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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.

557 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 557
Hads: 3,732
Avg: 4.5
pDev: 8.44%
Wants: 2,596
Gots: 953 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 557 | Hads: 3,732
Photo of BB1313
3.8/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 vintage. Batch # 12811. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours black with a little light getting through; small khaki head that fades leaves solid lacing and retention. The aromas are full of milk chocolate and bourbon. Smells pretty typical for the style. The flavors are good, but leave me wanting more. Lots of milk chocolate giving it a sweetness along with some dark chocolate giving it a bitterness. Lots of dark fruits in the mix. Maybe some black cherries and some raisins. Some vanilla. Black coffee is there. Some oak/wood notes. Slightly spicy. The bourbon is there and isn't overwhelming at all, but there's a very subtle warmth in the finish. The alcohol basically goes unnoticed, but there's hints of booze that pop up every once in awhile. Mouthfeel is full-bodied with moderate carbonation. I was expecting for it to have that thick motor oil/milkshake mouthfeel, but it's not quite on that level. It's still creamy and fluffy though. This is ultimately easy to drink, but makes a nice sipper.

This is a nice offering from Bell's. I missed the 2012 bottle by 5 minutes, so I made sure I snagged a bottle this year. It's very good stuff, but ultimately left me underwhelmed. I guess maybe my expectations were just too high considering Bell's is one of my favorite breweries and the hype that always surrounded this beer.

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Photo of Ohiovania
3.8/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lots of hype on this beer. The nose had hints of bourbon and chocolate with a little coffee, but mostly had wet dog which was really disappointing. I've heard that's from something from the hops that causes this odor but it should settle out with time as the hops fade.

Mouth feel is great. Taste had all the usual bourbony vanilla and caramel I expect. All around a good beer that was slightly disappointing. Looking forward to having this again in a year or so.

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Photo of HopHead84
3.82/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Shared by largadeer on 11/06/2009 and poured into a snifter. Thanks Chris! The beer is black with a wispy light brown head. Retention is decent and lacing is scattered.

The nose is of dark chocolate, vanilla, and prominent molasses. The chocolate has a fudge-like quality and licorice presence is strong. Booze and anise are evident. Nice rich nose.

The flavor is licorice, molasses, fudge, and dark chocolate. As the beer warms, the licorice becomes increasingly powerful. The finish is alcoholic and somewhat harsh. Molasses and licorice eventually overwhelm the other flavors. The beer is full bodied with a thick and slightly syrupy mouthfeel. I enjoyed the nose, but the taste had too much licorice and molasses for me. I was enamored for the first couple ounces, but I quickly became disenchanted

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Photo of PHBoiler
3.83/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thin and a bit papery already from 2014. Balanced dark chocolate and bourbon, which has blended nicely over time. The mellowing of flavors also added some oxidation. The bourbon adds a critical dimension but the mouthfeel is lacking at this high end of the BA stout spectrum.

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Photo of tjthresh
3.86/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dense black with a large brown head. Sweet chared sugar with chocolate, coffee, and roasted character. The flavor is a nice coco/bourbon mix. Lush, rich, and a dry finish finish this off. I don't seem to be as high on this as most. Still really good beer.

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Photo of beagle75
3.88/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft service into a snifter at The Flying Saucer in Kansas City.

A: Opaque black color with a diminishing residue of light beight bubbles. Scant lacing remains on the glass.

S: Dark chocolate and vanilla are well represented. Little spirit or wood influences transmitted in the smell. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins very off-dry with rich chocolate and vanilla from the smell as well as dark cherry fruit. Acidity is moderate into the middle as fruit is replaced by some pure roast. Another spike of acidity occurs before the mellow finish fully matures, yielding some late bourbon notes but remaining light on wood and booze.

M: Thick viscosity, creamy but slightly acidic on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: Best categorized as a dessert beer--it is not as assertive on the palate as some stouts that are born 'imperial' then givven the bourbon barrel treatment. Entirely respectable, it would serve well as a gateway to the world of barrel aged beers.

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Photo of Gfunk720
3.9/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Rogee for this bottle. 12oz 2012 bottle out of my Hill Farmstead Glass.

A- Pitch black in color, pours with a nice tannish mocha head that retreats to a light ring around the glass. Some light lacing, but more of an oily sheen on the inside of the glass.

S- Smells wonderful. A nice combination of roasted malt and some smokey barrel character. Some hints of bourbon, but it is very subdued. Notes of dark fruit, chocolate, and some creamy character.

T- To be honest, it is hard to believe that Expedition stout is the base for this beer, as it has no where near the malt presence. The initial flavor is fizzy, roasted malt and booziness. I get a little chocolate, but the barrel is a little overwhelming. The bourbon does add some vanilla flavor, these may need some time to mellow.

M- A bit fizzy, and a little light bodied. Just feels slightly watery, and doesn't have a whole lot of depth.

O- I wanted to try one of these fresh, and have to say I was slightly let down. Expedition stout is one of my all time favorite stouts, as it is just so full bodied and creamy. I feel like the barrel aging of this beer made it slightly less viscous, and at this point isn't drinking too great. The barrel is really just coming through as heat and overwhelming booziness. I definitely need to sit on a few of these for a while, and see how they develop.

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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 Auracom
3.92/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Another great tick here, didn't catch the name of the guy who provided this but thanks to him nonetheless. 2-3 oz. poured into a tulip on March 10th, 2012.

A - Semi-thick black coloring but with a crazy deep violet hue around the edges of the tulip. No head or the like.

S - The bourbon barrels that the Expedition portion sat in seem a bit weak here. Very balanced malt signature with additional caramel and roasted almonds.

T - More of the same, generally. Breadyness, spices, further barrel qualities, faint anise, and sweet malts. Good balance, very creamy. I suspect the Double Cream Stout made a stronger showing here than it did in the aromatics.

M - Very much in the vein of aged Expedition. Toned-down carbonation, medium body.

D - Crazy hype on this one, and I'm not sure it lives up to it. A friend mentioned that it's not quite at the level in this bottle that it used to be straight from the keg. Oh well, glad to have had the chance to try it and I think the blend is genius. Would love to try another bottle to see about variation because I think this has serious potential.

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Photo of monitorpop
3.92/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black with a one finger airy tan head that quickly faded to a ring.

S: Smooth bourbon with subtitle chocolate, coffee and vanilla extract.

T: Dominate bitter dark chocolate with some coffee that fades into lingering bourbon. More bitter than sweet.

M: A bit thinner and than I expected. Some nice warming alcohol in the finish.

O: More bitter and less sweet than I prefer, but still a really good beer that certainly improves as it warms up.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.95/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml into a tumbler glass.

A- pours black with a 1 finger tan head. Minimal lacing.

S- big chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, some spice.

T- chocolate, roast, bourbon, slight vanilla, with some bitterness near the end.

M- medium body and carbonation. Slightly thinner than other similar BA stouts.

O- good BA stout but doesn't knock your socks off. Nose is slightly better then the taste.

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Photo of Sammy
3.97/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.97/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

A: Poured black , sordove sluggish with a moderate dirty cap which leaves some good bubbles and lacing.

S: Chocolate, light whiff of licorice, coffee and a light booze sting

T: Big coffee upfront with chocolate, black licorice and roasted notes. Light addiions of dark fruit in the background. I felt any barrel was really backseat on this bottle but then again I had been consuming bookoo stouts. But really, I perceived more velvety stout qualities than I did barrel so that was a hit for me.

M: Full bodied, low to medium carbonation, yet I felt it was a bit thin going down. Its not as full or thick as I expected from the pour

O: A good beer but I have been drink a lot of Kalamazoo lately and I actually enjoy it over this Imperial Stout. Odd huh?

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.98/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep black color stout with a nice large dark brown color foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma consists of bourbon with some vanilla notes and black chocolates. Taste is also dominated by a well-balanced mix between some vanilla, bourbon, creamy black chocolates and light bitterness. Body is thinner then I had anticipated with good carbonation and no alcohol was apparent. Very solid barrel-aged stout but I would have loved a bit more of body to this beer.

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Photo of Weli
3.98/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On Tap at the Republic West Bank MSP

A-Pitch black beer with thin tan head, just enough to lace the rim leaving the center of the pint obsidian black

S-Can definitely tell the bourbon from a mile away. Oak, velvet, dark cocoa, vanilla and bourbon with an estery British stout character

T-Kinda overpowering, Very sweet malt character, balanced by dark chocolate, espresso with body from the oak tannins and bourbon. Underlain by vanilla notes.

M-Thick and cloying

O-I much prefer the expedition stout to black note even though black note contains some expedition stout. This beer is excellent, but even 8oz is a bit much at one sitting really belongs in a snifter glass served as an appertif or with a dessert course. It is very sweet while at the same time assertively bitter. A very complex beer, I nonetheless might skip the oak barrels or age longer as the flavors as presented are somewhat discordant.

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Photo of siege06nd
3.98/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter at RFD. Thanks a million, Josh!

A. Pitch black, like a rolling thundercloud. Surprising amount of head and retention for a beer this big....a light brown, quarter finger ring circles the glass and rests peacefully through the session. Really good lacing absolutely coats the glass. Top notch.

S. Lots of vanilla, molasses, chocolate, dark fruit, and oak. Smells like bourbon soaked chocolate cake. It's pretty tame right now. Not exploding off the nose, but it has a velvety, decadent bouquet. Still, I would have liked to see a more complex, assertive nose on this. Good, not great.

T. That's very nice thank you very much. Packed with vanilla, bourbon, oak, dark fruit, raisin, molasses. Slightly dry, hoppy finish. Black Note has a significant and pleasing dark chocolate presence, backed up with some roasted coffee and oak char. A caramel smoothness softens the edges around this one....just a kiss of booze on the back end. It is very well made, yet somewhat light for a such a bruiser. I expect more of a sweet, cloying, decadent treatment a la Goose Island. This is good, but I have had more complex and better barrel aged stouts.

M. Is it fair to say this drinks thin? Here is where I feel Black Note loses out to the competition, particularly Firestone, Founders, and Goose Island. There is a decidedly absent feel here. An abbreviated finish leaves me wanting. Well integrated flavors give this a good mark but greatness escapes the Black Note.

O. Good. A smooth, rich bouquet and decadent molasses make this a very good barrel aged stout. But it is not worth the hype. Not by a country mile. BCBS and CBS kick this in the boobs. Do not trade your cellar for it. But definitely try it if it is on tap nearby.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.99/5  rDev -11.3%
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.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.99/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Porter Beer Bar, re-reviewed from a 2012 12oz bottle

A: Pours pitch black with two fingers of off white head. Retention is decent.

S: Strong bourbon upfront, I get dark chocolate, caramel, and licorice behind. Dark fruit in the background adds to the complexity. The aromas mix very well together.

T: Again, strong bourbon and caramel upfront, this time there is more coffee and roast to balance. I get a bit of lactose sweetness to give a bit more sweetness. I also get quite a bit of dark chocolate, intensifying as the beer warms. The beer always stays on the roasty/coffee side, but is very well balanced.

M: A bit on the thin side for the style with low carbonation. Definitely the worst part of this beer, but not terrible.

O: With a bit thicker mouthfeel, this would be significantly better. It still balances roast, bourbon, and chocolate extremely well, better than just about any other barrel aged stout that I've had.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
4/5  rDev -11.1%
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

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4/5  rDev -11.1%
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.

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Photo of Florida9
4.01/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Black in color. Forms a small mocha colored head that doesn't bother to stick around for long, receding fairly quickly to not even a hint of surface coating, leaving only a glossy, black liquid in the glass. Only a speck or two of lacing.

S: Aroma is sweet and boozy; a mix of chocolate, vanilla, molasses, fig, and a very slight mintyness.

T: Taste is sweet and chocolatey, with a bourbon kick. Actually this is the most chocolatey bourbon barrel aged stout I've ever come across. Flavor is sweet with notes of vanilla, raisin, plum, anise, and milk chocolate. A mix of alcohol and brown sugar sweetness on the finish

M: Very smooth, almost velvety, with a lower carbonation level. A bit boozy, but still a fairly mellow beer.

O: This beer reminded me of some sort of nouveau bourbon-infused chocolate dessert. Sweet and chocolatey with a pleasant bourbon quality to round it out. Would make a nice dessert, but its not exactly what I'm looking for in a beer.

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Photo of rodkin
4.02/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Got a pour at the STLhops anniversary party.

Looks like a stout. Black, smallish head. Poured into a tasting glass so I couldn't get a great sense, but it's nothing special.

Smell is vanilla, coffee, bit of chocolate, some oak, roasty bitterness, some dark fruits. It's pretty good, but it's a bit muddled. Not a lot of balance.

Taste gets better as it warms. Vanilla, coffee, bourbon, oak, caramel. Really rich, very tasty.

Mouthfeel was too thin and flat. I don't want it to be hypercarbonated, but more than it has would be good. It's also too watery. I like my stouts to be thick and chewy, which this was not.

This is a solid stout. However, the mouthfeel was really lacking, and it was a bit unbalanced. A bit disappointing. I'd like to try it again sometime, maybe get a better experience.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.02/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks, Chris!

Jet black, rather hysterically so, this beer is blacker than OA Dark Lord. There's a thin, tan head that recedes to a ring rather rapidly

The nose is a pretty excellent combination of licorice, molasses, bourbon and vanilla. I'm not picking up much Double Cream character. Dark chocolate, fudge and a touch of alcohol is present in the back. This mostly smells like what I'd expect BA Expedition to smell like.

Opens with plenty of licorice, molasses and vanilla, there's some bourbon character. Very, very intense, this is almost harsh. There's some dark chocolate mid palate but the finish is disappointing, with the flavors vanishing, leaving just a bitter licorice finish. Full in body with low carbonation, the flavors are great, but the intensity of the licorice is not much to my liking. While I did drink my 4oz, I'm glad I got to try this without having to give up the farm.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.03/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally, a limited-release beer in a 12 oz bottle. Though the price-per-ounce is about the same, I don’t have to shell out a considerable chunk of my net worth just to try a specialty brew.

Brewed a little over a month before the date of this tasting (“PKGD 12/28/12).

A: Pours a slick dark brown, nearly black, with a surprisingly watery appearance. The only head to appear are some fizzy soda bubbles along the edge of the glass; slight wet lacing.

S: Sweet vanilla nougat and caramel candy tones with a flowing backdrop of woody bourbon. Overall, the aroma is malty as hell, but the booze and roast make the sugars manageable. Hints of hickory smoke, baking chocolate, and Irish cream play along the edges. Hints of slight oxidation appear in small, sparse doses, giving a cardboard scent.

T: A slow-building masterwork, this palate begins with a luscious wave of residual sugars: tastes of syrupy caramel and vanilla abound. As in the nose, it’s a candy sweetness. Soon after these sugars lay down as the body of the brew, tastes of cinnamon, anise, toasted coconut, and bitter chocolate shift the palate to a character of soft spice, a quick transition to the dark, roasty, finish. In a final burst of flavor, powerful tones of smoke, chili pepper, black coffee, and burnt toast overwhelm the sense and bring this beer to a staggeringly smoked end. Charred bourbon barrel tastes linger in a moderate aftertaste of oak, smoke, and astringent whiskey, along with a dried-out sugar flavor akin to cola.

M: Feels like it looks, actually – a little thinner than expected. With the hidden alcohol and all the residual sugars, it really drinks more like root beer at first. Light, foamy carbonation.

O: A good stout is never unwelcome in January, and this one hit the spot. If you like smoke and barrel, this is your beer – I really thought I’d be able to pick out the beers that go into this blend, but the whiskey pulls it together in one big, woody package. Nothing average here.

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Photo of Damian
4.03/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Drank from a 12 fl oz (355 ml) bottle acquired in a trade with surge1311
Served in a snifter

Review #825

The beer poured a dark brown/black and a touch thinner than expected. A mass of tan colored bubbles topped the liquid, but they quickly dissolved into a small ring.

The nose was amazing. Bourbon notes dominated. Boozy, but in a good way. Vanilla came through strong. Raisin and dark fruit notes were evident as well. Good dose of molasses and brown sugar sweetness. Dark chocolate notes appeared as the beer warmed.

Like the nose, the flavor profile was very bourbon forward. Tons of fresh vanilla bean. Sweet up front with brown sugar notes. Raisins and plums were also noticeable. Lots of espresso in the center. The finish was disappointing however. It was excessively roasty and tasted somewhat ashy. Bitter, earthy hops came through as well. Toward the beer's end, the finish turned acrid and rather unpleasant.

The liquid was medium bodied for the style. Slick, rich and creamy with a fine, mild effervescence. Quite smooth and supple.

Bell's Black Note Stout started out so strong, but the bitter and charred tasting finish was really disappointing. When fresh, perhaps the sweetness of the Double Cream Stout would help even out some of the harsh aspects of the flavor profile.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 557 ratings.