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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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BA SCORE
100
world-class

3,508 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,508
Reviews: 539
rAvg: 4.56
pDev: 8.33%
Wants: 2,363
Gots: 897 | FT: 86
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,508 | Reviews: 539
Photo of dymmig89
4.07/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.07/5  rDev -10.7%
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.

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.

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".

Photo of Zach136
4.08/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pitch black, little to no head. OK for ABV.

Aroma: Medium+ aroma of caramel, oak, bourbon, and chocolate notes with a background of light roast malt.

Flavor: Pretty apparent booze, more roast on the palate than the nose. Oak/bourbon are covered by other flavors.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, but perceived a bit drier from the booze.

Overall: Good, definitely not worth the hype and chasing down. Way too boozy for 11 and change ABV.

Photo of molasses
4.08/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of snaotheus
4.09/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015-03-07
12oz bottle split between three samplers.

Pours surprisingly translucent with no head. Smell is bourbon and lots of roastiness.

Tasteis rich bitter, with chocolate and coffee.

Mouthfeel is dry, almost chalky -- somewhat gritty. Overall, very good.

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.

Photo of homebrew311
4.1/5  rDev -10.1%
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 Kevinpitts
4.1/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of neurobot01
4.1/5  rDev -10.1%

Photo of MPLS
4.11/5  rDev -9.9%
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 Bosoxfan20
4.11/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2012 bottle.
Pours a pitch black and sits still in the glass. A delicate head quickly fades. Aroma is intense with notes of bourbon, luscious vanilla, tobacco, charred malts, and caramelized brown sugar. You don't have to dig deep in the glass to get a wide range of decadent aromas.
Flavor takes on a little different approach with more of the dark fruits that is evident from the Expedition Stout portion of the blend. A touch of chocolate, and lots of the barrel character. Sweet at times, but not cloying with the added lingering bitterness. Booze is fairly noticeable...even after 2 years in the bottle. Silky feel that is thinner than I prefer.
Overall, well done. Not a home run for me though as the flavor did not stand up to the greatness the nose brought. Some of the espresso may have been lost in the bottle age.

Photo of Steasy66
4.11/5  rDev -9.9%
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 shangwang
4.11/5  rDev -9.9%
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 dorianmarley
4.12/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

Photo of fvernon
4.12/5  rDev -9.6%
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 nrbw23
4.12/5  rDev -9.6%
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 cannabispinoy
4.13/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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 kels
4.15/5  rDev -9%
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
4.15/5  rDev -9%
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 johnnnniee
4.16/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 Bottle from BlowOffTube, thanks for the opportunity!
Solid black color with a quickly fleeting head. Chocolate, roast, molasses, vanilla, wood, light dark fruit, there's lots going on here and its all good. Rich sweet silky creamy thick body with light carbonation. Damn that's good, wish I had more!

Photo of MusicaleMike
4.16/5  rDev -8.8%
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 spicelab
4.17/5  rDev -8.6%
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.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,508 ratings.