Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
1,132 Reviews
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,132 | Ratings: 2,361
Photo of BethanyB
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look: A thick mahogany body, with a sliver of a tan head which, instead of lace, leaves a stretch of film along the sides of the glass. Interesting.

Smell: A sort of grainy, farmhouse smell mixes with dark malt. It's like chocolate wedding cake at a hipster barn reception.

Taste: Rich and malty, with sweet, buttery caramel malt mixing with bitter baking chocolate and coffee beans. The finish has a soft, sugary impression lined with a hint of pepper-spiked espresso. Lacking the fruit flavored and additional bitterness that would give it more grown-up complexity.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. The carbonation is minimal, giving the beer a flat, lackadaisical feel. I know carbonation for this style should be no more than moderate, but the lack of flavor here makes the beer fall even more flat.

Overall: I adore Bear Republic, and based on the reviews, I thought I was getting something extra special here. I was therefore quite disappointed--I've had much more complex Imperial Stouts. This was so smooth and sweet, it reminded me more of a Milk Stout. Will have to try again in a different setting (this was on tap).

 1,132 characters

Photo of HamdenHector
4.04/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: deep brown; virtually black - no highlights; 1 finger medium tan head that receded to a patchy cap; very nice lacing;

S: deeply roasted grains; bittersweet chocolate; a little alcohol; as it warms, dark fruit becomes evident;

T: follows the nose; lightly smoky from mid-palate on; mild bitterness on the finish;

M: medium bodied; moderate carbonation;

O: Style wise, it rates highly; personally, I didn't find it that interesting;

 437 characters

Photo of Chcshammonde
4.51/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Really dug this one. It's nice to enjoy a really flavorful stout without having to be concerned with drinking too much of it due to high ABV. You can slam this one, and the beer overall really is delicious. Raisins, figs, chocolate, malt, caramel and hop flavors abound. Somewhat light in body for a stout, but offset by rich and creamy mouthfeel. At 6 bucks a bomber you can't lose here.

 393 characters

Photo of DenverHopHead
3.96/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 22oz bottle with a best by 9/30/15 date; into a pint glass.
Appearance - pours dark, but more brown than black. Sits dark in the glass, but against the light, there is plenty of crimson. Thick, bubbly mocha head that recedes quickly. Lacing is scattered.
Smell - roasted coffee and whoppers.
Taste - French roast and a chocolate malt shake.
Feel - creamy mouthfeel and the ABV is masked like a lower ABV stout!
Overall - solid imperial stout stands up, but doesn't necessarily stand out.

 502 characters

Photo of scotorum
4.14/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Bought in November 2013 and cellared since then.

Poured from the 22 oz. bomber into a Samuel Adams nonick.

a: Opaque black with clear ruby highlights at the bottom. Inch thick tan head receded to uneven surface foam and dense patterned lacing.

s: Dark chocolate and alcohol.

t; Follows the nose with mellow smoothness, followed by smoke and a moderate hop bite. Later some subtle dark fruit notes emerge.

m; Medium, good body and carbonation tingle.

o; A very good chocolaty stout with a nice higher-octane balance between flavorful malt and hop bitterness.

 565 characters

Photo of Bone53
3.61/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter with a best by date of 07/14/2014. I assume its been atleast a year since bottling

Appearance: A dark brown pour with no light coming through, and a finger light brown head. Leaves plenty of lacing

Smell: Heavy on the dark fruit and wine-like tannins with a very subtle roasted malt character

Taste: Strange, slightly off putting dark fruit notes upfront with a slight roasted malt/espresso finish. The finish makes the flavor slightly more enjoyable than the smell

Mouthfeel: Light medium body, and very, very light for the style. Its too drinkable for an imperial stout if that makes sense.

Overall: As i seek out highly rated beers, and stouts especially since its one of my favorite style, this offering falls short for me. I find this a bit far from an A beer. Its heavy on the odd dark fruit/sweet, wine-like tannin notes and light on roasted malts/coffee/chocolate. Furthermore, the mouthfeel lacks that thick, chewy body that makes you savor every sip. I wouldnt recommend this stout as there are countless better ones on the market, nor am i going to seek this out again. I find this beer overrated to say the least

 1,173 characters

Photo of anon
3.41/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours nice enough. Black with a small head that sticks. I agree with other reviews I've seen on this one, the alcohol comes through strong in this one, as if it were barrel aged. Not a bad thing per se, but not something I was expecting from a regular imperial stout. I get lots of deep roast and caramel but any other complexities are blanketed by the alcohol. Does go down smooth and lingers on the tongue. I'm not sure what to think of this one, not my favorite in the style but not terrible by any means. Eh.

 512 characters

Photo of jngrizzaffi
4.76/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours pitch black with a finger width, brown foamy head. Head retention is mild. Lacing is moderate. Dark chocolate, coffee aroma with slight black licorice. Nice, smooth roasted coffee with a chocolate aftertaste. Nothing much to say here. Just another excellent offering from Bear Republic.

 298 characters

Photo of bassboneman
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This is a different take on a stout. At least IMHO.
There is a distinct raisin finish. The alcohol taste is very much in the front of this beer.
It isnt a very sweet beer nor is it a rounded experience - like with founders porter or anchor steam.
This is a good beer if you prefer a dry finish and a less sweet stout. This one isnt for me...
I am not sure how it got such a high grade - unless this particular bottle is old...
Granted I am on the east coast and this stuff is brewed on the west coast. Who knows...

 518 characters

Photo of marieli
3.26/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Bottle. Looked okay. Smelled a bit fruity, light on coffee and chocolate. Not so rich. Feel was on thinner side and taste was consistent but nothing special. The alcohol was definitely present. Expectations were high based on overall reviews and scores but results very disappointing. Will try again at some point just to see if maybe one of us was having an off day!

 375 characters

Photo of funjack5150
2.88/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

I'm not happy with this supposed to be an Imperial Stout. Drinks more like a Porter to me. Very thin on the taste. I like a creamy stout, but that's just me. This that's like a hoppy beer, although I love hoppy beer..... I DON'T want my Imperial Stouts to taste HOPPY!!!! If I want a "hoppy beer" I'll drink an IPA, thank you!!

 329 characters

Photo of bigotecircus
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

A: Nearly jet black with a finger of rocky, dark tan head. Moderate head retention and a decent amount of lacing left behind.

S: Big burst of good roasted malt with a hint of dark chocolate, caramel sweetness,
and a touch of toffee.

T: Follows the smell quite nicely. Toasty malt up front, followed by a caramel-like sweetness and a hint of dark chocolate and toffee bitterness.

M: Smooth and toasty.

O: Bear Republic has nailed it again. This is a very approachable stout, but still drinks right alongside the best of 'em! Highly recommend this one.

 558 characters

Photo of seedyone
4/5  rDev -3.1%

01/10/13 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Word has it that this needs to warm to room temp for flavor to develop. While still chilled the flavor is pretty intense. Nice balance, but not Black Ops or Bourbon County level. After letting this temper I was not that impressed. Good, but not great. Not sure the "Great Bear" applies, and of course "Good Bear" is way less impressive. I'd do it again, but....

 399 characters

Photo of Phigg1102
4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deep black pour with a crisp tan head. Tons of chocolate and tobacco in the aroma with hints of leather and plumb. Very rich yet smooth taste. More chocolate and plumb, with a fair hop presence and deep roasted malt flavor. Rich mouthfeel without too much carbonation.

 268 characters

Photo of delta490
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Poured pitch black with one finger of tan, slightly fizzy head. Left some lacing. Aroma is malty with notes of chocolate and coffee. Taste was big, with roasted malt in the forefront. There is also some sweetness and a little alcohol bite. Mouth feel is a little slick with hints of carbonation.

 295 characters

Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Roast coffee nose over a light sweetness and dark fruit
Pours opaque black under a 1.5" tan tinted white foam cap that dissipates to a thin film butt leaves rich lace.
Caramel on the palate sweetens the roast coffee giving it chocolate notes that are balanced by dark fruit flavors.
Medium full body, medium carbonation.

 321 characters

Photo of EdwardK77
4.5/5  rDev +9%

A- Pours a nice head from a 12 oz. bottle into a stout glass. Good head retention remains over a dark colored stout.

S- Really nice coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit. Really nice element of sweetness that remains completely in check.

T- Perfectly in keeping with the smell and extremely well balanced. The coffee, chocolate, and balanced roasted sweet flavors are all there.

M- This is enjoyable because it isn't thin, it's right in the sweet spot of easy drinking stout perfection. It coats the palate and leaves a nice moderate stickiness behind. I'm appreciating the lack of effervescence as I feel that any of that would be distracting.

O- I've paid twice as much for stouts that aren't this good. It's certainly in the running to become a fridge regular.

 770 characters

Photo of larryarms847
4.44/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown/black with a delicious looking caramel brown two finger head.

The aroma of roasted nuts and chocolate is very forward, with obvious roasted malts as well.

Sweet chocolate is back by caramel, roasted malts and a very nice nuttiness.

Mouthfeel is very very smooth (may have to do with the 2 years of age on this bottle), silky and goes down like chocolate water.

Overall, this is a very tasty stout that everyone needs to try!

 453 characters

Photo of FLima
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deep black color with red highlights and a thick two finger caramel head with medium retention and leaving good laces.
Aroma of dark chocolate, coffee, licorice, dark fruits and caramels.
Bold roasted flavor with notes of expresso coffee, nuts, caramel, vanilla, prunes, figs, cocoa, charcoal and citrusy hops. Dry and bitter aftertaste with its lasting residual note.
Full body with appropriate carbonation. Somewhat creamy. Alcohol of 8.1% abv is very well hidden.
Although I was expecting a bolder beer (ps. this is not very young), this is a very tasty and balanced imperial stout. Its complexity improves dramatically after it warms up, but it is never overpowering.

 671 characters

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

12oz bottle into goblet

A: Standard stout appearance, frothy kaki colored head of about two fingers. No light is able to travel through this brew, a glinting ruby hue can be observed at certain angles. Carbonation looks low. Lacing and retention are moderate; body looks medium

S: Dark chocolate up front, bitter and bold. Smoke, ash, and roast are present but not overwhelming, some sweet malt aroma, some light caramel, anise, and subtle booze of chocolate liqueur. Burnt coffee and strong espresso upon agitation

T: Strong burnt/roasted malt immediately seizes the palate. After the initial burst of flavor rich chocolate blends of bakers and milk let on trailed by a faint nuttiness. Bitter before sweet in this case, prevalent hop presence picks up in conjunction with burnt wood and refined espresso/coffee grounds. The sweetness is attributable to caramel, hazelnut, notes of anise, and roasted/chocolate malt structure. The middle mouth is dominated by a hoppier play, even letting on some muted orange citrus. The finish is slightly astringent, but pans out with a nutty sweetness backed by molasses and dark chocolate

M: Creamy at times, but never chewy. Carbonation is light and fine, fills the mouth appropriately. After taste is somewhat sweet and somewhat dry, nice drinkability

O: Delicious and drinkable. One of the hoppier stouts I’ve ever drank, quite burnt and bitter at times. Although it’s not one of the most balanced stouts I’ve enjoyed, it is rather delectable. I wish the viscosity were increased slightly, but other than that this is a high quality beer

 1,594 characters

Photo of barczar
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours an opaque onyx with a frothy mocha head that lingers.

Aroma is chocolatey, with roast malt and tar weighing in.

Flavor is sweeter than expected. Chocolate is at the forefront, but an acrid note kicks in mid palate. The finish is roasty and slightly charred, fairly bitter. I'm missing the hop flavor altogether.

Body is on the thick side, with low carbonation and noted alcohol warmth.

I don't like this nearly as much as I had hoped. Too much char and bitterness for my palate.

Update - Gets MUCH better as it warms and the acrid character goes away.

 563 characters

Photo of avwrite
4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Dark, thick, a little frothy on the top, but over all a great looking stout. Was surprised how nice it looked considering how affordable it is.

Smell - A bit of coffee, a bit of chocolate, and a slight bitterness in the smell, but still masked by all the other flavors.

Taste - Fantastic. This is what it's all about. Goes down smooth, yet still thick enough to get that perfect stout texture.

Mouthfeel - a bit on the heavy side, but not to the point where I felt too full after. Perfect for a nice, meaty meal.

Overall - I love stouts, and the Big Bear certainly fulfilled the expectations. Once again, I can't stress enough that this is a great stout without paying the high price.

 702 characters

Photo of MikeWard
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from 12oz bottel into a standard pint glass. Best by 7/14/14.

Great looking pour. Jet black, big light tan head, left some very heavy lacing. Carbonation low.

Aroma was an odd, though strangely not unpleasant, damp smell. also some faint malt and chocolate mixed in there. A little concerned now...

...But, taste was very good indeed. The chocolate and malt combined very nicely. Also something earthy in there, which made for an enjoyable all around flavor.

Mouth was a few notches above medium, not what I would call thick.
Overall, and enjoyable beer. Can't say I ever had a bad, or even poor beer from Bear Republic. Just wish there were more offerings in the 12oz style.

 688 characters

Photo of babaracas
3.84/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A little hard to score as it's more of a 1.5x stout now... but it's good! Pours a very dark reddish brown with emissive edges, two fingers thick of dense tan head, sparse splatter of lace. Smell: roasty...wood smoke, dark fruit, caramel. Taste: fleeting syrupy dark chocolate, pine, roast, caramel, fig and raisin, brown bread, thinning out to a pine and date + raisin finish. Tasty, easy drinker.

 397 characters

Photo of BB1313
2.99/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 2.75

Best by 7/14/14. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours black with a little light getting through; huge fluffy khaki head that fades very slowly and leaves great retention and lacing. The aromas are loaded with cocoa malts. Some hints of chocolate with a kiss of vanilla. The aromas are ultimately subtle. The flavors are pretty mellow and bittersweet. More milk chocolate along with some dark chocolate to give it a little bitterness. This one has some roasted coffee notes. More vanilla. Hints of caramel along with some dark fruits. Alcohol goes unnoticed. Mouthfeel is very nice. It's on the lighter side full-bodied and it's creamy and fluffy. Very smooth.

This is solid, but it's somewhat boring and not as bold as I was hoping for. It's crazy that it's 2014 and this is my first time trying this beer, so I had some high hopes. It's not bad, but it's nothing too special.

 881 characters

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,361 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!