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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): 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:
601
Ratings:
4,028
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,746
Gots:
1,056
For Trade:
100
User Reviews
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Reviews: 601 | Ratings: 4,028
Photo of sholland119
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this one at City Tap House, 6/7/10.

A-Pours deep black, a bit oily with a very dark mocha head and some pretty good lacing.

S-Outstanding. Caramel, rich dark chocolate, a nice whiff of bourbony vanilla.

T-Warm, rich and sweet from the start. A bourbon sweet note to begin, along with some alcohol warmth, then milk chocolate and sweet cream kick in before a warming finish.

M-A bit heavy in body but a joy to drink.

D-Delicious, though one at a sitting is certainly plenty.

HV

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Photo of Sean9689
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Stub N Herbs Pre-Darkness Day Party. Ordered two 7oz pours of this, because I wanted to make sure I had a couple before the keg blew.

A - Pours black with a thin tan head. Even though there's only a small ring of head around the edge of the glass, there's a good amount of lacing draped along the sides.

S - Sweet chocolate, roasted malts, caramel, light bourbon, some oak/wood. As it warmed up (and I made it to my second glass), things picked up even more.

T - Just outstanding! Lots of sweet milk chocolate mixed with the perfect amount of bourbon. Much like drinking chocolate syrup mixed with a kick of bourbon and some expresso beans.

M - Not quite as think as I was expecting, but doesn't detract much at all from this beer. Very little carbonation, just right for the style.

D - Glad I was able to get two of these because who knows if I'll ever have the chance to try this one again. Easy to drink for the style, but obviously I can only drink so many before I'd fall over.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've been offended for a long time that this beer has slipped through my grasp. Everyone raves about it, and it is good, but how much better than a decently treated Bourbon county is it? Not much.

Beer served on draft in a snifter. Beer is black with a lazy head of tan bubbles, some lacing, minimal carbonation, lots of lacing.

Aroma is sweet, bourbon, malt, not much else.

Beer is also sweet, smooth, creamy, decent, mouth-feel is the best thing about this beer, high in alcohol, sweet, good finish, a decent barrel aged whatever but don't knock yourself out looking for it like i did.

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Photo of Stevem68
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet black color with minimal head. Aroma is big bourbon and oak. Flavor is boozy and oaky. Has notes of deep roasted malts, a little chocolate with a hint of vanilla. Has a smooth creamy mouthfeel. Overall this is a great beer that lives up to the hype.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Michigan Craft Beer stand at Comerica Park, during the Tigers-Sox game. Was about to order something else, but the bartender told me they just put this one on. Score!

Poured into only the finest plastic cup. Nearly black, caramel around the edges. Carbonation is visible here, and there was only a thin head that didn't survive long. Chalk that one up to the serving vessel, I suppose.

Smells fantastic - rich chocolate, caramel, booze, bourbon, oak and milk/cream. Smells like a top class bourbon barrel imperial stout.

One hell of a tasty stout, and by a very wide margin the best - and strongest - beer I've ever had at a ball game. Despite the plethora of bourbon barrel stouts out there, I really never get tired of the stuff, and this one is no exception. Similar flavors as in the nose - robust whisky and cream notes, as with some nice vanilla and rich chocate-caramel. Damned tasty stuff.

Mouthfeel is a little thinner than I'd like, with zesty carbonation. Still, a creamy, silky beer.

Hats off to Bell's for this terrific stout, and to Comerica for putting this one on tap. Made my night!

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Photo of hoppymcgee
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage. 12 oz. bottle. Bottled on 3/12/14.

L: Nice and clean, with a dark tan head.

S: The booze still comes through a bit, so nothing too spectacular here.

T: Dark chocolate, slight caramel, only a hint of booze. The aftertaste is amazing - toffee, vanilla, and perfectly roasted coffee.

F: Smooth and not too rich for the style and ABV. Proper amount of carbonation.

O: The aftertaste is amazing. Similar beers have a bitter aftertaste, as you get from some chocolates and coffees. There was something strange in that as the beer sat and warmed it fell off; I don't think my palate suddenly gave way, so this was pretty curious.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Black in the glass, one finger brown head that leaves some lacing behind.

S-Balanced bourbon, roasted malt, chocolate, coffee with faint vanilla.

T-Great balance, moderate bourbon, roasted malt, chocolate, slight coffee and slight bitterness.

M-Medium to heavy bodied, very creamy.

O-A great BA stout, however it isn't at the same level on BA Speedway, BCBS, Parabola or some of the Eclipse beers.

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Photo of liamt07
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks a ton to Sammy for pulling this out for just the two of us, bottle 24 of 1081 (Batch 10136). 750ml into tulips, gotta love full pours.

Black, with a transient brown head. Moderate legs, but only whisps of some head and a thin collar remain. Bourbon is big in the nose, along with coconut, vanilla, and brown sugar. Quite sweet, barrel aging is front and center. Taste leads with more smooth bourbon, coconut, mild chocolate and roast flavours. Great barrel flavours, creamier notes are slightly present. Medium full body, warming with some noticeable alcohol after some larger gulps. Low carbonation, with great density and smoothness. An awesome BBA'd stout, but not the best I've ever had form the style. Awesome to have tried though.

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Photo of SadMachine
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'12 vintage

A- Pours black as night with a finger of tan head that recedes to a collar. Very little lacing, but it does leave nice alcohol legs when swirled.

S- The aroma explodes with bourbon, dark fruits, and oak. Sweet figs, dates, raisins, and prunes. Vanilla, grains, perhaps some sweet chocolate, and definitely a good bit of booze round out the nose.

T- This beer is both bold and subtle at the same time. Focused, yet complex. There's a lot of bourbon, and that makes it mellow, smooth, and boozy. Then there's plenty of the fig/date/raisin flavor. This is all complimented and rounded out with touches of vanilla, vinous flavor, oak, and a surprising bit of dry roastiness in the finish. Quite complex and delicious.

M- The mouthfeel is moderately thick, and very smooth/creamy thanks to the barrel. Lightly carbonated, and a good bit of warming booze.

O- This is a very nice representation of the BBA stout style, and I look forward to trying my other bottle with more age on it.

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Photo of IrishColonial
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at RFD. Thanks a bunch Josh!!

A: squid ink black with a beautiful ring of chocolate milk bubbles around the side. Not much lacing, typical of the style. Awesome. I want to drink the sh*t out of this.

S: Mmmm, delicious bourbon. Vanilla notes. Roasted chocolate malt. A bit of hot booziness. As it warms, the malt profile comes through a bit. But mostly bourbon.

T: The taste is surprisingly dry and hoppy. Dominated by bourbon flavors but fades quickly into a malty, mild coffee aftertaste. Dried fruit flavors overarch more than others of the style. A bit thin for my taste.

M: Thin for a bourbon barrel stout. Also creamy and more carbonated. Pleasant but different.

O: This is a delicious beer and one of the better ones I've had. I love the bourbon and hoppyness flavors and the creamy mouthfeel. Probably from the double cream stout. However, the taste and nose are a bit too bourbon (one-note) dominated. If I had a bottle (not likely) I would definitely age at least a year. Outstanding beer. But it's no BCBS.

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Photo of Phelps
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed (very much) in a chalice at the Hungry Monk during the Arizona Beer Week Eccentric Café event.

Not quite black, but as close to black as purple gets. Strawberry highlights. A tiny tuft of bubbles settles into the middle of the glass, but that's all the head I get.

Layers and layers of aroma. The component parts are obvious in here, with major black coffee coming from the Expedition, and heavy cream and oats coming from Double Cream Stout. The barrels are in perfect proportion, lending dark cherry, molasses and oak. Nice smooth dark chocolate swirls as well, as does toffee. It’s like a fruity, oaky red wine. Great balance.

Bourbon is in the flavor, but it's not the star, which is great. The front is vinous oak, burnt bread, espresso and spicy black strap. The swallow smooths things out with dark chocolate, bourbon-soaked dark cherries, a lot of buttery toffee and a little bit of toasted coconut. Oats and whipped cream rise at the finish. Gentle waves of flavor roll in with each sip. Strikes an impressive balance.

A little heartburn on the way down, but alcohol is well-hidden overall. A shade over medium in body, the brew exhibits a nice velvety texture and heft. Very light, tingly carbonation and a little fizz. Slightly tongue-numbing.

Got damn. So many great flavors mix in this brew. It’s like a bourbon-soaked cherry stuffed inside a dark chocolate toffee treat, with a heavy cream chaser. To balance both the Expedition and Double Cream as well as the barrel notes is just so impressive. The more I ponder it, the more I like it. Very grateful to have the opportunity to try it without giving up my first born. Though he might be on the table if anyone wants to send me a bottle.

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Photo of mabermud
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 Bottle

Look: Dark sultry body. The head is a creamy mocha. It quickly dissipates to a thin ring around my favorite 15.5 ounce brandy snifter. This appears viscous. The legs and lacing appear luxurious.
Smell: The smell is rich and amazing. It has a nice balanced bourbon smell, with medium roasted malts, faded coffee, easy dark chocolate, and creamy sweetness that brings everything together. Easy, and balanced.
Taste: Well, well, well. Everything described above is within the taste, and more. Dark chocolate has a bigger part than noticed in the smell. The oak bourbon barrel is nicely integrated, and provides big flavor. The dried fruit blends well. The finish is very short.
Feel: Medium body, somewhat dry. Not as creamy as expected. Full mouth feel.

Overall - Deluxe. I am a big fan of Expedition Stout, so naturally, I am a lover of Bell's Black Note Stout. I was never a fan of Double Stout, but it does a nice job combined with the other elements. Laid back big stout drinking here. My final words - I was expecting more...

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Photo of aleigator
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a viscous, black color, with a decent mohagony, bubbly head. It leaves back a thick, still bubbly lacing at the edge of the glass.

The nose reveals an astonishing balance between molasses, toffee, coconut, prunes and sweet milk chocolate on the one hand, and wooden, accentuating, slightly hot barrel qualities. The barrel is easily noteable on itself, while it hits the spot by supporting the malty aromas as well, in an outstanding, intriguing way.

Tastes earthier than the aromas revealed, with toasted, bready malts, accompanied by bakers chocolate and a decent amount of whipped cream. That creamy foundation then gets extended by cane sugar, big time toffee and molasses, which blend very well into the burning, wooden alcohol. Boozy Bourbon gets replaced by big chunks of wood, very chewy, with matured coffee beans, creating a pleasant balance, preventing this successfully from becoming too sweet and boozy.

The warmer the beer gets, the more present turns the Bourbon. It provides coconut and a hint of vanilla during the opening, while it becomes quite dominant, as the sweet malt qualities hit the tastebuds. Finishes with ash, scorched malts, slightly dry, while it remains its smooth, chocolate defined mouthfeel.

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Photo of Juicer
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage. Great tasting brew. My only complaint is smell at times a bit off ; with a little bit of mouse piss going on. Feeling no pain after this one.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Bx Beer Depot. A keg of Hopslam and a keg of Black Note. Amazingly, the Hopslam kicked long before the Black Note, so I enjoyed three of these as I watched people go nuts for Hopslam.

Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Big khaki head. Not a particularly dark head, though. Decent retention. Oh yeah, it's black.

Smell - Huge barrel notes. Bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Roasted chocolate, but otherwise the stout is a touch lost in the barrel. Boozy, too.

Taste - Chocolate and a building tingle of bourbon. Vanilla flavor throughout. The chocolate comes back in the finish in a much more bitter manifestation. Less boozy in the finish that the smell would indicate. Really wonderful incorporation of barrel and stout.

Mouthfeel - Very creamy, which I assume is the Cream Stout. Boozy and chewy, but not too thick. Low carbonation, which is strange. Nearly flat.

Overall - It's damn good. I don't know how much separates the best BA stouts, but this one is quite nice. I'm happy not to have traded for it and rather just came and drank the equivalent of a 750 on tap. Will be back for more next year.

Edited based on drinking the hell out of this at the Michigan Summer Beer Festival.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: pours almost pitch black with no head
S: big roastiness, slight bourbon, I with slight sweetness.
T: the roastiness is down from the aroma and the sweetness is up. A nice balance between the two. Not as much bourbon barrel flavor as I hoped.
F: very smooth with medium to thick mouthfeel.
O: a great beer, but let down a bit from my loft expectations for this one.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 version, it is a 12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip/snifter style glass. Liquid come out of the bottle is a cola brown color but gets dark brown as it rises in the glass. Not much in the way of highlights. Slightly darker than tan colored head, mostly small bubbles goes away after a few minutes, not much in the way of lacing. Each sip gives sort of a syrupy cling to the glass though. Decent looking beer, decent representation of the style.

Smell is really good. Dominant feature throughout is vanilla and oak aromas from bourbon barrel aging. Outside of that there's plenty of dark roasted malts providing a nice sweet and rich chocolate characteristic with a touch of bitterness. At the end there's some candy coated dark dehydrated fruits.

Taste is a step up. Lots of roasted malts providing the chocolate and the faintest light roasted coffee flavor; a little sweeter than I anticipated based on the smell, but in a good way. The candy/liquor coated dark dehydrated fruits (figs, raisons, dates) come through a little stronger. Broubon, vanilla and oak are obviously strong characteristics as well. Everything is meshed really well together, you can tell this is a carefully crafted beer.

Mouthfeel is probably the best part. I guess I'd say full bodied with an appropriate lasting/lingering flavor, but it doesn't feel as heavy as a full bodied beer, more like it'd be a medium body. Nice and smooth with a low medium carbonation level. Appropriate sweetness gradually moving to a warming finish, almost hot. A little bit of age could do alright to take a little heat away but I wouldn't do it more than 6-8 months, this was ready to drink now. Really drinkable, this one goes down nice and easy and is a year round bourbon barrel stout. Huge props to EasyReader for this one, you're the man!

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Photo of Lemke10
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This pours a very dark brown/ black color with almost no head. The aroma is strong with bourbon and sweet robust malts. The taste is sweet, smooth and strong. This seems to be thinner in texture than most other bourbon barrel stout, but probably has the most unique taste that leaves a tart fruit after taste. A good, well made beer but to currently hold the #20 spot for best beer is a bit of a stretch.

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Photo of jacewg
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a deep jet black with a two finger mocha head that settles to a small ring. Spotty lacing.

Nose: Lots of bourbon character. Oak and vanilla. Caramelized sugars with molasses. On top of chocolate, roast, espresso, and dark fruit.

Flavor: Opens with dark chocolate and espresso and moves quickly into vanilla, oak, and lots of dark sugars. For how big it is, this beer actually dries out quite a bit on the finish which aids drinkability immensely and brings forth slightly vinous dark fruit notes. There's also a decent amount of bitterness coming from seemingly both the hops and the roast. Sweetness builds mid palate but dries out quickly. Impressive combination of flavors.

Mouthfeel: Viscous and creamy. Finishes dry with a bit of acidity. Long finish with notes of roast, chocolate, and hints of acidity.

Overall: In the course of my beer drinking days Bourbon Barrel Stout has shifted from being one of my favorite styles to one of my least favorite. That doesn't detract anything from this beer. Outstanding and well-constructed.

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Photo of biegaman
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Trivia Question: What do you get when you blend Double Cream and Expedition Stout? Answer: A beer with a head that's darker than most brown ales. Bell's Black Note is black on black, that's for sure - it's darker than deep space. Almost amazingly, the foam never collapses.

Did I mention the blend is also aged for a few months in bourbon barrels? This fact isn't apparent at first but comes clear in due time. There develops so much vanilla flavour that it smells almost like cream soda (but has enough roasted malt to avoid seeming artificial or candy-like).

The taste resembles an iced coffee of sorts but also contains rich notes of fudge, vanilla, chocolate macaroons, treacle and a bit of fig too. It offers an unrivaled combination of sweet malt, bitter espresso and dried fruit qualities. The bourbon barrels work behind the scenes to add complexity but don't feature much in the spotlight.

The mouthfeel is super lush and surprisingly light; it's not often you find the phrase "goes down easy" used in reference to an 11% stout. But there is a good amount of brown sugar in the mouthfeel and a vein of red wine astringency that brightens this very dark beer.

Bell's Black Note is definitely a product of the black arts - it's wickedly good and somehow manages to balance delicacy and density. Unlike most bourbon barrel stouts, this one derives more from rich, chocolatey malts than it does barrel aging or bourbon. It's a big beer but not the kind to put hair on your chest; this is one to cuddle up to.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Yes, this is that good. I sampled this stout at the Valpo Brewfest on 09/29/2012. Poured into my pint glass, the stout was a chocolatey black color with only the slightest hint of a head. The initial aroma was nicely boozy, making it apparent that the stout slept several months in bourbon barrels. The malt in the aroma was present, but was overwhelmed not the bourbon. The initial taste was a sour chocolate with vanilla note and bitter coffee. The booziness lays a pleasingly warm backbone amid the chaos of chocolate, vanilla and coffee notes. The mouthfeel is not quite motor oil, but it is fairly close. Thankfully, the taste lingered several minutes. The aftertaste left a warming sensation that was sticky enough to linger in the back of the throat for several minutes. As far as barrel aged stouts go, this is near the top of the list.

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Photo of maximum12
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Absolutely thrilled to have a 10 oz. pour of this beast during Darkness Eve & never got around to getting my brief notes into the com-pooter.

Black. Dead, no bubbles, ready-to-be-cremated black. Smell is heavy, sweet malts with a whuppin' stick of bourbon. Boozy & rich as all get-out.

AEDCB is one to hunt down, because it's a brew at the top of its game. Usually I'm not as wild about the bourbon-screaming beers (ala BCS) but for some reason it just works here. Perhaps it's my love for the Expy Stout, & the rock-solid base brews it's founded on, but the vanilla & oak that rocket out of the dead pool of black give me pause, then make me happy. Good brownie batter would describe the taste & consistency to some extent, along with a blast of alcohol that doesn't seem out of place. Malts are in there I'm sure. Tastes a lot more like Expy, I don't sense anything Creamed about this, not even in the mouthfeel, perhaps it was overwhelmed by everything else going on.

Excellent beer. I don't know how Stubs landed this one, but if it ever happens again, I'll be there. And if I hadn't needed to get up for Darkness Day, I'd have had multiples. Bell's knows how to do big right!

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Photo of Jmitchell3
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage from a 12 oz bottle poured into a stemmed snifter.

A: pours a dark dark brown, almost black. Light .25" head with a light brown color.
S: bourbon up front, not overpowering. Some fruity notes, plum, dark cherry and a hint of chocolate. Hints of alcohol.
T: sweet bourbon flavors on the front, followed by a bit of stout dark chocolate with bourbon and cherry. Hints of plum, chocolate and coffee in the later stages.
M: full, heavy body with ample carbonation. Mouthfeel is think, a hint of creaminess. Finish is heavy and a dryness lingers on the tongue for a while.
O: very nice bourbon aged stout. Drinkable but complex. I'll be working through this one as it warms up. Excited to see how it ages.

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Photo of MacQ32
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - near black color with a finger if dense, lasting, chocolate colored headm decent lacing too

S - boozy and vanilla, oaky and lots of chocolate too

T - similar to the aroma but more chocolate and vanilla than anyrhing else. Also a hint kf dark fruit on the backend.

M - ideal, mediumish bodied decent carbonation
Relatively drinkable

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Photo of tmoneyba
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Growler sample from shigadeyo.

Poured a black color with a moderate creamy brown head that diminished slowly and produced sticky legs and fair lacing.

Good roasted malt, licorice and woody bourbon aroma.

Full body with a smooth texture.

Complex sweet stout flavor with a smooth bourbon woody finish.

Very well balanced complex barrel stout.

This is a standout beer.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,028 ratings.
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