Black Note Stout
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout
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Stout - American Imperial
Ranked #23
Ranked #80
4.57 | pDev: 7.66%
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States
Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 824 | Ratings: 4,944 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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MikeWard from Pennsylvania

4.44/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a goblet. 2016 release, so 5 years old.

Looks superb in the glass. Jet black body. Generous tan head shrinks to a ring and faint covering, impressive given the abv, and leaves streaks and spots of lacing.

Aroma is wonderfully boozy with a lot of dried dark fruit.

On tasting, so smooth. Boozy, nicely warms the back of the throat. The dried fruit notes add a hint of sweetness.

The mouth is a bit thinner than you might think, but it still rolls around the tongue beautifully. Finish is a warming smooth booziness, with a faint sweet note.

Overall, delightful sipper of a beer. Been after this one for a while, so thanks to the mighty Sabatinis in Exeter PA for releasing a case from the cellar.

Tuesday at 12:24 AM
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SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.17/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

335ml bottle - 2017 Vintage (10/05/2017) - poured into a balloon glass at 50°F.

Pours a deep, dark mahogany brown, sitting absolutely inky jet black in the glass. A super short head of coarse dark tan bubbles forms, before quickly receding to a razor-thin, but,persistent collar.

Nose: Definitely that Bell's barrel-aged aroma here. Much like BA Expo, which makes up half of this, there's a big, dense fudgy aroma, with plenty of dark cocoa-like roast, caramel, and marzipan, with secondary notes of American tobacco, vanilla, leather, and bourbon barrel. There are some signs of age here - mildly faded aroma, as well as some unique notes - musty, a whisper of umami, with a hint of fresh spearmint, and a metallic penny note as well, the latter of which is slightly detracting, but only slightly.

Palate: Black Note greets the palate malt-first, with a moderate sweetness. Dark chocolate, caramel, vanilla, toffee, roasted malts, and a surprising fruitiness. Big plummy dark fruit notes - mainly prune, plum, dried cherry, and bourbon-y apple lend a bright fruity pop, with a touch of acidity. This dark fruit element cuts through much of the malty sweetness, creating a shortcut for the roastiness to come in. Dark malts, barrel char, roast, and cacao nib begin to build a mild-moderate bitterness, and the bourbon character begins to bloom. At this point, it begins to dry out fast, roast taking over the sweetness, and dark fruits fading, as the beer barrels towards a finish with nutty malted milk, hazelnut, cocoa powder, a bit of black roast, barrel char, and ultimately concludes with dry oak and a lingering vanilla cream note.

Body: I cannot say whether or not this is the age, but this one is definitely thin. Unlike BA Expo, or even Vanilla Black Note (which was not a super thick stout), this one is definitely a little runny, lacking any and all chew or viscosity. Definitely some effervescence, and it's fairly full (perhaps medium-full) bodied, but it's very fluid and thin.

Overall: With Barrel-Aged Expedition being a personal favourite of mine, I had high hopes for this one. I'm thinking maybe BA Expo is really just the best qualities of this in one thread. It's a perfectly delicious bourbon barrel-aged stout, with a particularly fine malt balance and unique creamy nuttiness, but with its subdued aroma, dry delivery, and ultra-thin body, it falls short for me. Super drinkable, if that's what you want, but I find the Vanilla variant far superior, and BA Expo to be the ultimate expression.

Dec 28, 2020
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wally_world from Illinois

4.23/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2017 vintage. Pours jet black, small-medium head.

Aroma is full of roast. Taste is roast and chocolate, with a bit of barrel hanging on.

The beer is still smooth, but if you have any left from '17, drink them now. They won't age any better, in my opinion.

Dec 27, 2020
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bret27 from California

4.43/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 version thanks to JohnnyHops.
L: black, minimal dark brn head.
S: Chocolate, licorice, almonds, dust, bourbon. Little oxidization.
T: fudge, roasted chocolate malt, vanilla, bourbon, oakiness. Little oxidized.
F: fairly viscous and oily, not super thick.
Overall: solid. Excited to get to try this 4 yr old vintage.

Oct 11, 2020
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hoptheology from South Dakota

4.14/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Re-review in 2020 with the same batch I had in my first review. Bottled 11/3/2016. Into North Coast snifter. We didn't know what Coronavirus was back then.

Inky, silky black with a small beige head of bubbles. Recedes to a fingernail with some remaining bubbles on top.

Aroma is chock full of tobacco and fig, with some dry bakers cacao and piney hop right behind it. Lots of roasted malt and karo syrup as well.

Flavor brings dry cigarette ash mingled with dry cacao and hints of chocolate. Some raisin and pine follow up shortly after. Finish is of leather, grass, very dry bakers cacao, and hints of raisin. I do not get any bourbon barrel.

Feel is slick with a heavy carbonation and a boozy burn though not too much. Slick, resinous finish.

Overall, this beer fared better for me this time and fares a lot better than many 4 year old beers. This is absolutely a good beer, but the Vanilla Black Note is way better.

Price paid : $5.99 / bottle in 2016
Would buy again : Yeah I'd give it a swing

Initial review :

January 15th, 2017

Oily black with a beige-brown head.

Aroma of old moldy oak barrel, meat locker, snuff tobacco, leather, cigarette butts, and slight vinegar.

Flavor is a touch milky to start (somewhat thin), but then forms a bit more character with tobacco, earth, and finally on the finish it all comes together - bourbon, rich chocolate, oats, and leather on the aftertaste.

Feel is thin to start, then begins a medium profile, and finally a thick juicy finish with a roasty dryness.

Overall, this is the 2nd 2016 bottle I've had this year, and I remember the first one being better. This seems to have some issues regarding smelling a bit vinegary and ashy, with the flavor really lacking until the finish. I remember the first bottle being flavorful all the way through. Sad, but I have one more bottle I can take care of yet before my 2016 stash is depleted.

Rated with price in mind ($6/bottle).

4.25 / 3.75 / 4 / 3.75 / 4 = 3.93

Aug 17, 2020
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AmeriCanadian from Tennessee

4.5/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pretty high bar to set, describing it as sharing qualities with Expedition and the feel of Double Cream. Also a beer that I've long wanted to try. But my first experience largely lived up to the high billing.

Jet black body with cola-brown edges. Not as viscous or thick as I expected, but it's certainly a big and bold looking stout. Handsome mocha cap of latte head that collapses quite quickly but leaves a strong circumferential ring of chocolate foam that provides spotty lacing down the glass. Swirls of the glass produce moderate alcohol legs and renewed mocha film that compliments the jet black coloring extremely well.

The aroma and taste profile is as expected, with huge bursts of dark chocolate, roasty and toasty malts, divine dark fruits, exotic woods, licorice, brown sugar, and barrel char. The nose is masterfully layered, with no single note dominating and each whiff leading with something different. On the tongue you get an added streak of whiskey heat and molasses sweetness, with strong barrel personality -- toffee, oak, and a little maple -- standing out. There's perhaps just a tad too much black licorice for my liking, but that's pretty nit-picky. It's not a sweet stout, at all, but the semi-sweetness and strong bitterness balance each other out beautifully.

Feel is thinner than I expected and was hoping for (especially given the Double Cream reference), but it's incredibly smooth and silky with just a wee bit of stickiness. Reasonably carbonated and very little boozy heat.

Jan 25, 2020
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Nass from Florida

4.82/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Vintage 2016

The pour is black. The taste is bittersweet chocolate, espresso, roasted malt, char, mild prune, & tobacco. The mouthfeel is medium. Cheers! A

Jan 19, 2020
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mschrei from Illinois

4.7/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Such a fantastic beer. 2017 vintage, so about 26 months old. Standard stout appearance-dark, mild tannish lacing. Smell is roasty malt and a strong barrel presence. Taste is amazing. Perfect balance of dark malt and woody bourbon barrel. Notes of chocolate, espresso, dark fruitiness. Medium bodied, mouth watering, big booziness. Was a longtime want, and glad it’s an absolute winner.

Dec 10, 2019
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elNopalero from California

5/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled 10/5/17

This gives a viscous pour. Thick and heavy from the bottle, with a heady cap of cocoa colored foam. Wonderfully complex nose. I get a light roast, cocoa nibs, a hint of vanilla and just a faint touch of boozy heat. Incredibly smooth. Creeps up on you. An amazing beer.

2019: at two years of age and the beer remains incredible. So drinkable, with just the slightest hint of heat. That ABV creeps up, but I’m not complaining—this is it for the entire evening.

Nov 29, 2019
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JayQue from Virginia

4.19/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2017 vintage. I have had this one sitting around for a while. Pours a dense jet black color with no light coming through. Surprisingly good size (medium) dark tan head. Filmy tan lacing on the glass. Rich malty aroma and flavor. A little a coffee, some chocolate. not much of the bourbon, but definitely some oak that adds a touch of bitterness to he mildly sweet flavor. Mouthfeel is rich and creamy. Some warming alcohol presence but no "bite". Goes down very easy. This is a top shelf stout!!!!

Oct 19, 2019
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chrisjws from California

4.21/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2017 vintage, served just above fridge temp in a warm room, got a pretty wide variety of tastes and smells as it warmed up.

Pour is dark, not viscous or oily. Dark brown, not opaque. Some light around the edges. Minimal dark tan bubbles that fade quickly. Alcohol legs on the glass.

Smells of pipe tobacco, dark chocolate, raisins, plums, licorice and bourbon. Hints of burnt carmel as it warms.

Taste follows the nose, not too heavy on the tongue, though it definitely lingers. Dark chocolate and fruits dominate the palate, with caramel and bourbon notes rounding it out.

Excellent beer, I've heard other vintages were far more viscous and intense.

Sep 02, 2019
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Sandis from Minnesota

4.6/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter. This beer has aged well to this point. Tons of chocolate in the flavor with some touches of espresso contributing to a slightly dry finish. Black Note is a beer I'll continue to seek whenever available.

Aug 13, 2019
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Rub_This_BBQ from Massachusetts

4.32/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle 2017
L nice thick deep black but even with aggressive pour little to no head or lacing
S first hit is licorice followed by some roast notes
T normally not a fan of the fruit cake, licorice coconut stout but this all taste in balance , it sweet but not over the top with some nice roast on the back end .

Mouthfeel average
Overall great stout. Glad in I was able to drink it

Aug 04, 2019
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ilikebeer03 from Texas

4.07/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2017 bottle 10/5/17 - drank 7/26/19
pours black with a half finger of deep khaki head that fades quickly to a ring around the glace. decent lacing
nose is soft bourbon, freshly roasted coffee, roasted malt, chocolate.
taste follows. soft bourbon, touch of vanilla, roasted malt, coffee, dark bittersweet chocolate. a touch of warming alcohol. subtle smoke character as the beer warms.
creamy mouthfeel. lingering bourbon / chocolate mouthfeel.
great beer

Jul 27, 2019
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4.71/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2016 bottle. Pours a viscous jet black. Nose is bakers chocolate, smoke, leather, bourbon, brown sugar and time. Taste follows with dark stone fruit, cherry, plum, raisin , cardboard and old books. Mouthfeel in moderate to full. Surprisingly great with some age.

Jul 01, 2019
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silverblaze540 from Virginia

4.98/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

A - 2 inch tan head with uneven bubbles that holds well. Pitch black.

S - Prunes, cherries, and a hint of wood.

T - Malty and sweet with a hint of bitterness.

M - Mouth coating and thick with lots of burn.

O - Boozy and full bodied. Smell and taste are powerful and pleasant.

Jun 16, 2019
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WickedBeer from Alabama

4.16/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2017 vintage, bottled on 10/05/17. Purchased at Loosa Brews, Tuscaloosa, AL.

Dark, murky pour, without too much viscosity but a great-looking stout poured from the bottle. A decent amount of beige head rises and settles in a good sized ring around the inside of the glass.

Tons of dark chocolate and dried fruit on the nose that swirl around a backbone of oaky booze and roasty malt. Really a little bit of everything you could ask for of the style in the aromas, with the essence only intensifying as it warms.

Distinctly different from the nose, a good compliment. Roasty espresso, caramel, and bitter baker's chocolate flavors, with a potent booziness that laces its way through the palate and lingers along with a predominant malt in the finish. I would have hoped only for a touch more sweetness to cut through that potent booze and bitterness, but it's not at all intended to take away from the overall pleasant experience.

The body is fairly thin, retaining a good amount of carbonation that I feel like could even have been a little softer. Sticky, with a good residual mouth-coating and warm, boozy finish.

May 29, 2019
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emyers from Illinois

4.22/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into sinfter. 2017 vintage.

Pours near black with a thin beige lacing.

Nose: First impression reminds me a lot of Expedition stout. Big dark chocolate and roast character. The barrel comes through subtly with some caramel, vanilla, and oak character.

Taste: Chocolate and roast up front followed by the bourbon barrel. Very balanced flavor profile. I like the added dimension the barrel brings but the base beer is coming off like a slightly watered down Expedition to me. As someone who loves Expedition stout I can't help but wish I was drinking straight BBA Expedition instead of the blend. Still a great beer without a doubt.

Feel: Very smooth. Body is noticeably lighter than Expedition stout.

May 26, 2019
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Thomas_Wikman from Texas

4.7/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I just had the 2017 Black Note Stout and it was great. It's hard to get where I live so I was happy to finally get my hands on it. What a wonderful stout, full bodied and flavorful and yet smooth and easy drinking. It is truly delicious.

Look: dark brown / black with a half inch creamy mocca colored head

Aroma: chocolate and some bourbon.

Taste: Roasted malts, chocolate, moderate bourbon to round it off.

Body/Overall: full body, creamy, silky, smooth

May 07, 2019
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Tony210 from New Jersey

4.54/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours so dark it is completely impervious to light. 2 fingers of mocha head slowly fade. Really great chocolate and bourbon aroma, fairly typical yet exceptional. Great chocolate flavor, very intense, bourbon barrel smooths it out and gives it a really nice barrel flavor. Tons of dark roasted malt flavor. Light bitter espresso finish. Full bodied, rich, thick, and creamy. Carbonation adds to a creamy texture. Overall an outstanding BBA Imperial Stout, worth buying a few if you come across it.

12 oz bottle
4.5 rating

May 05, 2019
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Oh_Dark_Star from Washington

4.5/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one required at least four months bottle aging to round off the heat. But after that it's a mighty fine brew.
Oak, vanilla, and rich medjool dates complement this wonderful stout.

May 01, 2019
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HopsAreDaMan from Missouri

4.14/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Reviewing this after having it about 2 months ago.

Although was a good imperial stout, considering the hype around this beer and the cost, I was disappointed.

Apr 06, 2019
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npolachek from New York

4.35/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Finally found this beer in a bottle at a grocery store in NYC on 75th and 2nd. I think its good, but not as unbelievable as some of the ratings indicate. The malt taste is solid, and definitely worth drinking, but I've tasted better amongst newer releases (Prison Double Barrel Wham Whams, Other Half 5th, etc.)

Mar 29, 2019
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micada from New York

4.42/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2017 12oz bottle poured cold to a tulip glass. Dark mahogany brown with a two-finger bubbly mocha head. Lots of lacing that clings and doesn’t move, at all. Nose is faint vanilla and char, very subdued compared to what I thought it would be. First sips are woody, creamy stout, with a slight bourbon back-end linger. Very balanced flavor profile, with only a slight woody bite in the front. It’s almost like drinking “black.” Yeah, that sounds trippy, but it’s almost like not drinking anything other than a concept. It’s full, creamy, warming, filling. No alcohol presence, but it is warming. Very smooth, very easy to drink. I’m half-way through it, and am sad that it’s almost gone, with only one more on the shelf.

Mar 21, 2019
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.51/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle. 2017 bottling (10/05/017).
Dark brown colored body, with the bottom edge displaying a backlit medium brown. Initial two finger tan head settles back to thick cap with varying bubble sizes (looks creamy). Leaves behind an interrupted pattern of lacing spots and strings.
Aroma of dark roasted malts, dark fruit, and oak bourbon barrel.
Taste of dark roasted malts, which translates to dark chocolate, dark fruit, toffee/molasses, and a touch of espresso. The oak bourbon barrel is present but is a quiet blend to the other components. Minimal bitterness. The aftertaste is like bourbon soaked prunes and figs.
Mouth coating, medium plus mouth feel. Has a smooth texture. Good carbonation which supports the body.
I am pleasantly surprised by the balance and blend of the beer. It has breadth and depth but is also easy to drink. The barrel note is supportive but not overly intrusive. Warming throughout the imbibing process.

Mar 08, 2019
Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 4944 ratings