn't last long but left plenty of lacing.

S: Dark roasted coffee and smokey notes along with a hint of spicey hops.

T: Starts out with a dark roasted, chocolate flavor that joins with some dark by mid-palate. The hoppy bitter finish provided a good balance, delivering a good overall flavor.

M: Medium body with moderate carbonation.

D: A rock solid brew though I'm not sure if it wouldn't be better classified as a Double Stout rather than an RIS. Good to see that Bear Republic has got a great width of expertise beyond just hoppy brews, an impressive brewery. This is nice sipping beer for a long autumn night, enjoy it as such. It might be just short of a must try, but this is pretty solid brew and one most BA's would enjoy.

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Photo of rhinos00
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage. Poured into a pint glass.

A- Pours a dark, chocolate brown with two fingers width of cocoa colored head. Zero visibility.

S- The nose was a little too dimensional for me. An underwhelming chocolate malt aroma came to the forefront with a slightly roasted character in the background. A bit of sweetness was in there as well.

T- Getting some complexity here. Big chocolate sweetness up front. Caramel malts transition into a roasted, charred flavor. A little rough around the edges in the back end, but overall was pretty enjoyable.

M- A little on the thin side for an imperial stout. Still I liked the sticky sweetness this beer offered.

D- I would have never guessed this was over 8% abv. Went down pretty easily.

Overall, a solid offering. Just lacked a little here and there, enough to make a difference in the end. Still, for the price this is definitely recommended.

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Photo of matty
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First A+ I've ever given!!Black colored beer with a rich creamy head.Aroma is rich chocolate.Taste is cream,chocolate and sweetened coffee.After over 300 beers I've finally found the perfect brew!!Like swallowing liquid silk.Great job by Bear Republic,this is something to be truly proud of!

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

Poured vigorously from a 22oz bomber into my Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Liquid is a murky bistre, bordering on black with a two-finger thick custardy tan head with excellent retention and dense, uniform, sticky lacing, but thin legs. Towards the bottom of the glass, the opaque quality fades as light is transformed to dark goldenrod highlights.

Brown bread, roasted malt, hazlenuts, carmelized apple peels, with supporting aroma of coffee and milk chocolate. There is also an iron or even blood-like note. Depth/intensity improves of all of the above improves greatly when the beer warms up.

Astringency and bitterness is stronger than the nose lets on - coming from a combination of deep roasted malt and Jefferson-pine bark (sort of a lemon infused vanilla) like hops. Dried apple, pluots, toffee, and citrus round out the palate. Finish reveals an added complexity to the malts, though the hops prevent differentiating between the layers of roast level or malt type, like you can do with the better English porters (for example).

Rich milky texture, moderate carbonation. Not much warming from the alcohol - ABV is on the lower end of the style.

The hop aromas, flavors, and balance against the malt all suggest a California or at least "west coast" signature take on the RIS. Not quite what I look for in a stout, but I can understand someone rating this very highly if their tastes lean more in this direction.

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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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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 2,432 ratings