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 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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Photo of goochpunch
4.02/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a dark ruby that is almost black. Head is thin and of a chocolate mousse color. Leaves some nice lacing. Aroma is of pure chocolate, fruity, light roast coffee, cane syrup, honey, almond extract, a hint of raisins and some earthy, woodsy hops. Alcohol is kind of prevalent in the aroma, but it kind of works here. Flavors are all very well-layered between the chocolate, roast, fruity esters, alcohol and herbal, leafy, floral hops. Very enjoyable, however, as it warms up, the hops get a little too forward. Mouthfeel is moderate to full with some buzzing carbonation. I really enjoyed this right off the bat, but the bomber gets to be a challenge as the hops come out more when warmed.

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Photo of Twerknasty
4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours thick with moderate heading, light-dark copper hue head. Smell really only contains some black licorice, chocolate, and some tree bark. Very light footed creamyness, that glides perfectly along the palate. S`moreish flavor profiles that are extenuated at the finish with the light roast style that doesn't overpower any aspect of this incredibly drinkable RIS.The alcohol isn't noticed at all. The beer is somewhat one dimensinal, although the flavor is perfect and its VERY hard to find a RIS that actually has BALANCE! I love this beer.

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Photo of cswhitehorse
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Big Bear Black Stout poured a opal color with ridiculous suds and a good finger foam head and some solid lacing. Retention was moderate.

The aroma was of roasted malts and chocolate. The taste was caramel, rich complex coffee flavors and heavy on the roasted malt and carob.

IN the mouth it was pretty thin for a stout. Overall a pretty solid stout in which the 8% was well hidden.

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Photo of irishkyle21
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark black in color, the lightly tanned head drops to a thin coating. The brew does offer up some nice lacing though.

Smells of molasses, roasted malts, brown sugar and a big whiff of hops.

Tastes of chocolate, bitterness thanks to a healthy hop profile, fruits and brown sugar.

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Photo of jbphoto88
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz brown bottle. A burnt oil black/brown with a deep tan head. Very solid foam with a combination of thick and thin bubbles that dissipates to leave brown islands of head.

Smell is chocolaty semi-sweet and of roasted grains. There is also a slight citrus note with coffee undertones.

The creamy taste is initially chocolaty and of big toasted malts, but there is a nice bitterness to this brew. It is almost IPA-ish in its hops. They are a little citrusy and barely fight through the thick stout flavors. The aftertaste is excellent! There is a nice astringency that puckers and dries the palate but those stout flavors are in it for the long haul. There is mix of chocolaty, malty, coffee-ness that sweetens through the bitterness leaving you interested and wanting more.

Not what I expected from this beer. I knew it would be good, but this is closing in on exceptional. I have to say it is creamy yet refreshing sweet but with a nice bitterness. Believe it or not its now in my top 5 of RIS or stouts in general.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.12/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a jet black with a nhuge tan head with mucho carbonation. Smell is very subtle slght roasted smell but nothing pronounced.Taste was rather flat. Not to much going on besides roasted malts, disappointing. ABV was well hidden but I would not buy or drink again considering Yeti is out there.

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Photo of quasimoto
3.15/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep dark brown with a light tan head that was nice and frothy, and, stuck around for a while. Aromas of deep roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, spicy hops, and maybe some caramel. The hops dominate the front of the taste, which are followed closely by the deep malts that come in the middle, turn very candy like, and finish the end. The mouth feel starts out bitter, is middle to full bodied, and dries out in the end. Overall a very easy drinking RIS of the ones Ive had.

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

a. pours a burnt caramel brown, opaque and almost black in the glass, 1.5 finger of creamy head, frothy and thick cream puff that hangs around for a while, wide-tiered lacing

s. hops, carmel, mocha, and of course roasted malts

t. strong (surprising) hop flavor up front, then caramel reminiscent of wee heavy, milk chocolate mixes with hoppiness for an unsweetened chocolate sensation, coffee

m. medium to a little thin

d. tasty enough, a little more than just a sipping stout could be persuaded to drink more than one in a sitting

more dextrins and body would have done this brew real go
od, love the creamy head and addition of hops to a traditionally unhoppy stile, works really well

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Photo of tpd975
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep dark coal black color with an average espresso colored head. Spotty lacing was noted.

S: Big on the malts. Tons of roasted coffee aromas mixed in with bold dark chocolate. There are tinges of spicy hops hiding beneath the malt.

T: What you smell is what you taste. Tons of fresh brewed dark coffee with equal amounts of dark bitter chocolate. A brown sugar sweetness cuts thru in the middle and a nice hop bitterness comes thru in the finish to balance it all out.

M: Medium in body and smooth.

D: Not bad, I had no problem finishing the entire bomber.

Overall: I love the Bear Republic brews as they tend to be hop heavy. This stout has the perfect amount of hops without going over the top. The chocolate and coffee flavors are big and bold making for a wonderful tasting/drinking brew. It's a winner.

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Photo of Pencible
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured an opaque reddish brown with tan head. It smelled like licorice with dark chocolate. It had a unique and very subdued flavor of heavy dark chocolate bitterness and oaky malt. It was thick and sticky with no carbonation and a bitter aftertaste. Overall this was the least coffee-flavored stout I've had. I wanted to like this more than it let me, since the flavors were all so good but weak.

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Photo of jaxon53
3.6/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served this at cellar temperature, in a pint glass, from a twenty two ounce bottle.

Appearance: This one pours out a spent motor oil, midnight black. Not a single ray of light could pass through this black mass. A bit of a vigorous pour results in a thick, two finger, mocha brown head. Decent head retention leaves tan trails of lace behind on the glass.

Smell: The nose of the Big Bear starts out with a thick dark chocolate aroma, mixed in with a little bit of burnt black coffee. Nice roasty/toasty maltiness. Definitely has a very pronounced hop aroma to it. Not bad so far.

Taste: The roasted malt definitely gives off a smooth chocolate aroma. More of the burnt black coffee that was noted in the nose.Almost gives off a toffee or caramel flavor. A nice hoppy finish balances out the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Big Bear Black Stout somewhat lacks in the mouthfeel department. Feels a bit thin for the style in my opinion. Nicely carbonated, tickles the tongue and throat as it goes down.

Drinkability: This one drinks nicely, thanks to a lower 8.1 percent ABV that is virtually not noticeable in the flavor. An above average RIS in my opinion. I've yet to be dissapointed by Bear Republic.

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