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
99
world-class

542 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 542
Hads: 3,639
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 2.45%
Wants: 2,510
Gots: 923 | FT: 81
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 542 | Hads: 3,639
Photo of n2185
4.36/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: pours black with a finger of dark tan head that fades into a thin ring with no lacing.

S: roasted malts with dark chocolate and coffee up front followed by smooth vanilla, toffee, oak, and bourbon.

T: roasted malts with creamy dark chocolate and coffee. Oak, toffee, and bourbon bring up a roasted and sweet finish with a light alcohol burn.

M: thick body with medium carbonation, this beer is a little more carbonated than most examples of the style.

O: a delicious and wonderful smelling beer. I wish it had a bit creamier body, but that's about the worst I can say about it. (584 characters)

Photo of illidurit
4.4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle at Blue Palms during RBSG 2012. Pours pitch black with a coffee-colored head. Boozy coffee and vanilla in the aroma, malty with some acidity. Gorgeous flavor, heaps of cream, sugar and vanilla complementing roasty coffee notes and a deep warm chocolatiness. Bourbon is smooth and melds well without much heat. (316 characters)

Photo of WorldWideStout
3.61/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this during D.C. Beer Week at The Big Hunt.

A: It's a bit dark in the room, but I can tell there's the typical pitch-black body. What's unusual is that a wisp of a head stays around for several minutes, even after I take a few sips.

S: Mostly bourbon. There is a little bit of roast and biscuit in there as well.

T: The taste opens up with some toffee from the malts, and then ripe dark fruits make an appearance. Towards the middle the bourbon comes out in full force. It's not the sweet bourbon I'm used to in BA stouts - it's more rough and young. The end of each sip and aftertaste is fairly unpleasant - harsh booziness.

M: Nice velvety mouthfeel with the appropriate small amount of carbonation.

O: I was not terribly impressed by this beer. The barrel notes are too prominent, and it's pretty boozy. I'd try it again if it had been aged for a year plus, but I didn't find the draught version worth all the hype. (929 characters)

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

Huge thanks to Derek, as always, for the bottle.

Black in color with a small tan head. Aroma is almost overpowering bourbon and vanilla. Rich chocolate and a bit of roasted malt. Simplicity at its finest. The flavor is similarly bold. A touch of alcohol, intense bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Tons of chocolate, some hints of coffee and roasted malt, and a bit of molasses. Excellent, decadent stuff. (398 characters)

Photo of ThePorterSorter
4/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle 923/1081...don't know what that means. But I feel more special letting people know.

Dark black with no head and shiny flecks of garnet in the light. The nose presents a good presence from the oak and a slight touch of oxidation. The taste follows suit with the addition of a nice chocolaty malt base that screams stout.. but definitely not a Russian imperial with only a modestly thick mouthfeel. The mouthfeel is slightly bourbon boozy, but not enough to scream BBA. It's just weak-sauce in comparison to the other stouts I've had. (541 characters)

Photo of stakem
4.22/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Draft served in a snifter. The brew pours black in color with a rich mocha head. The cap fades pretty fast leaving spotty patches of lace sticking to the glass.

The smell is vibrant with bourbon and barrel aging characteristics that smell of coconut, vanilla and lots of neutral oak. Roasty grain is present smelling of coffee and chocolate. Some tangy booze rounds things up.

The taste is tangy with bourbon booze quality right out the gate that doesnt diminish during the experience. Bitter unsweetened cocoa lingers in the mouth coupled with coffee, raw oak, vanilla, and some hints of caramel sweetness as it warms up.

This is a medium bodied brew with a light level of carbonation. It is quite a boozy sipper that is enjoyable. Fans of expedition stout will go crazy over this. Very well done and worth seeking out if it doesnt cost you a limb. (852 characters)

Photo of thebigredone
4.2/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, thanks Bells for bringing this to the Milwaukee Brewfest, what an awesome surprise. Definitely the best beer at the event.

Nose dominated by warm bourbon and chocolate notes.

Taste also begins with warm bourbon, followed by a smooth chocolate rosat, and finishes with more bourbon. Delicious, but I would have preferred the stout to have a slightly stronger presence, as I feel it was largely overshawdowed by the bourbon notes.

Mouthfeel was fairly creamy, but could have been more so.

Overall, an excellent offering from Bells. I would really be interested in trying a BA version of Expedition Stout and seeing if that might be preferable to the Expedition/Cream Stout blend. (688 characters)

Photo of BMMillsy
4.84/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Previously I tried this at Michigan Brewer's Guild and it came of strangely sour and off. Maybe from a bad keg? Got a bottle now. Pours pitch black with a very small brown head. Aroma is heavy vanilla, licorice, chocolate and bourbon. Smells very rich. Some up front bite with medium low carbonation. Flavor of licorice at first, finishing with overwhelming chocolate and then sweet vanilla really lingering. Thick and viscous, slightly acidic with some burning alcohol going on. Age would probably smooth it out but overall pretty awesome! Glad I got to re-rate this.

Another rerate here with a 2012 bottle poured on 3/22/14. Mostly similar but the booze tones down considerably now. Big anise flavors and lots of beautiful vanilla chocolate Good n Plenties. This is still awesome. The Expedition seems to shine through a bit with the age on this one. Very interesting. (871 characters)

Photo of hopsolutely
4.32/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow. An awful lot "going on" in this beer. On tap at Ashleys in Ann Arbor. Pours a beautiful dark mahogany with coffee coloured head and lacing. Stunning aroma of oak tannins with a strong roasted & caramelized malt background. Robust flavour that lingers for an impressive length of time. 11% ABV is almost completely hidden in the warm malt tones. Coffee, chocolate, licorice and lots & lots of oak. Even some rye or bourbon notes?

An excellent beer! (453 characters)

Photo of orangesol
4.47/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden, Brass Rail and Shady McGrady's all in the same week. Also out of a growler at ffej of july...Yeah, this area does not suck.

A - Pours jet black with a nice one and a half finger tall mocha colored head leaving sticky streaks of lace down parts of the glass.

S - Smells of warm bourbon, milk chocolate, vanilla, dark roasted malt, brown sugar and quite a bit of lactic creaminess. Bourbon is strong initially but the other aroma's grow to help keep it in check.

T - Starts off with a big dose of warm bourbon, chocolate and some lactic creaminess from the double cream stout. Hints of vanilla, oak, brown sugar and rich coffee help to break things up and keep things interesting. Finish is pretty sweet with plenty of boozy bourbon and some dark roast, lingering on the palate long after consumption.

M - Big, full body with a TON of sweet flavors and moderate carbonation. Smooth, boozy feel throughout the glass.

O - I have missed out on trying this one a few times in the past so I was really looking forward to trying it when I saw that it went on-tap. Now that I have had it 4-5 times in the span of a week I can say that it definitely lives up to its billing. Awesome beer for sure. (1,226 characters)

Photo of DarthKostrizer
4/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by MrBubbler at woodshop. Thanks Adam glad I didn't give up the world for this

Look: Black in color with a small tan head and disappears quite quickly that leaves behind a couple dots of lace

Smell: Upfront is a touch of bourbon backed up by some roasted malts and chocolate and finishes with a nice kiss of vanilla and oak

Taste: The taste starts off a little differently from the nose with the roasted and chocolate notes upfront subtle but nice. Vanilla kicks in almost immediately after the chocolate fades and the beer finishes with the bourbon and oak I was looking for

Mouthfeel: Rich and creamy and medium to full in body with low carbonation

Overall: I did enjoy this beer and would drink it if I lived closer to the source. Definitely worth trying but definitely not worth the lofty price tag. I really do hate limited releases and hype (865 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.07/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle pour courtesy of mrbubbler at Woodshop 7 held at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roated malt, cocoa, bourbon, wood, and vanilla. Taste is much the same but the flavors are a bit more muted than I was expecting from the aromas. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a great smell but a smooth and somewhat mellow flavor. (606 characters)

Photo of Shibbykaiyai
4.82/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Ashley's in Ann Arbor, MI for a special event.

My buddy dragged me to this event for the sole purpose of trying this beer. And I am happy that he did.

You can smell the bourbon in the pour and it has the some of the best characteristics of the two brews that were combined to make it. It is a great mixture of the Expedition and the Double Cream Stouts.

Although I am normally not a stout person, this is one the best brews I have had in a long time. I just wish it was more readily available. (507 characters)

Photo of liamt07
4.41/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks a ton to Sammy for pulling this out for just the two of us, bottle 24 of 1081 (Batch 10136). 750ml into tulips, gotta love full pours.

Black, with a transient brown head. Moderate legs, but only whisps of some head and a thin collar remain. Bourbon is big in the nose, along with coconut, vanilla, and brown sugar. Quite sweet, barrel aging is front and center. Taste leads with more smooth bourbon, coconut, mild chocolate and roast flavours. Great barrel flavours, creamier notes are slightly present. Medium full body, warming with some noticeable alcohol after some larger gulps. Low carbonation, with great density and smoothness. An awesome BBA'd stout, but not the best I've ever had form the style. Awesome to have tried though. (744 characters)

Photo of vandemonian
4.47/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bell's Black Note is a delicious imperial stout with lovely dark fruit, bourbon and oak flavours.

A: Black colour and a thin head that fades fast. 4

S: It smells of bourbon barrel as well as sweet raisiny malt. 4.5

T: A strong and slightly bitter malt flavour. There is some coffee flavour too. Delicious. The finish is quite sweet with some sweet raisin and dusty oak. 4.5

M: Thick and foamy. 4.5

O: 4.5 (409 characters)

Photo of VncentLIFE
4.7/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at the Mellow Mushroom in Greensboro, NC.

The smell has a pretty good amount bourbon. Thick roasty characteristic from Expedition.

The taste is wow. The bourbon from the barrel stands out straight away, then you get all that roasty malt and notes of coffee and dark chocolate. The most impressive part is the addition of the creaminess from Double Cream Stout.

Perfect blending of base beer. (405 characters)

Photo of Sammy
3.97/5  rDev -11.6%
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. (339 characters)

Photo of akorsak
4.27/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Al's. Luckily this one lasted until I got back from vacation.

A: The stout is dark, a black combination of two already black beers. A crème colored head, pulling some of the darkness of the ale into its whiteness, is ample is size, coating the sides of the glass.

S: The nose is bourbon, tempered by the cream and imperial stout aromas. Coffee and roasted malts, chocolatey, have a sweetness that goes nicely with the vanilla from the barrel. Sweetness, not sugary, is the mark of the stout - rich and warming.

T: Sweet bourbon leads off, the vanilla and coconut pairing with wooden thickness. The wood sets up the stout flavors that follow. The Expedition adds coffee and burnt bread flavors - filling on their own. Lactic sweetness, thank you Double Cream, fills a void, softening up the Expedition's full-on assault. The bourbon remains throughout each sip, mingling with the stout. It returns for a heavy, boozy swansong at the finish, a strong dose of flavor that isn't too strong. The Expedition and bourbon go very nicely together.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth and full, delicious without too much booziness. One glass, allowed to warm, did the trick for me. A heck of a find for Al's and I'm glad that I snagged some - a delicious stout. (1,254 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.42/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Bx Beer Depot. A keg of Hopslam and a keg of Black Note. Amazingly, the Hopslam kicked long before the Black Note, so I enjoyed three of these as I watched people go nuts for Hopslam.

Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Big khaki head. Not a particularly dark head, though. Decent retention. Oh yeah, it's black.

Smell - Huge barrel notes. Bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Roasted chocolate, but otherwise the stout is a touch lost in the barrel. Boozy, too.

Taste - Chocolate and a building tingle of bourbon. Vanilla flavor throughout. The chocolate comes back in the finish in a much more bitter manifestation. Less boozy in the finish that the smell would indicate. Really wonderful incorporation of barrel and stout.

Mouthfeel - Very creamy, which I assume is the Cream Stout. Boozy and chewy, but not too thick. Low carbonation, which is strange. Nearly flat.

Overall - It's damn good. I don't know how much separates the best BA stouts, but this one is quite nice. I'm happy not to have traded for it and rather just came and drank the equivalent of a 750 on tap. Will be back for more next year.

Edited based on drinking the hell out of this at the Michigan Summer Beer Festival. (1,196 characters)

Photo of challenja
4.66/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served On Tap at ChurchKey DC.

A: Pitch Black Vin Diesel style viciousness! No foam, straight Kung Fu Bizness! Hi YAAA..
S: This beer was a struggle to get a nose on, served in a snifter too! Lots of huffing and puffing to pull notes on this one.
Vanilla bean and smoked oak barrell, Dark Cocoa nibs, around 80 % cocoa. Dark roasted coffee, and dark smoked italian meats.. weird.. bourbon barrel wiffs
T: Straight off the bat Vanilla Bean rings through, Dark Colombian Bean bitters, Dark juniper berries, hints of candied cherries. Fire roasted English malts. Dark Cocoa with a nice boozy bourbon barrel finish.
M: This is one impressive beer. Vicious, thick and creamy. Fantastic medium to light carbonation that really pushes the Juniper berries through the Vanilla bean burnt cask. mmm.

O: A Fantastic A+ stout. A vicious Customer so tread with Caution. If you like this you will love KBS, Firestone Parabola, Epic Big Bad Baptist Stout, and Lienenkugal Big Eddy Imperial Stout (984 characters)

Photo of Jeffo
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle so generously provided by hotpipes29. Thanks for going the extra mile on this one. Much appreciated.

From a 75cl bottle into a snifter
Batch 10,136
Bottle 618 of 1081
Blend of Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout aged in bourbon barrels.

APPEARANCE: A black pour yields a one finger, medium looking, light mocha colored head with decent retention. Head fades to a good wisp and sticks to the sides of the glass. Jet black body with lower levels of carbonation. Looks pretty solid. A swirly wisp and ring remain the whole way and leave dots of lacing down the glass. Good looking beer.

SMELL: Some roasted malts and dark chocolate under a very nice bourbon barrel. Oak, milk chocolate and a touch of sweet cream. Not overly bold, but the base beer of roasted chocolatey goodness meshes really well with the bourbon barrel notes. Well done.

TASTE: Bourbon barrel and caramel malts up front with some roasted notes and dark chocolate in there as well. Lots of barrel on the swallow, with bourbon, oak, vanilla and caramel sweetness. Big, bold and lingering aftertaste is full of barrel flavors, dark chocolate and roasted malt notes as well. Big barrel presence, but plenty of stout still plays and important roll. A very impressive barrel-heavy beer that still shows a solid base beer underneath it all. Excellent stuff.

PALATE: Medium body with slightly lower levels of carbonation. Creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes somwehat sticky on the palate. Solid feel here.

OVERALL: This was a good beer for sure. In all honesty, I'm not the hugest Bell's fan, especially after being underwhelmed with Hopslam and Expedition, but this one really pushed all the right buttons. With a thick, dark pour, and bold, balanced aromas and flavors, this one really impressed. An excellend BA imperial stout that I would love to have again at some point. Cheers for the beer hotpipes! We really enjoyed this one. (1,940 characters)

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.32/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 561/1081. Thanks to JAXSON for this one. 750ml corked and caged bottle into a Cigar City snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Pours pitch black. 1 finger dark mocha head that dissipates quickly. Spotty lace. Amazingly thick legs. Solid.

Nose is vanilla, lactose, chocolate, fudge, and a boozy tickle. Real sweet but nice complexity. Aromatic too.

Opens sweet soy sauce, chocolate, fudge, and cocoa powder. Some roasted malt, molasses in the middle. Sweet brown sugar and caramel. More molasses at the end. Booziness throughout sweetens the brew but doesn't overpower or cover the complexity. Amazing. Sweet, syrupy aftertaste.

Medium to full bodied with low carbonation. Oily and slick in the mouth and goes down with some heat. Messy finish with a lingering aftertaste. Really good.

There are a lot of barrel-aged stouts with a lot of hype behind them. Some are good, some not so much. Black Note definitely deserves the praise it gets. A nicely complex brew with just the right amount of barrel presence and a great mouthfeel to tie it all together. Can't wait to get my hands on more! (1,099 characters)

Photo of John_M
4.7/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Al's of Hampden.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with excellent head retention and considerable creamy, sticky lacing all around. The nose is terrific in this beer, as I pick up dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla, considerable bourbon and even some apple brandy. This really smells great... yet as good as it smells, damn if it doesn't taste even better. The flavor profile largely replicates the nose, but there's a nice dash of hoppy bitterness in the finish that really helps to buoy and counter the moderate sweetness in this beer. For such a big beer, it's really well balanced, and is just so easy to drink. Also, despite the high alcohol, there's not a hint of heat from alcohol in the finish. Mouthfeel is fairly full, with a long, chocolate, coffee and vanilla finish. This is just a delicious beer. Really impressed by how well the brewer managed to keep everything in just the right preportion in this excellent beer.

Clearly among the barrel aged RIS elite. Very, very well done. (1,006 characters)

Photo of nrbw23
4.12/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a pitch black color with pretty much no head. Head consists of just a handful of bubbles and leaves no lacing.

S- I thought the aroma was the best part of this brew. Quite a bit of vanilla, very faint coffee, bourbon, chocolate, and some faint dark fruits.

T- Pretty solid brew for sure, but overall very sweet. The sweetness was almost over powering everything else in this brew. Follows the nose well with a ton of vanila. Bourbon is here but fairly light. A good amount of booze too.

M- Medium in body and a lot thinner than I expected. Carbonation was also pretty low.

O- A good beer that might be a victim of the hype train. Glad I got to try this one. (672 characters)

Photo of kscaldef
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Goose Island BCS tasting on 6/16/2012, thrown in for variety.

A: Very dark, with a dark brown head which recedes quickly.

S: Bourbon, molasses, chocolate, toasted nuts.

T: Caramel, honey, bourbon. Nice biscuit malt body.

M: Well carbonated, slightly oily, good long linger. Mouth coating, but fairly clean. Slight wood on the finish. (337 characters)

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 542 ratings.