Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

2,402 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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,402 |  Reviews: 1,145
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.

 866 characters

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.

 331 characters

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.

 794 characters

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.

 1,006 characters

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

Bottle courtesy of russpowell. Thanks Russ!

It pours a very dark brown with some hues of red shining through. The head of foam is only about an inch worth but it has some pretty good lacing.

The smell has some sweet notes of caramel and some bitter notes of roasted malt and maybe some coffee. Overall, sweet wins out.

The taste also has the sweet/bitter thing going on. The caramel is really highlighted nicely here and brings a nice sweet flavourr I don't find in too many RIS. There's plenty of roasted malt here to balance it and I can also taste a nice nip of chocolate. Coffee is here but very much on the light side. This is very tasty and I think Bear Republic did a great job of hiding the alcohol.

The mouthfeel borders on fullish and the carbonation is light. It's very smooth and creamy. Head retention is pretty good especially after the second pour and with that second pour, I now call it pitch black as the reddish hues I saw earlier no longer exist!

Drinkability? The brew is an easy drinker and belies the fact that it is 8.1%abv. I like!
Thanks again, Russ.

 1,083 characters

Photo of Hoagie1973
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours black with a big rocky head. Excellent retention and some patchy sheets of lacing.

Smells wonderful! Sweet roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, a hint of acidity (sourdough-like), sharp hops, and a touch of alcohol.

Flavor is very malty and chocolatey. Slightly citric and fruity in the middle. Decently hopped with a good bitterness in the finish. Alcohol is well blended and barely perceptible.

Mouthfeel is smooth and even, but a tad thin for an RIS (that's really my ONLY criticism for this one). Good carbonation levels give it a slight bite.

This is one tasty, easy drinking RIS.

 591 characters

Photo of theghost3
3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque dark brown, almost black with a 3-finger tan head. There's a ring throughout with a moderate amount of lacing.

The smell is strong of molasses, dark fruits, caramel, dark chocolate, and roasted malts. The taste is slightly bitter of hops along with flavors of roasted malts and bitter dark chocolate. Mouthfeel is thick & creamy with fair carbonation.

This is a drinkable RIS. It's stronger on the hop & roasted malt bitterness than a lot of stouts but still really good.

 491 characters

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

A 22 ounce bomber bottle poured into my nonic Imperial pint glass. The stout appears a deep dark brown color with at least two fingers of lingering dark ecru foam. The head leaves a decent lace on the glass in it's wake. A great looking pour. tastes and smells of rich deep roasted grains, highly caramelized malt, medium roasted coffee, floral, earthy hops, a touch of citrus, notes of bittersweet cocoa. Bordering on full bodied for the style with adequate carbonation. Tasty and still sort of cheap.

 502 characters

Photo of damienblack
3.23/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours thick black, like a typical American Stout. A bit of lacing, nothing to write home about. Not much on the nose either, more hops than anything. A bit of dark malt. Taste... well, this tastes more to me like a dark IPA than a RIS. The hops prevail here. Not deep, dry rich hops, but pretty bitter kind of wet hops. Not too impressive to me. The dark malt tastes a back sweet, and the roastiness and sweetness takes a back seat. When drinking this I figured it to be a standard American Stout. It lacks the gravitas it needs to be a big rich RIS. It is nice and creamy though, so mouthfeel is good. Drinkability suffers because of the bitterness. Overall, next time I will pass on this one.

 694 characters

Photo of GRG1313
3.26/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Re-tasted on tap at Bear Republic 1/31/11 and while review below is accurate, it was much more "stoutlike" han indicated below(although one of my least favorite beers from a brewery that makes almost all really good brews)

* *

Vintage 2006 (although tasted on tap in 2009) Pours very dark brown, almost black with a tan head that is not long in the glass.

Nose is light grapefruit, pine and light undertones of fruity malt. Nose is restrained.

Flavors and basic appeal is also somewhat restrained. The body and flavors are not complex and are light simple malt/stone fruit but not very big and not very assertive and certainly not real complex. This is a basic "ok" drink. It was a treat to try the 2006 in 2009 but not something I'd go out of my way for again. All in all a bit thin in all respects. Not what you would expect in a "quality" craft stout.

 858 characters

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

Bomber courtesy of washburnkid. Thanks for the extra, Judy! Pours a dark brown color, almost black in the glass, bright ruby red highlights when held up to the sun. Very nice roasty smell, plenty of chocolate and light coffee caramel notes. Taste is full on chocolate and heavily caramelized sugar. Some bitter roasted coffee notes are on the back end. Creamy, silky, 8% is completely hidden. I actually haven't been feeling the best today (not sick, just not feeling right), so it was tough to finish the whole bottle, but it was very delicious and was an awesome extra.

 571 characters

Photo of kimcgolf
3.36/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Pours from the tap to a pretty chocolate brown with a thick tan head that lingers well and leaves good lacing. Unfortunately, the rest of the beer did not quite live up to the appearance. Nose and taste were both a sweet chocolate-toffee, but were also slightly muted. The really dissappointing feature was the mouthfeel for this thin-boided beer, which unfortunately led to a short watery finish.

Not a bad beer, but not more of a chocolate stout than an Impy, and for that, I'll take Rogue.

 493 characters

Photo of froghop
3.76/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a jet black, with a thin khaki head, and some lacing.

smell is faint, powered cocoa, weak coffee, roasted nuts, and a touch of licorice.

taste is creamy, chocolate, espresso, roasted malt, and nuts, ends dry and slightly bitter.

overall a very nice stout.

 264 characters

Photo of charlesw
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Color me surprised that this is a stout at all and then an RIS? What? Weird. But, hey, it's all good.

I'm not giving this great scores across the board even though I really enjoyed drinking it. Still, it's not a stout (like the bottle says) or an RIS (like this site says). No way. My biggest beef with it is the color/opacity. It's a really deep and dark amber. And not opaque. I mean, with "Black Stout" in the name I'm waiting for something that's really black. No chance. I hold my glass up to the light and I see color through it. Besides, the beer is dark reddish brown. Not black. Low head. Big IPA nose. Big old ale taste - tons of smoother, sweeter dark malts. Caramel. Hints of chocolate and coffee (but only hints). Alas, with a thin and watery mouthfeel. More like a normal stout, I suppose. But with that big sweet flavor and all of those hops (which I didn't mention but which are everywhere) I expect more from this one.

 936 characters

Photo of Brad007
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black comor with a large brown head into my Piraat glass. Nice!

Aroma is full of roasted coffee with only a small hint of chocolate in the nose.

Taste is also full of roasted coffee that seems to dominate the palate. I can't really detect any other flavors.

Mouthfeel has lingering roasted coffee but it seems to calm down and isn't as astringent. Finishes clean.

Hmm, it doesn't seem like much but it's drinkable enough to where you should give it a try. It's a basic, but well-done RIS.

 506 characters

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

22oz bomber poured into a goblet.

A: Black. Light tan head leaves plenty of lacing.

S: Lots of rosted malt. Some hops and a bit of molasses.

T: A ton of roastiness and hoppy bitterness. Similar to Old Rasputin.

M: Thick and smooth. Well-carbonated.

D: This strikes me as a slightly lower-octane version of Old Raspy. If you like that beer, you'll almost certainly like this one.

 383 characters

Photo of samie85
4.97/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz. into a pint glass.

A- Very dark brown/black with a one finger, tan head. Head retention is pretty good.

S- It smells amazing! All sweet chocolaty, and roasted malt. Smells like it's going to be pretty creamy.

T- Taste is chocolate and roasted malt up front with a hop bitterness and smoky quality near the end. Really good.

M- Mouthfeel is really smooth and creamy. Carbonation is perfect.

D- This really is an easy drinking beer. Alcohol is hidden well.

 480 characters

Photo of Yesac
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Black of course. Large brown foamy head.

S- Big powder chocolate notes. Roasted malt. Smells delicious.

T/M- Right along with the smell. Creamy textured. Chocolate dryness that makes the tounge scratchy. Harsh hop bitterness. Smokey malts at the end. To dry and bitter for my liking.

D- The 8% is hidden well. This is a great stout but that dryness and bitterness is overbearing.

 388 characters

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

Can't wait to get these guys here in CO.

a: ink black with a light tan head.

s: roasted barley

t: bitter roasted malt with notes of chocolate and coffee.

m: lighter in body than your typical thick, oily RIS.

d: Not as rich as others in the style, but not a task to drink as some are. With so many getting bigger and bigger, it is great to experience an easier drinking, but still very enjoyable Russian Imperial Stout.

 423 characters

Photo of jsh420
2.73/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a dark dark brown with a 1 finger head that left spotted lacing

smell is not very strong but i was able to pick up roasted malts and hops

taste is way to thin and watery not what i want or expect in a RIS - tastes of watery roasted malts choclate and hops

mouthfeel is very watery and well carbonated

drinkabilty is good just for the fact you can pound these if you wanted to but if i am going to drink a stout this watery hand me a cheap guinness

overall i was disappointed in this offering from bear republic since they put out good ipa (racer5 hop rod) but some breweries cant do every style

 605 characters

Photo of crazeguy
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz Bomber into a Pint Glass.

Dark brown with attractive head.

Smell - Roasted malts along with a slight hint of chocolate and espresso.

Taste - burnt espresso beans and light dark chocolate.

Mouth/Drink - It hits nice and softly. Making this a beer you can drink all night.

You can't beat a beer like this for the price!

 343 characters

Photo of nasty15108
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.

A - Poured jet black with a head of tan foam that didn't stick around to long. Good lacing and low carbonation.

S - Malty with hints of dark chocolate, day old espresso and a bit of alcohol.

T - Coffee and dark chocolate dominate, but don't overwhelm the palate. Slight hints of dark ripe fruit with just the right amount of smokiness.

MF&D - Velvety smooth. Can a R.I.S. be a session beer? I think it can! This is a must try beer!

 477 characters

Photo of maximum12
4.04/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to stumac who dealt me a bottle of this, & jtrockschalk who tossed a second in as an extra a couple days later. Pays to have those good beers on your wants list I guess...thanks guys!

Bomber split with the beer-loving wife & splashed into my Lost Abbey chalice (love that glass!). Beer is black & foamy, befitting it's label as an RIS. Smell is muted, the Weakest Link, as it were, in this brew.

This is a naughty, dangerous brew. Silky smooth, with a malty chocolate overbite of deep dark black nighttime...nice. I find myself reaching for it more often than I should for an RIS, so it's a good thing this isn't a school night. Goes down way easy, & feels like liquid silk sliding into the tummy.

Very good beer. If there was such a thing as a session RIS, this would be it. Another winner from Bear Republic, I need to start delving deeper into their catalog.

 873 characters

Photo of mountdew1
4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a very dark dark opaque brown with a off white 1 finger head. Head clung to the side very well and lasted about 5 minutes. Smell was a bit of pina coloda smoothness with strong coffee aroma, and bits of chocolate. Taste was clean, slightly sweet, a touch of milkyness, with some bitter oatmeal bread. Over time, the flavor developed a very strong dark chocolate taste. Felt very good in the mouth, coated extremely well with the right amount of carbonation. Very pleasant to drink, ABV hit a bit fast.

 547 characters

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

Beer 30, Big Bear Stout Ale by Bear Republic Brewing Co

Bear Republic Brewing Co @
Beer Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Serving Size: 22 oz Bottle, ABV 8.1%
Purchased on 4/30/09 and Drank on 4/30/09

4 out of 5 on over all drink-ability

Aroma: Mild and complex aroma with notes of dried fruits, dark chocolate and roasted grain.

Appearance: Black with tan head.

Flavor: Smooth flavors of roasted grains and dried fruits.

Mouth Feel: Full body with effervescence on the sides of the tongue

Overall Impression: Mellow. The beer is well balanced and the flavors are lighter that I would expect for a Russian Imperial stout. The 22 ounces went down a quickly and easily.

 734 characters

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,402 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.