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
100
world-class

3,620 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,620
Reviews: 554
rAvg: 4.56
pDev: 8.33%
Wants: 2,496
Gots: 910 | FT: 81
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,620 | Reviews: 554
Photo of spicelab
4.17/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle with big thanks to MrKennedy.

Decent hiss on opening. Dark chocolate brown, not your typical RIS motor oil look look, with a modest dark tan head that falls relatively quickly to a collar.

Undoubtedly a rich vein of bourbon running through notes of liquorice bullets, choc-caramel slice, soy sauce, used coffee grounds and molten plastic. Predominantly dry, big and deceptively complex.

A tad sweeter, with impressively rich caramel fudge and butterscotch giving way to coconut, vanilla and the woodier aspects of the barrel.

Light bodied for 11.8%, in no small part due to above average carbonation for the style. Makes it easier to drink, but reduces the oomph.

Worthy BA RIS no doubt, but not quite in the top echelon for me. Lacking a little in presence and intensity.

Photo of zachary80
4.57/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz poured into a glove, 11.8% abv. Bottled 12/29/12 batch 11620. Served at 55* and allowed to warm.

Hard pour gives only the slightest head which immediately fades into a tiny ring of white bubbles. A little bit of action from the nucleation point in the middle of the glass, but otherwise its pretty much still and black. Very dark brown while pouring but opaque in the glass. Minimal lacing.

Aroma is sweet, bourbon, vanilla. Very appealing, but fewer layers than expected.

That same aroma follows through but with a lot more complexity from the roastiness of the stout. Still favoring the sweeter elements up from, the finish has a long bitterness from the roast and a little alcohol. Cacao/dark chocolate, light oak. The sweetness ends up being balanced by the alcohol/roast, but this is still on the sweeter side.

Warming from the first sip, the alcohol lends more of a pleasant presence than harshness. Low carbonation level, but not flat, appropriate for the style but maybe could be just a tad higher. Carbonation level seems more appropriate around room temperature, where it's slightly increased.

Overall Black Note is an excellent beer that is smooth and complex. Others may have more barrel character or be more extreme, but this is a great stout.

Photo of rhinos00
4.82/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at South Park Tavern. Let my glass sit a while to get the beer to room temperature.

A- Dark brown, almost on the verge of being black. Very little to no head. There was an off-white, cream colored ring that left some lacing as the beer was consumed.

S- Huge notes of bourbon infiltrate the nose. Reminded me of Bourbon County Stout. In the background, there was faint hints of vanilla.

T- Wow, this was quite a pleasant surprise. After the strong aroma, I thought I was going to be dealing with a bourbon onslaught. However, the bourbon was well balanced in comparison to the other ingredients, allowing for a smoother, mellow taste. Rich notes of chocolate, vanilla, molasses and bourbon all mix together for a perfect combination.

M- This was my favorite part of the beer and what distinguished it from many similar bourbon barrel aged RIS I have had before. The double cream stout really comes into effect in this one. It had a creamy texture unparalleled to none. Quite a wonderful addition to a big, complex RIS.

D- The creamy texture and well-balanced bourbon flavors made this go down like water. I drank this until the keg went dry.

Overall, this is a fantastic blend, one that I will probably never get to try again. The creamy texture really put this beer over the top in my mind. If this beer ever crosses your path, try it. Don't hesitate.

Photo of danielharper
4.35/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted on-tap at Bell's, 03/09/2009

Appearance: Black body, slight reddish tinge on bottom. No head, as usual for beers on-tap.

Smell: Strong bourbon aroma, very malty, nice roasted barley. Slightly raisin-sweet.

Taste: Intense with whiskey-like alcohol, strong with sour mash but malty and dry with a clean aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Thick. Yeah, that's about it. No particular hops or carbonation.

Drinkability: For such a high-ABV beer, this is amazingly drinkable. If I hadn't had to drive I'd have had another.

Photo of brewtus
4.8/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into tulip. Obviously 2012

A- pours black with a half finger dark tan head the quickly disappears
S-milky, bourbon is very prevalent, dark fruit, chocolate, some subtle cinnamon
T-woah, dark chocolate that makes way for oak and bourbony warmth. Some faint vanilla, slight coffee flavors, amazing silky smooth texture, no burn.
O- wow I'm glad I spent so long trying to track this down, this beer is complex, smooth, and delicious. The bourbon isn't overpowering but it is balanced perfectly with the smooth creaminess of stout mixture. If you had the opportunity to get some, buy as much as you can, it's worth the price tag for sure.

Photo of Jaycase
4.59/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 release 12 oz bottle

a: black as night. Thin mocha colored head which recedes quickly. no lacing to speak of.

s: Bourbon presence but not overbearingly so. licorice, slight chocolate.

t: chocolate, coffee, vanilla filtered through a bourbon lense.

m: smooth, creamy. low to medium carbonation.

o: A very nice, well balanced BBA stout. The bourbon here is not in your face like other BBA stouts where it's all about the bourbon kicking ass and taking names later. It's there but it seems a bit bashful at times - almost a boubon tease it is. And I want to get teased again and again and again...

Photo of Luk13
4.64/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from tom10101 obtained via sarro, thanks to the both of you. Thick black brown pour with no head. Very intense and complex aroma: molasses, lots of bourbon, charred wood adds some smokiness (nice twist!), some caramel and ripe fruits (plums, figs). Awesome. Taste is very rich, lots of roasted malts, bourbon, vanilla and chocolate. Flavors are enhanced by the sublime creamy mouthfeel and low carbonation. Intense and refined. Side-by-side with BA speedway with BA speedway being a close winner. Although I prefered Black Note's palate and aroma, BA speedway's flavors were out of this world.

Photo of Soonami
4.18/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Bell's 31 flavors event at City Tap House. This review is based on notes I took from the tasting. The beer is incredibly complex from the mixture of double cream stout and Expedition, which is then aged in bourbon barrels.

The beer looks like a double stout, and smelled like one: chocolatey, vanilla, woody, and with a tinge of alcohol. The beer tasted just as it smelled, with good burnt and roasted bitterness and a gentle velvety texture. The finish is sweet and creamy, a bit cloying.

A beer big on color, aroma, taste and alcohol. A must try for any RIS/IS fan, but I don't know if this beer necessarily deserves a ranking in the top 100's, but it is in the top quartile of imperial stouts I've had.

Photo of d5001986
4.54/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into tulip.

A: Pitch black with a minimal amount of tan head that dissipates quickly. No lacing, doesn't seem to 'stick' to the glass like most do to some extent.

S: Slight booze and roasted malt are most up front. Then chocolate, molasses, vanilla, and coconut.

T: Even better than it smells. Roasted malt, chocolate, molasses, vanilla, pepper, and best of all, a nice mellow bourbon that's not so in your face like many other examples. I swear I also pick up just a trace of cherry in there. Very nice!

M: Not as viscous as some, med-heavy body. Creamy and silky smooth, also slick and oily. Carbonation is very low, but not quite flat.

O: Way more drinkable than it should be. A beautifully crafted stout with tons of complex flavor that meets the hype. So glad I picked up 1/2 a case!

Photo of Sarlacc83
4.35/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL courtesy of cavemanlawyer at a tasting. Big time thanks. Consumed on 6-16-12, reviewed from notes.

A: Pitch black and all the poetry it implies. Aggressive poor yields some thin lacing, but not a great amount of head. Good carbonation bubbles.

N: Bourbon, honey, and some ethanol. Coconut, caramel, and vanilla. Really quite nice.

T: Roasted coffee and malt. Bourbon is integrated well into the main body, leaving the normal descriptors of vanilla/caramel/oak. I'm getting plenty of chocolate and some molasses, licorice, and a mystery flavor which kscaldef jogged out of my head as candied pecans. There's still some heat here, though.

M: This is coating without being cloying. A very impressive example of what I want in my RIS.

O: There were a couple of beers that I never thought would be bottled and would thus not make it to the PNW via trades. This was one, the other was CBS. CBS was a big letdown; this is not. Well worth seeking out.

Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.67/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured on tap at the Great Taste of the Midwest 2011. 5 oz pour into a tasting glass.

A- Pitch black color, opaque, one finger tan head that dissipates to a nice tan layer on top, nice lacing on the side.
S- The aroma is fantastic, roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, nice bourbon aroma that is very balanced in this beer.
T- The taste is even better than the aroma, really nice roasted flavors, bourbon and vanilla come out perfectly, some dark fruits are in the background, chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, oak, love this beer, everything I was expecting and more.
M- Medium/big mouth feel, really smooth and creamy, coats the palate.
O- This was one of the highlights of the festival for me. Bell’s tapped this beer at 5 pm, so it was one of the last beers I had at the festival. Got in line in time to get a good spot and waited as the the rain began to come down. This beer is very tasty, well balanced and complex, will seek this beer out any chance I can.

Photo of chanokokoro
4.48/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2012 Vintage 12 oz. bottle poured in a Bell's Brewery Inc. branded snifter

Pours jet black capped by a one and half finger tan head. Great retention and plenty of lacing, especially for a barrel-aged brew. Plenty of oak, dark chocolate, and even hint of whipped cream with hints of booziness on the nose. Opens with semi-sweet chocolate, dark fruit especially black cherries and prunes joined by chocolate milk notes. Hints of bourbon and the perfect touch of oak and boozy alcohol add to the complexity on the finish. Lighter side of full bodied, lower level of carbonation, but higher compared to most barrel-aged stouts. Velvety, creamy, luxurious on the palate--really exceptional. Awesome brew, and without a doubt better than when it was fresh.

Photo of fx20736
4.29/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bought 2 bottles from Beers of the World on 5/3/14. Poured into a pint glass, served cool.

appearance: black with two finger khaki head. Nice lacing.

smell: bourbon, molasses, brown sugar, alcohol esthers.

taste: coffee, chocolate, bourbon, molasses, alcohol on the tail.

mouthfeel: creamy, slippery.

overall: This is a good, decent BA IS, about on par with Parabola.

Photo of AlMarzo
4.95/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle into a Dogfish Head Specialty glass / snifter
A: Thick and dark, this beer allowed no dark to shine through. Not much of a head however of what was there the color was a dark brown; it vanished to the sides quickly. Some great lacing followed.
S: Amazing aroma of dried fruit, dark chocolate, a hint of bourbon / oaky, a lot of raisin, hints of a floral aroma came through, along with some spice.

T: Sweet raisins, hints of Carmel, followed by a lot of dark fruit dipped in rich dark chocolate. a nice thick to medium body with a sweet mocha finish. Not too much bourbon present in the initial taste, but it became prominent in the after taste. Almost like a great cookie with the roasted malt, chocolate and hint of vanilla. Some dryness crept in toward the finish, but the sweetness won out. Some heat from the alcohol developed in the finish and aftertaste.

O: A great beer, I expected more bourbon, but it was a very dynamic stout with a great flavor profile. The appearance made me have my doubts but the aroma and taste won me back immediately. It only got better as it warmed. Nicely done!

Photo of andrewjraab
4.56/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Pitch black with khaki head that leaves nice lace after each drink. A window shade of film falls off the glass after each drink.

S - Chocolate, vanilla, coffee, roasted coffee beans, wood, bourbon, cherries, dates.

T - Layers and layers of flavors - chocolate, vanilla, coffee, fruity, booze, oak, warming alcohol. Velvety mouth feel, rich and creamy, each drink coats and warms on the way down.

O - This is an amazing brew where the actual brew meet and exceeds the hype and expectations. I was able to secure one of these with the limited release and DAMN I want to get my hands on a few more. Truly a world class beer.

Photo of JayCheG
4.74/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

After drinking this beer I had the urge to review it

A: Pours a pitch black with a small khaki head. Very little lacing.
S: Overwhelmingly bourbon. Hints of chocolate, malts, maybe some vanilla. Not a very complex smell but enjoyable..
T: This is where Black Note makes its mark. Wow! Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, toffee, a bit of fruit just very well blended. Beautiful taste!
M: Very creamy, almost like drinking a stout milkshake. Nice!
O: An extremely good BBA stout. #1? Probably not, I can think of a couple better but I thoroughly enjoy this beer and definitely worth the hype!

Photo of bifrost17
4.73/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2012 vintage. 12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter, thanks again Nick for making this possible.

A: It absolutely lives up to the name. Opaque. Pitch black, but not intimidating, instead it's very beautiful really. Pours with a surprisingly bright tan head that pretty quickly turns into a nice creamy ring around the glass. Looks almost like the foam on a latte. Carbonation bubbles stream up the glass to keep the ring going. Spotty lacing. Looking in the glass I can see my reflection against the blackness, again, what a beautiful beer.

S: I'm getting big time dark fruit notes on the nose, figs, and plums immediately come to mind. After the initial onslaught of dark fruit I'm getting lots of vanilla, oak, bourbon, dark chocolate, and alcohol notes.

T: Wow. Up front the dark chocolate and fig notes play perfectly together, then in the middle of the tongue I get a lot of the sweet vanilla notes. Finishes with a bitter dark chocolate/espresso flavor. Really amazing.

M: Not much to say about the mouthfeel. Velvety, creamy, not too thick. The carbonation couldn't be more perfect, moderate enough to let the size of the beer shine, but just enough to let you know you're still drinking beer, and not wine.

O: This is one of the best stouts I have ever had, and I'm only two days removed from a bottle share that included Chocolate Rain, Black Tuesday, and Bourbon County Cherry Rye. While all those beers were amazing in their on right Black Note easily stands up to them. I love the fact that Black Note is more bitter than sweet, when you get into these big monster barrel aged stouts a lot of them have the tendency to become big sweet boozy malt bombs, the balance of Black Note is impeccable. This is easily the best offering I've had from Bells. Outstanding.

Photo of Neorebel
4.84/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bell's most sought after stout is blacker than the dead of night... Literally no light can pass through this viscous looking libation. A splash of tan color in the center and a thin ring around the edge are the only indications of a head on this beast. If one looks closely, it is apparent that there is *some* carbonation, however, as there are small bubbles intermittently rising to the surface.

The rousing aroma is very chocolatey, like the finest dark chocolate available to humanity! The next two aspects I detected were roasted walnut and of course that vanilla-like Bourbon that's oh so pleasing! The more subtle notes present include dark roast coffee, molasses, and fig/dark fruits. I could sniff this beverage all day and be happy, but thankfully the evaluation of the nose is over and it's time to drink this baby!

As I take a sip, so many things come to mind... First of all, after all this contemplation of the color and aroma, the beer is now the absolute ideal temperature for drinking. The flavors do not disappoint as they are as tasty as the aroma teased at. The sweet malt intermingled with the only slightly sharp, oaked bourbon character is particularly balanced and well done. It's so velvety smooth, fully coating the mouth with the flavors lingering. It's so big bodied, and nicely intoxicating. The finish is semi-dry with a nice earthy nuttiness.

Overall, this is one of the finest beers available to humanity! Bells, you have indeed made a grand statement about the art of the dark! I am glad I had this to make this pseudo-holiday 'Stout Day' a real cause for celebration! Hey, it is Friday...

Photo of mjohnson17
4.93/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2012 12 oz bottle

A: Pours jet black, slight head that instantaneously dissipates. Some alcohol legs

S: Balances, a bit muted but well rounded charred oak, fig, roasted malt

T: roast, oak, charred wood, fig, a bit of chocolate and coffee. More of an earthy dry taste than a caramel/toffee sweetness that's sometimes seen in other BB stouts.

M: Very well balanced stout. Coats mouth nicely but not sticky. Full body.

Overall: Fantastic beer. One of the best stouts I've had, let alone bourbon barrel stout. This and BCBS are a near tie for perfection. I also really love the 12 oz format of the 2012 batch. If you have a chance to try this stout do not pass it up!

Photo of treznor
4.51/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Jet black and inky with a dark tan head.

S - Can definitely get the bourbon off the aroma here! Some dark chocolately, raisany notes down there as well.

T - Complex, dark, the taste lingers for a bit and increases in complexity with something extra coming out at the end.

M - The 'weak' point of the beer as its slightly thin.

O - A great beer to sit around and sip.

Photo of oldsailor
4.96/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Amazing beer! Just had a 2014 version and I'm on the hunt for more now. Silky feel, jet black color and lingering coffee/chocolate taste that's mind-blowing.

Photo of Franch
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

this is the famed blend between expedition stout and double cream stout, all aged in bourbon barrels. expedition, of course, is the big big stout with big dark roasty malty goodness. double cream is pretty self-explanatory. what isn't self-explanatory is the tying of these two together. how can you lose? the big roasts and big malts combine with the velvety softness of a double cream stout and the vanilla notes and are wrapped in a big bow of love with the bourbon. it lacks the complexity of other world-class BA stouts like a.b. hunahpu's, but is still an all-star. if i lived in michigan still, i'd be picking it up whenever possible.

Photo of CFHMagnet
4.45/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes taken 10-24-13.

I went to Deagan's in Lakewood with my wife and some friends for Cleveland Beer Week. We got there as soon after 5 pm as we could because we heard that they were tapping this beer at 5.

The beer was brought to me in a snifter. I got a thin ring of rich brown head over a beer that was as black as night.

The smell was malt and dark fruit, with strong notes of chocolate and a good whiff of booze.

Roasty and malty made up the first impressions of flavor in this delicious beer. Milk chocolate soon turned up and made a good show through most of the rest of the tasting. Vanilla, wood and a hint of bourbon came in and finished it off beautifully.

This beer was smooth. It was almost Fonzie smooth. It felt like silk going down, and was the most enjoyable beer I had that evening.

Photo of Desp59
2.57/5  rDev -43.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

This just didnt taste that different to me than a lot of the other bourbon barrel stouts I have had.

Photo of JamesShoemaker
4.49/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into my snifter. First batch of 2012, I think. Bottled on 12/28/12. My Mom picked up three bottles of this for me in Michigan while I was away in New York. Thanks Mom!

A - not terribly impressive. Pours like an RIS, black with a little head, dark brown, recedes abnormally quickly. Not bad, but nothing super notable.

S - pretty delicious. A lot of bourbon on the nose, similar to Backwoods Bastard, if I had to compare it to anything else. A little sourness; I assume it's got a subdued hop profile. Malt forward, and very rich.

T - great, one of the most BBA-forward beers I've ever had. Lots of sweet, sticky whiskey with just a little malt on the end. An almost truly complete profile, delicious. Very negligible points off for the wood notes dominating the base.

M - smooth, smooth, smooth. Alcohol and carbonation are incredibly balanced; drinks dangerously easily. Sweetness sticks to the cheeks in a very pleasant way. I wish I had three hundred bottles of this instead of just three (now two).

O - excellent beer, one of my favorite BBA stouts. This is my first bottle; I look forward to getting some year in and year out, or at least asking my Mom to!

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,620 ratings.