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
99
world-class

543 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 543
Hads: 3,642
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 2.45%
Wants: 2,513
Gots: 924 | 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: 543 | Hads: 3,642
Photo of Rifugium
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at City Tap House, Philly, PA

First (and only at the time of this review) keg to come to Philly!

Served in a snifter, dark brown to black, opaque, with a minimal tan head. Aroma was luscious with dark malts, licorice, vanilla and chocolate; some alcohol noticeable. Taste was rich with malts, dark chocolate, sweet sugars, bourbon-soaked wood; strong in flavor and booze; quite simply amazing all around. Nicely thick and creamy, full bodied. Highly drinkable, and among of the best stouts I've had. (519 characters)

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

I've always loved Expedition stout and since I've heard they did a barrel aged version I couldn't get away from wanting this beer. It's been a long journey and thanks to a local Pittsburgh distributor I finally came into contact with this one.

Pours a pitch black hue with creamy tan head floating above the head, let me tell you about this BA version of Expedition fine lacing left evenly around the chalice.

Aromatics dark malts charred oak, with vanilla and whiskey rich character...also has a toasted marshmallow note with booze that is much needed for a dark imperial stout called Black Note. The finish is full of caramelized dark sugars and it so nice and full of nearly burnt malts. Smells so good, it's amazing what a whiskey barrel can do to a stout, I'm glad New Holland tried to put whiskey into some stout barrels to see if the inverse were true. Each time I take a sniff I get hints of umami from soy sauce tainted meat and spicy notes of ginger impregnated in a marinade of chicken breast.

Flavor has milky creamy dark chocolate notes, flowing with heat of bourbon barrel aging effects, charred oak, and rich vanilla booze infused stout character. Dark fruit with plums and over ripened fruits that are soaked in alcohol infusing through the palate with each sip. In the backend I definitely get that meaty soy sauce, umami character that I've come to know and love salty/sweet and a bit of braised beef or grilled tuna approaches the palate. I believe either of these would be great pairings amongst this beverage.

Mouthfeel full bodied creamy texture seduces your palate, even slow bubbling carbonation what a great experience that is too be had by all lovers of great barrel aged stouts. Salty sweet combination reigns supreme on the palate and leaves me wanting more and more.

Overall, one of the best barrel aged creations I've ever had...light years ahead of the complexity of KBS and Arcadia Shipwrecked BBA beers. I will hold onto the rest of the six pack I have left. (1,999 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.99/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Huge props to Duff27 for this bottle!

BOTTLE: 2014 vintage. Bottled: 08/12/14. 11.4% ABV. 12 fl oz. Brown glass.

Expectations are sky high; this is currently #25 in the Top 250. Served cold into a tulip/teku hybrid and allowed to warm over the course of consumption.

HEAD: 1 finger wide. Beautifully creamy, full, and thick. Has an exquisite rich shiny complexion, which is gorgeous combined with the rich khaki colour head. Leaves a thick even coating of lacing as it recedes. Retention is excellent - ~8 minutes.

BODY: Deep dark black. Opaque. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

A special and great looking stout with apt carbonation. I can't wait for the first sip.

AROMA: Amazing bourbon barrel notes. Rich white oak, authentic vanilla (not artificial vanillin extract), barrel sugars, and toasted wood. Wow.

As amazing as the bourbon character is, it doesn't seem to eclipse the base, which brings notes of subtle dark fruit (fig and plum primarily, with subsidiary notes of date), chocolate, and subtle coffee with a kiss of roast. Pleasant cream is also noticeable, but I'm not finding the espresso mentioned on the label - as nice as the coffee is.

Constructively, I have come across stout aromas with richer more expressive chocolate and more complex roasty coffee notes. I nitpick, but it's an incredible aroma overall.

As it comes to temperature, hidden notes of marshmallow and toasted coconut begin to emerge, as well as a fleeting kiss of faint char and burnt sugar.

Moderate aromatic intensity. This evocative aroma suggests a luxuriously well-balanced beer with plenty of subtlety and complexity. Mouthwatering. Wow.

No hop profile or yeast character is detectable, nor are any off-notes.

TASTE: The open greets the drinker with notes of cream and soft bourbon. The bourbon barrel character is fantastic, boasting notes of authentic vanilla, slightly toasted white oak, and barrel sugars that remain strong throughout the beer, lending it a natural guiding cohesion. The bourbon doesn't overwhelm the base beer, but rather accents its notes of impressively subtle dark fruit (fig and plum), roasted barley, and coffee.

The coffee, unfortunately, is quite shallow and uninteresting compared to other stellar imperial stouts; more complexity, diversity, and depth of flavour is needed for the coffee note to play with the big boys.

Chocolate is similarly limited; I get some creamy milk chocolate, but it's limited in scope and intricacy. We've all had better chocolate notes in beer. As it warms, though, some fudge emerges.

The foundation is comprised of dark malts and chocolate malts, which form an easily imposed-upon neutral stout base - a blank slate into which the more interesting notes can insert themselves.

I find a glimmer of coconut which never fully resolves. And the marshmallow I thought I found in the aroma is absent here...or is it? It flirts with notes of grape and currant, but never fully commits.

Balance is nearly impeccable, with few flaws noticeable aside from a faint charred and burnt character at the bottom of the second act. There's definite complexity and nuance in this build, but I can't find the espresso promised by the label, and if we're nitpicking (as I feel we must do whenever a beer is in the Top 250), I have had more complex & intricate imperial stouts. But few feature such a well-attuned harmony of bourbon barrel and base beer notes. This tastes like a gestalt whole.

Still, this is a delicious brew of the highest quality, and I find myself drinking slowly to savor each sip.

TEXTURE: Damn. This beer just melts into the palate with incredible softness and angelic delicacy. Creamy, comforting on the palate, and fragile. Smooth and wet, enhancing drinkability. The creaminess coupled with the softness is divine, and carbonation is near perfect. It's aptly full-bodied and has ideal thickness, which is needed to support the beer's many flavours. Incredibly well executed, with superb overall presence on the palate. This is a mouthfeel that elevates a beer beyond its taste, and accentuates the notes in the flavour profile, coaxing out their nuances. Majestic.

If not for a slight harshness brought on by burnt sugar and char in the late second act, this mouthfeel would be perfect.

OVERALL: Shockingly drinkable for its unnoticeable 11.4%. Easily one of Bell's best beers (if not THE best), and absolutely a beer that deserves its high ratings. I'm not sure I'd consider it the 25th best beer in the world, but it's a treat of a brew and avoids the common pitfalls of the style: it's not too sweet or dessert-like, it doesn't have acrid or overly bitter coffee, the bourbon barrel doesn't eclipse the base, it doesn't lack a roasted barley presence, and while it has notable complexity, it doesn't sacrifice balance to attain it.

Its main flaw is that pesky burnt/charred character.

High B+

Might easily become an A- with age. But I could never hold onto a bottle for that long; it's too good. (4,999 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.45/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ninety-nine down, one to go (or at least until the top 100 changes again). Finally got to try this elusive brew at the Bell's 30 Taps World Record event at Beer Sellar in Indy. Had three 5oz tasters of this stuff.

N.B. This was listed as "BB Double Cream Stout", but Larry Bell assured everyone it was the blend and that the erroneous name was merely due to a label approval issue.

A - A half-finger of dark mocha foam with solid retention, and a little bit of lacing. Pitch black - there was no trace of color, even at the fringes. It's about what I expect from a high gravity Imperial Stout.

S - Tons of bourbon and vanilla notes, a bit of roastiness - it wasn't the most complex nose. I even patiently waited for it to warm up, as it was served WAY too cold, but I didn't really get much more than the basics here.

T - The taste was superb, and was somewhat shocking after the lukewarm aroma. Tons of bourbon, vanilla, sweet malts, milk chocolate, and a bit of dark fruit and barrel. I love the way the Double Cream Stout portion offsets the roasty bitterness and acidity. As a result the aftertaste is surprisingly mild.

M - Mild carbonation, super smooth, lighter in body than I expected (more medium-to-full). Plenty of residual stickiness in this one, and shockingly a bit of heat (even after a couple years in the keg).

D - Super drinkable for what it was - the multiple tasters went down pretty easy. I think out of the ten tickets my wife and I got, we used at least half of them on this superb brew. The only problem is the ABV, and is that really that big of a problem? ;-) (1,591 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
4.65/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap tonight at Churchkey in Washington, DC. 10 oz. pours in snifters. This was one of those whales I never thought I'd get to try unless it came to a festival, so was pretty happy to get a few glasses of it tonight.

a - Pours a pitch black color with one inch of dark tan head and light carbonation evident. Head lasts for a few minutes and leaves some spotty lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of bourbon, oak, vanilla, roasted malts, sweet and bitter chocolate, and caramel malts. Really amazing nose with the bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate mixing wonderfully. Pretty perfect nose.

t - Tastes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, sweet chocolate sweet dark fruits, roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and cream. Again, really great here.

m - Medium to full body and low carbonation. Somewhat thicky and creamy, really great mouthfeel. No alchool heat really at all.

o - Overall a truely fantastic beer; reminds me, as well as others I was with, a lot of BCS Rare. Nose is wonderful and no real alcohol heat, I had no problem drinking 3 full glasses of this one. I put it on par with BCS Rare and the normal BCS, which are two of my favorite stouts. Would love to have it again sometime. (1,184 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
4.4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've been offended for a long time that this beer has slipped through my grasp. Everyone raves about it, and it is good, but how much better than a decently treated Bourbon county is it? Not much.

Beer served on draft in a snifter. Beer is black with a lazy head of tan bubbles, some lacing, minimal carbonation, lots of lacing.

Aroma is sweet, bourbon, malt, not much else.

Beer is also sweet, smooth, creamy, decent, mouth-feel is the best thing about this beer, high in alcohol, sweet, good finish, a decent barrel aged whatever but don't knock yourself out looking for it like i did. (590 characters)

Photo of orangesol
4.47/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden, Brass Rail and Shady McGrady's all in the same week. Also out of a growler at ffej of july...Yeah, this area does not suck.

A - Pours jet black with a nice one and a half finger tall mocha colored head leaving sticky streaks of lace down parts of the glass.

S - Smells of warm bourbon, milk chocolate, vanilla, dark roasted malt, brown sugar and quite a bit of lactic creaminess. Bourbon is strong initially but the other aroma's grow to help keep it in check.

T - Starts off with a big dose of warm bourbon, chocolate and some lactic creaminess from the double cream stout. Hints of vanilla, oak, brown sugar and rich coffee help to break things up and keep things interesting. Finish is pretty sweet with plenty of boozy bourbon and some dark roast, lingering on the palate long after consumption.

M - Big, full body with a TON of sweet flavors and moderate carbonation. Smooth, boozy feel throughout the glass.

O - I have missed out on trying this one a few times in the past so I was really looking forward to trying it when I saw that it went on-tap. Now that I have had it 4-5 times in the span of a week I can say that it definitely lives up to its billing. Awesome beer for sure. (1,226 characters)

Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 12/28/2012. Pours dense pitch black color with a small tan head with decent retention, that reduces to a spotty lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, toast, vanilla, toffee, bourbon, oak, clove, raisin, licorice, light coffee, cream, light char, and roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of roasted malt and barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, vanilla, toast, toffee, bourbon, oak, clove, light coffee, cream, raisin, licorice, light char, and roasted earthiness. Minimal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, vanilla, toast, toffee, oak, bourbon, clove, light coffee, cream, raisin, licorice, light char, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt flavors with very balanced barrel complexity; with zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and full bodied; with a very creamy and slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic barrel aged imperial stout. All around fantastic complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt flavors with barrel character; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering. (1,443 characters)

Photo of chinchill
4.43/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at NOC.
Black with brown edges. The head is not durable but the ring is.
Very, very rich aroma and flavor. Mildly sweet with fairly well hidden ABV.
Barrel aging is obvious.Dark infused fruit.
Very smooth feel, with a good bit of warming.
Indescribably delicious. (275 characters)

Photo of mothman
4.72/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this for my first beer at Stub and Herbs for Darkness Eve! I am very happy that I got to try it!

Pour was a 7 oz glass.

Color is a big oil black with tan head. No lace to to pour, but I am ok with that because there was more beer in the glass.

Aroma: Amazing. Bourbon, chocolate, roasted malts, earthy hops. Also has some cream flavors and vanilla notes with oak. Very robust and smooth. Wow it is good and I am ready to dive in.

Taste: Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, oak, earthy hops. Very rich, robust and all around amazing taste. The bourbon is very warming in a good way. You can definitely tell it is there, but it doesn't wreck the beer.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, rich. Full bodied with a nice amount of carbonation. Ends pretty clean with a malty bourbon flavored aftertaste.

Overall, I love this beer and want more of it. I really hope Bells does this again, because it has to be one of my favorite beers of the style. Simply amazing and very drinkable! Well done! (982 characters)

Photo of mdaschaf
4.46/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes.

A: Pours a very deep brown, practically black with a small tan/mocha colored head on top that forms a pretty tight cap. Decent read retention with thin lacing.

S: Dark chocolate upfront with some light roasted malt. Bourbon mixed with vanilla and a bit of brown sugar and molasses as well.

T: The first flavor I got was vanilla with dark chocolate, a great combination. The bourbon kicks in adding some wood, a bit of caramelized sugar, and some molasses. Faint dark fruit as well, cherries. Slight bitter/roast on the back end.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation, pretty smooth.

O: A very nice beer, understandable why it scores so hi. Very impressed and look forward to trying it again. (722 characters)

Photo of stakem
4.22/5  rDev -6%
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. (852 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at Churchkey in D.C.

The beer is black with a thin beige head. After a few swirls of the snifter the head expands to 3/4 inch, leaving a thick sheet of lacing cascading down the snifter.

The aroma, while nice, is quite a bit weaker than expected, offering bourbon and roast with a hint of vanilla.

The flavor, on the other hand, is a thing of beauty. Bold bourbon presence throughout. Oily thick with a delicious roast character. This is indeed a world class beer and in my top tier of barrel aged imperial stouts. Not terribly complex, per se, but masterfully balanced and just superb.

The mouthfeel is ridiculously good, perhaps the best I have yet encountered in a beer of this ilk. The Double Cream Stout shows itself here. Creamy and full bodied, with alcohol content gracefully disguised.

Worthy of its overall A+ rating, this beer was sublime. (865 characters)

Photo of BARFLYB
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On Tap at the City Tap House for their 31 flavors of Bell's event for Philly Beer Week, I love this city!

Black note came to me looking black like night with a bubbly thin layered dark tan milkshake head. Some rough patches of lace on the way down, nice considering the barrel aging.

Smells is of dark bakers chocolate, dark fruit, plums, and some vinious qualities in the back. Sweet roasty notes, cream for your coffee with some coffee as well. The bourbon, while not overly huge is a welcomed guest.

Black Note tastes like you think it will, delish. Dark chocolate, semi bitterseet, cocco powder, A light splash of roasted coffee beans, lucious sweet malt roasty malt. A dark fruit component from the expo, a vanilla creamy vibe from the DCB. Some mollasses along with the sweet vanilla are welcome. A nice amount of bourbon from a great barrel that's not all that boozy.

I gotta say, this is the smoothest BA beer that I've had for a while. Smooth, creamy, easy, a steady slope. While the alcohol seeps in a bit, this is not hot in any way. The way this went down after 20 minutes in the glass brings tears to my eyes.

It's big beer, but i found myself taking bigger gulps than usual for a stout. Much smoother as time passes and temps rise, easy drinking, just be careful, it will get ya. Another treat during beer week. I knew this beer would be a winner ever since I heard about it. (1,394 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.48/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from the 12oz. bottle into a large snifter glass.

Barely a whisp of faint tan head is made off the pour, but settles to a common 1mm collar while drinking. A nice little coffee cream top, with a body that is walnut black in color, just a little hint of see through around the edges.

Nose is very subtle, with hints of classic bourbon barrel aging. A controlled heat mixing with a large thick roast and caramel mix. Hints of charring thickness and booze. Hints of peanut like and salty character, Somewhat one dimensional and a little varied, but it's a good profile.

A real wonderful thickness. Great thick chocolate ganache finish on this beer, with hints of dark chocolate and bitter cocoa coating feel. A real controlled lingering very mild bitterness on the finish that lasts and lasts. Mild sweetness lingers on the tongue with this powder light heat and faint sting from a little tinge of carbonation. Incredibly coating palate and a nice dark chocolate. This is without question the most dark chocolate tasting brew I have had to date. The hint of sweet and punching dark bitter on this is just perfect.

This brew is all in the aftertaste, with a real incredible chocolate rich darkness. Drinks incredibly easy for such a large stout as well. Very memorable but not for the reasons that are mentioned on the bottles description. I would be shocked if Bell's could pull this beer off on a regular basis. Please try again! (1,439 characters)

Photo of tempest
4.1/5  rDev -8.7%
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. (505 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.42/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Bx Beer Depot. A keg of Hopslam and a keg of Black Note. Amazingly, the Hopslam kicked long before the Black Note, so I enjoyed three of these as I watched people go nuts for Hopslam.

Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Big khaki head. Not a particularly dark head, though. Decent retention. Oh yeah, it's black.

Smell - Huge barrel notes. Bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Roasted chocolate, but otherwise the stout is a touch lost in the barrel. Boozy, too.

Taste - Chocolate and a building tingle of bourbon. Vanilla flavor throughout. The chocolate comes back in the finish in a much more bitter manifestation. Less boozy in the finish that the smell would indicate. Really wonderful incorporation of barrel and stout.

Mouthfeel - Very creamy, which I assume is the Cream Stout. Boozy and chewy, but not too thick. Low carbonation, which is strange. Nearly flat.

Overall - It's damn good. I don't know how much separates the best BA stouts, but this one is quite nice. I'm happy not to have traded for it and rather just came and drank the equivalent of a 750 on tap. Will be back for more next year.

Edited based on drinking the hell out of this at the Michigan Summer Beer Festival. (1,196 characters)

Photo of corby112
4.57/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with a half finger beige head that quickly settles into thin, lasting ring.  Spotty lacing and legs coat the glass.

Incredibly inviting nose with sweet and spicy bourbon barrel notes excellently integrated into the elements of the base beer.  Spicy whiskey/bourbon with toasted oak and vanilla.  Toasted coconut and vanilla notes really stand out along with the dry, earthy  oak presence.  Underneath, there's some luscious chocolate, licorice, vinous fruit, oatmeal and toast.  Smells amazing!!!

Viscous and full bodied with a strong bourbon presence that is perfectly integrated into the flavors of the base beer.  Some dry toasted oak and spicy bourbon along with smooth vanilla bean and roasted coconut.  Again, the toasted coconut flavor is realy prominent and the vanilla rounds out the hot booze.  Great bourbon flavor.  Underneath, there is a nice combination of sweet and roasted malt notes with hints of dark chocolate, burnt sugar, toast, oatmeal and coffee bean coutered by licorice and vinous fruits.  Slightly dry in the finish with a good amount of boozy heat and warmth in the chest.  Abv not masked very well but the base beer flavors aren't obliterated and it's still somewhat easy to drink.  Very nice.   (1,281 characters)

Photo of weeare138
4.64/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to egajdzis for this...
Appears a near black with dark brown edges. The small tan cap fades into a little film and mild collar. Spotty streaks of lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of butter cream, lactose, bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, cocoa, dark chocolate...pretty intense, complex, and enticing.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a "smores" like taste (I see egajdzis took author rights for my original thoughts), along with creamy caramel standing out.
Mouthfeel is sweet up front, smooth, full of bourbon and cocoa. Delicious stuff. This is what I had hoped KBS was going to be. (613 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
4.16/5  rDev -7.3%
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! (306 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
3.82/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Shared by largadeer on 11/06/2009 and poured into a snifter. Thanks Chris! The beer is black with a wispy light brown head. Retention is decent and lacing is scattered.

The nose is of dark chocolate, vanilla, and prominent molasses. The chocolate has a fudge-like quality and licorice presence is strong. Booze and anise are evident. Nice rich nose.

The flavor is licorice, molasses, fudge, and dark chocolate. As the beer warms, the licorice becomes increasingly powerful. The finish is alcoholic and somewhat harsh. Molasses and licorice eventually overwhelm the other flavors. The beer is full bodied with a thick and slightly syrupy mouthfeel. I enjoyed the nose, but the taste had too much licorice and molasses for me. I was enamored for the first couple ounces, but I quickly became disenchanted (804 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.97/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

A: Poured black , sordove sluggish with a moderate dirty cap which leaves some good bubbles and lacing.

S: Chocolate, light whiff of licorice, coffee and a light booze sting

T: Big coffee upfront with chocolate, black licorice and roasted notes. Light addiions of dark fruit in the background. I felt any barrel was really backseat on this bottle but then again I had been consuming bookoo stouts. But really, I perceived more velvety stout qualities than I did barrel so that was a hit for me.

M: Full bodied, low to medium carbonation, yet I felt it was a bit thin going down. Its not as full or thick as I expected from the pour

O: A good beer but I have been drink a lot of Kalamazoo lately and I actually enjoy it over this Imperial Stout. Odd huh? (759 characters)

Photo of John_M
4.7/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Al's of Hampden.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with excellent head retention and considerable creamy, sticky lacing all around. The nose is terrific in this beer, as I pick up dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla, considerable bourbon and even some apple brandy. This really smells great... yet as good as it smells, damn if it doesn't taste even better. The flavor profile largely replicates the nose, but there's a nice dash of hoppy bitterness in the finish that really helps to buoy and counter the moderate sweetness in this beer. For such a big beer, it's really well balanced, and is just so easy to drink. Also, despite the high alcohol, there's not a hint of heat from alcohol in the finish. Mouthfeel is fairly full, with a long, chocolate, coffee and vanilla finish. This is just a delicious beer. Really impressed by how well the brewer managed to keep everything in just the right preportion in this excellent beer.

Clearly among the barrel aged RIS elite. Very, very well done. (1,006 characters)

Photo of biegaman
4.42/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Trivia Question: What do you get when you blend Double Cream and Expedition Stout? Answer: A beer with a head that's darker than most brown ales. Bell's Black Note is black on black, that's for sure - it's darker than deep space. Almost amazingly, the foam never collapses.

Did I mention the blend is also aged for a few months in bourbon barrels? This fact isn't apparent at first but comes clear in due time. There develops so much vanilla flavour that it smells almost like cream soda (but has enough roasted malt to avoid seeming artificial or candy-like).

The taste resembles an iced coffee of sorts but also contains rich notes of fudge, vanilla, chocolate macaroons, treacle and a bit of fig too. It offers an unrivaled combination of sweet malt, bitter espresso and dried fruit qualities. The bourbon barrels work behind the scenes to add complexity but don't feature much in the spotlight.

The mouthfeel is super lush and surprisingly light; it's not often you find the phrase "goes down easy" used in reference to an 11% stout. But there is a good amount of brown sugar in the mouthfeel and a vein of red wine astringency that brightens this very dark beer.

Bell's Black Note is definitely a product of the black arts - it's wickedly good and somehow manages to balance delicacy and density. Unlike most bourbon barrel stouts, this one derives more from rich, chocolatey malts than it does barrel aging or bourbon. It's a big beer but not the kind to put hair on your chest; this is one to cuddle up to. (1,521 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.2/5  rDev -6.5%
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. (932 characters)

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 543 ratings.