Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
92
outstanding
2,404 Ratings
Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
California, United States
bearrepublic.com

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
2,404
Reviews:
1,146
Avg:
4.13
pDev:
9.69%
 
 
Wants:
184
Gots:
255
For Trade:
4
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,404 |  Reviews: 1,146
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.

 718 characters

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.

 289 characters

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!

 533 characters

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.

 1,416 characters

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.

 457 characters

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.

 615 characters

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!

 760 characters

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.

 451 characters

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.

 1,165 characters

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

 634 characters

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.

 999 characters

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.

 402 characters

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.

 526 characters

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.

 291 characters

Photo of thethrone
4.41/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a beautiful deep black with a solid tan head that slowly dissipates. No visible carbonation, heavy lacing on the glass.

S - Rich roasted malty aroma. Chocolate, coffee, molasses, and just a hint of dark fruit.

T - Tastes of dark bitter chocolate. As it warms, more of the sweetness comes through. Just what you'd expect from an RIS

M - Medium-full body that is very creamy. Roasted bitterness lasts through the end. No alcohol burn to speak of.

D - A terrific brew that goes toe to toe with the heavy hitters. I will certainly come back to it again in the future.

 577 characters

Photo of daythree16
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque dark brown/black. Tan head that fades fairly quickly but leaves some good lace.

Smell is strong chocolate malt and a hint of roasted goodness. The taste is sweet, like chocolate syrup. There is also a really nice bitter, smoky finish.

Mouthfeel is creamy but not as thick as some imperial stouts, and the drinkability is very high. Pretty good RIS.

 366 characters

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

Poured from a bomber to a pint glass the liquid is brown and has ok carbonation. The head is 2 fingers tan and leaves little lace.

The smell is ok, roasted malt not very chard, pretty mild.

The taste follows, much like a typical stout but a tab bigger. The roasted malt is mild yet flavorful, Kinda a real nice starter RIS.

The mouthfeel is thinner then most yet the carbonation is average for a reg. stout.

The drinkability is good a fine impy stout, and drinkable to most with out being real big.

Prosit, MK

 515 characters

Photo of ruckzuck
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Woo Bear Republic!

A - pours a black body with a thin chocolate head that subsided. Dark mahogany around the edges of the glass when held up to light. Solid lacing

S - a lot of dark, roasty chocolate maly up front. Some sweet, syrupy, caramel malt aroma as well. Hints of hoppiness and booze

T - roasty dark chocolatey goodness oh yes. Delicious! Caramel malt is there. Again, hints of hoppiness and even lesser hints of booze. Is it even there?

M - smooth and delicious. Medium-full bodied. ABV amazingly completely hidden more or less

D - d here is all about delicious LOLz. As a result of this awesome flavor, amazing smoothness, and hidden ABV the drinkability of this beer is off the charts. Bear Republic rock the casbah again (and again). These dudes rule so much. Start distributing in GA ASAP PLZ! Highly recommended.

 831 characters

Photo of corey0212
4.72/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This was the first Imperial Russian Stout I ever had, seemed like a good time to go back and give it a formal review...

Pours midnight black, some dark brown highlights around the edges when held to light, big rocky/foamy tan head fades somewhat slowly, leaves a foamy film on top of the beer, a few stray big bubbles floating around, just a few spots of lacing on the glass. Big roasty smells just pop out of the glass, dark chocolate, strong coffee aroma, dark fruits in the background, and just a hint of alcohol. Taste is burnt coffee,, molasses, bitter dark chocolate covered espresso beans, spicy alcohol on the lips. For me, it's just the littlest bit over-carbonated, but it's a minor complaint for such an outstanding brew. A total classic, one that will be enjoyed in my house for years to come.

 806 characters

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

Big Bear Black is NoCal smooth - and northern California does some nice stouts. Bear Republic is beginning to shape up as one of my favorite brewers. Their Racer IPA is a topper in that field. I visited their Healdsburg pub a few years ago unaware they were such capable brewers. I sampled Big Black, loved it and forgot about it. When I return I'm getting a hotel near the brewpub and staying for two or three days. God only knows what local treats await. This is a heckuva stout, balanced, a bit lighter bodied than anticipating, but heavy on flavor.

Big on taste,
Big on flavor.
Big Bear's Black
One to savor.

 615 characters

Photo of wagenvolks
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber into a Unibroue tulip.

Pours an opaque, near-black body with an impressive pillow of tan head that retains well, coating the backside of the glass with thick lacing. Reminds me more of an American Double Stout than a RIS; the earthy hoppiness in the aroma is off the charts. Also joining the aroma are rich, intoxicating notes of cookie dough, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and caramel.

Flavor is packed with an initially smooth hoppy and sweet chocolate blend, and transitions quickly to a finish of smoked malt, dark chocolate, and resinous hops. The mouthfeel is a bit thin and overly carbonated for a big stout, but the bitter chocolate aftertaste is a nice touch. I remember liking Big Bear Black Stout a whole lot more the first time I tried it. Nevertheless, it still lives up to the Bear Republic name, delivering a complex, tasty stout that I'll be sure to have again.

 883 characters

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Would someone please tell these b*stards to put all their beers in 6-packs?! I love the beers, but at almost 5 bucks for a bomber it is getting to be expensive!

This beer is incredible. Very nearly black color. Roasty chocolate mocha scent...milk chocolate and a decent amount of hops that almost go undetected in the nose.

I notice the uber-fine carbonation foremost that tickles the palate so well. Awesome taste. Cocoa and hops, what could be finer?! Bitter finish that lingers on for a while...what fruit is there is apricots and bing cherries.

One of the best stouts out there, period. Fans of stouts must try this.

 623 characters

Photo of champ103
3.05/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pretty much pitch black. Almost no head and no lace. Just an extremely small tan cap above the thick black liquid.
S: Nondescript burnt malt. A bit of chocolate and caramel with some floral hops. Soy sauce. Really nothing above average.
T: Burnt malt again. Woody flavors, and lots of soy sauce. Plenty of hop bitterness.
M/D: This is very thick, syrupy, and chewy. A nice creaminess. Lots of alcohol that shows. I don't really want more than a bottle, and could easily split this with a couple of people.

I am not a big fan of the soy sauce flavor. Other than that, it has a fairly bland taste. Overall this is not a beer that I will get again.

 649 characters

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

reviewed on 7/1 fom a 22 oz. bottle,served into a nonic glass. Poured an opaque,black with a dense,creamy 2" tan head,very good retention falling into a pillowy layer leaving a few clumps of lace down the glass.

Very roasty aroma,strong carmell maltinesss with some slight vinious qualitys,earthy/woody with citrus and some slight hints of a metallic aroma.

Strong carmalized maltiness upfront,leaving a sweet taste thereafter,dark fruitiness,strong hop notes take over mid-taste with citrus/woody with slick oily resinious flavors. Well balanced for the strong tastes,imperial all the way!

Heavy bodied,chewy with a good bit of cloying,filling not a beer i'd want to drink more than a couple of. Was a cross between a stout and an ipa with the big hoppy bite and lots of malt,interesting beer.Would make a good winter warmer for me,i'll give this one another try again since i recently became avalible in my area. Thanks to Sudsdog for the send.

 949 characters

Photo of Tilley4
3.73/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'm pretty sure that I got this one from Hopsleeroy, so thanks go out to you, Lee!

This pours out into my Duvel tulip totally black... no light at all coming through... slowly forms a very sizable light brown head that is quite persistent... shelves of lacing down the glass throughout as well...

Aroma of very dark chocolate and some deep dark coffee, maybe a hint of espresso....I think I might detect a hop presence as well..

Hmmm... this one started out terrific with a big bitter dark chocolate malt presence that just sort of fade out to...nothing... Weird! It's almost like the malts don't have any complexity to them beyond the initial rush of chocolate.... no coffee, no hops... just dark roasted chocolate malts that fade quickly..

A bit disappointing, I must say. This wasn't bad, don't get me wrong. I was really expecting to be blown away by this and I just wasn't. Sort of an average RIS...

 908 characters

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,404 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

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

    Learn More