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:
663
Ratings:
4,264
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,720
Gots:
1,183
For Trade:
130
User Reviews
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Reviews: 663 | Ratings: 4,264
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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Photo of shadetree67
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black with thin brown head that dissipated quickly. Sparce lacing

Smell: Vanilla and oak. Dried fruit maybe prunes. Some bourbon.

Taste: Big vanilla flavor. Slight bourbon. Dark chocolate makes an appearance as the beer warms.

Mouth feel: Medium body and low carbonation. Slight burn from the alcohol but not bad given this is over 11%

Overall: Wish the mouth feel was a bit thicker but that is only a minor gripe about this amazing beer. It's more balanced and smooth than bcbs.

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Photo of AdamF625
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A- black and almost flat with a thin dark brown head that fades quick and leaves no lacing.
S- bourbon, chocolate, oak, plums
T- follows the nose my friends tons of cocoa and sweet bourbon, oak, some dark fruit, toasted marshmallow
M- thicker body with little carbonation. It is ridiculously smooth and easy to drink for a big beer. No burn to report from the high abv and barrel aging. This was bottled in February of 2012 so let's keep that in mind.
O- this beer really took to the barrel well and is graceful at almost two years old. Very smooth and flavorful.

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Photo of MaxSpang
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Chappy's in Dayton, Ohio.

APPEARANCE

Well, what do you expect? It's black as night, and sat under a mocha-colored head that dissipated quickly. There was no lacing, but the beer had some pretty apparent alcohol legs. There wasn't any light coming through on this one. With a name like Black Note, would you expect anything else?

SMELL

This is heavy on the bourbon in the nose, which brings notes of vanilla and toasted coconut. There is a lot of nice complexity that ranges from sweet to slightly boozy. A hefty amount of chocolate and licorice comes through, and brings a bit of coffee and roasted malt with it. This is the type of beer that you get full from by just smelling - there is a LOT going on!

TASTE

First off, this beer is remarkably smooth. The bourbon is not as strong as it was on the nose, but it is definitely present. With the bourbon, notes of vanilla, licorice, and toasted coconut come out. Surprisingly, the alcohol is very well hidden. The beer starts off milky sweet, with smooth caramel and toffee characteristics, then finishes with a nice hoppy bitterness. The bourbon lasts a long time after the swallow, making this beer have an absolutely amazing after taste.

MOUTHFEEL

This beer drinks like a pillow - it's smooth! It has a velvet-creamy mouthfeel, sort of like melted chocolate. There isn't much carbonation, which adds to the creaminess. The beer has a nice big body which makes it a sipper. The intense aftertaste lingers for an extremely long time.

OVERALL

This beer is incredible. It can hang with the big boy bourbon barrel aged brews and hold its ground. It's a special beer that demands a special occasion, but the taste is so good that you'll find an excuse to drink it! I wouldn't say that this is the barrel-aged stout to end all barrel-aged stouts, but it is absolutely incredible and worth seeking out.

Cheers.

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Photo of Prager62
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A twelve ounce bottle packaged 11/03/2016 with the code PRN 16619 poured in a Bells snifter.

Look- Pours a dark brown revealing a couple of centimeters of light tan foam. It rapidly settles to a thin ring rimming the glass and no lacing is left behind.

Smell- Bourbon forward with sweet dark fruit, vanilla, tobacco and mild char.

Taste- Bourbon, figs, raisins, tobacco, a touch of vanilla and char. A prominent oak flavor is in the finish.

Feel- It's oily with a medium viscosity and a tad hot from the 11.2 abv.

Overall- A beer that I look forward to and I'm fortunate to have scored a few. A bourbon barrel forward stout with a slightly thin and hot feel. As a bourbon lover I enjoy it fresh, but I'm not opposed to cellaring a couple for a smoother alternative. It definitely ranks near the top of the class.

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Photo of KevSal
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

this passed thursday the lady and I hit a pretty important milestone for us making i to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite, had to properly celebrate!

huge thanks to dblab for hooking me up with this gem, dan you never end the surprises.

bottle 571 of 1081 poured into 2 eclipse snifters

a- much thinner than i was expecting, but it looks dynamite nonthess. no light comes thru the glass and theres a nice brown mocha head sitting on top.

s- mmm wow a nice mix of bourbon and chocolate, followed by that awesome expedition stout, no alch at all surprisingly. a soft creaminess of flavors really comes through the nose of this one.

t- this guy is a home run. very soft and velvet flavors come though on this one. great chocolate and bourbon notes. vanilla comes heavy in the back which i particularly love. juicy and delicious. no alch at all and i cant believe it. maybe sittin on this guy a few months has done it some good.

m- the body is much thinner than expected but that doesnt hold it back any. upfront is the bubble carbonation followed by a fantastic smoothness

o- never thought id be tasting this guy, and its better than i expected. id say its neck to neck the top eclipse out there honestly.

this was the perfect brew to celebrate our personal milestone. thanks again dan for giving me the chance.

you have to try this brew

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Photo of Riff
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours an inky black with a minimal chocolate head, which dissipates to a small ring around the glass. Smells earthy, dark chocolate, marshmallow, slight hint of bourbon. Tastes of dark chocolate, bourbon, coffee, dark fruit, and finished with a caramel flavor. Minimal notice of the alcohol, most sips you couldn't taste it, sometimes it was a light burn in the background. Body is a bit on the thin side for a BA stout. Overall it's a little surprisingly complex, usually don't see something this complex without another additive like coffee. Goes down easily but a thick enough body to make it more of a sipper than crushable.

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Photo of von_kaiser
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

finally.....insanely dark, rich & viscous pour. rich bourbon scent and taste w/ a subtle chocolate flavor. extreme full bodied feel, chewy.....all comes together nicely as it approaches room temperature. will most certainly revisit regularly.

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Photo of fiver29
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Brew Kettle. Pours pitch black with a thin tan head . The head does not last long at all. Aromas are amazing. Wood, vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, coffee, roasted malts, and bourbon. Has a silky smooth heavy syrupy mouthfeel. Flavors follow the aromas in line and are just amazing. I could drink this all night. Next time this is on tap I may just find myself drinking it all night.

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Photo of larryi86
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Big thanks to Blackop555 for this
12 oz bottle, 2016, poured into a tulip

A- Black with a two finger mocha head.

S- Roasted malts, some coffee, milk chocolate, some dark fruits, nice touch of bourbon, hints of caramel.

T- Milk chocolate/cocoa, some roasted coffee, caramel malts, some dark fruits, some toasted malts, bourbon, some vanilla.

M- Smooth, medium to full body.

O- This beer lingers on your tongue in the best way possible and is incredibly easy to drink for a bourbon barrel aged stout. As I'm drinking this it just keeps opening open and show the layers of this beer. Another great imperial stout from Bell's!

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Photo of ragnar3
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage poured into a tulip. Huge fudge, apparent but well integrated coffee and nice barrel notes. Extremely well balanced and highly recommended BA stout.

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Photo of Moshulu
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage. Pours oily dark brown with reddish highlights. Thin head that dissipates fairly quickly. Looks a bit thin in the glass. Smell is milk chocolate, toffee, dark fruit, vanilla, and bourbon...nicely complex but all in balance. Flavor starts with vanilla, then dark fruit, then toffee and chocolate before ending with a balance of roasted malts and bourbon. Wow...crazy complex beer, but subtle the whole way through...again everything is in perfect balance. Mouthfeel is a little thin with some bitterness and alcohol burn at the end...probably the only area for improvement with this beer. Overall this is one of my favorites. Not the big and bold Cherry Vanilla Coke flavor of BCBS, but one of the most balanced BA stouts I've ever had.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2016 vintage
12oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours a viscous jet black color with a small creamy khaki colored head that eventually reduces to a ring around the glass

S- opens with fresh espresso and dark chocolate followed by dry fig and black molasses. The barrel aroma is alive and well, giving off notes of caramel/toffee, wet oak & vanilla whipping cream. More dark fruit emerges near the close, currant, dark cherry, and compliments a bold bourbon aroma on the finish

T- Plenty of dark chocolate, fresh espresso and charred malt up front, followed by sweet vanilla cream, molasses and burnt brown sugar. Dark fruit notes of fig, raisin and black cherry emerge, followed by the barrel notes kicking in; wet oak, vanilla, caramel and spicy bourbon. The finish is almost port-like, with more bourbon & char lingering

M- medium heavy body with moderate-low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel than continues into a slightly warming, creamy finish

O- everything you look for in a straight up, bourbon barrel aged stout. Just enough barrel elements, and the blend of the two Bell's stout seems to work better than each on their own

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Photo of CManuel
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 12-28-12. Poured into a snifter.

Awesome smell. Heavy on the bourbon, but also a lot of chocolate and vanilla present. One of the best smelling beers I've sampled.

Pours a very thick black with no head at all. Dark as night, very pretty.

Lot of stuff going on with the taste. Bourbon is very present, followed by a bit of vanilla, chocolate, and charred wood. Hides the 11+% well. Very thick bodied and smooth, awesome mouthfeel.

Overall, I love this beer. A little heavier on the bourbon than I would like, but I can still see why this is such a world class stout.

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Photo of jlindros
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to both mcsecne (Reddit) and erric (Reddit) for bottles of this gem.

Light fizzy darker colored head, pitch black dark beer with nice long legs, decent thick head as I swirl.

Nose is awesome, tons of dark malts, chocolate galore, some rich thick expensive Belgian chocolate, bakers choc, a little dark even, velvety too. Little espresso and coffee with a bit of roasted malt but no burnt aromas, cocoa nibs. Then barrel, some vanilla with light toasted oak, decent bourbon, little alcohol tingle. Velvety and maybe even creamy oats.

Taste starts with malts again, dark malts with syrupy dark malts, lots if creamy velvety chocolate, cocoa nibs, bakers choc, etc. The malts have a light roast, little bitter tannin char but not really burnt. Cocoa leads to barrel, light vanilla and barrel, must a touch of bourbon. Light warning tingly booze. Light bitter hops but not much. Finish is long creamy chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, light bourbon barrel, little sticky sweet with a bit more booze, so much mouth layered thick chocolate.

Mouth is big bodied, thick and creamy lush velvety, decent carb, some warming booze but doesn't drink like an 11+% beer.

Overall very nice, great base stout with tons of chocolate, nice dark malts and decent barrel but if I could complain about anything maybe a bit more bourbon as I love bourbon.

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Photo of zachary80
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz poured into a glove, 11.8% abv. Bottled 12/29/12 batch 11620. Served at 55* and allowed to warm.

Hard pour gives only the slightest head which immediately fades into a tiny ring of white bubbles. A little bit of action from the nucleation point in the middle of the glass, but otherwise its pretty much still and black. Very dark brown while pouring but opaque in the glass. Minimal lacing.

Aroma is sweet, bourbon, vanilla. Very appealing, but fewer layers than expected.

That same aroma follows through but with a lot more complexity from the roastiness of the stout. Still favoring the sweeter elements up from, the finish has a long bitterness from the roast and a little alcohol. Cacao/dark chocolate, light oak. The sweetness ends up being balanced by the alcohol/roast, but this is still on the sweeter side.

Warming from the first sip, the alcohol lends more of a pleasant presence than harshness. Low carbonation level, but not flat, appropriate for the style but maybe could be just a tad higher. Carbonation level seems more appropriate around room temperature, where it's slightly increased.

Overall Black Note is an excellent beer that is smooth and complex. Others may have more barrel character or be more extreme, but this is a great stout.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Rich black in color with a toffee/molasses colored creamy head, thick and viscous looking.

S - Rich caramel cream, roasted toffee, dark chocolate malt, vanilla, bourbon, and some oak.

T - Rich and flavorful with vanilla, some traces of dark chocolate, oak, and bourbon. Ends with a sticky oak, vanilla, bourbon finish.

M - Luscious and rich velvety texture, thick, and slightly sticky on the lips.

O - An outstanding barrel aged stout.

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Photo of shivtim
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from a friend. 2012 vintage aged in his beer cellar in Michigan for one year.

Nearly opaque black/brown, with brown tinged edges when held up to light. Slight lacy brown head.
Nose is bourbon-soaked raisins. Chocolate. Slight anise. Fantastic.
Taste is deep malt, bourbon, some sweetness.

Excellent stout.

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Photo of corby112
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with a half finger beige head that quickly settles into thin, lasting ring.  Spotty lacing and legs coat the glass.

Incredibly inviting nose with sweet and spicy bourbon barrel notes excellently integrated into the elements of the base beer.  Spicy whiskey/bourbon with toasted oak and vanilla.  Toasted coconut and vanilla notes really stand out along with the dry, earthy  oak presence.  Underneath, there's some luscious chocolate, licorice, vinous fruit, oatmeal and toast.  Smells amazing!!!

Viscous and full bodied with a strong bourbon presence that is perfectly integrated into the flavors of the base beer.  Some dry toasted oak and spicy bourbon along with smooth vanilla bean and roasted coconut.  Again, the toasted coconut flavor is realy prominent and the vanilla rounds out the hot booze.  Great bourbon flavor.  Underneath, there is a nice combination of sweet and roasted malt notes with hints of dark chocolate, burnt sugar, toast, oatmeal and coffee bean coutered by licorice and vinous fruits.  Slightly dry in the finish with a good amount of boozy heat and warmth in the chest.  Abv not masked very well but the base beer flavors aren't obliterated and it's still somewhat easy to drink.  Very nice.  

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Photo of WankelEngine
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a dark, black coffee color with just a touch of mocha foam. Oily legs when swirled.

S: Opens very sweetly with coconut, maple, and vanilla. As it warms an oaky bourbon flavor joins the initial sweet scents. Complemented by aromas of fig, plum, hazelnut, and brown sugar. A little bit of warming booze. Near the end there is some milk chocolate.

T: Bittersweet chocolate is more potent here. In combination with oak, cappuccino and a hint of smoke, this nicely tempers the remaining sweetness. Dark fruits show through and blend nicely with the chocolate. The finish is all bourbon and mocha.

M: Medium thick and very smooth/sticky. Almost no carbonation.

O: A wonderful beer. Undeniably complex and well crafted. Up there with Parabola and BCBS. I really love the aroma, very sweet but interesting.

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Photo of psychotia
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Stubs and Herbs, review from notes.

A: I'm not going to go too in-depth, as the 7oz-ish pour was served in a 7oz snifter (filled to the brim). It was very black and had no head.

S: Bourrrbon! Vanilla, oak, and did I say bourbon?

T: omg. This is insane. Initially, all I can sense it the bourbon, but that fades into strong chocolate notes with a hint of oak... but wait, it's not done as it finishes with a HUGE blast of vanilla. Wow... this is an EXPERIENCE!

M: Thick & creamy (maybe even double-creamy). Yum!

D: Oh the 7oz didn't last long, but I don't think I would have lasted much longer had I ordered another!

If ever I have the opportunity to drink this again, I will not miss it. Put this on my "top 5."

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Photo of FUwolfpacker
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really happy that I was able to grab this one at a local store. Got 2 of the last 5. Bottled 12/28/12.

Poured from the bottle into a Westbrook tulip.

A: Pours black as oil and just as thick. Very thin tan head. Mild lacing.

S: Mostly vanilla and oak at the start. Maybe a little roastiness. Some mild coconut.

T: As you would expect, the vanilla, oaky, bourbon booziness is the first thing you taste. While it is prevalent, it isn't overwhelming like many of the bourbon barrel imperial stouts I've had. A nice sweetness but not cloying. Some mild warming in the chest but no burn. It's faint but there is some mild chocolate, roasted coffee, coconut, and dark fruit (raisins?) as the bourbon notes fade away. They become a little more prevalent as the beer warms. Roasted flavor and maybe some mild oak flavors stick around for a little while.

M: Very smooth, silky, creamy. Carbonation is mild but it is there.

O: This is a truly great bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. The bourbon character is there, but is not overwhelming. This makes it a pretty drinkable despite the 11.5% ABV. Definitely the best BBA stout I've had to this point. Worth making the effort to get if you haven't had it.

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Photo of jtingue
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 12/28/12. Poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance. Pitch black. Pours with a finger of hazelnut colored head. This dissipates quickly, but there is a nice ring around the top of the glass.

Smell. That now familiar bourbon aged smell permeates the nostrils: buttery, sweet and vanilla. An underlying layer is implies creamy milk chocolate. There is something about bourbon aging that give the smell a certain softness, a softness that expedition already has in its chocolate notes.

Taste. Starts out with a strong punch of bittersweet chocolate. Some vanilla tinged oaky sweetness permeates the whole experience. It occasionally becomes dominant, being manifested as a toffee like flavor. Other times it fades into the background, allowing the chocolate notes of the stouts to dominate.

Mouthfeel. Excellent creamy body is broken up just enough by tight carbonation.

I just had to review this one after having the first few sips. A very refined bourbon barrel aged beer. It gets to the level of KBS as far as balance goes, something that BCBS doesn't do for me.

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Photo of sukwonee
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for the trade Jim!!!

A: Black body with very little head

S: wow. Huge vanilla, bourbon, oak, dark fruits, some hops, coffee, chocolate,
5 stars here.

T: ok so not as good as it smells - still great. more bourbon notes over vanilla and oak than in the nose. alcohol heat is definitely there. I pick up brown sugar, caramel, coffee, chocolate, but not much dark fruit as in the nose.

M: It's syrupy alright but it's not the thickest stout I had or anything like that. as mentioned alcohol heat is there (dry).

O: Another excellent BA stout. Nothing crazy or anything but great BA stout. I love the fact that it comes in 12oz bottle now.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,264 ratings.
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