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

Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout
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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #21
Ranked #78
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: 819 | Ratings: 4,922 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of AmeriCanadian
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.

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Photo of Nass
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

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Photo of mschrei
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.

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Photo of elNopalero
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.

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Photo of JayQue
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!!!!

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Photo of chrisjws
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.

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Photo of Sandis
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.

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Photo of Rub_This_BBQ
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

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Photo of ilikebeer03
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

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Photo of JayWhitson
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.

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Photo of silverblaze540
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.

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Photo of WickedBeer
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.

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Photo of emyers
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.

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Photo of Thomas_Wikman
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

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Photo of Tony210
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

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Photo of Oh_Dark_Star
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.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
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.

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Photo of npolachek
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.)

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Photo of micada
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.

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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
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.

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Photo of kjones6
4.79/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Phenomenal. Near perfect Drinkability and finish. This beer is smooth and perfectly balanced. You will not get a traditional place punchbof hops like most imperial stouts and that is not a bad thing.

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Photo of dcotom
4.49/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review is of the 2017 edition. Poured from 12-ounce bottle into a snifter. Deep blackish-brown colored body, with a dark tan head that left a bit of sticky lacing. Good bourbon character but not harsh, nice alcohol warmth but not overly boozy, substantial mouthfeel without being syrupy. Big aromas and flavors of molasses, vanilla, cocoa, and dark roasted espresso bean, with moderate bitterness, no char, and some slightly sour oaky astringence on the finish. This seems to me to hit its sweet spot at slightly below cellar temperature, where everything settles into balance. As always, YMMV.

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Photo of jbertsch
3.73/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Not bad. Just wouldn't buy again. Has a licorice note on the nose and tongue that I don't really like. Overall the balance is good. BB character is mild which is good or bad depending on your preference.

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Photo of Joe_Palooka
3.93/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

I have waited to rate until I drank about 18 of 2016 vintage and 18 of 2017 vintage.... It"s a good American Imperial Stout but I really don't think it is worth the hype and I am a Bells Brewery FANATIC! My main problem with the beer is the mouth feel. It does not compare with Bells Expedition Stout that is so thick and creamy. I was sooo expecting more! The flavor is great, the taste is okay but not overwhelming. I will always but this beer but I was a bit disappointed.

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Photo of jhavs
4.4/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2017 bottle poured into fluted snifter.

Pour is black with a thin and creamy fine bubbled head. The head settles fast into a few bubbles and a thin ring around the glass.

Aroma has a nice smooth mix of booze, earthy barrel and rich/sweet malts.

In the flavor I pick up some sweet chocolate, dark fruit, smoky molasses and a nice level of dark grainy malt. The bourbon boozey level is smooth and balanced. Just a touch of heat.

Just under moderate carbonation and a bit lighter body than I was expecting.

Overall a really well put together BA stout. Lots of layers in the flavor.

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Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 4922 ratings