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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

3,351 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,351
Reviews: 512
rAvg: 4.56
pDev: 8.55%
Wants: 2,189
Gots: 843 | FT: 88
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: 3,351 | Reviews: 512 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo of neurobot01
4.1/5  rDev -10.1%

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

Photo of kels
4.13/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was definitely one of the favorites our group sampled at the Bell's tasting at the Indy Beer Sellar last night.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with soft reddish highlights throughout. Completely opaque and appears viscous with the slightest oily slick on top and a fast-fading cream-colored head and weak ring of lace.

Smell: Smell is super, supersweet dark chocolate nibs, whole cream, cherry syrup and caramel mingling with warm, oaky bourbon.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Taste is a spot of roasted coffee with supersweet milk chocolate, heavy cream, warming and soft bourbon, vanilla, and charred oak. No traces in the flavor of the cherry from the smell. Feel is very sticky and viscous at first, and finishes with a slight drying vapor from the alcohol.

Drinkability: Moderate - very sticky and warming the chest.

Photo of Hesscabob
4.13/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I was very excited to be able to try this beer for the first time... and was quite disapointed.
Expedition stout is far and away a better stout than Black Note. Lacked the mouthfeel, taste was overly carbonated for a Barrel Aged brew, smelled fantastic but was not in the same ball park as BCBS, KBS, or Pt5. All that being said, its a solid beer just not worth the hype in my opinion. Plan on aging a couple just in case it improves.. hopefully it does.

Photo of shangwang
4.13/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Was very excited to come across Black Note at the Cambridge during Philly Beer Week; been on my most wanted list for a while.

Poured a deep walnut color with very little head and thin lacing made up of tiny bubbles. Very boozy nose, there was no hiding the bourbon. Also hints of cocoa and coffee in the nose. The taste came in two layers, first a mellow milk chocolate that then bloomed into a roasty acidic Irish coffee that left a nice burning sensation on the way down. The mouthful was thin and light on the tongue.

Overall, a very enjoyable experience that required ordering a second. Not quite up to the level of KBS or BCBCS in my opinion, but a great beer.

Photo of iadler
4.15/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On--tap at Hackneys Printer's Row.

A- Pours a pitch black with a one finger head that slowly dissipates into a thin cap. Minimal lacing is left behind.

S- Dark rich chocolate, coffee bean, roasted malt, vanilla bean, cream, dark fruits, sweet bourbon and wood. Very well balanced and complex.

T- Initially, the beer matches the nose with dark chocolate and coffee bean upfront followed by roasted malt, plumb, fig, raisin, bourbon, wood and some sweet vanilla bean and cream. As it warms up a bit though, the vanilla bean and cream become overpowered by harsh bitterness with char and burnt toast notes.

M- The most disappointing aspect of the beer. Medium prickly carbonation with a thin mouthfeel with the bitterness lingering on. Really wish there was some more body and less carbonation. The one good aspect is that the high abv is masked very well.

O- Black note is a great beer, however, it was too carbonated and was overtly bitter as it warmed up to make it a world class stout. Overall this beer is overhyped a bit, but certainly one to try if you get the chance.

Photo of papat444
4.15/5  rDev -9%

Poured from a 12oz botle, 2014 vintage. Thanks to Tricerahops (i think).

Pours a black body with a very thin head. Not as boozy as expected but bourbon is strong in the flavor. Nuances of coffee and chocolate are present but this would probably open up in a few years. I will say it was very smooth and alcohol was very well hidden.

Photo of brystmar
4.15/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to shutyourface for sharing this one.

Dark brown/black, tan head, decent lace. Smell reminds me of Expedition Stout with bourbon character on top. Layers of roasted malts & coffee flow freely. Aroma is this beer's best quality.

Taste is about what I expected: a good imperial stout with mild bourbon flavors. Much more Expedition than Double Cream. I applaud their choice to not go overboard on the bourbon like so many brewers do today. Love that smooth & creamy body.

That said, Black Note is a perfect example of the BA hype machine getting out of control. Like most Bell's beers, Black Note is pretty good but not exceptional. It's a step up from Expedition Stout, yet it cannot touch the top-tier stouts like Hunahpu's and Black Tuesday.

Photo of br3wmeister
4.15/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Very dark brown with purple and red hues. Small silky brown head with moderate lacing.

S- Dark roasted aromas up front, chocolate, coffee, and a hint of charcoal. Also some nice sweet aromas present, molasses and a hint of vanilla. Some hints of bourbon and oak with an alcohol sting.

T- Lots of dark creamy chocolate, coffee and toast up front. Some dark sweet fruit, molasses and dry bitterness in the end. Hints of charcoal and bourbon throughout.

M- Very smooth and creamy at first with lots of alcohol bite in the end. As it warmed the alcohol became more present and the smoothness faded.

Overall- This is a great addition to the Bell's lineup. Good aroma and flavor maybe a little to much alcohol presence though.

Photo of PlinyBeMiney
4.15/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Excited to try this highly regarded Midwest stout. Looks fairly standard for the style. Smells amazing. I love the smell of bourbon on a stout. This has the perfect mix of malt and bourbon albeit a little less sweet than I'm used too. This beer showcases how a well integrated barrel character can affect a moderately low abv (for an imperial bal aged stout) can be. It's not sweet like Black Tuesday or BCBS which is nice for a change. I personally don't mind those diabetes bombs, but these guys do a great job while keeping things moderate.

Photo of Tucquan
4.15/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on 2012-09-08 in Columbia, PA

A - India ink black with a tan-brown short head with light lacing and lots of alcohol legs.

S - Bourbon, dark fruit, oak tannin, roasted malt. Very big aroma that's heavily on the bourbon side.

T - Bourbon, medium roasted malt, dark cherry, plum, prune, coconut and a touch of umami, and black licorice (not my favorite flavor). Fairly sweet but balanced with some astringent and hop bitterness. I definitely get the influence of the Expedition Stout. Alcohol is quite noticeable but generally blends in and supports the sweetness.

M - Medium-heavy body and light carbonation.

O - Big, big flavors for sure. Didn't quite float my boat as some other Imperial Stouts. For example, I prefer Founders KBS over this for a bourbon-influenced brew. I had this a few hours after having it on-tap. The only difference is there was no head at all from the growler but there was a bit of head on-tap. It wasn't that much of a difference to take points off for the appearance since you don't expect much of a head at this high ABV level.

Photo of HoppyKilaMonster
4.15/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter

A-dark black in color, with a head that quickly dissapates.

S- molasses right away, followed by darker fruits, and a hint of toffee.

T- a nice subtle bourbon undertone at the first sip. This becomes more pronounced as it warms.

M- the body is a little on the lighter side IMO. I would like a barrel aged stout to be a little thicker.

O- A good overall BA stout, but I think there are a lot easier to find, and at least equal in taste stouts out there.

Photo of MusicaleMike
4.15/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thank you to monitorpop for this beer in our trade.

Poured this beer into a balloon glass at room temperature. With a very vigorous pour, I am able to coax two fingers worth of mocha colored head to rise from this black, abysmal beer. The head receded quickly to a tight creamy layer that doesn't appear to leave any lacing behind.

The aroma is more gentle than I expected. The bourbon is obvious and the first thing that I can smell. Deeper into the aroma, I can pick out more complex hints of dark chocolate, oak, anisette, molasses, brown sugar and bruised fruit (banana and peaches).

The taste is complex as all hell. The flavor profile is huge and goes through waves of changes after the first swallow. Up front, it is reminiscent of chocolate milk. The soft, almost creamy texture helps that initial impression. After that, a prominent booziness shines through and dominates the palette, especially in the exhale. It is toasty, oaky, and similar to chocolate covered raisins. The brash alcohol on the exhale brings no real heat, but lends a solvent flavor that creates the impression of whisky-soaked black cherries. I am glad there is no heat, because I am already not a fan of this booziness. The finish brings smokiness, bourbon, oak, vanilla, and roasted malts.

Viscous mouthfeel, creamy; not sticky, but smooth. I almost feel like this would pass as an Irish Dry Stout without the flavor component. Very solid example and just an incredible example of this style.

I found Black Note Stout to be a good beer. Not "World-Class" but most certainly worth purchase again. I bet that a few years on this beer might help it out a little bit. As another BA said on here already, this beer is an above average beer, but not worth emptying your cellar for. Pretty standard Bouron-Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout if you ask me. Tasty for sure, but is a bit middle of the road. I actually liked Victory Dark Intrigue more than this...

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.18/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

10 ox tap pour into a snifter at Burnhearts in Bay View last night. Thanks BJ and Paul for the event and swag and to D-Train for driving!

A - The constant flow from the tap as people lined the bar at least two deep produced a plethora of pitch black snifters on the bar-top, each one crowned delicately by loose dark brown foam.

S - Heavily roasted, plenty of coffee made its way out of this beer with cocoa and chocolate accents. Mellow oak and bourbon follow up.

T - Burnt toast and charred oak paired with the beer's already strong cocoa and coffee proved to be pretty taxing to drink. Chocolate and warm bourbon heat followed nicely.

M - Voluptuous and rich, the balance of this beer is well done. Plenty of hops aid the roasted bitterness while the thinning alcohol warmth finishes out.

O - While Black Note is certainly a great brew, it's also an example of what hype and "rarity" can elevate a beer to. Don't expect anything life changing from this one; it's another heavy stout but, thankfully, balance sets it apart from some other overly-alcohol-rich stouts.

Photo of spicelab
4.18/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle with big thanks to MrKennedy.

Decent hiss on opening. Dark chocolate brown, not your typical RIS motor oil look look, with a modest dark tan head that falls relatively quickly to a collar.

Undoubtedly a rich vein of bourbon running through notes of liquorice bullets, choc-caramel slice, soy sauce, used coffee grounds and molten plastic. Predominantly dry, big and deceptively complex.

A tad sweeter, with impressively rich caramel fudge and butterscotch giving way to coconut, vanilla and the woodier aspects of the barrel.

Light bodied for 11.8%, in no small part due to above average carbonation for the style. Makes it easier to drink, but reduces the oomph.

Worthy BA RIS no doubt, but not quite in the top echelon for me. Lacking a little in presence and intensity.

Photo of Etan
4.18/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a tulip.

A: Pours a shiny black body with a very small chocolate-colored head.

S: Rich notes of milk chocolate, oak and bourbon, light cherry. Very chocolatey with a hint of fruit.

T: Taste comprises dry oak, bitter roasted grain, light raisins, dark chocolate, some tannic caramel, dark alcohol on the end.

M: Between medium and thick-bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: Although the aroma and feel are quite nice, I wasn't as impressed by the taste as I could have been. I can think of a bunch of other stouts that have better barrel characters. Still a very good barrel-aged stout.

Photo of bcp5296d
4.18/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I'll keep this short. This beer has a really good taste but I needed a little more carbonation, not much just a little. Also I thought this was pretty thin in mouthfeel compared to other world class BA stouts. It was fantastic, all the dark chocolate, fig, a good balance of bourbon, just a little thin for my liking when I'm drinking a desert beer.

Other than that it is a really good beer, taste, appearance, smell all fantastic.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.18/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tumbler at Firkin.

Review #2800! Solidarity rolls on for me with a beer I've been looking forward to for a long time. This stuff pours a straight obsidian topped by a finger of dark brown foam. The nose comprises bourbon, toasted wood, caramel, and roasted malts. The taste brings in more of the same, along with a touch of dark chocolate syrup. The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a lightly chewy feel. Overall, a damn tasty stout. To me, the barrel is a bit overpowering compared to everything else, but it somehow doesn't go too far in this way. Good times, indeed.

Photo of birchstick
4.18/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Shared by some super generous St Louisians

A - pours brownish black with a small head on it

S - sweet chocolate, caramel, bourbon. As it warmed, the bourbon started to explode.

T - Starts off with dry chocolate notes that move to an eruption of cocoa. The cocoa fades to a nice bourbon flavor. Dark fruit and some bitter dark chocolates make appearance to round out this beer. I would describe this as really chocolaty with some bourbon

M - a little thin and watery

D - really nice beer here, minus the body. The blend brings together two great beers and the bourbon adds an even greater layer of complexity. Worth the ammo? Probably not, but a great experience nonetheless.

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.

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

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,351 ratings.