I’m at a bit of a loss with the name of this one. Something in it seems superfluous, certainly. It’s those three b-words in a row. I can make it work with any two of them,1 but all three together just unexpectedly trips me up like an abandoned skateboard in darkened hallway.
The Wellington weather was beginning its turn towards the grey-and-drizzly, providing a nice excuse (as if I really needed one) for staying for another and continuing on my recent run of tasty dark beers. Triple-B was on tap and when something both interesting and imported appears in front of you at Hashigo it’s best to jump in without delay; these things don’t often last long.
After the doubly-peculiar goodness of ‘Black Emperor’ (it being a lager and conspicuously-hopped, both of which set it apart from the majority of dark craft beers it otherwise superficially resembles), ‘Big Bear’ is a bit closer to straight-up-and-down stouty stuff. It’s boozier than usual at 8.1%, and that strength also manifests in a definite sweetness — the taste is as big and full as the overloaded name would imply / require, but the traditional burnt-and-bitter edges are softened right off. This is a friendly animal of the ursine persuasion, for sure. You merely need to keep one eye on your pic-a-nic basket; you don’t have to immediately run for your life — or frantically wrack your brain trying to remember whether you’re supposed to run from a bear or stand your ground or throw some toothpaste to distract it, or whatever-the-hell confusing and forgettable ‘survival advice’ people on the TV keep giving us.
If anything, it’s too friendly. For all its bigness and solidity, I drank mine way too easily; the clumsy name was more of a mouthful than the glass. The obvious solution of going for a bigger vessel would quickly get reckless, given that it’s stronger than the average beer — just to throw in one more Yogi reference before moving on.
Verbatim: Bear Republic ‘Big Bear’ Black Stout 22/3/11 also on tap @ HZ. 8.1% Shitty weather outside (i.e., my type of rainy drizzle) and an Odd Day, so more good beer. It seems like one of the Bs in the name is superfluous, but I’m not sure which. Any 2 seems to work. This is proper serious, but not at all scary. Quite an easy nose, but my previous may have something to do with that. Nicely full, sweet-edged body. Rich, but not burnt + bitter. My only “complaint” isn’t one at all: it’s way too easy to drink.
1: “Big Bear Stout”; “Black Bear Stout”; “Big Black Stout” — they all seem sensible. And they certainly seem sufficient, you’d have to say.