Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout
2,429 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: 2,429 |  Reviews: 1,152
Photo of ADR
4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thick blackish pour, completely opaque. Multi-bubbled head of dark tan color. Head diminishes in 40 seconds or so but clings to the glass in admirable fashion. A slightly oily lemon and dark coffee mark the aroma, with some strawberry fruit. Certainly a black java sense to the flavor, but with an interesting nutty quality that's somewhat unusual in an Imperial. Great bitter charred roast aftertaste. Quite a beer in many ways, coating, good smooth mouthfeel, and a slightly different take on flavor. I would certainly drink this baby again, probably the next time I make it to California.

Source: Liquid Solutions

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

A very tasty stout, that despite its elevated alcohol content,still is very drinkable. It pours deep black, befitting its name, with a slight creamy tan head that collars to the inside of the glass. The aroma is malty, with roasted barley dryness and slight hop spiciness rounding out the nose. The taste is malty sweet, but not cloying, with a generous bitterness from the roasted malts and barley and hop load. As other have noted for an imperial stout, the body is not overwhelming, which makes the beer easier to drink than it should be.

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

This brew looks good, smells good, and the flavor is good. However, the mouthfeel is a bit lacking. Measured against other imperial stouts, it falls short in that category. As a regular ole stout or foreign extra it would be adequate. The color is opaque black with a light tan head that leaves plenty of lace rings. The aroma is milk chocolate, a bit of coffee and some molasses lurking in the background. The flavor is of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, caramel, with some roasted barley bitterness rounding out the finish. The mouthfeel is slightly chalky (gypsum?) and a bit thin, not the least bit syrupy like other imperial stouts.

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

If there is one style of beer that I think is the most overrated, it's the American micro (imp) stout. I can appreciate the strongest versions, which have a good balance of malt AND hops (like Expedition), but the thinner, bitter versions don't really float my boat. This beer reminded me of the Victory and the Rogue. Mostly hops, somewhat dry and thin. Pours nice, smells nice, tastes nice. Overall, a pretty good drinking experience. How beers like this end up rated in the top 10-20, however, I don't understand. As is the case with the micro IPA's, they start to taste alike, IMO. If you like the Victory and Rogue, you'll like this. I still prefer the Samuel Smith, with it's balance and smooth taste and body.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.52/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: black as the darkest night, with a tall, fantastic, booming, cocoay/brown head, leaving chocolatey lace.
Aroma: creamy, dry, with faraway hints of coffee, becoming more prominent by the second. Another case of an unfolding flavors.
Smooth first sip, "ah," I'm thinking, "that goes down easy." But, oh, no, don't be fooled, the finish is thick and long, and the effect is powerful!
Rich, coffeeish, with a full, warm rum/cognac feel.
Excellent texture, lush, long-lasting, dark and rewarding flavors, full and roasty and delicious.
More earthy, espresso-like dominate the palate, and more, fruitier flavors show up and intermingle, giving off more and more to appreciate.
Alcoholic content is also a kicker, and seems to get stronger, darker, more wicked as we go. I save a small sample as a pick-me-up in the morning, throughout the day, when the man's getting me down, anytime's the right time.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark black color, small head. Big coffee and toffee aroma. Roasted and toasted. A big bold stout. Big full bodied stout, but not chewy. Blast of complex flavors; Caramel sweetness, chocolate malt, coffee, toffee and a hint of vanilla. AND A WHOLE LOT MORE. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and dry. Aftertaste is slightly bitter that lingers a round a while. No alcohol bite, despite an 8.1%. Great stout.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.78/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Originally sampled on 5 July 2002. This stout has a light brown, frothy head and a black (no surprise here) body. Great roasted taste, but it's a very drinkable stout. I'm surprised that this is listed as a 'sweet stout' instead of an Imperial. From Bear Republic's web page:

"Big Bear, as the name implies, is a hefty, black, Russian
Imperial-style stout..."

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Photo of Brent
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Each beer I try from this brewery makes me want to find more. This is simply an outstanding stout. Big, hearty and ... smooth - sounds like an oxymoron, but it is true. The first mug was pretty cold - muted aroma of bittersweet chocolate. Creamy dark roasted malt, just the barest touch sweet with a clean finish. Smooth as silk. The second mug was allowed to warm, and a bit more bitterness emerges at the back of the tongue, still smooth. This beer seems to blend elements of the dryness of and Irish stout, the malty heft of an English sweet stout and a touch of the hoppyness of an American interpretation. KO's Young's Luxury Double Chocolate from the top of my sweet stout list.

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Photo of BierReise
4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This has to be the best stout I've had in recent memory. Pours dark black and I could see no light coming through. Creamy dense head that is light brown in color and lasts the duration. My first impression when I opened the bottle was that this is a hoppy stout. After I poured it the aroma was sweet with chocolate, roasted malt and caramel standing out. Also a definate hop presence. Extremely smooth and drinkable despite its 8.1% abv. Flavor is an excellent marriage of malt and hops. Sweet, robust and displaying a complexity not often found in this style. It's no wonder it's a gold medal winner.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.41/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A fantastic looking stout! It is not entirely opaque or black, yet a very dark mahogany tint, with a touch of ruby gleaming from within. The initial pour produced a Guinness-like cascade effect, with a monster, frothy topping. The head was tan and similar to that of a milk-shake. Lasted all day, leaving an exemplary display of lacework in the glass.

The nose emits an inviting roasty malt aroma, with hints of sweetness and chocolate. Similar somewhat to Mackesons, or Dragon from Jamaica.

Oh! How the bier caresses the tongue! The body is almost full...almost there....almost....and has a bit of chewiness to it. It has a silky smooth feel passing over the tongue, gliding effortlessly, like Peggy Fleming traversing the ice at Grenoble....

A lovely, yet subdued, sweetness underlies the wealth of roasty malt flavors which envelope the palate. The roasty chocolate taste lingers on and on, well after the dryish finish. A bit of hopping produces a slightly bitter aspect, though not to the detriment of the bier at all. Having just popped this after a hectic day at work, and not having eaten since noon, I can feel the alcohol warming things up belly-wards.

This one's a keeper. I haven't really been into stouts too heavily for a while now, but this one wouldn't be turned aside. Vielen Dank to Gusler for making this part of a treasure chest sent Northeastward! Zum Wohl!!

overall: 4.5
appearance: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5


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

Appearance: What seems to be pitch black, is actually an incredibly dark reddish-brown. The body is opaque, with a tan head that starts out a full finger thick and shrinks to a small cap. Leaves an interesting lace pattern on the glass.

Smell: Very rich aroma of roasted grains, cocoa powder, and caramel. I could just smell this one for a while...

Taste: The flavor is extremely rich and creamy with a balance that starts out more to the sweeter side. What stands out the most to me is the strong roasted flavor. Lots of dry, bitter coffee character here. Underneath that is a hefty sprinkling of cocoa powder and a shot of sweet caramel. Small hint of licorice. A touch of green, leafy hops show up on the tail end. There's an alcohol note, but it's covered quite well by the other flavors. Finishes with a firm bitterness that seems to never end...

Mouthfeel: Full and round with a thick and chewy mouthfeel. The alcohol helps to dry the finish out a bit, but it doesn't take away from the weight of the brew.

Drinkability: Make no mistake...this is a big brew, in body and in alcohol. This is a great beer to slowly sip and enjoy, alongside a good book. I wish this one was available in my part of the country...

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Photo of Wildman
4.83/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer poured jet black and formed a huge medium tan foamy Guiness like head that behaved like a float as it subsided, leaving lattice lace coating the glass as it subsided. An aroma of malt, chocolate and coffee. A flavor of malt, coffee and chocolate. A little lighter than I thought it would be, but a fine stout nontheless. It's a shame I have to go to Kentucky to get this or Liquid Solutions. Come on Bear Republic, visit Ohio sometime.

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Photo of BigHead
4.7/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5 This is quite the good stout! Black as night with a nice thick head about 1/2 inch thick, lovely. Chocolate and earthy roast permeate the air as I bring the brew in for my first taste. A sweet, caramel flavor with chocolate roasted taste infused for my pleasure. The roasted flavor of sitting on my patio drinking a coffee in the morning. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of DarthMalt
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What do they smoke at Bear Republic to come up with beers like these?!!!

Sweet, caramel, and blacker than black. Nose gives off like an Old Rasputin or other imperial. Chocolate, rock, root-beer-float head. Sweet wafts follow through and bathe fore, mid, and after tastes with sweet, caramel chocolate (no hokey "tannins-for-alpha-acid" program here).

Forget Stout!
I say....Voluptuous!

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Photo of marc77
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Approaching black, with clear, glowing, ominous deep burgundy hues when held to light. Creamy, well retained tan head slowly settles into a tight, one fingered layer that leaves quasi Belgian lace. Wafts of rounded carob and nutty brittle hit the nose upfront, then are ensued by rich, smooth buttery milk chocolate and black licorice. Roasted barley sharpness and heaty ethanol emerge as the nose adjusts to the pronounced chocolate presence. Cocoa dusted caramel upfront in flavor is ceded by a bittersweet combination of molasses sweetened melted bakers chocolate and burnt barley. Prune laced sweetness emerges mid palate, then is immediately contrasted by tangerine tinged hop bitterness. Mellow diacetyl butterscotch undertone complements the dark, chocolate malt overtone, lending an agreeable yeast byproduct and roasted grain balance. Moderate in body with a dextrinous, lightly sugary, lactose like mouthfeel. Suggestion of bourbon macerated figs dipped in semi sweet chocolate emerges late. Finishes long and disparate, with maltose like sweetness and lingering hop bitterness uncontesting each other. Big Bear Black is a delicious stout, and is nearly the perfect hybrid of a sweet stout and robustly hopped American imperial. Unique, balanced and highly drinkable.

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Photo of Winter
4.75/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Another "must-try" for stout lovers. Big Bear pours black in color with a thick rising creamy tan head. The nose consists of chocolate, caramel, coffee & cream, roasted malt and hops. Mouthfeel is full-bodied and slightly sharp on the tongue. This Bear has bite, which mellows as it warms. Up front the sweet flavors of cocoa powder introduce themselves. There's a hoppy bite to the finish which contributes some of its effect from the alcohol. Finish tastes of sweet chocolate and has a roasted malt bitterness. The alcohol for the most part is veiled rather nicely behind the complex finish.

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Photo of cokes
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The darkness hangs like tapestries inside the bowels of the forest. Not a typical blackness, but instead an opacity that seems to breathe on its own. One that envelopes and assimilates all that it touches. The frail light provided by a thin sliver of a crescent moon is enough to depict the dark brown clouds overhead. Some blood-stained, scarlet-hued shadows lie within. Luminescence is not found here.

The Darkness breathes in.

That is when I first caught glimpse of the creature. Not so much viewed it as sensed its presence.
The beast reared back and roared. The entire forest shook with ferocious roasted reverberations.
Its animal wrath is brought forth, as a weighty claw of mocha strikes the broadside of my face. Fuzzy, yet treacherously sharp. I recoil and collapse. Tending my wounds, while tiny rivulets of molasses stream down my cheeks and collect into a pool in the back of my throat. As I cover my crippled and exposed body, the brute draws nearer. Now upon the nape of my neck, the bear scrapes across my back with a milky caress. Mercy perhaps? Not as all, as the other liquorice-drenched appendage strikes me with vicious power, and I struggle to maintain consciousness. My mouth is open and forced down upon the forest floor, where prune sweetness and smoky earthen hues enter. The monster growls and reveals it hoppy fangs, digging them deeply into the back of my head. The bear’s embrace is bitter with piney metallics.

Its eyes shown out, piecing the eternal blackness, as one final, roasted blow descends upon me.

Silence now.

The Darkness breathes out.

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

Pours nicely black with good tan head. Malt is very roasty, little of the chocolate. Beer was harsher than it's chocolately brethren but the harsh roasted malt seemed to be needed to balance out the surprising hop bite. It was dry and comes across as being a turbocharged dry Irish.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opaque black topped by a full, foamy, dark tan head that drops but keeps a thin 1/8" surface covering and leaves nice lace throughout the glass. The nose displays a gently fruity (currant, black raspberry) dark chocolate, coffee, and sweet cocoa. The medium body teams with the very fine and moderate carbonation to create a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. The flavor is of a creamy sweet caramel and fruit-tinged toffee with a roasted edge. It starts with a bitter espresso note and warms into more softly roasted cocoa notes. Some alcohol is apparent but unobtrusive. It finishes drying with a lingering bitterness, mild roastiness and soft notes of mocha. Exceptionally well balanced. The bitterness builds on the palate throughout the serving but never goes out of bounds. A really nice stout with a very good drinkability. Well worth trying.

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Photo of Myk
4.58/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bear Republic puts out some consitently great beers. I always enjoy them. the appearance of this stout is amazing. great color of dark rubyish brown with a slightly under the weather head, due to a weak pour, but what was there stayed the entire time. the head was a tan to sandish color that left rings of lacy after every sip. the aroma was that of sweet chocolate, nut and burnt malt. the burnt malt smell gave it a nice little kick. the taste was very similar to the aroma, minus the nuts. it was sweet chocolate, burnt, charred malt, coffee, which gave it a sort of earthy tinge to it. it must be those beans that landed on the ground. slightly fruity, little stale marachino (SP) cherry, as coffee is the pit of a cherry. the coffe flavor gave it a nice little bitter bite to it. after a little while it mellowed out in the coffee bitter. it is full bodied with a great mouthfeel. amazing how it hid all the alcohol.

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Photo of Gusler
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oh yes, that big bad black beauty sitting in the glass, what a treat to see, the head chocolate brown, Humongous in size, frothy in texture and the resultant lace stick thick sheets that obscure the glass till the very end.
Sweet milk chocolate, coffee, malted grains make up this incredible nose. Milk chocolate sweet at the start, the top thick and rich, the finish mildly acidic, the hops pleasing to the palate with a long lasting bitter aftertaste, also one damn fine stout and a must try for lovers of the “Dark”.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black, with a quickly-dissipating thin dark tan head. Aroma is roasty malt, with light toffee notes -- not as big a nose as some of the other stouts out there, but pleasant. Flavor is roasty and coffee-like, with a nice finish combining bitterness from grains and generous cascade hops. Very smooth and creamy, with a fairly full body. Dry finish, and a slightly bitter and cocoa-sweet aftertaste. The most impressive thing about this beer was the way it hides its alcohol. In retrospect, I can see that the higher ABV allowed for a nice complexity to the flavor, but I never would have guessed this was an 8.1% brew while I was drinking this.

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

Dark ruby-black color, roasted caremel and coffee aroma, sweet plum-caremel flavor, creamy smooth and full mouthfeel. Nice tan clingy heas, leaves a nice lacing in my glass, nice stout, I have yet found a bad one from bear reublic, love it.

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Photo of jtw5877
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep dark brown, with a decent lingering tan/light brown head. Dark roasted malt flavors, chocolate, coffee, a little caramel, all the tastes I love in a Stout or Porter, really smooth for 8.1 abv. Thanks to Xlperro!

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A Black Stout, from a 22fl.oz ‘Bear’ Bomber. The initial pour was a restrained dark black fluid, with the CO2 only waking up and sparking life into the beer after I had filled half of my Imperial Pint Glass - but it was worth waiting for. A deep brown, heavily cratered head sits proudly atop this beer, and whilst it reduces in depth over time, it stays the distance with Guinness-like tenacity. The nose is quite light, but hops are definitely evident with some smells that remind me of ‘morning coffee’, and a light sweetness in the background. Mouthfeel is good and solid, but nowhere near as heavy as I expected when I clocked the strength on the Bottle Label, 8.1% ABV. Introduction is of roast malts, leading to a hoppy bitterness that I find I am extremely partial to. This Bitterness is very clean, discernable from the roast malt flavours and lingers for some time with some very light cocoa-powder sweetness in the finish.
An extremely drinkable, well-balanced Stout, with a lovely creamy head that will have you licking your upper lip. A highly quaffable, deceptively strong (beware!) dark beer, that is in no way overpowering considering its strength. It packs a fantastic Bitter finish.
Just another Californian Black Stout? Definitely Not! This Bear hunts alone.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 2,429 ratings