Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

2,407 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: 2,407 |  Reviews: 1,146
Photo of dedrinker
3.87/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Fairly black beer and lighter around the edges than most others I've seen. Semi-sweet chocolate nose and light roasted malt as well. Very fresh flavor of roasted malts and dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is almost full-bodied and the finish is somewhat bitter from the hops and astringency of the roasted malts.

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

P-22 oz bomber

A-not quite pitch black

S-Really nice, chocolate, currants, dates, a whiff of etoh

T-Burnt (in a good way), roasty, but not over hopped like a lot of RISs, really well balanced

M-about perfect for a stout, thick enough but not too much, great lingering aftertaste

D-good, but still a big beer, 1 x 22ozer is just right

Notes: This could be one of the best RISs I've had. I think they did a nice job of not over hopping, like a lot of the other ones do.

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

Poured into tulip glass from 22 oz. bottle.

Appearance: Deep brown/black with a thick caramel-colored head that dissipates to a thin circle on the edge of the beer.

Smell: Very complex aromas going on here - Coffee, chocolate, brownsugar...even some sort of spiciness. Hops?

Taste: Wow...this beer is a wonderlust of roastiness! I was expecting a bit more sweetness, but dryness seems to prevail...but no matter, Still quite yummy. There's a good amount of bitterness from both roasted grains as well as hops, but its hard to distinguish between them. For a fleeting moment, I also detected some piney flavors..perhaps hops.

Mouthfeel: Nice, thick body. The beer tingles in the mouth.

Drinkability: Quite complex, but well crafted as it hides the alcohol well.

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

A-Deep dark brown color with lighter highlights. Thin tan head that reduces to a film that leaves some lacing.

S-Burnt roast and chocolate. Some faint dark fruit. Aroma becomes better as it warms.

T-Nice roasty malts with some chocolate. A subtle hop bitterness. Very solid.

M-Medium body. Quite creamy very nice rishness without being heavy. Where is the alcohol?

D-Very...almost a session stout..but at 8+ ABV hardley! This is a totally solid American stout.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into my snifter.

A- Body is a deep brown/black that pours with a thick 2+ finger foamy dark tan head. Head fades to 1/2 finger and retains very nicely. Some lacing is left behind in the glass.

S- Nose comes through more hoppy than most stouts. Hops are the main character followed by some toasted malt in the background.

T- Initial flavor is roasted chocolate and caramel malts with a big hoppy overtone. The finish is surprisingly all hop flavor. What lingers is some hop flavor and a deep roasted malt taste.

M- Medium carbonation and a body that is pretty lightweight for a stout-esp. an imperial stout.

D- The light mouthfeel and no detection whatsoever of alcohol make this a very drinkable brew. I was quite surprised when I looked at the bottle and saw the ABV. This is a nice hoppy west coast stout. I wouldn't call it a RIS.

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Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a dark brown color with a two-finger, caramel colored head. It left nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of caramel and chocolate. Also, a floral/hop aroma was present.

T - It tasted of chocolate and sweet, sweet caramel. It was sugary sweet with a subtle hop bitterness.

M - It was very smooth and soft. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good RIS. I wish it was available closer to home.

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Photo of ROMER79
4.53/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black, very black with a nice brown head.

S: Chocolate, caramel, roasted malts, and maybe a hint of a little fruit.

T:Again, you could really taste the chocolate and roasted malts. Hops were present in the mix and then in the after taste I could really pick up on the caramel and molasses notes.

M: Rich and creamy. Very nice for a stout.

D: Very easy. You almost want to say session beer? But you will get rocked. This beer is strong!

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Photo of NDPDuke
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in a tulip(all I had at the time) via trade from Nitrogen (thanks again buddy).

APPEARANCE: Black tinge with a thin head. Good looking stout already.

SMELL: Strong smell. Deep, roasted malts, molasses and a hint of chocolate. Awesome smell

TASTE: Wow...this is a great tasting RIS. Soft and smooth, yet extremely strong in flavor. Molasses, roasted malts,and hints of chocolate. Nice undertone of hops really makes this a great beer.

MOUTHFEEL: Perfect flavor and strength. Creamy and not too strong. You can't even taste the alcohol.

DRINKABILITY: For being over 8%, this beer is easy to drink. I would get murdered by this beer because I would love to continually go back to back on this beer.

Overall, this is a fantastic beers. One of my favorite beers that i have tasted. Once again, thank you Nitrogen!

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

Pitch black body with a huge pillow of tan head that retained well and laced better than I have seen most beers.

Smell is of bittersweet chocolate, good coffee, and absolutly no presence of alcohol. Taste is unbelievably good. Perfect balance of coffee, bittersweet chocolate with a toasty malt base. Easy to drink and again no hint of the 8.1% ABV. Feel is creamy and smooth. Thick enough to coat the palate and let the flavors really soak in.

This is one of the top RIS for me. Easy to drink. I wish I didn't wait so long to try it. This is definately worth geting and enjoying. Bear Republic has it dialed in.

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

Had this 22 oz. bottle in my cellar for about 8 months, and cracked it open this past weekend. Poured it into two crystal stemmed beer glasses. The color was a shade of mahogany-black darkness. Pours with a tan head that lasts the entire time, and lacing that stretches from the top to bottom of the glass. The smell was full of roasted malt and coffee. Taste-wise, this was one of the best RIS that I have ever had. It was sweet and roasted all at the same time. All I could think of was caramel and chocolate covered coffee beans. Delicious. For an 8% abv beer, this one went down very smoothly. It's one of those beers that you think that you could easily drink 3-4 bombers. Not a bad idea. This is one of my new favorite beers from Bear Republic.

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

Hoppy goodness is all about it here. Pours your typical dark stout with a decent one finger, light brown head in a pint glass. Smell is super hoppy which I wasn't expecting in this stout. Taste had the same bitter hoppy notes and was light on the tongue, not a heavy drink. Slightly roasted malts were barely there, but the hops really took control on my palette. Went down easy and was quite enjoyable in the session.

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Photo of Beerzebub
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a big wine glass at 59 F/ 15 C.

Black, tinged reddish brown, small tan head, finely textured lace.

Smells like dark chocolate, citrus and pine hops, dark brown sugar/ molasses, caramel, coffee. Deep, rich, and good.

Tastes like rich roasty caramelized malt, pine forest, rosemary, earth, orange rind, grapefruit, and mild molasses. The roastiness is soft and smooth, yet rich. Mild sweetness. Moderate dose of hop bitterness, the hops are mainly fresh and flavorful rather than bitter; the hops really shine, without dominating. Great balance; big full flavor without going to any extremes. Very tasty. Chocolate and citrus linger for a long satisfying finish.

Nice medium body, fine bottle conditioned carbonation. Refreshing hop flavor with deceptively low bitterness, and great balance, make for a very drinkable beer.

Great stuff!

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Photo of dreadnatty08
3.48/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Sample on tap at Rustico
Pours an overall opaque black color with some brown highlights towards the bottom of the glass. Big fluffy, tan head is formed with wide open bubbles; this is a sign of things to come. In the aroma, I wonder if someone dropped some squid ink in an IPA, this one is hop forward, very floral but there is also milk chocolate and a slight roastiness. On the palate, it is simply too hoppy. There isn't an overly roasted feel to it, it is closer to a hopped up brown or porter. Following that it is also overcarbonated for style, and a too thin body. Drinkability is low because when I want a solid RIS, I reach for a BCS or Expedition, not this hopped up monster. Besides, Storm King is already out there and this one seems like another clone.

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Photo of mnj21655
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber, no freshness date, poured into a pint glass

Pours black with ruby hints at the edges and over two fingers of luscious, pillowy brown head that exhibits excellent retention. Aroma is quite good, roasted malts are dominant with coffee and dark chocolate notes. Also present are some restrained citrusy hops as well as brown sugar and molasses. Taste is, at first, a bit sweet then predominantly malty. As we near the finish the roasted malts make their triumphant return as some subtle dark chocolate mingles with more powerful coffee flavors. Bitterness and some faint hoppiness then join the party. The bitterness is well rounded, not at all harsh, and definitely from both the roasted malts as well as generous hopping early in the boil. Mouthfeel is quite good, medium-full body that is velvety and not quite chewy with moderate carbonation. The 8.1% ABV is masked incredibly well and the only reason that I noticed is was a gentle warming sensation that I felt when I was about finished with the bottle. Overall this is one heck of a brew. I felt that this wasn't really an RIS (well, maybe a very American interpretation of the style) but an excellent American Double Stout. I highly recommend this brew.

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Photo of IBUnit63
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice pour into mug from 22. Dark chocolate/double espresso body with tight, latte-colored head - a little lacing; head mellows earlier than expected. Minimal carbonation.

Dark roast, deep malt of chocolate, coffee grounds and a little yeast; tight and well-made. Rounded, subtle grassy hops in distant background.

At first sip, the alcohol stands out and apart from the dry coffee and mild hop tones typical of the style. Needs a little time to round out - better balance comes forth shortly with a little sweetness emerging from the back of the palate.

With time this coats well and is rather soothing - still a little bit heavy on the alchohol burn in relation to everything else.

All told, decent, well-made stuff that's definitely drinkable if not a little unbalanced.

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Photo of BeerSox
4.8/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bomber into 8oz snifter.

Pitch black with no light getting through. The head is thick and frothy, and slowly settles to a dense cap. The receding head leaves a solid wall of lacing.

Thick and bitter malts make the base, while a sharp hop aroma adds a slight punch. The alcohol can be perceived with a deep whiff. The smell is topped off with a bit of raisin.

Coffee and a bit of bitter chocolate, along with some brown highlight the flavor. The base is some bitter malts, along with some grassy hop flavor that complements the malts well. Full bodied with good carbonation.

This one is bold and complex, but still delivers a great amount of drinkability. This one is hard to put down. The alcohol is well hidden as well, although it's not as strong as other beers in the style. Recommended.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a solid black wit faint ruby highlights if held to the light. Creamy off white head slicks around for a little bit then laces the glass. Aroma come through with some smooth chocolates and some hops. Taste hits with a bit of chocolate then some roast then some alcohol then a bitter hop finish. Aftertaste of roasted malts and hop bitterness. Nice thick stout creamy in the mouth. Great stout, a bit hoppier than I like, but solid stout nonetheless.

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Photo of JDV
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rerate- Now that I like Imp. Stouts I enjoyed this much more than previously..
Black pour with lasting tan head and some lacing. Smell is of lots of hops actually, some alcohol for sure, and some roastiness. Taste at 1st is big hop bitterness that fades after a bit and finishes fairly cleanish. As it warms becomes less bitter and roastier. Good Imperial Stout

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Photo of m1ked
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Slick black opaque. Thin tan head

S- Definetly hits me with hops. Seems almost unexpected, at least for this style. Slight chocolate, ahhh more like it.

T- Starts with bitter hops, fades to a smokey woody flavor, finishing with....hop bitter.

M- Watery

D- Not a bad beer by any stretch of the imagination, just not my favorite for this style.

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Photo of Pudge43
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to wkcyr4 for this one. Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a pint glass. The beer poured a very dark black color with a creamy two finger head that seemed to hang around for quite a while. Nice aroma, with a hint of roasted malt. The initial taste was very sweet malt, which then turned to a roasted malt and slightly hoppy finish. Very low carbonation which was right on for this beer. Mouthfeel was very full and thick. The alcohol content was not overpowering for a beer over 8% ABV. Would definitely have this one again.

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

The beer poured an inky black color with a creamy, rocky head into a pint glass. Not much aroma, just a hint of roasted malt. The taste was initially of sweet malt, but morphed nicely into a roasted malt and slight bitter hop finish. The carbonation was right on target (low, that is), making for a thicker, more syrupy mouthfeel. The alcohol content was nicely concealed (would never have known it was over 8% ABV), making it an immensely drinkable ale.

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Photo of athensbeermaster
4.73/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This black beauty poured a nice creamy head. The nose had hints of coffee and roasted malts. The taste was so devine, fullbody mouthfeel that leaves a creamy/silky finish. The flavors of roasted malts,chocolate,coffee and dark fruits.
The drinkabilty was insane, so well balanced never noticed the 8% alcohol at all! I even let my bud l.t freind have a taste and he went wow!
Hats off to this brewery making beer in wine country!

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Photo of GJ40
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I tried this based on the A+ rating it got from the "The Bros". I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon but they were spot on. This is one fantastic beer and as good an Imperial Stout as I've ever had.

This beer is strong in ever way but it all fits nicely together. The 8% alcohol is nicely hidden by the roasted malt and accompanying hops. The thick foamy head really makes it a thing of beauty and the overall consistency is deserving of a knife and fork.

I was visiting the Houston Flying Saucer from out of town so I made myself move on to other beers after this one but I could just as well stuck with this all night. In fact, I think I should have. Now I just have to find it in NC.

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

22oz bomber into a Unibroue Maudite snifter.

Pours a very dark brown/black with some garnet highlights just visible around the bottom of the glass with 1-2 finger widths of poofy tan head. Retains nicely into a creamy ring that leaves sticky lace down the sides of the glass. The aroma is sweet up front with chocolate and caramel that gives way to some coffee and dark fruit tones.

The taste is deep with chocolate sweetness, dark fruit tartness, roasted coffee and finishes with a burnt and hop bitterness combo. The mouthfeel is full bodied but imparts more of a viscous feel than a creamy one. Alcohol is present and while hidden for the most part, it does rear its head in the end to add a little oompth to the finish.

This is a really good Stout (Duh!) from Bear Republic. Tons of deep warming flavor and a well hidden ABV make this one highly drinkable and complex RIS. It definitely went down easy on this cold, winter's night.

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

Pours pitch black with a thick tan two finger head that fades very slowly to a thick cap. The resulting lace nearly covers the entire inside of the glass.

Smell; chocolate and molasses greet me right away followed by a little roasted coffee beans. There's also an underlying citric hoppiness going on.

Taste; wow, nice rich chocolate and coffee cake, with some brown sugar sprinkled on top. Some mild hops come out toward the middle and then it fades to chocolate and and touch of coffee in the finish. The finish is a touch soft, and very smooth.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with a nice creamy smooth carbonation, which just increases the drinkability. Wish I had more.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,407 ratings.
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