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

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Bell's Black Note StoutBell's Black Note Stout

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BA SCORE
99
world-class

543 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 543
Hads: 3,646
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 6.46%
Wants: 2,513
Gots: 925 | FT: 79
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
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Reviews: 543 | Hads: 3,646
Photo of Axnjxn
4.51/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

draft at federal in Durham.

pours an opaque black with a small head. dark fruit, chocolately malts. dark fruits at the beginning, slight bourbon...not overwhelming at all. ABV absolutely undetectable and drinkablity is this beers #1 attribute. full bodied..very creamy. low carbonation

overall love this one. (311 characters)

Photo of Fux
4.51/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the bottle (234/1081). Batch #10136
A: Pitch black with a thin mocha head that leaves some lacings.
S: Smell is mainly of heavy dark chocolate with dried fruits (currants, figs) and some dark fruits. Some roasted aromas (almonds, espresso). Vanilla comes after.Some nuts also (cashew nuts, peanut butter). The presence of alcohol is noticeable butnot overpowering (notes of sherry). Deep but not aggressive. Elegant.
T: The taste mainly follows the nose with a lot of dark chocolate and roasted malts (coffee flavors). Some vanilla. Warming alcohol but without booziness. The aftertaste is on sweet chocolate and bitter chocolate.
M: Medium to high body. Almost flat. Quite velvety. It could be thicker and a bit smoother. A bit sticky on the length, but very drinkable.
O: A great, elegant imperial stout, with an excellent nose, flavorful and deep, still sober on the palate. (882 characters)

Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.51/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

What an awesome beer. Had a pull at Churchkey.

Pours super thick black with a ring of tan head and a nice web of lacing. Looks great, and it previews the excellent silky feel.

Smell is good, I get licorice, vanilla, some sweeter bourbon and oak, a little malt, a touch of roast, and some maple syrup. I just knock it cause it isn't really jumping out of the glass. Some alcohol pops out with a swirl.

Taste is amazing and so is the feel, it's so silly and inviting with a range of amazing layers of flavor. Sticky, chewy, semi sweet and savory, there is no heat in there which amazing. Flavors include licorice, sweeter bourbon-very nice bourbon like van winkle 12, nice roasty chocolate notes, oak, lactose sugar, a little alcohol sweetness, some savory slight bacony notes, and some espresso cream. Wow, stunning beer.

Overall this is killing. What a great beer, my favorite bells and that says something. (911 characters)

Photo of dbc5
4.51/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into 10 ounce Kentucky Bourbon Stout snifter.

A: Motor oil black with a brownish tan head. Moderate pour yields a 1 finger head that recedes fairly quickly but leaves a constant ring around the edges of the glass. Minimal lacing left on the glass.

S: Smells sweet. Picking up vanilla, dark chocolate, brown sugar, and malt sweetness. The bourbon is apparent, but not as assertive as in some bourbon barrel aged stouts.

T: The sweetness in the nose carries over in the taste. Chocolate syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla hit my palate first, then the bourbon makes its presence known. Doesn't carry the same roast character that is present in a beer like Bourbon Barrel Plead the Fifth, falling more on the sweet end of the continuum. The bourbon adds an interesting element to this stout blend and makes for a really nice drinking experience.

M: As expected from a big, barrel aged stout, the carbonation is fairly low in this one. Nice thickness to this beer.

O: Really like this one and thrilled that it is available in 12 ounce bottles. Given that this is a sweeter bourbon barrel stout, the 12 ounce serving size is ideal. I'm nearing the bottom of my glass and am not tiring of the beer at all. My only critique is that I would like a bit more roast character, which is why I would give the edge to a beer like BBPt5th, KBS, or BCBS. Despite that, Black Note does not fall too far below those beers. (1,432 characters)

Photo of dejrrma
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

$7 for a 8 or 12oz pour at BSP. Reviewed on 5/5/12 (just only now typed up my review). I believe the keg was from 2011.

a- black, still with a reddish tint, a slight ring of head
s- slight bourbon, coffee, vanilla extract.
t- Lots of dark chocolate and a touch of coffee and roast. woody and slight vanilla. not as much "bourbon" taste as I expected, so the beer is not overpowered by it. still, i think it's just a bit too understated.
m- really smooth and creamy. i was blown away. it has a medium carbonation and a full-body
o- enjoyed this beer tremendously. still love kbs more, though. (593 characters)

Photo of yamar68
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Massive thanks to alelover for hooking me up with my first taste of Black Note! 2012 vintage:

Certainly is black... there's a bit of muddled clarity around the edge of the glass. A short-lived medium brown head produces a dense, stubborn collar - oily lacing above and clouded beading beneath. Very nice looking stuff.

Smooth, sweet caramel bourbon immediately shows some BCBS qualities. It's hard to really even pull in any alcohol character, a big sniff just offers a deeper layer of oak. Milk chocolate and mellow burnt brown sugar. Maybe a bit of molasses. Incredibly smooth - as smooth as you could hope for a beer like this.

Creamy twist cone flavors covered with silky bourbon and bitter caramel. Faint leafy tobacco dries up the tail end of the palate. Coffee grounds, more milk chocolate, candy corn... pretty damn unique I'd say. This one certainly doesn't need any age but I'm excited to see what it does regardless.

Very, very good. (950 characters)

Photo of oline73
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is review #1000 on BA. Poured from the bottle into my Hunahpu's snifter.

Appearance: This beer pours black with just under a finger of thick tan head. The head fades fairly quickly to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Sweet roasted malt and full of bourbon heat. I'm getting some chocolate and dark fruit notes as well. Lots going on here.

Taste: Doesn't disappoint at all. This is a very smooth and creamy stout, especially given the abv. Roasted malts with some sweet chocolate notes. I'm getting hints of coffee and dark fruit as well. The bourbon taste is rather strong, but it doesn't overpower the other flavors, it adds to them.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side of medium, but I think it could have been a little bit thicker and that would have been alright. The carbonation is tingly and the finish is dry.

Overall: I really enjoyed the balance and complexity of this stout. It was a sweet beer, but not in an overwhelming way. The rest of the flavors were allowed to contribute and it all worked out perfectly. I would love to have more given the chance. (1,091 characters)

Photo of smokeypeat
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Once again the power of the central PA/SEPA beer market comes through and I finally get to try Black Note.

Pours a jet black into the goblet with a light coffee tan head that quickly disappeared leaving just the slightest head. Some alcohol legs on the glass.

The smell on this one is up there. Rich vanilla bourbon with some great hints of toasted coconut. Fainter hints of toffee and light tobacco.

Taste is as good as I hoped for. The base beer here really holds up well to the bourbon treatment. Plenty of roasted coffee notes, bakers dark chocolate, and a dash of anise. The bourbon adds a great interplay of vanilla, caramel, toffee, and woody oak. No one aspect of the beer dominates but there is a great mixture of a lot of my favorite flavors.

Mouthfeel on this beer really worked for me. I don't know if it's because it was on tap or not, but I found the carbonation level to be perfect. The beer was extremely creamy and really easy to drink, and the alcohol was perfectly masked.

All in all, Black Note lived up to the hype for me. I was fortunate to get a whole growler, and frankly it seems like an embarrassment of riches. Everyone who got a pour of this agreed that it was top notch. I would definitely go out of my way to get this beer again. (1,265 characters)

Photo of tarheels86
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tap at Churchkey. Pours ink with a medium tan head leaving webby reddish lace. Nose is rich buttery bourbon with tropical notes like dried pineapple and dried papaya. Toasted coconut. Let it decant to cinnamon ganache and very subtle meat/umami character. Soft booziness, coffee liquor. So many rich subtleties makes this an incredible experience. Taste is similar to normal and Rare Bourbon County Stout. Super creamy, rich coconut oil mouthfeel. Feels less sharply bitter than normal Expy. Softer and easier to love than normal Expy. Superlative soft mouthfeel. Nice bitterness comes through to cut initial sweetness. Great mouthfeel- mild heat reminds of soft bourbon aging but softness is unreal. Roasty bitterness and coffee character hints that this is not BCS but something else. Very beautiful. Complexities are easier to fall in love with than normal Expedition which can be too aggressive and powerful at times. Had this on tap now four separate times- always delicious and silky. Not sure what's up with that bottle picture, since that is not what the bottled version of this beer looks like. 12/6/2011 9/4/9/5/18=4.5 (1,128 characters)

Photo of draheim
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle (bottled 12/28/2012 - thanks again Hoptologist!) into a snifter. Pours oily black w/ a very thin tan head that quickly dissipates to a narrow collar. I know it's not supposed to matter with big stouts like this, but I still like to see a little head+retention.

Aroma is big powerful bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, rum-soaked tobacco, toffee/molasses, and caramelized dark fruit. Fresh-baked sticky buns. Smells phenomenal.

Taste follows nose. Dark bitter chocolate, coffee, bourbon, dried figs/dates, vanilla, caramel, and more bourbon. Nice boozy heat warms the throat. Everything very nicely balanced, maybe just a touch sweeter than I like my BA stouts.

Mouthfeel is sticky, chewy, a little syrupy.

Overall, a solid barrel aged stout, in the same league as Parabola and KBS and better than BCBS. I'd buy this every year if I could. (848 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle into Lost Abbey stemmed glass. Thanks a TON for sending me this bottle Jay. You’re the man!

A: Pours pitch black with a minimal head. Not getting much lace but that’s expected.
S: I get huge notes of vanilla with undertones of bourbon, caramel and deep chocolate. There are some spicy notes as well.
T: Phenomenally smooth notes of chocolate fudge, sweet bourbon, caramel, hints of barrel spice and smoke. The finish is super smooth and bourbony and so very mellow.
M: Ultra smooth and creamy beer. The booze is well hidden and the body is thick and chewy. This feels awesome.
O: One of the better stouts I’ve ever had. I could drink a whole bottle of this myself. Thank you so much Jay! (710 characters)

Photo of jethrodium
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Devil's Den. Pours a dark black with a small light tan head the settles to a ring at the edges and leaves some light lacing on the glass. The aroma is molasses, dark chocolate, some bourbon and vanilla, a bit of roastiness, some light coffee, a bit of coconut, some light alcohol, and hints of raisin and cherry. Quite awesome. There is a lot going on here. The initial taste is sweet with dark chocolate. Then comes some molasses, licorice, and some bourbon and vanilla. There is also some light coconut, a bit of cherry, and some coffee roastiness. The finish has a mild bitterness with some roast and a bit of alcohol. Big, full, creamy mouthfeel that is quite nice. Medium-low carbonation. Amazing beer. Right up there with the best barrel aged stouts. (766 characters)

Photo of RoamingGnome
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bell's Black Note

Glad I finally get the chance to try this beer. Split a bottle amongst friends at my favorite bottle shop. Served lightly chilled.

A) Definitely black on the pour. There was not much had generated, maybe a half finger. It was dark tan in color, and settled quickly to a collar.

S) Needed to warm up a bit, but once it did the aroma really opened up, and was very pleasant. There is vanilla, bourbon, bit of roast, it's definitely got some of that oak barrel woody aroma to it. There's some chocolate too. The chocolate was more noticeable at near room temp.

T) Follows the nose nicely. Pleasantly chocolatey, vanilla sweetness, light roast, oak barrel, and bourbon. The 11.5 ABV is well hidden. The quality of this stout's aroma and taste is reminiscent of BCBS.

M) Medium bodied and lightly carbonated. This is very smooth, very supple, very soft, very easy to drink. No alcohol burn. Nice aftertaste.

O) Ranks right up there with any other barrel aged stout I have had the pleasure to drink. I certainly wish I could get a hold of a few more bottles. Glad to recommend. (1,095 characters)

Photo of camil1mj
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Detroit Fall Beer Fest. I had a good 8 oz pour as a buddy if mine who is not into BA stouts gave me his pour.

A: Dark as you would expect. Reddish/brown creamy, foam head.

S: Wonderful coffee, chocolate and bourbonntones.

T: Wonderfully balanced. Exactly as described. I can pick up the Expedition and the Double Cream....followed by wonderful barrel aged wonderfullness.

M: Creamy and smooth. Medium carbonation.

O: 2nd best of the day to BA Plead the 5th. Best Bell's I have ever had. Here's crossing my fingers I get a bottle or 2 when it is released. (574 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at City Tap House, Philly, PA

First (and only at the time of this review) keg to come to Philly!

Served in a snifter, dark brown to black, opaque, with a minimal tan head. Aroma was luscious with dark malts, licorice, vanilla and chocolate; some alcohol noticeable. Taste was rich with malts, dark chocolate, sweet sugars, bourbon-soaked wood; strong in flavor and booze; quite simply amazing all around. Nicely thick and creamy, full bodied. Highly drinkable, and among of the best stouts I've had. (519 characters)

Photo of winningwes91
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Looks like a typical ba stout. Might even pour a bit thinner. Smells of coffee, chocolate and a bit of bourbon. Taste is mostly the same, with the bourbon taking a backseat. Also, some dark fruits come out into play from the expedition. The mouthfeel is thinner than I like for this style. Is it what people say it is? No. is it still an amazing beer? Absolutely. (363 characters)

Photo of anteater
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle.

A: Black and deep, practically no head whatsoever

S: Strong! You can smell this one from far away. Roasty malt, espresso, chocolate, bourbon and vanilla

T: More of the nose. Rich espresso, bourbon, roasty malt, chocolate and vanilla from the oak. Bitterness is present but in the background. Lots of flavor, very well balanced

M: Pretty thick, very smooth

O: One of the better barrel aged stouts I've had. Better than KBS, not as good as BCBS. (476 characters)

Photo of birderbeerer
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A balanced and exceptional beer. Very dark but not too big or filling.

Licorice is obvious, but it blends well with the roast flavors and the sweeter malts. No huge flavors here; rather, it's a well-blended, well-balanced, measured and subtle combination of flavors. Very easy to drink.

It doesn't leave me wanting to chase after more and more of it, but it's an amazing beer that I'd drink over and over again. (415 characters)

Photo of Holland
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: good head and a bit of lacing. Very dark and beautiful looking.

S: good bourbon angel but it does not overpower. There are some roasted notes that shine through.

T: again excellent bourbon, oak, vanilla, and some coffee, chocolate, and a slight bitterness.

M: medium carbonation on a big body is wonderful

O: excellent beer all the easy through. Would have again. Paid 8 dollars for a10 ounce pour. Worth every penny. (427 characters)

Photo of founder26
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap before and after this bottle they are quite similar. This review is from the 12oz bottles dated 12/29/12, poured into a snifter

A- black with a little red around corners. Not much head at all.

S- this is the second best part about this beer, it is intoxicating. First smell is of light bourbon and chocolate, middle you get some oak, vanilla, and caramel, finishes with coffee.

T- to me this is where I dont like this beer as much as bcbs or kbs. It has too much sweetness and bitterness, not enough chocolate ot bourbon.

M- this is the best part about this beer, so creamy and smooth. Not much carb but thats ok.

O- I like how drinkable this is, I just wish it had more of a roastyness and less sweet/bitterness. I hope some age will help that. (766 characters)

Photo of THECPJ
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: black as night with a nice 1 finger mocha head

smell: vanilla, chocolate, bourbon barrel, roasted malts,

taste: bitter chocolate, roasted malts, hints of vanilla,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, full body,

overall: an outstanding stout. glad I was at the right place and time to give this bad boy a try.

Cheers,
The CPJ (355 characters)

Photo of oberon
4.54/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got one of the last few at Bestway and Iam thankful to Roger for it.Poured into a snifter jet black with a one inch deep beige head atop.Aromas of chocolate and roasted nuts mixed with alcohol dipped dark fruit,very rich and appetizing.Thick and chewey in the mouth,it coats the mouth and glides down easily.Wow the complexity on the palate is something to savor,dark roast and chocolate with some nuttiness and even some faint wood smoke,the alcohol is big but not over bearing lending some sweetness to go along with some deep raisin notes.You really gotta give it to guys or gals who can craft a beer like this,so rich and lush but with so much complexity,kick ass that's all I can say about it. (700 characters)

Photo of metter98
4.54/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On-tap at Thirsty Monk, Asheville, NC

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a patch of beige bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Strong aromas of vanilla are present in the nose along with notes of bourbon.
T: The taste has lots of flavors of bourbon and associated vanilla from the barrel aging process.
M: It feels full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation along with some warming from the alcohol.
O: This beer definitely tastes strong but does a good job hiding most of its alcohol. (557 characters)

Photo of ThickNStout
4.54/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from jaheussner (thank you!). Bottled 12/28/12. Served in a Sweetwater snifter.

Pours oil black with a thin quarter finger cap of mocha head. A few dots and veins of lace.

Smells of sweet vanilla, bourbon, chocolate and roasty malts. Very inviting.

The taste doesn't disappoint. Smooth, sweet boubon, oaky vanilla, dark chocolate, creamed coffee, dates/figs, leather and syrup. Booze is near non-existent. Phenominal depth and balance.

Smooth, creamy, medium heavy body yet lighter than expected. Nice light carbonation. The elixir coats the tongue and lingers for a long bourbon soaked, chocolate covered dates aftertaste.

Outstanding. I'm a fan of Bell's stouts and this is by far my favorite. Wonderful balance between the roasty, chocolatey malts and sweet barrel character. After getting shut out of all of the local stores supply, I'm very happy to have gotten to try this. Definately worth seeking out to try. (938 characters)

Photo of CMUbrew
4.54/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: As you might expect with the style and the name, this beer is black as night. A tiny, dark head manages to appear for a few seconds before subsiding into a faint and incomplete ring around the glass.

S: Mellow bourbon, roasted malts, perhaps a hint of chocolate. Aroma really isn't that potent, but it is certainly appealing.

T: Just hit the bourbon barrel stout jackpot. Front end hits with a mellow, but firm, bourbon punch. The flavors radiate over the palate as I get whiskey, woody notes, and vanilla. The stout flavors come in on the finish with darkly roasted malts and hints at bitter chocolate.

M: Not as viscous as I would like, but not thin by any means. Soft and silky. Only slight alcohol warming. The ABV is well hidden.

O: Simply outstanding. This is certainly a top tier BBA stout. Hopefully we'll see this again from Bell's sooner rather than later. (875 characters)

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 543 ratings.