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Bell's Black Note Stout - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Not Rated.
Bell's Black Note StoutBell's Black Note Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
99
world-class

565 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 565
Hads: 3,802
Avg: 4.5
pDev: 8.44%
Wants: 2,676
Gots: 965 | FT: 75
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

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: 565 | Hads: 3,802
Photo of Huhzubendah
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at Churchkey in D.C.

The beer is black with a thin beige head. After a few swirls of the snifter the head expands to 3/4 inch, leaving a thick sheet of lacing cascading down the snifter.

The aroma, while nice, is quite a bit weaker than expected, offering bourbon and roast with a hint of vanilla.

The flavor, on the other hand, is a thing of beauty. Bold bourbon presence throughout. Oily thick with a delicious roast character. This is indeed a world class beer and in my top tier of barrel aged imperial stouts. Not terribly complex, per se, but masterfully balanced and just superb.

The mouthfeel is ridiculously good, perhaps the best I have yet encountered in a beer of this ilk. The Double Cream Stout shows itself here. Creamy and full bodied, with alcohol content gracefully disguised.

Worthy of its overall A+ rating, this beer was sublime.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've been offended for a long time that this beer has slipped through my grasp. Everyone raves about it, and it is good, but how much better than a decently treated Bourbon county is it? Not much.

Beer served on draft in a snifter. Beer is black with a lazy head of tan bubbles, some lacing, minimal carbonation, lots of lacing.

Aroma is sweet, bourbon, malt, not much else.

Beer is also sweet, smooth, creamy, decent, mouth-feel is the best thing about this beer, high in alcohol, sweet, good finish, a decent barrel aged whatever but don't knock yourself out looking for it like i did.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

What an awesome beer. Had a pull at Churchkey.

Pours super thick black with a ring of tan head and a nice web of lacing. Looks great, and it previews the excellent silky feel.

Smell is good, I get licorice, vanilla, some sweeter bourbon and oak, a little malt, a touch of roast, and some maple syrup. I just knock it cause it isn't really jumping out of the glass. Some alcohol pops out with a swirl.

Taste is amazing and so is the feel, it's so silly and inviting with a range of amazing layers of flavor. Sticky, chewy, semi sweet and savory, there is no heat in there which amazing. Flavors include licorice, sweeter bourbon-very nice bourbon like van winkle 12, nice roasty chocolate notes, oak, lactose sugar, a little alcohol sweetness, some savory slight bacony notes, and some espresso cream. Wow, stunning beer.

Overall this is killing. What a great beer, my favorite bells and that says something.

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Photo of TCgoalie
4.67/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

300th review, I had to make it a good one!
On tap at HopCat - 11/27/11

Poured into a tulip and served with a dark mocha head. There is a nice wall of lacing near the top and stringy lace on the adjacent side.

A lot of woody notes - oak and cedar - resonate amidst smells of dark chocolate and vanilla.

The taste can be summed up at a high level as earthy and complex. In more detail, I taste oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, burnt grains, tobacco, cedar all working toward a sweet raisin ending. The tongue is finally left with some well placed booziness and a coffee like bitterness.

While chewy, sticky, dry, and full, the mouthfeel is nothing in excess. It is a well balanced feel not distracting but well placed.

At first, I wasn't blown away at the taste. After giving it many sips, I was really intrigued by the nuances of the flavors. Thanks to Hopcat's wood aged festival, I had the likes of KBS, CBS, BA Blackout Stout, and BB Plead the 5th over the weekend. I can easily say that Black Note is on par with the best Imperial Stouts out there.

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Photo of monitorpop
3.92/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black with a one finger airy tan head that quickly faded to a ring.

S: Smooth bourbon with subtitle chocolate, coffee and vanilla extract.

T: Dominate bitter dark chocolate with some coffee that fades into lingering bourbon. More bitter than sweet.

M: A bit thinner and than I expected. Some nice warming alcohol in the finish.

O: More bitter and less sweet than I prefer, but still a really good beer that certainly improves as it warms up.

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Photo of AgentZero
4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Black bodied beer, nicely opaque. Couple of fingers of brown head that had nice retention and left some good lace.

S - Some moderate bourbon smell, oak, vanilla, bit of chocolate. Smells really nice, meets the expectations you would want for a BA stout.

T - Smooth bourbon, some unsweetened cocoa, oak, little vanilla. Pretty flavorful beer, but was not quite as sweet as I thought it would be, was expecting some more decadent brownie or something. Still, that's not a horrible thing, it's very smooth and goes down easily. Bit of heat on the end.

M - Smooth and full bodied.

O - After hoping to try this for the longest time, happy to say this beer is not a disappointment. Very well crafted and enjoyable to drink. Would like to cellar a few bottles if/when they are released.

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Photo of JoshVandy
4.72/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've been lucky enough to have this long-time want of mine on multiple occasions in the last few weeks, so I'm reviewing from notes.

16 ounce pour into a large snifter at Bell's Ecentric Cafe.

A- Almost completely black, with some subtle mahogany shades on the edges, with about a half-inch mocha head that vanishes quickly. Kind of expected this going in, so not much surprise here.

S- Lots of subtle bourbon notes, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, oak, all mingling together seamlessly. Just a pleasure to smell.

T- Boom. Vanilla and bourbon up front, with nice coffee and chocolate notes in the middle and back, followed by some very subtle bourbon heat. Damn, this is amazing. Stronger vanilla notes come out afterward. Delicious.

M- This is where it goes from being great to outstanding. Thick, full-bodied, and super creamy. Easily the most standout part of this beer, an for good reason. It's absolutely perfect, with just the right amount of carbonation.

O- There's not a lot more I can really say about this beer. The mouthfeel alone puts it in a class of its own when compared to other bal-stouts. Add to that the fanastic flavors that pull through from the base beers without being overshadowed by the barrel treatment, and I believe we have a world class stout that definitely lived up to its insane hype. Consume this with reckless abandon if given the chance.

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Photo of kzoobrew
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap a few times recently at Bell's, review is taken from notes from each occasion.

Poured into an oversized snifter. Deep black and opaque body, light fails to break the surface. One and a half finger coffee stained head lingers a bit longer than I expected. A slight amount of lacing clings to the walls of the glass.

Beautiful aroma. Chocolate and caramel aromas meld with the Bourbon. The balance between the the sweetness and bourbon is inching close to perfection. Roasted malt with slight char is subtle beneath. Pleasant vanilla noted through out.

Bell's could not have picked two better beers to blend and barrel age. The bold and assertive flavors of Expedition are complimented wonderfully by the smooth and creamy Double Cream. The flavor begins much like the aroma. Caramel and chocolate infused bourbon rolls across the tongue. Pleasant roast develops on the midpalate only to has the edge softened by a vanilla and milk creaminess.

Full bodied, though tiptoeing on the lighter side of full. Low carbonation, very appropriate, provide a very enjoyable creaminess to the mouthfeel. Long finish, I would not want it any other way.

Black Note had been my biggest personal wale for the longest time. I am very fortunate to live close to Bell's and have had the opportunity to drink it several times now. Each time I drink it I am as impressed as the first. Tremendous balance in the blend and the bourbon is integrated beautifully. Very easy to drink but one that will certainly catch up with you. As enjoyable as any beer I have ever had, one worth seeking out.

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Photo of Mscarpen
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Was lucky to find this gem while traveling through MI on my first beer tour with my buddy Ben. Enjoyed it so much, we had to come back a second time later in the day. At 6.75 for 16 unholy ounces, how could you pass up on a second glass?

Appearance: Black,, black, black. It was fun to watch the bartender pour this one as it looked just like she was draining used motor oil from an old Chevy. Zero head and not. Hint of lacing.

Smell: Refined/smooth chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, and dark fruits.

Taste: Wow! The best beer Ive ever had. Complex and refined with flavors of sweet chocolate chips, almost like a chocolate souffle. Super smooth bourbon for sure.

Mouthfeel: zero carbonation makes it very drinkable brew. In fact, that makes this on a bit dangerous as its smoothness can make you forget the quality (and alcohol content) of beer you are enjoying.

Without a doubt, this lives up to the hype. If you ever get the chance, make sure to get a taste of this one.

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Photo of helmstreet
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served on tap in a small snifter at the Beer Trappe

A - black as the name implies. Minimal head disappears almost immediately.

S- minimal, though perhaps this is due to the glass. Some chocolate and malt come through.

T - just spectacular. I'm really surprised by the length of the tasting experience. Starts out sweet and chocolatey, then really malty with some toastiness. Finishes with more chocolate and roast as well as some bitterness.

M - creamy, but not syrupy. The taste lingers

D - two more garçon!

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Photo of cpetrone84
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark coffee brown with tight dark tan head. Nose has some subtle roasted malt, notes of coffee, vanilla cream, chocolate cake. There is a mild sweet bourbon note. It tastes well balanced, faint touch of sweetness with rich chocolate cake and vanilla notes. The coffee is lighter, Light note of sweet bourbon that picks up as it warns, more present than the nose but still subtle. Soft creamy feel, full bodied but not heavy with good carb and extremely drinkable.

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Photo of bobhits
4.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thank you beer trappe for letting me sample this master piece!

Pours black as night, truly held to multiple lights only the SLIGHTEST of brown legs throw through. Poured into a 6 zo snifter it seem to have some carbonation but hard to comment on.

The aromas is dark bakers chocolate, roasted malt, espresso and vanilla.

Wow..tastes like pie crust and bakers chocolate blended with vanilla and hints of oak. Yes as a bourbon lover a bit more oak would be ok, but the chocolate and pie crust flavors are out of control. There just isn't a possible negative comment to be head.

The double creme did the job. This is creamy and full bodied as hell. Well carbonated and sinfully rich.

Worthy of all the praise and then some!

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Photo of homebrew311
4.1/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pitch black opaque apperance, dark brown creamy head, medium head retention

S: thick dark chocolate and cream followed by lots of bourbon with mellow vanilla and oak. Some ashy qualities follow the bourbon which detract from the overall beer a little bit.

T: toasted marshmallow followed by dark chocolate and a harmony with the oak barrels, amazing balance

Mf: thick, viscous, mellow, carbonation

O: huge flavors with a velvety texture, definitely worth a try. I don't know that this brew quite achieves the hype that surrounds it

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Photo of Wildman
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

on tap at brewpub for All Stouts Day and left on afterwards:
This beer was pitch black and produced a small snow white head that left trace lace as it subsided. An aroma of malt, bourbon, chocolate, cocoa and anise. The flavor was of malt, chocolate and anise. It had a medium body and slightly creamy and a sweet finish. Love this combination.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.18/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft... Great looking beer, dark black body, thick dark tan head, about two fingers, nice retention great lace... The nose is fairly subtle and balanced, and you can tell they didn’t release this until it was ready, light and very smooth bourbon, brownies, bitter chocolate, light roast... The taste is really smooth as well, but the finish is a bit alcoholic and astringent, the flavor is a touch light, I wish there was a bit sweeter... A really good beer that lives up to the hype

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Photo of rtepiak
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

its huge but drinkable which i would figure its saving grace and the reason why its so sought after. But as for the midwest i would say this is a standard. Of excellence to say the least but in bourbon country its is also the most accessible. Both for attaining the barrells and lets just call it practice.

The base to this stout is one of my favorite. The beer is not so much noticeable in the nose. I get the malty notes of the nose that was vanilla and bourbon hints. The beer is actually quite lean and easy going. Carbonation isn't particularly creamy. But malt smooth. Tingle. Bourbon, coffee toast, and a nice lingering note. Quite standard. Although a nice treat for the fan.

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Photo of Jips
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Also had at All Stouts Day, poured blaaack with a thin tan head

Smelled strongly of bourbon and sticky maple, felt a slight sting from the alcohol and carbonation. Felt the carbonation was on the higher end for an imperial stouts. Heavy to medium body, slightly creamy like the Double Cream.

Tasted molasses, BOURBON, slighty roasty flavor, prunes rolled in brown sugar, a touch of vanilla, and some fairly pleasing alcohol.

What a treat to have! It is a worthy member in the pantheon of fantastic Michigan big stouts (e.g., Founder's Breakfasts, Dark Horse's Plead the Fifth and other holiday stouts.)

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Photo of jale
4.67/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap during All Stouts day at the brewery.

A: Pours black with little light brown head.

S: Bourbon, tons of malt and a hint of coffee.

T: Bourbon, malt and more malt. Very complex. Roasted coffee and a hint of chocolate. I get more of the double cream stout then the expedition in the base of this. Very smooth and creamy. Finish is coffee and hop bitterness.

M: Lighter side of thick with average carbonation. Very creamy.

O: So much flavor without being overly thick. Goes down well for a higher ABV stout.

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Photo of JDizzle
4.27/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed this at Bell's Eccentric Cafe. Still on tap the day after "All Stouts Day". Score!!!!

A:black as nite, with a roasted brown head. Oily looking.

S:chocolate, coffee, bourbon, oak, multi-dimensional smelling beer. Not too much of one smell disracts from the whole experience. It smells amazing!

T: the ultimate!!! So smooth with a prominent bourbon barrel flavor that compliments the expo and cream that come together. One of the best BB stouts I have had.

Mouthfeel is oily, full with medium carbs.

Overall, I can't say enough about this beer. I have been wanting to try this for a while now and feel lucky to have had it.

On a good note: the lady working the bar said they shitloads of this and we should see more of it around this year!!

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Photo of kbutler1
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of camil1mj
4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Detroit Fall Beer Fest. I had a good 8 oz pour as a buddy if mine who is not into BA stouts gave me his pour.

A: Dark as you would expect. Reddish/brown creamy, foam head.

S: Wonderful coffee, chocolate and bourbonntones.

T: Wonderfully balanced. Exactly as described. I can pick up the Expedition and the Double Cream....followed by wonderful barrel aged wonderfullness.

M: Creamy and smooth. Medium carbonation.

O: 2nd best of the day to BA Plead the 5th. Best Bell's I have ever had. Here's crossing my fingers I get a bottle or 2 when it is released.

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Photo of normyk
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to urbancaver for bringing this to a tasting - long time want of mine.

It pours black with light head - oily looking as expected. The nose has a lot of expedition in it tempered with a nice smooth bourbon backing. The bourbon comes through nicely in the taste as well smoothing out the rough edges of the expo and not bringing too much butter to the party. There is some nice chocolate and coffee as well and it all comes together nicely. Balanced and tasty. Smooth in the mouth, just right on the carbonation with just a hint of heat. Expo is one of my standby beers so I've been dying to try this and it did not disappoint. Very damn good.

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Photo of BeerAndBourbon
4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A. Pours black with a small creamy tan head that leaves small bits of residual lacing.

S. dark chocolate, vanilla, oak, bourbon,

T. tons of espresso, dark chocolate, bourbon

M. Big creamy thick body with nice carbonation, a touch harsh

D. quite bitter with lots of dark chocolate and espresso notes. Very good, but a bit disappointing from what I was expecting.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thank you thank you to my special friend for this one...

Pours a pitch black wih some nice white head. Looks pretty. Well carbonated. Smells rich and chocolatey. Buttery bourbon and a nice roastiness. The aroma is top notch. Tastes Roasty. Lots of expo not so much double special cream. The taste is a bit bitter from the roast. Good solid mouthfeel. Well carbonated. Overall solid but a bit to roug around the edges.

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Photo of brew3crew
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tasting at Jackie O's. Out of a hand bottle

A-black body with tan head that sticks around for a while

S-sweet bourbon vanilla. Absolutely incredible

T-great blend of smoothness vanilla and bourbon. Definetly worth the buzz

M-medium body and smooth

O-absolutely brilliant. I know know what the buzz is about

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 565 ratings.