Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
2,420 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: 2,420 |  Reviews: 1,149
Photo of elniko
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bomber into Stella glass.

A: Opaque coloring with nice tan head and heavy lacing. Very nice looking beer.

S: Sweet smelling nose with some chocolate tones. Quite nice.

T & M: Not terribly bitter for a RIS, almost a creamy mouthfeel which I enjoyed. Not as complex as other RIS that I have encountered.

D: Very drinkable for a RIS, but not at the very top of my list.

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Photo of DiabolikDUB
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A = Pours Jet Black with a finger of light chocolate colored head.
S = Bitter chocolate and coffee.
T = Dominating bitter chocolate but with a bit of smoky flavors.
M = Slick, Medium-Bodied.
D = It drinks very well. At just over $4, I could put too many of these down in a sitting.

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Photo of northaustin
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

i am very impressed with this beer. i am not a huge stout fan but i drank this one like it was oxygen! the taste is smooth and the mouthfeel isnt too heavy (one of the problems i feel with most stouts) but isnt light either. it pours a consistent black with a light head. the price is right and it is a must try. not much else to say.

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Photo of SilentSabre
3.16/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I must admit, I'm actually a little disappointed with this one. While still a *good* stout, I personally don't feel it is a *great* stout. Here's why: I wouldn't want to wash down a big bite off of a Snikers bar with a bottle of grapefruit juice, and I don't like stouts that have these big chocolate and coffee flavours in their malt profiles that use Cascade and Centennial hops for the same reason. I don't care for *fresh* Old Rasputin or Yeti, and I find that this is very similar. Nice, super dark body with beige coloured head. Nice lacing. Mouthfeel is heavy, almost oily, as it should be. But I simply cannot *truly* enjoy a big, bold stout with this kind of hoppiness. Sorry guys. A sturdy, very well crafted stout that simply isn't for me, personally.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked this up last week while on vacation at the French Broad co-op in Asheville. They have a tight little selection, with Pisgah growlers and about 12-15 brews, mostly good stuff. This is a brew and a brewery I'd been searching for for a while, first time I've seen BR in NC.

Pours a bright tan color with a near black color and a hop dominant nose that makes me question the style a bit. Sure, chocolate malts are present, with bitter chocolate and coffee, but they are in the minority against the pine and citrus. Strange.

Thick in texture with a bitter, oily finish. The dark malt and dark fruit flavors are there but the Californication is heavy, maybe the hoppiest stout I can remember having. Tasty and different but not my favorite RIS.

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Photo of nick76
3.28/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

The aroma is sweet with toasted malt, coffee, chocolate, and a small amount of hops. The appearance is almost black with a large head. The flavor is hoppier than the aroma but is dominated by the same elements from the aroma. The palate is a bit thin. Overall a drinkable beer that is to style but is nothing special.

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Photo of younger35
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up this bottle from the brewery a little over a year ago. Don't know why I've been sitting on this for so long. Drank from my Darkness snifter.

Appearance- Pours a pretty damned dark black with a nice one finger medium tan head. A decent cap is left but a super nice collar leaves loads of chunky lacing.
Smell- Potent nose as its absolutely bursting from the seams with deep dark black chocolate. Plenty of caramel and molasses as well and maybe a hint of black licorice. Fairly roasted with some light coffee aspects and just a hint of citrus.
Taste- Wow very interesting. I didn't get many hops in the nose but they are fairly assertive in the mouth. The beer doesn't get too bitter, there's just a kick of citrus that was unexpected. Plenty of chocolate as well with a light milky creaminess. A bit of mocha and char give way to a light somewhat sweet brown sugar. Finishes with some lingering caramel and a light bit of floral essence.
Mouthfeel- Very creamy and silky smooth with a nice full feel and light carbonation.
Drinkability- This thing has sat way over a year and it still has a nice hop bite. It must be close to a Black IPA fresh. The 8% is nowhere to be found either. Just a solid solid Stout that everyone must try.

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Photo of webbcreative
4.55/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Black pour with 3 finger tan head..absolutely gorgeous looking in the glass! Smells of dark bitter chocolate, also smells like a dark fruit smell, although i dont know what fruit that would be. taste is again some dark bitterish chocolate, and a get a bit of hop bitterness in the end. mouth feel is really nice here, realy smooth and just a little creamy.

Overall, wow, this is a pretty darn good RIS, would like to do a blind or at least side by side tasting with this and Old Rasputin for comparison though.

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

22oz bomber that's probably been sitting in my fridge for 5 or 6 months. Finally cracking it open.

A - Poured as black as the name suggests into a small snifter. A nice tan 2 finger head is achieved with an aggressive pour.

S - Smells great. Nice sweet malts, hops, a whiff of chocolate that reminds me of a brownie, and a boozy sweetness. One of the best smelling stouts I've come across.

T - There's a nice hop bitterness that balances out the sweet and roasty malts. Great dark chocolate flavor in the aftertaste. Coffee and caramel flavors are in the mix as well.

M - Not really quite as full bodied as you might expect but certainly not thin. Nice and smooth and has a fairly dry finish.

D - For an imperial stout I think this is nice and drinkable. I'm a big fan of imperial stouts with a nice hop bitterness and this is a perfect example. To me it's in the realm of Victory Storm King in terms of flavor and I love them both.

Great beer.

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

A - opaque, creamy dark tan head, good retention that eventually receds, and excellent lacing

S - hoppy nose, sweet citrus, blends in with darker malts, not a huge roast aroma, but a smooth creaminess, clean

T - well built flavours, more creamy roast, well integrated citrus hops, not assertive, but smooth, lots of maltiness, some carmel, light fruitiness, lots of lingering citrus hop bitterness, but again very smooth.

M - not a huge mouthfeel on this one, which makes it quite drinkable, mild carbonation, no astringency, dry finish, alcohol is nowhere to be found

D - very pleasant and well made, very much an "american" stout, yet not harsh or over-the-top

Quite a tasty american impy stout, reminds me very much of Old Rasputin with the citrus hops, smooth roast, and reasonable body/alcohol. I don't have anything bad to say, and the hopping is really well done, but it just doesn't have a whole lot of depth, so I can't justify a really high rating. Probably not an entry level beer, but quite approachable for someone ready to take the next step.

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Photo of ghebel
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours black with a 1 inch creamy brown head that sticks hard to the glass when finally receeding after what seems like forever.

S - Roasted malts and dark fruits. Surprisingly no alcohol in the backgound. Mixed bouquet of hop aromas in the end, piney and floral. Nice.

T - Sweet, chocolatey start with bitter finish. This beer has it all and is superbly balanced. The hop flavors are not masked by the dark malts.

M - Moderate to heavy body. Lingering bitterness. Starts sweet and ends dry.

D - Highly drinkable, but not too many.

Overall - One would not know the ABV was so high in the beer. I really like this style and this is one of the better ones, especially for a bottle. I will definitely buy this again.

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Photo of Richardberg
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Dark but not jet-black liquid topped with a generous foam. Good retention. Lighter than most imperials.

S: sweet caramel malts, toasty grains, fair bit of hops to round things out. Doesn't have the choco/mocha aromas of many but very nice balance regardless thanks to rather forward hops.

T: pretty much identical, plus some pleasant warming

M: smooth but not luxurious. Too thin overall IMO.

D: very enjoyable and accessible for an 8% beer. Commendable craftsmanship if that's their goal...but nothing special.

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Photo of washburnkid
4.87/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed in a snifter.

A: Small light brown head over a pitch black body that barely allows lighter hues to pull through in the light. A tan ring retains well, but only slight lacing to speak of.
S: Huge nose of sweet malts, balanced out by bitters from hops and chocolate, with a whiff of ripe fruits notes and irrefutable oats.
T: Bitter chocolate malts and hops come right out, showcasing this beer's impressive balance. A smack of fruits hits with vague notes of caramel, and some roasted barley. Hints of molasses and warmth as well.
M: Medium body; oily and slick mouthfeel to boot. Solid carbonation.
D: This beer has an incredible balance. It doesn't overwhelm with coffee malts, and has a warm (but not too boozy) character about it as it warms. A stout for a hophead, perhaps? I look forward to trying this beer on tap someday.

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

Solid toasted light brown head, retains well and never truly disappears after shrinking from its original inch-thick size. Color is cola brown veering toward fudgy black, although not as jet/ink-black as others in the style. Nice thick honeycombs of tan lace cling to the glass.

Aroma is dark baking chocolate with a coin-y smell backing it up. Further back is fig and plum and hardly any trace of alcohol, although that could change is it warms.

Hadn't detected any coffee in the aroma, but that roasty bitterness appears on the tongue in full. Also not surprised to get some bitter cocoa/baking chocolate backup. Pretty nutty, and the hops are showing up for work in this big boy, that's for sure. A pervading hop grassiness/astringency makes its mark on this stout. Very light soy sauce in the finish, along with more roast/coffee action. Pretty dry, and not as sweet as some others of the style. I'm not getting any of the "rich caramel sweetness" promised on the label. But I'm not complaining either.

Good silky tone to the texture, but also plenty of carbonation tingle. Not incredibly thick, but certainly what I'd call a "busy" mouthfeel.

Not my favorite R.I.S., but definitely a recommendable, enjoyable, solid, well-made stout. One of very, very few robust beers that I'd ever say this about, but it might fare even better barrel-aged.

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Photo of jujubeast6000
3.26/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed 9/5/2008 (bottle):

Pours a very black body, brownish on the edges. Tan head, big bubbles, lastingish. Hoppy alcoholy aroma, little dark malts like coffee. Alcohol off the first sip, watery. Nuttiness & some coffee. Sweet, almost like a sweet stout.

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Photo of stephens101
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A thin, bubbly, dark tan head disappears after a minute or so and leaves some small spots of lacing behind. Color is pitch-black and ominous. Toasted malts, burnt sugar, taffy and dark chocolates float to the nose. After your olfactory sense filters through those complexities, a subtle earthiness and some pine push through.

Initially tastes of deep, dark chocolate with little to no sweetness noticeable. Big roasted malts come into play right before a nice hop bitterness is noticed. Underneath it all exists some very slight caramel sweetness, an almond nuttiness and a nice alcohol heat. Mouth-feel is on the heavy side of medium. It goes down smooth and doesn't weigh on the stomach. A quick shake results in a good blast of carbonation bubbles, which leads to an openness on the palate.

Many times Russian Imperial Stouts can be cloying or terribly unbalanced. This is not the case with the Big Bear, as Bear Republic, who don't seem to be able to do any wrong, have made another near-perfect brew.

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

Nose is rich and very malty - lots of raisin and chocolate/coffee. Hint of hops. Smells very good.

Pours jet black with a nice little creamy-thick head. Look good. Good bit of yeast in the bottle.

Nice and stoutish for sure. Good tart vein running throughout like raisin tartness or hops. Softer malt than the nose indicated. Dull notions of bittersweet chocolate. Soft overtones of sweeter chocolate and coffee. Mild roasted sugars. Hints of wood. Finishes a little dry and tart. Tastes pretty good. Feels pretty good. Pretty good drinkability.

Dark and dry. A slow drinker.

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

Pours a dark black color. One and one half inch head of a dark tan color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of sweet malt, good hops aroma, slight alcohol, and slight roasted malt. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is very smooth, slightly thick, and has an average carbonation. Tastes of slight roasted malt, then hops come through nicely, then sweet malt, some alcohol throughout, and the finish is a blend of sweet and roasted malt. Very refreshing and easy to drink RIS. This is definitely worth a try.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a thick, black body with one-finger tan head that leaves lace ring around the glass. Mostly roasted malts. some toasted, in the smell along with caramel and hints of coffee and something else (molasses, honey?). Man this is a real smooth and creamy beer, and for a RIS w/ 8% alcohol they hid the alcohol well and were able to to still balance it between caramel and some minor cocoa w/ roasted and coffee malts for a great blend and a dry finish. Even has a minor citric hopbite on the backend as well. A great sipper that's dangerous b/c I could drink it all night.

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Photo of herbalist
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a nice dark, dark brown nearly black with a nice thin cream colored head. It disapates quickly but the very dark color of the beer is impressive.

Malt is the dominant scent with a nice bit of alcohol as well. It has a subtle chocolate aroma to it that is very appetizing. Upon the second or third smell I'm bringing out hints of toffee too. Light scent of oatmeal is also present.

Mmmm! This beer is tasty. Chocolate is one of the dominant tastes, the oatmeal, toffee and malt are also present but what is surprising is the AWESOME blend of hops. They def shine through and I don't feel as though I could smell them. There is also a nice hint of coffee to the taste which creates a nice bit of complexity which I really like. It is not overly sweet but overall I'd say its a PERFECT stout.

The mouthfeel is nice, perfect amount of carbonation and it is just heavy enough to make this a solid beer to cap your night off with. I highly recommend it.

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

How many small black bears are there? While you count I'm runnin! Pours a midnight black color with some viscosity to it. A soft and bubbly head with ok retention but limited lacing. The head did hide to the edge of the glass but did remain through the tasting.

The nose is malt oriented. There is a nice chocolate note with a more generic malt backing. Some minor sweet caramel and toffee notes with a light roast character. Some almost lactic notes, more along the lines of a oatmeal aroma than milk or sour. Some noticeable hops, but still limited. Some coiny notes but light. Some yeast notes but also light.

The taste is similar. The chocolate comes out a bit more and really lingers into the finish. Some astringency but light. This is a bit off set buy the creamy oatmeal like taste/feel. The malt is limited somewhat. There isn't any of the caramel and toffee notes that was in the nose. Some light fusel notes but ok. The hops come out more with a earthy and resiny taste that linger into the finish. Some sudsy and metallic notes but light.

The body is moderate and would like a bit more depth for a 8+ beer. Some creamy notes up front and astringent notes on the back end. Carbonation is a bit light but ok. Overall a good beer with some minor problems but very nice to drink.

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Photo of hoplover82
4.72/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep rich viscous black liquid that has a thin creamy head that dissapates fast but leaves great lacing, but could have better retention.

The aroma is outstanding!!!! Hops, hops, and more hops! I love it. Smells like Dales Pale Ale, so must be centennial hops. Some solid roasted malt in the back. Very nice.

The flavor is very balanced between malts and hops. Lots of roastiness and hops.

Big body and very creamy.

Very VERY drinkable.

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

Black body with ruby highlights. Big beige microbubbly head. Good stretchy lacing.

Nice enticing coffee and cocoa aroma. Also features some dark fruit.

Taste starts coffee au lait with a hunk of chocolate. Low undercurent of dark fruit leads to sneaky hop bite at the swallow. Alcohol completely masked.

Smooth, slick oily mouthfeel. Surprisingly easy drinkability.

A tasty and not overpowering imperial stout, not too big for a bomber.

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Photo of Magpie14
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: dark walnut and black, very black. The cap was of whipped brown sugar and cream that stayed around and kept the glass company. It also left a nice city skyline of lacing at the rim of the glass

S: the first waft of smells gathered a dark roast of malts, black coffee, and a mixture of brown sugar with black strap molasses. Also, a light whiff of tart-fruity hops

T: well, with my first sip, I was surprised by the dosage of hops. It evens out the playing field of flavors, almost too much. I find that the hops take away from the dark and sweet notes I smelled before. I was looking forward to my tongue being able to taste what I smelled. However, my tongue was not totally disappointed as this stout still boasts roasted malty notes with molasses and buttery brown sugar. Let's not forget the semi-sweet chocolate coffee notes that augment the malt base quite nicely. It still is a nice and sweet stout, just that it has plenty of greens

M: creamy, very slick, and heavy with a fair full bodied feel. This stout has some nice features...

D: not a bad showing and hop fans will dig this in a stout. Has nice finish and maintains a rich flavorful body

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Photo of TheodorHerzl
3.93/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours an opaque black with a minimal brown head on it. Not much lacing to speak of, but the head stayed for the entire beer.
Smell: I get plenty of chocolate, toffee, roasted malt, and even a touch of grassy hops on the nose. The smell is quite rich and makes me think I am about to drink dessert.
Taste: The flavor profile combines roasted malt and chocolate as the most dominate flavors. I also get secondary flavors include toffee, espresso, and an earthy grassy hoppiness finish the beer off.
Mouthfeel: This beer is quite full bodied and almost borders on the "chewy" realm, but overall is quite smooth and creamy.
Drinkability: This is a beer I could get used to having around for when I'm in the mood for a RIS, and at a very good price.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 2,420 ratings
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