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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

3,127 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,127
Reviews: 499
rAvg: 4.56
pDev: 8.33%
Wants: 2,107
Gots: 790 | 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: 3,127 | Reviews: 499 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of pmarlowe
4.18/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 release. 12oz bottle to tulip glass.

A: Pours a dense black with a half finger of medium brown head, which recedes quickly to a ring. Very good retention but no lacing.

S: Dark chocolate, bourbon, oak, a touch of roastiness.

T: Bourbon is very prominent, with some drying oak, with subtle cocoa on a long finish. Tasty but not as much complexity as you might like.

M: Medium-full body and medium-light carbonation. Alcohol is extremely well hidden.

O: Pretty solid BA stout, and quite drinkable. But it's a notch below the other top-tier BA stouts like BCBS and KBS, and more on par with CW BBS.

pmarlowe, Mar 08, 2013
Photo of jrallen34
4.18/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft... Great looking beer, dark black body, thick dark tan head, about two fingers, nice retention great lace... The nose is fairly subtle and balanced, and you can tell they didn’t release this until it was ready, light and very smooth bourbon, brownies, bitter chocolate, light roast... The taste is really smooth as well, but the finish is a bit alcoholic and astringent, the flavor is a touch light, I wish there was a bit sweeter... A really good beer that lives up to the hype

jrallen34, Nov 10, 2011
Photo of tewaris
4.18/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Blend of Bell's Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout aged in bourbon barrels. Huge want. Thanks Frank! Shared with two other BAs.

Very dark brown and clear with a tiny collar. An incredibly smooth and silky beer... feels like milk, seriously! Tartness, coffee, and very mellow roast with, of course, bourbon. Not the beast that Expedition is but an immense beer nonetheless. One of us had the opinion that the Double Cream Stout component brings the milkiness and smoothness and I think I agree. Very good, loved it! My only regret is not being completely sober while drinking this one :/

4.5, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5
---

Enjoyed on tap again with sobriety on my side:

Beautiful looks here and a great aroma... chocolate cake, vanilla, some barrels. More wood than liquor. A little too tart. A good beer but I have had better.

Taking 0.5 points off the taste and overall score.

4.5, 4.5, 4.0, 4.5, 4.0

tewaris, Mar 16, 2012
Photo of blankenhoney
4.19/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2014 bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Black with a tan head that settles at the edge of the glass. A bit of tan and foamy lacing.

S: Strong barrel notes; boozy dark fruit; cacao; some Red Hots-like spice or cinnamon.

T: Fudge; lots of barrel; a bit sweet; faint coffee, vanilla, and some bitterness on the aftertaste.

M: Light and silky; foamy and highly quaffable. On the thin side for this style, but that worked for me. Somewhere between light- to medium-bodied, pulled off successfully and definitely not 'too thin.'

O: Quite good despite the dominant barrel and chocolate flavors. Would like to see if aging a few of these bring out the flavors I got in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel was the star of the show for me.

blankenhoney, Apr 13, 2014
Photo of Soonami
4.2/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Bell's 31 flavors event at City Tap House. This review is based on notes I took from the tasting. The beer is incredibly complex from the mixture of double cream stout and Expedition, which is then aged in bourbon barrels.

The beer looks like a double stout, and smelled like one: chocolatey, vanilla, woody, and with a tinge of alcohol. The beer tasted just as it smelled, with good burnt and roasted bitterness and a gentle velvety texture. The finish is sweet and creamy, a bit cloying.

A beer big on color, aroma, taste and alcohol. A must try for any RIS/IS fan, but I don't know if this beer necessarily deserves a ranking in the top 100's, but it is in the top quartile of imperial stouts I've had.

Soonami, Jul 01, 2010
Photo of stakem
4.2/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

stakem, Aug 02, 2012
Photo of lithy
4.2/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark black, but little carbonation or lasting head. The aroma is quite a lot of roast, some woody bourbon, a surprising lack of vanilla, chocolate. Taste is more roasty, some chocolate, wood, light vanilla. Overall, very good, but kind of a one and done beer, and not nearly as good as Expedition in my opinion.

lithy, Apr 28, 2012
Photo of punkrkr27
4.2/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at the '10 MBGWF. Black oily pour with a small brown head. Mild and even oak and bourbon notes with some lactose sweetness and lots vanilla. Chocolaty dark fruit background. Very full and creamy body with soft carbonation. Very nicely balanced beer with out over the top barrel aging.

punkrkr27, Mar 04, 2010
Photo of timc100
4.21/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014

Pours a translucent dark brown, black in the class with a fizzy dark mocha head. Aroma of bitter dark chocolate and barrel - char, vanilla, oak, some bourbon. Notes of mocha and dark roasted coffee as well.

Very good barrel aged stout, however missing a lot of the richness and depth of flavor that expedition has. Very little dark fruits, thinner body, and a lighter pour as well.

timc100, Apr 20, 2014
Photo of MCain04
4.21/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Here we go, 12 oz bottle split with BostonRyan. poured into 10 oz snifter from the most recent vintage.

A: dark black, tan head. dissipates into a rim around the perimeter.

S: Bourbon heavy. some nice chocolate and vanilla notes are present with roasty malty, but bourbon dominates.

T: thankfully much less bourbon heavy taste. it had the girth and complexity of expedition with a smooth mellow creamy sweet note from the double cream. they complement each other beautifully. chocolate, vanilla, oak, and toffee flavors. the finish had a lot of Bourbon heat though. only drawbacks are the bourbon heavy finish and a little too sweet.

M: Perfection. thick and creamy and full with a nice feel throughout.

O: A real treat. Not heads and shoulders above the other BBA stouts but comes in close to the top. might not be worth all the hype and might be too bourbon heavy but still enjoyed thoroughly.

Re-reviewing this after opening a 2014, comparing side by side with 2012.

Definitely still a bourbon-heavy nose is in the fresh version, while 15 months in the cellar calmed that down in the aged version. 2014 is boozy with a lot of barrel characteristics. 2012 is boozy as well but better integrated barrel character. 2014 is prickly, and thin while 2012 is smooth but still a little thin. Overall I'm not sure I agree with my high marks on this fresh, but the aged version is drinking nicely right now. Regardless, I think there is way too much hype surrounding this. There are equal BBA stouts without the craze and price that are attached to Black Note.

MCain04, Apr 13, 2014
Photo of aasher
4.22/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was sampled at the Beer Sellar in Indianapolis for their Super Bell's Party before the Super Bowl. It poured a full bodied darkest of blacks with a one finger khaki head. It smells like a barrel aged stout. It has the creamed coffee, chocolate, with a touch or bourbon and vanilla. It is essentially a poor man's Bourbon County. It has a good amount of roast with a good amount of bourbon and vanilla. That said, lighter and less intense than Bourbon County. It's really drinkable because of this. The alcohol takes a backseat as well. The longer you sip the more the char makes itself known, alongside the vanilla. It leaves plenty of roast behind. Regardless, it drinks really nice and everything meshes rather well. This is a nice barrel aged stout. I'm glad I could try it.

aasher, Feb 02, 2012
Photo of JAYBLACK
4.22/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky to get one of the last glasses of this at the Bells Party in Indianapolis. 8 oz pour served cold in a snifter. The appearance is very dark, almost black with minimal carbonation and very little head. The smell is wonderful, with lots of vanilla, chocolate, dark fruits and a hint of bourbon. The taste is surprisingly smooth for the abv. I get a lot of vanilla and creamy chocolate upfront with a hint of bourbon and it finishes a bit dry with a hint of hops and bourbon. I would like a little more bourbon but that is just my personal preference. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy with little to no carbonation and very sticky. I feel like this is a fantastic offering by bells and would love to see them start making it on a larger scale. It wasn't my favorite example of the style but definitely among the top. Seek this one out if you get the chance.

JAYBLACK, Feb 02, 2012
Photo of seeswo
4.22/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed a pour at the GTotMW 2011. Poured into the special taster glass. Very dark with a cocoa powder head. Looks great. The nose is big vanilla, bourbon and chocolate with some roasty goodness. Just a touch of oak as well. Dark chocolate, bourbon, vanilla and roast are the dominant flavors. Again, just a touch of oak. Very smooth, creamy and actually somewhat low-key in flavor. Good, creamy body with a low-medium carbonation is very nice for a BA Imperial Stout that is not overly sweet. This beer is more impressive in its balance, ease of drinking and mouthfeel than it is for its huge flavors or substantial complexities. Very enjoyable and glad I was able to give this a run. A buddy and I liked GL BA Blackout better, which were darn near side-by-side, but that isn't and indictment on the Black Note.

seeswo, Aug 20, 2011
Photo of rtepiak
4.22/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

its huge but drinkable which i would figure its saving grace and the reason why its so sought after. But as for the midwest i would say this is a standard. Of excellence to say the least but in bourbon country its is also the most accessible. Both for attaining the barrells and lets just call it practice.

The base to this stout is one of my favorite. The beer is not so much noticeable in the nose. I get the malty notes of the nose that was vanilla and bourbon hints. The beer is actually quite lean and easy going. Carbonation isn't particularly creamy. But malt smooth. Tingle. Bourbon, coffee toast, and a nice lingering note. Quite standard. Although a nice treat for the fan.

rtepiak, Nov 10, 2011
Photo of younger35
4.22/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this at Stub & Herbs on Darkness Eve. They had one hell of a stout lineup that night and between this brew and Bell's Rye Stout, they were the best. Drank from a small 7oz sampling glass. Taken from notes on phone.

Appearance- Pours a pitch ass black with basically no head, no cap or collar or lacing.
Smell- The first thing that jumps out at me is the immediate rush of vanilla that meets my nostrils. The oak is very noticeable but not the dominate nasal trait. Sort of boozy as well but plenty of Tootsie Roll milk chocolate and a raw cocoa nib scent. Maybe a touch of molasses and caramel as well.
Taste- Starts very slightly sweet with a browny batter like chocolaty fudge. The brew is very intense and sort of concentrated with plenty of oak and vanilla. I don't really get much of the Cream Stout as I think the wood and Expedition just dominate. Some light caramel and toffee sit in middle as the beer finishes with some light molasses and brown sugar. Like the nose, the alcohol is noticeable but not devastatingly harsh. Loads of vanilla and nuts in the warm finish.
Mouthfeel- Not the biggest feel in the world but considering all things involved not bad. Somewhere around medium with a light carbonation that you have to search for. Slick warming feel.
Drinkability- The beer is huge in flavor and smell but a bit lacking in the feel and looks department. But I could drink this thing all day. It's like drinking a chocolate covered peanut and caramel truffle. Really nice beer that I'm really glad I got to try. Keep up the good work John!

younger35, Nov 21, 2009
Photo of decadance
4.22/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review 50.

A - Black as night...blah blah. But it is a good inch head on a 10oz pour.

S - Bourbon...and hot. Smells of sweet woods, and alcohol. not to be shocked at the ABV.

T - Its a smoother Expo stout. But nothing like expo stout. Leather and mahogany, following by some burnt sugar and bourbon. Slightly burning.

M - Double Cream shines here. It is very much a filling mouth feel. Hot though, ABV is present.

O - Not the best BA stout I have had. That is still BCS rare. But, this is up there, and unique because of the mouth feel. Not as complex in the noise or taste however.

decadance, Sep 19, 2011
Photo of rhoadsrage
4.23/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12/28/12 on bottle
A- This beer pours an inky black thick body with a deep tan head that covers ½ of the glass before fading to a thick ring.

S- The aroma during the pour is a rich black malt with full barrel oak aroma and some buttery graham cracker malt and molasses make up the finish.

T- The full roasted barley flavor is rich but mellow with a big leathery oak flavor to follow and a blend of paper straws and deep chocolate nougat finishing with a sherry hint. The chocolate malt lingers after each sip. There is also a chalky quality in the finish which is pleasant.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a slippery texture and a nice alcohol warmth but very little carbonation in the mouthfeel.

O- This is a nice full flavored stout with big barrel character and it stayed very mellow in the malt bitterness and had some nice chocolate malt flavors which I thought started to get covered by the big oak character.

rhoadsrage, Apr 23, 2013
Photo of thebigredone
4.23/5  rDev -7.2%
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.

thebigredone, Jul 29, 2012
Photo of stephenjmoore
4.23/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 Vintage

A- Pours a very dark brown, settles into the glass with a near-black body and frothy, mocha-colored head. Some carbonation bubbles coast up the side of the glass and meet the head.

S- Roasted malts, barrel character including oak, bourbon, burnt sugar, toasted coconut, hint of cocoa.

T- Pretty similar to the nose, roasty malts and bourbon characteristics. More coconut, caramel and vanilla than I would have expected. Some lactose qualities with oak and booze coming through as well.

M- Full bodied, but a bit thinner than I would have expected. Carbonation is medium with a coating, sweet and boozy aftertaste.

O- I had high hopes for this one, but was somewhat disappointed. A very good beer, but not in the same class as BCBS, Parabola and others. The flavors do not some together quite as well as others and the flavor/aroma is somewhat less than I expected. Hoping the one I have cellared will turn out better.

stephenjmoore, Jul 22, 2014
Photo of bulldogg915
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

bulldogg915, Nov 21, 2013
Photo of danthehopslamman
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

danthehopslamman, Aug 06, 2013
Photo of LGB362
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

LGB362, Sep 05, 2014
Photo of Prospero
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

Prospero, Feb 07, 2013
Photo of koko2315
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

koko2315, Jan 02, 2014
Photo of TKEbeerman
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

TKEbeerman, Dec 22, 2013
Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,127 ratings.