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Big Bear Black Stout | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

1,125 Reviews
Big Bear Black StoutBig Bear Black Stout

Brewed by:
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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
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Reviews: 1,125 | Ratings: 2,341
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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Photo of techdiver
4.52/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Great looking brew, easy 2 finger head that slowly settled leaving nice lacing down the glass. Nice malty, molasses smell. Very balanced taste, one of the most enjoyable glasses I've had in a while. Mouthfeel is thick, creamy and very smooth. I need some more of this, it falls right in with what I enjoy most, a good stout or a Belgian Dark Ale.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle was poured into an imperial pint glass.

Appearance: This beer poured a one finger mocha head that reduced reduced to a thin layer. It is a pitch black color with no clarity or vision of bubbles coming up through the glass.

Smell: Milk chocolate, toasted and roasted malts, molasses, a little booze, and caramel.

Taste: Sweet milk chocolate, caramel, toasted malts, molasses, roasted coffee, a little bitterness, and a little smoke.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, medium bodied, medium carbonation, a little chewy, silky, and delicious.

Overall: Extremely balanced for a double stout. I can enjoy a couple of these here and there. Very delicious and tasty.

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Photo of Ryan011235
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Studio 35 on 9/22/12

A) Well, it ain't black. Dark brown; looks close to black but the stem and top of the glass reveal deep ruby. Wispy head with a thin line around the collar. Papery thin lace.

S) The aroma has a fair amount of roast. Lots of [sugary] molasses and some burnt chocolate. Pretty big aroma.

T) Though it does have some molasses sweetness in the mid section there is a lot more roast, proportionally. Some chocolate and caramel. The finish is dry and very slightly ashy.

M) The feel is great for the style - medium-full with some sticky hops and a touch of alcohol awareness. Rolling carbonation.

D) Really good, well-balanced imperial stout. This is a case of less is more. Recommended.

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Photo of mcflypie
3.94/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: A deep black and brown brew.

S: Sweet and roasted, almost like burnt marshmallows.

T: Heavy caramel up front, with a more bitter, malty, and hoppy after bite.

M: Hearty, almost Earthy in nature.

O: A good robust roasted black stout. Not the most amazing specimen, but a worthy contribution.

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Photo of Dsimenson
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Draft poured into a Pilsner, no big head, but lovely lacing. It has the dark brown-black color of used motor oil--I love it! My nose is not so discerning, but I detect malt, hops, and a bit of fruit in the aroma. The flavor starts out very bold--hops, coffee, figs, some malt, very well balanced. Mouthfeel is medium to thick. Overall this is an iutstanding stout. I think this one has even more character and complexity than Sierra Nevada Stout, which I really like.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

on draft at beer study in chapel hill, into a bear republic shaker.

pours an opaque black with a nice creamy beige head with terrific lacing. the smell has chocolate, coffee and hops on the nose. taste starts out with the malty chocolate goodness but then has some surprising hop profile. real enjoyable and tasty. creamy feel. tasty. medium bodied, mild carbonation.

overall a great stout!

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Photo of alaimoa
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz with no freshness date purchased about 6 months ago
Pours jet lack with thin layer of caramel color head that barely appears

Smell roasted coffee, burnt chocolate and hint of raising sweetness. Not overpowering just very pleasant

Taste: upfront roasted chocolate/ coffee and a bittersweet flavor in the back
Can't even taste any alcohol which is amazing at 8.1%.. Sessionable imperial aside from likely passing out after 2

Mouthfeel could be a tad thicker with a bit more kick from the roasted malt

Overall I am enjoying this a lot and would buy again. It's less complex than some of the really bold imperials that throw a ton of different flavor notes in them.. This is simple, well balanced and very drinkable

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Photo of kbrown
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bomber enjoyed on the patio.

Appearance- Oily black darkness. Head dissipates fast to a caramel colored rim.

Smell- Roasted malt, sweet caramel, cocoa, but not as much aroma as I wanted.

Taste- Decent chocolate & carmel flavor, but clearly not high calibre. Some nice berry flavor adds needed depth.

Mouthfeel- Soft & frothy with a sharp carbonated edge underneath.

Overall- Doesn't have the strong, flavorful malty backbone that many superior Imperials have. Too many better options out there to ever buy this again.

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Photo of ISmith87
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sun Devil Liqours find in Mesa. 22 oz bomber poured to stout glass.

A - 4.25 - beer is very dark brown black color with minimal head and no lacing.

S - 4.25 - chocolatey coffee roasted malt smells balanced with hoppiness

T - 4.0 - don't get me wrong this beer is great but its definitely not as complex as other stronger stouts, coffee, chocolate, very slight creaminess, balanced by hop bitterness, what an imperial stout is defined by

M - 4.0 - medium body. Alc hidden, roasted aftertaste.

O - 4.0 - good beer, just not great. Its a good beer i would buy again if I wanted a bomber of stout for 4.50.

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Photo of itlnstallion11
4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Let me start by saying this is a really good stout!

a-motor oil black, tan head that doesn't really last long and lacing is mediocre

s- molases, chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, raisins

t- amazing, sweet like sugar cane upfront with a nice roasty chocolate flavor. finally ends with a little bitterness that lingers on the palate like the smell in left in your house after using the fireplace.

m- full bodied loveliness

O- get it if you can, a sweet stout, very sweet to me! Not bitter, but leaves a little bite for you to consider it "well balanced."

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Photo of joe1510
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

22oz Bomber

I was waiting to drink this on a cold night and here it is. Poured Big Bear Black into a snifter. Now this stuff looks tasty. A big creamy tan head sits on top of the opaque black body. Not one glimmer of light shows through this beer. The head leaves sticky, moderate lacing.

The smell is packed full of dark flavors. Lots of molasses up front. The more you take in the more everything else comes out. Brown sugar, dark malt, rum soaked raisins, and chocolate This smells like dessert in a glass. I even get a hint of cream.

Wow!! This stuff is huge on flavor without being overpowering. The flavor profile changes throughout the entire drink. Every inch of your mouth gets hit with something different. I try and figure out how it's all layered but it's too difficult for me so I'll just give you the flavors I'm getting. I'm getting every flavor that's in the scent. The molasses is more subdued than in the nose but there is a nice addition of roasted malt and faintly bitter coffee. Finishes with a hint of vanilla. I can't even tell there is any alcohol in the here. Very very good.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side of medium. In my opinion it could be a little thicker and heavier but not by much. The tastes explode all over the inside of my mouth. As it warms there is a barely perceivable alcohol warming in the throat.

The drinkability for such a big beer is exceptional. The alcohol is so well hidden I could easily see it catching up on people if they didn't know it was there. I took off slightly for mouthfeel because it is a little lighter than I'd like but that actually adds to the drinkability.

Overall Big Bear Black Stout is an outstanding beer from Bear Republic. This is the perfect beer to drink on those upcoming cold winter nights and my fridge is going to be loaded up with bombers. Wow!!! Very impressive!

Reviewed: 11/1/06

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Photo of woosterbill
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber from way back in 2009, forgotten in my cellar until now.

A: Dark brown body under a finger of tan head. Ok retention, good lace. Not bad.

S: Pleasantly old, with spice, chocolate, graham cracker, coffee, and raw cocoa powder. Really nice.

T: Chocolate, molasses, raisin, port, coffee, pepper, and residual hop bitterness. Tasty.

M: Medium-to-full body, moderate carbonation. Solid.

O: This aged a lot better than I expected from such a relatively low-ABV Imperial Stout, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who tried a pour. Really complex, and only slightly oxidized in a rather pleasant way.


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Photo of CA_brewster
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Big Bear is black with a light brown, creamy head. This beer smells of roasted malt, caramel, some definite hoppiness and a hint of vanilla. Deep roasted coffee-like flavor full of roasted malt, burnt caramel and some hops. All in all incredibly balanced in terms of flavor. All the flavors really blend together very nicely in this imperial stout and make it quite drinkable. The 8.1 abv is hidden quite well. Goes down smooth, thick mouthfeel with just a bit of some alcohol and hop bitterness. Fairly light carbonation. Overall: an absolutely delicious big beer.

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Photo of shand
4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, here's another winner from Bear Republic that gets absolutely no hype because it's readily available. This is just a smooth, tasty, and extremely drinkable big stout. I'm not sure if I've had a stout of this ABV that's as drinkable as Big Black Bear is. The mouthfeel is just so perfect, it compliments the creamy chocolate, roasted malts, and leafy hops this beer has to offer.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 7/26/2011. Pours pitch black color with a small dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, light char, toast, toffee, molasses, dark bread, floral, light pine, raisin, and roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark and roasted malt notes; with good strength. Taste of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, toffee, molasses, dark bread, floral, light pine, light raisin, and roasted earthiness. No bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, toffee, molasses, light raisin, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of roasted and dark malt flavors with light fruitiness; and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a creamy, slick, and slightly chalky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with no warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an excellent imperial stout. All around nice balance and complexity of roasted and dark malt flavors; and very smooth to drink for the gravity. A very enjoyable offering.

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

Poured into an imperial pint glass. One finger of head on a pitch black body.
The aroma is woody with roasted malt and some molasses floating in the background.
The taste has great balance and complexity. There's some vanilla in the back; roasted malt and moderate bitterness throughout; finish is clean.
The texture is perfect. Soft texture with low carbonation, like drinking velvet.

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Photo of LI_PO12
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into stout glass

Appearance- Jet black, light tan head with good retention

Aroma- Chocolate, caramel, toffee, roasted malt, coffee, light piney hop presence

Flavor- coffee more apparent here, chocolate, caramel, more roasted character than the aroma, a good bitterness, slight hop presence, really not much alcohol for an 8%

Mouthfeel- Medium, moderate carbonation, slight alcohol warmth

Overall- Can't believe I waited this long to try this. For the price I can't think of many better, a very delicious and drinkable imperial stout.

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Big Bear Black Stout from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 1,125 ratings.
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