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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
100
world-class

3,517 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,517
Reviews: 539
rAvg: 4.56
pDev: 8.33%
Wants: 2,378
Gots: 895 | FT: 86
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: 3,517 | Reviews: 539
Photo of Jayli
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured in to a pint glass

A: This beer pours an opaque black with a 1/4 inch of medium brown head. Head recedes almost immediately. No lacing to speak of.

S: Nose is woody oak, bourbon, vanilla, roasted malts and light chocolate notes.

T: Taste starts with roasted malts and licorice, dark fruits. Oak and bourbon come through.... lots of bourbon, but not overpowering with a slight vanilla character. The bourbon flavoring is blended nicely. Nice deep bitter chocolate towards the finish. Aftertaste has lingering coffee notes to it.

M: Medium to fuller body, moderate carbonation, smooth, silky body.

O: Goes down easily, very tasty, not too filling, well hidden kick, great representation of style. I have looked forward to this brew for quite some time and did not disappoint.

Photo of schnarr84
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of n2185
4.36/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: pours black with a finger of dark tan head that fades into a thin ring with no lacing.

S: roasted malts with dark chocolate and coffee up front followed by smooth vanilla, toffee, oak, and bourbon.

T: roasted malts with creamy dark chocolate and coffee. Oak, toffee, and bourbon bring up a roasted and sweet finish with a light alcohol burn.

M: thick body with medium carbonation, this beer is a little more carbonated than most examples of the style.

O: a delicious and wonderful smelling beer. I wish it had a bit creamier body, but that's about the worst I can say about it.

Photo of UWBadgerFan4Life
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Bierguy5
4.67/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at South Park Tavern. Pouts a nearly jet black color. No highlights to be found. A thin tan collar.

Nose full of bourbon, oak, chocolate, caramel, and some dark fruit. A whiff of vanilla in there two. What a complex, and inviting nose!

Lots of wood up front. Fades into a creamy chocolate with a hint of dark fruit. Some bourbon comes out, and a hint of coffee. A bit of vanilla finishes things off.

Full body. Very creamy, with lower carbonation. Lots of lingering warmth from the alcohol. A very complex, fantastic beer.

Photo of WeisGuy
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

Photo of gatornation
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of charlzm
4.35/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Consumed on March 11th, 2013 at 50 degrees F in my trusty Triple Petrus snifter. Thanks to Vurt for the bottle.

Beer pours a very dark brown: one shade lighter than black. Super-deep maroon highlights. A smallish light brown head forms and is gone almost instantly, leaving behind only a tiny crown that encircles the brew and leaves minimal trace behind. A gentle swirl reveals that this beer has some legs.

Aroma - bourbon is the primary component, but it's a modulated component, leaving room for some plum and chocolate notes.

Flavor is a bit salty and soy-sauce-like. Smooth bitter chocolate, some fleeting and creamy lactic notes, dates/plums and a wood mingle with leather and a touch of tobacco. Bourbon is mostly absent from the palate. Not especially boozy, all the flavors mingle and merge with none being especially dominant.

Mouthfeel is thick and slick with a little alcohol heat. Warming after a few sips. A little more carbonation would have been amazing...

Certainly the best use I have ever encountered for Expedition Stout, a beer I don't enjoy on its own. Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout is still the standard for this style as far as I'm concerned, but this is a fine, fine effort. Everyone, keep trying to top BCS!

Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of thebigredone
4.2/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, thanks Bells for bringing this to the Milwaukee Brewfest, what an awesome surprise. Definitely the best beer at the event.

Nose dominated by warm bourbon and chocolate notes.

Taste also begins with warm bourbon, followed by a smooth chocolate rosat, and finishes with more bourbon. Delicious, but I would have preferred the stout to have a slightly stronger presence, as I feel it was largely overshawdowed by the bourbon notes.

Mouthfeel was fairly creamy, but could have been more so.

Overall, an excellent offering from Bells. I would really be interested in trying a BA version of Expedition Stout and seeing if that might be preferable to the Expedition/Cream Stout blend.

Photo of JeffTheJuice
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of Kopfschuss
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

Photo of GrindFatherBob
5/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of david131
4.75/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Sludgeman
3.75/5  rDev -17.8%

Photo of jsprain1
4.69/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A- Black, with a one and a half finger cocoa head. Fell down a little quicker than I would like, but boy that is a nice color.
S- Licorice, coffee, chocolate, burned toast.
T- Heavy on roasted character but there is a bit of rounding hops to it. More licorice, coffee, chocolate, and a hint of vanilla. Really in your face with delicious flavors. Long finish to it.
M- Full bodied. Low carbonation. Silky.
O- Loved this one. It is not a regular drink, but definitely worth tracking down.

Photo of bashiba
4/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of CrellMoset
4.42/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bell's Bourbon Barrel Aged Expedition/Double Cream Stout Blend, 10% abv, on tap at Capital Ale House, downtown location, Richmond, VA, on January 26th, 2009 at Black Moonday.

Appearance: Arrives a thick-looking bastard of a brew in a 10 oz. cervoise, a practically black, oily body though with flourishes of ... something ... around the edges, not quite garnet, but not quite brown either. The head is relatively fast-fading head, though at 10% abv and barrel aged, what do you expect? A faint sprawl of sheen and thin tan foam of lace is all that's left after it's gone. To be honest, there's not much going on here, but I've learned that brews that don't always look great don't look great for a reason.

Aroma: Maple syrup absolutely dominates, backed up by a strong, heavily oaky bourbon note, spicy with a slight prickle. It's very, very sweet smelling, heavily roasted, with lots of notes approaching pure caramel and/or toffee.

Taste: The melding of notes here lends an overwhelming butterscotch-esque note here, sweet and buttery, though not cloying or "bad" by any stretch of the imagination. Just had to get that out of the way, as it's the dominant tasting note here. The rest - a faintly chocolate-like spike, a spicy, estery, woody bourbon lick, fainter hints of char and vanilla, stronger overtones of maple syrup and caramel - all surge and bubble underneath this layer in a wonderful orgy of flavors. This is one big, bold-tasting brew.

Mouthfeel: Thick but big bubbled, that sort of "frozen in time" feel, crisp but sticky. Bubbles are big, but it's oh-so-foamy and creamy given the thickness and how well it holds together.

Drinkability: Well there 'ya have it. Very, very glad I got the chance to try this one. It's a huge, flavorful, over the top brew - and what do you expect from a melding and barrel aging of two of Bell's other biggest, over the top brews? - that manages to hit most of the right notes. The sweetness may not be to some's liking, the high abv% to others, but it did wonders for me - I'd be glad to have it again.

Photo of tbone1384
4.25/5  rDev -6.8%

Photo of avisong
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of MinorThreat
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of siege06nd
3.98/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter at RFD. Thanks a million, Josh!

A. Pitch black, like a rolling thundercloud. Surprising amount of head and retention for a beer this big....a light brown, quarter finger ring circles the glass and rests peacefully through the session. Really good lacing absolutely coats the glass. Top notch.

S. Lots of vanilla, molasses, chocolate, dark fruit, and oak. Smells like bourbon soaked chocolate cake. It's pretty tame right now. Not exploding off the nose, but it has a velvety, decadent bouquet. Still, I would have liked to see a more complex, assertive nose on this. Good, not great.

T. That's very nice thank you very much. Packed with vanilla, bourbon, oak, dark fruit, raisin, molasses. Slightly dry, hoppy finish. Black Note has a significant and pleasing dark chocolate presence, backed up with some roasted coffee and oak char. A caramel smoothness softens the edges around this one....just a kiss of booze on the back end. It is very well made, yet somewhat light for a such a bruiser. I expect more of a sweet, cloying, decadent treatment a la Goose Island. This is good, but I have had more complex and better barrel aged stouts.

M. Is it fair to say this drinks thin? Here is where I feel Black Note loses out to the competition, particularly Firestone, Founders, and Goose Island. There is a decidedly absent feel here. An abbreviated finish leaves me wanting. Well integrated flavors give this a good mark but greatness escapes the Black Note.

O. Good. A smooth, rich bouquet and decadent molasses make this a very good barrel aged stout. But it is not worth the hype. Not by a country mile. BCBS and CBS kick this in the boobs. Do not trade your cellar for it. But definitely try it if it is on tap nearby.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.32/5  rDev -5.3%
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!

Photo of jaasen64
4.33/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle from the 2012 batch poured into HF stemmed glass and shared three ways. Consumed on 4/19 during our mini stout tasting, reviewed from notes.

A- Pours a very dark brown that appears an opaque jet black in the glass. A very thin mocha head appears that has decent retention but recedes to a flat top.

S- Dark chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, fairly sweet but nicely balanced and fairly aromatic.

T- Dark chocolate mixed with sweet bourbon balanced with a nice creamy vanilla presence and light oak. Finishes with light bitter chocolate balanced with more vanilla and a light clean booze (especially when considering the 11.5%). Nice balance between all the flavors, a little bit on the sweet side but not overly sweet.

M- Very smooth, nice carbonation, very easy drinking, decent body- not too thick but not overly light like some people complain about, overall an incredible feel for a 11.5% beer.

O- This was a fantastic barrel-aged stout which was actually one of our favorites of the night, which was impressive considering we paired it with the likes of Nooner, Marshall Zhukov, Hopped Up Johnnie, CBS, and KBS. Easily one of the better barrel-aged beers I've had and I hope Bell's continues to increase production of it as I would love to try it again.

Photo of Dactrius
4.5/5  rDev -1.3%

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
100 out of 100 based on 3,517 ratings.