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

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Bell's Black Note StoutBell's Black Note Stout

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

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

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Reviews: 668 | Ratings: 4,286
Photo of BeerDawgs
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A 12oz bottle with a bottled on date of 11.3.2016

L - Pitch black, 1 finger of head and some nice tan lacing. Gorgeous

S - Bourbon, chocolate, coffee. Bourbon and chocolate dominate. Incredible aroma

T - Chocolate up front, bourbon aftertaste. Very tasty!

F - Full bodied, medium carbonation

O - An incredible bourbon barrel aged stout with a smooth aftertaste

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Photo of Scott17Taylor
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with no head.
The aroma is coffee, dark rich malts, oak, bourbon, and cocoa. It's actually super complex.
It's just so rich, the mouthfeel is so thick and coating. The flavor is chocolate forward with just enough roast and some molasses sweetness. the bourbon flavor blends perfectly, the oaky vanilla and coconut blend perfectly with the chocolate nose. It's absolutely spectacular.

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Photo of ChilliHeights
4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Just awesome. Shared with a friend so had 6 oz. Great black color and the aroma is coffee and beer, just perfect. Smooth and fabulous to drink, enjoy slowly on a cold winter's night. Very hard to get. 2016 version.

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Photo of Nicolaiw
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2014.
Pours deep black/brownish with small tan head.
Aroma has vanilla, cocoa, bourbon, oak, coffee
Taste is cocoa, vanilla, bourbon, caramel, coffee in the finish.

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Photo of fireazzi
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: pours a nice dark brown. Not to crazy of a body

Smell: Nice bourbon barrel smell. Better smell than Bourbon County.

Taste: Very nice and smooth, no boozy taste at all

Feel: Not to thick, went down easy, mouth feel was thinner than some barrel aged stouts I've had recently.

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

The 2016 release of this barrel-aged imperial stout is a looker: a slightly rocky medium brown head perches atop an impenetrably black body with faint mahogany footlights; head retention is modest and lacing is good, consisting of bands, ladders and cavelets. The nose is medium-large: moderate, full-range bourbon notes in beautiful balance with a seamless blend of caramel, more subtle milk chocolate and hints of toffee; moderate alcohol overtones top things off. The palate is a delicious blend of milk chocolate and darkest toffee, with hints of caramel and fudge; as on the nose, the bourbon character is moderate in intensity and consists of the entire range of bourbon flavor notes, and is almost perfectly balanced with the malt character. An insistent alcohol undertow flows beneath the malt. Overall, the flavor is right on the tipping point between sweet and bitter. The finish is a goodly hit of booze and dark toffee, followed by the onset of a mild chocolate-and-oak bitterness that lasts for a few minutes. The mouthfeel is commensurate with the extra-full body, and is slightly astringent; the texture is sticky/creamy, viscous and slightly peppery from the well-expressed carbonation. (12 oz bottle, 125 days after pkg)

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Photo of Bum4ever
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: Super dark black with a small tan head that left quickly.
S: Oak and bourbon followed by chocolate and small amount of coffee. Also has a some what overall smokiness to it.
T: Solid overall mix of flavors, nothing overpowering. Like that the bourbon and oak are there but they are not super strong to crush everything else. The more sips I take the more I get chocolate and cherries?, then a little coffee.
F: Little lighter on the bodied than I expected but still solid, definitely very smooth and easy to drink.
O: Really good BA stout, especially if you don't like the ones that have a huge bourbon taste. I will be looking to get other bottles of this.

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Photo of dbl_delta
4.44/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 11/3/16 into pint glass. Pours an absolute black - no light at the edges. Half finger tan head. initial impression is smooth chocolate coffee with dark fruit and bourbon. Mouthfeel is thick and silky, although for the ABV and style just a little more fullness would be nice. Finish is smooth, with bittersweet chocolate dominating. Alcohol is quite well hidden - just a little warming on the finish. No rough edges. Maybe cellaring would improve things a bit, but frankly this is too good to mess with. Excellent offering from Bell's.

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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 Mongrel
4.17/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Mint chocolatey goodness, with some distinct coconut too. Interesting flavors from the bourbon barrel. Pretty mellow booze that just tingles a bit on the back end. A little thinner than I expected given the concentration of chocolate and caramel flavor. Toffee and nuts too.

Very good, very well-melded, just not sure if it lives up to the hype (and price).

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Photo of IvoryFoxhole
4.23/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle from 11/3/16. Poured into Teku glass and let warm for an hour.

L: 1+F light tan head with medium retention, spotty lacing, and a thin ring. Not bad for the ABV. Beer is perfectly black.

S; Lots of bourbon barrel, roasted malts, cocoa, and some vanilla.

T: Tends to follow nose at beginning, but branches off with coffee, cocoa, dried dark fruits, and vanilla, with a bit of a dairy quality mid palate. ABV barely noticeable, a little bit of heat at the end, but no big deal.

F: Medium-bodied, probably could be a bit fuller for the style and ABV. medium carbonation, so pretty good drying overall and the ABV does not linger. Very solid construction, balance is pretty good. Probably improves with aging, so I'll look into that.

O: Somewhere between great and gotta have it. Maybe the aging will move it into the elite tier. It's very solid on its own merits.

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Photo of MikeyMcD86
4.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2016 Vintage. Drank out of my Monkish Balloon Tulip. Beer pours out not quite pitch black but is pitch black in the glass. Swirling produces a lovely dark film on the glass along with about a pinky of medium khaki head. Aroma is pure fudge brownies. Lots of vanilla. Maybe a little dark dried fruit poking through but the sweet marshmallow-y chocolate dominates. Aroma translates to the palate. Bourbon character is subdued which allows the beer to hide it's ABV really well. Mouthfeel is damn near perfect thick fudgy creaminess, broken up by a good amount of carbonation for a BA beer. Overall this excellent beer if you like sweet, chocolaty, fudgy stouts. 95 points!

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Photo of darktronica
4.36/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2016 release. The first bottle I had of this, fresh out the gate, was excessively dry and bitter; it was pretty unbalanced, not at all what was expected from the brewer notes. However, this second bottle I'm trying... this is more like it. Now I understand. The dry finish and herbal notes are still there, but now there is more complexity to be found mid-palate. The bourbon and barrel characters are both more pronounced, with the bourbon and Double Cream Stout contributing some balancing sweetness. Perhaps there is some variation between runs, but this particular bottle is quite pleasant.

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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 pants678
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Brown lacing on black body.

Toast, vanilla.

Marshmallow cream and dark chocolate's underlined by bright cut of bourbon. Lives up to the billing. Sweetness would push it over the top, IMO.

Not superlative-y in viscosity.

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Photo of shareallthebeer
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received two 2016 bottles as beer mail after having this on tap twice at GABF 2016. Consumed one bottle in January 2017 and will sit on the second bottle approximately January 2018.

A: Pours inky black, minimal cola-like head with almost no retention.

S: Coffee, bittersweet chocolate, dark fruits, and bourbon barrel (caramel and vanilla).

T: A surprising amount of coffee that lingers from sip to swallow. Aromas materialize on the palate in a symphonic manner. Finishes with some bourbon heat.

F: Not as thick as other BA stouts... even with the Double Cream Stout playing part.

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Photo of ajm5108
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark & almost completely flat with just a thin lacing. True to style but not the most visually appealing. Aroma is classic bourbon stout with notes of molasses, vanilla, fudge with some dark fruit. Enticing with no alcohol flare on the nostrils. Flavors follow suit, thick fudge upfront with warm oak, molasses and vanilla coming next. Vintage bourbon supporting notes but all folded-in expertly. The end has a tad of tannin / leather and just a smidge of heat which serves as a nice contrast to all those decadent flavors upfront, though it borders on throwing things off. Mouthfeel is velvety and viscous.

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Photo of BeerGuy8315
4.84/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Bottled 11/3/16.

A: Pours jet black in color with a 1/3 inch, foamy, dark brown-cola colored head with minimal retention. Thin, tan lacing throughout.

S: Aromas of coffee, dark chocolate, cherry, raisins, caramel, vanilla, and roasted malts with small hints of bourbon.

T: Starts off with bitter coffee/espresso and dark chocolate followed by caramel, vanilla, cherries, and roasted malts. Finishes with a nice bourbon barrel character followed by the return of mild lingering coffee bitterness with slightly sweet notes of dark chocolate.

F: Full bodied, thick, smooth, and super creamy.

O: Overall, this is an awesome BA stout. Bourbon barrel character is definitely present, but at a nice level that pairs excellently with the other flavor profiles, especially the coffee and dark chocolate. Looking forward to trying it with some age on it. Definitely worth seeking out!

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Photo of JayORear
3.95/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Have to say right up front that I'm biased by having drunk a number of Firestone and Bottle Logic stouts recently, and those memories persist, giving the disadvantage to Black Note. The look is dark, almost black, but in a very one-dimensional way. Moving it around it front of light doesn't bring out any subtlety, the way it does with many other stouts. The head is very thin, also nothing to get excited about. The smell, to my mind, is the best part of the beer: it promises depth and complexity, especially as it warms, with bourbon, chocolate, and vanilla next to currants and figs. But it simply doesn't translate into the taste, which is somewhat splintered, unintegrated. You can detect many great indvidual flavors that simply don't meld. A slightly vinegary undertone doesn't do it any favors. My biggest recent point of comparison here is Bottle Logic Byzantine Vision, which, although it derives some of its complexity from adjuncts, has one of the best integrated flavor profiles of any "big beer" I've tried. Mouthfeel is rather thin, and evaporates quickly from the tongue. I realize I'm in the minority here, but I find it to be a solid but unremarkable example of the style.

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Photo of OrangeMen
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2016 vintage
~3 months from bottling date

Appearance- Pours a black color, opaque. Thin layer of dark tan colored head, soapy / bubbly. Alcohol legs coat glass w/ a film-like layer, lots of small beads of head lacing.

Aroma- Dark chocolates, rich fudge, savory sweetness. Loads of fresh sweet bourbon, dry oak, creamy vanilla, barrel char and smoke. Roasty malts, coffee, caramel, dark fruits, creamy sugars.

Taste- Roasted malt, dark fudgy chocolates. Bourbon, charred wood, spicy oak, tobacco, leathery earthiness. Vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, milk chocolates. Coffee, dark fruits, raisins, cherries.

Feel- Medium bodied, creamy and very silky smooth, drying from all the barrel characteristics. Moderate to lower carbonation.

Overall- Decadent richness combined with such raw and flavorful barrel characteristics. So much bourbon and oak, with all the underlying complexities of vanilla, char, smoke, tobacco, etc. Nuanced flavors of chocolate, dark fruits, and creamy sweetness just make the beer so complex and complete. A true treat to try.

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Photo of Czequershuus
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a very dark black with almost no head. The aroma is savory, with chocolate, anise, rosemary, sweet bread, brown butter, gingerbread, cumin, cinnamon, and soy sauce. The flavor features brown sugar, molasses, burnt sugar, cinnamon, anise, soy sauce, cumin, and dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is fairly average bodied with very low carbonation. Overall this ais not a rich as many stouts in its class these days, but it has fantastic savory notes, with great complexity and development.

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Photo of JLK7299
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired in a recent trade. What a BBA Stout! I often feel like BBA stouts are overbearing on the bourbon but this one has just the right amount. Very drinkable! More please!

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Photo of HorseheadsHopHead
4.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L: Pitch black, with a small, creamy brown head that lasts surprisingly long, and gives off lacing.

S: Bourbon, toasted oak, milk chocolate, caramel, black cherry, espresso, prunes, burnt raisins, toast, toasted coconut.

T: Milk chocolate, cacao nib, dark roast coffee, butterscotch, caramel, bourbon, black cherry, oak, toasted coconut, toasted brown bread.

F: Medium-full, smooth, slightly oily.

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Photo of spacecake9
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I got 1 bottle this year, first time tasting this elusive beer.
A - Pours a very dark brown with a beautiful tan head that lingers as a thin head.
S - The aroma is wonderful. Soft chocolate, molasses and a hint of black licorice.
T - Bourbon, chocolate and a bit roasty. Just the right amount of sweetness.
M - Soft and creamy mouth feel with low carbonation.
O - This is an outstanding, perfectly balanced stout.

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Photo of bbtkd
4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bell's Black Note Stout, 11.4% ABV. Pours thin and black with a one finger head on a careful taproom pour. Nose is coffee, milk, and chocolate. Taste follows, sweeter than bitter but a bit of both. Decent mouthfeel, but thin. Overall excellent.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,286 ratings.
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