Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
2,429 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: 2,429 |  Reviews: 1,152
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.

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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.

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Photo of LSUExplorer03
3.92/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Appearance was chocolaty, dark brown with light brown

S - Smell was rich with a sweet character apparent. Nothing too
overwhelming or aromatic, however.

T - Taste was above average. I got some chocolate, along with
some smoky hints up front with strong malts in the back.
Not too much hop balance.

M - Medium to thick body

D - Drinkability was above average. I picked up a little of an
"alcoholy" taste, and for only being 8.1%, this was a bit of a

Overall, the beer was good and I would definitely buy another; however, for the ratings this beer has received, I was a little disappointed.

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Photo of Buebie
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Picked up this gem from Joepais. Thanks Joe!

Poured from a brown bomber into a surly tulip. Off the semi-rigerous pour I get 2 incjes of tan head, leaving a good colar of retention and a thick island in the center.
Pleanty of sticky thick foam like lace left on the glass. The beer is black, slightest bit of glowing red at the base of the glass.
A hefty yeast cake in the bottom of the bottle.

Aromas of malty chocolate grains, a touch of alcahol, bits of gingerbread, and some molasses with hints at fermented dark fruit and a little bit of coffee.

Plenty of carbonation all the way through this, as well as a creamier full bodied feel. Not super thick, but definatly not thin, its in between on the creamyness. Kind of alot of carbonation here though, it would be nice to see some of that drop out.
Starting out bitter with chocolate, alot of good bitter chocoalte grain flavor. Reminding me a little of crumbled up orea cookies. Heating up just a hair into the swallow. The finish is bitter with chocolate, some mild coffee and bittering grapefruit hops.

The finish is clean and dry. Not much from the alcahol for %8, that was well hidden, especially since there really was no sweatness to hind it behind.
A solid American double, but not necesarilly an RIS IMO.
Good brew though.

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Photo of BacklitAvenger
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation - Bomber I brought back from frisco in my luggage into a tulip at my friend's house.

Appearance - Lovely looking beer, it's dark as night with a significant head the color of espresso foam. The head dissipates but leaves trailings all up and down the sides of the glass.

Smell - It smells dark, black. Roasted barley, chocolate. The aroma wasn't as high as some stouts I have had. This was the only part of the beer that was lacking.

Taste - Luckily it didn't matter that the aroma was muted. The taste more than made up for it. A very restrained stout, this is. First some plums or other dark fruit, followed by bittersweet chocolate and cocoa notes. Little in the way of burnt flavors, though hints of coffee and roast peek through here and there. Malty and delicious, hops bring it to a close with crisp, clean bitterness. A warming from the alcohol, but no actual alcohol flavors. When the drink itself warms up a bit more roast comes through the chocolate, laying down a fusillade of dark, coarse malt.

Mouthfeel - Lovely here too as well. Chewy malt is in blissful overabundance here. Smooth as sin, with a slickness or oiliness on top from the hops.

Drinkability - Dangerously high. I do not detect alcohol flavor at all. This is smooth, deceptively non-alcoholic tasting, and possesses a warming quality that would be most welcome in winter. If there's such a thing as a sessionable RIS, this is it. I ordinarily split my bombers with a friend, but I ended up polishing this bad boy off myself while my buddy sipped on some Stone RIS from the DLD haul they brought.

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Photo of DrinkinBuddy
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours black with nice yeasty residue. Head isn't as thick and rich as expected and doesn't last too long. Smell is great: rich, roasted, malty and chocolaty. Taste is smokey roasted grains and chocolate with a slight hoppy after bite. Mouthfeel is very disappointing thin,thin, thin. I really expected it to be thicker. Goes down pretty well, but I wouldn't make a session of of this. Pretty good beer from Bear Republic.

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Photo of Naugled
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

served in tulip

A: large rocky tan head with a silky surface, not completely opaque, very dark espresso brown

S: roasted coffee and caramel in the nose, very rich and sweet smell

T: sweet and malty bitterness from the roast, little aftertaste, hop flavors not present.

M: rich creamy smooth sweet thick feel

D: average, it's hard to get good drinkability in such a big beer, so average to me is good.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the first Russian Imperial Stouts I ever had. I can say that it certainly did not disappoint, even if it is a little different for the style.

A: Very black with a nice, tan head.

S: Chocolate, espresso, and hops. Quite hoppy for an imperial stout.

T: Plenty of hops along with chocolate and espresso.

M: Quite smooth with good carbonation and a slight alcohol presence.

D: Highly drinkable. Good all around stout. Very, very highly recommended to any hophead who is looking into branching out into RIS's.

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Photo of TequilaSauer
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Not too impressive. Fairly thin head considering the style, dissipates quickly. The consistency of the beer overall is thinner than many in this style.

S - Very fresh smell. Not very fragrant, some chocolate and roasted malt.

T - Great flavor and balance. This is a GREAT tasting beer. Attacks with a pleasant chocolate flavor that lingers well on the palette while other bitter, hoppy notes come forth to join in. Dark chocolate and mocha linger on the tongue longer after that beer is down.

M - Thinner than most RIS's, but very pleasant.

D - A great drinking stout. This and Storm King are regular go-tos in the stout genre because they taste fantastic but don't leave you feeling like you drank a bottle of molasses afterwards.

Another standout from Bear Republic. They are slowly becoming one of my favorite breweries.

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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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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 2,429 ratings