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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.

557 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 557
Hads: 3,738
Avg: 4.5
pDev: 8.44%
Wants: 2,602
Gots: 954 | 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: 557 | Hads: 3,738
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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Photo of Jayli
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured in to a pint glass

A: This beer pours an opaque black with a 1/4 inch of medium brown head. Head recedes almost immediately. No lacing to speak of.

S: Nose is woody oak, bourbon, vanilla, roasted malts and light chocolate notes.

T: Taste starts with roasted malts and licorice, dark fruits. Oak and bourbon come through.... lots of bourbon, but not overpowering with a slight vanilla character. The bourbon flavoring is blended nicely. Nice deep bitter chocolate towards the finish. Aftertaste has lingering coffee notes to it.

M: Medium to fuller body, moderate carbonation, smooth, silky body.

O: Goes down easily, very tasty, not too filling, well hidden kick, great representation of style. I have looked forward to this brew for quite some time and did not disappoint.

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

Review 50.

A - Black as night...blah blah. But it is a good inch head on a 10oz pour.

S - Bourbon...and hot. Smells of sweet woods, and alcohol. not to be shocked at the ABV.

T - Its a smoother Expo stout. But nothing like expo stout. Leather and mahogany, following by some burnt sugar and bourbon. Slightly burning.

M - Double Cream shines here. It is very much a filling mouth feel. Hot though, ABV is present.

O - Not the best BA stout I have had. That is still BCS rare. But, this is up there, and unique because of the mouth feel. Not as complex in the noise or taste however.

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

On tap at bells eccentric cafe. A long desired beer that I was pleasantly surprised to find on tap here. Pours nearly black with creamy tan head. Nose of chocolate, bourbon, and vanilla. Taste of bourbon, vanilla, caramel, wood...very smooth flavors that are well integrated. You can taste the dark fruit qualities of the Expedition Stout underneath the barrel aging here. Thick body with low/medium carbonation. Overall, an outstanding ba stout. Would be great to see this in bottles.

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Photo of fvernon
4.12/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at a recent Bell's event, unfortunately they had just run out of appropriate glassware and poured this lovely brew into a red wine glass at a colder temperature than I was expecting. Luckily my second glass came in a tall Bell's tulip.

Black Note is the color of dark chocolate with a head that looks like liquified wheat - a light brown that had broken down into a cling around the side of the glass and a few frog's eyes by the time I had walked back to my table. I had to sit a while (5 minutes or so) to let it warm, and then the scent really started to show: bourbon, malt, burnt sugar and toasted vanilla with a slight hint of fruit... is that apricot?

My sips started while it was still too cold... the burnt sugar was overwhelming at keg temps, but as it warmed up the bourbon and double cream stout notes moved forward. The double cream comes through much stronger than the expedition, but this is a unique offering apart from either - most notable is the slight bitterness, as if vanilla beans were roasted before being added for aging. The mouthfeel was lighter than I was expecting, but not any lighter than barrel-aging typically imparts. It leaves the beer drinkable in larger sips than I probably should have been taking, and the glass was gone before I knew it. Not quite in the same vein as a few other BA imperial stouts (KBS on tap is still the smoothest I've had the pleasure of drinking), but delicious nonetheless.

Most importantly, this was my first beer of the night (I wasn't about to let the Black Note run out while I drank something else), and something odd happened: after that, everything I drank (save the Oracle) had stout notes to it. A total palate take-over happened! If you're going to have the chance to try a Black Note, it gets better glass after glass... but everything else tastes like drinking through a BA Imperial Stout filter. be forewarned.

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had at the Bell's tap takeover at Yogi's out of a snifter. The two guys next to us were drinking Leinenkugel's Berry Weiss. I don't know what to say.

Pours a jet black with a small tan head that immediately fades away.

Smells of bourbon with a little oak and vanilla thrown into the mix.

There is a strong bourbon presence throughout the taste with vanilla and bitter roasted malts as well. There's also a little bit of a smooth creaminess to it, I'm guessing from the Double Cream Stout.

Thick and viscous mouthfeel. Lots of sludge.

Very good beer, but doesn't quite achieve Holy Grail status for me. The alcohol was not especially well hidden which I don't mind, but it knocks it down just a tick. A very good combo of two already good beers though and a very complex delightful treat.

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

Served on tap in a cervoise at the Great Taste of the Midwest. I have anticipated trying this for three years, so needless to say, I am excited.

Appearance: My pour is an ebony black color with a modest creamy tan head. As I would expect with the high ABV, the cap fades rather quickly and leaves just a few dots of lace on the glass.

Smell: The aroma does not jump out of the glass, but it is full and complex. Lots of roasted malt and chocolate fudge are noticeable, with coffee and cream, subdued bourbon notes, and some raisins or other dark fruits as well.

Taste: The blend here is just fantastic. It is difficult to describe the intricacy of the interaction of the flavors, but I will do my best. A light bourbon presence exists throughout, so each flavor melds in with that base. Full, deep, almost burnt roasted malt create the deepest bitterness and set the tone for the rest of the flavors. The taste lightens up with some creamy coffee notes. Still bitter, but light and creamy as well. From there, gooey fudge makes an appearance, sticking with a full creamy flavor. The bitter, creamy, and sweet flavors all work well with the bourbon to create different sensations. Some vanilla, oak, molasses, and anise add even further complexity.

Mouthfeel: Luxuriously thick and creamy. Using double cream stout really smooths out any rough edges in the feel. Lightly sticky sweet, a touch of oaky dryness toward the end. Creamy carbonation, a deceptive lack of alcohol presence, and a full body.

Overall: Wow, this is pretty incredible. This is definitely an artful blend of two already good beers. The result capitalizes on the strengths of both beers - creamy and roasty, with the perfect amount of bourbon to blend everything together. This was tapped right as the rain started to come down at GTMW, so it was easy to get several pours as long as you were willing to venture out into the rain. Worth every effort to get it, and I would recommend putting forth any effort necessary to try this beer.

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Photo of seeswo
4.23/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed a pour at the GTotMW 2011. Poured into the special taster glass. Very dark with a cocoa powder head. Looks great. The nose is big vanilla, bourbon and chocolate with some roasty goodness. Just a touch of oak as well. Dark chocolate, bourbon, vanilla and roast are the dominant flavors. Again, just a touch of oak. Very smooth, creamy and actually somewhat low-key in flavor. Good, creamy body with a low-medium carbonation is very nice for a BA Imperial Stout that is not overly sweet. This beer is more impressive in its balance, ease of drinking and mouthfeel than it is for its huge flavors or substantial complexities. Very enjoyable and glad I was able to give this a run. A buddy and I liked GL BA Blackout better, which were darn near side-by-side, but that isn't and indictment on the Black Note.

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Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.67/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 557 ratings.