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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

547 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 547
Hads: 3,675
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 6.46%
Wants: 2,544
Gots: 936 | FT: 75
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: 547 | Hads: 3,675
Photo of silverking
4.65/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I felt compelled to try this when I saw it, so here it goes. It pours jet black with a thin mocha head. Lacing is nice enough. I gives forth sweet aromas of dark roasted malt, charred oak, licorice, cocoa, and dark fruits(cherry in particular). The taste is extraordinary. Now for the taste. Smooth vanilla fades softly into a smokey, woodsy dark chocolate flavor. Subtle hints of Plum, cherry, and licorice appear throughout. The finish shows strong notes of espresso. there is a slight warming alcohol note at the end as well, but it's gentle and enjoyable. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy. It coats the mouth and lingers on the palate. Overall, great. The alcohol is well hidden among the jungle of aromas and flavors. Buy some if you come across it. (754 characters)

Photo of AlMarzo
4.95/5  rDev +10.2%
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! (1,119 characters)

Photo of JamesShoemaker
4.49/5  rDev 0%
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! (1,189 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.74/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bell's, you're making it look easy! Where the beers of Expedition and Double Cream are fantastic in their own right, they have room for improvement. Their fusion and the bourbon barrel aging propels the taste into the stratosphere.

The "Expedition" appearance gives Black Note the majority of its attributes: extremely dark black with a deep mirror-like reflection, insisting on its clarity. But more like the "Double Cream" the beer's head is slow an creamy on its release. The dainty espresso-like creme dissolves back into the beer and is regenerated with a swirl of the snifter. The beer prefers brandy-like legging to any lace. This is one manly looking beer.

Freshly ground espresso and cocoa bean give the beer its strongly roasted scent. But burnt molasses notes provide malty underpinnings and weave into the barrel character seamlessly. Oak, barrel-derived caramel, vanilla, and heavy whipping cream become the bridge that connects the beer's scents. As the stout warms, fruit notes that are reminiscent in Expedition emerge here with vinous wine-like tang, blackcurrant, and raspberry. The fruits accompany the strong bourbon alcohol scent for an overall seductive aromatic experience.

Powerful flavors seduce the taste with bold roasted chocolate and espresso. Backed with the underlying taste of whipping cream, vanilla, scorched malt sugars, and molasses, the beer seems to melt onto the mouth with complete saturation. The sweetness and strength is only tempered by vinous fruit tartness and alcohol. Cherries, tart berries, plumb, currant, and grape meet up with charred oak, sherry, and port-like flavors at mid-palate and develop into a deeply bourbon-infused taste to finish. It's incredibly powerful taste is as variant as it is stern.

The stout's taste is only matched by its body. Highly viscous, the beer oozes onto the palate with creamy warmth and port-like saturation. Its early creaminess develops into a tangy acidity to finish, but with a marshmallow and powdery dryness in between. Its long finish and extended aftertaste is chocked full of bourbon warmth, fruit tartness, and roasty acidity.

Where I often think that Expedition is a little overbearing with roast and alcohol, and the Double Cream is a little too yogurt-like, this combo gives both the finesse and fullness that each may lack. The extended bourbon barrel age has smoothed the beer and added so much complexity to make this stout an undeniable top-tier beer. (2,460 characters)

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

appearance: pours thick and dark, with a dense, dark brown head

smell: unbelievable chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and bourbon

taste: sweet, coffee, bourbon, vanilla, oak, chocolate

mouthfeel: smooth, thick, full... awesome. Sipped it for over an hour.

overall: one of the best beers I have had, and do believe that the hype probably had some effect in my interpretation, but I feel it lived up to the hype.

Serving type: bottle (431 characters)

Photo of barczar
4.45/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque black with a quarter inch foamy brown head that dissipates into a ring around the rim.

Deep toasty, nutty notes are prominent early, with lots of chocolate and a not of booze, along with a hint of roast malt at the finish. Subtle dark fruit is present in the form of cherries and plums. Vanilla and oak surface late.

Flavor is sweet, chocolatey, and raisiny, with moderate roast character. Booze is evident in the finish, along with sweet cherries. Oak emerges as it warms.

Body is syrupy and velvety, with minimal carbonation and significant alcohol warmth.

Less roast character than most, and leaning toward the sweet side. Cherry is fairly dominant near the finish. A little hot, but tasty. (713 characters)

Photo of jlindros
4.57/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to both mcsecne (Reddit) and erric (Reddit) for bottles of this gem.

Light fizzy darker colored head, pitch black dark beer with nice long legs, decent thick head as I swirl.

Nose is awesome, tons of dark malts, chocolate galore, some rich thick expensive Belgian chocolate, bakers choc, a little dark even, velvety too. Little espresso and coffee with a bit of roasted malt but no burnt aromas, cocoa nibs. Then barrel, some vanilla with light toasted oak, decent bourbon, little alcohol tingle. Velvety and maybe even creamy oats.

Taste starts with malts again, dark malts with syrupy dark malts, lots if creamy velvety chocolate, cocoa nibs, bakers choc, etc. The malts have a light roast, little bitter tannin char but not really burnt. Cocoa leads to barrel, light vanilla and barrel, must a touch of bourbon. Light warning tingly booze. Light bitter hops but not much. Finish is long creamy chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, light bourbon barrel, little sticky sweet with a bit more booze, so much mouth layered thick chocolate.

Mouth is big bodied, thick and creamy lush velvety, decent carb, some warming booze but doesn't drink like an 11+% beer.

Overall very nice, great base stout with tons of chocolate, nice dark malts and decent barrel but if I could complain about anything maybe a bit more bourbon as I love bourbon. (1,342 characters)

Photo of rudzud
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Big thanks to JLindros for sharing this bottle! Poured into a Kate the Great tulip.

A - Poured a deep dark brown nearly oil with a good half finger mocha head that fades to leave light clouds and a puffy halo. Solid, solid appearance for the high ABV.

S - Aromas of a very well done but classic aroma. Good bourbon notes here but not overwhelmingly so, nice barrel and vanilla much fainter than I've grown accustomed to. Chocolate and sweeter malts with the alcohol noticeable but very downplayed for the ABV.

T - Taste is just delicious. Sweet malts, sweet bourbon and barrel notes. Chocolate and sort sweet, good quality bourbon. I appreciate that. Nice faint alcohol notes, very well planned out beer with everything working in harmony.

M - Mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy, chewy but not boozy.

O - Overall this was a very good bourbon aged stout. Very very nice, wish I had my own 6 pack to enjoy! Well done! (921 characters)

Photo of mjohnson17
4.93/5  rDev +9.8%
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! (670 characters)

Photo of BierJager89
4.83/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Holy shit. Poured from a growler?! into a snifter in California?! From a complete stranger?! Thank you to every single person and thing and event that allowed black note to cross the threshold of my mouth. Especially the stranger at the bar and my friend with whom I tried this.

A: Solid black with a faint brown ring of head that is all but completely absent. Little carbonation as this was poured into a growler at the brewery and transported all the way to california before being poured into a snifter.

S: Old yeast and dark bittersweet chocolate, very reminiscent of Older Viscosity, as well as vanilla, roasted malt, oak and alcohol in the nose.

T: Anise, oak, vanilla, dark bittersweet chocolate, medium roast coffee, alcohol. Absolutely delicious. A near paragon of the bourbon barrel aged imperial stout style. Lacks the strong vanilla character I love about the style, as well as caramel and is a bit more faint in oak than I'd prefer.

M: Literally perfect for an imperial stout, to my taste. The fullest of silky, creamy smooth bodies coats the mouth.

O: Rich, hearty, delicious, and impossible to find. Just barely overrated (it isn't really a 100, but then again they inflate ratings on this website, which is unnecessary and stupid). Recommended? If you can find it. I feel my luck may have reached the apex of it's potential given that such an odd way of coming upon a taste of this beer was the result of layer upon layer of sheer happenstance. But enough about me. This beer is amazing. (1,508 characters)

Photo of AgentMunky
4.56/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a small snifter from a growler of unknown provenance. Thanks stranger at the bar.

4A: Completely dark. No head. Some clinging lace.

4.25S: Rich, deep, dark bourbon, flat malt and stale yeast. A little like an old ale. The barrel aging seems to have mellowed all aspects but heightened the sweetness. Slightly pungent alcohol.

4.5T/5M: Absolutely fucking luxurious. It envelops the mouth the way silk sheets might cradle an emperor. The Double Cream Stout sweetness shines and is accentuated by the bourbon barrels, but the darker, bitterer anise and dark chocolate and hints of creamy coffee from Expedition Stout are also noticeable. I don't even miss the carbonation because this beer is so full and sexy and caressing. The aftertaste is dry and more bitter than the rest of the beer.

5O: This is truly magnificent and I cannot overstate how thrilled I am to finally try it. Definitely recommended. Best bourbon barrel aged beer I've had.

EDIT 16 Jan 2015: Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a St Bernadus goblet. 2012 vintage. Bottle 28 Dec 2012.

4A: As above.

4.5S: Smells slightly sharper, but also richer. Dark malts, only a hint of old ale yeast.

4.75T/4.75M: Oh gods. As above, but sharper and more carbonated around the edges. Still velvety.

5O: Still incredible. (1,294 characters)

Photo of jvillefan
4.62/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

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. (433 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 DovaliHops
4.29/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into small Eclipse snifter glass. 2012. Pours a pitch black color with a tiny light brown/tan head that disappears quickly. Scent is sweet vanilla and bourbon up front. A little oak and cherry aroma with some bitter chocolate and dark fruits. Roasted espresso as well. More vanilla lingering in the nose with a bit of toffee. Taste immediately reminded me of a BA stout I've had on multiple occasions. The initial flavors remind me of some of the Eclipse variants, where the overall beer remind me of Parabola (somewhat). Bitter chocolate up front with some nice bourbon flavors (and burn). Sweet vanilla with some sherry and oak flavors. A hint of coconut with some boozy whiskey flavors. More chocolate and a bit of roasted espresso in the finish. Mouthfeel starts out very nice, but tends to be a bit thin in the finish. Drinkability is pretty high for such a high ABV BA imperial stout. Overall, this beer is a great one. I guess for how hard the 750ml bottles were to get, I expected a little more. I absolutely love Parabola and rated it very highly. Although the flavor of this beer remind of Parabola in a way, I feel it is not on the same level. Solid beer overall, and I am VERY glad I scored me a four-pack via trade. (1,248 characters)

Photo of brstls4drmrs
4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks MADpolo for this one. 12oz bottle.

A - pours a viscous black color with almost no head. The froth that does come is caramel in color and appears like a snowflake. Great lacing.

S - some booze with bourbon and a hint of licorice. Some nice malty aroma with hints of nut and chocolate (very small). Expressi in there too.

T - a malty bourbon delight with some nice caramel overtones going down. Very pleasing to the palate and dances around like silk.

M - very smooth and delightful with mild to medium carbonation.

O - an excellent stout. A must have. (567 characters)

Photo of jimmy82063
4.51/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Finally received the elusive Black Note - Poured into a Bell's Snifter

A - Jet Black with a thin brownish head. Minimal lacing.

S - Outstanding - bourbon comes right through.

T - Bourbon of course, coffee, chocolate and some nice drak fruit. There is a real nice semi sweet chocolate finish at the end. A bit of the oak and burnt sugar are noted as well.

M) - This is so smooth and in regards to other style offerings this is where this stands out. Absolutely no harshness!

O) An outstanding beer, very easy to drink - this will cause a commotion if it ever hits the New York area. (586 characters)

Photo of funkel81
4.38/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

well obviously, based on all the incredible reviews, this is a mighty fine beer. been wanting to give this a try for a while and after tasting, i am not disappointed or let down in any way.

poured out of a 12oz bottle, little to no head is present, but carbonation is perfectly fine (low) for the style. dark dark brown and pretty darn thick

smells of bourbon, chocolate and some roasted barley, and tastes just like it smells. smooth like butter on the mouth, alcohol is detectable but not more than expected. overall, a delicious beer that im happy to have more of

i'd place it slightly above bcbs and slightly below eclipse elijah craig 12yr (647 characters)

Photo of weonfire
4.78/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Obviously a jet black. only when held up does light bend around the glass showing a deep brown around the edges. tiny amount of mocha colored head collects around the rim of glass.

S - tremendos. Chocolate, carmel, vanilla and bourbon. Maybe brown sugar? Maybe molasses? Goodness i wish i could smell this all day.

T - So smooth. Straight velvet. Chocolate starts, bourbon follows, a touch of alcohol, just the smallest hint of smoke and very sweet as it goes down. blended so so well. 11.5ABVs? nowhere to be found. very well disguised.

M - Full, thick, velvet, high viscosity, wonderful.

O- BCBS or Black Note? I really can't decide. Tremendous beers. Tough to come across. Buy them when u have the chance. (717 characters)

Photo of TwelveOunces
4.67/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter
2012 Vintage

A- As black as they come. A quarter finger of a khaki colored head. Impressive alcohol legs.

S- A roasted malt and a massive creamy caramel. A ton of bourbon and sour mash. A slight oak. Just soo smooth smelling I could smell this brew all day.

T- A slight sting of bitternes at first followed by a nice heap of roasted malt. The Bourbon takes over and dominates the palate. A big sour mash character. A slight alcohol feel and a charred oak flavor. There is a big caramel and underlying toffee note. Its rather well balanced and perfectly blended. This is a bourbon forward beer which is what I love.

M- Lots of alcohol feel. Drinkable and smooth. Thick and syrupy.

O- A fantastic Barrel aged stout, one of the best out there. I Barely got a hold of this beer. Hope the amp up the production of this brew. If I can get KBS and BCBS, I shouldn't have a problem getting a Bell's brew. Make more please Bells. (962 characters)

Photo of SkeeterBoganski
4.62/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had an awesome BA offer this up for a trade helper that the trade partner ultimately backed out of. Not the best way to 'earn' a bottle and offered to return it. Thanks MinorThreat for the generosity!

A - deep oil black with a nice mocha head that sits after an aggressive pour before shrinking; still present throughout consumption; outstanding lacing.

S - oak and bourbon! Some dried fig notes; molasses; chocolate, coffee, and malt.

T - bourbon and oak! Vanilla, chocolate, mocha, molasses, a touch of black licorice; the booze is there but the flavors are so tasty and balanced that its not over the top alcohol flavors at 11+%

M - the mouthfeel on black note is similar to BCBS, although far less syrupy; it's heavy but creamy; perfect carbonation; smooth; extremely clean finish; fantastic drinkability

O - this beer is the real deal; it's amazingly balanced; full of flavor; it's basically a more drinkable bourbon county without any cloying sweetness and a perfect abv; this will warm you up while leave you wanting more; extremely impressive beer from Bells! (1,072 characters)

Photo of AmitC
4.56/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this from Joe.. who brought it for me from some store. Almost $7 for a single bottle. Dated : 12/28/2012. This better be good.

Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a large snifter glass. About one finger thick dark tan almost shining brown colored head that settles slowly into a thin layer. Thick oily dark brown colored appearance while pouring. Darkest of black inside the glass. Truly is a black note. Calm inside the glass, heavy and viscous. Very good lacing on the sides with each sip.

Smell is fantastic. One of the best smelling Imperial Stout. A lot of chocolate and very apparent bourbon barrel aged notes. Some vanilla that is anticipated. No traces of alcohol. Extremely good burnt up malts and very slight amount of coffee. Too much bourbon heavy. Sweetness and maltiness is also present.

Taste is pretty much the reflection of the nose. Very smooth, lacking booze altogether. Typical Bourbon finish. Burnt up notes are low. Bourbon, wood, vanilla and chocolate in the flavor. Awesome taste overall. Low on the hops so bitterness is only mild. Dry and slightly burnt up finish.

Mouth feel is very much on the full and thick side. Drinks pretty easy, High on alcohol, but no real burning sensation or feel. No astringency of any kind. At 11.8% it drinks very smooth and won't let you feel anything. Provides good amount of warmth. Perfect for the snow season.

A lot of price for an excellent beer. Comes very near BCBS but does not quite deliver the extra value.

Style Rate: 4.5
Personal Rate: 4.5 (1,520 characters)

Photo of oberon
4.54/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got one of the last few at Bestway and Iam thankful to Roger for it.Poured into a snifter jet black with a one inch deep beige head atop.Aromas of chocolate and roasted nuts mixed with alcohol dipped dark fruit,very rich and appetizing.Thick and chewey in the mouth,it coats the mouth and glides down easily.Wow the complexity on the palate is something to savor,dark roast and chocolate with some nuttiness and even some faint wood smoke,the alcohol is big but not over bearing lending some sweetness to go along with some deep raisin notes.You really gotta give it to guys or gals who can craft a beer like this,so rich and lush but with so much complexity,kick ass that's all I can say about it. (700 characters)

Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.03/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally, a limited-release beer in a 12 oz bottle. Though the price-per-ounce is about the same, I don’t have to shell out a considerable chunk of my net worth just to try a specialty brew.

Brewed a little over a month before the date of this tasting (“PKGD 12/28/12).

A: Pours a slick dark brown, nearly black, with a surprisingly watery appearance. The only head to appear are some fizzy soda bubbles along the edge of the glass; slight wet lacing.

S: Sweet vanilla nougat and caramel candy tones with a flowing backdrop of woody bourbon. Overall, the aroma is malty as hell, but the booze and roast make the sugars manageable. Hints of hickory smoke, baking chocolate, and Irish cream play along the edges. Hints of slight oxidation appear in small, sparse doses, giving a cardboard scent.

T: A slow-building masterwork, this palate begins with a luscious wave of residual sugars: tastes of syrupy caramel and vanilla abound. As in the nose, it’s a candy sweetness. Soon after these sugars lay down as the body of the brew, tastes of cinnamon, anise, toasted coconut, and bitter chocolate shift the palate to a character of soft spice, a quick transition to the dark, roasty, finish. In a final burst of flavor, powerful tones of smoke, chili pepper, black coffee, and burnt toast overwhelm the sense and bring this beer to a staggeringly smoked end. Charred bourbon barrel tastes linger in a moderate aftertaste of oak, smoke, and astringent whiskey, along with a dried-out sugar flavor akin to cola.

M: Feels like it looks, actually – a little thinner than expected. With the hidden alcohol and all the residual sugars, it really drinks more like root beer at first. Light, foamy carbonation.

O: A good stout is never unwelcome in January, and this one hit the spot. If you like smoke and barrel, this is your beer – I really thought I’d be able to pick out the beers that go into this blend, but the whiskey pulls it together in one big, woody package. Nothing average here. (1,998 characters)

Photo of Zach136
4.08/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pitch black, little to no head. OK for ABV.

Aroma: Medium+ aroma of caramel, oak, bourbon, and chocolate notes with a background of light roast malt.

Flavor: Pretty apparent booze, more roast on the palate than the nose. Oak/bourbon are covered by other flavors.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, but perceived a bit drier from the booze.

Overall: Good, definitely not worth the hype and chasing down. Way too boozy for 11 and change ABV. (449 characters)

Photo of chrisrrob
4.29/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The thing that hit me about this beer was the aroma. As soon as I opened the bottle I got a very sweet smell: brown sugar, vanilla, chocolate. Pours motor oil black and a one finger head disappears rather quickly. The taste is a nice combination of sweet and bourbon, with a nice bourbon finish. I've had barrel aged stouts that are either too sweet or too bourbon tasting on the finish, but this one has a nice interplay of the two. The subtle various sweet flavors, coffee, and bourbon all work very nicely together. I feel fortunate to have picked up a 4-pack. (563 characters)

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 547 ratings.