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 jwc215
4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a thin tan head that leaves some lacing.

The smell is of chocolate and caramel/toffee - rich - with roastiness. Citrus and pine/resin are there in the mix.

The taste is of chocolate and caramel/toffee - rich - with roastiness. There's an earthy/piney/resiny/citric bitterness that keeps up with sweetness, even getting ahead of it, especially in the dry, bitterish finish. A bit of warming alcohol shows in the finish, as well.

The body is full and velvety. Coating. It has a bit of a bite, but smooth overall.

A big stout - a hoppy version, though roasted maltiness does well. Very rich. Delicious! Certainly recommended for those interested in a hoppier, less traditional, take on the style!

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Photo of mj001jk
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown, chocolate and motor oil , with a cinnamon and light-brown foam that has some greenish hints.

Right off the bat this beer exudes some nice light citrus and pine hop aromas, giving away its northern California heritage. Sweet and creamy caramel as well as the slightest hints of tropical fruit, papaya comes to mind, makes this a very delightful beer to inhale.

Mouthfeel is vivacious and balanced with creamy softness bumping and grinding against the astringent coffee notes, making for a powerful harmony that works for me. It is almost like a Stout IPA with a some complex roasted and tropical notes.

A Tiramisu with tropical fruit reduction would pair nicely with this beer.

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

Full-bodied, complex, and flavourful, this is nevertheless smooth and fairly easy to drink for an Imperial stout.

Very deep brown, practically black, it has a medium light brown head steadily shrinking to a thick, foamy ring and leaving decent lace.

The aroma is rich with roasted malt, prunes, chocolate, hints of coffee and wine.

The taste is similar, rich caramel and roasted coffee, stewed dried fruit, roasted malt in general, hints of chocolate and red wine. It has good sweet-bitter balance, greatly adding to the smoothness and it's a bit oily yet not too heavy in body.

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Photo of SShelly
3.56/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a Bomber,

Pours a dark black with thick tan head, decent head retention with lots of lacing. Great mix of roasty and malty notes in the aroma. Well balanced flavor, though leaning to the sweet side of things, slight tartness in the aftertaste. Overall good mouthfeel but could be thicker and richer.

A decent beer but probably not one I will be buying again.

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Photo of ATPete
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Pours a dark brown, almost black color with a beautiful cascade effect forming a large, sticky brown head. Bright brown highlights shine through the bottom of the glass. Brown sugar and sweet chocolate malts shine through the most in the nose. Big bready character immediately follows the sick onslaught of big roasted chocolate malts, maple syrup, bakers chocolate bitterness, smoke and caramel shine through as well. Big full flavor with a lighter than normal body, still lots of good chew, and dangerously drinkable. I recommend this one. Bear Republic is 4 for 4 in my book!

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Photo of itcomesnpints
4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Big brown frothy head covers blackness. Good retention and globby lacing. Aroma is a little faint. Burnt malt and zesty hops, and a bit of alcohol on the nose. Big taste of roasted coffee and high hop bitterness that is welcome but can become a little astringent with time. Mouthfeel is a little thin and the alcohol peeks through, especially after warming. Overall though, Big Bear Black Stout is a great imperial.

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

Pours a pitch black, with a large off white/tannish head that is a slightly rocky, decent overall retention and thin retention throughout, and laces in sheets. Aroma is enormous, with a lot of chocolate, coffee, caramel, and a generous dose of hops. Flavor is equally large - tons of chocolate, middle becomes more coffee like, and ends with a very big and tasty hoppy bitterness. Full bodied, amazingly flavorful and complex - definitely one that works best in a cold cold glass.

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

Pours a very, very deep black-brown, opaque almost. Only the very edges, tilted and held towards light, give you any indication this is anything besides pure black. Head is a rocky, fluffy cushion of light brown, densely-bubbled foam, fed by an initial cascading carbonation. Lacing is exceptionally good, leaving geometric patterns down the length of the glass. Wonderful.

Very nice blend of hop fragrance and sweet dark aromas on the nose. A pleasant citrus/grapefruit/vegetation character layers the top, while a deep undertone of chocolate and molasses adds weight and body to the smell. Wow, what a wonderful blend.

Taste is also amazing - an initial light hoppy bitterness crescendos to a delicious resiny bite, layered with hazelnut tones, before the palate dries out to a long, roasted chocolate finish. There's such a perfect balance here between the wonderful fragrant hop notes and the earthy tones of the roasted malt.

And does it say 8.1%?? Where on earth is that alcohol hiding? Not a hint of heat to it, I would almost have sworn this were a beer to session like there was no tomorrow, so smooth and drinkable is it.

A top-notch beer, not just full of character, but full of intelligent character. Well balanced, well rounded and well conceived.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle

A- Pours a dark black color with a huge creamy tan head that possesses excellent lacing and retention.

S- The aroma is dark roasted malts and a lot of chocolate. Very good aroma.

T- The taste is slightly burnt roasted malts with a long dry bitterness in the finish from the hops.

M- The mouthfeel is medium bodied and pretty smooth with a moderate carbonation level.

D- The higher ABV mixed with the bigger bomber limits the drinkability of this brew, it is one bottle and I am done.

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

22 oz. bomber...

A: Black in color with a nice foamy tan head. A strange "batwing" lace hung to the inside of my glass. The head retention was excellent as well.

S: Strong toasted/burnt malt aroma. Also notes of coffee, sugar, wood, and a trace of the hops. Pretty much what you would expect from a stout.

T: This beer tastes like coffee and burnt toast up front followed by a hint of hops and finishes with a strong malty sweetness.

M: A very thick full body with a large amount of carbonation.

D: One a night. Really rich and filling.

Not the best Imperial Stout I've had the pleasure of knowing, but a quality brew that deserves to be checked out.

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

A - Almost pitch black in color with a magnificent tan head. Good retention and ace lacing.

S - Definitely some sweet and roasty malts

T - There are coffee, roasty, and sweet tastes to it. Also there is a raisin like taste. It is very complex.

M - Very thick and creamy and full bodied flavor.

D - I am glad I picked this as a desert for the evening.

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Photo of waldowin
2.96/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a dark-coffee brown, with a thin tan head, that fades to a ring fairly quickly. Not as dark or thick as I expected from an imperial stout.

Smells of coffee, oak, and a hint of bourbon. Surprisingly not alcohol-heavy on the scent.

Taste is of roast, coffee, and toffee, with a hint of salt, which is probably the hops. The malt, alcohol, and hops, are not very aggressive here, and are almost overpowered by the coffee.

Mouthfeel is slightly gritty, and a little bit thin. A little bit slick and oily on the sides of the mouth.

It's not bad, but it's not one I'd buy another of. I tend to like my russian imperial stouts very, very rich and hearty however, so that may have knocked it down a bit in my review.

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

Friend shared.

A - Pitch black, moderate capuccino head, dissipates quickly.

S - Slight alcohol, roasted malts, flowery hops.

T - Malts, light alcohol, with grassy and flowery hops.

M - A bit tart, but overall balanced okay.

D - Maybe still a tad bit young, but not too bad otherwise.

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Photo of wiseguy142
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as a panther.. or a black bear. Whatever. Perfect head. Lumpy, lots of different size bubbles working away in there, a solid half inch sits there for a few minutes after the pour. Aroma is of light raisins, cereal, ripe plums and oranges. Taste is a little milky and sweet. A definite alcohol presence but not burning or overly grain alcoholy. Kind of soda like in its carbonation and mouthfeel. Almost a little bit of a cola flavor in there as well. Goes down easy, but don't drink it too fast or you'll be on the floor!

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

Bottle from Wine Warehouse, Charlottesville, VA. Poured into a 22 oz. Terrapin snifter.

Appearance: A thick, black beer with a great, long-lasting tan head with nice, thick, coffee-colored lacing. The lacing is really exceptional on this one - not alcohol-retarded at all, but thick, tan, creamy, and full.

Aroma: Sweet chocolate, pungent, earthy, roasted espresso, light anise notes, the faintest hints of dark, deep fruits.

Taste: It's heavily roasted, with plenty of burnt toast, very dark chocolate, and heavy, heavy espresso notes ... but still somehow "light," which is both interesting and unique. Dry, roasted espresso, bitter chocolate (it's less sweet than the nose), a nice hop bitterness for an RIS, and an overall balance between sweet and dry that's spot on. A few fruit notes emerge as it warms (blueberries are prominent for me), but this beer is largely about the pleasant toasted malt/hop balance it strikes.

Mouthfeel: Medium bubbled but surprisingly even! It's crisp, somehow, given its style and abv%, but also thick and creamy. It's very, VERY full-bodied, as well - crazy.

Drinkability: 8.1% ain't nothin' for an RIS, and this one's nice and complex, despite it's relatively low (for the style) alcohol. This one's not crazy complex - there's chocolate, coffee, anise, all your traditional notes - but it's nice for what it is: a light, surprisingly refreshing, and very drinkable RIS.

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

A: This beer poured a dark brown (almost black) color with a nice tan head and light lacing.

S: There is an abundance of aromas in this brew. Everything from spice, licorice, malt, roasted malt to caramel can be perceived.

T: This is an aggressively hopped RIS. Hops, roast, malt and ever green flavors are all present.

M: The beer is medium bodied with a slight carbonation tingle. The alcohol is noticeable.

E: This beer is intense, but somehow works.

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Photo of blackjack000
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber poured into pint.

Appearance: Jet black with caramel head. Head sits frothy and dispersed.

Smell: Roasty and like dark chocolate. Fresh ground coffee and brown sugar work in the background.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The alcohol hides in the smell, but comes out in the flavor. The taste has a good deal of roasty character, highlighted by the alcohol that lingers in the breath. A pleasantly bitter coffee and dark chocolate aftertaste stays for quite a while.

Great. The alcohol content can come through a bit hefty and get one unaware, but it is a great stout if one wants to get a bit hazy and do it enjoyably.

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Photo of RixBeer
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a super black with a nice creamy tan head that fades into a thin layer on the top of this brew.

creaminess/milkiness with light/hidden aromas of coffee and a drop of toffee. Coffee aroma becomes more prominent with every whiff.

This is a nice hoppy stout. It has a good citrus hop flavor with some nice [milder] coffee notes. There are really good flavors of roasted malt, molasses, chocolate, light amounts of caramel and a fruity toffee ending.

I nice slightly creamy stout with good flavors fill the mouth with yummy stout goodness.

I like this stout enough to drink 2-4 glasses (1-2 bombers) to my head just about anytime.

Remember this is a really good overall day to day stout. That's right you can drink this everyday and feel good about it!

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

A.One finger light brown head, fair retention. Very dark but not opaque during pour.
S. Lots of chocolate. Hints of caramel and very subtle molasses, dark fruits in the mix along as some Subtle citrus?
T.Lots of dark chocolate, very malty bitter aftertaste probably associated with the dark chocolate. Caramel was also present and delicious.
M.Good amout of carbination for style. Thick but not for a RIS.
D. One of my favorite beers. Cant go wrong.

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Photo of Hullabaloo2
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Aroma - Wonderfully complex aroma. Roasted malt, caramel notes, fruit esters, subtle hop notes. Very nicely balanced.

Appearance - Pours almost opaque black with a one finger head. The head dissipates into a slightly lighter shade of brown, and settles at about 1/2 finger. Head appears creamy and thick; almost like a nitro stout, but not quite.

Taste - Heavy roasted grain. Caramel and coffee notes. Nice subtle hop flavor with some bitterness on the finish. A very balanced sweetness, but I would not call this Stout sweet. Overall, a very nice flavor.

Mouthfeel - Medium body with appropriate carbonation. A bit creamy as the head appearance suggests. Some bitterness on the back of the tongue. No perceived alcohol.

Overall Impression - This is a very nice stout. I've been looking forward to being able to try this for sometime now, and it didn't disappoint. A little lighter than other Imperial Stouts, but still an intense beer. The alcohol is completely hidden in every way in this beer, the combination of the aromas, and flavors is wonderful. This is one of the more complex stouts that I've had, and will definitely make it into my regular rotation.

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Photo of treyrab
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22ozer into a pint glass

A: Exceptional. Black bear is truly black with a phenomenal creamy brown head. Some brown shows up when held to a light.

S: Smell of nice, thick rich coffee with a nice dark cocoa and coffee nose.

T: This is a special brew IMO. The taste is excellent and rather sweet. The taste is pretty much strict chocolate and coffee with not much dark fruits in there. The hops are lacking a tad, which leaves the taste nice and sweet. There is a chocolate bitterness on the finish however.

M,D: The mouthfeel is a bit thick and creamy, but the drinkability is exceptional, I could drink a few of these

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a deep dark black color with no noticeable clarity even when held to the light. There was a small head (1/8") of tan bubbles that dissipated pretty quickly. There was minimal lacing.

Aroma: Lots of chocolate with some toasty notes and a little bit of floral hops to round out the whole presentation. There is a mild spice from the alcohol that is noticeable even when the beer is cold.

Taste: The flavor follows the aroma pretty closely in that there is quite a bit of chocolate and toasty notes. The flavor is really clean with very few esters. The alcohol is as noticeable as any fruitiness. It tastes like this beer was fermented cool, and they took their time with it.

Opinion: This is a really good beer. I like the overall flavor and aroma presentation, and it still stays really drinkable. This beer is rather dangerous in that I want another one, and I am still warming up from the first. I like this, and would like to drink more. I would recommend this beer, no doubt.

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Photo of awall422
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

dark black body topped with an inch of frothy, tan bubbles that linger on and on. smells like molasses and toast. taste is smooth. sweet, rich and roasty with a hint of bitterness in the back end. goes down so easy for an 8% abv beer. this is a great RIS, it's exactly what i want in the style, more of everything good about a stout, but without going too far. i could put down a couple bombers easily.

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Photo of swizzlenuts
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer is black as fuck, and pours like motor oil. Big head and very good lacing. Lots of coffee and chocolate in the nose of the beer. The beer has a lot of chocolate and coffee malts with a great bitterness. The flavours don't really knock your balls off, but they just taste really fucking good. The mouthfeel is a bit creamy, slightly watery. Incredibly drinkable.

EDIT: After having a few more, I find the flavour of this stout undeniably awesome. It has a nice balance of coffee/chocolate with a perfect hint of hops.

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

I'm writing more in this review than I need to because I have to meet the minimum of 250 characters but let me say I read this site quite a bit but have only written a couple of reviews. No need to go into details here. This is the best beer I've ever had in my life and I've tried hundreds.

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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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