Bell's Black Note Stout - Bell's Brewery, Inc.
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Ratings: 2,950 | Reviews: 495 | Display Reviews Only:
4.83/5 rDev +5.9%
Reviewing the infamous Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery Inc. Black Note Stout is a barrel aged blend of Bell's Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout. A huge thank you to BeerAdvocate user FrankenBrew for tipping me off to this under-the-radar tapping.
Unknown vintage keg tap pour served in a 12+ oz pilsner glass and enjoyed on 01/25/12, courtesy of the Malt House in Madison -- one of the best bars in the Midwest.
Appearance: The lighting in the bar is not great, so bear with me. Body is a jet black color with thin caramel colored highlights at the absolute top of the glass. I arrived with a glass of this awaiting me (to ensure getting a pour), so I am unsure if it was served with any head (and if so, what the head looked like). A super thin tan ring of head coats the outside of the glass. No real lacing, but a slowly dripping, thick oily layer coats the side of the glass as you drink. 4.5/5
Smell: The aroma is incredibly complex. There is raisin/fig, other nondescript dark fruit and vanilla from my first pull. Then sticky brown sugar and molasses, followed by light amounts of licorice. Definitely getting notes of chocolate and caramel malt as well. At points, the beer smells like molasses-and-vanilla soaked raisins. The aroma is a perfect blend of stout and barrel aromas. 5/5
Taste: Equally as complexly flavored as the aroma, and incredibly balanced. First impression is an interesting blend of creamy (milk?) chocolate and vanilla. There is a slight roastiness in there, but it's very faint. The flavor of this brew falls somewhere between Kentucky Breakfast Stout and Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout. The midpalate is loaded with mellow, slightly sweet dark fruit, creamy malts, molasses/brown sugar and bourbon flavors without the alcohol bite. Light dark licorice flavors are in there somewhere towards the finish, but no licorice lingers in the finish at all. Absolutely no alcohol is detectable, save for a little warming effect as the beer warms, so I was a bit shocked to discover that this beer is 11.5% ABV. Finish lingers with an interesting mix of light chocolate, vanilla, molasses and dark fruit. Each sip leaves a seemingly different mix of those finishing flavors. Some pulls finish with more raisin-and-brown sugar like flavors, while others seem chocolatier, while others seem like a smooth vanilla-and-molasses mix. This is an absolutely astonishing medley of stout and barrel flavors. Everything you could want from either is present. This beer is dangerously drinkable. 4.75/5
Mouthfeel: Not overly heavy, but still thick and viscous. Medium bodied, minimal (if any) carbonation. Mouthfeel is creamy and sticky. Finish is decently (but not overly) sweet -- essentially raisin-and-vanilla like. 4.5/5
Overall: Hoo boy! This one absolutely lives up to the hype. I would have to have them side by side before I can say this definitively, but I think that I enjoyed this beer ever slightly more than Kentucky Breakfast Stout. I had the fortune of drinking five or six glasses of KBS on tap over the past few days, so the comparison is relatively fresh in my mind. Bell's Black Note Stout brings every flavor and aroma you could possibly want in either a stout or a barrel aged beer, and it blends them in an incredibly drinkable, palate-satisfying experience. A world class beer, no doubt. If only I had the time for another pint, I'd have knocked back several.
Recommendation: Seek this one out. Chicago will have a tapping of this sometime mid-February, so if you are the area, make room on your calendar.
Pairings: A medium-cooked New York Strip would go wonderfully with this beer.
Cost: $6 for a glass. I am not sure what a 750 ml bottle sells for, but I can assure you that $6 for a full pint of this brew is one of the best beer deals you will ever find in a bar.
01-26-2012 04:18:50 | More by jegross2
4.28/5 rDev -6.1%
Poured in to a pint glass
A: This beer pours an opaque black with a 1/4 inch of medium brown head. Head recedes almost immediately. No lacing to speak of.
S: Nose is woody oak, bourbon, vanilla, roasted malts and light chocolate notes.
T: Taste starts with roasted malts and licorice, dark fruits. Oak and bourbon come through.... lots of bourbon, but not overpowering with a slight vanilla character. The bourbon flavoring is blended nicely. Nice deep bitter chocolate towards the finish. Aftertaste has lingering coffee notes to it.
M: Medium to fuller body, moderate carbonation, smooth, silky body.
O: Goes down easily, very tasty, not too filling, well hidden kick, great representation of style. I have looked forward to this brew for quite some time and did not disappoint.
09-29-2011 01:51:33 | More by Jayli
4.15/5 rDev -9%
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.
09-08-2012 18:43:08 | More by Tucquan
4.65/5 rDev +2%
On tap at South Park Tavern. Pouts a nearly jet black color. No highlights to be found. A thin tan collar.
Nose full of bourbon, oak, chocolate, caramel, and some dark fruit. A whiff of vanilla in there two. What a complex, and inviting nose!
Lots of wood up front. Fades into a creamy chocolate with a hint of dark fruit. Some bourbon comes out, and a hint of coffee. A bit of vanilla finishes things off.
Full body. Very creamy, with lower carbonation. Lots of lingering warmth from the alcohol. A very complex, fantastic beer.
01-25-2009 15:48:42 | More by Bierguy5
4.84/5 rDev +6.1%
The beer comes in black color with tinges of brown coming in through the light. A ring of tan head.
The aroma is bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, hints of dark fruit (cherry and dried plums), coffee.
The flavor hits in the front of sweet and dark chocolate, molasses, and vanilla. There's hints of coconut and dark dried dark cherry and plum as well. Bourbon flavor hits throughout. The finish is of sweet roasted coffee and drying oak.
The mouthfeel is very full and bold at first and falls off reasonably quickly by the end of the beer.
This beer changes throughout with temperature, very much so compared to other bourbon barrel aged beers I have had. A very interesting beer to take an hour or so on.
In the end, slightly weak on the finish, but one of the best bourbon barrel aged stouts.
02-13-2014 05:58:40 | More by dar482
4.4/5 rDev -3.5%
Had this one at City Tap House, 6/7/10.
A-Pours deep black, a bit oily with a very dark mocha head and some pretty good lacing.
S-Outstanding. Caramel, rich dark chocolate, a nice whiff of bourbony vanilla.
T-Warm, rich and sweet from the start. A bourbon sweet note to begin, along with some alcohol warmth, then milk chocolate and sweet cream kick in before a warming finish.
M-A bit heavy in body but a joy to drink.
D-Delicious, though one at a sitting is certainly plenty.
06-08-2010 14:17:56 | More by sholland119
4.4/5 rDev -3.5%
Bottle shared by Liam.
Deep brown nearly jet black, ring of tan head, little to no lace really. Smell is bourbon forward, lots of coconut and vanilla, well roasted, chocolate with liquorice and coffee as well as a bit of a fruity hint in there as well. Taste has quite a bit of chocolate, coffee and oak, coconut, vanilla witha bit of a light lingering sweetness, bourbon in the finish. Medium-full body, lightly carbonated and bit oily with a creamy mouthcoating as well. Just awesome stuff, an awesome beer consumed on a night filled with awesome beers, would love the opertunity to revisit this again.
12-14-2013 00:24:10 | More by peensteen
4.59/5 rDev +0.7%
A - Rich black in color with a toffee/molasses colored creamy head, thick and viscous looking.
S - Rich caramel cream, roasted toffee, dark chocolate malt, vanilla, bourbon, and some oak.
T - Rich and flavorful with vanilla, some traces of dark chocolate, oak, and bourbon. Ends with a sticky oak, vanilla, bourbon finish.
M - Luscious and rich velvety texture, thick, and slightly sticky on the lips.
O - An outstanding barrel aged stout.
06-24-2013 21:33:22 | More by jzeilinger
4.65/5 rDev +2%
Reviewed from notes. Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a CCB pint glass.
A: Pours a very dark brown, basically opaque. A half-finger medium brown head forms, and there is no visible carbonation.
S: Chocolate, bourbon, vanilla (from the oak?), leather & tobacco. Overall impression is that of moderate sweetness.
T: Follows the nose exactly. Maybe more pronounced cacao and coffee mixed with the chocolate, vanilla, oak and bourbon. Hang is sweet, with lingering bourbon and oak.
M: Thick body, almost chewy, sticky. Moderate alcohol for style, low carbonation sensation. Silky smooth mouthfeel. I would give it a 6 here if I could.
O: Awesome. This lives up to every bit of its reputation.
03-18-2013 20:54:39 | More by macrosmatic
4.47/5 rDev -2%
Bell's Bourbon Barrel Aged Expedition/Double Cream Stout Blend, 10% abv, on tap at Capital Ale House, downtown location, Richmond, VA, on January 26th, 2009 at Black Moonday.
Appearance: Arrives a thick-looking bastard of a brew in a 10 oz. cervoise, a practically black, oily body though with flourishes of ... something ... around the edges, not quite garnet, but not quite brown either. The head is relatively fast-fading head, though at 10% abv and barrel aged, what do you expect? A faint sprawl of sheen and thin tan foam of lace is all that's left after it's gone. To be honest, there's not much going on here, but I've learned that brews that don't always look great don't look great for a reason.
Aroma: Maple syrup absolutely dominates, backed up by a strong, heavily oaky bourbon note, spicy with a slight prickle. It's very, very sweet smelling, heavily roasted, with lots of notes approaching pure caramel and/or toffee.
Taste: The melding of notes here lends an overwhelming butterscotch-esque note here, sweet and buttery, though not cloying or "bad" by any stretch of the imagination. Just had to get that out of the way, as it's the dominant tasting note here. The rest - a faintly chocolate-like spike, a spicy, estery, woody bourbon lick, fainter hints of char and vanilla, stronger overtones of maple syrup and caramel - all surge and bubble underneath this layer in a wonderful orgy of flavors. This is one big, bold-tasting brew.
Mouthfeel: Thick but big bubbled, that sort of "frozen in time" feel, crisp but sticky. Bubbles are big, but it's oh-so-foamy and creamy given the thickness and how well it holds together.
Drinkability: Well there 'ya have it. Very, very glad I got the chance to try this one. It's a huge, flavorful, over the top brew - and what do you expect from a melding and barrel aging of two of Bell's other biggest, over the top brews? - that manages to hit most of the right notes. The sweetness may not be to some's liking, the high abv% to others, but it did wonders for me - I'd be glad to have it again.
01-29-2009 22:42:26 | More by CrellMoset
4.4/5 rDev -3.5%
A - near black color with a finger if dense, lasting, chocolate colored headm decent lacing too
S - boozy and vanilla, oaky and lots of chocolate too
T - similar to the aroma but more chocolate and vanilla than anyrhing else. Also a hint kf dark fruit on the backend.
M - ideal, mediumish bodied decent carbonation
03-03-2014 02:51:56 | More by MacQ32
4.43/5 rDev -2.9%
Enjoyed (very much) in a chalice at the Hungry Monk during the Arizona Beer Week Eccentric Café event.
Not quite black, but as close to black as purple gets. Strawberry highlights. A tiny tuft of bubbles settles into the middle of the glass, but that's all the head I get.
Layers and layers of aroma. The component parts are obvious in here, with major black coffee coming from the Expedition, and heavy cream and oats coming from Double Cream Stout. The barrels are in perfect proportion, lending dark cherry, molasses and oak. Nice smooth dark chocolate swirls as well, as does toffee. It’s like a fruity, oaky red wine. Great balance.
Bourbon is in the flavor, but it's not the star, which is great. The front is vinous oak, burnt bread, espresso and spicy black strap. The swallow smooths things out with dark chocolate, bourbon-soaked dark cherries, a lot of buttery toffee and a little bit of toasted coconut. Oats and whipped cream rise at the finish. Gentle waves of flavor roll in with each sip. Strikes an impressive balance.
A little heartburn on the way down, but alcohol is well-hidden overall. A shade over medium in body, the brew exhibits a nice velvety texture and heft. Very light, tingly carbonation and a little fizz. Slightly tongue-numbing.
Got damn. So many great flavors mix in this brew. It’s like a bourbon-soaked cherry stuffed inside a dark chocolate toffee treat, with a heavy cream chaser. To balance both the Expedition and Double Cream as well as the barrel notes is just so impressive. The more I ponder it, the more I like it. Very grateful to have the opportunity to try it without giving up my first born. Though he might be on the table if anyone wants to send me a bottle.
03-22-2012 21:58:20 | More by Phelps
Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 2,950 ratings.