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Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
2,418 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: 2,418 |  Reviews: 1,149
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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Photo of paco1029384756
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pour is black with a creamy tan head, bubbles climb up the side of the glass. Malty scent with some roasted almonds, chocolate, and molasses. Flavor is heavy on roasted coffee beans and malts, strong and bitter. Mouthfeel is smooth with a nice bite from the bitterness. Good drinkability for a stout, nice to savor.

Nothing more here than a damn good beer at a damn good price. Recommended.

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

Ok. The problem with this beer is not the craftedness of it, the flavor, the appearance, the deliciousness... The problem is that the brewery thinks it's an RIS. This beer is not nearly intense, sweet, alcoholic, or full enough to be an RIS. If it were classed as a dry stout, or even a foreign extra stout, it would be top notch. As an RIS, it's thin and a bit weak, all roastedness and lacking in sweetness and alcohol character.
Black, decent tan head, ruby highlights.
Nose is almost all of roasted malt, with a bit of coffee and minimal hops in the back.
Taste is much the same. Would be the best dry stout I've ever had. Tons of roasted grain, coffee, grain bitterness.
Mouthfeel is smooth, with medium carbonation, but is not as thick or full as I feel it should be.

This is an excellent beer. Very, very tasty. I highly recommend it, and it will probably become a go-to tasty stout. But it's not an RIS.

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Photo of zdk9
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours black with a good amount of cocoa head. Just a smidgen of lacing.

S- Roasted nuts, chocolate, vanilla, cherries.

T- Nice amount of fruitiness combined with chocolate and espresso. There's also slight soy sauce kick to it. Delicious.

M- Smooth.

D- Recomended

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Photo of katan
3.76/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz undated bottle

A - Pours incredibly thick. Little bit of stout caramel color carbonation forms a nice solid head that dissipates slowly. There is little carbonation in the bottle of it. Looks almost like syrup.

S - Also a very strong nose here. Dominated by roasted malts - some chocolate background. There is no doubt a ton of malt here.

T - Starts with a sweet malt backbone of roasted malts. Mid stream a bitter balance enters, slowing down the sugar of the initial flavors. Finishes again with those malts paired with something that tastes akin to coffee. This one odes a good job of carrying the big bat of a RIS malt profile with decent bitterness.

M - Very thick - hangs out on the tongue for a while. Not overpoweringly so which I think is a downside of the RIS family.

D - A great stout to drink on the back patio on a warm day(which I happen to be doing). I think it fits as one of the melody of beers I might consume, but I by no means see it being more than one a night.

As my first RIS review, I do have to give Black Stout and Bear Republic high marks. A solid offering.

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Photo of davidchollar
4.63/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Another great purchase from Tanakaya in Tokyo. Big Bear pours into the pint glass black indeed. Very similar in appearance to the few others I've had of this style, (almost impossible to find in Japan). However, the big tan head seems to have even better retention than others. An easy perfect 5.

The caramel sweetness is definitely the prominent smell, with a subtle but delicious roasted maltiness ever present. After warming up, the almost Belgian-like dark fruitiness comes out, and I detect a hint of something I don't think I've ever noticed in a beer before ... watermelon?! The coffee roastiness is there, but less so than in most stouts. A very interesting, complex nose that opens up well given some time.

Just like the smell, the taste is definitely that of a world class stout, but a unique one that is fruitier than it is coffee-like. I taste several different styles at once - impressions of stout, porter, barleywine and BSDA. Like the abv, the taste is good and strong but not knock-you-silly super strength. Very well balanced, just strong/sweet/bitter enough to leave an impression but not overpower.

Same goes for the mf, very good. All this combines to bring the drinkability up to a perfect 5. This is perhaps a more approachable RIS than some, I'll definitely enjoy this again!

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

A nice dark pour with a head that stayed in the glass. Left a lace on the glass as it emptied which is an excellent sign of a good RIS.

Smelled of chocolate, caramel and coffee and some malty smokiness

Good flavor and not quite as strong as the smell and look indicated, which was not a bad thing. Nice malty chocolate taste with a bitter alcohol bite in the end.

Felt clean in the mouth, not heavy and lasting. Does not leave much behind but the alcohol taste

A very enjoyable beer, near the top of my list and a high quality RIS. I would buy again and recommend to others

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

Black pour with a light tan head. Cocoa powder and caramel in the aroma, but the taste is understated, like a porter, not forceful like a stout, but there's nothing wrong with that. Lots of roasted flavors in the brew.

Very drinkable and smooth, not too rich like chocolate cake - which some of RIS's remind me of. Alcohol is somewhat present, but a nice bitterness is the most prevalent aftertaste. A great brew that is easy drinking for an RIS.

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Photo of dsa7783
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Single, 1 pint, 6 fl oz bottle copped from State Line Liquors in Elkton, Maryland for $4.99...
Had a difficult time locating this beer, but was finally able to find it...
An aggressive pour yielded a jet-black, opaque, ebony hue with a minimal tan and frothy head that soon receded and left a minimal amount of lacing around the edge of the glass...
Aroma was replete with cocoa, mocha, and dark cappuccino essences...
Taste was subtle and not as overwhelming or alcoholic as some other Russian Imperial Stouts... Very smooth, rich, and creamy with hints of burnt coffee, rich mocha, roasted malts, and a touch of vanilla thrown into the mix...
Creamy, rich, satisfying mouthfeel along with an excellent level of drinkability for the style... Couldn't detect any alcohol despite the hefty 8.1% ABV...
Another great sample from Bear Republic...

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Photo of bkilpatr
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass. 05/11/08.

Pours almost pitch black with hints of brown around the edges. Nearly 3 fingers of fluffy light tan head rises up, then slowly fades down leaving lacing around the glass. Aromas of roasted malts, faint amounts of chocolate and hops, and a hint and coffee.

Taste starts with sweet roasted malts and a light hop flavor. Finishes with bitter dark chocolate and a hint of coffee. A nice mix of flavors, not too bitter and somewhat dry.

Mouthfeel is very nice for a RIS. Full body, carbonation is low-medium but feels right. It is a bit on the thin side, but it works very well for this beer. It doesn't leave my mouth sticky, very clean finish. Drinkability is also good for the same reasons. Though it is full and heavy, the flavors all work well together, the alcohol is well hidden, and the feel is just right.

A very nice RIS, definitely worth a try.

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Photo of soupyman10
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one cause I've been consistently impressed with everything I've tried from Bear Republic. This one pours a pitch black color with a light brown head that leaves fairly weak lacing. Nose is amazing: breadiness, sweet cookies, roasted coffee and light citrus hops. Lots of dried fruit. Taste doesn't quite live up to the nose's promise. Surprisingly hoppy - drying, bitter roasted malt rolles right into the citrus hop backbone. Short, hoppy aftertaste. Light sweet cookie malt. Not nearly as sweet as the aromas suggested. Body is medium and creamy. Good, not great. Overall, a really solid brew, although honestly a bit of a disappointment. Not quite on the same mind-blowing level as their IPAs. Next I gotta get my hands on that Racer X...

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Photo of avalon07
4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: When poured from a bottle to a pint glass, this beer had a coal-black color and a consistency so thick light couldn't pass through it when held up to a lamp. Had a half inch of creamy, brown head and good lacing. Another example of how this style should look.

S: There was a strong smell of coffee, malt and some sweets in the smell. A good balance.

T: A very well-made taste. Coffee, malt, caramel, some hops. Complex and tasty.

M: Not as highly carbonated as one would have thought, but good nonetheless. Had a smooth finish. A very full-bodied beer.

D: This is a very drinkable beer with a robust taste. You should keep in mind that, like other beers of the style, it is pretty heavy. Excellent, though.

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

Split a big bottle into a snifter glass. Poured dark black with a slight tan head. Lots of thick lacing on the glass. Nose was of bitter chocolate, slight fruits, and a touch of alcohol. Initial taste is of sweet malt and bitter chocolate. This one finished creamy and smooth. I expected more bitterness but it didn't have as much as I was anticipating, which was good. This is a perfect example of a solid Russian Imperial Stout. Overall quite tasty!

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Photo of ryrust5301
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750oz. bottle into a snifter. Nice looking stout. Black with a nice size tan head. Sweet vanilla and malts with a spicy alcohol and coffee on the nose. Taste is creamy and sweet. Very nice! Stays malty in the middle until a little bit of the coffee biterness comes through. Doesn't have a bite to the end. Stays smooth and sweet all the way through. Damn fine stout. Just started getting it down here in Baton Rouge. At 4 dollars a bottle it's a great freakin deal! Will make sure to clear space in my beer fridge for a few more bottles.

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Photo of Onslow
3.94/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sweet tar molasses aroma ... black as midnight ... lacing is all the live! .... definition of an imperial stout ... very sweet libation ... alcohol is quite well hidden ... this is a perfect beer to celebrate ones birthday but make sure not to celebrate to hearty, can be a sneaky brew!

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

Brown 1 pint 6oz glass bottle with a pry-off cap and a green, yellow and red label on a black and white background.
Deep ruby opaque bodywith a creamy dimpled tan head. Good retention and lace.
Alcoholic roasted coffee bean scent with plenty of hops to go around. Quite inviting.
Good roasted malt and strong hops medley. Some nutskin, a hint of marcipan and oily delicious hops. The aftertaste is a long lasting hoppy experience with roasted semisweet chocolate malts.
Full body and a nice coating. Nice dry, roasted and smoked finish.
Very drinkable, a solid stout and true to it's style. Simply stout, deep and complex flavor profile.


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Photo of currysage1
4.09/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got in trade from Ubermick, who went above and beyond.

Poured into a over sized wine glass, produced a 4 finger beige head, thick and foamy slowly receding. Beautiful dark color, with good mapping down the sides.

Smell is of plums, concord grapes, and light chocolate with an alcohol tickle.

Taste is of bitter dark fruits then some chocolate with roasted grains.

Mouthfeel is great, not too overpowering as to mask the flavor, but just thick enough to accentuate the darkness below.

Drinkable is a definate, alcohol is noticeable but subdued. Complex so I want to take my time.

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

Pours an oily jet black with a beautiful, frothy, thick, dense tan head which persists right to the very end.

Nice, but mild aromas of dark roasted malt and semi-sweet chocolate. Reminded me of the smell of slightly burnt, freshly baked Toll House chocolate chip cookies.

The mouthfeel and palate was absolutely fantastic. Chewy, thick, frothy and creamy, just like a Imperial Stout should be.

Flavor presented with an abundance of deeply roasted malts, charcoal, molasses, dark chocolate with a touch of caramel/brown sugar sweetness. Presents a long, semi-dry minerally and somewhat bitter finish. Alcohol is well concealed under the hefty flavors and body of this great Imperial Stout. Easy drinking stuff here.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 2,418 ratings
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