Bell's Black Note Stout - Bell's Brewery, Inc.
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Ratings: 2,912 | Reviews: 493 | Display Reviews Only:
4.69/5 rDev +2.9%
2012 vintage 12oz bottle dated 12/28/2012, poured into a Bell's snifter today and quaffed 4/13/2013. This review is also based on the four times I've had this now- twice on tap, and twice in the bottle. This is the first time I've had a chance to sit down, relax and write a review. And I am thoroughly enjoying this just like all the other times.
Aroma: Smells delicious, like a dessert port. Decadent chocolate accompanied by vanilla, bourbon and oak. And it actually smells thick and creamy, like how I would imagine liquid Ritter Sport (German) chocolate would smell like. I mean, I've had my share of BA beers including the recent vintage of KBS and last year's BCBS and this definitely has them beat in the nose.
Colour: Pours like a thick, viscous motor oil. Jet black body, illuminates with just a tiny hint of dark, dark cola brown at the surface. Not a ton of head, it pours with a brief, less than 1 cm dark brown head that is ephemeral. It leaves no traces, not even a collar. You get spots of lacing here and there but for the most part it's this viscous liquid dark chocolate. Nice.
Flavour: Very, very complex and I really love this beer. Up front, and especially early on while it's still at cellar temperature, there is quite a bit of straight up bourbon, vanilla and oak wood. This quickly gives way to this pure chocolate sweetness, with a bit of molasses and fire-roasted marshmallows, just like the ones you make s'mores with. As the temperature warms up, I start to get a little bit of dark fruits- figs in particular, which actually reminded me of Expedition Stout the first time I had this beer before knowing what the components were. The finish is smooth and creamy, a little bit of espresso and cream like a cappuccino- but I want to say something more like macchiato- less cream, more bitter espresso yet smooth. This beer drinks like a dessert drink and there's nothing like this beer that I've had the privilege to drink. Even as it gets close to room temperature, the heat is pretty indistinct and covered up by all the complex flavours and smells of this beer. tl;dr- this is an incredibly complex beer that somehow melds all the flavours together well while hiding its 11.5% ABV very well.
Mouthfeel: Initially, I would have guessed they had to have some contribution from Double Cream Stout, because the mouthfeel reminds me a lot of that particular Bell's offering. It's a very thick bodied, very smooth and creamy beer that is actually well carbonated based on how my tongue perceives the beer. It fizzes quickly as I swish it around, coating my palate in a thick and viscous chocolatey heaven. The aftertaste is sweet, bitter and creamy all at once- like if I made a macchiato and put a block of dark Belgian chocolate in it. Simply sublime.
Overall: I've just been so impressed with this beer. It's one for the ages. I say the same for BCBS, but in the realm of subjective preferences, I'm going to take Black Note over BCBS if I were ever offered the choice (which is probably going to be very rare). It's exceptionally smooth, creamy sweet and such a decadent pleasure to quaff. The heat, even when it gets close to room temperature, is relatively minimal. It's truly a joy to drink and I treasure each opportunity I have to be able to drink this beer.
04-15-2013 23:50:16 | More by Stevedore
4.69/5 rDev +2.9%
a thick black pour with less than a finger of tan head. lots of bourbon / vanilla in the aroma, pecans, brown sugar, coffee, cocoa. wow - this is a deliciously sweet yet dark stout. reminds me of peruvian morning with its nutty sweet pecan/brown sugar flavor overtopping everything.. the bourbon barrel taste is there but blends ver nicely with the chocolate/coffee/sweet notes of this that it doesn't become overwhelming like a lot of BBA stouts tend to do. this is everything i want to taste in an imperial stout. medium to full body with low carbonation and a silky smooth mouthfeel. the alcohol is present, but is not overpowering.. it's masked fairly well. honestly, this drinks way too easily.
one of the best stouts i've ever had by far. for those looking for a subtle roast, subtle sweetness, lots of chocolate and coffee taste - this is the one to go for.
09-02-2013 16:15:59 | More by facundoCNB
4.15/5 rDev -9%
Thanks to shutyourface for sharing this one.
Dark brown/black, tan head, decent lace. Smell reminds me of Expedition Stout with bourbon character on top. Layers of roasted malts & coffee flow freely. Aroma is this beer's best quality.
Taste is about what I expected: a good imperial stout with mild bourbon flavors. Much more Expedition than Double Cream. I applaud their choice to not go overboard on the bourbon like so many brewers do today. Love that smooth & creamy body.
That said, Black Note is a perfect example of the BA hype machine getting out of control. Like most Bell's beers, Black Note is pretty good but not exceptional. It's a step up from Expedition Stout, yet it cannot touch the top-tier stouts like Hunahpu's and Black Tuesday.
04-16-2012 03:37:33 | More by brystmar
4.54/5 rDev -0.4%
A - thin line of head, mostly opaque, very dark brown, good lacing.
S - caramel, molasses, bourbon, chocolate. Alluring indeed!
T - well balance bourbon flavor-the aging was perfect on this beer, molasses, chocolate. Really well done in the bottle. Even better than tap in my opinion.
M - perfect carbonation, perfect body - slightly lighter body for an imperial stout.
O - overall I've found this to be a notch above the draft version, so polished and well done. So glad these are released in 12 oz bottles for distribution.
08-28-2012 03:20:54 | More by josephwa
4.45/5 rDev -2.4%
Draft. FINALLY, I am able to try this beer! On tap at ABR. Pours a pitch black brown color with a light tan collared head. Dark Chocolate, vanilla, and a touch of earthy leather aroma. Medium/heavy mouthfeel. Roast coffee adds some bitterness, dark chocolate, vanilla, all very well balanced together. Ends with a slight lingering bitterness. I find myself continuing to go back to Bell’s tent to try this one and everytime is just as enjoyable as the last. The 10.5% is there but well incorporated and is not abrasive at all.
10-23-2011 16:16:36 | More by kbutler1
4.23/5 rDev -7.2%
Wow, thanks Bells for bringing this to the Milwaukee Brewfest, what an awesome surprise. Definitely the best beer at the event.
Nose dominated by warm bourbon and chocolate notes.
Taste also begins with warm bourbon, followed by a smooth chocolate rosat, and finishes with more bourbon. Delicious, but I would have preferred the stout to have a slightly stronger presence, as I feel it was largely overshawdowed by the bourbon notes.
Mouthfeel was fairly creamy, but could have been more so.
Overall, an excellent offering from Bells. I would really be interested in trying a BA version of Expedition Stout and seeing if that might be preferable to the Expedition/Cream Stout blend.
07-29-2012 19:16:50 | More by thebigredone
4.4/5 rDev -3.5%
Had at the Bell's tap takeover at Yogi's out of a snifter. The two guys next to us were drinking Leinenkugel's Berry Weiss. I don't know what to say.
Pours a jet black with a small tan head that immediately fades away.
Smells of bourbon with a little oak and vanilla thrown into the mix.
There is a strong bourbon presence throughout the taste with vanilla and bitter roasted malts as well. There's also a little bit of a smooth creaminess to it, I'm guessing from the Double Cream Stout.
Thick and viscous mouthfeel. Lots of sludge.
Very good beer, but doesn't quite achieve Holy Grail status for me. The alcohol was not especially well hidden which I don't mind, but it knocks it down just a tick. A very good combo of two already good beers though and a very complex delightful treat.
08-31-2011 10:38:38 | More by jmarsh123
4.8/5 rDev +5.3%
On-tap at Bryant-Lake Bowl for their stout bout. I came to the event mostly to try this beer, and I wasn't disappointed. Enjoyed 12 September 2012, reviewed from notes.
Pours straight-up black. Brought with a thin layer of medium-brown head, but I saw the server pour some more off. Decent lacing.
Smell is rich dark chocolate, surrounded by the loveliest bourbon-y aromas I've encountered in a beer. All sorts of rich dark malt aromas, but they're all tied together in a way that makes it hard to tease out characteristics.
Taste is, well... it's one of those indescribably good beers that is just beautiful and right. The rest of my description is a mostly-futile attempt to explain that beauty. Like a dark malt wash, with a little bit of bourbon. It has a core flavor that holds together so well, it's hard for me to say exactly what it is. No little bits sticking out to grab onto, just this big glom of deliciousness. The bourbon barrel comes through, but is so nicely balanced and integrated - mostly the rich grainy flavors of the bourbon that really shine through. This adds tons of flavor, but without the burn that accompanies so many barrel-aged beers. Moderately hoppy, but the hops don't come through that much because there are so many other flavors they have to contend with. Stunningly good.
Mouthfeel is thick and heavy with that smooth, full oat fluffiness. Medium-low carbonation, as it should be.
One of the best, if not the best, barrel-aged stouts I've ever had, and among the top beers I've had. In the vein of Bourbon County - a big, robust, flavorful stout with fantastic integration of the barrel flavor - but better. IMO, it blows some other highly-rated stouts (Parabola, Abyss) out of the water. I will be seeking this out again. Definitely worth the effort. I could drink this all day.
09-18-2012 18:11:31 | More by zeledonia
4.08/5 rDev -10.5%
@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.
11-12-2012 00:22:28 | More by hooliganlife
4.61/5 rDev +1.1%
A: jet black with a very minimal mocha colored head.
S: A mixture of bourbon with chocolate is dominate in the aroma of this beer. Roasted malt come through in the background of this beer.
T: A nicely blended well balanced mixture of roasted malts, chocolate, and bourbon. Very rich and intense flavors.
M: It is very think and heavy with the perfect amount of carbonation for this beer.
O: Amazing stout. Well worth trading for.
02-10-2013 18:29:53 | More by jvillefan
Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 2,912 ratings.