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

542 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 542
Hads: 3,640
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 2.45%
Wants: 2,510
Gots: 922 | FT: 80
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: 542 | Hads: 3,640
Photo of StinkyFishBoys
4.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

There is nothing unique about this bad boy but it does what it does very well. I'd say this is the base line for bourbon barrel stouts. It makes for a cool addition to a tasting lineup but I wouldn't seek it out on its own. Rap-a-tap, rippity tip-tip. (252 characters)

Photo of WhoKnew23
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The first one I had, I wasn't blown away. However, a second pour, and I was amazed. I think I had to let the hype in my head die down. Very creamy and the barrel character is perfect. Not too overpowering, and not too faint. The perfect middle. (244 characters)

Photo of EveningCordial
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 bottle into snifter.

A- jet black, little carbonation, small light khaki head.

S- dark chocolate and bourbon are dominant. Also some vanilla and earthy wood and some coffee or expresso.

T- lots of smooth vanilla bourbon and mocha. Super balanced and velvety. Nice dry finish of wood and sweet chocolates with a hint of coffee.

M- full bodied, but I'd have thicker stouts. I guess that's the cream ale talking.

O- really great take on the style. Bells did an awesome job blending and aging this one. (516 characters)

Photo of madelfonatree
4.62/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 enjoyed May 30, 2015

Look - Oily black. Thin light tan head. Lacing not so much.

Smell - Bourbon. Black licorice. Sweet. Chocolate.

Taste - Bourbon/alcohol taste is very subdued. Honey and fruit. Sweet chocolate finish.

Feel - Heavy. Really no carbonation to speak of. This is what I like in a stout.

Overall - I got it! I like it better than KBS. Too bad this isn't as readily available. (398 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 alarmclock314
4.37/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

3/12/14 printed on the back of the label. Pours black with a light khaki colored head; fluffy with small bubbles that last. Smells like hops, chocolate, and bourbon. Tastes like chocolate, caramel, and bourbon with hints of oak and coffee. Hop presence throughout. Minor sweetness and drying finish. Good coating mouthfeel. Medium carbonation for the style. This is a quality BA IS, but not quite world-class. (416 characters)

Photo of tmbgnicu
4.73/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

One of the best BA stouts I've ever had. Split a 12oz botttle(2013) with my wife and two of our friends to celebrate the births of our children. Lucky for me, most of my guests didn't care too much for BA stouts, so I had the lion's share of the pour. As complex as BCBS without being overly boozy. Got a huge espresso nose, but not a lot in taste. (359 characters)

Photo of maxifunk777
3.91/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Did not live up to the hype 2014 poured into a Bruery Snifter dark as night.
Just slightly above average Stout high B low A at best would drink it again but not sure I would seek it out . Smell was tame, Taste was smooth but not anything that made me go wow on any level. mouthfeel once again good not great. (308 characters)

Photo of Monktastic7
4.31/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Such a wonderful stout. This was a "whale" for me when I first started and now every year I walk away with nearly a case from chasing trucks haha Love it, super dense, strong bourbon and soft vanilla notes. (206 characters)

Photo of buschbeer
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 FL OZ bottle
Served in a snifter
Bottled March 12, 2014

It pours jet black. There is no light getting through this beer. It has an inch of mocha head that recedes leaving only spotty lacing to remind me of its presence.

Licorice and dark fruit are noticeable in the aroma. Roasted malt in in there too.

The taste is of dark fruit, plum, raisin. It kind of has a port-like flavor to it. The dark malts are subdued. Some anise comes through on the finish.

Full mouthfeel

I have only had a 2012 prior to this. i remember loving it. This one reminds me more of a barrel aged Expedition stout. I have one 2012 left. I guess I will have to get my hands dirty and see how they compare. (687 characters)

Photo of carolynschaf
4.91/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pitch dark body, as the name implies. Distinguished oak aroma and rich molasses taste makes for one of the best barrel-aged stouts you can find, if you can find it. (164 characters)

Photo of LambicPentameter
4.39/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to fellow BA cvm4 for sending this bottle along in a trade. Enjoyed out of a 12 oz brown bottle with the vintage "2014" stamped on the front of the label. Poured into a 33 oz brandy snifter. Reviewing from notes after enjoying on 2/14/15.

Appearance (4.25) - A pour of moderate aggression yields a finger of caramel-brown foam that dissipates fairly quickly, leaving more of a ringlet around the edges and a spackling of lace on the sides of the glass. Beneath the head lies a dark walnut brown body with no light able to pass through except for a gentle glow of refraction right around the edges.

Smell (4.5) - The smell really makes a good impression, with notes of graham cracker, caramel and some molasses are the initial aroma, with trailing scents of chocolate and roasted malt close behind. There is a slight hint of astringent booziness, but it's faint and really only serves to cut through the sweeter aromas.

Taste (4.5) - Not quite as impressive as the aroma, but good enough that the difference is negligible, the taste isn't quite as sweet as what the smell suggested was to follow. Still notes of caramel and molasses, now complemented by vanilla and some oak, with a stronger presence from the alcohol that wasn't as prevalent in the smell. Again, bitterness comes in the form of roasted malt char and some cacao bittersweet characteristics.

Feel (4.0) - Body is on the slightly heavy side of medium, but still doesn't rise to the girth that I want to have in big imperial stouts like this one. I know the barrel-aging makes that difficult. Carbonation is low and soft, without any of the harshness that might cut through the decadence of the beer. Finish is semisweet.

Overall (4.25), a really nice barrel-aged stout and one that I would gladly drink again if it weren't pretty much a trade-only beer for me to access. However, I don't think I would go out of my way to trade for it again, as there are barrel-aged imperial stouts that are just as good, if not better, that I personally have an easier time getting my hands on. (2,055 characters)

Photo of dboon
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Beer Bistro. Joan Jett black pour with a mocha head. Wow, all kinds of bourbon in the nose. Creamy and smooth with lots of mellow bourbon, deep roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, and oak notes. I’ve been chasing this stout for a long time and was not disappointed. Thanks to Dan and Tom for meeting up with me. It’s nice to get to experience these beers with local members of the beer community. (413 characters)

Photo of K-Dog
4.32/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 release aged a year. The smell is incredible. Over all very good beer but I remember the 2012 version being much more enjoyable. Not sure when will be released again but will definitely seek out more when the time comes (224 characters)

Photo of notchucknorris
4.68/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Pours black with a one finger khaki colored head that settles down to a ring above the beer fairly quickly. Not a particularly dense looking body, but this is no Kate Moss by any means.

S: A dark, rich blend of espresso and mellow bourbon. Charred barrel, raisin, toffee and baker's chocolate. Smells absolutely incredible. So much espresso.

T: Opens with an amazing soft bourbon and dark, dark chocolate. Vanilla, light coconut, toffee, black currant and faint molasses and raisin. Tons of rich espresso throughout and the espresso and barrel notes together are fantastic. In the words of Salad Fingers: Practically Orgasmic. (631 characters)

Photo of mr-jj
4.31/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Color is nearly black with a thin tan head. Aroma is bourbon and dark roasted espresso. Taste is very good - espresso, chocolate and bourbon notes on the palate. Roasted malt and anise with a mildly bitter finish. Body is full and creamy. Overall, a very good beer that deserves it's hype. (295 characters)

Photo of Greywulfken
4.68/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: black ink ale with a dark tan foam head maybe a finger high; light sheen glazed the inner glass as it went down

S: rich bourbon and vanilla flavors caress the nose, followed by aromas of wet cocoa and dry wood

T: the chocolate and bourbon are up-front - bittersweet, rich, and dark; undercurrents of vanilla and molasses run throughout, accenting other impressions of espresso and anise

M: full-bodied and smooth as silk, mellow bittersweet action, slight drying on finish with a flash of char at the very end

O: an indisputably superior product, well-worth its rank and rating, highly recommended. (605 characters)

Photo of Mshull
4.73/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

So finally after years of seeking this beer out I decided to just trade for it. There is no beer I'd hesitate to trade away to get more of this. Smooth creamy chocolate flavor with just a hint of bourbon on the way down, so perfect. (232 characters)

Photo of snaotheus
4.09/5  rDev -8.9%
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. (261 characters)

Photo of montesown
4.59/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Finally had a chance to try some - 2014. Out of a magnum bottle at the Beer fest in GR. Very good, however I think it would have been better a little warmer.
Cheers (165 characters)

Photo of TBonez477
4.74/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2012 bottle into snifter

A: Beautifully black and almost pours like motor oil. Barely any head to speak of.

S: Deep aroma of coffee, bitter chocolate and dark fruit. Finishes with alcohol even after 2 years of aging.

T: First sip gives way to the deep scents, revealing some tobacco and leather enveloping the dark fruit flavors. Barely any alcohol heat allowing the focus to remain on the beautiful sweet and bitter balance.

M: Heavy and thick on the palate, appropriately lightly carbonated.

O: The best way to sum up this beer is to explain that I audibly giggled after my first taste. While I would never proclaim to be the most seasoned beer enthusiast in this community (or even anywhere close) this is the best beer I've ever had, a statement I have never made before. (781 characters)

Photo of aleigator
4.41/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a viscous, black color, with a decent mohagony, bubbly head. It leaves back a thick, still bubbly lacing at the edge of the glass.

The nose reveals an astonishing balance between molasses, toffee, coconut, prunes and sweet milk chocolate on the one hand, and wooden, accentuating, slightly hot barrel qualities. The barrel is easily noteable on itself, while it hits the spot by supporting the malty aromas as well, in an outstanding, intriguing way.

Tastes earthier than the aromas revealed, with toasted, bready malts, accompanied by bakers chocolate and a decent amount of whipped cream. That creamy foundation then gets extended by cane sugar, big time toffee and molasses, which blend very well into the burning, wooden alcohol. Boozy Bourbon gets replaced by big chunks of wood, very chewy, with matured coffee beans, creating a pleasant balance, preventing this successfully from becoming too sweet and boozy.

The warmer the beer gets, the more present turns the Bourbon. It provides coconut and a hint of vanilla during the opening, while it becomes quite dominant, as the sweet malt qualities hit the tastebuds. Finishes with ash, scorched malts, slightly dry, while it remains its smooth, chocolate defined mouthfeel. (1,236 characters)

Photo of Shinck14
4.8/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Tasted alongside KBS and Bourbon County and this one is just a tad better than the other two in my opinion. Tastes like a batch of bourbon soaked brownie batter. Will for sure seek more of this out. (198 characters)

Photo of Jeffrey84
4.77/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

After a long search I finally got my hands on one single bottle with nearly a year in the cellar. This beer is amazing. It's as if BCBS and KBS meet at a bar,fell in love then had a child called Black Note.

Black Note was the biggest baby ever born in that hospital and nearly broke the state records for length and weight. Over the years Black Note began to develop characteristics of his parents. The strong bourbon and vanilla flavored of his father BCBS. Black Notes mother,KBS, loved chocolate especially with a cup of coffee.

As he grew up into a young man,Black Note balanced these features in perfect harmony and did the one thing his parents wanted for him the most. He became a better beer than them. He is Better educated, more successful and happier than they ever were. (790 characters)

Photo of humuloner22
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had searched high and low for this beer for a few years and could not find one in a store. I finally traded for some and man am I happy I did! This beer is what Bourbon County wants to be when it grows up!

Appearance: Dark as night very little head if any. Settles quickly to a light caramel colored film around the edges of the glass.

Aroma: Jesus this beer smells so good. Lots of barrel immediately detected. Bourbon out the ass! Vanilla and chocolate maltiness dominate.

Taste: Man this just doesn't get any better really. The taste is sweet but not too cloying. Its perfectly balanced between the two base beers. Not too much barrel but you certainly detect the bourbon and the flavors that come with a bourbon barrel aged beer. Vanilla, chocolate, bourbon and oak dominant barrel finish. Mouthfeel is also velvety and oh so smooth. Perfect balance accomplished with this beer!

Overall: I have been saving this beer to try for a big number but I just felt like what the hell why not tonight! I also paired this one against the two base beers as an experiment and this is a case where the sum of the parts are better. I will say I do tend to enjoy the Double Cream better than the Expedition but I can understand where that needs to be utilized as a base ingredient. Overall this beer is layered and superb in my book. I think this is much better beer than many of its companions out there. Totally worth the effort in trading for this one! (1,450 characters)

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 542 ratings.