Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

1,141 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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,141 | Ratings: 2,385
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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Gryphon69
3.77/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

1 pint bottle
no visable date
purchased 8/13

A- Pours like its name, black with a medium tan head about 1 finger high. Decent lacing that sticks to the sides and left a ring around the base of the glass.

S- from the bottle comes some chocolates, dark fruit, caramels. from the glass, the dark fruits come first, then some cocoa, vanilla, some roast in the finish, but overall kinda sweet.

T- Malty, some cocoas, dark fruits, not getting much in the way of hops till the very finish and even then its just a slight bitterness that leaves it kinda dry. Still kinda sweet, guess I need to lay off the RIS before I try these other...stouts.

M- Light to medium, a tad thin to say medium. Slightly creamy and a slight slickness, makes it easy to drink.

O- I had to rescore this one as a imperal stout and not what I was thinking a RIS, big difference.
So as a IS this is a pretty good beer, a good combination of cocoa, dark fruit and malts. Has a certain creaminess that makes it easy to drink. Being a IS I was expecting more in the hops bitterness.

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

22oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. Bottled 3/25/13

A: Pitch black body with an off white head. Medium lacing with decent retention.

S: Coffee and chocolate.

T:follows the nose slightly bitter as well.

M: Smooth and carbonated. Bit of alcohol burn.

O: Good stout, killer price.

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Photo of 57md
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep dark brown with a finger of head that dissipated at a somewhat quick pace. The nose has the quality of roasted malts. The flavor profile is deeply roasty and the finish has a nice dry bitter roast quality. The body on this offering is perfectly hearty. I could enjoy a few of these anytime. Excellent.

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Photo of ExtraStout
4.8/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured out of a bomber. Big thick tannish head that settles a bit but has great retention and great lacing. This beer is opaque black.

Big caramel aromas, slight toffee, some dark roasted coffee and some smokey malt. I couldnt keep my nose out of the glass, this beer just smells so damned good!

Incredibley smooth sweet toffee and caramel blended with bitter chocolate and a slightly spiced hop character to balance the heavy malt out to near perfect.

Nice moutfeel that really coats your taste buds with flavor. The drinkability of this beer is very good. So tastey that you just want to keep drinking it and you could because the 8.1 is nowhere to be found...until it creeps up on you.

This is an exceptional beer and I cant wait to pick up some more.

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Photo of dank203
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

pours into tulip, . getting a lack of real crazy flavors. but a beyond perfect balalance and drinkability. it does have faint notes of all kinds but it doesn't hit me as especially roasty, sweet, boozy, smokey, just a nice subtle meld. at 8%abv it's almost sessionable

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Photo of RickS95
4.76/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The look really does it for me. It's pitch black. No sign of light, even around the edges. The head is a faint brown color of both tiny and larger bubbles. It's not overly thick and doesn't retain well, but it leaves a ring around the top of the liquid and a patchy lace.

I dig the smell too. Full of chocolate and caramel malty goodness. It smells more chocolately than a lot of chocolate beers I've had. Smells like dessert.

The sip is of complete and total quality. It's very malty and the nose of chocolate and caramel carry over to the taste. I can't pick up any of the Cascade hops, and that's ok because in a stout I don't want a piney, citrusy taste. The taste is perfect just the way it is.

There's really nothing to improve on here. The malts provide plenty of sweetness and there's enough malt to give it some body. Very full and dessert-like. Not too sweet. While the hop presence is minimal at best, there's a lingering bitterness to let you know when it's time for a new sip.

Extremely easy to drink, and a joy to do so. Overall, it's one of the best beers I've had. I wish I didn't have to travel to get this.

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Photo of whitehorse
3.89/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

This stout pours with a color so black you cant see the light through it.
the head is a light brown color and is full and seems to stick around .
the only complaint here is the smell. it smells far to reminiscent of teriyaki.
a pint bottle for only 5 dollars i will defiantly be buying this again

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Photo of BierJager89
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Black with a mocha head.

S: Roasted barley and maybe coffee grounds in the nose.

T: Chocolate, coffee, toffee, a touch of alcohol, roasted malt, and very well balanced.

M: Full bodied, though less than smooth.

O: This is a good stout, but definitely overrated in my opinion. It's just kind of boring. Recommended, perhaps best if it's fresh (maybe it's supposed to be hoppy).

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Photo of tmm313
3.71/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- Black, but with reddish brown hues around the edges. Poured a pretty good 1 finger head. Nice lacing.
S- Dark fruits are most prominent with dark chocolate and licorice mixed in. As it warms, fresh hop, caramel, and booze begins to show up.
T- Dark fruits, chocolate, and a slight touch of pine/citrus up front. Notes of coffee and roasted malt come in toward the end. Aftertaste is roasty with a touch of pine and earthy, minty hops.
M- Medium body with crisp carbonation. Drying.
O- 3.75

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Photo of CookstLiquor
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 650 ml bottle. Pours black-brown colour. Not huge on the nose. Subtle notes of chocolate and molasses. Tastes very smooth and hides its alcohol well. There are chocolate and dark fruit notes toward the back of the palate and the finish is nice and bitter. Medium- to full-bodied, but not too heavy. Very drinkable.

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Photo of Ranz
4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a growler.

A: In my Stone wide-snout snifter, it pours an opaque, rich black with a thin head that flew away rather quickly.

S: With toffee, roasted caramel, and slight alcohol, this has one of the sweetest yet pleasantly mottled noses of any stout I've tried. Subtle and complex undertones of cocoa and maybe spent coffee grounds are present, too. The aroma here is a real winner.

T: Rich and roasty, the hops make decent treble noise while the roasted malts give balanced bass notes. Caramel creaminess slides through in the swallow and aftertaste. This is a winner.

M: Mouthfeel is creamy yet effervescent. It leaves a thick hint of its presence without being overpowering.

O: For $5, this is one hell of a deal for a bomber. I will certainly grab this again.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.86/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From the 2013 batch. sampled on December 24, 2013.

The pour is dark brown with reddish highlights around the glass. There is a small off-white head.

The aroma is dark and malty but I did not pick up much in the way of chocolate or cocoa. Maybe I wasn't supposed to.

Thin to medium body.

The malts are roasted and there is a quick lingering hop finish. But for 8.1% ABV the alcohol is well integrated.

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Photo of beerbart
5/5  rDev +21.1%

If you could make hot cocoa with coffee and brown sugar and no milk... and then turn it into a beer... a double dark chocolate.

It's sweet. It's bitter. It's effen chewy. Probably too much of those three qualities for some folk.

I like it best of all.

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Photo of T100Mark
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 ounce bomber into a shaker pint glass.

Appearance - Black. Tan, dense head. Good stickage on the glass. A great looking beer.

Smell - Alcohol! Coffee. Black liqourice.

Taste - Alcohol! Burnt malt. Bitter sweet chocolate The hops play second fiddle here.

Mouth - Acidic. Bitter. Big!

Overall - This is one large, bold, kick-ass beer. At what point does an ale become a barley wine? This stout is a fine product but it's a little gnarly for my palate. Enjoy carefully.

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Photo of Ieatlambfries
3.21/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance was very good. Opaque black with a two finger tan head. Spotty lacing that dissipates quickly.

Very nice smell. Big roasted malt, with hints of baking coco, licorice, and espresso.

Taste was OK. Unfortunately for me the flavor didn't deliver on the promises hinted at by the smell. Slightly sweet burnt malt and ash were the dominating flavors. Bitter coffee, mixed with unsweetened baking coco. Hoppy twang on the back end.

Mouthfeel was thin. I prefer a richer thicker feel in my RIS's.

Overall not bad, just very average for the style. I noticed a few people giving this brew a pass by rating it as a regular stout, or Euro. But, when rated compared to it's peers as a Double Stout or RIS, it's just out classed.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
4.13 out of 5 based on 2,385 ratings.
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