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

3,624 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,624
Reviews: 555
rAvg: 4.55
pDev: 8.35%
Wants: 2,499
Gots: 913 | 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: 3,624 | Reviews: 555
Photo of weonfire
4.78/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

Photo of TwelveOunces
4.67/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

Photo of SkeeterBoganski
4.62/5  rDev +1.5%
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!

Photo of AmitC
4.56/5  rDev +0.2%
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

Photo of oberon
4.54/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.03/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

Photo of Zach136
4.08/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

Photo of chrisrrob
4.29/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

Photo of MarcatGSB
4.35/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into Central Waters snifter.

A: Pours a deep black with no light getting through. Creamy tan cocoa colored head sits on the rim of the glass for almost the entire drinking process. Leaves some very impressive lacing around the edge of the glass. Rather small bubbles with some oddly configured shapes slowly working their way down to the liquid.

N: There is a surprising amount of hop on the nose, must be coming from the Expedition. The bourbon is really up front on the nose. Man, this is honestly the first time I've really sat down and dissected this beer. When the beer is at about 55 degrees, the complex layers of oak and creamy depth come forward. Dark fruits blend well with nice chocolate, vanilla, and touches of bitter molasses.

T: The taste is more of those dark fruit notes, a touch of bitter chocolate, and a bit of sherry/alcohol. The oak is very present, with some drying qualities, yet the creamy, light flavor balance that out nicely. It's almost juicy, kind of chocolate milk like.

M: Creamy mouthfeel, with proper carbonation. Bit on the low side, that allows the beautiful oak and bourbon to come through, and isn't too busy on the mouth.

D and O: This really is a nice barrel aged stout. I feel it lacks a bit of depth and complexity as some of the other World Class stouts, but it's close. A real treat.

Photo of crewfan16
4.33/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz 2012 bottle into a central waters snifter.

a- looks like a barrel aged stout should. pitch black with no light shining through. dark khaki foam rises and falls quickly leaving just a light tan ring around the outside of the glass.

s- bourbon notes are the first thing that hits me, but lots of chocolate, vanilla, oak, slight dark fruit. smells complex and delicous

t- obvious bourbon and barrel notes. lots of chocolate sweetness, but not cloyingly so. roasted malt and dark fruit similar to the nose. a bit of booze at the end, but not overly harsh. nice complex flavor profile

m- nice viscocity, but not overly thick like some of the other big barrel aged stouts. nice lingering flavors with just a bit of boozy tingle.

overall a very nice beer once again from bells. im not willing to put it above some of the other heavy hitters like bcbs, but it is well above average. im glad I have a couple to cellar for a year or two and see how this beer changes and mellows a bit.

Photo of bozodogbreath
4.34/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle dated 12/28/12 into a Bell's snifter.

A: A deep black stout with a mocha colored head that dissipates rather quickly. An impenetrable black to the edges of the glass.

S: Vanilla, bourbon/bourbon cask, dark dried fruits, a slight alcohol burn to the back of the nose.

T: Sweet, very sweet, maybe too sweet. Bourbon notes, vanilla, chocolate. The vanilla sweetness is out of balance with the bourbon notes, dried fruit and chocolate.

M: The mouthfeel is very nice. Soft and creamy, but leans towards the thinner side.

O: A very enjoyable BA imperial stout. Worthy of the pursuit.

Photo of Etan
4.2/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a tulip.

A: Pours a shiny black body with a very small chocolate-colored head.

S: Rich notes of milk chocolate, oak and bourbon, light cherry. Very chocolatey with a hint of fruit.

T: Taste comprises dry oak, bitter roasted grain, light raisins, dark chocolate, some tannic caramel, dark alcohol on the end.

M: Between medium and thick-bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: Although the aroma and feel are quite nice, I wasn't as impressed by the taste as I could have been. I can think of a bunch of other stouts that have better barrel characters. Still a very good barrel-aged stout.

Photo of MusicaleMike
4.16/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thank you to monitorpop for this beer in our trade.

Poured this beer into a balloon glass at room temperature. With a very vigorous pour, I am able to coax two fingers worth of mocha colored head to rise from this black, abysmal beer. The head receded quickly to a tight creamy layer that doesn't appear to leave any lacing behind.

The aroma is more gentle than I expected. The bourbon is obvious and the first thing that I can smell. Deeper into the aroma, I can pick out more complex hints of dark chocolate, oak, anisette, molasses, brown sugar and bruised fruit (banana and peaches).

The taste is complex as all hell. The flavor profile is huge and goes through waves of changes after the first swallow. Up front, it is reminiscent of chocolate milk. The soft, almost creamy texture helps that initial impression. After that, a prominent booziness shines through and dominates the palette, especially in the exhale. It is toasty, oaky, and similar to chocolate covered raisins. The brash alcohol on the exhale brings no real heat, but lends a solvent flavor that creates the impression of whisky-soaked black cherries. I am glad there is no heat, because I am already not a fan of this booziness. The finish brings smokiness, bourbon, oak, vanilla, and roasted malts.

Viscous mouthfeel, creamy; not sticky, but smooth. I almost feel like this would pass as an Irish Dry Stout without the flavor component. Very solid example and just an incredible example of this style.

I found Black Note Stout to be a good beer. Not "World-Class" but most certainly worth purchase again. I bet that a few years on this beer might help it out a little bit. As another BA said on here already, this beer is an above average beer, but not worth emptying your cellar for. Pretty standard Bouron-Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout if you ask me. Tasty for sure, but is a bit middle of the road. I actually liked Victory Dark Intrigue more than this...

Photo of Docrock
4.85/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Served on tap at Bell's Eccentric cafe in a 12 oz snifter:

A - dark as midnight with a nice mocha colored head, nice sticky lacing and a thin cap remain

S - very complex, dark roasted malt, light coffee, nice BA note with a touch of bittersweet chocolate and burnt sugar.

T - Wow, it changes as you hold it in your mouth. Creamy and thick with the bittersweet chocolate and dark roasted malt, just a touch of coffee.

M - thick and chewy, not overly carbonated. Was served a bit on the cool side for me so I let it sit a bit and warmed with my hands.

O - what a great beer, I preferred it a bit warmer than it was served. The favors and aroma really opened up around 50F. Glad to not only have it on tap, but to get some bottles to age a bit. At least for me, this is the finest stout I have ever tasted.

Photo of rlee1390
4.41/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Black in the glass, one finger brown head that leaves some lacing behind.

S-Balanced bourbon, roasted malt, chocolate, coffee with faint vanilla.

T-Great balance, moderate bourbon, roasted malt, chocolate, slight coffee and slight bitterness.

M-Medium to heavy bodied, very creamy.

O-A great BA stout, however it isn't at the same level on BA Speedway, BCBS, Parabola or some of the Eclipse beers.

Photo of Knapp85
4.28/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This was sent by mjmadsen21, thanks man!!

This poured out as a rich looking black color with a thin brown head on top. Very quick fading retention and no lacing. The smell of the beer is big, lots of bourbon, roasted malts and some subtle vanilla in there. The taste of the beer is very rich with more vanilla, chocolate, molasses and wood. The mouthfeel is slick, kinda harsh at first but softens up as it warms. Lingering sappy finish to it also. Overall this beer is really good and really glad I got to try it finally.

Photo of emerge077
4.44/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Second time trying Black Note, first time bottled.

Dark and viscous, tawny mahogany edges, frothy tan foam. Little to no lacing, glassy obsidian surface. Creamy viscous feel, not overly sweet, dry and not at all cloying. Big flavors of toasted almond, dark chocolate, espresso, and toasted coconut. Dry aftertaste of almond, chocolate, and trace pipe tobacco. The base beers are harmoniously blended and sing in chorus with the barrel. Expressive and flavorful, a benchmark of the style that seems to be increasingly ubiquitous and often poorly done. Black Note is in the upper echelon of BBA stouts for sure.

Thanks Aaron & Chris for the chance to try this!

Photo of yamar68
4.52/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Massive thanks to alelover for hooking me up with my first taste of Black Note! 2012 vintage:

Certainly is black... there's a bit of muddled clarity around the edge of the glass. A short-lived medium brown head produces a dense, stubborn collar - oily lacing above and clouded beading beneath. Very nice looking stuff.

Smooth, sweet caramel bourbon immediately shows some BCBS qualities. It's hard to really even pull in any alcohol character, a big sniff just offers a deeper layer of oak. Milk chocolate and mellow burnt brown sugar. Maybe a bit of molasses. Incredibly smooth - as smooth as you could hope for a beer like this.

Creamy twist cone flavors covered with silky bourbon and bitter caramel. Faint leafy tobacco dries up the tail end of the palate. Coffee grounds, more milk chocolate, candy corn... pretty damn unique I'd say. This one certainly doesn't need any age but I'm excited to see what it does regardless.

Very, very good.

Photo of jtingue
4.56/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 12/28/12. Poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance. Pitch black. Pours with a finger of hazelnut colored head. This dissipates quickly, but there is a nice ring around the top of the glass.

Smell. That now familiar bourbon aged smell permeates the nostrils: buttery, sweet and vanilla. An underlying layer is implies creamy milk chocolate. There is something about bourbon aging that give the smell a certain softness, a softness that expedition already has in its chocolate notes.

Taste. Starts out with a strong punch of bittersweet chocolate. Some vanilla tinged oaky sweetness permeates the whole experience. It occasionally becomes dominant, being manifested as a toffee like flavor. Other times it fades into the background, allowing the chocolate notes of the stouts to dominate.

Mouthfeel. Excellent creamy body is broken up just enough by tight carbonation.

I just had to review this one after having the first few sips. A very refined bourbon barrel aged beer. It gets to the level of KBS as far as balance goes, something that BCBS doesn't do for me.

Photo of founder26
4.53/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap before and after this bottle they are quite similar. This review is from the 12oz bottles dated 12/29/12, poured into a snifter

A- black with a little red around corners. Not much head at all.

S- this is the second best part about this beer, it is intoxicating. First smell is of light bourbon and chocolate, middle you get some oak, vanilla, and caramel, finishes with coffee.

T- to me this is where I dont like this beer as much as bcbs or kbs. It has too much sweetness and bitterness, not enough chocolate ot bourbon.

M- this is the best part about this beer, so creamy and smooth. Not much carb but thats ok.

O- I like how drinkable this is, I just wish it had more of a roastyness and less sweet/bitterness. I hope some age will help that.

Photo of Honus1
4.79/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is what bourbon aging should do to a solid blend of base beers in my opinion. On par with BA BORIS, KBS, BCBS. This pours black as night into my snifter with a slight chocolate head that dissipates quickly. Smell is intoxicatingly good, obvious bourbon, malt. The taste is what we are all here for, and this rare one actually doesn't disappoint. I I had to go to Bell's to get it, and was ready for some letdown. Clearly not the case! Let this beer warm up some, as the smooth bourbon finish really gets better as the temp rises. Caramel, and vanilla dominate the drawn out finish. Well done Bell's, well done.

Photo of Spectre
4.36/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A. Black body with a thin dark brown head.

S. Strong Bourbon with a hint of coco.

T. Similar to the smell you get a lot of bourbon and finish with a taist of black coffee and dark chocolate.

M. Not too thick or smooth but still goes down fairly easy.

Overall this is a great stout definitely above average.

Photo of webmanspidey
4.77/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is a typical dark black color with medium head. The smell is really heavy on bourbon, with some other hints of vanilla and cherry. This smells like a really amazing fancy dessert. Taste has a nice blend of bourbon, buttery heavy cream, cherry, chocolate, and coffee. The alcohol isn't overbearing at all and it maintains a pretty easy drinkability.

This is very delicious and I think it definitely lives up to the immense hype surrounding it.

Photo of broodog
4.54/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Black Note Stout Batch 11620 (I think, A little hard to read) Bottled 12/28/12 - Into a Bell's Tulip

Appearance - Pours jet black - 1 finger tan head which dissipates rather quickly into a ring. Lacing is nice

Smell- Bourbon, Coffee, roasted malt

Taste - Wow - In a class by itself. A rush of flavor. Bourbon followed by coffee, followed by roasted malt , molasses. Blend together perfectly. Alcohol is there, but not overwhelming.

Mouthfeel - Not as thick as some other BB stouts at this ABV. Feels great going down.

Overall - A wonderful experience. If you can get your hands on a few, try one now. Save a few for aging.

Photo of 33nickadams
4.66/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Completely black, opaque, and beige head sticks to the sides of the snifter. First smell I get is of dark dried fruits, which I find interesting since it's bourbon barrel aged. Of course you get the bourbon on the nose, but also you can smell sweetness. Alcohol is also evident in the nose. Tastes of coffee, dark dried fruits, chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, oakiness. Very well balanced and smooth. Not harsh at all, especially for being 11.5%. Nice aftertaste of vanilla that lingers in the mouth. Mouthfeel is full-bodied, velvety smooth and lightly carbonated. A world class beer from a world class brewery. I'm not sure that this could improve any more than it already is. Unless its better with age. I think I may keep some around for that.

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,624 ratings.