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

3,626 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,626
Reviews: 555
rAvg: 4.55
pDev: 8.35%
Wants: 2,500
Gots: 914 | FT: 82
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: 3,626 | Reviews: 555
Photo of surlytheduff
4.35/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap last night at Ashley's in Ann Arbor, as part of a Bell's 25th tap takeover celebration. I (thankfully) received the second to last glass of the night, as the keg kicked shortly after I sat down. The Black Note was brewed in 2008, and the keg had been in storage at a distributors cooler for the last year.

The beer was served in a 333ml tulip filled near to the brim, with no head. The liquid was piano black and looked to be quite viscous. The beer left a ring of film on the sides of the sides of the glass as I drank it.

There were pronounced notes of bourbon and dark, roasted malts in the nose. Behind that there were hints of vanilla, oak and sweet chocolate. The taste was outstanding. I was struck at how well balanced the blend was. The double cream stout mated with the Expedition in a pure harmony of taste. As Larry Bell commented to me "Sometimes one plus one equals three". There were elements of caramel, vanilla and chocolate on the sweet end, and dark roasted chewy malts on the other end. Tieing both sides together was the subtle bourbon flavor.

The mouthfeel was very silky and smooth, with just the right amount of slightly prickly carbonation. The heat from the alcohol was perfectly subdued and appropriate. I hope that one day the good folks at Bell's will bottle up this masterpiece so that a greater number of folks can experience the goodness that is Black Note.

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

First had: on tap at City Tap House, Philly, PA

First (and only at the time of this review) keg to come to Philly!

Served in a snifter, dark brown to black, opaque, with a minimal tan head. Aroma was luscious with dark malts, licorice, vanilla and chocolate; some alcohol noticeable. Taste was rich with malts, dark chocolate, sweet sugars, bourbon-soaked wood; strong in flavor and booze; quite simply amazing all around. Nicely thick and creamy, full bodied. Highly drinkable, and among of the best stouts I've had.

Photo of psychotia
4.57/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Stubs and Herbs, review from notes.

A: I'm not going to go too in-depth, as the 7oz-ish pour was served in a 7oz snifter (filled to the brim). It was very black and had no head.

S: Bourrrbon! Vanilla, oak, and did I say bourbon?

T: omg. This is insane. Initially, all I can sense it the bourbon, but that fades into strong chocolate notes with a hint of oak... but wait, it's not done as it finishes with a HUGE blast of vanilla. Wow... this is an EXPERIENCE!

M: Thick & creamy (maybe even double-creamy). Yum!

D: Oh the 7oz didn't last long, but I don't think I would have lasted much longer had I ordered another!

If ever I have the opportunity to drink this again, I will not miss it. Put this on my "top 5."

Photo of Kegatron
4.72/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ The Great Taste of the Midwest (Madison, WI) on 8/14/10. Several samples served in a tasting mug.

Pours a dense black, with a rich topping of dark mocha colored head. This quickly fizzles out however, leaving a black and still surface staring back at me. The aroma is packed with chocolate fudge, creamy smelling sweetness, sticky molasses character, and a DEEP burnt roastiness to it in the back. The sweet tang this puts off in the nostrils is just fabulous.

The taste is bitter and blackened tasting at first with roast and coffee, being quickly followed by the luscious sweet tang of chocolate, vanilla, and sticky charred molasses, before diving into a heady roasted finish and lingering notes of green woody tannins. Just the right amount of charred bourbon flavor is present without any kind of excessive heat. The mouthfeel is full, thick, and chewy and is hiding it's ABV VERY well. Nuff said!

Badass in a glass sums this up perfectly and I was really glad to finally get to try this one again. An awesome BA blend here and it's definitely one of the best I've had from Bell's.

Photo of beerwolf77
4.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Yeah I'm reviewing it off my 6oz pour from the GTOM. When the hell else would I be able to tick a beer this epic?

Pours black as coal and thick as burnt motor oil. No head no lace. No surprise there. It is called "black" note.

The aroma is very sweet. Like melted chocolate mixed with coffee and bourbon. Traces of black licorice and prunes.

The flavor is right where I had hoped it would be. Loads of sweet dark chocolate and coffee. The bourbon is mild but present. Moderate smoked barrel in the finish. Spot on perfection in my book.

Full thick and chewy body. Carbonation is looking for a life raft in this beer. It's there but struggling.

Overall maybe not a religous experiance but spectacular none the less. Made my day I was able to finally try this.

Photo of sweemzander
4.7/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tap pour at the Great Taste of the Midwest 2010. Been looking forward to trying this one for some time!

(A)- Pours a fairly thick pitch black color with a decent brown head that stuck around for awhile. Bits of lacing here and there too.

(S)- A rich chocolate and licorice aroma with bits of molasses and raisin. A good roasted profile behind that with light hints at a bread component.

(T)- Very similar to the smell. The chocolate in the smell combined with the licorice creates a light bitter yet sweet profile at the same time. Some molasses. The chocolate flavor is great in the background. Dynamic.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Thick, but also smooth which is great for the style. A good feel and profile with a light warmth going down.

(D)- A fascinating beer that they need to bottle and sell in the future; they would make a killing off of it! One of bells best and most unique. One of the highlights of the event.
**Update. Having had this quite a few times now on tap, I feel that this just gets better and better on my list of the better stouts out there in the market today. Because of this, I definitely think this deserves a bump up from my initial review in the overall rating (from an initial 4.5 overall rating).**

Photo of Durge
4.39/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Yet another goodie at Stub & Herb's in Minneapolis, MN . This shows a solid black brown color with a modest tan head and decent lacing. The aroma says cabernet and sour coffee with a hint of licorice. Awesome and fairly intense. The flavor is an incredible medley of coffee cherry chocolate with wonderful root hints that suggest Vicks Formula 44. There is an herbal hop bite here that blends with the medicinal qualities. This is full bodied and sliky feeling with some resinous qualities perhaps. Minute but very tangy carbonation. Not highly drinkable at all, just too intense but very tasty. There's raisin and juniper and the blend is superb. And I thought the Expedition alone would be unbeatable...Wow!

Photo of MbpBugeye
4.37/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Yet another one that I was very excited for at Michigan's summer beer fest 2010. Waited all day for this one to be tapped.

Black with really no head at all, nothing too special about the way this looks, just some loose, large bubbles here and there.

Smell is a lot like Expedition at times. Very vinous with dark berries, red grapes, figs and cherries. Bourbon underlies that. Its not at all harsh though there is a lot of very nice creamy smells going on like a milkiness.

Like the nose would suggest its a sweet, vinous and slightly bourbony beer. Lots of dark fruits, berries, cherries, plums, figs, prunes, bourbon, milk sugar sweetness, lots of creamy chocolate. Its unmistakeably blended with Expedition stout.

A very phenomenal offering from Bell's

Photo of boomer31
4.43/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Stub and Herbs. Cannot believe I got a chance to try this one! Poured into a 7.5 oz snifter.

A - Black and black with a dark tan head. Viscous as any double stout I've had.

S - Sweet bourbon with a hint of malt and vanilla. The bourbon is the dominant factor in the nose.

T - Bourbon up front and sweet chocolate malts through to the finish. A hint of alcohol in the back but bourbon, vanilla and sweet malts dominate the taste. You can really taste the expedition stout here. But the sweetness and bourbon just dominate. Lord this is tasty

M - Viscous and low carbonation. Perfect for a double stout.

D - At 11.5% this is a sipper. I'm very excited to try this one but any more than 7.5 oz may be tough to handle.

Overall incredible. Why do they not bottle this?

Photo of Soonami
4.18/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

Photo of joshuaseresse
4.97/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on-tap at the Bell's Fermented Eclipse Party at Stub's and Herbs - June 26, 2010. Had about 18oz total and decided to jot down a few notes on the top of my to-go box. Each served in a 6 oz glass...one at a time:

A- Black as night, cannot see through it at all. Hardly any lacing, very little head if any. Toward the middle and end of this beer it appears brownish around the edges, slightly transparent with a light ring of foam.

S- Bourbon Barrel with hints of cream, sweet vanilla, bits of chocolate but mostly vanilla. When its cold, its very clean smelling...biting the nostrils. Very nice.

T- Very smooth, caramel, brown sugar, bourbon barrel, cream the whole way through, slight boozy at first then calms down and vanilla toward the end. A bit of a coffee after taste.

M- Lovely, awesome, very smooth, perfect carbonation, satin and silk. All you could ask for in a beer.

D- Does not feel like a 10.5% at all - way too easy and probably very dangerous. I could have drank this all night and for breakfast in the morning. Very happy I was able to try this and would very much like some more. Good job, Bell's...now make some more!

Photo of Thorpe429
4.62/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had a few glasses on tap at the Stub and Herb's Fermented Eclipse event.

A: pours a smooth deep brown with the tiniest layer of a tan head.

S: very rich. Loads of bourbon and hints of oak atop some molasses, dark chocolate, vanilla, and roasted malt.

T: very similar to the nose with a nice, semi-sweet creaminess coming through; this is the first area where the Double Cream starts to make it's way in, rounding out what was already a very nice brew.

M: rich, creamy, and chewy without too much alcohol.

D: very, very nice. Fantastic brew all around and I am thrilled to have finally gotten a chance to try it.

Photo of ChrisPro
4.32/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft (x2) at City Taphouse during Philly Beer Week.

Pours super dark brown with the slightest hints of ruby in the light. No head whatsoever.

Aroma was big thick chocolate and vanilla dominating the nose, with some hints of molasses and oak. I couldn't get much fruit on the nose, but i felt like there was something there.

Flavor was a super sweet big thick dessert drink. I didn't think i'd get through 3 oz. let alone a whole glass, but the flavor was so incredible I had no problems...and then I went back and got another. Vanilla, molasses, chocolate and some roasted cashews on the finish.

Did I mention that this was big and thick?

Overall, incredible, but not even sure it was in my top 10 beers of Philly Beer Week.

Photo of BARFLYB
4.3/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On Tap at the City Tap House for their 31 flavors of Bell's event for Philly Beer Week, I love this city!

Black note came to me looking black like night with a bubbly thin layered dark tan milkshake head. Some rough patches of lace on the way down, nice considering the barrel aging.

Smells is of dark bakers chocolate, dark fruit, plums, and some vinious qualities in the back. Sweet roasty notes, cream for your coffee with some coffee as well. The bourbon, while not overly huge is a welcomed guest.

Black Note tastes like you think it will, delish. Dark chocolate, semi bitterseet, cocco powder, A light splash of roasted coffee beans, lucious sweet malt roasty malt. A dark fruit component from the expo, a vanilla creamy vibe from the DCB. Some mollasses along with the sweet vanilla are welcome. A nice amount of bourbon from a great barrel that's not all that boozy.

I gotta say, this is the smoothest BA beer that I've had for a while. Smooth, creamy, easy, a steady slope. While the alcohol seeps in a bit, this is not hot in any way. The way this went down after 20 minutes in the glass brings tears to my eyes.

It's big beer, but i found myself taking bigger gulps than usual for a stout. Much smoother as time passes and temps rise, easy drinking, just be careful, it will get ya. Another treat during beer week. I knew this beer would be a winner ever since I heard about it.

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

10oz pour at city taphouse bell's event

A: Deep brown/black body. One finger dark khaki head that held for some time after the pour. Spotty lacing.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, sweet cream, molasses, roasted malts and dark fruits. Complex and well layered. Nothing really overpowers the other elements.

T: Nice blend of boozy-goodness and sweet, dessert like malts. Warm bourbon is present from the first drop. Sweet milk chocolate, cream, molasses, caramel, a little roasted coffee, vanilla and some figs.

M: Thick, full bodied and viscous. Low carbonation, but appropriate. A bit boozy, but not overbearingly hot. Nice lingering sweetness.

D: At first it was fairly easy drinking considering the thickness, but the beer eventually slowed down for me. This was likely the result of the underlying sweetness. A very nice beer, that is a bit different than the other big stouts out there. Thanks to Bell's and City Taphouse for the fun event.

Photo of sholland119
4.4/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this one at City Tap House, 6/7/10.

A-Pours deep black, a bit oily with a very dark mocha head and some pretty good lacing.

S-Outstanding. Caramel, rich dark chocolate, a nice whiff of bourbony vanilla.

T-Warm, rich and sweet from the start. A bourbon sweet note to begin, along with some alcohol warmth, then milk chocolate and sweet cream kick in before a warming finish.

M-A bit heavy in body but a joy to drink.

D-Delicious, though one at a sitting is certainly plenty.

HV

Photo of rfgetz
4.25/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep, dark black with minimal head. Scent is filled with booze with touches of roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate, roasted nuts, dark dried fruit, vanilla. Taste is of young, fresh, high grade burbon backed with aggressive roast flavors, touch of sweet cream and vanilla, molasses, brown sugar, smoke. Full bodied, not quite oily, strong aftertaste. A great beer that is on eof the few booze bombs that hold up well. A sipper for sure.

Photo of dborginis
4.47/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at City Tap House's Bell's 31 event.

Black, no head (ordered it from a waiter so it had time to settle) smells like bread, chocolate and Jack daniels.
Taste is sweet (chocolate, caramel, maybe vanilla too) but not overwhelming. The bourbon is present and not
overwhelming as well except for the quick buzz I'm getting. More
viscous and somewhat flat than carbonated. A bit of a hop bitterness noticeable. A fine dessert.
Good but definitely a sipper. I had to work on this over an hour + while sampling others. A fine example of a bourbon aged product.

Photo of oglmcdgl
4.48/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at city tap house. 31 bells beers, looks like I've got my work cut out for me. Got one with my main squeeze katie.

A- blackalicous and capped with a finger of coffee and cream colored head. Coats the glass beautifully. Legs for days, this dames got steams.

S- tons of milk chocolate, caoco powder, and sweet cream. Roasty and toasty with some oak and bourbon.

T- oh boy! Opens up with all the rich veinous qualities with port wine, dark chocolate and over ripe black berries. Wood and bourbon with some vanilla and black strap molasses. Plums, dates, raisins all the dark fruits. I keep coming back around and finding new levels of complexity.

M- thick and chewy with some slick and stick. Perfect carb, just enough to lift it all up but not too much that it doesn't stay on the palate for the right amount of time. Bliss.

D- well for a brew of this stature and abv this is as drinkable as it gets. I love it in so many ways.

Photo of maximum12
4.42/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Absolutely thrilled to have a 10 oz. pour of this beast during Darkness Eve & never got around to getting my brief notes into the com-pooter.

Black. Dead, no bubbles, ready-to-be-cremated black. Smell is heavy, sweet malts with a whuppin' stick of bourbon. Boozy & rich as all get-out.

AEDCB is one to hunt down, because it's a brew at the top of its game. Usually I'm not as wild about the bourbon-screaming beers (ala BCS) but for some reason it just works here. Perhaps it's my love for the Expy Stout, & the rock-solid base brews it's founded on, but the vanilla & oak that rocket out of the dead pool of black give me pause, then make me happy. Good brownie batter would describe the taste & consistency to some extent, along with a blast of alcohol that doesn't seem out of place. Malts are in there I'm sure. Tastes a lot more like Expy, I don't sense anything Creamed about this, not even in the mouthfeel, perhaps it was overwhelmed by everything else going on.

Excellent beer. I don't know how Stubs landed this one, but if it ever happens again, I'll be there. And if I hadn't needed to get up for Darkness Day, I'd have had multiples. Bell's knows how to do big right!

Photo of punkrkr27
4.2/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at the '10 MBGWF. Black oily pour with a small brown head. Mild and even oak and bourbon notes with some lactose sweetness and lots vanilla. Chocolaty dark fruit background. Very full and creamy body with soft carbonation. Very nicely balanced beer with out over the top barrel aging.

Photo of SPLITGRIN
4.82/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours beautiful pitch black letting no light through whatsoever. Head is just a sim of carmel brown fuzz that is barely there. Nose is of very good whiskey, carmel, toffee and a bit of vanilla. Kind of hard to fully enjoy from a 5-oz. pour sample glass, that is why I had two 5-oz. pours just to be sure. On first sip the whiskey is very up front but soft, well presented and very smooth just like your favorite bourbon whiskey. Layers of caramelized malt roll all over the tongue with such sweetness. Toffee mixes with a nice hop character on the backside that is a bit rustic and nicely drying. Finishes with a mouthfeel that is full, smooth yet very clean and enjoyable. This is my kind of stout, big, rich, with a nice whiskey profile.

Photo of Arbitrator
3.52/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Growler supplied by eyebrews and generously shared at the Pliny the Younger release. Sampled from a tasting glass. From notes.

A: Pours motor oil black, opaque in the center but lightly translucent at the edges. I have no idea about the history of this growler, but it was taped well, opened with a hiss, and there were clearly bubbles (dark mocha) on the brew. Retention was short. Promising.

S: Pretty bourbon-forward. Dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses. Anise and some booze.

T: Bourbon and chocolate are pretty evident. Anise, vanilla, molasses. The finish was hot and slightly harsh. I kept expecting more from the flavor; I picked up a lot of the barrel character, but not much of the Expedition or Cream Stout.

M: Silky, rich. Hard to criticize Bell's beers on mouthfeel, most of the time, but their barrel aging here leaves a lot to be desired: the beer is fairly hot and tannic.

D: I liked the beer, but I'm not convinced this is one of the top examples of the barrel-aged imperial stout "style." It's above-average, but nothing to give up the cellar for.

Photo of iconoklaztor
4.63/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this at the world record Bell's tapping in Indianapolis.

Poured a black body with little head. It smelled very sweet and chocolatey. I loved the smell of this brew and the way it looked and hoped the taste could match.

The taste was sweet, rich, and full of complex flavors! MMM chocolate, creamy, and cherry flavors were all so well balanced!

I would LOVE to have more of this!

Overall, a GREAT brew and one I hope gets bottled!

Cheers!

Photo of Donerik
4.85/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer if bottled would be in my fridge constantly.
I texted my friend from the bar that I was drinking the best beer ever.

A: dark, thin tan head. It looked browner than some black stouts, like it was just happy tasting great that it didn't need to be black as night.

s: rich, creamy smell, obviously bb aged.

T: So Good. Everything was in perfect balance. Rich malts make this beer sweet, the barrels have given the beer vanilla notes, and bourbon. It's perfect, it was worth 8 dollars.

M & D: This beer was so smooth, the alchohol wasn't even a thought going down. I'd drink 3 or 4 if had them at home... please mr Bell, bottle this.

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,626 ratings.