Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

2,410 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,410 |  Reviews: 1,147
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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Photo of blakesell
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the tap into a standard pint glass.

Appearance- Beer pours a very dark brown, not quite black with a creamy cap that quickly subsides to a lighter murk across the top. Light lacing rims the glass.

Smell- Tobacco, tar, pine, dark roasted malts, lactose, brown malts, "C" hops, very refreshing aroma on this one.

Taste- Roasted malts, non malted and black patent maltiness, a hint of smoke malts, light on the tongue. Hops are present and balanced, lightly bitter, not warming.

Mouthfeel- Lightly creamy, roasty, highly carbonated, medium-bodied, effervescent.

Drinkability- Very nice beer, I will revisit it one day.

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Photo of jmalex
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Purchased for next to nothing at Vidalia's in Lansdale, PA. I love that place.

APPEARANCE: Pours just about as black as you can get into my Victory becker glass. A one-finger, tan head forms on top and slowly shrinks to a hearty collar with nearly a full surface of foam.

SMELL: Heavy aromas of dark chocolate, coffee, some dark fruits, and a decent dose of a warming alcohol. Bitter burnt malts and a very light citrusy hop aroma lurk in the background.

TASTE: Absolutely one of the more bitter Russian Imperial Stouts I've had. Bitter black malt and a robust hop bitterness cut through the sweetness and surpass it quite a bit. The underlying malt is mostly chocolaty but feels a bit empty, which doesn't help it come up to reach the bitterness. The finish leaves still more hop flavor and bitterness which lingers and lingers.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium full in body which approaches on syrupy and slick. Carbonation is medium to low and appropriate.

DRINKABILITY: Definitely one to sip all night. I wouldn't mind it at all if this beer came in a 12 oz. bottle. A bit more balance would go a long way for this beer.

Not too bad. I'm certainly enjoying it. I'd probably buy this again as long as the price was right.

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

Attempted to pour this vigorously into an imperial pint, but only got three inches of beer before the head rose to the top of the glass. Huge thick head that was sticky and lasted for quite a while, and left lacing from top to bottom. Black liquid with dark cola color around the edges. I smell chocolate right away, nice. Nice thick, but not to thick mouth feel. Kind of a rich malt, chocolate taste, maybe a little coffee, with hops noticeable. Oh so good. very smooth as all the carbonation seems to have left after the pour. Will buy again.

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

Poured totally black with a nice 1 finger tan colored head. Lots of coffee in the aroma, but with a nice dose of roasted malts as well. Very nice so far. Flavor was full of coffee, licorice and ripe fruits along with chocolaty notes in the finish. Spicy hops were a little evident towards the finish as well. Mouthfeel was medium-full in the palate, but the beer went down fairly easily anyway. I could probably down two bombers of this stuff in one sitting. A great stout that I hope will one day be available in North Carolina. Recommended.

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

In goblet.

A- Dark chocholate, with a one finger latte head.
S- Roasted malt so fresh, it smelled like I had just brewed it myself.
T- I have had this in a bottle before and it didn't stand out to me as it did on tap. Everything that you want from an imperial stout.
M- Thick and malty, leaves the lips slightly sticky.
D- I could easily put a few of these away if the keg was next to my couch, instead of a 5 mile drive away.

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

Pours slightly viscous with a nice coffee colored head. Its amazing how smooth this beer pours. You can really see the just how thick and rich this beer is going to be based on how it fills the glass.

Smells of sweet coffee, bitter chocolate with a toasted malt side as well. It definitely comes across as a roasty, slightly smoky strong stout. No complaints from the smells, overall it is rich and appealing.

Taste is oh so smooth. Its way too drinkable for being over 8%. The dryness is there in the finish but before that comes a lot of deep dark sweet malt tastes. The sweetness really draws you in and the strength is hardly noticeable. Lots or roasty, smoky tastes as well. Love it. Excellent beer.

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Photo of philbe311
3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Opaque jet black... thin foamy tan head...

S - Roasted malt... Cocoa... Caramel... Faint scent of black licorice...

T - Hoppy... Smokey flavor... Coffee... Bitter dark chocolate...

M - Rich... Medium bodied... Lingering dryness... Smokey feel...

D - Solid stout... A little too hoppy for my liking... One or two per sitting... 8.1% ABV bites by the 2nd glass...

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

22oz. bottle poured into imperial pint glass.

Can hardly see through this one, nigh pitch black...heady espresso color, slightest transparency under the light. Sticky, light coffee, two-finger head that rises above the rim of the glass.

Nose is of dark chocolate and a sweet espresso shot. Present alcohol behind a sweet maltbomb backbone.

Espresso, dark chocolate up front. Subtle dark fruits, roasted malts, and a smoky bitterness in the finish.

Carbonation is just right for me. Not at all drying but I don't get that lingering syrupy sensation in the back of my throat. Nice. Pretty big body, but this one's so delicious I'll call it mad drinkable.

This is another success from Bear Republic. Simplistic approach to a stout and a really solid beer, all told. Price was right, too at $4.69 a bottle. Word up.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber from Pacific Park Market, on to the beer:

A hoppier and fruiter RIS in comparison to others. In fact much of the time, I though I was drinking a dark IPA. Sweet lemon, some hop juice, and minor notes of fruity esters were more dominant than the traditional roasted cocoa flavors. Easy to knock back and a different viewpoint of the style, being it's lighter and fruitier.

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Photo of UA8
3.83/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark mahogany color with tan foam

S- Smells of heavily roasted malts and chocolate

T- The taste starts with dark chocolate and then moves to roasted malts and slight sweetness

M- Gentle carbonation rolls across the mouth. decently refreshing for a stout. Could have a slightly heavier body.

D- Overall a very nice stout. A tad on the sweet wide. Something that I may not session but nice with a cigar or smoky bbq.

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

Into a pint glass, this beer is quite dark, with just a slight ruby tinting when held to the light. The head is small but thick, and tan-colored. The aroma is rich in soft cocoa and caramel malts. Excellent malty complexity in the flavor: An initial start of sweet milk chocolate gives way to lightly roasted coffee and dark chocolate notes with enough bitterness on the side to drive the sweetness into the background. Nice resinous hoppy taste as well. Soft and creamy texture, and surprisingly light for the alcoholic strength.

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

Rich, slightly alcoholic nose. Caramel. Pours rich deep sable--nearly black. A sturdy head lasting throughout. Taste is complex. Rich. Hints of bitter chocolate and slight vanilla. Very smooth in the mouth. Very easy to drink. Deceptive as well. At 8.10 abv its not as powerful as most but this bear will bite.
What I like most is how drinkable it is. I can enjoy this with a grilled delmonico and spicy arugula salad or after dinner with creme brulee. Its highly drinkable all year round. Its going on tap at my bar.

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

Ok, I buy the style characterization. But the beer does hinge on the gavity of an American Stout. Very drinkable and enjoyable for either because the beer emphasizes the intensity of flavor over gravity or feel. This beer is cramed pack full of strong cocoa flavors that will rival Rogues Mocha Porter. Balance that with a strong coffee (nearly espresso) flavor notes that also complement the sharp, American hops that do resemble the younger American Stout. Fresh and intense describe the flavors well. The body is full for a standard American Stout, but not chewy or dense enought for a RIS. I don't seem to care, where it drops off in thickness, it makes up for with drinkability. Still I keep comming back to that intense cocoa / coffee / nutty / toasty blend that makes this beer work for me. Another hats off to Bear Republic for another world class beer. By the way, this beer could win beauty contests with it's appearance that I just didn't describe very well.

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Photo of TheEremite
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thick black with a small tan head. Smells of heavy chocolate and slight coffee. There's some hop aroma mixed in there too, but it's in the background. Mouthfeel is somewhat heavy, but not syrupy. It coats your tongue and delivers a heavy chocolate flavor that lingers there and warms up the mouth. This thing is a fabulous dessert. I don't know if I'd call it an all out imperial stout, but if it were categorized by BJCP standards, it's probably my favorite American stout. The hops are restrained, it's not overly sweet and the flavors are all balanced perfectly. It's not an extreme beer, so it's approachable and delightfully drinkable. I'll take 2, please.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.66/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in my DFH snifter. Pour was brownish-red, but appearance was cola-colored in the bowl. Half-inch khaki-colored head consisted of tiny dense bubbles and a cap speckled with ringlets. Scent of malt and a hint of cocoa; metallic smell presented itself as brew warmed. Head was replenished with each pour. Sheets of consistent lacing with lots of leg. Taste consistent with nose, but a lightly charred coffee flavor is presented up front, as well as a lingering hops bitterness at the finish. Similar to the nose, I also detected a faint metallic flavor at the back. Mouthfeel is fair; somewhat watery and a little too effervescent, which is not what I consider to be characteristic of an RIS. Mild astringency experienced under the tongue and along the sides. Alcohol was well-hidden, and brew was reasonably priced. Faint metallic presence keeps this from being '4's across the board; a decent brew nonetheless.

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Photo of brewmunster
3.43/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

It could just be me because of my inexperience, but when i first took a sip it tasted a bit like soy sauce lol. Later on I detected other roasted flavours, but thats all. Maybe if I were to give it time I might get use to stouts. I know that guiness is really only watered down with some sweet roasted characteristics, but this one is too complex for me at the moment.

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Photo of biggmike
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber. Poured an attractive black color with nice tan head that lingers a little while. Aroma is of chocolate, coffee, and molasses. Flavor is very similar to the aroma. The hops balances the malt nicely. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Alcohol is really hidden well in this one. Excellent beer.

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Photo of hopsleeroy
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Black stout with little light coming through and 2 inch head that disppeared quickly.
S-Very chocolate smell, some roast malt smell, not picking up a lot of fruit, mild vanilla. Just OK aroma.
T-Roast grain, chocolate, some earthy wood flavors mixed in and a little bit smoky. There was a chalky taste that was not totally pleasurable on the backside. Pleny of hops in this one balancing out the sweet. Hope came thorugh as it warmed and it became more complex.
M-Very creamy with good carbonation
D-Dangerously drinkable. It gets better as it warms and begins to change the flavor making me want to drink more.

Fine beet-very enjoyable.

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Photo of acrawf6
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a black with a little amber light coming through the edges of the glass with a thick tan head.

Smell. Light amount of chocolate with a smooth roasted malt.

Taste. Nice balance of a sweet espresso flavor and enough bitterness to balance it out. I get some roasted and burnt malt flavors, but overall the main characteristic that is getting my attention is the coffee flavor and a small bit of chocolate. Aftertaste lingers nicely.

Mouthfeel. This isnt the fullest beer, but it is very creamy to me. There is a thick and creamy silkiness to it that makes the beer quite easy to swallow.

Overall, I really like this beer, one of the most easy drinking RIS I've had. Has a decent amount of hops without being overly hopped, which is a little surprising to me coming from bear republic. I'll be getting this one again.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,410 ratings.
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