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 drewaha
4.47/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage. Had right after a bcbcs. Great beer but unfair to compare to bcbcs. Not as sweet and has a nice mustly charcoal flavor. Goes down a little easier. Great beer but not top of its class.

Photo of docoman
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Was lucky enough to sample this Bell's offering at the 2013 summer beer event in Ypsilanti, MI and it was exceptional BA stout. Always on lookout to sample more of it especially on tap.

Photo of Bubba569
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

Great beer, love the full bodied flavor and how it changed in taste (even better) as it warmed up! We sampled with KBS, Bourbon County Stout the same night! I'd rate this one 3 but still can't deside which one is better between KBS and BCS! My top 2 by far!

Photo of papat444
4.15/5  rDev -8.8%

Poured from a 12oz botle, 2014 vintage. Thanks to Tricerahops (i think).

Pours a black body with a very thin head. Not as boozy as expected but bourbon is strong in the flavor. Nuances of coffee and chocolate are present but this would probably open up in a few years. I will say it was very smooth and alcohol was very well hidden.

Photo of mikedogg195
5/5  rDev +9.9%

So god damn Goode

Photo of wordemupg
4.3/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

355ml bottle poured into tulip 20/10/14, big thanks alfie for the bottle

A sits black in the glass with a deep cola edge, two fingers of mocha foam sits around for a couple sips before falling leaving just a couple dots of lace

S chocolate syrup, vanilla, bourbon, charred wood, some booze, sweetened coffee, chocolate covered raisins, prune, and a hint of smoke

T much more charred bourbon barrel in the mouth, darker coffee and a little licorice, a pumped up boozier version of the nose and it works well for me

M leaning towards full but thinner then expected, bubbles fluff it up a bit and a fair amount of heat on the way down, lots of roast lingering long and strong

O well rounded and very tasty if you don't mind intense boozy barrel, need to mellow out a bit but drinking well fresh

This needs some cellar time for sure, I could see this already great beer getting much better down the road, pretty stoked I have two more bottles Cheers alfie!!!

Photo of rden4654
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

Was awesome to get some of this beer....A must have for any beer collector.

Photo of Doc1182
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

Tastes like double crooked tree with a hint of vanilla

Photo of pat61
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Had on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl. This is a big bourbon barrel aged stout that smells and tastes like a bourbon barrel.
It pours black as night with a dark tan creamy cap that rapidly dissipates. The beer has legs and lace.Tthe beer hits the palate with all the major flavor groups - big alcohol, bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, sherry, caramel and the flavors delightfully linger long.
Big and chewy, the beer is a delight.

Photo of ediaz
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

2012 into a Hunahpu's day snifter with a friend.

A: Opaque black with minimal light coming through on edges in a copper-orange hue. Minimal delicate lacing on the top. Somewhat flat with a minimal ring of bubbles hugging the glass.

S: fig, toffee, dark chocolate, malt, tobacco; bourbon whiskey, hints of vanilla, mild oak

T: bitter dark chocolate; raw tobacco, charcoal; sweet; dark fruits; toffee; egg; butter; finishes with a smooth burnt caramel

M: medium viscosity, oily, coating of mouth,; buttery, silky, lingers; a little more carbonation wouldnt have hurt

O: Incredibly balanced and smooth with a rich blend of interesting flavors. After 2 years the beer has mellowed and accepted the char nicely without ruining the bourbon flavor or the chocolate, coffee, toffee flavors you'd hope for in a bourbon stout. Overall, a great beer that I'm very happy to enjoy. If I was able to get this beer properly aged again, I'd be happy to trade for it. Very pleased; Does not possess an overly alcoholic taste even though there are definitely notes of bourbon whiskey initially. A smooth, buttery feel that lingers provides an opportunity to experience all the flavors in this beer. Overall, it is slightly better than what I remember first tasting 2 years ago and offers some pleasantly unusual tastes compared to other barrel-aged bourbon stouts.

Photo of ssarkozi1
4.25/5  rDev -6.6%

VERY Rich yummy beer!

Photo of infinitebruner
4.59/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

August 9, 2014

12 oz bottle; Snifter

A – Jet black, thin brown head disappears almost immediately. Looks like pure motor oil.

S – Tons of vanilla, boozy warmth even on the nose. Sweet chocolate, mild oak.

T – Tons of vanilla, sweet chocolate malt notes, a hint of coffee. The burnt flavors are there, but seem to be “sweetly charred,” possible some caramelized flavors. Lots of bourbon and molasses, but very well balanced.

M – Milky, silky, very sweet. A lot of bitterness on the finish, some burnt notes.

O – This is a phenomenal, balanced, complex barrel-aged stout. My gold standard is Bourbon County, and the malt and hops here are much more balanced with the alcohol than with BCS (which is not to say I like Black Note more, just that it is more balanced.) This beer stands on its own as a fantastic example of barrel-aging.

Photo of Chrisfarleywine
5/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Amazing balance of flavor, aged about six months. Dried blueberries, coffee, chocolate, oak and bourbon. Some of the barrel aged stouts can be overwhelming with bourbon barrel flavor, this is a perfect balance. The consistency is just right too, not overly syrupy or flat. It has a decent effervescence with a balanced mouthfeel. Aroma is great, but belies the complexity of the beer.

Photo of avalon07
4.62/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and had a thick consistency. There was a small amount of creamy, tan-colored head that quickly dissipated. Fair lacing.

S: A big aroma of bourbon, dark fruit, and chocolate. Very enticing.

T: Tasted of bourbon, roasted malt, chocolate, dark fruit (plums, raisins), vanilla, and some coffee in the finish. A massive, assertive, muscular flavor. Extremely complex and flavorful.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a thick, chewy finish. Full-bodied.

O: Bell's seems to have a knack for making stouts (see Expedition and Java Stouts) and this one just adds to the pantheon. Not a brew for the faint of heart, Black Note is quite a robust beer and one of the best examples of the style.

Photo of mynie
4.39/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Glugs out very dark and viscous with minimal carbonation and small brown head.

Smells like whiskey, chocolate, and vanilla. The aroma is strong but not overpowering. A very nice blend.

Tastes like it smells--it's clear that this is Bell's direct response to BCBS. Whiskey and stout barley start things off, moving into a bittersweet middle of vanilla and dark chocolate, finishing off with the pleasant burn of ethanol.

Tried this side-by-side against a regular bottle of 2013 BCBS, and Goose Island's brew was a narrow winner due its firmer body and more complex finish. The fact that Black Note gave it a run for its money is quite a compliment, though, and I look forward to sampling some more of these in the future.

Photo of larryarms847
4.79/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a crude oil like pitch black with a wonderfully light brown head that just looks like I could lay on it is so thick and fluffy.

Aromas of sweet chocolate, tart and bright coffee/espresso, raisins/plums/dark fruits, and bourbon envelops the overall package.

Take the chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, bourbon, perfectly balanced them, and what you have is Black Note Stout.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, perfect for how I like my stouts!

This is a truly remarkable BBA imperial stout, really. Bell's nailed it on the head with this one and I'll be on the hunt for it again this next release season.

Photo of stephenjmoore
4.23/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 Vintage

A- Pours a very dark brown, settles into the glass with a near-black body and frothy, mocha-colored head. Some carbonation bubbles coast up the side of the glass and meet the head.

S- Roasted malts, barrel character including oak, bourbon, burnt sugar, toasted coconut, hint of cocoa.

T- Pretty similar to the nose, roasty malts and bourbon characteristics. More coconut, caramel and vanilla than I would have expected. Some lactose qualities with oak and booze coming through as well.

M- Full bodied, but a bit thinner than I would have expected. Carbonation is medium with a coating, sweet and boozy aftertaste.

O- I had high hopes for this one, but was somewhat disappointed. A very good beer, but not in the same class as BCBS, Parabola and others. The flavors do not some together quite as well as others and the flavor/aroma is somewhat less than I expected. Hoping the one I have cellared will turn out better.

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

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark pitch black with a nice creamy, foamy 1 inch thick head. Tons of thick lacing.

Smell - Classic bourbon aroma, with chocolate, vanilla, coffee and added sugars. Roasted malts, some smoke also. The cream stout is noticed slightly at the finish.

Taste - First sip starts off with plenty of bourbon, along with some dark roasty malts, coffee and chocolate. The addition of the cream stout comes in after the initial blast of bourbon, and adds some sweet, creamy notes. Some dark fruits such as raisin and plum add a tart, bitterness. Vanilla is a large amount of flavor in each sip. Smoke and wood are also picked up at the finish.

Mouthfeel - Bourbon and Dark roasty malts are the dominate flavor throughout this beer. Palate gets dark fruits, coffee, chocolate and the cream stout flavors. Aftertaste is malty, woody, bourbon warm.

Overall - Excellent beer yes. Complex flavors, big, bold flavors. Is it the best beer ive ever tasted? Not at all. Honestly id prefer a simple barrel aged expedition stout over this 50/50 blend. The huge java/mocha flavor of expedition is replaced with some cream stout flavor that im not a big fan of. In all, a great beer that everyone needs to try but nothing to go crazy over.

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

Shared this with a couple of fellow BA'ers and found it to be quite good, but not quite up to my Gold Standard, as set by Goose Island Proprietor's. But did a side by side tasting of it along with Lost Abbey's Agave Maria, and found it did edge out the Agave Maria by a nose. Pun intended. You would be hard pressed to drink a full bottle of this beer by ones self I feel. Solid 4.5 beer.

Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.42/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 version, it is a 12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip/snifter style glass. Liquid come out of the bottle is a cola brown color but gets dark brown as it rises in the glass. Not much in the way of highlights. Slightly darker than tan colored head, mostly small bubbles goes away after a few minutes, not much in the way of lacing. Each sip gives sort of a syrupy cling to the glass though. Decent looking beer, decent representation of the style.

Smell is really good. Dominant feature throughout is vanilla and oak aromas from bourbon barrel aging. Outside of that there's plenty of dark roasted malts providing a nice sweet and rich chocolate characteristic with a touch of bitterness. At the end there's some candy coated dark dehydrated fruits.

Taste is a step up. Lots of roasted malts providing the chocolate and the faintest light roasted coffee flavor; a little sweeter than I anticipated based on the smell, but in a good way. The candy/liquor coated dark dehydrated fruits (figs, raisons, dates) come through a little stronger. Broubon, vanilla and oak are obviously strong characteristics as well. Everything is meshed really well together, you can tell this is a carefully crafted beer.

Mouthfeel is probably the best part. I guess I'd say full bodied with an appropriate lasting/lingering flavor, but it doesn't feel as heavy as a full bodied beer, more like it'd be a medium body. Nice and smooth with a low medium carbonation level. Appropriate sweetness gradually moving to a warming finish, almost hot. A little bit of age could do alright to take a little heat away but I wouldn't do it more than 6-8 months, this was ready to drink now. Really drinkable, this one goes down nice and easy and is a year round bourbon barrel stout. Huge props to EasyReader for this one, you're the man!

Photo of Hesscabob
4.15/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I was very excited to be able to try this beer for the first time... and was quite disapointed.
Expedition stout is far and away a better stout than Black Note. Lacked the mouthfeel, taste was overly carbonated for a Barrel Aged brew, smelled fantastic but was not in the same ball park as BCBS, KBS, or Pt5. All that being said, its a solid beer just not worth the hype in my opinion. Plan on aging a couple just in case it improves.. hopefully it does.

Photo of foobula
4.66/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

12/28/12 12-oz bottle. Taken out of the fridge and warmed up for ~20 mins before opening. Dark black appearance with a small rust-colored head dissipating quickly. Nose is intense bourbon sweetness, roast. Taste is so much bourbony sweetness in the front that really pops. Tangy on the sides. Nice roast toward the back and throughout. Just a little sourness that doesn't quite belong. Lingering oaky finish. Mouthfeel all right, not super-thick but decent carbonation. A little syrupy. Overall, a fantastic barrel-aged beer that could be thicker but tasty as all get-out. Aging it these 1.5 years certainly didn't hurt.

Photo of Gryphon69
4.38/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 3-12-14

A- Very dark chocolate brown, near black. virtually no head to speak of, but left a nice ring around the glass, with some very light runny lacing.

S- Nice smooth bourbon up front, dark chocolate, roasted malts, caramel, some vanilles, followed by deep dark fruit.

T- Very good throughout, good smooth and not overpowering bourbon, deep chocolates, hints of dark mixed dark fruits. Very good stout flavors.

M- Thick, creamy, smooth, slick and sticky. Everything lingers on the tongue.

O- This is a very good beer, but after reading all the reviews I was expecting more. I cant say I was let down, but not up to the super hype and the years of waiting IMO.
Was kinda of surprised that the lacing didn't coat the glass with a bigger head, the smell is awesome and the taste is wonderful but I have had some much less expensive that comes very close or equals this one. The feel was amazing though, every stout should strive for this part.

Very glad I finally found it to try and will defiantly pick it up again at some point, just wouldn't run out and drop a lot of dollars on it next time. Very good beer and do recommend it to everyone.

Photo of Setmup10322
4.93/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is creamy, smooth glory in a glass. Everything most stouts try and fail to be, if you find a bottle snag it immediately. It's cloyingly sweet, with heavy malts, and a noticeably delicious bourbon taste. I enjoyed just slowly sipping it on a spring evening.

Photo of TheBrewo
4.47/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

We pop the top on a bottle of the 2012 stock (thanks Ashley P.!!), and pour into our oversized tasting snifters. It shows the deepest Tootsie pop brown, letting though a few faint rays of shimmering ruby when scrutinized intensely under direct light. The pour was delicate and produced only a few aggregates of chocolate mousse colored bubbles, but a rough swirl of the glass kicks up more of a crown. Spots of lacing are found peppered around the glass in rows. No haze or sediment is noted, and carbonation appears to be light. The aroma, right from the start, gives epic waves of buttery, warming bourbon smoothness, even when still cold at fridge temperatures. As it warms it really starts to bud, offering notes of densely roasted chocolate and brown malts, singed molasses crisp, sweet brown breadiness, rich milk chocolate creaminess, dried raisins and candied black cherries, plum juiciness, soy sauce saltiness, plastic and chemical phenols, powdered cocoa, charred oak, gentle charcoal, harsh fusel ethanol, and faint grassy hop bitterness. Our first impression is that this beer is absolutely fantastic, and lives up to the hype with everything you would hope for. As we sip, the taste begins with fusel boozy burn of bourbon and its accompanying soured oak, sweet and lactic creaminess, cloying cherry fruit juiciness, sweet chocolate, coffee, and general brown maltiness, dark plum flesh, burning stomach acid acidity, and crisply roasted espresso beans. The middle peaks with undeniable sweetness of white sugar, musk, tannic breakfast tea leafiness, slimy Muscat grape skins, cloying milk and dark chocolate syrups, ethanolic rumbles, and smoky X-mas ham. Following through the end is a blend of bitter char and light smoke, sweeter brushes of both melty nibs and powdered dark cocoa, fig, truffle and sesame oiliness, musky oakiness, gravel, heavy creamer, and a final heavy roast of the malts mixing with the fleetingly smooth sweetness of the bourbon. The aftertaste breathes of rich and dark chocolate cocoa, bittering leathers, plastic phenols, fuming smokiness, distant floral hops, black cherry and plum juiciness, burn of bourbon, cooked brown sugars, buttery pie crust, diacetyls and sweet banana esters, basement musk, and perfumed phenols. The body is medium to fully, but chewy, while carbonation is light to medium. Each sip gives excellent slurp, smack, cream, froth, and pop, with the lips left speckled with quickly drying residual sugars. The mouth is coated and left sapped with those same sugars. This remains for quite some time, eventually giving way to a surprisingly mild tannic pucker focused towards the far back of the palate. The abv is appropriately warming, and the beer sips wildly slowly, as you’re not quite sure if you’ll ever see her again, and want to savor every last minute you have left with her.

Overall, the most enjoyable aspect of this brew was its flavoring. The wood and the bourbon exemplified here are exceptional, and scary mellow with the additional two years they had on them. There are no real shockers with this beer. What we mean by that is you kind of get what you expect, without any major surprises or curveballs. We know it is becoming ridiculous with all of the things that are showing up labeled “barrel-aged” this, or “oak-aged” that, but this guy is one of the original heavy hitters, up there with the likes of Bourbon County. We try not to compare, but they have a good deal of parallels. The buttery diacetyls shine, and the bourbon remains sweet and rich throughout. What we get here, specifically, is the sweetness of chocolate from the base beer, but this also adds a needed bitterness on the tail end, keeping things balance the whole way through. This is the best beer we’ve had from Bell’s to date, as we’ve not yet been introduced to their barreling program, but we are ultimately happy and pleased with the final result. This beer deserves all the recognition it gets, so if you find some, cherish it, and be sure to share it with some close, like-minded friends who can really appreciate what they’re embarking on.

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