Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

1,140 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: 1,140 | Ratings: 2,385
Photo of Reema
4.71/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Serving type: 12 oz bottle into a shaker pint

Pours extremely dark brown (essentially black) with mocha colored suds. Smells of dark chocolate, coffee grounds, slight vegetal hoppiness, and a pleasant caramel toffee scent. Taste reflects the smell perfectly. Dark chocolate, stronger coffee flavors, stronger hops bite and flavor, along with a nice caramel toffee flavor. Initial dark chocolate and coffee flavors flow into a hops vegetal flavor which finalize with a pleasant caramel malty sweetness. The feel is thick with moderate carbonation. Works well with the heavier flavors. Overall this is a good stout with a strangely pleasant hops flavor and bitterness that really work well. It's darn good!

 705 characters

Photo of GuitarIPA
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Dark chocolate and espresso - on the nose and the tongue. Appearance is feint black with nice tan lacing. Full bodied, but not boozy. A little sweet on the finish.

 163 characters

Photo of mvanaskie13
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into small chalice, color is black, head is light tan, some light lacing

Smell is a little boozy, followed by some roasted malt and coffee grinds

Taste is big, heavy roasted malt, then some coffee grinds, booze is noticeable in the finish.

Mouthfeel is a bit heavy, but expected, strong presence and large bitterness and sweetness that comingle - need some dessert to counter balance the big presence.

Overall, very good strong, sweeter stout, fairly bitter and strong mouthfeel

 489 characters

Photo of thepenguin
3.89/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Reviewed 2/4/12

L: Black as the next imperial stout. Pretty decent lacing.

S: Roasty to say the least -- somewhere between black chocolate and a bold roast coffee. Rich dark malts; you can really pick out the chocolate malt. A hint of alcohol.

T: Pleasant dark malt and hop bitterness merge as one, complimenting the other and lingering after the sip. Slightly dessert-like, but bitterness runs the show here. A little bit of discernable alcohol.

F: Very little carbonation. Body is medium-full; lighter than expected yet slick. Slight alcoholic warmth.

O: This is a decent imperial stout, but quite hoppy and bitter and lacking in maltiness to balance it out; in that sense, it seems somewhat unidemensional and I wouldn't call this one world-class. Also, while aroma is pretty nice, I would have preferred a thicker mouthfeel and slightly more carbonation.

 873 characters

Photo of bgold86
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty average stout, helps that it's pretty cheap. Not much to talk about here, it's serviceable at 8.1%, taste is kind of ok, some dark dried fruit and chocolate notes.

 170 characters

Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into Speiglau Stout glass.

Dark beer with tan head.

Aroma is roasty like coffee beans.

Taste is roasty caramel malt creamy mouth feel.

 164 characters

Photo of mabermud
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Look: Dark body. Rich looking. Semi-persistent mocha head.
Smell: Medium roasted grains. Medium dark fruit. Chocolate and some alcohol.
Taste: The taste follows the nose.
Feel: Medium body. Medium carbonation.

Overall - World class basic stout.

 259 characters

Photo of dar482
4.04/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer pours in a dark brown color, sitting black in the glass with a light brown head.

The aroma offers spicy hops, anise, licorice, milk chocolate, cocoa, a touch of date and raisins.

The flavor follows with intensely bitter chocolate covered with anise flavor, a bit of caramel sweetness balances out that bitterness up front, but then the palate is lingered with more spicy hop character and licorice bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium to medium minus.

A good stout for 8%, although under more familiar 10% imperial stouts. It lacks in sweetness and mouthfeel, with a bit too much hop intensity.

 606 characters

Photo of SensorySupernova
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Black with a short brown head.

Smell: Roasted malts, caramel, coffee, yeasty.

Taste: Similar to the smell. Pretty dry, just a little bitter at the end. Some booziness, but not much for an 8.1% ABV stout.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thick, lightly carbonated.

Overall: Good strong stout.

 292 characters

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

Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,385 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.