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

3,628 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,628
Reviews: 556
rAvg: 4.55
pDev: 8.35%
Wants: 2,502
Gots: 915 | 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: 3,628 | Reviews: 556
Photo of kirok1999
4.47/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at South Park Tavern which might have been a little over seating capacity that night.
Pours a deep black with a few ruby hints. A bit of a frothy small head and some lacing.
Smell is mildly boozy and sweet. Lots of vanilla and caramel.
Taste is wonderfully complex. There's slight bourbon, lush caramel, vanilla, and a bit of chocolate and coffee as it warms. The Double Cream Stout comes through very well and is not overpowerred by the Expedition. There gets to be a bit of alcohol burn as it warms up too. Not a lot of carbonation.
It definitely needed to warm up. I could drink quite a bit of this and wish Bells would bottle it.

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

Bell's Black Note is a delicious imperial stout with lovely dark fruit, bourbon and oak flavours.

A: Black colour and a thin head that fades fast. 4

S: It smells of bourbon barrel as well as sweet raisiny malt. 4.5

T: A strong and slightly bitter malt flavour. There is some coffee flavour too. Delicious. The finish is quite sweet with some sweet raisin and dusty oak. 4.5

M: Thick and foamy. 4.5

O: 4.5

Photo of projectflam86
4.67/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes.

Poured from the tap into a snifter.

A- Pours a jet black color with only the tiniest bit of light shining through the edges. A thick coffee brown head leaves good lacing.

S- The first thing I notice is how subtle the bourbon is on the nose (which is much more preferable to it being overpowering). Deep roasted aroma with some hints of vanilla and oak.

T- Amazing how much bourbon flavor you get without the stingy alcohol burn. Waves of roasted coffee, vanilla, milk chocolate, anise, dark fruits, and bourbon all meld together nicely.

M- Full bodied with medium/low carbonation. The alcohol is hidden so well I would have guessed this at 8%.

O- Truly a special brew. I'm so glad I got the chance to try this.

Photo of FanofHefe
4.71/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12 oz. bottle poured into a Bells chalice. Unfortunately the store label covered some of the dating but it looks like 3-12-14. Deep, dark, black body with a very small dark tan head. The head dissipates almost immediately, as expected for the high abv.

One of the better aromas I've had from a stout. Strong vanilla, caramel with light notes of roasted malt and bourbon. Light licorice note as it warms.

Delicious! The bourbon is much more noticeable in the brew than other barrel aged beers I've had, and that's good! Plenty of the aforementioned vanilla, caramel, and roasted malt with light added notes of molasses and a citric finish - light orange peel.

The mouthfeel is a bit lighter than expected but it does not detract from the overall experience. If I could get a few bottles of this and try it as often as I've had KBS and BCBS, it might be a tough fight to pick a winner.

Photo of rodlavers
4.84/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12oz format, dated 12/28/12, poured into a snifter.

Less than a finger of thick dark tan mocha head, pretty much disappears after just a few minutes, maybe not even that long, leaving a very thin ring around the glass. Very minimal lacing. Black coffee coloring, with small traces of red, very small traces.

Nose really opens up as this thing warms a bit. At first a little one dimensional, with a flat roasted character present up front. After the pour, bourbon, vanilla, molasses, dark fruits, some coffee and chocolate, and whole host of other aromas announce themselves, giving Black Note a super complex, yet balanced overall aroma. There are earth tones in there, as well. Even a bit of tobacco.

Taste is equally complex and balanced, but not quite as amazing. Everything in the nose combines to create a very enjoyable flavor profile, but nothing is too prominent. It's all very balanced. I do find myself looking for something extra, more robust. It's not too hot, either.

Feel's smooth and velvety up front with a chalky finish, if that is possible. Somewhat hoppy and bitter at the same time. Carbonation is definitely noticeable.

Overall, I do really enjoy Black Note. It's complexity and uniqueness lend it something other bba stouts do not have. It's definitely not as smooth as some others I've had , but it's amazing in its own right. Cheers.

Photo of JMScowcroft
4.82/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bell's Brewery, Inc. - Bell's Black Note Stout, poured into a Craftgeer snifter.

Aged 1 year, from 12/12/2012

Look - Pours a medium viscosity jet black with no head to speak of (common for these aged stouts, not a big deal). Negligible lacing (the fact that there was some at all is amazing).

Smell - Rich chocolate, coffee, woody, nutty, fruity. Malty w/bourbon throughout. Not overly woody, just right, the fruit is slightly sweet.

Taste - Smooth fudge chocolate and coffee with dark fruits and a touch of bourbon at the end. Sweet vanilla in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Full-medium bodied with low-medium carbonation. Surprisingly not boozy (seriously). Sticky coating in the mouth.

Overall - This is super tasty, from reading other reviews it appears that this one definitely enhances with age, glad I got to try one that was aged one year. Cheers!

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

Had on tap at the Blue Tusk 5oz into a wine glass.

Pours jet black very little head has solid legs like a good wine. The aroma has bourbon, vanilla, almond, roasted malt and almost a Dr. Pepper sort of vibe. Vanilla leads on the first taste, very creamy, and then bourbon and dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is rich but not heavy, you get a creamy texture from the cream stout element. Overall this is a wonderful beer and worth the hype. I have had this before in a bottle and it's maybe even a bit more enjoyable on draft.

Photo of davey101
4.51/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2012, 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Batch #11620, bottled 12/28/2012. Thanks to ObiWanKushnobi for this long time want!

A - Pours a pitch black body with two fingers worth of mocha foam. Settles out into a thin cap. Moderate lacing and retention.

S - Starts off with the bourbon...oak, vanilla, and some char. Then some roasted malts and sweet cocoa powder. A touch of dark fruits too. No element really dominates here, just well integration of two base beers + a barrel.

T - Just all kinds of balance going on here. Smooth vanilla and oak, a bit of a bourbon butterscotch, lightly bitter coffee beans, and dry cocoa powder. A little bit of everything here. Finishes with a real faint but pleasant alcohol warmth.

M - Creamy, smooth, and decadent....thank you Double Cream stout! Surprisingly high drinkability compared to other BA stouts.

O - Perhaps the most balanced and easy drinking BA stout I have ever had. This is a damn impressive beer and I wish I somehow had year round access to this. Forever ISO, but I still prefer BCBS for its unrelenting bourbon element.

Photo of alysmith4
4.76/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Managed to try just a bit of this at a bottle-share, but it was definitely memorable. I didn't care for Expedition, however Black Note is truly a testament to what barrel-aging can really do to a beer. It was so velvety smooth and creamy, and the lactose really helped offset the boozy heat it seems. Tasted like a melted bar of bittersweet chocolate and figs. Very enjoyable!

Photo of brew3crew
4.64/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tasting at Jackie O's. Out of a hand bottle

A-black body with tan head that sticks around for a while

S-sweet bourbon vanilla. Absolutely incredible

T-great blend of smoothness vanilla and bourbon. Definetly worth the buzz

M-medium body and smooth

O-absolutely brilliant. I know know what the buzz is about

Photo of jbwimer
4.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a trade with midwest4016. Added to "sweeten the deal." Good look, man! I'm excited for this beer. Bottled 12/28/2012, so it's been sitting for 13 months. Time to let this baby loose.

A- 12. oz bottle poured aggressively into a Bell's snifter. About half of a finger of a light mocha head fades within a minute. No light getting through on this one. Mastery of the art of darkness. A few bubbles of carbonation continue to rise, feeding a light film and ring of foam around the edge on top of the beer. Spotty lacing. Really good looking beer.

S- BOOM. Bourbon. So smooth. Beautiful notes of chocolate, toffee, vanilla. Huge dark fruits, as well. Without a doubt, the bourbon dominates, but it does so without being overwhelming. This aroma hits all the right notes. Just as I was typing that, my dog farted. Fuck you, Ginny.

T- Same as the nose, except, there's a roastiness that comes out as it warms. So glad that was maintained from the Expedition. That's what takes it to the next level for me. Smooth chocolate, warm bourbon, sweet toffee and vanilla. But the roast makes this a nearly perfect beer as far as flavor goes. Only drawback is that it is a HAIR too sweet. Still... Awesome. 11.8% ABV? Hidden remarkably well.

M- Light carbonation, though it almost borders on medium. Heavy, oily mouthfeel, though it was a tad thinner than I anticipated. Delightful warmth from the alcohol. Chocolate and bourbon smother the palette. Well done.

O- Amazing beer. Ages incredibly. I've now had a vintage, but have not yet tried the beer when fresh. Needless to say, I will be seeking this out when it is released this year. Phenomenal representation of the style. I could get lost in the sweet music of Black Note for eternity. Must. Get. More.

Photo of TCgoalie
4.67/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

300th review, I had to make it a good one!
On tap at HopCat - 11/27/11

Poured into a tulip and served with a dark mocha head. There is a nice wall of lacing near the top and stringy lace on the adjacent side.

A lot of woody notes - oak and cedar - resonate amidst smells of dark chocolate and vanilla.

The taste can be summed up at a high level as earthy and complex. In more detail, I taste oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, burnt grains, tobacco, cedar all working toward a sweet raisin ending. The tongue is finally left with some well placed booziness and a coffee like bitterness.

While chewy, sticky, dry, and full, the mouthfeel is nothing in excess. It is a well balanced feel not distracting but well placed.

At first, I wasn't blown away at the taste. After giving it many sips, I was really intrigued by the nuances of the flavors. Thanks to Hopcat's wood aged festival, I had the likes of KBS, CBS, BA Blackout Stout, and BB Plead the 5th over the weekend. I can easily say that Black Note is on par with the best Imperial Stouts out there.

Photo of Rimbimhoot
4/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 bottle.

Huge Oak, fudge, tannin, dark chocolate, bourbon, coconut, light vanilla, hidden alcohol

Photo of stewart124
4.62/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a pint glass.

Deep brown to black with a tiny amount of dark tan head.

Nose has strong roasted malt aroma with espresso and chocolate present. Some dark candied fruits coming out as well.

Mostly roasted malt characters and more espresso with a nice dose of bourbon barrel. Firm bitterness with some of the alcohol detectable. Overall smooth and easy to drink. There is noticeable residual sweetness but nothing cloying. As this warms more fruit comes out and there is a chewiness that leans towards the double cream stout.

Rich, smooth, and generally a delicious Imperial Stout. I was very excited to get my hands on this and even more excited that it came in a pint glass. Sneaky alcohol percentage and another one of Bell's beers that is so drinkable.

Photo of webmanspidey
4.77/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is a typical dark black color with medium head. The smell is really heavy on bourbon, with some other hints of vanilla and cherry. This smells like a really amazing fancy dessert. Taste has a nice blend of bourbon, buttery heavy cream, cherry, chocolate, and coffee. The alcohol isn't overbearing at all and it maintains a pretty easy drinkability.

This is very delicious and I think it definitely lives up to the immense hype surrounding it.

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 dbc5
4.51/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into 10 ounce Kentucky Bourbon Stout snifter.

A: Motor oil black with a brownish tan head. Moderate pour yields a 1 finger head that recedes fairly quickly but leaves a constant ring around the edges of the glass. Minimal lacing left on the glass.

S: Smells sweet. Picking up vanilla, dark chocolate, brown sugar, and malt sweetness. The bourbon is apparent, but not as assertive as in some bourbon barrel aged stouts.

T: The sweetness in the nose carries over in the taste. Chocolate syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla hit my palate first, then the bourbon makes its presence known. Doesn't carry the same roast character that is present in a beer like Bourbon Barrel Plead the Fifth, falling more on the sweet end of the continuum. The bourbon adds an interesting element to this stout blend and makes for a really nice drinking experience.

M: As expected from a big, barrel aged stout, the carbonation is fairly low in this one. Nice thickness to this beer.

O: Really like this one and thrilled that it is available in 12 ounce bottles. Given that this is a sweeter bourbon barrel stout, the 12 ounce serving size is ideal. I'm nearing the bottom of my glass and am not tiring of the beer at all. My only critique is that I would like a bit more roast character, which is why I would give the edge to a beer like BBPt5th, KBS, or BCBS. Despite that, Black Note does not fall too far below those beers.

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

Yes, this is that good. I sampled this stout at the Valpo Brewfest on 09/29/2012. Poured into my pint glass, the stout was a chocolatey black color with only the slightest hint of a head. The initial aroma was nicely boozy, making it apparent that the stout slept several months in bourbon barrels. The malt in the aroma was present, but was overwhelmed not the bourbon. The initial taste was a sour chocolate with vanilla note and bitter coffee. The booziness lays a pleasingly warm backbone amid the chaos of chocolate, vanilla and coffee notes. The mouthfeel is not quite motor oil, but it is fairly close. Thankfully, the taste lingered several minutes. The aftertaste left a warming sensation that was sticky enough to linger in the back of the throat for several minutes. As far as barrel aged stouts go, this is near the top of the list.

Photo of rallison
4.64/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thank you Glenn for cracking this incredible growler.

Super bourbon vanilla in the nose. Chocolate. Awesome.

Rich, rich chocolate and bourbon in the taste. Incredible. Smooth as butter.

Amazingly drinkable beer. Wow. Low carbonation but perfect for this beer.

One of the best beers i have had in a long time. Once again, thank you Glenn for opening such an incredible beer.

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

Thank you beer trappe for letting me sample this master piece!

Pours black as night, truly held to multiple lights only the SLIGHTEST of brown legs throw through. Poured into a 6 zo snifter it seem to have some carbonation but hard to comment on.

The aromas is dark bakers chocolate, roasted malt, espresso and vanilla.

Wow..tastes like pie crust and bakers chocolate blended with vanilla and hints of oak. Yes as a bourbon lover a bit more oak would be ok, but the chocolate and pie crust flavors are out of control. There just isn't a possible negative comment to be head.

The double creme did the job. This is creamy and full bodied as hell. Well carbonated and sinfully rich.

Worthy of all the praise and then some!

Photo of maxcoinage
4.81/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured bottled (bottle date 12/28/12) into a snifter with a nice tan colored 2 in head that settled rather quick, left some nice lacing, color is pitch black

aroma - bourbon, dark fruits, chocolate

taste - coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, bourbon/booze in the finish , but seemed a bit weaker than I was expecting

mouthfeel - thick and creamy, low to medium carb

overall - amazing! wish i would have been able to try it fresh but was only able to secure one bottle back in January. Had to wait for the right moment, and a promotion seemed to be it!

Photo of jeonseh
4.55/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Has this on tap at Tribes Alehouse.

A - Poured into a snifter, its a very, dark black beer that allows no light to get through. It has a small coffee colored head that stays strong along the edges

S - Notes of coffee, vanilla, dark chocolate, caramel malt and bourbon barrel spicyness. You definitely get the creamy sweetness of the double cream stout with the darker expedition favors. As I let it sit and warm up, the nose become much stronger and sweeter as the vanilla becomes more prominent

T - Initially, sweet vanilla, mocha chocolate, caramel and the heavier coffee favors come through. You definitely get the barrel aged spiciness in this one. One of the nice things about the barrel aged aspects of this is its blended in perfectly with the beer to add new levels of flavor. The spice from the bourbon really lingers on the tongue. As it warms up, the vanilla and sweetness really opens up.

MF - Velvety smooth allowing it to coat the tongue and mouth beautifully. This is where adding the double cream stout really stands out as that and the aging seem to have taken off some of Expedition's rougher edges. After the beer goes down, it leaves a nice tingle on the tongue to go with the bourbon flavors. This is the part of the beer that is just amazing.

O - A wonderful, well balanced beer by Bell's. It shows how well barrel aging can add to a beer's flavor without overpowering it. Definitely worth having and a great beer overall

Photo of KFBR392
4.27/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 Vintage

Appearance: Pours with a dark brown head of about a finger on an aggressive pour. The head settled in to a thin later across the top while drinking. Sits jet black in the glass with above average active carbonation for the style.

Smell: Potent bourbon front greets the drinker. Vanilla, oats, and barley are well integrated with the bourbon front. bright oak, cherries, and dried fruits make up the body. Some mossy hops round out the aroma.

Taste: Oak wins out on the front with a mixture of dried fruit and smokey bourbon. The bourbon opens up more on the body with the additions of vanilla and dark chocolate. There are roasted dried coffee flavors on the back end. Interesting combination of vanilla malt sweetness and bitter coffee grounds.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is light and suits the heavier tones of this brew. Rich coffee, vanilla, and bourbon textures left on the palate long after drinking.

Overall: Love the vanilla tones of this beer. Bourbon character is potent and meshes well with the chocolate, coffee, and dried fruits. Would be interested to see how this beer ages, drinks really great right now.

Photo of drmcleod10
4.64/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 Bottle

A- Dark as night, not as thick as some other stouts and around the edges of the glass light can get through. Minimal lacing and head on this one

S - The nose is fantastic here on this one... reminds me a lot of BCBS but with more dark fruits on the nose. Huge bourbon nose followed by vanilla chocolate and figs

T - dark fruits on the mouth, figs and dates dark chocolate and lots of bourbon on the finish

M - Medium bodied with more carb than i expected

O - Definitely lives up to the hype and really enjoyed this beer. Its a dark fruit BCBS

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

On tap at Crunchy's in East Lansing, rating from notes

snifter= 7$

A&S: A wide range of smells: dark cherries, raisins, bourbon, roasty malts, burnt sugars, marshmallows tones. Kinda smells like a Old ale (lots of similarities to 4D). Medium tan ring of head, with whisks of head in the center. Spots of lacing like a fine wine. Very syrupy looking pitch black colored beer. Not much head probably due to the plus 10% ABV.

T&M: Many similarities to the scent. Differences include lots of bourbon midetaste to the back. Roasty with hints of dark chocolate upfront. Much smoother then their expedition stout, with even a bolder taste.

Overall: very good, no flaws. I wish I had a bottle to sit down and enjoy vs drinking at a bar. I had really high hopes for this beer and they were pretty much all met.

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,628 ratings.