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Bell's Black Note Stout - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Not Rated.
Bell's Black Note StoutBell's Black Note Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

3,544 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,544
Reviews: 540
rAvg: 4.56
pDev: 8.33%
Wants: 2,427
Gots: 900 | FT: 89
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  11.40% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mcallister on 06-16-2007

One of the most sought-after stouts in Bell's history, Black Note Stout blends the complex aromatics of Expedition Stout with the velvety smooth texture of Double Cream Stout and ages the combination in freshly retired oak bourbon barrels for months. The resulting harmony of flavors captures the finest features of all three components: malty notes of dark chocolate, espresso & dried fruits, all buoyed by the warmth and fragrance of the bourbon barrel. Aimed squarely at the stout and bourbon aficionados, Black Note makes a grand statement about the art of the dark.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,544 | Reviews: 540
Photo of LambicPentameter
4.39/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to fellow BA cvm4 for sending this bottle along in a trade. Enjoyed out of a 12 oz brown bottle with the vintage "2014" stamped on the front of the label. Poured into a 33 oz brandy snifter. Reviewing from notes after enjoying on 2/14/15.

Appearance (4.25) - A pour of moderate aggression yields a finger of caramel-brown foam that dissipates fairly quickly, leaving more of a ringlet around the edges and a spackling of lace on the sides of the glass. Beneath the head lies a dark walnut brown body with no light able to pass through except for a gentle glow of refraction right around the edges.

Smell (4.5) - The smell really makes a good impression, with notes of graham cracker, caramel and some molasses are the initial aroma, with trailing scents of chocolate and roasted malt close behind. There is a slight hint of astringent booziness, but it's faint and really only serves to cut through the sweeter aromas.

Taste (4.5) - Not quite as impressive as the aroma, but good enough that the difference is negligible, the taste isn't quite as sweet as what the smell suggested was to follow. Still notes of caramel and molasses, now complemented by vanilla and some oak, with a stronger presence from the alcohol that wasn't as prevalent in the smell. Again, bitterness comes in the form of roasted malt char and some cacao bittersweet characteristics.

Feel (4.0) - Body is on the slightly heavy side of medium, but still doesn't rise to the girth that I want to have in big imperial stouts like this one. I know the barrel-aging makes that difficult. Carbonation is low and soft, without any of the harshness that might cut through the decadence of the beer. Finish is semisweet.

Overall (4.25), a really nice barrel-aged stout and one that I would gladly drink again if it weren't pretty much a trade-only beer for me to access. However, I don't think I would go out of my way to trade for it again, as there are barrel-aged imperial stouts that are just as good, if not better, that I personally have an easier time getting my hands on.

Photo of MOVERTON1284
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great barrel aroma and taste. Very smooth and not overpowering. It is a very balanced BA stout.

Photo of dboon
4.55/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Beer Bistro. Joan Jett black pour with a mocha head. Wow, all kinds of bourbon in the nose. Creamy and smooth with lots of mellow bourbon, deep roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, and oak notes. I’ve been chasing this stout for a long time and was not disappointed. Thanks to Dan and Tom for meeting up with me. It’s nice to get to experience these beers with local members of the beer community.

Photo of K-Dog
4.32/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 release aged a year. The smell is incredible. Over all very good beer but I remember the 2012 version being much more enjoyable. Not sure when will be released again but will definitely seek out more when the time comes

Photo of RayReed522
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very solid beer. Poured into taster @ Huna Day 2015.

Photo of notchucknorris
4.68/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Pours black with a one finger khaki colored head that settles down to a ring above the beer fairly quickly. Not a particularly dense looking body, but this is no Kate Moss by any means.

S: A dark, rich blend of espresso and mellow bourbon. Charred barrel, raisin, toffee and baker's chocolate. Smells absolutely incredible. So much espresso.

T: Opens with an amazing soft bourbon and dark, dark chocolate. Vanilla, light coconut, toffee, black currant and faint molasses and raisin. Tons of rich espresso throughout and the espresso and barrel notes together are fantastic. In the words of Salad Fingers: Practically Orgasmic.

Photo of mr-jj
4.31/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Color is nearly black with a thin tan head. Aroma is bourbon and dark roasted espresso. Taste is very good - espresso, chocolate and bourbon notes on the palate. Roasted malt and anise with a mildly bitter finish. Body is full and creamy. Overall, a very good beer that deserves it's hype.

Photo of Greywulfken
4.68/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: black ink ale with a dark tan foam head maybe a finger high; light sheen glazed the inner glass as it went down

S: rich bourbon and vanilla flavors caress the nose, followed by aromas of wet cocoa and dry wood

T: the chocolate and bourbon are up-front - bittersweet, rich, and dark; undercurrents of vanilla and molasses run throughout, accenting other impressions of espresso and anise

M: full-bodied and smooth as silk, mellow bittersweet action, slight drying on finish with a flash of char at the very end

O: an indisputably superior product, well-worth its rank and rating, highly recommended.

Photo of Mshull
4.73/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

So finally after years of seeking this beer out I decided to just trade for it. There is no beer I'd hesitate to trade away to get more of this. Smooth creamy chocolate flavor with just a hint of bourbon on the way down, so perfect.

Photo of snaotheus
4.09/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015-03-07
12oz bottle split between three samplers.

Pours surprisingly translucent with no head. Smell is bourbon and lots of roastiness.

Tasteis rich bitter, with chocolate and coffee.

Mouthfeel is dry, almost chalky -- somewhat gritty. Overall, very good.

Photo of montesown
4.59/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Finally had a chance to try some - 2014. Out of a magnum bottle at the Beer fest in GR. Very good, however I think it would have been better a little warmer.
Cheers

Photo of Gator_Chomp
3.47/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Honestly very strange taste. I know people love it but doesn't mean we all do

Photo of TBonez477
4.74/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2012 bottle into snifter

A: Beautifully black and almost pours like motor oil. Barely any head to speak of.

S: Deep aroma of coffee, bitter chocolate and dark fruit. Finishes with alcohol even after 2 years of aging.

T: First sip gives way to the deep scents, revealing some tobacco and leather enveloping the dark fruit flavors. Barely any alcohol heat allowing the focus to remain on the beautiful sweet and bitter balance.

M: Heavy and thick on the palate, appropriately lightly carbonated.

O: The best way to sum up this beer is to explain that I audibly giggled after my first taste. While I would never proclaim to be the most seasoned beer enthusiast in this community (or even anywhere close) this is the best beer I've ever had, a statement I have never made before.

Photo of aleigator
4.41/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a viscous, black color, with a decent mohagony, bubbly head. It leaves back a thick, still bubbly lacing at the edge of the glass.

The nose reveals an astonishing balance between molasses, toffee, coconut, prunes and sweet milk chocolate on the one hand, and wooden, accentuating, slightly hot barrel qualities. The barrel is easily noteable on itself, while it hits the spot by supporting the malty aromas as well, in an outstanding, intriguing way.

Tastes earthier than the aromas revealed, with toasted, bready malts, accompanied by bakers chocolate and a decent amount of whipped cream. That creamy foundation then gets extended by cane sugar, big time toffee and molasses, which blend very well into the burning, wooden alcohol. Boozy Bourbon gets replaced by big chunks of wood, very chewy, with matured coffee beans, creating a pleasant balance, preventing this successfully from becoming too sweet and boozy.

The warmer the beer gets, the more present turns the Bourbon. It provides coconut and a hint of vanilla during the opening, while it becomes quite dominant, as the sweet malt qualities hit the tastebuds. Finishes with ash, scorched malts, slightly dry, while it remains its smooth, chocolate defined mouthfeel.

Photo of Shinck14
4.8/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Tasted alongside KBS and Bourbon County and this one is just a tad better than the other two in my opinion. Tastes like a batch of bourbon soaked brownie batter. Will for sure seek more of this out.

Photo of Jeffrey84
4.77/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

After a long search I finally got my hands on one single bottle with nearly a year in the cellar. This beer is amazing. It's as if BCBS and KBS meet at a bar,fell in love then had a child called Black Note.

Black Note was the biggest baby ever born in that hospital and nearly broke the state records for length and weight. Over the years Black Note began to develop characteristics of his parents. The strong bourbon and vanilla flavored of his father BCBS. Black Notes mother,KBS, loved chocolate especially with a cup of coffee.

As he grew up into a young man,Black Note balanced these features in perfect harmony and did the one thing his parents wanted for him the most. He became a better beer than them. He is Better educated, more successful and happier than they ever were.

Photo of humuloner22
5/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had searched high and low for this beer for a few years and could not find one in a store. I finally traded for some and man am I happy I did! This beer is what Bourbon County wants to be when it grows up!

Appearance: Dark as night very little head if any. Settles quickly to a light caramel colored film around the edges of the glass.

Aroma: Jesus this beer smells so good. Lots of barrel immediately detected. Bourbon out the ass! Vanilla and chocolate maltiness dominate.

Taste: Man this just doesn't get any better really. The taste is sweet but not too cloying. Its perfectly balanced between the two base beers. Not too much barrel but you certainly detect the bourbon and the flavors that come with a bourbon barrel aged beer. Vanilla, chocolate, bourbon and oak dominant barrel finish. Mouthfeel is also velvety and oh so smooth. Perfect balance accomplished with this beer!

Overall: I have been saving this beer to try for a big number but I just felt like what the hell why not tonight! I also paired this one against the two base beers as an experiment and this is a case where the sum of the parts are better. I will say I do tend to enjoy the Double Cream better than the Expedition but I can understand where that needs to be utilized as a base ingredient. Overall this beer is layered and superb in my book. I think this is much better beer than many of its companions out there. Totally worth the effort in trading for this one!

Photo of Desp59
2.57/5  rDev -43.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

This just didnt taste that different to me than a lot of the other bourbon barrel stouts I have had.

Photo of stephens101
4.55/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A smallish, dark tan head is in a big ass hurry to get moving off this pitch black brew.

Smells quite rich and desert-like with prominent notes of milk chocolate, chocolate cake, black licorice and black cherries.

Taste starts with deep, sweet and bitter chocolate notes followed by a touch of vinegar, an uncertain candy sweetness, obvious oak, subtle earthy hops and medicinal cherries.

A warming alcohol cuts through a heavy, slightly syrupy body.

An ambitious and exceptionally flavorful beer that could've ran wild but keeps it all in check.

Photo of Bosoxfan20
4.11/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2012 bottle.
Pours a pitch black and sits still in the glass. A delicate head quickly fades. Aroma is intense with notes of bourbon, luscious vanilla, tobacco, charred malts, and caramelized brown sugar. You don't have to dig deep in the glass to get a wide range of decadent aromas.
Flavor takes on a little different approach with more of the dark fruits that is evident from the Expedition Stout portion of the blend. A touch of chocolate, and lots of the barrel character. Sweet at times, but not cloying with the added lingering bitterness. Booze is fairly noticeable...even after 2 years in the bottle. Silky feel that is thinner than I prefer.
Overall, well done. Not a home run for me though as the flavor did not stand up to the greatness the nose brought. Some of the espresso may have been lost in the bottle age.

Photo of johnnnniee
4.16/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 Bottle from BlowOffTube, thanks for the opportunity!
Solid black color with a quickly fleeting head. Chocolate, roast, molasses, vanilla, wood, light dark fruit, there's lots going on here and its all good. Rich sweet silky creamy thick body with light carbonation. Damn that's good, wish I had more!

Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

So smooth and full of flavor! Need more of this!

Photo of Monkeyknife
4.68/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from the bottle an opaque black with purple highlights. The mocha-colored head was quite thin. Light lacing left behind.

Aroma of dark chocolate, dried red fruits and bourbon.

Bright creamy note of dark chocolate opened on the tongue followed by espresso, chocolate milk, vanilla, and bourbon. Roasted malt notes lingered with every sip.

Very creamy and smooth.

This was one incredible stout for sure. A must try.

Photo of mn_nuge
4.24/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 version in a side-by-side with BCS (2014). While excellent, the bourbon character was far more restrained on the Black Note. The mouthfeel of the BCS syrupy and thick compared to the thinner Black Note. A great beer.

Photo of brewskifan55
4.2/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter. Thanks, Darren.

A: Black with garnet highlights. No head, light lacing.

S: Bourbon, chocolate, anise.

T: Follows nose with a decadent smoothness. Sweet. Robust. A true sipper. The 11.4 gradually creeps up on you for a toasty buzz. Even better as it warms.

M: Medium with medium mouthfeel. A bit watery on the finish.

O: Outstanding. As tasty as it is hard to find. Recommended.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,544 ratings.