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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

3,126 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,126
Reviews: 499
rAvg: 4.56
pDev: 8.33%
Wants: 2,106
Gots: 790 | FT: 74
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: 3,126 | Reviews: 499 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of twenty5
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

twenty5, May 10, 2013
Photo of fredmugs
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

fredmugs, Oct 25, 2012
Photo of Brew33
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Brew33, Sep 29, 2013
Photo of Satchboogie
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

Satchboogie, Oct 10, 2013
Photo of Arbitrator
3.5/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Growler supplied by eyebrews and generously shared at the Pliny the Younger release. Sampled from a tasting glass. From notes.

A: Pours motor oil black, opaque in the center but lightly translucent at the edges. I have no idea about the history of this growler, but it was taped well, opened with a hiss, and there were clearly bubbles (dark mocha) on the brew. Retention was short. Promising.

S: Pretty bourbon-forward. Dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses. Anise and some booze.

T: Bourbon and chocolate are pretty evident. Anise, vanilla, molasses. The finish was hot and slightly harsh. I kept expecting more from the flavor; I picked up a lot of the barrel character, but not much of the Expedition or Cream Stout.

M: Silky, rich. Hard to criticize Bell's beers on mouthfeel, most of the time, but their barrel aging here leaves a lot to be desired: the beer is fairly hot and tannic.

D: I liked the beer, but I'm not convinced this is one of the top examples of the barrel-aged imperial stout "style." It's above-average, but nothing to give up the cellar for.

Arbitrator, Feb 21, 2010
Photo of vonnegut21
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

vonnegut21, Mar 18, 2014
Photo of jzeilinger
4.59/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

jzeilinger, Jun 24, 2013
Photo of dfhhead25
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

dfhhead25, May 07, 2013
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.

nrbw23, Jun 24, 2012
Photo of greenspointexas
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

greenspointexas, Mar 23, 2014
Photo of Howlader
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Howlader, Aug 23, 2013
Photo of zonker17
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

zonker17, Jan 26, 2013
Photo of DonFrap
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

DonFrap, Jul 10, 2013
Photo of Zach136
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

Zach136, Feb 02, 2013
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.

Tucquan, Sep 08, 2012
Photo of oglmcdgl
4.47/5  rDev -2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at city tap house. 31 bells beers, looks like I've got my work cut out for me. Got one with my main squeeze katie.

A- blackalicous and capped with a finger of coffee and cream colored head. Coats the glass beautifully. Legs for days, this dames got steams.

S- tons of milk chocolate, caoco powder, and sweet cream. Roasty and toasty with some oak and bourbon.

T- oh boy! Opens up with all the rich veinous qualities with port wine, dark chocolate and over ripe black berries. Wood and bourbon with some vanilla and black strap molasses. Plums, dates, raisins all the dark fruits. I keep coming back around and finding new levels of complexity.

M- thick and chewy with some slick and stick. Perfect carb, just enough to lift it all up but not too much that it doesn't stay on the palate for the right amount of time. Bliss.

D- well for a brew of this stature and abv this is as drinkable as it gets. I love it in so many ways.

oglmcdgl, Jun 08, 2010
Photo of mklisz
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

mklisz, May 19, 2014
Photo of jampics2
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

jampics2, Jan 09, 2013
Photo of CuriousMonk
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured jet black with a nice one and a half finger tall mocha-colored head leaving sticky streaks of lace that lasted throughout. Aromas of warm bourbon, milk chocolate, vanilla, dark roasted malt, brown sugar and quite a bit of lactic creaminess. The flavor 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. Big and full smooth mouthfeel with a ton of sweet flavors and moderation carbonation throughout. The finish was quite sweet with plenty of boozy bourbon and some dark roast, lingering on the palate long after consumption. I look forward to cracking open my Black Note bomber that I acquired early in 2012!

CuriousMonk, Sep 20, 2012
Photo of baybum
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

baybum, Jan 12, 2013
Photo of jegross2
4.83/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Score: 97

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.

jegross2, Jan 26, 2012
Photo of Zbeetleman
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

Zbeetleman, May 15, 2013
Photo of peensteen
4.4/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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.

peensteen, Dec 14, 2013
Photo of MacQ32
4.4/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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
Relatively drinkable

MacQ32, Mar 03, 2014
Photo of Adamostella
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Adamostella, Apr 16, 2013
Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,126 ratings.