Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
2,432 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: 2,432 |  Reviews: 1,152
Photo of corby112
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at the South Philadelphia Taproom in Philadelphia, PA.

Pours a dark brown with thin coffe colored head. Aroma of roasted maltiness, chocolate, caramel and toffee. Flavor is dominated by sweet chocolate maltiness. Caramel, toffee, and brown sugar. Dry slightly bitter finish.

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Photo of monkeylovebeer
4.83/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours with a beautiful chestnut brown head with a huge aroma of roasted malt and barley.

Black as a bucket of angry squid, this brew doesn't show a trace of bitterness--it goes down as smooth as a well-poured Guinness from your local pub. Hints of licorice (black, of course) and a nice caramel finish belie the high-alcohol content.

This may very well be my current favorite domestic stout. I'll just have to try another to make sure.

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sample at the Super Terrific Stout Tasting on 02/16/08. This beer pours a nearly opaque black color with a medium light brown head that burns away slowly. Rings of lacing on the glass. Aroma of chocolate malt and coffee at first, with some vanilla in the background later. Rich, creamy body with toasted malt, chocolate and coffee flavors. The finish is somewhat dry with an espresso flavor that leaves a moderately bitter and lingering aftertaste. Pretty solid from start to finish.

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Photo of hopdog
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle.

Poured a dark black with a large brown head. Aromas of roasted malts, chocolate, coffee and licorice. Tastes of the same with some hops lurking in the background and some dark fruits. Alcohol content hidden. Light bitter coffee finish.

Notes from 5/5/05

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Photo of tr4nc3d
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 pint bottle

Poured a black color with a small head

Smells like cinammon, plums, raisins, black licorice, very sweet smelling. My mouth is actually watering just thinking of how this is going to taste.

Nice sweet dark sugary taste, dark chocolate, hint of bitterness at the end.

Smooth, goes down well

The alcohol wasn't noticable and good taste makes this something I would pick up again

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

From a 22 oz. bottle purchased locally. Aroma is plums, coffee, and maybe a hint of orange. Color is a jet black with a nice tan head. Flavor fruity, malty, a little sweet, and roast comes though in the end helping with the dry finish. Some hop flavor, but plays backup to the malt. Thick and smooth, yet drys well. A slight hint of alcohol. One of my favorite stouts. It's Imperial from the strength, but is not as heavy as most of it's other Imperial cousins.

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Photo of glid02
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from the ever-gracious ShrLSU. Much obliged!

Pours completely black with the tiniest deep red highlights. The head is two-fingers of cocoa-brown goodness that recedes into a wispy layer of bubbles on top and a medium-sized ring around the glass. Lacing is decent.

Smells great. A dark chocolate aroma dominates but it doesn't overpower. There's also a molasses aroma joined by faint roasted malt. Every now and then some citrus notes poke out.

Tastes great as well. Dark chocolate with a slightly fruity taste up front. As the sip continues roasted malt and molasses make their way out. The ending yields just the right amount of bitterness. No sign of the ABV.

Mouthfeel is probably my favorite part about this beer. It's so thick and the carbonation is just right - the best way to describe it is silky. Goes down very smoothly.

Drinkability is good, probably too good for a beer with this ABV. This is absurdly easy to drink.

Overall I am very impressed with this beer, and I hope that Bear Republic makes their way to GA soon. Be sure to give this one a try.

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Photo of HalfFull
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown/black with a just a tinge of red highlights. A full inch of frothy mountainous tan head lingers for a while and leaves a smooth thin lacing.

Nose is carob and dark chocolate. A light touch of alcohol volatiles rises after a few idle minutes but is generally overcome by the notes of chocolate decadence.

A fairly firm carbonation gives the beer a medium body and a lingering chocolate finish. A slight drying bitterness is steady throughout. Body is somewhat thin for the style, dinging the feel a bit. But this segues to a lack of a rich chewy maltness which helps the drinkability. Alcohol, though perhaps light for the style, never carries through in the flavor or presence.

A moderate ABV and medium body, along with a reasonable price tag, makes this a year round option in the R.I.S. department, particularly here in SoCal.

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

Model stout in appearance. Rich, foamy head with beautiful lacing. Deep, black, opaque pour. The nose is wonderful. I waited about 15 minutes before I decided to review this beer. Roasted coffee and chocolate up front with a sweet date, and subtle sweet lactose nose, malt of course was present.

The taste was as the nose advertised. Delicious roasted coffee and malt. A much sweeter lactose touch than I expected. Nice caramel finish with raisin/date to compliment.

The mouthfeel was quite pleasant. Smooth, light carbonation, rolled over the tounge quite nice.

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Photo of 100floods
4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours dark, ink black with a creamy mocha head. Opening the bottle i quickly got a whiff of some nice yeast and hoppy aromas. It's not until you get a taste that you get the wonderful roasty malts. Hints of chocolate and a slight oily aspect, but not really. After a we bit of letting it sit, some sweetness comes forth that leaves a nice flavor in my mouth. The pour i did gave too much head (HEHEHE) so exploring the aroma in the glass was a bit hard. The bottle didnt give much either. This is really drinkable. I think it was a good decision, if it could be even made, to not make this stout huge. This is easier than some of its big brothers. A nice sipping beer for the cold weather to come. This one could sit for a bit, but it doesnt have to.

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Photo of SaucyA
3.78/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Sniftered. Giant, frothy tan head with a black coffee body. Head just doesn't go away. Major lacing.

S - Muted caramel malts, chocolate undertones, muted citrus hops.

T - Bittersweet chocolate, caramel, huge on the roasted side. Sweetness balanced by roast and piney hop character on the backend. Finishes quite dry.

M - A little too crisp for a RIS, but for a "black stout", it works. Could stand less carbonation and a heavier body imo.

D - Not the most drinkable brew ever but for being a big black stout, it's nice. The 8.1% isn't noted in the taste at all.

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

A: Poured a antique mahogany with a dark cinnamon colored head that was compact and moderately lasting. A slight stratified ring lacing was left behind.

S: The nose yielded fresh roasted coffee grounds, chocolate and a light creamer presence. A fresh pine hopping provides soft and subtle hints.

T: deep, fresh roasted coffee, dark chocolate notes upfront, The coffee flavor was very smooth and not bitter, very pleasing on the tongue. A fresh pine and citrus hopping perfectly compliments the dark malts achieving a perfect balance and smoothness for flavor with a touch of sweetness peaking through of rich caramel. On the finish was a nice roasted bitterness and light charred woodiness closing things out.

M: light, oily in body and texture with a very soft carbonation providing a silky dry coating on the tongue of roasted coffee with a light chalkiness.

D: Very easy drinkability, dark, yet very smooth in character with a rich, yet very even roasted feel makes this an enjoyable drink to down.

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

Pours an extremely dark brown, black through it's center, with some amber edges. A large onch inch tan head forms and lingers with excellent retention leaving strands of lacing behind.

The aroma is nice, but not quite what I hoped for. It's fairly hoppy, with a big citrus component. The malt profile is weak in the nose, however it is slightly roasty. Notes of caramel and chocolate can also be found. In a RIS (which I'm not sure this can really be called that) I would hope for some bigger malt in the nose.

The taste is fine. Rather hoppy, giving a big citrus note. The malt profile is not as prominent as it should be. Some notes of bitter roasted chocolate are available, but it lacks complexity beyond that. Decent, but not quite what I wanted.

Mouthfeel is pushing full bodied with a good carbonation tingle. Carbonation is relatively low, comprised of fine bubbles that make for a good drinking experience.

Drinkability is fairly high. The alcohol is relatively moderate and the flavors are tasty which make for a really easy to consume RIS. My reservation is that it's not as malty as I think RIS's should be. A solid beer, interesting for the style, but not quite there. It's a really good beer, but it's all hops and it's not appropriate for the style.

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Photo of JayQue
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black color with no light coming through. Medium tan head on a hard pour. Smell is mild, malty and dark chocolate but not as pronounced and inviting as some other RIS.

Tastes good: roasted malts, dark chocolate, a little vanilla, and a taste of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is the best part. Goes down real smooth, very rich feel.

Drinkability is good. I had the 22 oz bottle myself and enjoyed every drop. Another 12 oz would have been nice, but thats about pushing it. A good RIS, not as dramatic as some but tasty and inviting.

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

A - Pitch black with a tall, fluffy dark tan head. Moderate lacing left.

S - Chocolate, roasted malt and some mild hops, but mostly chocolate sweetness.

T - Chocolate and roasted malts. There is a building sweetness with each sip and a detectable hop presence.

M - Thick and creamy

D - Sweetness limits this one, but at only 8% this one is an easy drinker.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into an imperial pint

Pours a midnight black with a rocky, two finger+ light brown head. Excellent staying power with thick gobs of lacing left all the way down the glass.

Smell is of deep roasted chocolate malt, slight caramel and nuts. Smokey undertones present throughout.

Bittersweet roasted chocolate, caramel malt and nuts. Big smokey presence. Dry and bitter as a whole.

Thick and charred mouthfeel. Almost get a feeling of charcoal.

This is a big, dark stout. A definite sipper. The flavors are good, but has a menacing, charred feeling that lingers.

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

a: pours a light mocha head over a deep chestnut brown, nearly black beer, light retention

s: dark roasts with notes of bitter chocolate and considerable dark pine and citrus hops leading the way, some dark sugars and dried fruits, a touch of spicy smoke, not off at all but it's lacking the rich complexity I've come to expect from both the style and this brewery

m: carbonation on the light end, body in the medium range but approaching full, a little light for my preferences but nice and smooth

t: full roasts carried on a light caramel sweetness bring subtle notes of smoke, big earthy evergreen-citrus hops with a moderate bittering, dusty dark chocolate, dried berries, a bit more substantial than the aroma but it still seems somewhat weak in palate, finishes dry and roasty

d: easy, abv nowhere to be found...a little disappointing for the style but it does make for an interesting stout and the 22 ounces are easily drained

undated bottle from Total Wine Fairfax...with all the hop-centric beers BR brews, I'd really like to see some dates (not such a big deal for this impy stout, though)

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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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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 2,432 ratings