Here's a big bear hug of a dry stout. It pours dark, dark brown, virtually opaque, with a medium tan head. The nose is fairly malty with a hint of molasses, but it's also piney and a little peppery.
On the palate, it's less sweet than the nose would suggest — in fact, hoppier than sweet, with a long, dryish, medium-bitter finish. Big Bear Black Stout actually registers 55 International Bittering Units, which is well up in IPA territory, though it's not as bitter as many a West Coast insane IPA (if you're in the mood for insane hoppiness, try Bear Republic Brewing Co.'s Red Rocket Ale). It's also fairly strong, 8.1% alcohol.
Its massive maltiness combined with a relatively dry effect makes this a substantial food beer. It would go with big flavors, macaroni and cheese, even with roast beef.
Style: A sort of IPA with lots of roasty flavors: big, rugged and dry, like fine sandpaper on the tongue.
Price: $4 to $4.75 per 22-ounce bottle
Where to find it: Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463, http://www.hitimewine.net; Wade's Wines in Westlake Village, (818) 597-9463, http://www.wadeswines.com; Beverage Warehouse in Los Angeles, (310) 306-2822, http://www.beveragewarehouse.com.; Beverages and More (www.bevmo.com) and Total Wine (www.totalwine.com) stores.