Black Note Stout | Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

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Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout
BA SCORE
4.54/5
World-Class
Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States
bellsbeer.com

Style: American Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.20%

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.

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#110
Reviews:
805
Ratings:
4,875
pDev:
7.93%
 
 
Wants:
2,711
Gots:
1,357
Trade:
137
 
User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 805 | Ratings: 4,875
Photo of chinchillin85
2.95/5  rDev -35%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I had this on tap at the Bavarian Lodge. I was really excited to see what was in store for this beer.
A- It was a nice deep black typical of imperial stouts with crimson around the edge of the glass where the light was hitting it. I typically like my stouts a much deeper color though.

S- Sweet bourbon hits you right away. It smells really boozy. Then I get chocolate, roasted notes with some toffee.

T- At first it was too boozy. I let it warm up and It got better. It was smooth and a decent stout but nothing better than what is on the shelf

M- I would like a lot more thickness from this beer with a name like Black note

O- This is an overrated beer if I've ever seen one. Did not live up to the hype. KBS is 100 times better. I cannot stress enough that this beer is no better than another bourbon barrel aged stout on the shelf at your liquor store. I was really struggling to get any complexity's from it and there was no coffee flavor what so ever. Don't get me wrong this is a good beer but It's definitely is nothing special and I still can't believe what people will trade for this. Do yourself a favor and mix expedition and double cream yourself and add a little bourbon. You'll have the same thing.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.18/5  rDev -30%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Pours an inky, black body with a sustained, light sandy-beige head.

Smell: Char-hinting heavy roastiness with a crust of bitter dark chocolate, with lesser touches of dark fruit, vanilla-infused molasses, woodsiness and peppery alcohol.

Taste: Bulky roastiness, a bit ashen and chary and laden with booziness and soy. Rolls sweet to bitter (charred) with a salient, less-than-satisfying alcohol presence coupled with woody tannins. A bit of dark chocolate, licorice, gummy molasses and prune. The nose held a bit more promise, though the heavy char, soy and booze leave it lopsided and unbalanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Light carbonation.

Overall: Downright overhyped.

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Photo of DaveAnderson
3.45/5  rDev -24%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The aroma of this beer was overpowering from the second I opened it. It was like a fart aged on bourbon. The pour was beautiful, with a full, brown head. As expected, the beer was as dark as night.

As it opened, more aromas emerged. This one is an oak monster, which almost completely masks some of the more interesting notes, like hops and chocolate and fruits. Once it hits the tongue, there is an unexpected charred taste that throws this into complete disarray. This beer makes no sense to me. Neither the flavors nor the smells work together.

I wouldn't say it's unpleasant, but neither would I drink this again. There are too many well-crafted beers out there waiting for me.

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Photo of BearsOnAcid
3.52/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Black pour; small mocha colored head that reduces to nothing.

Mollases, dark chocolate, charred oak, chocolate syrup in the nose. Slight medicinal/cherry quality.

Heavily charred/roasted espresso flavor. Low on malty sweetness. Bourbon finish; caramel, vanilla. Still not much sweetness.

Taste falls flat with a chalky/ashy roasted malt bitterness and not much else other than the barrel. Mouthfeel is basic.

Someone explain to me what is so amazing about this beer

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.52/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Growler supplied by eyebrews and generously shared at the Pliny the Younger release. Sampled from a tasting glass. From notes.

A: Pours motor oil black, opaque in the center but lightly translucent at the edges. I have no idea about the history of this growler, but it was taped well, opened with a hiss, and there were clearly bubbles (dark mocha) on the brew. Retention was short. Promising.

S: Pretty bourbon-forward. Dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses. Anise and some booze.

T: Bourbon and chocolate are pretty evident. Anise, vanilla, molasses. The finish was hot and slightly harsh. I kept expecting more from the flavor; I picked up a lot of the barrel character, but not much of the Expedition or Cream Stout.

M: Silky, rich. Hard to criticize Bell's beers on mouthfeel, most of the time, but their barrel aging here leaves a lot to be desired: the beer is fairly hot and tannic.

D: I liked the beer, but I'm not convinced this is one of the top examples of the barrel-aged imperial stout "style." It's above-average, but nothing to give up the cellar for.

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Photo of wulfie85
3.57/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Really nice and thick stout with excellent bourbon and vanilla flavors. Mouth feel was exactly the way I wanted it to be. The oak from the barrel came through excellently as well

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Photo of pixieskid
3.6/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Fux for sharing this bottle last night. Has been on my list of rare Imp. Stouts for some time, glad to cross it off. Unfortunately, I didn't have the same experience...

Pours an almost black color with a thin white head, dissipating quite quickly.

Nose; bourbon, oak, charcoal, and some dark fruits.

Taste; bourbon upfront with a touch of bakers chocolate, I too got peanut butter, finishing with a ton of burnt malt and a slight salinity (reminiscent of soy sauce but not like 09' Abyss).

Mouthfeel; oily and surprisingly thin. This can happen with barrel treatments (i.e. Boris vs. BA Boris is the best example off the top of my head) but I think it comes from the Double Cream Stout aspect of the beer as well.

Overall; I wasn't a fan but I will admit, I have been a bit under the weather lately so I know my palate isn't quite up to par...

Retried a bottle of 2013 and can say that the initial review was so low because of the fact that the beer was oxidized. This recent bottle was much better but still not very impressive. The thin body and overly boozy aspect from the barrel aging didnt do much for me. Decent example of the style but over rated and no better than any other barrel aged imperial stout out there.

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Photo of Sprowt20
3.61/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Look: Pours black with minimal head.
Smell: Rich, malty, boozy stout. The bourbon barrels come through strong.
Taste: Rich and creamy, with a heavy booze layer. Sweet.
Feel: Thick. Like a well made hot chocolate.
Overall: Really tasty and savory, but short of special.

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.61/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Matt the Miller's Grandview on 6/12/12

Nearly black with dark mahogany brown around the edges. No head, save for a thin ring.

The aroma has a lot of the stout - roasted and burnt sugars, molasses, prune, bitter chocolate and some coffee undertones. Creamy vanilla, some oak and hints of soft bourbon. The flavor has more bourbon and more heat. Some burnt sweetness, much similar to the nose. Pretty heavy blend between burnt roast and sugar and prune sweetness. Oak char on the finish. Full, slick body with sugary lingerings. Moderate, appropriate carbonation. Finishes clean for a barreled thing.

Overall, this is good but I would much rather drink Expedition or Double Cream Stout or bourbon.

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Photo of WorldWideStout
3.61/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this during D.C. Beer Week at The Big Hunt.

A: It's a bit dark in the room, but I can tell there's the typical pitch-black body. What's unusual is that a wisp of a head stays around for several minutes, even after I take a few sips.

S: Mostly bourbon. There is a little bit of roast and biscuit in there as well.

T: The taste opens up with some toffee from the malts, and then ripe dark fruits make an appearance. Towards the middle the bourbon comes out in full force. It's not the sweet bourbon I'm used to in BA stouts - it's more rough and young. The end of each sip and aftertaste is fairly unpleasant - harsh booziness.

M: Nice velvety mouthfeel with the appropriate small amount of carbonation.

O: I was not terribly impressed by this beer. The barrel notes are too prominent, and it's pretty boozy. I'd try it again if it had been aged for a year plus, but I didn't find the draught version worth all the hype.

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Photo of nrs207
3.63/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Let's be real, this beer is all hype. It's not really that good. It has a hint of bourbon barrel, some decent roasty notes, but every time I have it, I expect it to be pretty good. It never lives up to any of the other beers I've had that night. BCBS is in another league, and even just an above average beer like KBS kills this. If you've gotten this far, here is my full review.

A - Fairly dark, not the darkest stout out there. Decent appearance overall.

S - Pretty dry, doesn't smell very sweet. Has a hint of bourbon barrel there. Some chocolate notes.

T - Fairly dry in the taste as well. Doesn't have a lot of bourbon. It tastes like an OK roasty stout got thrown in a bourbon barrel for about 2 weeks. I'm not sure what Bell's is doing, but they're doing it wrong. It's truly not that good. There are an incredible amount of bourbon barrel stouts I'd seek out over this.

M - It's fairly smooth, but nothing too incredible. The best quality of this beer is that it's not very boozy. It's a bit thin for the ABV, but at least the booze is well hidden.

O - This beer is not worth seeking out. If it was on the shelf at $3 a bottle, I probably wouldn't buy it. That is NOT good for a bourbon barrel stout, let alone a very good one. I actually would for trade value I guess, but definitely not to drink. Skip this one unless you just want to tick it. It's like Hopslam, just a tick. Nothing special. It's outdated, and many many other breweries have caught up and surpassed Bell's. The only beer I consider worthwhile from them is Two Hearted. For the price, it's the only beer they make that's worth buying imo.

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Photo of beertunes
3.68/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to bl00 for this one, from NBS BIF #007. 2017 edition. 12oz bottle poured into 12oz tulip. Poured a solid black, with about 1/4 inch of tan head that had low retention and lacing.

The aroma was a solid stout scent, with just enough bourbon and oak to be interesting.

Very similar on the palate, the barrel actually enhances the beer, instead of distracting, as is often the case.

The body was a bit thinner than I prefer in the style, and had a medium finish.

Drinkability was very nice, it's an example of the style I'd drink multiples of. Overall, a very nice brew that lives up to its reputation. Certainly worthy of your time.

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Photo of largadeer
3.73/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to stfun37 for this one.

Black in the glass with a tiny dark brown head that rapidly recedes to a ring.

The aroma is woody and earthy, with a backbone of bittersweet chocolate. Boozy bourbon is present but more subtle than I was expecting, and sweetness is very reserved. Expedition's unmistakable burnt licorice/molasses character shines through with surprising strength here.

The taste is impressively complex; licorice up front, burnt whole grain bread, bakers chocolate, tobacco, vanilla and light earthiness. Medium-bodied without much sweetness. Hot bourbon flavors come through more in the finish, along with woody tannins, strong burnt bitterness and lingering espresso.

This was a pretty interesting beer. The Double Cream Stout and -bal aging have helped tame Expedition's harshness, but not as much as I would have liked. Still enjoyable, but not as remarkable as I was expecting.

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Photo of jbertsch
3.73/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Not bad. Just wouldn't buy again. Has a licorice note on the nose and tongue that I don't really like. Overall the balance is good. BB character is mild which is good or bad depending on your preference.

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Photo of scream
3.74/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Have read many reviews of this one here, but it just did not do it for me

Look-fine 4
Smell-Smells decent w a hint of sweetness 3.75
Taste is just average, not picking up any barrel notes
Feel - I think the carbonation is a bit too much for the style-3.5
Overall- 3.75

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Photo of Ohiovania
3.8/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lots of hype on this beer. The nose had hints of bourbon and chocolate with a little coffee, but mostly had wet dog which was really disappointing. I've heard that's from something from the hops that causes this odor but it should settle out with time as the hops fade.

Mouth feel is great. Taste had all the usual bourbony vanilla and caramel I expect. All around a good beer that was slightly disappointing. Looking forward to having this again in a year or so.

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Photo of BB1313
3.8/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 vintage. Batch # 12811. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours black with a little light getting through; small khaki head that fades leaves solid lacing and retention. The aromas are full of milk chocolate and bourbon. Smells pretty typical for the style. The flavors are good, but leave me wanting more. Lots of milk chocolate giving it a sweetness along with some dark chocolate giving it a bitterness. Lots of dark fruits in the mix. Maybe some black cherries and some raisins. Some vanilla. Black coffee is there. Some oak/wood notes. Slightly spicy. The bourbon is there and isn't overwhelming at all, but there's a very subtle warmth in the finish. The alcohol basically goes unnoticed, but there's hints of booze that pop up every once in awhile. Mouthfeel is full-bodied with moderate carbonation. I was expecting for it to have that thick motor oil/milkshake mouthfeel, but it's not quite on that level. It's still creamy and fluffy though. This is ultimately easy to drink, but makes a nice sipper.

This is a nice offering from Bell's. I missed the 2012 bottle by 5 minutes, so I made sure I snagged a bottle this year. It's very good stuff, but ultimately left me underwhelmed. I guess maybe my expectations were just too high considering Bell's is one of my favorite breweries and the hype that always surrounded this beer.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.8/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ah Black Note... How you have eluded me for this long I will never know. Had during Brewvival 2012! Served from tap into a Brewvival sampler imperial pint. Poured pitch black with a minimal brown head. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, roasted malt, cream, wood, and sweet alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, roasted malt, cream, wood, sweet alcohol, and spices. It had a heavy feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a fairly good brew. I went into this one expecting to be blown away if I am honest. However, it fell short of what I was expecting it to be. All of the aspects on this one were good, but the flavor left a lot to be desired. There was a lot more roastiness going on here and not enough sweetness to balance it out at all. The spice note didn't help this fact either. The bad thing is that it was enjoyed with a group of BA buddies and all of us agreed that it was quite lackluster. Worth trying if you have not done so, but I doubt I would seek it out again myself based on what it takes to land it.

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Photo of HopHead84
3.82/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Shared by largadeer on 11/06/2009 and poured into a snifter. Thanks Chris! The beer is black with a wispy light brown head. Retention is decent and lacing is scattered.

The nose is of dark chocolate, vanilla, and prominent molasses. The chocolate has a fudge-like quality and licorice presence is strong. Booze and anise are evident. Nice rich nose.

The flavor is licorice, molasses, fudge, and dark chocolate. As the beer warms, the licorice becomes increasingly powerful. The finish is alcoholic and somewhat harsh. Molasses and licorice eventually overwhelm the other flavors. The beer is full bodied with a thick and slightly syrupy mouthfeel. I enjoyed the nose, but the taste had too much licorice and molasses for me. I was enamored for the first couple ounces, but I quickly became disenchanted

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Photo of Lazhal
3.82/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2014 and 2016 Batch 1 4.75, 4.5, 3, 4.5, 4

Taste was no where near where I expected it to be, especially for a beer ranked this high.

2016 Batch 2 is remarkable. Way better than the last two. Nice job Bells!

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Photo of PHBoiler
3.83/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thin and a bit papery already from 2014. Balanced dark chocolate and bourbon, which has blended nicely over time. The mellowing of flavors also added some oxidation. The bourbon adds a critical dimension but the mouthfeel is lacking at this high end of the BA stout spectrum.

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Photo of CNoj012
3.84/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This beer pours a pitch black color with a two finger, creamy light brown head. Retention is above average for the style and there are some filmy chunks of lacing left on the glass.

Smell is sweet dark fruits, bourbon, oak, vanilla, molasses, coffee and chocolate. The coffee and chocolate really come out more as the beer warms. Very complex nose with lots of layers.

Taste is much different and honestly fairly average. The dark fruits are the most flavorful aspect, with a bit of chocolate. There is no real bourbon flavor, just a bit of harsh booziness on the finish.

Feel is medium, but fairly thin for the style. Smooth and creamy with a bit of stickiness on the finish and into the aftertaste.

Overall I'm pretty disappointed with this beer. If the taste was more similar to the smell it would be a different story, but the flavor profile just doesn't do it for me. On top of that the thinness of the body is really a let down.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.85/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle. Recently hit MA over the past month or so. I have wanted to try this forever. Surprisingly this beer was bottled about a year ago. Aroma and flavor are oxidized. Oak character is very mild. Oxidized fruits chocolate and some coffee. Overall this was disappointing. Won't be slapping a $20 down on the counter for this 4 pack again.

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Photo of tjthresh
3.86/5  rDev -15%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dense black with a large brown head. Sweet chared sugar with chocolate, coffee, and roasted character. The flavor is a nice coco/bourbon mix. Lush, rich, and a dry finish finish this off. I don't seem to be as high on this as most. Still really good beer.

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Photo of JacobusFavier23
3.88/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L-Looks great, pours a nice thick black colored beer with an orangish brown head. Slight carbonation.
S-Very faint smell, but distant delicious chocolate/vanilla mixed with sweet, sweet bourbon. Unfortunately it is just not very strong.
T- Bourbon, oak, vanilla, chocolate. Nicely crafted. Yet still very minimal.
F- Creamy.
O-This beer is meant to be a heavy hitter. And unfortunately, in my opinion, it isn't. It's too minimal, and is weaker than other bourbon barrel aged stouts, like Kbs and El Gordo. I don't think this beer deserves this rating. It's a very well crafted beer, but it is just that. Not world class in my opinion, just a better than average, good beer.

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Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 4.54 out of 5 with 4,875 ratings