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

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

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3,005 Ratings
no score

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Ratings: 3,005
Reviews: 495
rAvg: 4.56
pDev: 8.11%
Wants: 2,069
Gots: 780 | 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: 3,005 | Reviews: 495 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MCain04
4.21/5  rDev -7.7%

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%

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
4.22/5  rDev -7.5%

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%

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%

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%

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%

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%

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%

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%

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
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4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

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

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

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

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

TKEbeerman, Dec 22, 2013
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4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

jtladner, Sep 08, 2013
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4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

Adkins1203, Jun 15, 2014
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4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

freehafe, Sep 08, 2012
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4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

Schlafly33, Jul 29, 2014
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4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

johnyb, Feb 25, 2013
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4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

quirkzoo, Jun 24, 2013
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4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

roostor07, May 29, 2013
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4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

akukucka, Oct 17, 2013
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4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

Schooner12, Dec 22, 2013
Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,005 ratings.