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

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

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BA SCORE
99
world-class

548 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 548
Hads: 3,677
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 2.45%
Wants: 2,547
Gots: 939 | 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: 548 | Hads: 3,677
Photo of challenja
4.66/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served On Tap at ChurchKey DC.

A: Pitch Black Vin Diesel style viciousness! No foam, straight Kung Fu Bizness! Hi YAAA..
S: This beer was a struggle to get a nose on, served in a snifter too! Lots of huffing and puffing to pull notes on this one.
Vanilla bean and smoked oak barrell, Dark Cocoa nibs, around 80 % cocoa. Dark roasted coffee, and dark smoked italian meats.. weird.. bourbon barrel wiffs
T: Straight off the bat Vanilla Bean rings through, Dark Colombian Bean bitters, Dark juniper berries, hints of candied cherries. Fire roasted English malts. Dark Cocoa with a nice boozy bourbon barrel finish.
M: This is one impressive beer. Vicious, thick and creamy. Fantastic medium to light carbonation that really pushes the Juniper berries through the Vanilla bean burnt cask. mmm.

O: A Fantastic A+ stout. A vicious Customer so tread with Caution. If you like this you will love KBS, Firestone Parabola, Epic Big Bad Baptist Stout, and Lienenkugal Big Eddy Imperial Stout (984 characters)

Photo of Jeffo
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle so generously provided by hotpipes29. Thanks for going the extra mile on this one. Much appreciated.

From a 75cl bottle into a snifter
Batch 10,136
Bottle 618 of 1081
Blend of Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout aged in bourbon barrels.

APPEARANCE: A black pour yields a one finger, medium looking, light mocha colored head with decent retention. Head fades to a good wisp and sticks to the sides of the glass. Jet black body with lower levels of carbonation. Looks pretty solid. A swirly wisp and ring remain the whole way and leave dots of lacing down the glass. Good looking beer.

SMELL: Some roasted malts and dark chocolate under a very nice bourbon barrel. Oak, milk chocolate and a touch of sweet cream. Not overly bold, but the base beer of roasted chocolatey goodness meshes really well with the bourbon barrel notes. Well done.

TASTE: Bourbon barrel and caramel malts up front with some roasted notes and dark chocolate in there as well. Lots of barrel on the swallow, with bourbon, oak, vanilla and caramel sweetness. Big, bold and lingering aftertaste is full of barrel flavors, dark chocolate and roasted malt notes as well. Big barrel presence, but plenty of stout still plays and important roll. A very impressive barrel-heavy beer that still shows a solid base beer underneath it all. Excellent stuff.

PALATE: Medium body with slightly lower levels of carbonation. Creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes somwehat sticky on the palate. Solid feel here.

OVERALL: This was a good beer for sure. In all honesty, I'm not the hugest Bell's fan, especially after being underwhelmed with Hopslam and Expedition, but this one really pushed all the right buttons. With a thick, dark pour, and bold, balanced aromas and flavors, this one really impressed. An excellend BA imperial stout that I would love to have again at some point. Cheers for the beer hotpipes! We really enjoyed this one. (1,940 characters)

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.32/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 561/1081. Thanks to JAXSON for this one. 750ml corked and caged bottle into a Cigar City snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Pours pitch black. 1 finger dark mocha head that dissipates quickly. Spotty lace. Amazingly thick legs. Solid.

Nose is vanilla, lactose, chocolate, fudge, and a boozy tickle. Real sweet but nice complexity. Aromatic too.

Opens sweet soy sauce, chocolate, fudge, and cocoa powder. Some roasted malt, molasses in the middle. Sweet brown sugar and caramel. More molasses at the end. Booziness throughout sweetens the brew but doesn't overpower or cover the complexity. Amazing. Sweet, syrupy aftertaste.

Medium to full bodied with low carbonation. Oily and slick in the mouth and goes down with some heat. Messy finish with a lingering aftertaste. Really good.

There are a lot of barrel-aged stouts with a lot of hype behind them. Some are good, some not so much. Black Note definitely deserves the praise it gets. A nicely complex brew with just the right amount of barrel presence and a great mouthfeel to tie it all together. Can't wait to get my hands on more! (1,099 characters)

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

On tap at Al's of Hampden.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with excellent head retention and considerable creamy, sticky lacing all around. The nose is terrific in this beer, as I pick up dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla, considerable bourbon and even some apple brandy. This really smells great... yet as good as it smells, damn if it doesn't taste even better. The flavor profile largely replicates the nose, but there's a nice dash of hoppy bitterness in the finish that really helps to buoy and counter the moderate sweetness in this beer. For such a big beer, it's really well balanced, and is just so easy to drink. Also, despite the high alcohol, there's not a hint of heat from alcohol in the finish. Mouthfeel is fairly full, with a long, chocolate, coffee and vanilla finish. This is just a delicious beer. Really impressed by how well the brewer managed to keep everything in just the right preportion in this excellent beer.

Clearly among the barrel aged RIS elite. Very, very well done. (1,006 characters)

Photo of nrbw23
4.12/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a pitch black color with pretty much no head. Head consists of just a handful of bubbles and leaves no lacing.

S- I thought the aroma was the best part of this brew. Quite a bit of vanilla, very faint coffee, bourbon, chocolate, and some faint dark fruits.

T- Pretty solid brew for sure, but overall very sweet. The sweetness was almost over powering everything else in this brew. Follows the nose well with a ton of vanila. Bourbon is here but fairly light. A good amount of booze too.

M- Medium in body and a lot thinner than I expected. Carbonation was also pretty low.

O- A good beer that might be a victim of the hype train. Glad I got to try this one. (672 characters)

Photo of kscaldef
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Goose Island BCS tasting on 6/16/2012, thrown in for variety.

A: Very dark, with a dark brown head which recedes quickly.

S: Bourbon, molasses, chocolate, toasted nuts.

T: Caramel, honey, bourbon. Nice biscuit malt body.

M: Well carbonated, slightly oily, good long linger. Mouth coating, but fairly clean. Slight wood on the finish. (337 characters)

Photo of Sarlacc83
4.35/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL courtesy of cavemanlawyer at a tasting. Big time thanks. Consumed on 6-16-12, reviewed from notes.

A: Pitch black and all the poetry it implies. Aggressive poor yields some thin lacing, but not a great amount of head. Good carbonation bubbles.

N: Bourbon, honey, and some ethanol. Coconut, caramel, and vanilla. Really quite nice.

T: Roasted coffee and malt. Bourbon is integrated well into the main body, leaving the normal descriptors of vanilla/caramel/oak. I'm getting plenty of chocolate and some molasses, licorice, and a mystery flavor which kscaldef jogged out of my head as candied pecans. There's still some heat here, though.

M: This is coating without being cloying. A very impressive example of what I want in my RIS.

O: There were a couple of beers that I never thought would be bottled and would thus not make it to the PNW via trades. This was one, the other was CBS. CBS was a big letdown; this is not. Well worth seeking out. (958 characters)

Photo of KevSal
4.58/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

this passed thursday the lady and I hit a pretty important milestone for us making i to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite, had to properly celebrate!

huge thanks to dblab for hooking me up with this gem, dan you never end the surprises.

bottle 571 of 1081 poured into 2 eclipse snifters

a- much thinner than i was expecting, but it looks dynamite nonthess. no light comes thru the glass and theres a nice brown mocha head sitting on top.

s- mmm wow a nice mix of bourbon and chocolate, followed by that awesome expedition stout, no alch at all surprisingly. a soft creaminess of flavors really comes through the nose of this one.

t- this guy is a home run. very soft and velvet flavors come though on this one. great chocolate and bourbon notes. vanilla comes heavy in the back which i particularly love. juicy and delicious. no alch at all and i cant believe it. maybe sittin on this guy a few months has done it some good.

m- the body is much thinner than expected but that doesnt hold it back any. upfront is the bubble carbonation followed by a fantastic smoothness

o- never thought id be tasting this guy, and its better than i expected. id say its neck to neck the top eclipse out there honestly.

this was the perfect brew to celebrate our personal milestone. thanks again dan for giving me the chance.

you have to try this brew (1,345 characters)

Photo of birderbeerer
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A balanced and exceptional beer. Very dark but not too big or filling.

Licorice is obvious, but it blends well with the roast flavors and the sweeter malts. No huge flavors here; rather, it's a well-blended, well-balanced, measured and subtle combination of flavors. Very easy to drink.

It doesn't leave me wanting to chase after more and more of it, but it's an amazing beer that I'd drink over and over again. (415 characters)

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.27/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle split three ways with Greg and Jake at SB on 6.6.12. Bottle numbered 1038 of 1081. Code 10136.

A - Pours a dark brown, not as dark as many stouts, with a few dark tan bubbles that cling to the edge.

S - Pretty boozy and woody up front, then some sweetness and subtle smoke.

T - Very similar to the nose. Booze, roasty wood.

D - Sweet all-around. Lower carbonation and a medium to heavy body.

O - A fantastic beer. I was glad to share this with some good BAs. Booze and barrell aged goodness. (505 characters)

Photo of Holland
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: good head and a bit of lacing. Very dark and beautiful looking.

S: good bourbon angel but it does not overpower. There are some roasted notes that shine through.

T: again excellent bourbon, oak, vanilla, and some coffee, chocolate, and a slight bitterness.

M: medium carbonation on a big body is wonderful

O: excellent beer all the easy through. Would have again. Paid 8 dollars for a10 ounce pour. Worth every penny. (427 characters)

Photo of Hophead717
4.49/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at St Stephens Green as part of Philly Beer Week. Poured into a GI tulip glass.

A: Black, tiny head, with a bit of lacing along the glass, but not much.

S: Bourbon-heavy, with a light semi-sweet roastiness. Overall, a very sweet nose.

T: Very sweet also. Bourbon dominates throughout, beginning with the early sip. Mild roastiness provides the canvass for this great masterpiece of a beer.The double cream stout's influence is noticeable, as the base-beer is vaguely sweet. Semi-sweet chocolate also comes across mid-sip. The finish is mainly of bourbon, with light undertones of semi-sweet roastiness.

M: Medium-bodied. Not heavy or thick at all, which was unexpected. I perhaps would have liked this to be a touch thicker, but that's largely splitting hairs. Well carbonated.

O: Incredible beer and one that I am so glad I got to try. I wouldn't trade the farm for a bottle of this, but I definitely plan to seek it out every time it is on tap in the area. (978 characters)

Photo of dbossman
4.34/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another great beer shared with my tasting group; thanks again, guys

A: Near black with no head and just a film of lacing

S: Sweet and malty and bourbony; even a bit hoppy and spicy; man, this is oaky and boozy with just a touch of dark fruits--raisins, plums, etc.

T: Boozy and chocolatey and a touch thin but malty and nearly as sweet as it smells; the dark fruits play off the semi-sweet malts and bourbon quite well

F: A bit too thin for a big stout--much too thin (perhaps unfortunate that I tried this after a huge stout--GI Rare) but still fairly sticky which almost makes up for that

O: This is a great beer but I just wish it had more body; if it did it would truly be world class (693 characters)

Photo of TATURBO
4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

#1020 of 1081. Batch 10136. Thanks to 4DAloveofSTOUT for sharing this with the group.

A: Brisk pour leads to a dark foamy head. Opaque Black

S: Chocolate, Smoke, Cherry, other fruits.

T: Smokey, Chocolatey, Bourbon, Black Licorice, Cream with Cherry Bourbon finish and smoke well integrated.

M: Substantial Thick Creamy mouthfeel. Smooth. Nice tingle on the tongue.

O: Very solid barrel aged stout. Brings the best of 2 great base beers to the mix with a nice barrel accent enhancing a fantastic mix. For an 11.5% it goes down much easier. Seems like an 8.5% Smoke flavor well integrated but not overpowering. Highly recommend! (632 characters)

Photo of oline73
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is review #1000 on BA. Poured from the bottle into my Hunahpu's snifter.

Appearance: This beer pours black with just under a finger of thick tan head. The head fades fairly quickly to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Sweet roasted malt and full of bourbon heat. I'm getting some chocolate and dark fruit notes as well. Lots going on here.

Taste: Doesn't disappoint at all. This is a very smooth and creamy stout, especially given the abv. Roasted malts with some sweet chocolate notes. I'm getting hints of coffee and dark fruit as well. The bourbon taste is rather strong, but it doesn't overpower the other flavors, it adds to them.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side of medium, but I think it could have been a little bit thicker and that would have been alright. The carbonation is tingly and the finish is dry.

Overall: I really enjoyed the balance and complexity of this stout. It was a sweet beer, but not in an overwhelming way. The rest of the flavors were allowed to contribute and it all worked out perfectly. I would love to have more given the chance. (1,091 characters)

Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle courtesy of waltersrj, shared with Bitterbill and mkorpal at the Library bar in Laramie, WY. Bottle #242 (short review)

Pours black with a nice tan head, nice lacing and legs are left behind on the swirl. Nose has a lot of caramel and chocolate, quite malty with some hints of oak. Not boozy. Taste is really wonderful, an excellent blend of two stouts with additional complexity from a barrel. Barrel note is not the sole feature of this beer, and that is the reason we all enjoyed it. An incredibly well done beer and worth trading. Smooth and very easy to drink given the heft. (594 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle into Lost Abbey stemmed glass. Thanks a TON for sending me this bottle Jay. You’re the man!

A: Pours pitch black with a minimal head. Not getting much lace but that’s expected.
S: I get huge notes of vanilla with undertones of bourbon, caramel and deep chocolate. There are some spicy notes as well.
T: Phenomenally smooth notes of chocolate fudge, sweet bourbon, caramel, hints of barrel spice and smoke. The finish is super smooth and bourbony and so very mellow.
M: Ultra smooth and creamy beer. The booze is well hidden and the body is thick and chewy. This feels awesome.
O: One of the better stouts I’ve ever had. I could drink a whole bottle of this myself. Thank you so much Jay! (710 characters)

Photo of abecall98
4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thank you ScottFrie for this 100th review.

A - pours a pitch black with a nice Lacey tan head. It's what you expect from a barrel aged imperial stout, only the head dues off pretty quickly.

S - a little muted. Deep sniffs show signs of choloate, vanilla, and slightly oakiness.

T - flavors of intense chocolate, followed by caramel and vanilla. The finish is slightly sweet with a tiny alcoholic burn. Damn, this is Hella good.

M - top notch for a barrel aged stout. It is perfectly carbonated, with a feel of a nice creamy stout. Very sweet and sticky flavors linger as the mouthfeel doesn't seem to fade as you finish the beer. Very nice.

O - damn good beer. I wish the aroma was a little better, other than that, damn solid beer. (738 characters)

Photo of Steasy66
4.11/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 Oz pour into wide mouth glass, enjoyed
With tewaris
A black, opaque, dense dark brown head
S roasted malt, some bourbon, woody
T very roasty, some wood, oatmeal?
M thick, almost chewy, nice light carbonation
O very good but falls short of the hype. (252 characters)

Photo of deebo
4.05/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Bryant-Lake Bowl.

A-Served a healthy 10 oz pour in a snifter. This baby is black as a black note with a tan film that stubbornly hangs on til the last drink.

S-Sweet and roasted malts are dominant, the bourbon is there too but subdued at first, becoming stronger as the beer warms.

T-The taste is definitely on the sweet side. The malts are chocolately with a medium amount of roasting. Bourbon character is there but not overpowering at all.

M-A bit oily but not nearly as much viscosity as say a GI BCS. Body is also on the light side for such a strong brew, the odd thing is you would expect the alcohol to come out stronger, but it is really well hidden...a definite plus for this version. Very light on carbonation.

D-Probably the highest for any 10%+ BB stout I've tasted.

O-Tastes like a BB stout, but shines in the drinkability. Lacks the complex flavors of some others but a solid beer. Well done. (927 characters)

Photo of dejrrma
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

$7 for a 8 or 12oz pour at BSP. Reviewed on 5/5/12 (just only now typed up my review). I believe the keg was from 2011.

a- black, still with a reddish tint, a slight ring of head
s- slight bourbon, coffee, vanilla extract.
t- Lots of dark chocolate and a touch of coffee and roast. woody and slight vanilla. not as much "bourbon" taste as I expected, so the beer is not overpowered by it. still, i think it's just a bit too understated.
m- really smooth and creamy. i was blown away. it has a medium carbonation and a full-body
o- enjoyed this beer tremendously. still love kbs more, though. (593 characters)

Photo of dlello2
4.43/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Black. Viscous. Good couple of fingers of head. Lingers longer than I'd have thought.

S - Smell is nice. Chocolate and bourbon dominate. Maybe a bit of coffee.

T - Wow. Very good, I get sweetness and heat to start. This one is strong! Bourbon, some chocolate, coffee, a touch of cinnamon? Like the strength, but will see what happens as it warms.

M - Really good mouthfeel. Thick and mouth-coating. Great balance with the carbonation.

O - Enjoying this one a lot. Didn't expect it to be quite so pleasant after all the anti-hype. Still a bit too hot to be perfect but I'd love to taste this one in a year. (613 characters)

Photo of Treebs
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml C&C bottle served in a Deschutes tulip. Bottle # 272/1081. Huge thanks to Andrew (nasty31) for the share. This was the night cap to the pre-DLD tasting.

A: Pours a jet black with a light khaki head forming on the pour. It recedes slowly to a thin collar that leaves some soapy looking lace across the glass.

S: Bourbon up front in the nose and slowly the dark fruits and pure chocolate start to emerge. As the glass warms the sweeter notes of caramel to show and the roasted malts also get amplified.

T: The dark fruits and the bourbon flavors are up front with smooth oak and a nice combination of dark chocolate and sweet milk chocolate. The finish is roasty with a nice addition of caramel and vanilla from the barrel.

M: Smooth and sweet with a low carbonation and chewier body. There is a mild warmth on the back end of each sip.

O: I really got the nice dark fruit and dark chocolate flavors from the Expedition Stout and the creamy malt and milk chocolate flavors from the Double Cream Stout. Overall, combined with the barrel aging this was a very nice beer. (1,078 characters)

Photo of jera1350
4.62/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Bodega Brew Pub.

Served in a 10 ounce nonic with a solid black body and a dense head of brown colored foam.

Incredibly rich smell of dark malts and bourbon. Molasses, lactose, coffee beans and bourbon.

Rich malty flavors with deep complexity. Chocolate. The bourbon is there and does not overwhelm or stand out more than the malt. It's a nice complement to the overall brew.

Very sticky and rich with a full body.

Awesome beer. Wish they would bottle this bad boy on a regular basis. Lighter on the barrel, but it makes for an overall enjoyable beer that is towards the top of the list for the style. (620 characters)

Photo of drpimento
4.97/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bam-BAM! Heavy hitter!! Served at a good temperature with a large, thick, fine, creamy, tan head and lots of lace. Aroma is mostly cocoa, dark ripe fruit, old leather, coffee, a little of the classic stout roast, malt. Color is an opaque black brown. Flavor is a curious blend of expansive and yet slightly conservative - similar to nose, excellent balance between bitter, sweet, and tang, the bourbon is there, not overdone. Body is perfect, ditto for carbonation. Finish is like flavor, yet the whiskey lingers a bit longer. Very easy drinking with only a hint of the alcohol at the end. Fabulous! (599 characters)

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 548 ratings.