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

BA SCORE
99
world-class
651 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
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): 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:
651
Ratings:
4,219
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,728
Gots:
1,168
For Trade:
124
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 651 | Ratings: 4,219
Photo of marksto
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Featured on tap at the Indiana Brewer's Guild Festival in Indianapolis. Many thanks to Bell's for making this excellent beer available this year.

Pours black with a slightly dark head that lasts. Has big, bold whisky bourbon in the nose, along with a honey-like malt sweetness - very nice. Silky on the palate, with caramel, oak, whisky, alcohol, coffee, and chocolate all interplaying with nice complexity. Seductive, delicious, and a real treat.

Very thankful to have had the opportunity to sample ths one, and I made several trips for refills. Given the chance, you will too - highly recommend.

 604 characters

Photo of mdfb79
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap tonight at Churchkey in Washington, DC. 10 oz. pours in snifters. This was one of those whales I never thought I'd get to try unless it came to a festival, so was pretty happy to get a few glasses of it tonight.

a - Pours a pitch black color with one inch of dark tan head and light carbonation evident. Head lasts for a few minutes and leaves some spotty lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of bourbon, oak, vanilla, roasted malts, sweet and bitter chocolate, and caramel malts. Really amazing nose with the bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate mixing wonderfully. Pretty perfect nose.

t - Tastes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, sweet chocolate sweet dark fruits, roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and cream. Again, really great here.

m - Medium to full body and low carbonation. Somewhat thicky and creamy, really great mouthfeel. No alchool heat really at all.

o - Overall a truely fantastic beer; reminds me, as well as others I was with, a lot of BCS Rare. Nose is wonderful and no real alcohol heat, I had no problem drinking 3 full glasses of this one. I put it on par with BCS Rare and the normal BCS, which are two of my favorite stouts. Would love to have it again sometime.

 1,184 characters

Photo of alarmclock314
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle, dated 7/1/16. Pours black with a medium sized khaki head; very nice lacing. Smells of bourbon, cocoa, roasted malt, and earthy hops; medium intensity. The taste follows closely with bourbon, complex roasted malt, cocoa, earthy hops, lactose, and some subtle dark fruit; much better intensity and very smooth. Light bitterness, dryness, and sweetness. The alcohol is completely hidden. Above average body and below average carbonation. Overall, this is a smooth, complex, and tasty IS.

 503 characters

Photo of rallison
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thank you Glenn for cracking this incredible growler.

Super bourbon vanilla in the nose. Chocolate. Awesome.

Rich, rich chocolate and bourbon in the taste. Incredible. Smooth as butter.

Amazingly drinkable beer. Wow. Low carbonation but perfect for this beer.

One of the best beers i have had in a long time. Once again, thank you Glenn for opening such an incredible beer.

 378 characters

Photo of CraigP83
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Black, little to no head. Smell is chocolate, whiskey. Touch of black licorice flavor, Absolutely tons of chocolate, dark baking cocoa. Good BA stout but not the greatest

 170 characters

Photo of weeare138
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to egajdzis for this...
Appears a near black with dark brown edges. The small tan cap fades into a little film and mild collar. Spotty streaks of lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of butter cream, lactose, bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, cocoa, dark chocolate...pretty intense, complex, and enticing.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a "smores" like taste (I see egajdzis took author rights for my original thoughts), along with creamy caramel standing out.
Mouthfeel is sweet up front, smooth, full of bourbon and cocoa. Delicious stuff. This is what I had hoped KBS was going to be.

 613 characters

Photo of Luk13
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from tom10101 obtained via sarro, thanks to the both of you. Thick black brown pour with no head. Very intense and complex aroma: molasses, lots of bourbon, charred wood adds some smokiness (nice twist!), some caramel and ripe fruits (plums, figs). Awesome. Taste is very rich, lots of roasted malts, bourbon, vanilla and chocolate. Flavors are enhanced by the sublime creamy mouthfeel and low carbonation. Intense and refined. Side-by-side with BA speedway with BA speedway being a close winner. Although I prefered Black Note's palate and aroma, BA speedway's flavors were out of this world.

 600 characters

Photo of zac16125
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle into a snifter
Bottled on: 12/28/12

A: Pours an opaque black with some browning on the edges when held to light. 1/2 fingers width of light mocha colored head builds and then quickly recedes. Leaves only small patches of lacing.

S: Massive bourbon upfront. This is followed by rich dark cocoa and chocolate fudge. Oak, vanilla, the barrel notes are huge. Hints of roasted malt and dark fruits as well. Maple syrup. Incredible aroma.

T: The initial sip is luscious dark chocolate, followed by bourbon, and finished with coffee and roasted malt notes. The flavor levels with each sip are just wonderful. I also get raw oak, faint dark fruit notes, vanilla, some bitterness on the finish.

M/D: Velvety smooth, full bodied, fairly thick but not chewy, carbonation a touch higher than I prefer for the style, but appropriate. No hint of the ABV and drinkability is excellent.

O: Overall, just an excellent beer. I feel very lucky that I was able to get a hold of a bottle of this. Excellent from top to bottom. Definitely worth seeking out.

 1,056 characters

Photo of hopdog
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to egajdzis for sharing this gem! I'm still counting my lucky starts to have tried it!

Poured a dark black color with a very small sized off white head.

Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, wood, caramel, smoke, dark fruits, and roast. Very complex and I was getting something different every time I took a whiff.

Tastes of vanilla, caramel, bourbon, lightly vinous, chocolate, and roast. Creamy and smooth body.

I was I had a whole growler of this one!

Notes from and tasted on 7/18/07.

 497 characters

Photo of macrosmatic
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a CCB pint glass.

A: Pours a very dark brown, basically opaque. A half-finger medium brown head forms, and there is no visible carbonation.

S: Chocolate, bourbon, vanilla (from the oak?), leather & tobacco. Overall impression is that of moderate sweetness.

T: Follows the nose exactly. Maybe more pronounced cacao and coffee mixed with the chocolate, vanilla, oak and bourbon. Hang is sweet, with lingering bourbon and oak.

M: Thick body, almost chewy, sticky. Moderate alcohol for style, low carbonation sensation. Silky smooth mouthfeel. I would give it a 6 here if I could.

O: Awesome. This lives up to every bit of its reputation.

 691 characters

Photo of drmcleod10
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 Bottle

A- Dark as night, not as thick as some other stouts and around the edges of the glass light can get through. Minimal lacing and head on this one

S - The nose is fantastic here on this one... reminds me a lot of BCBS but with more dark fruits on the nose. Huge bourbon nose followed by vanilla chocolate and figs

T - dark fruits on the mouth, figs and dates dark chocolate and lots of bourbon on the finish

M - Medium bodied with more carb than i expected

O - Definitely lives up to the hype and really enjoyed this beer. Its a dark fruit BCBS

 559 characters

Photo of controlfate
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Received (6) bottles in a trade.
A: Pours dark brown, with minimal white head. Virtually no retention and lacing.
S: Strong bourbon upfront, notes of oak, dark chocolate, and rye.
T: Boozy, charred oak, dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, and burnt bread.
M: Creamy, rich, full bodied stout that clings to your mouth.
O: Very complex and robust stout. I would like to try this again after it's been aged a year or two.

 419 characters

Photo of brew3crew
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tasting at Jackie O's. Out of a hand bottle

A-black body with tan head that sticks around for a while

S-sweet bourbon vanilla. Absolutely incredible

T-great blend of smoothness vanilla and bourbon. Definetly worth the buzz

M-medium body and smooth

O-absolutely brilliant. I know know what the buzz is about

 312 characters

Photo of NeedBeerHere
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out as dark black as any stout I have ever had.with a tiny dark brown head that dissipated quickly. Smell is definitely some nice chocolate, dark fruits like raisins, burnt malts, and some fine brown sugat. This is REALLY an amazing smelling stout that reminds me of BCBS with a four years on it yet this only has one year. This really smells well put together. Taste is everything in the nose with a TINY bit of booze from the barrels but it is very muted and as perfect as I could possibly ask for. This is no normal stout. It tastes amazing. Mouthfeel is really nice and thick which is awesome for this stout. Overall this is one of the best stouts I have tasted in a great while. Ironically this is the third time I have said this today as I have been blessed by the stout gods today. This hasn't ever happened to me before ever. Get one if you can because this is one of the best stouts I have ever tasted.

 917 characters

Photo of egajdzis
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured an opaque black color with a thin, tan head that left light lacing on the glass. Aroma of bourbon, raisins, buttercream, lactose, vanilla, cognac, smoke, and marshmallow (almost s'more like). Taste of dry roasted malts, more smoke, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, chocolate, a bit of lactose, and faint alcohol, with a super-creamy mouthfeel. Thanks to Chris for this!

 370 characters

Photo of richj1970
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured on draft at local pub.

A: Pours midnight black with one to two finger mocha colored head that dissipated fairly slowly. Some nice 360 degree sticky lacing.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, and cherry. The nose on this one is fantastic. If it didn't taste so good, I would just sit and smell it all day.

T: Big bourbon flavors up front. Roasted malts, dark chocolate, vanilla, and cherry.

M: Thick and creamy. Coats the tongue nicely. Drinks way too easily for the ABV.

O: One of the best stouts I've had to date. Just wish I could land a few bottles somewhere.

 571 characters

Photo of iconoklaztor
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this at the world record Bell's tapping in Indianapolis.

Poured a black body with little head. It smelled very sweet and chocolatey. I loved the smell of this brew and the way it looked and hoped the taste could match.

The taste was sweet, rich, and full of complex flavors! MMM chocolate, creamy, and cherry flavors were all so well balanced!

I would LOVE to have more of this!

Overall, a GREAT brew and one I hope gets bottled!

Cheers!

 446 characters

Photo of abecall98
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thank you ScottFrie for this 100th review.

A - pours a pitch black with a nice Lacey tan head. It's what you expect from a barrel aged imperial stout, only the head dues off pretty quickly.

S - a little muted. Deep sniffs show signs of choloate, vanilla, and slightly oakiness.

T - flavors of intense chocolate, followed by caramel and vanilla. The finish is slightly sweet with a tiny alcoholic burn. Damn, this is Hella good.

M - top notch for a barrel aged stout. It is perfectly carbonated, with a feel of a nice creamy stout. Very sweet and sticky flavors linger as the mouthfeel doesn't seem to fade as you finish the beer. Very nice.

O - damn good beer. I wish the aroma was a little better, other than that, damn solid beer.

 738 characters

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at Churchkey in D.C.

The beer is black with a thin beige head. After a few swirls of the snifter the head expands to 3/4 inch, leaving a thick sheet of lacing cascading down the snifter.

The aroma, while nice, is quite a bit weaker than expected, offering bourbon and roast with a hint of vanilla.

The flavor, on the other hand, is a thing of beauty. Bold bourbon presence throughout. Oily thick with a delicious roast character. This is indeed a world class beer and in my top tier of barrel aged imperial stouts. Not terribly complex, per se, but masterfully balanced and just superb.

The mouthfeel is ridiculously good, perhaps the best I have yet encountered in a beer of this ilk. The Double Cream Stout shows itself here. Creamy and full bodied, with alcohol content gracefully disguised.

Worthy of its overall A+ rating, this beer was sublime.

 865 characters

Photo of Notacraftdrinker
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Yummy yummy yummy. Pours dark black color. Almost oil like. Great aroma. Tingly mouthfeel. Nice heat finish. Tastes like a sweeter Kbs. 11.5 percent. But the flavor and balance keeps it nice and clean with just enough booze to know your drinking a high power beer.

 264 characters

Photo of hardy008
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark black with an extremely small dark tan head which vanishes quickly, leaving spotty lacing. The aroma has bourbon, vanilla, dark fruit, chocolate, and coconut.

The taste is a real treat. Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, dark fruit, coconut, and dark roasted malt. Sweet without being too sweet. The alcohol is noticeable, but is not hot. In fact it is just right.

Full bodied with soft carbonation. Smooth and silky to drink. As I mentioned, the alcohol is noticeable, but there is no alcohol burn to the taste. Just a tremendous beer. No wonder it is so highly sought after.

 584 characters

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.

 567 characters

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!

 977 characters

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!

 705 characters

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.

 617 characters

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,219 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.

    Subscribe