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

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Bell's Black Note StoutBell's Black Note Stout

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554 Reviews
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Reviews: 554
Hads: 3,713
Avg: 4.5
pDev: 22%
Wants: 2,573
Gots: 947 | FT: 75
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 554 | Hads: 3,713
Photo of Catracho5
4.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours pitch black with a creamy mocha head, lots of tiny bubbles in the head, good amount of carbonation, looks oily thick, lots of lacing, good head retention.

A: Bourbon, dark chocolate, dark fruits like figs, plums, raisins, alcohol is pretty mellow, smells big.

T: First impression is that this is incredibly smooth, up front bourbon, dark chocolate, dark fruits, a hint of coffee roasted bitterness in the middle, finishes dry, slight bitterness at the end, picking up a hint of Expedition stout soy sauce flavor, tastes world class., booze is well hidden.

M: Thick, oil like mouthfeel, incredibly smooth, great balance of carbonation in the mouthfeel, really good.

O: This is world class, it's a 2014 and it has aged very well, for 11.40% it's incredibly smooth, great balance of flavors, if this was available in Southern CA I would try to buy a case each year to cellar.

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Photo of BIll_Currie
4.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

got this one online. it was expensive but didnt have much choice. I got this one with some founders CBS. i thought this one was better. well rounded and another outstanding beer from Bell's

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Photo of Dolphinsmarlins1
4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2014 bottle. Poured into a snifter. Very smooth, despite the high ABV...dangerously deceptive. Awesome flavors despite not possessing the boozy heat one would expect from the style. Very sweet. I want another.

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Photo of hoppymcgee
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage. 12 oz. bottle. Bottled on 3/12/14.

L: Nice and clean, with a dark tan head.

S: The booze still comes through a bit, so nothing too spectacular here.

T: Dark chocolate, slight caramel, only a hint of booze. The aftertaste is amazing - toffee, vanilla, and perfectly roasted coffee.

F: Smooth and not too rich for the style and ABV. Proper amount of carbonation.

O: The aftertaste is amazing. Similar beers have a bitter aftertaste, as you get from some chocolates and coffees. There was something strange in that as the beer sat and warmed it fell off; I don't think my palate suddenly gave way, so this was pretty curious.

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Photo of danh53
4.24/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with one finger fluffy tan head. Aroma is oak and vanilla from the bourbon, chocolate, and dark fruits. The barrel comes through big time on the nose. Smells boozy, but in a good way. Taste follows the nose with barrel as a highlight. Some chocolate notes and licorice come through from the base beer. It's sweet with slight roast on the finish. I'm not getting as much dark fruits on the taste. The cream stout comes through in the mouth feel. The silky, creamy character really got my attention at first, but that didn't last through the whole glass. What it gains in creamy smoothness is lost in low carbonation and a lack of roast heft that I appreciate in expedition stout. That's being picky because this is a great beer and worth seeking out.

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Photo of DrinkMoreBigBeers
4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage bottle

Poured out pitch black and had a dismal dark mocha head that dissipated rather fast. Strong smell of bourbon, some dark espresso,some boos, slight burnt sugar, figs, and some dark chocolate after swirled (complex.) Stong Dark chocolate and roast, a little bourbon, slight boos, Lots of vanilla in the finish with a pleasant smooth ending note. This beer is dry and thin in the mouth with low levels of carbonation. This is a impressive beer worth trying. A sipper at that and one with a lot of interesting complexity. Definitely worth picking up and trying, Cheers!

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Photo of SGerrard
4.49/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 2014 bottle into a Teku glass. First noticed that it was quite a thin head, different from many other high ABV stouts that I've had. Rich mouth feel without being syrupy. Bourbon is well integrated with other flavors, including molasses and dark fruit. Exceptional quality stout and one I'd look to procure again.

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Photo of kkleu357
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Got a bottle of this as an extra. Never had it before, but reminds me of of CW Bourbon Barrel Stout, just thicker and boozier. Thick dark body. Tons of chocolate flavor with oak and slightly too much whiskey. Very good.

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Photo of NolaHopHead
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Deep brown, very thin head disappears. Sweet bourbon chocolate aroma. Taste is outstanding, vanilla notes and chocolate, bourbon is present but not overwhelming. Crazy smooth silky finish. Overall, one of the best BBA stouts I've had.

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Photo of -Rick
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L: jet black with almost no head. Little carbonation also
S: bourbon, vanilla, chocolate and coffee
T: like the nose, sweet. Anika bourbon followed by a chocolate coffee finish. So well blended.
F: creamy goodness that lingers in the mouth for a long while
O: an amazing BB Stout. Not flashy or fancy with odd characteristics, just a solid solid beer!

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Photo of StinkyFishBoys
4.15/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

There is nothing unique about this bad boy but it does what it does very well. I'd say this is the base line for bourbon barrel stouts. It makes for a cool addition to a tasting lineup but I wouldn't seek it out on its own. Rap-a-tap, rippity tip-tip.

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Photo of WhoKnew23
4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The first one I had, I wasn't blown away. However, a second pour, and I was amazed. I think I had to let the hype in my head die down. Very creamy and the barrel character is perfect. Not too overpowering, and not too faint. The perfect middle.

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Photo of EveningCordial
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 bottle into snifter.

A- jet black, little carbonation, small light khaki head.

S- dark chocolate and bourbon are dominant. Also some vanilla and earthy wood and some coffee or expresso.

T- lots of smooth vanilla bourbon and mocha. Super balanced and velvety. Nice dry finish of wood and sweet chocolates with a hint of coffee.

M- full bodied, but I'd have thicker stouts. I guess that's the cream ale talking.

O- really great take on the style. Bells did an awesome job blending and aging this one.

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Photo of madelfonatree
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 enjoyed May 30, 2015

Look - Oily black. Thin light tan head. Lacing not so much.

Smell - Bourbon. Black licorice. Sweet. Chocolate.

Taste - Bourbon/alcohol taste is very subdued. Honey and fruit. Sweet chocolate finish.

Feel - Heavy. Really no carbonation to speak of. This is what I like in a stout.

Overall - I got it! I like it better than KBS. Too bad this isn't as readily available.

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Photo of winningwes91
4.24/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Looks like a typical ba stout. Might even pour a bit thinner. Smells of coffee, chocolate and a bit of bourbon. Taste is mostly the same, with the bourbon taking a backseat. Also, some dark fruits come out into play from the expedition. The mouthfeel is thinner than I like for this style. Is it what people say it is? No. is it still an amazing beer? Absolutely.

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Photo of alarmclock314
4.37/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

3/12/14 printed on the back of the label. Pours black with a light khaki colored head; fluffy with small bubbles that last. Smells like hops, chocolate, and bourbon. Tastes like chocolate, caramel, and bourbon with hints of oak and coffee. Hop presence throughout. Minor sweetness and drying finish. Good coating mouthfeel. Medium carbonation for the style. This is a quality BA IS, but not quite world-class.

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Photo of tmbgnicu
4.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

One of the best BA stouts I've ever had. Split a 12oz botttle(2013) with my wife and two of our friends to celebrate the births of our children. Lucky for me, most of my guests didn't care too much for BA stouts, so I had the lion's share of the pour. As complex as BCBS without being overly boozy. Got a huge espresso nose, but not a lot in taste.

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Photo of maxifunk777
3.91/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Did not live up to the hype 2014 poured into a Bruery Snifter dark as night.
Just slightly above average Stout high B low A at best would drink it again but not sure I would seek it out . Smell was tame, Taste was smooth but not anything that made me go wow on any level. mouthfeel once again good not great.

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Photo of Monktastic7
4.31/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Such a wonderful stout. This was a "whale" for me when I first started and now every year I walk away with nearly a case from chasing trucks haha Love it, super dense, strong bourbon and soft vanilla notes.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 FL OZ bottle
Served in a snifter
Bottled March 12, 2014

It pours jet black. There is no light getting through this beer. It has an inch of mocha head that recedes leaving only spotty lacing to remind me of its presence.

Licorice and dark fruit are noticeable in the aroma. Roasted malt in in there too.

The taste is of dark fruit, plum, raisin. It kind of has a port-like flavor to it. The dark malts are subdued. Some anise comes through on the finish.

Full mouthfeel

I have only had a 2012 prior to this. i remember loving it. This one reminds me more of a barrel aged Expedition stout. I have one 2012 left. I guess I will have to get my hands dirty and see how they compare.

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Photo of carolynschaf
4.91/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pitch dark body, as the name implies. Distinguished oak aroma and rich molasses taste makes for one of the best barrel-aged stouts you can find, if you can find it.

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Photo of LambicPentameter
4.39/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of MOVERTON1284
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a small amount into a mini-snifter during a share. Great barrel aroma and taste. Very smooth and not overpowering. While it may not get as much hype as others, this beer is balanced and delicious

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Photo of dboon
4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

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Photo of K-Dog
4.32/5  rDev -4%
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

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 554 ratings.