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

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

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

3,358 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,358
Reviews: 513
rAvg: 4.56
pDev: 8.55%
Wants: 2,193
Gots: 845 | FT: 87
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:
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 added by: mcallister on 06-16-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,358 | Reviews: 513 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Funkwich:
Photo of Funkwich
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Sammy
3.98/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle 24 of 1081. Virtually no head on black, looks like a wine. carbonation still there though understated.Smoth mouthfel. Rich bourbon,not overpowering but substantial. Chocolate and coconut, this was barrelled a while, some mustiness. Better as it aired.Steve's bottle, thanks for not putting it up on ebay. My bottle shared with Liam.

Photo of infinitebruner
4.6/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

August 9, 2014

12 oz bottle; Snifter

A – Jet black, thin brown head disappears almost immediately. Looks like pure motor oil.

S – Tons of vanilla, boozy warmth even on the nose. Sweet chocolate, mild oak.

T – Tons of vanilla, sweet chocolate malt notes, a hint of coffee. The burnt flavors are there, but seem to be “sweetly charred,” possible some caramelized flavors. Lots of bourbon and molasses, but very well balanced.

M – Milky, silky, very sweet. A lot of bitterness on the finish, some burnt notes.

O – This is a phenomenal, balanced, complex barrel-aged stout. My gold standard is Bourbon County, and the malt and hops here are much more balanced with the alcohol than with BCS (which is not to say I like Black Note more, just that it is more balanced.) This beer stands on its own as a fantastic example of barrel-aging.

Photo of kojevergas
4/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Huge props to Duff27 for this bottle!

BOTTLE: 2014 vintage. Bottled: 08/12/14. 11.4% ABV. 12 fl oz. Brown glass.

Expectations are sky high; this is currently #25 in the Top 250. Served cold into a tulip/teku hybrid and allowed to warm over the course of consumption.

HEAD: 1 finger wide. Beautifully creamy, full, and thick. Has an exquisite rich shiny complexion, which is gorgeous combined with the rich khaki colour head. Leaves a thick even coating of lacing as it recedes. Retention is excellent - ~8 minutes.

BODY: Deep dark black. Opaque. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

A special and great looking stout with apt carbonation. I can't wait for the first sip.

AROMA: Amazing bourbon barrel notes. Rich white oak, authentic vanilla (not artificial vanillin extract), barrel sugars, and toasted wood. Wow.

As amazing as the bourbon character is, it doesn't seem to eclipse the base, which brings notes of subtle dark fruit (fig and plum primarily, with subsidiary notes of date), chocolate, and subtle coffee with a kiss of roast. Pleasant cream is also noticeable, but I'm not finding the espresso mentioned on the label - as nice as the coffee is.

Constructively, I have come across stout aromas with richer more expressive chocolate and more complex roasty coffee notes. I nitpick, but it's an incredible aroma overall.

As it comes to temperature, hidden notes of marshmallow and toasted coconut begin to emerge, as well as a fleeting kiss of faint char and burnt sugar.

Moderate aromatic intensity. This evocative aroma suggests a luxuriously well-balanced beer with plenty of subtlety and complexity. Mouthwatering. Wow.

No hop profile or yeast character is detectable, nor are any off-notes.

TASTE: The open greets the drinker with notes of cream and soft bourbon. The bourbon barrel character is fantastic, boasting notes of authentic vanilla, slightly toasted white oak, and barrel sugars that remain strong throughout the beer, lending it a natural guiding cohesion. The bourbon doesn't overwhelm the base beer, but rather accents its notes of impressively subtle dark fruit (fig and plum), roasted barley, and coffee.

The coffee, unfortunately, is quite shallow and uninteresting compared to other stellar imperial stouts; more complexity, diversity, and depth of flavour is needed for the coffee note to play with the big boys.

Chocolate is similarly limited; I get some creamy milk chocolate, but it's limited in scope and intricacy. We've all had better chocolate notes in beer. As it warms, though, some fudge emerges.

The foundation is comprised of dark malts and chocolate malts, which form an easily imposed-upon neutral stout base - a blank slate into which the more interesting notes can insert themselves.

I find a glimmer of coconut which never fully resolves. And the marshmallow I thought I found in the aroma is absent here...or is it? It flirts with notes of grape and currant, but never fully commits.

Balance is nearly impeccable, with few flaws noticeable aside from a faint charred and burnt character at the bottom of the second act. There's definite complexity and nuance in this build, but I can't find the espresso promised by the label, and if we're nitpicking (as I feel we must do whenever a beer is in the Top 250), I have had more complex & intricate imperial stouts. But few feature such a well-attuned harmony of bourbon barrel and base beer notes. This tastes like a gestalt whole.

Still, this is a delicious brew of the highest quality, and I find myself drinking slowly to savor each sip.

TEXTURE: Damn. This beer just melts into the palate with incredible softness and angelic delicacy. Creamy, comforting on the palate, and fragile. Smooth and wet, enhancing drinkability. The creaminess coupled with the softness is divine, and carbonation is near perfect. It's aptly full-bodied and has ideal thickness, which is needed to support the beer's many flavours. Incredibly well executed, with superb overall presence on the palate. This is a mouthfeel that elevates a beer beyond its taste, and accentuates the notes in the flavour profile, coaxing out their nuances. Majestic.

If not for a slight harshness brought on by burnt sugar and char in the late second act, this mouthfeel would be perfect.

OVERALL: Shockingly drinkable for its unnoticeable 11.4%. Easily one of Bell's best beers (if not THE best), and absolutely a beer that deserves its high ratings. I'm not sure I'd consider it the 25th best beer in the world, but it's a treat of a brew and avoids the common pitfalls of the style: it's not too sweet or dessert-like, it doesn't have acrid or overly bitter coffee, the bourbon barrel doesn't eclipse the base, it doesn't lack a roasted barley presence, and while it has notable complexity, it doesn't sacrifice balance to attain it.

Its main flaw is that pesky burnt/charred character.

High B+

Might easily become an A- with age. But I could never hold onto a bottle for that long; it's too good.

Photo of ediaz
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

2012 into a Hunahpu's day snifter with a friend.

A: Opaque black with minimal light coming through on edges in a copper-orange hue. Minimal delicate lacing on the top. Somewhat flat with a minimal ring of bubbles hugging the glass.

S: fig, toffee, dark chocolate, malt, tobacco; bourbon whiskey, hints of vanilla, mild oak

T: bitter dark chocolate; raw tobacco, charcoal; sweet; dark fruits; toffee; egg; butter; finishes with a smooth burnt caramel

M: medium viscosity, oily, coating of mouth,; buttery, silky, lingers; a little more carbonation wouldnt have hurt

O: Incredibly balanced and smooth with a rich blend of interesting flavors. After 2 years the beer has mellowed and accepted the char nicely without ruining the bourbon flavor or the chocolate, coffee, toffee flavors you'd hope for in a bourbon stout. Overall, a great beer that I'm very happy to enjoy. If I was able to get this beer properly aged again, I'd be happy to trade for it. Very pleased; Does not possess an overly alcoholic taste even though there are definitely notes of bourbon whiskey initially. A smooth, buttery feel that lingers provides an opportunity to experience all the flavors in this beer. Overall, it is slightly better than what I remember first tasting 2 years ago and offers some pleasantly unusual tastes compared to other barrel-aged bourbon stouts.

Photo of oberon
4.56/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got one of the last few at Bestway and Iam thankful to Roger for it.Poured into a snifter jet black with a one inch deep beige head atop.Aromas of chocolate and roasted nuts mixed with alcohol dipped dark fruit,very rich and appetizing.Thick and chewey in the mouth,it coats the mouth and glides down easily.Wow the complexity on the palate is something to savor,dark roast and chocolate with some nuttiness and even some faint wood smoke,the alcohol is big but not over bearing lending some sweetness to go along with some deep raisin notes.You really gotta give it to guys or gals who can craft a beer like this,so rich and lush but with so much complexity,kick ass that's all I can say about it.

Photo of DanGeo
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of Smokesnotes
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of tectactoe
4.68/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Mmm... Bell's Black Note. Half Expedition Stout, half Special Double Cream Stout - two beers that I love - aged for months in old bourbon barrels. How can you go wrong, right? This is one of those beers that often gets compared to KBS and BCBS, so needless to say - I'm very excited to try it. The pour is pitch black as it tumbles out like old motor oil that should've been changed months ago. The half-inch tan cap lasts for longer than expected and leaves behind some wet lacing. Very nice looking beer.

The aroma follows suit for this style of beer very closely. In other words, it's pretty fantastic. The bourbon barrel notes are the first thing to jump out - smooth bourbon, wet oak, vanilla. Very powerful without being brash. Lots of rich chocolates up front, too. Milky sweet and savory. Nice, sweet molasses underbody with plenty of roasted malt and coffee in the tail end. The aroma has a perfectly inviting warmth to it. It doesn't change much as the beer warms up, it just gets stronger. I'm okay with that.

I certainly don't think I would have been able to pick out Expedition or DC Stout had I not been told, but after taking a few sips, I certainly can believe it. The mouth feel is fantastic. Silky, smooth, chewy, robust, thick - just so pleasing to let this one sit and swish around your palate for a bit. Huge robustness right out of the gate with a solid bourbon character that lasts from start to finish. It has one of the richest, creamiest, and most full-bodied inductions of chocolate that I've ever tasted. Sweet, delicate cocoa with a faint wisp of bitterness. Milky, creamy, and elegant.

The barrel flavors are definitely pronounced and become even more heady twenty minutes in. Heavy oak and vanilla, still with the solid meshing of warm bourbon. Some lightly burnt coffee beans make their way in and out, but must really be searched for. The roast from the malt injects a little more bitterness that plays well with the sweetness of the beer and the warmth of the booze. A nearly perfect trifecta of balance is happening on my palate. The finish shows some super-dark, bourbon-soaked and lightly sugar coated fruits; dates and figs being the best descriptions. That's what reminds me the most of Expedition. The finish has lots of dark chocolate, roasty malt, and oak-soaked bourbon with a fading vanilla note. Incredibly complex and super enjoyable.

Incredible beer. I love both of the base beers, so mixing them together and aging them in bourbon barrels is most-likely going to be a success, and it definitely was. Very drinkable for being nearly 12% ABV, but it's still better to enjoy this one over the course of an hour. Insanely complex and insanely delicious - get some!

Photo of t2grogan
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of CavemanRamblin
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of jono0101
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of brownbeer
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Schlais
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of cjn40277
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Spaten454
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of SanFranJake
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of ricksrealm
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of delaced21
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of SkiBum22
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of joemetric
4.6/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of RebeccaMB
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of BubalooBrewMaster
4.71/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle...2012 vintage.

About an 1/4 inch of espresso colored head that vanished very quickly.
Its as dark as midnight,when poured its a lil thinner then oil.
It smells of coffee,bourbon and vanilla....the best smells that comes from beer IMO.
Taste is the same as smell,AMAZING ..although I prefer some more bourbon I understand the 2 years it aged it deff calm the bourbon flavor allot.Mouthfeels is quiet smooth and not very chewy as allot of BA beers are.
Overall one of the better BA beers Ive had up to date....Highly recommended.

Photo of newk340
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

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5/5  rDev +9.6%

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,358 ratings.