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 | website

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.40%

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:
586
Ratings:
3,932
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.44%
 
 
Wants:
2,754
Gots:
1,020
For Trade:
90
User Reviews
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Reviews: 586 | Ratings: 3,932
Photo of brstls4drmrs
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks MADpolo for this one. 12oz bottle.

A - pours a viscous black color with almost no head. The froth that does come is caramel in color and appears like a snowflake. Great lacing.

S - some booze with bourbon and a hint of licorice. Some nice malty aroma with hints of nut and chocolate (very small). Expressi in there too.

T - a malty bourbon delight with some nice caramel overtones going down. Very pleasing to the palate and dances around like silk.

M - very smooth and delightful with mild to medium carbonation.

O - an excellent stout. A must have.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Growler

Acquired via trade
Thanks, Shilt!

Black throughout and thick in body. A very small hint of a head consisting of very smell dark brown bubbles. Very little visible carbonation, but still a menacingly appropriate, beautiful, thick barrel-aged stout. It just looks right.

The aroma is incredible. Big, layered notes of chocolate abound, along with rich, expressive, espresso and subdued bourbon. There's a hint of an alcohol kick but it's tame considering this beer's ABV. There's some mellowed bourbon notes as well, but the chocolate and coffee are quite dominant.

The flavor is boldly expressive; it's an incredible combination of chocolates, espresso, cream, vanilla, and integrated bourbon. The alcohol is present but not distracting. Remarkably drinkable.

Full in body. Creamy. Decadent. Rich.

I had 2 10 oz. pours and was regretting not drinking more. But, hey, sharing is caring. Amazing stuff, and very generous of Shilt to get it out my way. Thanks, again!

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Photo of rudylaw
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ Stub & Herb's for the Darkness Pre-Release Party.

Pours black with a thin, mocha head. This was served to me in a 7oz glass and the head was just about gone by the time it got to us.

Lots of woody and roastiness in the nose. Bourbony, vanilla and chocolate are all in here. This smells divine.

Even more barrel flavors come out in the taste. Bourbon, oak and dark fruit skins. Like a perfect milk chocolate bar. There's a creaminess to this that makes this just so damn enjoyable.

Of all the amazing beers we had that night, this was the one I made sure I remembered. I actually let my 7oz last near three hours as I wanted to see how it opened up. It just got better and better. What a beer!

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had a few glasses on tap at the Stub and Herb's Fermented Eclipse event.

A: pours a smooth deep brown with the tiniest layer of a tan head.

S: very rich. Loads of bourbon and hints of oak atop some molasses, dark chocolate, vanilla, and roasted malt.

T: very similar to the nose with a nice, semi-sweet creaminess coming through; this is the first area where the Double Cream starts to make it's way in, rounding out what was already a very nice brew.

M: rich, creamy, and chewy without too much alcohol.

D: very, very nice. Fantastic brew all around and I am thrilled to have finally gotten a chance to try it.

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Photo of WesMantooth
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

In the words of P. O. D. , here comes the boom! 2014 edition. Had the same first impression as with Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine (holy shit!).

Awesome bourbon aroma that carries right through to the taste with a perfect finish. Smooth velvety drinking like a cream or milk stout with just the right amount of roastiness and bourbon flavor. The body can't be overstated for a barrel aged beer.
This is hands down the best barrel aged stout I have ever tasted to date. Significantly better than KBS. Makes my top 3 beers in general right now. Hard to believe people liked the '12 version better - can't even fathom much improvement.

Gotta admit, I have been disappointed by Bell's offerings overall. Not bad, but never had anything special other than aged Expedition, until now. If you don't like bourbon all that much, I wouldn't recommend. If you don't like a strong coffee profile/presence, I would.

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Photo of avalon07
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and had a thick consistency. There was a small amount of creamy, tan-colored head that quickly dissipated. Fair lacing.

S: A big aroma of bourbon, dark fruit, and chocolate. Very enticing.

T: Tasted of bourbon, roasted malt, chocolate, dark fruit (plums, raisins), vanilla, and some coffee in the finish. A massive, assertive, muscular flavor. Extremely complex and flavorful.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a thick, chewy finish. Full-bodied.

O: Bell's seems to have a knack for making stouts (see Expedition and Java Stouts) and this one just adds to the pantheon. Not a brew for the faint of heart, Black Note is quite a robust beer and one of the best examples of the style.

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Photo of SkeeterBoganski
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had an awesome BA offer this up for a trade helper that the trade partner ultimately backed out of. Not the best way to 'earn' a bottle and offered to return it. Thanks MinorThreat for the generosity!

A - deep oil black with a nice mocha head that sits after an aggressive pour before shrinking; still present throughout consumption; outstanding lacing.

S - oak and bourbon! Some dried fig notes; molasses; chocolate, coffee, and malt.

T - bourbon and oak! Vanilla, chocolate, mocha, molasses, a touch of black licorice; the booze is there but the flavors are so tasty and balanced that its not over the top alcohol flavors at 11+%

M - the mouthfeel on black note is similar to BCBS, although far less syrupy; it's heavy but creamy; perfect carbonation; smooth; extremely clean finish; fantastic drinkability

O - this beer is the real deal; it's amazingly balanced; full of flavor; it's basically a more drinkable bourbon county without any cloying sweetness and a perfect abv; this will warm you up while leave you wanting more; extremely impressive beer from Bells!

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Photo of stewart124
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a pint glass.

Deep brown to black with a tiny amount of dark tan head.

Nose has strong roasted malt aroma with espresso and chocolate present. Some dark candied fruits coming out as well.

Mostly roasted malt characters and more espresso with a nice dose of bourbon barrel. Firm bitterness with some of the alcohol detectable. Overall smooth and easy to drink. There is noticeable residual sweetness but nothing cloying. As this warms more fruit comes out and there is a chewiness that leans towards the double cream stout.

Rich, smooth, and generally a delicious Imperial Stout. I was very excited to get my hands on this and even more excited that it came in a pint glass. Sneaky alcohol percentage and another one of Bell's beers that is so drinkable.

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Photo of jvillefan
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A: jet black with a very minimal mocha colored head.

S: A mixture of bourbon with chocolate is dominate in the aroma of this beer. Roasted malt come through in the background of this beer.

T: A nicely blended well balanced mixture of roasted malts, chocolate, and bourbon. Very rich and intense flavors.

M: It is very think and heavy with the perfect amount of carbonation for this beer.

O: Amazing stout. Well worth trading for.

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Photo of jera1350
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Bodega Brew Pub.

Served in a 10 ounce nonic with a solid black body and a dense head of brown colored foam.

Incredibly rich smell of dark malts and bourbon. Molasses, lactose, coffee beans and bourbon.

Rich malty flavors with deep complexity. Chocolate. The bourbon is there and does not overwhelm or stand out more than the malt. It's a nice complement to the overall brew.

Very sticky and rich with a full body.

Awesome beer. Wish they would bottle this bad boy on a regular basis. Lighter on the barrel, but it makes for an overall enjoyable beer that is towards the top of the list for the style.

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Photo of madelfonatree
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 enjoyed May 30, 2015

Look - Oily black. Thin light tan head. Lacing not so much.

Smell - Bourbon. Black licorice. Sweet. Chocolate.

Taste - Bourbon/alcohol taste is very subdued. Honey and fruit. Sweet chocolate finish.

Feel - Heavy. Really no carbonation to speak of. This is what I like in a stout.

Overall - I got it! I like it better than KBS. Too bad this isn't as readily available.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black and beautiful, there was a layer of brown froth at the top. Very thick in appearance and feel it was viscous and smooth on the tongue.

All the vanilla and coconut one can handle, the scent was as smooth as the feel. Very elegant in the nose, the scent is creamy and pronounced.

The taste is as smooth and creamy as the nose would intimate. Barrel oakey flavor mixed with strong vanilla tones, there's a coconut flavor near the end. Slight hints of chocolate/caramel brownie finish it off. As good as any taste I've had in a stout.

Overall I find this the closest to BCBS, which ranks as tops with me!

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Photo of JackieTH
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On draft at the 2012 Autumn Brew Review, from notes. We missed this at the 2011 ABR, so would not be foiled again.

2 ounce pour was oily black in appearance with a thin skein of mocha brown head. Smell was distinctly bourbon..vanilla, oak, subtle cherry, along with dark chocolate and subtle anise, toffee, dark fruit. Smells rich and delicious.

Taste follows the nose. Bourbon barrel, vanilla, figs, dark and sweet chocolates, coffee, dark fruits, blackstrap molasses, toffee. Booze. Bitter coffee, dark chocolate and hopping keeps some semblance of order in all the richness. Mildly warming. It's very, very good. Heavy creamy body as expected. Overall..The bourbon elements in Black Note aren't as over the top as other bourbon whiskey imperial stouts, it frames the dark chocolates and allows all the other flavor elements to really shine. Impressive.

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Photo of beerwolf77
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Yeah I'm reviewing it off my 6oz pour from the GTOM. When the hell else would I be able to tick a beer this epic?

Pours black as coal and thick as burnt motor oil. No head no lace. No surprise there. It is called "black" note.

The aroma is very sweet. Like melted chocolate mixed with coffee and bourbon. Traces of black licorice and prunes.

The flavor is right where I had hoped it would be. Loads of sweet dark chocolate and coffee. The bourbon is mild but present. Moderate smoked barrel in the finish. Spot on perfection in my book.

Full thick and chewy body. Carbonation is looking for a life raft in this beer. It's there but struggling.

Overall maybe not a religous experiance but spectacular none the less. Made my day I was able to finally try this.

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Photo of starrdogg
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap on ChurchKey, finally getting to try this one!

A: Black with a small brown head. Very viscous with serious lacing.

S: Smell is a nice bourbon with some roast/chocolate in there as well. It's nice, but it's not super strong. I wish I got more.

T: Okay wow, now this beer is something special. At first it's a heavy dose of bourbon with some sweetness, oak and chocolate - similar to Bourbon County. As I drink it, though, I realize that there is more to this beer than meets the eye. It's got some nice depth with some great coffee/roasty notes hiding beneath the surface. This beer is so easy to drink, I never would guess the ABV is so high. Awesome.

M: Thick and creamy. The mouthfeel really makes this one stand out, it feels like drinking melted marshmallows.

O: This beer is just flat-out amazing - one of the best stouts I've ever had. I can't wait for them to bottle it.

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Photo of kif
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pitch black, tar appearance. Light tan 1 finger head with nice lacing.

S - Very aromatic. Scents of chocolate, raisin, roasted malt, hints of plum.

T - Chocolate, some bitterness from the roasted malt. Hints of plum. Alcohol burn is prevalent. Oak flavoring comes in late.

M - Medium to thin. Way less thick than expected. Very carbonated from an imperial stout.

O - A very good beer. Some acidity, but overall very drinkable. If there was less alcohol burn, this might be my favorite imperial stout, but I think that is the flaw. A great effort, just needs a slight refining.

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Photo of Converge
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip. Huge thanks to Matt for this bottle!

A - Pours pitch black, with just a thin, soapy tan cap. Minimal head retention and lacing, but some sticky legs. Usually I'm a big fan of Bell's label designs, but I gotta say this one is lacking.

S - Thick base of roasted malt, with notes of bourbon, vanilla, cocoa, and a hint of coffee over top. Slight alcohol note detected. Overall pretty sweet and boozy, without too big an emphasis on the roast/coffee character. Subtle notes of dark fruit come through as well, namely medjool dates. Probably not the biggest or most complex nose, but very rich and inviting.

T - Starts off with a barrage of sweet vanilla and bourbon notes, with dark fruit and milk chocolate poking through. Finishes slowly, very slowly. Long after the swallow, a pronounced coffee roast rises up out of nowhere and permeates the palate with roasty, charred goodness. Definitely a stout on the sweeter side, with bourbon vanilla in the forefront, but also mild earthy notes of wood and molasses. A very saturated profile overall, with a dense residual sweetness that just doesn't let up.

M - Thick and creamy, very low carbonation. Heavy on the palate, and sticky on the lips. Slight alcohol heat, but very little considering the ABV. Just a dense, unrelenting stout.

D - Overall a seriously bold stout from Bell's. The barrel character really transforms the beer into a thick, bourbon-stout concoction. Delicious, but deceptively drinkable. Not for the faint of heart.

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Photo of TATURBO
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

#1020 of 1081. Batch 10136. Thanks to 4DAloveofSTOUT for sharing this with the group.

A: Brisk pour leads to a dark foamy head. Opaque Black

S: Chocolate, Smoke, Cherry, other fruits.

T: Smokey, Chocolatey, Bourbon, Black Licorice, Cream with Cherry Bourbon finish and smoke well integrated.

M: Substantial Thick Creamy mouthfeel. Smooth. Nice tingle on the tongue.

O: Very solid barrel aged stout. Brings the best of 2 great base beers to the mix with a nice barrel accent enhancing a fantastic mix. For an 11.5% it goes down much easier. Seems like an 8.5% Smoke flavor well integrated but not overpowering. Highly recommend!

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Photo of Hamburgers
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage. Pours black with one finger mocha brown head. Aroma is sweet bourbon, vanilla and dark chocolate. Flavor is bittter sweet chocolate, dried fruit, charred oak and coffee all tied together with delicious bourbon. Perfect creamy body with light carbonation. Everything a barrel aged stout should be. In my opinion best there is.

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Photo of Jaycase
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 release 12 oz bottle

a: black as night. Thin mocha colored head which recedes quickly. no lacing to speak of.

s: Bourbon presence but not overbearingly so. licorice, slight chocolate.

t: chocolate, coffee, vanilla filtered through a bourbon lense.

m: smooth, creamy. low to medium carbonation.

o: A very nice, well balanced BBA stout. The bourbon here is not in your face like other BBA stouts where it's all about the bourbon kicking ass and taking names later. It's there but it seems a bit bashful at times - almost a boubon tease it is. And I want to get teased again and again and again...

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 bottling poured into a small Great Lakes snifter. I just had a bottle of BCBS out of the cellar a few days ago so it will be pretty fresh in my mind for comparison. The beer pours out very, very dark, but not quite black. Carbonation is low (not uncommon and perfectly acceptable for a barrel-aged stout). I'm getting lots of dark fruit and barrel character on the nose instead of the roasty notes I expected. Plums, dark cherries, and some vanilla and bourbon notes. I also get some bittersweet chocolate notes.

The beer has a full body and a strong, complex flavor. Some sweet malt and a big hit of bourbon up front greet you first. The texture of the beer really enhances all this rich flavor. Some of the dark fruit slides in and out, but mostly it's toffee-like malt, toasted oak, and bourbon. You half expect the bourbon to intensify towards the back of the palate, but it maintains consistency of strength and never quite burns you. It lingers while the profile gradually tends toward dark chocolate and espresso, then keeps lingering on the finish after you swallow.

Very interesting beer. It has a lot of intense bourbon flavor, but never quite seems as hot as it threatens. It's much more like BCBS than KBS, in that it embraces the bourbon instead of coffee and chocolate. Spectacular beer that I hope I am fortunate enough to score again some day.

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Photo of infinitebruner
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

August 9, 2014

12 oz bottle; Snifter

A – Jet black, thin brown head disappears almost immediately. Looks like pure motor oil.

S – Tons of vanilla, boozy warmth even on the nose. Sweet chocolate, mild oak.

T – Tons of vanilla, sweet chocolate malt notes, a hint of coffee. The burnt flavors are there, but seem to be “sweetly charred,” possible some caramelized flavors. Lots of bourbon and molasses, but very well balanced.

M – Milky, silky, very sweet. A lot of bitterness on the finish, some burnt notes.

O – This is a phenomenal, balanced, complex barrel-aged stout. My gold standard is Bourbon County, and the malt and hops here are much more balanced with the alcohol than with BCS (which is not to say I like Black Note more, just that it is more balanced.) This beer stands on its own as a fantastic example of barrel-aging.

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Photo of montesown
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Finally had a chance to try some - 2014. Out of a magnum bottle at the Beer fest in GR. Very good, however I think it would have been better a little warmer.
Cheers

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Photo of Kendo
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 3/12/14; consumed on 5/15/14, making this one just 2 months old. . . .

A: Poured from the bottle into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. Body is inky jet black with only a hint of head on top - which then disappears immediately anyway, leaving behind absolutely no lace.

S: Bourbon, molasses & vanilla. Quite pleasant nose.

T: Pretty much follows the nose, with bourbon dominating, some molasses and a lot of vanilla. As it warms I note some dark fruits (black cherries come to mind) and even licorice on the aftertaste. High-ABV (11.4%) is noted more as warmth on the belly than as heat on the palate - a neat trick for a beer of this strength and considering the bourbon. Also as it warms up I'm getting more general roastiness cutting through the bourbon. Oh and the ABV is definitely working its wonders, buzz-wise.

M: Full-bodied, heft-wise, and fairly slick in feel, though as it warms up the carbonation seems to activate itself and cut through that slick feel. . . .

O: Real nice. I'd love to do a blind tasting with this, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and Founders KBS. This one is heavier on the vanilla/molasses side of things, while others have more roasty malt to balance the bourbon.

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Photo of did3376
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 2/12/14 Poured into stout glass.

A:Thick and black. About a finger of dense, tan head that fades over a few minutes. This stuff is dark, held light behind glass and could not see it.

S:Slight bourbon, roasty, raisins and chocolate.

T:Hints of bourbon quickly followed by slight coffee, then dark chocolate. Chocolate flavor seems to linger. Some alcohol is noticeable in the nose, but not overly strong. Roasted caramel and hints of black cherry noticed as well.

M:Smooth, medium consistency. Slight feel of carbonation dancing on my tongue. Slightly astringent.

O:Very good. Well balanced. Slightly bitter aftertaste. I believe some aging would improve this beer nicely. Definitely improves as it comes up to room temperature. Bottle was taken from basement which was probably around 45-50 degrees.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 586 ratings.
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