This is by no means a new or unique beer, but it's new to me, as Oklahoma is always a few years behind on everything, if not decades. But the way I figure it, the more people that are turned on to good beer in these parts, the more the top tier craft breweries will take notice of this state, and the better the chances we'll be getting better distributorship. So, when I get the chance to promote something I believe in, I don't pass it up. Just ask my friend and family, who are probably sick of hearing about beer.
All that being said, there are some good things happening on the beer front here, as Marshall brewing in Tulsa has established itself, and COOP Ale Works in OKC is taking off, so it's becoming apparent that Oklahoma definitely has some good beer lovers who are ready and willing to support the tasty stuff. Also, let us not forget to mention Choc Beer Company, the original Oklahoma craft brewers, who were making Choc beer way before craft was cool, and who gave the big bird to the man, as home/small-batch-brewing was not always legal.
Ok, let's get to the beer.
A thin, bubbly, dark tan head disappears after a minute or so and leaves some small spots of lacing behind. Color is pitch-black and ominous. Toasted malts, burnt sugar, taffy and dark chocolates float to the nose. After your olfactory sense filters through those complexities, a subtle earthiness and some pine push through.
Initially tastes of deep, dark chocolate with little to no sweetness noticeable. Big roasted malts come into play right before a nice hop bitterness is noticed. Underneath it all exists some very slight caramel sweetness, an almond nuttiness and a nice alcohol heat. Mouth-feel is on the heavy side of medium. It goes down smooth and doesn't weigh on the stomach. A quick shake results in a good blast of carbonation bubbles, which leads to an openness on the palate.
Many times Russian Imperial Stouts can be cloying or terribly unbalanced. This is not the case with the Big Bear, as Bear Republic, who don't seem to be able to do any wrong, have made another near-perfect brew.