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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

3,011 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,011
Reviews: 495
rAvg: 4.56
pDev: 8.11%
Wants: 2,069
Gots: 781 | FT: 74
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: 3,011 | Reviews: 495 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of davewilson
4/5  rDev -12.3%

davewilson, Jan 11, 2012
Photo of jjheinrichs
4/5  rDev -12.3%

jjheinrichs, Jan 09, 2013
Photo of BobCobb
4/5  rDev -12.3%

BobCobb, Jul 31, 2012
Photo of MEW
4/5  rDev -12.3%

MEW, Mar 24, 2013
Photo of Florida9
4.01/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

Florida9, Feb 23, 2013
Photo of coreyfmcdonald
4.03/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

coreyfmcdonald, Oct 26, 2012
Photo of calcio360jrd
4.03/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the bell's takeover at bx beer depot in lake worth, florida.

Glad i got to bx early for this event and got a seat right up at the bar. 2 9oz pours of this barrel aged imperial stout.

Poured out the usual motor oil color of dark black with a fairly good amount of head on it. The smell was overwhelmingly of bourbon, i guess that is what you get when you age a beer for 18 months in the barrel! Taste was less bourbony than the smell, was very enjoyable drink. Mouthfeel was a little thin on this one, again because i hold every RIS up to the zhukov standard of thick and chewy!

Glad to experience this on draft, i would by no means pay what people are paying on ebay for a bottle of this, good buy not life changing

JasonD

calcio360jrd, Feb 17, 2012
Photo of blee0891
4.04/5  rDev -11.4%

blee0891, Aug 19, 2014
Photo of deebo
4.05/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Bryant-Lake Bowl.

A-Served a healthy 10 oz pour in a snifter. This baby is black as a black note with a tan film that stubbornly hangs on til the last drink.

S-Sweet and roasted malts are dominant, the bourbon is there too but subdued at first, becoming stronger as the beer warms.

T-The taste is definitely on the sweet side. The malts are chocolately with a medium amount of roasting. Bourbon character is there but not overpowering at all.

M-A bit oily but not nearly as much viscosity as say a GI BCS. Body is also on the light side for such a strong brew, the odd thing is you would expect the alcohol to come out stronger, but it is really well hidden...a definite plus for this version. Very light on carbonation.

D-Probably the highest for any 10%+ BB stout I've tasted.

O-Tastes like a BB stout, but shines in the drinkability. Lacks the complex flavors of some others but a solid beer. Well done.

deebo, May 15, 2012
Photo of angrybabboon
4.05/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cheers to Bilco for sharing this

Review from notes, 4/18/14

Appearance: Dark, deep brown - pours with a wispy, light brown head, leaves some nice spots of lacing

Smell: Huge chocolate and some nice bourbon - smells very, very rich - big chocolate malts, with burnt and roasty notes, and some some caramel - some dark fruits and a ton of bourbon - chewy caramel, chocolate cake - decadent to say the least

Taste: Even bigger than the aroma - big, chewy malts - sweet caramel, molasses, and dark, roasty malts - chocolate in all forms, with semisweet chocolate, dark chocolate, and some milk chocolate - lots and lots of bourbon, but this mostly works - woody with some booze, demands to be sipped

Mouthfeel: On the full side of medium, or the light side of full - adequate carbonation, smooth

Overall: More appealing than a brown note

This was a beast. It was bigger than I expected. At least an hour should be devoted to sampling this beer, even if you split the bottle. It a bit bourbon-heavy, but I would try this again.

angrybabboon, May 08, 2014
Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.05/5  rDev -11.2%
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.

BarryMFBurton, Feb 02, 2013
Photo of rodkin
4.05/5  rDev -11.2%
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.

rodkin, Nov 11, 2012
Photo of Duff27
4.05/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a mid mocha head on a black body. Wonderful head retention and lacing for a stout. My favorite aspect of this beer.

Smooth, sweet bourbony chocolate.

Present bourbon but not overpowering by any means. Big roasted cocoa notes. Slight cherry aftertaste. Well hidden ABV.

Creamy mouthfeel but doesn't have the thickness you may associate with an impy stout. Low carbonation.

Overall a well put together bourbon barrel age stout from Bell's. Black Note didn't knock my socks off but I would have it again. Thanks for sharing 4DAloveofSTOUT!

Duff27, Feb 25, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.05/5  rDev -11.2%
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.

UCLABrewN84, Jul 24, 2012
Photo of mjpolzin
4.05/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 vintage split with by brother in law.

A great beer but another example of a "world-class" brew that doesn't quite live up to the hype once I get a chance to try it.

Fairly thick pour into the glass but not the thickest beer I've ever seen. More bourbon in the nose than what I got once I tasted it. The roastiness that is characteristic of Expedition Stout was here as well. It helped make it a fairly complex beer once the roasted malts and bourbon blended together but I may actually prefer this one with a little more age on so some of the roasted flavor could fade away.

Would like the opportunity to try a fresh one just to see what changes happen in the 1 year+ that this bottle sat for.

mjpolzin, Apr 27, 2014
Photo of hooliganlife
4.08/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

@stlhops 5th anniversary PaRtY

poured dark thick black, little dark cocoa head. very viscous looking.

some chocolate, light vanilla, and light roasted malt. the BA was there but lighter than i was expecting.

similar to nose, a bit like a BA expedition or expedition blended with double cream, but all 3? i guess... i thought this was tame, it was good but lacked a deep complexity. the BA was soft and subtle. the chocolate and coffee were faint. did not really pick up any oak.

thick, creamy, and chewy. great mouthfeel. no heat at all.

it was good but not worth the effort to seek out.

hooliganlife, Nov 12, 2012
Photo of jsanford
4.08/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Brewvival 2102

Poured an inky black with a dense mocha head. Luxurious aromas of cream, bourbon, malt, chocolate, and roasted malt. Taste is similar to the nose, lots of hot Bourbon, chocolate, molasses, raisin, and roasted malt. Definitely tasty, but no better then any of the other 78472397629289 Bourbon-barrel Stouts out in the world. Full-bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel and ample carbonation. Overall a great BA Stout, but the definition of "overhyped".

jsanford, Apr 22, 2012
Photo of dorianmarley
4.08/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance is a very rich, dark coffee black with nice lacing.

Nose is initially alcohol with sweet soy and burnt sugars and roasted chicory. Savory finish.

Taste is sweet and smooth malt and dark chocolate, with tart alcohol that fades into a pucker.

Mouthfeel is meaty, full, and smooth without much carbonation. Alcohol throughout.

Overall, it has lots of unique character, but the alcohol is a lot, which becomes distracting unless it is a dark, cold winter night.

dorianmarley, May 29, 2014
Photo of tempest
4.1/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had a large snifter at Republic in Seven Corners. Overall, a delicious stout and well worth the $8, but I though the character was relatively dull for everything that's been put into it. The bourbon barrel character is smooth, and pleasant with oaky vanilla, but it sits in the background behind even smoother cocoa malts. It's almost like it's too balanced, with few flavors really standing out. I'll admit though, I'm being hard on this very tasty beer. I just don't think it drinks up to its potential.

tempest, Nov 21, 2012
Photo of MPLS
4.1/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Darkness Eve, 7oz pour. The second beer I tried so the palate was rather fresh still...anything after this one need not count. First off this thing blew the shit out of the last regular Expedition I remember drinking, maybe my palate is indifferent to that beer.

A: Great looking beer even next to the multitude of dark beers around it, this one retained a great head that was glorious and made it's identification a little easier. Good lacing on the small glass. Glorious.

S: Not heave on the bourbon surprisingly, but roasted and toasted slight sweet goodness.

T: Big on the oak indeed, got hints of bourbon, somewhat of a chocolate sweetness that pales in comparison to the GI Night Stalker I had before it. The finish is dry with some coffee like bitterness.

M: Thick n creamy, can't complain here.

D: Damn good stout, would drink again.

MPLS, Oct 27, 2009
Photo of fvernon
4.1/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at a recent Bell's event, unfortunately they had just run out of appropriate glassware and poured this lovely brew into a red wine glass at a colder temperature than I was expecting. Luckily my second glass came in a tall Bell's tulip.

Black Note is the color of dark chocolate with a head that looks like liquified wheat - a light brown that had broken down into a cling around the side of the glass and a few frog's eyes by the time I had walked back to my table. I had to sit a while (5 minutes or so) to let it warm, and then the scent really started to show: bourbon, malt, burnt sugar and toasted vanilla with a slight hint of fruit... is that apricot?

My sips started while it was still too cold... the burnt sugar was overwhelming at keg temps, but as it warmed up the bourbon and double cream stout notes moved forward. The double cream comes through much stronger than the expedition, but this is a unique offering apart from either - most notable is the slight bitterness, as if vanilla beans were roasted before being added for aging. The mouthfeel was lighter than I was expecting, but not any lighter than barrel-aging typically imparts. It leaves the beer drinkable in larger sips than I probably should have been taking, and the glass was gone before I knew it. Not quite in the same vein as a few other BA imperial stouts (KBS on tap is still the smoothest I've had the pleasure of drinking), but delicious nonetheless.

Most importantly, this was my first beer of the night (I wasn't about to let the Black Note run out while I drank something else), and something odd happened: after that, everything I drank (save the Oracle) had stout notes to it. A total palate take-over happened! If you're going to have the chance to try a Black Note, it gets better glass after glass... but everything else tastes like drinking through a BA Imperial Stout filter. be forewarned.

fvernon, Sep 01, 2011
Photo of Steasy66
4.1/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 Oz pour into wide mouth glass, enjoyed
With tewaris
A black, opaque, dense dark brown head
S roasted malt, some bourbon, woody
T very roasty, some wood, oatmeal?
M thick, almost chewy, nice light carbonation
O very good but falls short of the hype.

Steasy66, May 15, 2012
Photo of nrbw23
4.1/5  rDev -10.1%
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.

nrbw23, Jun 24, 2012
Photo of neurobot01
4.1/5  rDev -10.1%

neurobot01, Aug 26, 2014
Photo of homebrew311
4.11/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pitch black opaque apperance, dark brown creamy head, medium head retention

S: thick dark chocolate and cream followed by lots of bourbon with mellow vanilla and oak. Some ashy qualities follow the bourbon which detract from the overall beer a little bit.

T: toasted marshmallow followed by dark chocolate and a harmony with the oak barrels, amazing balance

Mf: thick, viscous, mellow, carbonation

O: huge flavors with a velvety texture, definitely worth a try. I don't know that this brew quite achieves the hype that surrounds it

homebrew311, Nov 13, 2011
Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,011 ratings.