Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
2,415 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: 2,415 |  Reviews: 1,148
Photo of cameraman
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A dark brown to black color, with a quater inch head, that is light brown in color. The head slowly dissolves away. The deep scent of roasted malt hits the nose, but soons fades, and is followed feintly by combination of fragrances. The scent of coffee and chocolate, with dried fruit come through, but are very weak. A malty taste, hearty, with chocolate coming halfway. Then it blends itself to a mild grassy bitterness, that grows to a earthy bitterness at the end. A rich medium bodied feel, that thins out very quickly and brings the strong feel of carbonation across the palate. This stout has great look, hearty flavor, but the aroma is rather weak. The feel, may be the weakest and thinnest stout I have ever had.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours from a 22oz bottle into a .5L pint glass. Emerges a beautiful black color with the faintest caramel colored highlights with a large (three fingered size) but somewhat fizzy toffee colored head. Very nice lacing and the head remains atleast two fingers about two minutes.

Aroma is roasty sweet with coffee, licorice and currant notes. Figs, raisins and dates, a touch of oak and vanilla as well.

Big, huge roasty, coffee flavors. Burnt grains with chocolate, oak, raisins and anise seed. The sweetness is certainly subdued compared with the sweetness in the aroma, which I very much like. Very roasty and burnt grainy with a the perfect amount of dark grain bitterness.

Pretty thin on the mouthfeel for an RIS. Finishes crisp and clean and very roasty. Superbly drinkable. In fact, dengerously drinkable.

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

22 oz bomber I got in a trade with hopsleeroy, thanks a lot! Served up in an imperial pint.

A: Pours a super black in color that the name implies. The pour appears to be somewhat thick. When held to the light, the color holds, allowing no light to penetrate. About a finger of light brown head slowly bubbles up from the depths of this one. Head slowly diminishes leaving a pretty thick ring with a small circle of foam resting in the center of the glass. Lace is slowly slides down the glass and notches it. Nice looking stout.

S: Smell is a bit hops forward. There is a lot of earthy/herbal hops smells coming out along with just a touch of citrus aromas. A sweet caramel rests in the background with roasted malty goodness. Touch of chocolate, cream and coffee aromas as well.

T: Taste is not as hops heavy as the nose. Lots of smooth caramel and chocolate flavors accompany the nice roasted malts. The caramel and chocolate has such a creamy flavor to it that it stands out as an impressive quality. There is just a nice presence of milky cream as well. The coffee flavors are slight but present. The beer is sweet but not too crazy, it has been nicely cut by the earthy hops presence that adds just a touch of bitterness which mixes well with the coffee and chocolate flavors. There are not any crazy flavors in here but the balance is damn good.

M: Mouthfeel is full and chewy. This one rests gently on the palate and lets the creamy feel bring out these great flavors. ABV is very nicely hidden, and it kind of takes away a bit IMO. I like my RIS's to have a touch of heat to them, but still this is quite solid. Aftertaste is only of some creamy caramel and chocolate.

D: For an RIS, this goes down so easy. Its heavy on the palate or in the stomach, and the lack of ABV heat makes this one dangerously close to a chugger. Just so easy to drink. I know that this beer is not crazy dynamic by playing with crazy flavors, but it is simple and almost perfectly balance. I have been wanting to try this one for quite some time and it sure did not disappoint. Awesome brew.

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Photo of SykDoc
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. This beer pours dark almost black color with brown at the edges when held to the light. It has a 1/2 inch light brown head that recedes to a consistent lacing.

The nose has a nice amount of roasted malty sweetness, mixed with some alcohol. There are mild hints of chocolate and coffee.

The taste includes a nice set of roasted malt, that includes chocolate and minimal coffee. It was a bit weak for me.

The mouthfeel was also weak. There is a creamy, almost milk stout feel. Overall, it is again a bit minimal for the body I was expecting. A pleasant dryness lingers.

Overall, I do feel that the weakness of this beer actually makes it a bit more drinkable. I would enjoy it when it is available but will likely not be searching it out.

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Photo of Cobrakai22
3.78/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Black Bear Pours solid black with very light tan colored head. Less than or equal to one finger of head with decent lacing and head retention.

Smell - Oats, espresso and a little bit of dark chocolate. Its also kind of roasty.

Mouth - I took the mouthfeel to be slightly thin compared to other imperial stouts I've had, making it quite smooth.

Drinkability - Very drinkable due to its smoothness and excellent alcohol masking. The beer got a bit more complex as it warmed, though still not as exciting as I prefer in an imperial stout.

At $5 for a bomber, this is a good beer and a great value.

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Photo of bowersdm
3.81/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

bomber into a mug

A - the usual look of an RIS

S - chocolate, coffee, roasted barley, and raisins

T - dark chocolate and coffee. The flavors are weak, not strong like other RISs. I didn't enjoy its lack of a flavor punch. noticeable hops as well.

M - very creamy

D - its muted flavor makes it as easily drinkable big beer.

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

This beer pours very dark with a dark tan head with lots of lacing. The smell is very robust of coffee, chocolate and licorice. The flavor is nice, not an over the top one with mega flavors but what is there is nice, lots of flavor from the toasted malts along with the coffee and chocolate flavors. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy with a very slight dry feeling. For 8% this is a highly drinkable brew and for 5$ bombers this is a good fallback for a night out :)

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

Poured 22 oz. bomber into a pint glass. Very clean coming out of the bottle, some head was noticed and settled very softly. Pitch black in color with caramel/brown head. Magnificent aroma's bailout. Senses of blackberries and chocolate, oatmeal and coffee are present. Gulp. Big bold flavor of the roast plays well with the hops. Lacing on the glass make for some amusement. Another great beer coming out of this bear. Keep it up!

Recommended: To all

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Photo of brewintheLou
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours very dark with an off white head that sticks around like a cloud and leaves lacing down the glass. I am seeing some amber around the edges, but that could be the lighting.

Has a very soft floral smell.

Taste hit me with vanilla right off. This thing is incredibly smooth and milky. Has nice chewiness and soft finish. This beer does not slap you in the face with flavor like some RIS's, but it is incredibly drinkable... maybe dangerously so. This is a very delicious brew.

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Photo of JonathanL7890
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap last night at the Dig Pub.
Poured into a pint glass.
1 Finger of foam. Medium brown head.
Color is pitch black as a stout should be.
Aroma: Lots of cascade hops. Maybe some roastiness but this is a very hop forward stout.
Taste: Almost like a west coast ipa. This is a very hop dominated brew. Roastiness comes out in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is thick and creamy.
Drinkability: Good, I like Ipas, though. It would be a tough pint for a non hop lover.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 22 oz. bottle.

Pours with a medium dark brown head. Medium carbonation. Color is opaque, pitch black. Aroma is quite roasty and coffeeish, hops definitely noticeable. Mouthfeel is somewhat sticky, medium body. Starts chocolatey, dry and is roasty throughout. Finishes with some burnt toastiness but pleasant. Alcohol is warm, not overpowering. Body, mouthfeel and alcohol all seem on the low end for an imperial stout.

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

After numerous times saying that I was going to pick up this brew I finally decided to, pretty dumb of me waiting this long I suppose. Well this brew poured to a pitch-black color with a good sized dark tan head that had very good retention and left a ton of thick lacing at the top of the glass and then rings down the side. The aroma is very inviting with its very dark roasted/ astringently burnt malt that also gives strong impressions of chocolate, coffee and berry like fruit. Also lurking is a slight alcohol aroma that you knew would be there with this brew weighing in at 8.1. The flavor is nice, the astringent malt comes out quickly but that breaks down to a nice mixture of chocolate, caramel and a slight sweet berry flavor. As it warms more of a coffee/espresso flavor comes out mixed with a clearer alcohol warmth. Has a dry finish that adds a little bit to the astringency. This is a good brew, can't have many of these in one sitting as you will get in trouble quickly but a nice sipper, especially as the flavors do change a bit as it warms. I should not have passed this brew up and will try some other offerings from this brewery in the near future.

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

A: entirely black. great looking stout
S: chocolate, coffee, toasted malt
T: chocolate, toasted malt, big flavor, delicious, good hop bitterness, slightly metallic, sweet, dry finish, sweet toasted malt through the middle, some caramel
F: creamy, full, sudsy
D: delicious
Also, Big Bear Black Stout is great name to go with this warming West coast stout.

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Photo of Graham5161986
4.62/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

this beer pours a very dark, opaque brown with a thick 3 finger, rocky tan head that has excellent retention ad leaves come nice thick lacing on my glass. Aromas of strong northwest hops come to mind with a touch of peppery spiciness (jalapeno possibly?) with hints of chocolate, coffee, and caramel on the nose. Taste is of some nice dark fruit up front with a highly enjoyable subtle hop presence throughout. Finish is quite chocolaty with a slight spicy kick @ the end. Nice roastiness from the malts on the linger as well. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy with a very nice amount of carbonation (not too much!). This beer has a mouth-coating finish that is cut nicely by a good amount of crispness and a touch of spice. Finally, despite its relatively high ABV, this beer is quite drinkable. It goes down smooth and its spicy crispness prevents it from feeling too heavy. The alcohol is certainly present but NOT overwhelmingly so. An excellent buy which I will surely be buying again in the future. Overall a truly remarkable stout.

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Photo of SirEgbert
4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Into a large mug: pours a nearly black, mahogany color. Creamy, khaki-colored head sticks at about a quarter inch. Good lacing.

S: Creamy esters. Roasted malts and dark fruits (plums?). Slight licorice.

T: Roasted malt and an earthy moss taste of hops. Mild piney aftertaste.

M: Creamy and big, with a biting astringent aftertaste. Cooling hops with an espresso-like bitterness.

D: This is a fantastic brew! Heavy, thick and malty, but the hops balance things out very well, drying the palate for the next sip. Alcohol makes itself known through a spreading warmth, but it is not forceful.

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Photo of cvfish
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - This beer poured black, with some brown highlights on the side, produced a tan frothy head that had good retention left nice lace around the glass

S - Aromas of roasted malts are prevalent, along with some chocolate and coffee

T - This Imperial Stout start with the nice roasted malt flavor one would expect, bitter dark chocolates, coffee bean, and molasses (which came from La.!), finished with a decent hop flavor

M - The body on this left a little to be desired, but only a little, medium to heavy body, smooth and creamy, with moderate carbonation

D - This Imperial Stout is one of my favorites, especially since we do not get much in the way of craft down here, the only complaint is the body, but nothing to stop me from really enjoying this beer

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

a - poured a light tan (almost eggshell color) one finger thick head into a goblet. the head left a nice ring and lace throughout and really coats the glass. the body was dark black.
s - sweet malts and chocolate.
t - dry roasted coffee, chocolate, caramel.
m - medium and clean.
d - terrific beer and it goes down way easy.

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

poured into a pint glass, black black black dark tan head, dark lacing black out the sides of the glass as i drink it.
smells amazing, roasted malts, huge amount of hops for a stout.
the taste is not as big as the smell, its almost tame by comparision, still damn good though. hoppy for a stout, but now it amost tastes like a hoppy american stout instead of an RIS.
That aside i love this beer, great taste, the hoppiness is a great suprise and it hides the abv quite well.

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Photo of xhcadamx
3.51/5  rDev -15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Jet opaque black. Nothing around the edges. Coffee with lots of cream colored head that lingers. Very heavy lacing.

S - Surprise - LOTS of C Hops. Not really my thing for a Stout. Background of coffee, and burnt malt.

T - Hops aren't quite as noticeable but still there. Lots of coffee, roasted burnt malt and the like you would expect from an RIS.

M - Medium bodied. Very oily and slick from the hops.

D - I like this but I wish the hops weren't so fragrant. I guess I enjoy a stout a little more on the malty side.

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Photo of argock
4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz brown bottle into a clear pint glass. No freshness date.

A: Nearly black with towering 3 finger tan head which cascades beautifully and has exceptional retention. Lace is strewn throughout with a large pillow of head even at the bottom of the glass.

S: Very hoppy aroma for a stout, which leaves a nose that is bittersweet chocolate and deeply roasted malt in character. Coffee notes are there as well.

T: This is an approachable but exceedingly enjoyable RIS. Roasted dark malts with a bit of burn combine with dark chocolate and coffee flavors to give a satisfying body of flavor that is effectively met with fairly sharp hops bitterness in the finish. The alcohol is not at all apparent in the overall delivery.

M: Feel is a bit light for a stout but the carbonation and aftertaste are both just right. Aftertaste is relatively hoppy but chocolatey.

D: This is an excellent stout, and at $4.49/bomber, it's a steal. This is a great stout for those who like their stouts hoppier. I like it because of the bittersweet chocolate flavor that carries through to the aftertaste. Not as substantive in body but big in taste. Yet another exceptional Bear Republic brew.

Cellar Review
2008 Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout
1/29/10: 1-2 year old bottle with no bottling date purchased about 10 months ago from Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA). Poured into a Duvel tulip. Exceptional appearance -- completely opaque black, amber-ruby edges, and a healthy 2-finger beige head with staunch lacing. Aroma is way less hoppy than fresh with more chocolate malty tones and a cola-like aroma. Flavor is surprisingly malty considering how hoppy the fresh version is. WOnderful strong dark sweeter malt presence with milk chocolate and light roasted coffee bean. Hops are minimal and mainly provide a subtle leafy, bitter tobacco counterpoint to the sweet, chocolatey maltiness. The finish has a slightly stronger coffee flavor with a bit of char that carries to the aftertaste and hits on a bit of anise/licorice. The feel is still a little lighter than most imperial stouts, but I think it has increased in heft a little -- or maybe decreased in carbonation. A wonderful beer with about a year on it, and definitely a unique, hoppy stout fresh. A great value at $4.49 a bomber. I wonder how well it will hold up at 2 years, but at that price, there's definitely no harm in finding out. Stellar brew both fresh and with a year or two on it.

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

An incredibly hoppy stout! Only a West Coast beer could get away with this much hop. But Bear Republic is one of the best West Coast breweries and pulls it off stylishly with this beer. Despite my aversion to over-hopped beers, this one's a winner, I think. Is it really a Russian Imperial Stout? I don't think so. The malts aren't developed enough -- few coffee, chocolate, or toasty flavors and a little bit of an uncontrolled phenolic undercurrent -- and the ABV is a little low. If this is a Russian Imperial Stout, why isn't Deschutes Obsidian? Regardless, a very drinkable beer and quite excellent. If it were available in six packs, I'd buy this guy regularly. Here are my notes:

A: Poured into a nonic-style pint glass. Decent lacing from a very light brown head. Dark dark brown with a bit of translucence on the side. It's a stout! Pretty standard-looking.

S: Hops? Hops. But it comes through mostly in the delightful floral notes in the nose. Citrus, yes, but that's mostly grace notes to the bouquet of flowers that opens up in your glass after the beer warms.

T: A very standard stout. Nicely toasty malts, suggestions of coffee now and then, with the hops providing a sort of oily, caustic acidity as a welcome counterpoint. After the beer warms too much, it loses some carbonation and some depth, so drink at cellar temperatures. Right out of a too-cold fridge, though, the beer is surprisingly open, probably due to judicious hopping. Like I mentioned, phenols poke through every now and then, marring the experience a tad for me, but their easily ignored. Even though the malts aren't out-of-this-world, they're solid and delicious.

M & D: Mouthfeel is very full at fridge, cellar, and room temperatures -- very impressive! The mark of a well-made stout. Maybe the "Imperial" designation gives me pause simply because the beer hides its alcohol so well. This beer -- even if it's not as flashy as stouts from breweries like Southern Tier and Stone -- is extremely pleasant and drinkable, and I wish I could get it in six packs. As it stands, carbon-footprint-related considerations might prevent me from buying it when I'm not visiting people out West, as other Eastern breweries, like Victory with their Storm King, also do the sub-Imperial Stout pretty well. Still, a great beer from a great brewery!

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

Big Bear Black Stout? This ain't Jellystone, and this ursine-appellated brew ain't your friend Yogi, folks. The name alone makes me think of a huge brutish brawler, ravenously hungry and hell-bent on having its way with the unwary traveler who stumbles across it.... Even the label cautions the adventurer against getting "mauled", but I've got big guns and a big glass and I've had a big breakfast, so I'm feeling pretty confident that this Big Bear is about to get his big black ass kicked! ROAR!

The 22-ounce bomber bottle, poured casually into a pint willi glass yields a rich dark ebony body highlighted by the dull twinkle of bronze, generously capped with a thick layer of sturdy mocha foam. The head stubbornly resists deflation, settling into a pitted, dented, rocky moonscape that leaves fine webby lacing all over the inside of the glass.

The smell is zesty and hop-forward, with fruity floral citrus notes atop a savory dark-roasted malt backbone. MMM-mmmm! Man, do I love hoppy stouts?! Damn right I do! A hint of coffee infused with dark chocolate provides a mildly acrid, savory counterpoint to the sweet hop notes.

The taste is rich with plenty of dark maltiness and a scratchy, chewy graininess that really satisfies. Molasses and brown sugar syrup, along with multiple layers of sweet caramel malts, soften and mellow the feel and flavor of the beer, but Big Bear, despite all the malty sweetness, has plenty of hops for mildly bittering counterbalance and actually finishes quite crisp and dry. Fruity hop notes come and go as needed, wrangling sweetness and bitchslapping the sugary malt element with spicy impunity, leaving the finish neutral and very clean.

The drink is rich and fullish in body with excellent carbonation and a not-so-subtle belly warming factor. It's a big bold beer, for sure, but like its much-maligned namesake, it's no monster. A cuddly Teddy-type bear of a brew it isn't, but I remain unafraid... I'd tangle with the Big Bear anytime.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.36/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 6/5/08. Bottle. Pours black with a large, thick light brown head that persists. Pretty. Aroma of rich coffee and chocolate. Subtle but powerful. Very nice and rich aroma. Flavor of coffee, bitterness. The palate lacks the richness expected from the aroma and almost tastes watered down. A good imperial stout, but it doesn't quite break into the ranks of the great imperial stouts for me.
8/5/6/3/14 (3.6/5)

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Photo of JEdmund
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Solid black, though some ruby highlights show in the edges when held up to the light; small, tan head that settles to a fine film quickly

Light overal, but it's primarily dark chocolate and coffee with hints of dark fruit

Taste & Mouthfeel
Flavor follows nose, though there's a bit of sweet, chalky malt that's present and helps balance all the bitter qualities; hops are noticeable in the bitter finish; ABV at 8% makes this very drinkable--I don't detect any alcohol, but it's still packed full of flavor; fine level of carbonation and a medium body, which also aids in drinkability (though usually I want a more substantial feel to an imperial stout);

I think it's tasty, big, and balanced.

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Photo of bluemoonswoon
3.48/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into a tulilp/snifter glass. One and a half finger head, which is a change from the last RIS I had, this one has some lacing too, but probably has everything to do with the dumptruck load of hops you will find in this beer.

In the amended works of Bill O'Reily "fuckin thing [doesn't smell like a RIS]!" I'll let this warm a bit more but as of now it smells like a DIPA, the hops are out of this world. I mean there are detectable bit of sweet chocolate chips and bits of sugary malt sweetness but otherwise a mix for piney/earthy hops with this undercurrent of halfway sweet chocolate and bread.

Seems and is unbalanced for a RIS and that's saying something. Hops dominate, rip roaring piny hops, feels rather abrasive, no creaminess, no milky malt, grr, it makes me angry, though the carbonation is a bit of a life saver, keeps things nice and lively. Taste more like a strong ale than a stout. It doesn't taste bad but it doesn't taste like an imperial stout like it should.

Not that hard to drink as it seems smaller than it actually is, but the fact that this beer seems nothing like a RIS makes me want to look for other options to get my malty, coffee, boozy fix.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 2,415 ratings
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