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

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99
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572 Reviews
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
572
Ratings:
3,857
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.44%
 
 
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Bell's Black Note StoutBell's Black Note Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.40%

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.

Added by mcallister on 06-16-2007

User Reviews
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Reviews: 572 | Ratings: 3,857
Photo of Wildman
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

on tap at brewpub for All Stouts Day and left on afterwards:
This beer was pitch black and produced a small snow white head that left trace lace as it subsided. An aroma of malt, bourbon, chocolate, cocoa and anise. The flavor was of malt, chocolate and anise. It had a medium body and slightly creamy and a sweet finish. Love this combination.

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Photo of drewaha
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage. Had right after a bcbcs. Great beer but unfair to compare to bcbcs. Not as sweet and has a nice mustly charcoal flavor. Goes down a little easier. Great beer but not top of its class.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap, served in a wine glass

Pours an ink black, a little sludgy, with little to no head. Just some brown foam around the collar of the glass.

The aroma is of rich bourbon, butterscotch, vanilla, toffee and a large amount of oak. The oak was largely present when the temperature was cooler, but as it warmed, the oak subsided a bit.

Rich, roasty goodness, bourbon, and vanilla up front. Oak carries through the middle with burnt toffee and then a bourbon, dark Belgian chocolate, roasty finish.

Full bodied with perfectly low carbonation. This was a thick stout, but had nice lift off the palate. Not oily by any stretch. Thick, full and luscious with a dry oak finish.

This beer is the real deal. A great combination of roast, bourbon, oak and butterscotch/burnt toffee. Definitely a beer one should seek out.

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Photo of kevanb
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #1071 - Thanks Shawn!

The pour is pretty standard for any stout, lovely jet back color with no transparency. Watching it pour is like watching motor oil pour from the canister, syrupy and viscous, yet thin enough to resemble something you would want to drink. An aggressive pour yields some head, but not much, and easily dissipates within moments, not uncommon of a high ABV stout. The nose is remarkable, the Double Cream Stout is in full effect in the nose, lots of milky lactose notes, roasted coffee and grainy malt compliments the subtle bourbon and charred wood that comes forth at the end, exceptional balance between the barrel and the base blend, neither seems to dominate, but instead they compliment each other quite well. I’ve had many a milk stout but the is the first time that the nose has suggested harmony between a milky or creamy stout and anything pleasant from a bourbon barrel. The flavors tend to favor Expedition Stout, heavier on the roast and bourbon, but also with a sweeter element, especially as it warms. Big notes of coffee and malt jump out, not unlike the Double Cream Stout, but they resinate in a way more reminiscent of Expedition Stout. The flavors are bigger, more robust and thicker, pairing well with the bourbon, which never takes over the beer, but only adds a nice layer of complexity and woodiness that compliments the roasted coffee and bold chocolate and caramel malt flavors. The body is nice and thick, minimal carbonation which plays nicely into the milky and creamy stout playbook of Double Cream Stout.

Verdict: Exceptional stout from Bell’s, I wish they released more of this so it could get around, but I’m very happy to have had a bottle. The creaminess and roastiness go hand in hand and the barrel aging adds just enough complexity to take this blend to a new level, without overpowering or dominating the palate. If you have the chance to try this beer, make it a top priority, the hype is deserved.

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Photo of PhatAtUT
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2012 bottle poured into tulip

A: pitch black, inch tan head. looks like a delicious imperial stout
S: the smell is a little off-putting to me. kind of a syrupy soy smell that i got from uncle jacobs. not bad, just not a smell that appeals to me personally.
T: so rich and complex. milk chocolate. caramel. vanilla. a sort of fig-like jammy fruitiness. licorice. obvious strong hop profile perfectly balanced out with a very rich but not overpowering sweetness. bourbon character is very subtle, but i dont miss a stronger presence. such a great balanced brew. delicious.
M: very fullbodied and an almost creamy carbonation. very effervescent for such a thick stout. absolutely perfect feel for a big stout.
O: dont care for the smell, but past that, its as good an imperial stout as ive had.

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Photo of kirok1999
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at South Park Tavern which might have been a little over seating capacity that night.
Pours a deep black with a few ruby hints. A bit of a frothy small head and some lacing.
Smell is mildly boozy and sweet. Lots of vanilla and caramel.
Taste is wonderfully complex. There's slight bourbon, lush caramel, vanilla, and a bit of chocolate and coffee as it warms. The Double Cream Stout comes through very well and is not overpowerred by the Expedition. There gets to be a bit of alcohol burn as it warms up too. Not a lot of carbonation.
It definitely needed to warm up. I could drink quite a bit of this and wish Bells would bottle it.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes.

A: Pours a very deep brown, practically black with a small tan/mocha colored head on top that forms a pretty tight cap. Decent read retention with thin lacing.

S: Dark chocolate upfront with some light roasted malt. Bourbon mixed with vanilla and a bit of brown sugar and molasses as well.

T: The first flavor I got was vanilla with dark chocolate, a great combination. The bourbon kicks in adding some wood, a bit of caramelized sugar, and some molasses. Faint dark fruit as well, cherries. Slight bitter/roast on the back end.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation, pretty smooth.

O: A very nice beer, understandable why it scores so hi. Very impressed and look forward to trying it again.

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Photo of srv33
4.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A 2012 poured into a tulip. Pours a near black chocolately brown with minimal lacing and no head. Scent of raisin, fig, swiss milk chocolate, coffee, and caramel. With a nose like that it must be fantastic, right?

The nose is fully expressed in the taste, rich dark fruits, chocolate, coffee, and caramel are all present and craftfully balanced. I've had the pleasure to try KBS, Expedition, and CBS, and would remark that this deserves its place among them. I would say the general flavor palate is quite similar but differs a fair bit in mouthfeel and richess, especially when compared to K/CBS. Compared to those it is much less rich, lacks the sort of near-syrupy richness of CBS or the earthy depth of KBS. There is also a much smoother touch of fine carbonation, more than K/CBS.

I had just as hard a time finding this as I did finding its cousins. Certainly glad I finally got to see what the hype is about. For some, this will certainly be perfect, (to those who find CBS or KBS simply too much) and others might find it lacking when compared to those, though somewhat similar in terms of flavor. Would I buy this again if I had the chance? Yes. Is it Bells best? I wouldn't say so, but it is certainly up there. Is it an absolutely fantastically crafted stout? WIthout a doubt. Cheers!

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Photo of caskstrength
4.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

black pour with creamy brown head.

the smell is underwhelming.
But who cares because the taste is coming

and it's outstanding. bourbon notes infused into the stout characteristics I was hoping for. Read the Bell's brewery notes on this beer if you want the details, but who really cares when it tastes this good. Just drink it when you see it. Then come here and write a review with all the details that will add up to: "it's really f-ing good."

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Photo of infestaxion
4.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was the big hit of the world record Bell's tapping. And they gave us a kick ass notebook to review it in.

A - Black as night with a dark coffee head that fades quickly.

S - Alcohol, malt and dark sugar. Not a whole lot going on though.

T - Lots of bourbon. Sweet malt and molasses. All of these flavors are rolling around in you mouth all at once. It's frikkin fantastic. The Double Cream brings a sweetness that really makes this beer. I imagine a Bourbon Barrel Expedition wouldn't be as good. It's surprisingly hot for being two years old.

M - A little thinner than I expected.

D - Really good. Not an easy drinker though. I think it took me most of the night to take down 20 oz.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pretty darned black. No head. Some small cling lace.

S - Soy sauce!!! I cannot tell you how much it is soy. Behind that is charred sweet malt.

T - Pretty much the same as the smell. Sweet malt lingers a bit at the end.

M - Somewhat creamy, good carb, good balance. I like it.

D - Very boozy, but hides it pretty well. I like this one.

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Photo of Mikeypnh
4.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014. Poured into a tulip glass. Pours black with a mocha film on top and a few bubbles around the rim. The smell is very potent. Coffee, chocolate, toffee, licorice and bourbon. Strong bourbon and barrel taste up front. Darks fruits come through nicely, especially at the end. Nice alcohol burn to go along with it. Huge flavor on this one. Very creamy mouthfeel with a dry, somewhat bitter coffee/licorice aftertaste. Another great bourbon barrel beer, although I prefer a couple others to this.

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Photo of Furlinator
4.46/5  rDev -0.9%

Bottled on 05/17/14.

Pours opaque black. The thin khaki head fades to a thin film and ring on top and leaves spots of lace.

The smell is an inviting combination of dark chocolate, vanilla, coconut, pipe tobacco and black coffee.

The taste is of dark chocolate, black cherry, roasted (almost smoked) dark malt, vanilla, toasted coconut and bourbon.

The texture is heavy bodied wilow carbonation.

Hard to come by on the West Coast, I'm glad to have gotten my hands on this one. An absolute world class barrel aged imperial stout.

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Photo of Rutager
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2012 12oz bottle, thanks mrbubbler!

Appearance. Pours black with half a finger of nice brown head.

Smell. Smooth bourbon with tons of oak, vanilla and sweet chocolate, and a little molasses.

Taste. Sweet dark creamy chocolate, smooth bourbon and oak barrel, a bit of vanilla and molasses. Very nice.

Mouthfeel. Full body with creamy smooth lowish carbonation. Great stuff.

Overall. A bourbon barrel imperial stout done right. I should probably crack my 750 from the original bottling soon. This is drinking very well right now and that one is probably at its peak.

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Photo of zoso1967
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black Note pours a deep, dark and pretty much opaque blackish brown that is exactly what I had expected since this is supposedly a blend of Expedition and Double Cream. The head is a deep tan in color. The head retention and lacing are both quite nice.

The aroma is intoxicating with plenty of vanilla and bourbon notes mixed with super chocolaty and rich caramel aromas. The wood and bourbon really are the star of the show in the aroma though. (I had this again at the TC Winter Beer Fest and even out in the cold with bonfires all around I could really pick up on the barrel aged notes)

The flavor is very similar to the aroma but with a bit more chocolate and a slightly charred flavor. Vanilla also plays a big role in the flavor with the oak shining through well. I also must note that there is some serious tootsie roll character going on in this bad boy.

The mouthfeel is medium and a bit thinner than I would like, but that is a common problem I find in beers that have been barrel aged. The finish is sweet, roasty and enjoyable without being too taxing.

This brew is well regarded in the BA community and for good reason. In my opinion it does not quite rise to the heights of KBS or CBS, but it is a well crafted and aged BA stout that I will surly do my best to have a snifter or two of if I get the chance.

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Photo of cbutova
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes taken on a growler pour. Opened with a pop and plenty of carbonation in the beer, pressure-filled.

A- Poured from the growler into an 8oz snifter. Small mocha tan head forms but quickly dissipates falling to almost nothing and lace is out of the question.

S- A balance is found immediately between then bourbon and stout. Rich as it gets with high quality Bourbon aromas, deep chocolatey fudge and strong oak barrel. Feels as if there is some age but not in a negative way.

T- Reminds me of Damon in a way but maybe a bit less pronounced in the stout category, just really smoothed out. Bourbon whiskey, vanilla, dark roast coffee, fudge, caramel and deep roast grains.

MF- Lower end carbonation and pretty heated from the almost 12% alcohol. Thick oily body with a somewhat creamy feel.

In the same realm as Damon goes for Bourbon stouts but a bit more of the whiskey shows and more alcohol heat noticed, still super balanced and smooth. Big oak and chocolate fudge comes to mind.

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Photo of CFHMagnet
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes taken 10-24-13.

I went to Deagan's in Lakewood with my wife and some friends for Cleveland Beer Week. We got there as soon after 5 pm as we could because we heard that they were tapping this beer at 5.

The beer was brought to me in a snifter. I got a thin ring of rich brown head over a beer that was as black as night.

The smell was malt and dark fruit, with strong notes of chocolate and a good whiff of booze.

Roasty and malty made up the first impressions of flavor in this delicious beer. Milk chocolate soon turned up and made a good show through most of the rest of the tasting. Vanilla, wood and a hint of bourbon came in and finished it off beautifully.

This beer was smooth. It was almost Fonzie smooth. It felt like silk going down, and was the most enjoyable beer I had that evening.

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Photo of Mrappinin
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just popped the 2012 brew. Poor's a deep ruby only noticeable when held up to the light. The head is a thin dark brown mocha color that dissipates quickly. Heavy vanilla on the nose with slight coffee and bourbon to follow up. Rates of vanilla creamy chocolate and coffee and bourbon to finish it all off. Light carbonation make this a very creamy enjoyable BBS. The best BBS I have ever tried hands down sat this on the shelf for about ten months a very smooth blended flavor, it all works togeather.

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Photo of kbutler1
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Draft. FINALLY, I am able to try this beer! On tap at ABR. Pours a pitch black brown color with a light tan collared head. Dark Chocolate, vanilla, and a touch of earthy leather aroma. Medium/heavy mouthfeel. Roast coffee adds some bitterness, dark chocolate, vanilla, all very well balanced together. Ends with a slight lingering bitterness. I find myself continuing to go back to Bell’s tent to try this one and everytime is just as enjoyable as the last. The 10.5% is there but well incorporated and is not abrasive at all.

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Photo of barczar
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque black with a quarter inch foamy brown head that dissipates into a ring around the rim.

Deep toasty, nutty notes are prominent early, with lots of chocolate and a not of booze, along with a hint of roast malt at the finish. Subtle dark fruit is present in the form of cherries and plums. Vanilla and oak surface late.

Flavor is sweet, chocolatey, and raisiny, with moderate roast character. Booze is evident in the finish, along with sweet cherries. Oak emerges as it warms.

Body is syrupy and velvety, with minimal carbonation and significant alcohol warmth.

Less roast character than most, and leaning toward the sweet side. Cherry is fairly dominant near the finish. A little hot, but tasty.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ninety-nine down, one to go (or at least until the top 100 changes again). Finally got to try this elusive brew at the Bell's 30 Taps World Record event at Beer Sellar in Indy. Had three 5oz tasters of this stuff.

N.B. This was listed as "BB Double Cream Stout", but Larry Bell assured everyone it was the blend and that the erroneous name was merely due to a label approval issue.

A - A half-finger of dark mocha foam with solid retention, and a little bit of lacing. Pitch black - there was no trace of color, even at the fringes. It's about what I expect from a high gravity Imperial Stout.

S - Tons of bourbon and vanilla notes, a bit of roastiness - it wasn't the most complex nose. I even patiently waited for it to warm up, as it was served WAY too cold, but I didn't really get much more than the basics here.

T - The taste was superb, and was somewhat shocking after the lukewarm aroma. Tons of bourbon, vanilla, sweet malts, milk chocolate, and a bit of dark fruit and barrel. I love the way the Double Cream Stout portion offsets the roasty bitterness and acidity. As a result the aftertaste is surprisingly mild.

M - Mild carbonation, super smooth, lighter in body than I expected (more medium-to-full). Plenty of residual stickiness in this one, and shockingly a bit of heat (even after a couple years in the keg).

D - Super drinkable for what it was - the multiple tasters went down pretty easy. I think out of the ten tickets my wife and I got, we used at least half of them on this superb brew. The only problem is the ABV, and is that really that big of a problem? ;-)

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sample at the Bell's tasting at Brews Cafe on 3/6/08: This beer pours a matte black color with a medium thin light brown head with decent retention. Small patches of lacing on the glass. Aroma of coffee liqueur, bourbon and toasted malt. Rich, chewy body with loads of roasted malt and bittersweet chocolate flavor, as well as bourbon and plum. The finish is roasty and sweet at first with mild alcohol and coffee in the aftertaste. Very enjoyable, and a close second to the Bourbon Barrel Java Stout at this event.

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Photo of emerge077
4.44/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Second time trying Black Note, first time bottled.

Dark and viscous, tawny mahogany edges, frothy tan foam. Little to no lacing, glassy obsidian surface. Creamy viscous feel, not overly sweet, dry and not at all cloying. Big flavors of toasted almond, dark chocolate, espresso, and toasted coconut. Dry aftertaste of almond, chocolate, and trace pipe tobacco. The base beers are harmoniously blended and sing in chorus with the barrel. Expressive and flavorful, a benchmark of the style that seems to be increasingly ubiquitous and often poorly done. Black Note is in the upper echelon of BBA stouts for sure.

Thanks Aaron & Chris for the chance to try this!

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Photo of Moose90
4.44/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage

A — Pours a dark rich pitch black hue into the glass, there is a thin filmy dark coffee brown head that forms and leaves behind a trace of oily lace with each sip.

S — Smell is strong and focused, notes of barrel, vanilla, oak, lightly charred coffee and malts. Slightly boozy. Dark chocolate, coffee, espresso, caramel cream.

T — Licorice, anise, bitter espresso, coffee, chocolate bark, dark chocolate malted milk balls, vanilla, Bourbon, oak, chewy.

M — Full-Bodied, rich, lingering full finish.

O — Very good overall, a fantastic BA Stout.

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Photo of axeman9182
4.44/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, bottled on date of 12/28/12. Received this one from gpawned and tat2dhllblly. It was allowed to warm before being poured into my Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

Black Note pours jet black, with maybe half a finger of dark, mocha foam crowning the beer. Head retention is good, but the lacing left behind is minimal. The nose is spectacular, with aromas of vanilla, marshmallow, brown sugar, bourbon, and a dusting of dark chocolate all waft out of the glass. The only (minor) complaint I have is that the barrel characteristics are highlighted so much more so than that of the base beer. The flavor profile does have some more cocoa to it, as well as even just a little bit of espresso. It comes at the expense of the nuanced bourbon barrel profile. The marshmallow disappears completely, and vanilla and caramelized sugar fade. All are replaced by more of a straight off boozy bourbon flavor. It's great that more stout shines through, but the tradeoff isn't quite worth it. Still, the flavor's very good (just doesn't quite live up to the expectations set by the nose). The mouthfeel has a certain silky quality to it, and it's paired with an appropriately subdued carbonation. The body just isn't quite full enough to really be excellent though. I've had a couple of "hyped" beers that didn't quite measure up lately, but I'm happy to say that Black Note isn't one of them. Superb barrel aged stout from Bell's

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 572 ratings.