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

Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout
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Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States
American Imperial Stout
Ranked #31
Ranked #108
4.54 | pDev: 7.71%
Jan 31, 2023
Jun 16, 2007
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.
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Rated: 4.53 by GeorgeAKeim from Oregon

Jan 31, 2023
Rated: 4.27 by not2quick from Missouri

Jan 26, 2023
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Reviewed by colts9016 from Idaho

4.46/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Name: Black Note Stout
Brewery: Bell's
Location: Comstock, MI
Style: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Date: 10/05/2017
This beer has been on my wants for a long time, but I thought I would never get the chance to try it. I was sent this in a box by a fellow beer friend. Using a tulip glass, I served the beer at 52 degrees. The pour created a one in half finger length head with dismal retention. No lacing was left on the glass after the quick dissipation. Charting the color of the beer somewhere around SRM 34, dark brown, nearly black. The appearance is slightly above average, regardless of the head retention.
Nosing the glass, I detected bourbon, oak, espresso, dark chocolate, cream, oats, raisins, molasses, caramel, toasted bread, dark roasted malts, a hint of char, and a notion of floral.
Sipping the beer, I taste bourbon, oranges, oak, resin, molasses, milk chocolate, dark coffee, raisins, caramel, toffee, toasted bread crust, oats, a tinge of soy sauce, a hint of Maillard, and a little smoky char.
The mouthfeel is thick and coated. The body is a medium plus, has low carbonation, and has a delicious finish.
This beer held up beautifully. I am pleased to have the opportunity to quaff on this stout. Thank you kindly for allowing to have this chance to try a retired beer. Simply a fantastic beer!
Jan 09, 2023
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Reviewed by Rug from Massachusetts

4.37/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
2016 vintage

Another BIF beer from @Eziel, and they only retired beer of the lot. This one was quite the highly regarded beer in its time, peaking at roughly #78 overall based on data from the wayback machine. Let's see if it can hold up to the barrel aged Stouts of today

Pours an opaque medium brown with a finger of dark tan head that fades to a thin ring and leaves minimal lacing

Man this packs a boozy punch in the nose for a relatively low 11.2%. I'm picking up on aromas of sweet bourbon, black cherry, plum, cocoa pwoder, fruity coffee, toasted oak, light tobacco, and vanilla

It's a bit less fruity and more malt-focused in taste, but still just as good. On the front end of the sip I'm tasting black cherry, cocoa powder, caramel, brown sugar, toasted oak, sweet bourbon, vanilla, and lightly burnt coffee. The swallow brings notes of hot bourbon, burnt coffee, charred oak, cocoa powder, raisin, sweet vanilla, toasted hazelnut, and caramel

A full body pairs with gentle tingling carbonation from the booze, resulting in a rich beer. Finishes surprisingly dry, roasty and balanced by sweeter notes for a shockingly drinkable Stout

Damn, I liked this one more than I had expected to. Even at 6 years old, this is really good. It's too bad they retired this one
Jul 19, 2022
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Reviewed by MikeWard from Pennsylvania

4.44/5  rDev -2.2%
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.
Nov 30, 2021
Rated: 4.26 by jt_thomas18 from Tennessee

Nov 29, 2021
Rated: 4.25 by TallGuyCM from California

Nov 22, 2021
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Rated by jb_4226 from Texas

4.9/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5
#87, good folly miss molly
Nov 05, 2021
Rated: 4.52 by WormGod from New York

Aug 02, 2021
Rated: 4.5 by Rkitchen from Michigan

Jun 19, 2021
Rated: 5 by GFK from Michigan

Jun 15, 2021
Rated: 4.75 by meltroha from Ohio

Jun 13, 2021
Rated: 4.33 by goleeoh from Michigan

Mar 04, 2021
Rated: 4.77 by Yungcoolship from Wisconsin

Feb 05, 2021
Rated: 4.25 by mrmsmith from District of Columbia

Feb 02, 2021
Rated: 4.34 by GaryM6 from New York

Jan 28, 2021
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Rated by jamesloc from New York

4.25/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
SOlid og BA Stout. A must try for beer snobs like me
Jan 13, 2021
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Reviewed by SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.17/5  rDev -8.1%
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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Reviewed by wally_world from Illinois

4.23/5  rDev -6.8%
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
Rated: 4.43 by Jcarriglio from Florida

Nov 29, 2020
Rated: 4.6 by Cwarwick812 from Massachusetts

Nov 15, 2020
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Reviewed by bret27 from California

4.43/5  rDev -2.4%
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
Rated: 4.6 by Wrigfen from South Carolina

Oct 04, 2020
Rated: 4.53 by Vysta from Missouri

Aug 22, 2020
Rated: 4.28 by GoffmanvsDuffman from Arizona

Aug 20, 2020
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Reviewed by hoptheology from California

4.14/5  rDev -8.8%
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
Rated: 4.5 by zenithberwyn from California

Jul 27, 2020
Rated: 4.5 by PaulSlazinger from Pennsylvania

May 21, 2020
Rated: 4.59 by Jon4than from Texas

May 08, 2020
Rated: 4 by pepesylvia from Pennsylvania

May 01, 2020
Rated: 4.08 by stmoorea from Illinois

Apr 26, 2020
Rated: 4.52 by Appearanceswc from Virginia

Mar 27, 2020
Rated: 4.74 by Blogjackets from Ohio

Mar 19, 2020
Rated: 4.47 by Yendor61 from Michigan

Mar 16, 2020
Rated: 4 by Dharms from Pennsylvania

Mar 10, 2020
Rated: 5 by doctorgary from New York

Feb 28, 2020
Rated: 4.3 by spersichilli from California

Feb 12, 2020
Rated: 4.85 by Thorfinn960 from Ohio

Feb 08, 2020
Rated: 4.3 by SayBoom from Ukraine

Feb 01, 2020
Rated: 4.89 by themind from New Jersey

Jan 31, 2020
Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 4948 ratings