Bell's Black Note Stout | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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Bell's Black Note StoutBell's Black Note Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States
bellsbeer.com

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.80%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by mcallister on 06-16-2007

BEER STATS
Reviews:
664
Ratings:
4,268
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,723
Gots:
1,183
For Trade:
129
User Reviews
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Reviews: 664 | Ratings: 4,268
Photo of drpimento
4.97/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bam-BAM! Heavy hitter!! Served at a good temperature with a large, thick, fine, creamy, tan head and lots of lace. Aroma is mostly cocoa, dark ripe fruit, old leather, coffee, a little of the classic stout roast, malt. Color is an opaque black brown. Flavor is a curious blend of expansive and yet slightly conservative - similar to nose, excellent balance between bitter, sweet, and tang, the bourbon is there, not overdone. Body is perfect, ditto for carbonation. Finish is like flavor, yet the whiskey lingers a bit longer. Very easy drinking with only a hint of the alcohol at the end. Fabulous!

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Photo of oldsailor
4.96/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Amazing beer! Just had a 2014 version and I'm on the hunt for more now. Silky feel, jet black color and lingering coffee/chocolate taste that's mind-blowing.

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Photo of PaulyB83
4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On- tap served in a snifter

A- Jet black with a millimeter of mocha head that quickly dissipated to a ring.

S- Coconut, vanilla, alcohol, coffee, chocolate, slight raisin

T- Smooth, tastes like a Mounds bar, dark chocolate, vanilla, coconut, very similar to the nose

M- Creamy, surprisingly easy drinking for such a big beer, it's a good thing the flavors are so big or you'd be in trouble. Not as thick as other bourbon barrel aged stouts, but I kinda like it. Bourbon County stout was pretty thick and actually took me a while to get through just one bottle. I think this it perfect mouthfeel for a 12oz. serving of this weight of a beer.

O- Living in Kalamazoo, I'm lucky to find this on draft somewhere every couple of months. This hits everything on the head and is the benchmark for me in BBA stouts. I tried KBS a few weeks after having this and thought there was no comparison, this is the better beer. If I could have one more beer before I die, this would be it.

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Photo of AlMarzo
4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle into a Dogfish Head Specialty glass / snifter
A: Thick and dark, this beer allowed no dark to shine through. Not much of a head however of what was there the color was a dark brown; it vanished to the sides quickly. Some great lacing followed.
S: Amazing aroma of dried fruit, dark chocolate, a hint of bourbon / oaky, a lot of raisin, hints of a floral aroma came through, along with some spice.

T: Sweet raisins, hints of Carmel, followed by a lot of dark fruit dipped in rich dark chocolate. a nice thick to medium body with a sweet mocha finish. Not too much bourbon present in the initial taste, but it became prominent in the after taste. Almost like a great cookie with the roasted malt, chocolate and hint of vanilla. Some dryness crept in toward the finish, but the sweetness won out. Some heat from the alcohol developed in the finish and aftertaste.

O: A great beer, I expected more bourbon, but it was a very dynamic stout with a great flavor profile. The appearance made me have my doubts but the aroma and taste won me back immediately. It only got better as it warmed. Nicely done!

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Photo of taylor714914
4.93/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow. Just Wow. Was excited to see this on tap at Thirsty Monk in Asheville, so I drove over hoping the keg would still be dispensing this delicious nectar.

Pours a pitch black color with a thin brown cap of foam. Smells of sweet oak, whiskey, bittersweet chocolate, and oak tannins.

Taste is marvelous. The seamless meld of imperial stout and whiskey barrel could not have been more perfect. The taste follows suit with the nose, with the mouthfeel being rich, thick, and chewy. The carbonation is just enough, but not overdone.

An outstandingBA stout, damn near perfect.

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Photo of Abbbp
4.93/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Once again thanks for opening the cellar Bryan, the fact that we side by sided this with a KBS and an old Rasputin 17 was just awesome. But of the 3, sorry KBS and your #3 ranking, this Bell's is just flat out superior.

Poured into a snifter it darkens the cup, with lil to no head. It's aroma just reeks of an old bourbon warehouse, where the forgotten barrels have just soaked the bourbon for ages and the rest has been stolen as the angel's share. That and chocolate, big espresso, deep dark fruits all bring together a symphony for the nose.

The taste however is what really sets this ye old American Double apart- it isn't overwhelming. It's smooth, it's as though the fermentation of this fruit allows for delicious lambic carbonation to build giving it a drinkability like none other I've tried before.

Bravo bravo Bell's, you've done it. This not only lived up to the hype but far exceeded it. It's a damn shame that you're not in Texas, you leave me no choice to pillage other states and take their stock.

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Photo of QSugar2016
4.93/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is creamy, smooth glory in a glass. Everything most stouts try and fail to be, if you find a bottle snag it immediately. It's cloyingly sweet, with heavy malts, and a noticeably delicious bourbon taste. I enjoyed just slowly sipping it on a spring evening.

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Photo of mjohnson17
4.93/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2012 12 oz bottle

A: Pours jet black, slight head that instantaneously dissipates. Some alcohol legs

S: Balances, a bit muted but well rounded charred oak, fig, roasted malt

T: roast, oak, charred wood, fig, a bit of chocolate and coffee. More of an earthy dry taste than a caramel/toffee sweetness that's sometimes seen in other BB stouts.

M: Very well balanced stout. Coats mouth nicely but not sticky. Full body.

Overall: Fantastic beer. One of the best stouts I've had, let alone bourbon barrel stout. This and BCBS are a near tie for perfection. I also really love the 12 oz format of the 2012 batch. If you have a chance to try this stout do not pass it up!

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.92/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from the tap at Birreria Paradiso into a very generous snifter, Happy Hour price $4. LOL I would have paid... well never mind. The liquid was dark too black had a cool looking one finger mocha head with a bit of lace.

The smell was just oh so good, big bourbon on that great Bell's stout. Lots of coffee and chocolate noted dancing with the vanilla and alcohol, truly a master piece.

The taste followed the aroma, lots of bourbon, mild vanilla working with all the great flavors of the cream stout.

The mouthfeel was good to very good thick and creamy but the carbonation could have been a bit better to make the body just right.

The drinkability was A1A, man did I enjoy this brew. This is a must try beer. Thanks Larry! Prosit und Zum Wohl. MK

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Photo of adnielsen
4.92/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had two snifters of this on tap at Bells back in November. It has a deep black appearance with a light brown head. The aroma was fantastic with smooth, sweet bourbon, toffee, dark chocolate, and oak. The flavor was even tastier and was quite smooth for the abv. Tons of caramel, dark chocolate, toffee, and vanilla to go along with the oaky, bourbon elements. I couldn't believe how smooth this was. Excellent.

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Photo of tpd975
4.92/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Hand bottle provided by gunhaver.

A: Pours a very dark shade of flat black, no head.

S: Wonderful earthy aromas up front. Lots of wood, like fresh cut trees in a forest. There were hints of char, bourbon, vanilla and dark fruit.

T: Barrel flavors right from the start. Fresh oak, vanilla, and bourbon. Chocolate and dark fruit are there along with light cream and a touch of ash.

M: Full bodied, low carbonation

D: Awesome. Really tasty complex beer. Not the most tasty of the stouts we tasted tonight, but was the most complex.

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Photo of stdaniel
4.91/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle served at 45 degrees. Sipped slowly to allow the flavors to develop.

A: Pitch black with the slightest caramel colored head that quickly reduces to nothing.

S: Sweet bourbon, caramel, vanilla.

T: Very similar to the nose. Sweet bourbon and caramel dominate, vanilla in the background. Balanced enough for the unrefined palate such as mine to distinguish individual flavors.

M: Creamy. Not bite for a 11.5% stout.

O: Holy smokes, this has to be one of the best balanced BBA stouts I've tasted. The taste and aroma are harmonious. Luxurious mouthfeel. I've said balanced three times now and it is absolutely true.

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Photo of CHickman
4.91/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

PKG 11/03/2016: Pours pitch black color with a foamy 1 finger brown head that faded slowly, leaving great spotty lacing.

Smells perfect for a bourbon barrel aged stout. The bourbon and oaky notes lead the charge, followed by molasses, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, vanilla, syrup, burnt coffee, hot fudge, dark fruit and then more chocolate with a hint of piney hops which makes for an extremely complex and wonderful nose.

Wow, it tastes just like it smells but with booze and heat from the high ABV, however it does not negatively impact the flavor. Even more chocolate and coffee come through with espresso, chocolate syrup, smoked malt, charred wood and brown sugar adding dynamics before some earthy and woody barrel notes kick in. It's hot in a good way with the rich malt, bourbon and barrel notes making for a delicious combination. World class indeed.

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Photo of carolynschaf
4.91/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pitch dark body, as the name implies. Distinguished oak aroma and rich molasses taste makes for one of the best barrel-aged stouts you can find, if you can find it.

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Photo of JohnG190
4.91/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours pitch black with a thin mocha head. Good lacing.
Gobs of bourbon in the nose, with notes of vanilla, toasted coconut, chocolate, licorice, coffee and roasted malt with it. A lot going on in the aroma of this beer!
The bourbon is not as assertive on the palate as it was on the nose, but it is most certainly there. With the bourbon comes vanilla, licorice, and toasted coconut. At 11.5%, the alcohol is very well hidden. The bourbon lasts a long time. Starts sweet and finishes slightly bitter. The palate is as complex as the aroma. This is one silky smooth beer, it's got a big body with almost no carbonation. Overall, one of the finest examples of a BA stout I've ever had!

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Photo of ralflord
4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoying this with a buddy. Holy moly! Unbeliveably black with no head. The smell was creamy, vanilla, and bourbony. It made me think of what heaven would be like. The mixture was perfect, the blended beers complimenting each other like a great rythym section. Coltrane's Impulse years comes to mind. The beer finished incredibly strong, with a sublime taste that will rest on my palate for a long time. This is an all-time great beer. If you have the means I highly suggest you try it. It is so choice.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.89/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at The Blue Door Pub in St. Paul, MN. Served in a 10 oz. goblet glass.

Appearance: Color is a oily jet black. Moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of deep tan creamy head that recedes to a very thin layer. Decent amount of lacing is left on the glass.

Smell: Big scent of bourbon whiskey up front with good hints of vanilla, wood, and oak. Sweet dark malts with big hints of dark chocolate, coffee, dark toasted bread, molasses, burnt caramel, toffee, and biscuit. A fair amount of syrup and burnt sugars. Subtle hints of dark raisin, plum, fig, and cherry. A light hint of smoke and earthy hops. The bourbon and sweet chocolate stand out the most. A big and rich aroma.

Taste: Just as big and complex as the aroma leads. Nicely dark, sweet, and boozy. Big taste of bourbon whiskey up front with good notes of vanilla, oak chips, and the whiskey barrel. A little bit of smoke. Big dark roasted malts with notes of dark chocolate, bitter coffee, toasted bread and biscuit, sweet molasses and syrup, burnt caramel, and toffee. Undertones of dark fruits including dark cherry, plum, and raisin. Subtle earthy hops in the background. The bourbon and dark chocolate elements really stand out. Rich and very good taste.

Mouthfeel: A fairly heavy body with a moderate amount of carbonation. Thick, creamy, and fairly slick and syrupy. Some alcohol heat is present but its not overly hot.

Overall: A really great barrel aged imperial stout. The bourbon flavor is big and great and the dark chocolate and molasses sweetness is very good.

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Photo of justinp444
4.89/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2016 second release. Poured into a mini snifter it has a black body with a thin beige head. Smell is chocolate, bourbon, licorice, little bit of a nutty smell, and big vanilla. Taste of chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, bit of coffee on the end, roasted malt, almond, and licorice. Mouth feel is smooth creamy and full with a full body and smooth moderate carbonation. One of the easiest drinking while still being complex stouts I've had.

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Photo of Moheban
4.89/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle dated 12/28/12 poured into snifter

A: very little carbonation, tiny ring around the rim only.

S: smells like sweet malt, notes of coffee, dark chocolate

T: dark chocolate covered espresso beans . Starts off sweet, with some dark fruit, dark chocolate flavors, then ends with some coffee-like bitterness and bourbon-alcohol. much sweeter than some of the other beers in its class, almost as sweet as a barleywine. Alcohol is somehwhat present, but masked by the sweetness. Very complex.

M: very thick and creamy.

O: quite the treat. Wish we had bells in Cali. Up there with KBS and BCBS.

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Photo of surfcaster
4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to MB for a 4 pack gift. Wow. A rarity in NC

Pitch black pour with a 1/4 inch frothy brown head

Nose is light on bourbon--not all overpowering

Taste is just amazing--well integrated, smooth--chocolate/brown sugar/vanilla/expresso--all works so well together.

My absolute favorite of the style

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Photo of Dolphinsmarlins1
4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2014 bottle. Poured into a snifter. Very smooth, despite the high ABV...dangerously deceptive. Awesome flavors despite not possessing the boozy heat one would expect from the style. Very sweet. I want another.

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Photo of SaisonRichBiere
4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served on draft, post Bell's tap-takeover at Aubree's in Northville, MI.

Appearance- Oily and dark, viscous, but a shade lighter than other BA stouts. Dark, dark espresso brown. One finger of beige head yields to a foamy veil atop the brew. As you drink, it dissipates further into a halo around the glass, leaving lots of lacing on the glass.

Smell- Caramel-coffee-toffee-creme brûlée. Big complex nose with a hint of bourbon heat. Roasty, roasty malts creep in. This smells awesome. One of the best.

Taste- Big boozy hit. Surprisingly more red wine than bourbon here. Fruity booze yields to a smooth 80 proof bourbon finish. What follows is awesome. Roasty espresso, big caramelly dark chocolate notes- think a chocolate riesen candy. Big strong Madagascar vanilla, creme brûlée and a blunt, dry roasty malt finish. Amazing.

Mouthfeel- Oily, smooth, creamy. A mouth-coating tingly whiskey burn that you really don't want to go away. Akin to the style with just a bit more.

Overall. One of the best, hands down. Extremely grateful that I was able to stumble on this (surprisingly) left over from a tap-takeover. The description does it justice, but this beer is so much more. If you have a chance to try this, try it. It will not disappoint. I thought CBS was the bar for the style, but this changes things. A shred more accessible than others of its ilk, this brings more Michigan BA stout firepower to the table. Drink this. Period. Thanks a ton Bell's!

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Photo of MichaelCoyne
4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Great beer. On the same level with KBS in my opinion. I've only had once. overall, its a pretty easy beer to trade for if you live in Michigan. Would love to try the 2012 bomber of it

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Photo of Samichlaus82
4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours oily pitch black with a small dark mocha head that slowly dissipates without leaving much trace on the glass. Smell is slightly sweet and malty with roasted malts, quality dark chocolate, dark bread, burnt caramel, charred wood, black pepper, bourbon, coconut, vanilla fudge, asphalt, toffee and hints of sweet liquorice. Taste is sweet and malty with roasted malts, roasted coconut, quality dark chocolate, sweetened dark roast coffee, vanilla fudge, charred wood, lactose, bourbon, toffee, nutella and hints of alcohol. Mouthfeel is soft, creamy, smooth, balanced, silky and full bodied. Finish is slightly sweet and bitter with roasted malts, quality dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, vanilla fudge, roasted coconuts, charred wood and bourbon. Great balance and smooth silky mouthfeel adds up to a great experience.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.87/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

First off, let me say my thanks to Larry Bell for making this gem, and thanks to The Party Town for making this available for growler fills.
That being said, wow, what a treat! I’m a huge expedition fan, so this beer is what I’m all about. Pours a dark brown with a slight head that recedes quickly after pouring. This is possibly one of the best noses I’ve ever had come from a beer. I spent quite a bit of time sniffing this one. Smell is velvety bourbon, with notes of chocolate and espresso coffee. The taste is incredible. Think bourbon barrel aged Expedition with a very creamy and silky finish due to the Double Cream. This is the perfect combination, everything is working incredbily together. If bottled this would rival and give Kentucky Breakfast a run for its money. Very happy that I had the chance to enjoy this, but very sad as well, because the chances of coming across this rare gem again is small.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,268 ratings.
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