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: 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: 3,624 | Reviews: 555
Photo of Damian
4.03/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Drank from a 12 fl oz (355 ml) bottle acquired in a trade with surge1311
12/28/12
Served in a snifter

Review #825

The beer poured a dark brown/black and a touch thinner than expected. A mass of tan colored bubbles topped the liquid, but they quickly dissolved into a small ring.

The nose was amazing. Bourbon notes dominated. Boozy, but in a good way. Vanilla came through strong. Raisin and dark fruit notes were evident as well. Good dose of molasses and brown sugar sweetness. Dark chocolate notes appeared as the beer warmed.

Like the nose, the flavor profile was very bourbon forward. Tons of fresh vanilla bean. Sweet up front with brown sugar notes. Raisins and plums were also noticeable. Lots of espresso in the center. The finish was disappointing however. It was excessively roasty and tasted somewhat ashy. Bitter, earthy hops came through as well. Toward the beer's end, the finish turned acrid and rather unpleasant.

The liquid was medium bodied for the style. Slick, rich and creamy with a fine, mild effervescence. Quite smooth and supple.

Bell's Black Note Stout started out so strong, but the bitter and charred tasting finish was really disappointing. When fresh, perhaps the sweetness of the Double Cream Stout would help even out some of the harsh aspects of the flavor profile.

Photo of HoppyKilaMonster
4.19/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter

A-dark black in color, with a head that quickly dissapates.

S- molasses right away, followed by darker fruits, and a hint of toffee.

T- a nice subtle bourbon undertone at the first sip. This becomes more pronounced as it warms.

M- the body is a little on the lighter side IMO. I would like a barrel aged stout to be a little thicker.

O- A good overall BA stout, but I think there are a lot easier to find, and at least equal in taste stouts out there.

Photo of corby112
4.57/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with a half finger beige head that quickly settles into thin, lasting ring.  Spotty lacing and legs coat the glass.

Incredibly inviting nose with sweet and spicy bourbon barrel notes excellently integrated into the elements of the base beer.  Spicy whiskey/bourbon with toasted oak and vanilla.  Toasted coconut and vanilla notes really stand out along with the dry, earthy  oak presence.  Underneath, there's some luscious chocolate, licorice, vinous fruit, oatmeal and toast.  Smells amazing!!!

Viscous and full bodied with a strong bourbon presence that is perfectly integrated into the flavors of the base beer.  Some dry toasted oak and spicy bourbon along with smooth vanilla bean and roasted coconut.  Again, the toasted coconut flavor is realy prominent and the vanilla rounds out the hot booze.  Great bourbon flavor.  Underneath, there is a nice combination of sweet and roasted malt notes with hints of dark chocolate, burnt sugar, toast, oatmeal and coffee bean coutered by licorice and vinous fruits.  Slightly dry in the finish with a good amount of boozy heat and warmth in the chest.  Abv not masked very well but the base beer flavors aren't obliterated and it's still somewhat easy to drink.  Very nice.  

Photo of soughtbygod
4.51/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

About to try my first black note: 2012 poured from a 12oz bottle,

I am a huge fan of BBA stouts, I have had CBS, CW BBA stout, KBS, Class X kern River, BCBS, Parabola etc, some live up to the hype and others fall flat, I am about to test drive Bells Black note:

Appearance: Opaque black no like gets through as you pour it almost no head forms and the head that does form is dark dark tan with fine bubbles.

Smell: Wow interesting, this has dark plum, raisins, black licorice, the bourbon is there but very muted and hidden, I also get almost a sweet coffee on the nose.

Taste: The taste is very good this is definitely a top 5 for me, the hidden bourbon is no longer hidden that is the first upfront flavor, but even though that is the upfront flavor it is not hot like one would expect for 11.8 %, as it continues to ease over my taste buds the other flavors emerge vanilla first, then a touch of sarsaparilla, and finally on the very back of the tongue coffee candy that reminds me of loomis coffee candies in the gold wrapper my mother used to eat them when I was young.

Mouth feel: not much to say here this was very typical, smooth and creamy not the best mouth feel I have had but not the worst.

Overall: I am very impressed with this beer, I still give higher rating to my all time favorite CBS, but this is def in the top 5 for me and worthy of seeking in the future, cheers fellow BA's

Photo of facundoCNB
4.66/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a thick black pour with less than a finger of tan head. lots of bourbon / vanilla in the aroma, pecans, brown sugar, coffee, cocoa. wow - this is a deliciously sweet yet dark stout. reminds me of peruvian morning with its nutty sweet pecan/brown sugar flavor overtopping everything.. the bourbon barrel taste is there but blends ver nicely with the chocolate/coffee/sweet notes of this that it doesn't become overwhelming like a lot of BBA stouts tend to do. this is everything i want to taste in an imperial stout. medium to full body with low carbonation and a silky smooth mouthfeel. the alcohol is present, but is not overpowering.. it's masked fairly well. honestly, this drinks way too easily.

one of the best stouts i've ever had by far. for those looking for a subtle roast, subtle sweetness, lots of chocolate and coffee taste - this is the one to go for.

Photo of draheim
4.52/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle (bottled 12/28/2012 - thanks again Hoptologist!) into a snifter. Pours oily black w/ a very thin tan head that quickly dissipates to a narrow collar. I know it's not supposed to matter with big stouts like this, but I still like to see a little head+retention.

Aroma is big powerful bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, rum-soaked tobacco, toffee/molasses, and caramelized dark fruit. Fresh-baked sticky buns. Smells phenomenal.

Taste follows nose. Dark bitter chocolate, coffee, bourbon, dried figs/dates, vanilla, caramel, and more bourbon. Nice boozy heat warms the throat. Everything very nicely balanced, maybe just a touch sweeter than I like my BA stouts.

Mouthfeel is sticky, chewy, a little syrupy.

Overall, a solid barrel aged stout, in the same league as Parabola and KBS and better than BCBS. I'd buy this every year if I could.

Photo of Rutager
4.45/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2012 12oz bottle, thanks mrbubbler!

Appearance. Pours black with half a finger of nice brown head.

Smell. Smooth bourbon with tons of oak, vanilla and sweet chocolate, and a little molasses.

Taste. Sweet dark creamy chocolate, smooth bourbon and oak barrel, a bit of vanilla and molasses. Very nice.

Mouthfeel. Full body with creamy smooth lowish carbonation. Great stuff.

Overall. A bourbon barrel imperial stout done right. I should probably crack my 750 from the original bottling soon. This is drinking very well right now and that one is probably at its peak.

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

A 2012 bottle poured into my favourite chalice. A two finger frothy mocha head forms on an impenetrable black brew.

Nose is of the bourbon barrel and chocolatey black malt, fairly sweet.

Taste is of dark chocolate, blackstrap molasses and the bourbon barrel. The bourbon barrel is very apparent in this brew and is very appealing. A thick mouthfeel, very fitting.

Overall very excellent and highly recommended for the bourbon barrel aged stout connoisseur.

Photo of WankelEngine
4.57/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a dark, black coffee color with just a touch of mocha foam. Oily legs when swirled.

S: Opens very sweetly with coconut, maple, and vanilla. As it warms an oaky bourbon flavor joins the initial sweet scents. Complemented by aromas of fig, plum, hazelnut, and brown sugar. A little bit of warming booze. Near the end there is some milk chocolate.

T: Bittersweet chocolate is more potent here. In combination with oak, cappuccino and a hint of smoke, this nicely tempers the remaining sweetness. Dark fruits show through and blend nicely with the chocolate. The finish is all bourbon and mocha.

M: Medium thick and very smooth/sticky. Almost no carbonation.

O: A wonderful beer. Undeniably complex and well crafted. Up there with Parabola and BCBS. I really love the aroma, very sweet but interesting.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.41/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Michigan Craft Beer stand at Comerica Park, during the Tigers-Sox game. Was about to order something else, but the bartender told me they just put this one on. Score!

Poured into only the finest plastic cup. Nearly black, caramel around the edges. Carbonation is visible here, and there was only a thin head that didn't survive long. Chalk that one up to the serving vessel, I suppose.

Smells fantastic - rich chocolate, caramel, booze, bourbon, oak and milk/cream. Smells like a top class bourbon barrel imperial stout.

One hell of a tasty stout, and by a very wide margin the best - and strongest - beer I've ever had at a ball game. Despite the plethora of bourbon barrel stouts out there, I really never get tired of the stuff, and this one is no exception. Similar flavors as in the nose - robust whisky and cream notes, as with some nice vanilla and rich chocate-caramel. Damned tasty stuff.

Mouthfeel is a little thinner than I'd like, with zesty carbonation. Still, a creamy, silky beer.

Hats off to Bell's for this terrific stout, and to Comerica for putting this one on tap. Made my night!

Photo of PlinyBeMiney
4.17/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Excited to try this highly regarded Midwest stout. Looks fairly standard for the style. Smells amazing. I love the smell of bourbon on a stout. This has the perfect mix of malt and bourbon albeit a little less sweet than I'm used too. This beer showcases how a well integrated barrel character can affect a moderately low abv (for an imperial bal aged stout) can be. It's not sweet like Black Tuesday or BCBS which is nice for a change. I personally don't mind those diabetes bombs, but these guys do a great job while keeping things moderate.

Photo of chinchill
4.43/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at NOC.
Black with brown edges. The head is not durable but the ring is.
Very, very rich aroma and flavor. Mildly sweet with fairly well hidden ABV.
Barrel aging is obvious.Dark infused fruit.
Very smooth feel, with a good bit of warming.
Indescribably delicious.

Photo of Spica66
4.78/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Deep mahogany/black in color with an off-white head with great formation and retention. Thick pour with lots of legs.

S - Deep roast coffee, dark chocolate, bourbon, oak, and some vanilla. This beer is a nose full!

T - This is a Mack Daddy imperial stout. Loads of rich barley with deep fruits and some caramel/vanilla. Slightly sticky finish with plenty of oak and bourbon coming through.

M - Creamy and rich and very slightly sticky on your lips.

O - This is what a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout should be. One of my favorites - EVER!

Photo of jzeilinger
4.57/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Rich black in color with a toffee/molasses colored creamy head, thick and viscous looking.

S - Rich caramel cream, roasted toffee, dark chocolate malt, vanilla, bourbon, and some oak.

T - Rich and flavorful with vanilla, some traces of dark chocolate, oak, and bourbon. Ends with a sticky oak, vanilla, bourbon finish.

M - Luscious and rich velvety texture, thick, and slightly sticky on the lips.

O - An outstanding barrel aged stout.

Photo of nrs207
3.63/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Let's be real, this beer is all hype. It's not really that good. It has a hint of bourbon barrel, some decent roasty notes, but every time I have it, I expect it to be pretty good. It never lives up to any of the other beers I've had that night. BCBS is in another league, and even just an above average beer like KBS kills this. If you've gotten this far, here is my full review.

A - Fairly dark, not the darkest stout out there. Decent appearance overall.

S - Pretty dry, doesn't smell very sweet. Has a hint of bourbon barrel there. Some chocolate notes.

T - Fairly dry in the taste as well. Doesn't have a lot of bourbon. It tastes like an OK roasty stout got thrown in a bourbon barrel for about 2 weeks. I'm not sure what Bell's is doing, but they're doing it wrong. It's truly not that good. There are an incredible amount of bourbon barrel stouts I'd seek out over this.

M - It's fairly smooth, but nothing too incredible. The best quality of this beer is that it's not very boozy. It's a bit thin for the ABV, but at least the booze is well hidden.

O - This beer is not worth seeking out. If it was on the shelf at $3 a bottle, I probably wouldn't buy it. That is NOT good for a bourbon barrel stout, let alone a very good one. I actually would for trade value I guess, but definitely not to drink. Skip this one unless you just want to tick it. It's like Hopslam, just a tick. Nothing special. It's outdated, and many many other breweries have caught up and surpassed Bell's. The only beer I consider worthwhile from them is Two Hearted. For the price, it's the only beer they make that's worth buying imo.

Photo of Brabander
4.73/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I got this beer last weekend from Trevorjk. This weekend began today. After a visit to the abbey of Westvleteren this was the one to open (strangely enough)! Poured in my small Struise chalice this is a wonderfull stout to look at. Almost pitchblack and a very nice bubbly head. Little to no lacing. Smell is like a ba stout should be. Nice boozy smell. The taste is one of the best i have ever encountered in this style. Very very impressed.

You can feel the smoothness in your mouth with the thick alcoholtaste. Boy, whished i had a crate of this beer...

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

I have been fortunate enough to have had this beer on several occasions. I know I have reviews and notes somewhere and I know I gave this beer a 5. but that was back then...and now this beer has become much more readily available and I have been able to sample it multiple times (including tonight)...and as much as I love it it is no 5. so time to review it instead of waiting for tomorrow or whenever I will upload my notes.

the beer pours a sludgey jet black with a thin creamy off tan head. night nice barrel aged shine. smell is black roasted malt and bourbon. good wood presence and good balance. taste is silky and smooth. the heat is on for this one as the ABV is very noticeable. goes down easy and is definitely one of the better barrel aged stouts. just a bit more in your face then some of the others. I have always found this one to be the strongest feeling. definitely worth checking out and lives up to the hype but it is no 5.

Photo of Dope
4.72/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

12/29/12 batch.

A: Pours pitch black with a good sized and dense medium brown head. Head fades slowly with nary a trace of lacing. Decent retention, however.

S: Huge bourbon notes. Almost pure bourbon with the sweet, sweet caramel and some toasted coconut. No real sign of the stout, it's buried under the mountain of bourbon I think. Maybe a little chalky chocolate. Great bourbon aroma regardless.

T: Well, strong bourbon again up front but not overpowering at least. Loaded with sweet caramel. Ultra sweet caramel. Wonderful toasted coconut again. Roasted malt kicks in, wow is this nice. I love both of the base beers and this is just fantastic. Super smooth and creamy with loads of chocolate to boot. Tastes like a caramel chocolate cream milkshake. Bourbon stands alone in the lingering aftertaste with hints of sweet caramel and toffee and coconut. Not drying at all like a lot of barrel treatments.

M: Heavy but not too thick. Slick and ultra smooth. Creamy.

O: Whoa, glad I got my hands on this one. Masterful blend and barrel aging. The smooth creaminess really makes this one stand out. No harsh flavors, no excessive booziness. Strong flavors, yes. Great complexity, yes. Awesome barrel treatment, yes. Perfect blend, yes. Great beer, Bell's, my hat is off to you.

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.43/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass from a 750ml bottle.
Bottle No: 455/1534

Pours a pitch black darkness that is quite thick. There is a nice quarter inch thick head that is light tan colored and is pretty dense. A nice swirl rises a head up to about half and inch and with some dense small bubbles.

Aroma is delicious! Starts off with fudgey chocolate notes. Delicious chocolate cake sweetness and richness. There is some nice bourbon sweetness that follows the chocolate notes and the bourbon is slightly balanced by some nice roast. There are some dark fruit notes present mixed in with some dark chocolate bitterness that shows itself on the back end.

Flavor starts off following the aroma. Starts off with nice fudgey and milk cocoa sweetness. Then there is a nice mix of bourbon with the coca notes. The Bourbon notes add some slight heat and some nice vanilla and almost cinnamon spice notes. There is a nice dark fruit notes with some raisins and prunes notes mixed in with the sweetness of chocolate. These notes are however not too strong and are very well balanced by the roast notes and the cocoa. All the flavors in this brew are very well crafted and represented. Yummy cocoa notes blended with bourbon notes that bring some vanilla and some nice dark fruit notes. All these notes are also very well balanced. Nothing overpowers the other notes and they all play well together. The body is nice and creamy and velvety smooth.

Overall I'm glad I got to try this brew. It is quite delicious with great fudge notes and some slight roast. Then there are some definite bourbon notes that are present and give the brew some nice body and good dimensions but that don't overwhelm. Bravo Bell's.

Photo of PsilohsaiBiN
4.87/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2012 bottle, much thanks to JerryM1984!

Appearance: Dark opaque with a small tan head that quickly recedes to the perimeter. Lots of little bubbles, nice.

Smell: Rich chocolate, vanilla, coconut, dark fruit, Bourbon. Amazing.

Taste: Wow, just wow. First, I get intense fudge brownie like chocolate richness with some coconut and Bourbon in the background. Afterwards in the middle of the drink, the Bourbon asserts itself more and overpowers the chocolate. In the end, the chocolate pops out again as the Bourbon subsides and leads into a smooth, balanced ending of chocolate and Bourbon. There's a background element of vanilla/coconut present throughout the whole drink.

I honestly can't find anything wrong with this; the booze is just hidden so well.

Mouthfeel: Velvety and silky smooth; just about perfect. Not as viscous as BCBS, yet definitely fuller in body than say KBS.

Overall: I don't know if I like this as much as BCBS, but it's damn close! There's just not much to dislike in this beer, even if you try to find things; this beer blew me away. Can't wait til' Bell's distro hits NY!

Photo of spicelab
4.17/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle with big thanks to MrKennedy.

Decent hiss on opening. Dark chocolate brown, not your typical RIS motor oil look look, with a modest dark tan head that falls relatively quickly to a collar.

Undoubtedly a rich vein of bourbon running through notes of liquorice bullets, choc-caramel slice, soy sauce, used coffee grounds and molten plastic. Predominantly dry, big and deceptively complex.

A tad sweeter, with impressively rich caramel fudge and butterscotch giving way to coconut, vanilla and the woodier aspects of the barrel.

Light bodied for 11.8%, in no small part due to above average carbonation for the style. Makes it easier to drink, but reduces the oomph.

Worthy BA RIS no doubt, but not quite in the top echelon for me. Lacking a little in presence and intensity.

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

This only gets better with age. This is the 2012, stored @ 50 F, and poured into a snifter.

A: Black , with thin head, thick pour.

S: Heaven. Vanilla, cherry, almond(?) and of course some chocolate.

T: Follows the nose. This was great when I had it fresh, but is AMAZING with some age on it. I have revised to a 5/5.

M: Smooth, creamy, velvety, and no alcohol bite. Slight bitter finish on the tongue from the barrel aging.

O: I am regretting trading this away, when I had 12 in the cellar. This will be an enjoyable one for future sessions, and I will definitely look for more this fall.

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

Had both on tap and from 12oz bottle.

A-Hard not to fall in love with the darkness. Head dissipates quickly.

S-Wow, Bells nailed it. It's easy for BBA beers to be overwhelmed by the bourbon on the nose. Lactose from the Double Cream turns the aromas into an almost candy shop of fudge, chocolate, vanilla, and caramel.

T-Easily top-3 stouts I've ever had. The taste was reminiscent of a 2-3 vintage KBS but with sweeter notes brought on by the lactose.

M-Very creamy and dangerously easy to drink. Enjoyed quite a few at a Bells tasting party and didn't enjoy the walk back to my car in the morning when it was blizzarding...

O-Hard to compete against and hope Bells introduces this into their yearly lineup. Have went back and forth comparing against KBS and have given up. They're both very different beers.

Photo of metter98
4.54/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On-tap at Thirsty Monk, Asheville, NC

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a patch of beige bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Strong aromas of vanilla are present in the nose along with notes of bourbon.
T: The taste has lots of flavors of bourbon and associated vanilla from the barrel aging process.
M: It feels full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation along with some warming from the alcohol.
O: This beer definitely tastes strong but does a good job hiding most of its alcohol.

Photo of mdaschaf
4.46/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes.

A: Pours a very deep brown, practically black with a small tan/mocha colored head on top that forms a pretty tight cap. Decent read retention with thin lacing.

S: Dark chocolate upfront with some light roasted malt. Bourbon mixed with vanilla and a bit of brown sugar and molasses as well.

T: The first flavor I got was vanilla with dark chocolate, a great combination. The bourbon kicks in adding some wood, a bit of caramelized sugar, and some molasses. Faint dark fruit as well, cherries. Slight bitter/roast on the back end.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation, pretty smooth.

O: A very nice beer, understandable why it scores so hi. Very impressed and look forward to trying it again.

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