Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
2,430 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,430 |  Reviews: 1,152
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

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.

 632 characters

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.

 1,215 characters

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.

 544 characters

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.

 542 characters

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.

 427 characters

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.

 707 characters

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...

 369 characters

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.

 817 characters

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.

 379 characters

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.

 429 characters

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.

 530 characters

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.

 518 characters

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.

 969 characters

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.

 669 characters

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.

 916 characters

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.

 368 characters

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.

 296 characters

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.

 641 characters

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.

 829 characters

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.

 391 characters

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.

 914 characters

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

 270 characters

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.

 1,096 characters

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!

 1,304 characters

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 2,430 ratings