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:
668
Ratings:
4,288
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,725
Gots:
1,188
For Trade:
126
User Reviews
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Reviews: 668 | Ratings: 4,288
Photo of CrellMoset
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bell's Bourbon Barrel Aged Expedition/Double Cream Stout Blend, 10% abv, on tap at Capital Ale House, downtown location, Richmond, VA, on January 26th, 2009 at Black Moonday.

Appearance: Arrives a thick-looking bastard of a brew in a 10 oz. cervoise, a practically black, oily body though with flourishes of ... something ... around the edges, not quite garnet, but not quite brown either. The head is relatively fast-fading head, though at 10% abv and barrel aged, what do you expect? A faint sprawl of sheen and thin tan foam of lace is all that's left after it's gone. To be honest, there's not much going on here, but I've learned that brews that don't always look great don't look great for a reason.

Aroma: Maple syrup absolutely dominates, backed up by a strong, heavily oaky bourbon note, spicy with a slight prickle. It's very, very sweet smelling, heavily roasted, with lots of notes approaching pure caramel and/or toffee.

Taste: The melding of notes here lends an overwhelming butterscotch-esque note here, sweet and buttery, though not cloying or "bad" by any stretch of the imagination. Just had to get that out of the way, as it's the dominant tasting note here. The rest - a faintly chocolate-like spike, a spicy, estery, woody bourbon lick, fainter hints of char and vanilla, stronger overtones of maple syrup and caramel - all surge and bubble underneath this layer in a wonderful orgy of flavors. This is one big, bold-tasting brew.

Mouthfeel: Thick but big bubbled, that sort of "frozen in time" feel, crisp but sticky. Bubbles are big, but it's oh-so-foamy and creamy given the thickness and how well it holds together.

Drinkability: Well there 'ya have it. Very, very glad I got the chance to try this one. It's a huge, flavorful, over the top brew - and what do you expect from a melding and barrel aging of two of Bell's other biggest, over the top brews? - that manages to hit most of the right notes. The sweetness may not be to some's liking, the high abv% to others, but it did wonders for me - I'd be glad to have it again.

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Photo of chinchill
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at NOC.
Black with brown edges. The head is not durable but the ring is.
Very, very rich aroma and flavor. Mildly sweet with fairly well hidden ABV.
Barrel aging is obvious.Dark infused fruit.
Very smooth feel, with a good bit of warming.
Indescribably delicious.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a nice creamy tan colored head that dissipates quickly but leaves a nice ring around the inside of the glass. The beer itself is a nice , dark black color with a nice texture. The texture is a bit creamy and looks fairly smooth. While it doesn't have the same deep or heavy appearance other beers of similar make and style.

The smell is good. The smell has a nice and moderate bourbon note that mixes well with the other notes. The other notes consist of a nice cocoa notes and dark chocolate notes with a light creaminess. There is also a light alcohol note that surprisingly does not take away from the smell but adds an interesting note to it.

The taste is fantastic. It's a nice combination of barrel notes with imperial cream stout and imperial stout notes that work very well. The barrel notes consist of a nice moderate bourbon notes. The other notes consist of a nice creaminess but with strong cocoa and dark chocolate note to it.

The feel is very good. It's a heavy bodied beer with moderate carbonation but has a very nice and very silky feel to it. It's different from other stouts and this creaminess is fairly unique. It adds quite a bit to the beer's character.

Overall, this a very good beer and one that probably will get much better as it ages. With the very unique taste and wonderful texture, I can certainly see why this is one of the most sought after beers; other than it's rarity. This beer is a great and worthwhile whale to seek when it's available. Happy hunting fellow beer geeks.

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Photo of Buck89
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 vintage poured into a snifter. A jet black pour out of the bottle, producing a modest tan head that retreated fairly quickly. A soft bourbon presence on the nose, along with caramel, coffee, cherries, and chocolate. I tasted the caramel first and it quickly gave way to all of the above notes. Rich chocolate but not too heavy. The bourbon was a bit hot and this should evolve nicely with a bit of age.

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Photo of dlello2
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Black. Viscous. Good couple of fingers of head. Lingers longer than I'd have thought.

S - Smell is nice. Chocolate and bourbon dominate. Maybe a bit of coffee.

T - Wow. Very good, I get sweetness and heat to start. This one is strong! Bourbon, some chocolate, coffee, a touch of cinnamon? Like the strength, but will see what happens as it warms.

M - Really good mouthfeel. Thick and mouth-coating. Great balance with the carbonation.

O - Enjoying this one a lot. Didn't expect it to be quite so pleasant after all the anti-hype. Still a bit too hot to be perfect but I'd love to taste this one in a year.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass from a 750ml bottle.
Bottle No: 455/1534

Pours a pitch black darkness that is quite thick. There is a nice quarter inch thick head that is light tan colored and is pretty dense. A nice swirl rises a head up to about half and inch and with some dense small bubbles.

Aroma is delicious! Starts off with fudgey chocolate notes. Delicious chocolate cake sweetness and richness. There is some nice bourbon sweetness that follows the chocolate notes and the bourbon is slightly balanced by some nice roast. There are some dark fruit notes present mixed in with some dark chocolate bitterness that shows itself on the back end.

Flavor starts off following the aroma. Starts off with nice fudgey and milk cocoa sweetness. Then there is a nice mix of bourbon with the coca notes. The Bourbon notes add some slight heat and some nice vanilla and almost cinnamon spice notes. There is a nice dark fruit notes with some raisins and prunes notes mixed in with the sweetness of chocolate. These notes are however not too strong and are very well balanced by the roast notes and the cocoa. All the flavors in this brew are very well crafted and represented. Yummy cocoa notes blended with bourbon notes that bring some vanilla and some nice dark fruit notes. All these notes are also very well balanced. Nothing overpowers the other notes and they all play well together. The body is nice and creamy and velvety smooth.

Overall I'm glad I got to try this brew. It is quite delicious with great fudge notes and some slight roast. Then there are some definite bourbon notes that are present and give the brew some nice body and good dimensions but that don't overwhelm. Bravo Bell's.

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Photo of NolaHopHead
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Deep brown, very thin head disappears. Sweet bourbon chocolate aroma. Taste is outstanding, vanilla notes and chocolate, bourbon is present but not overwhelming. Crazy smooth silky finish. Overall, one of the best BBA stouts I've had.

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Photo of boomer31
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Stub and Herbs. Cannot believe I got a chance to try this one! Poured into a 7.5 oz snifter.

A - Black and black with a dark tan head. Viscous as any double stout I've had.

S - Sweet bourbon with a hint of malt and vanilla. The bourbon is the dominant factor in the nose.

T - Bourbon up front and sweet chocolate malts through to the finish. A hint of alcohol in the back but bourbon, vanilla and sweet malts dominate the taste. You can really taste the expedition stout here. But the sweetness and bourbon just dominate. Lord this is tasty

M - Viscous and low carbonation. Perfect for a double stout.

D - At 11.5% this is a sipper. I'm very excited to try this one but any more than 7.5 oz may be tough to handle.

Overall incredible. Why do they not bottle this?

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Photo of Fux
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

From the bottle (234/1081). Batch #10136
A: Pitch black with a thin mocha head that leaves some lacings.
S: Smell is mainly of heavy dark chocolate with dried fruits (currants, figs) and some dark fruits. Some roasted aromas (almonds, espresso). Vanilla comes after.Some nuts also (cashew nuts, peanut butter). The presence of alcohol is noticeable but not overpowering (notes of sherry). Deep but not aggressive. Elegant.
T: The taste mainly follows the nose with a lot of dark chocolate and roasted malts (coffee flavors). Some vanilla. Warming alcohol but without booziness. The aftertaste is on sweet chocolate and bitter chocolate.
M: Medium to high body. Almost flat. Quite velvety. It could be thicker and a bit smoother. A bit sticky on the length, but very drinkable.
O: A great, elegant imperial stout, with an excellent nose, flavorful and deep, still sober on the palate.

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Photo of Rimbimhoot
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Rating for 2016 bottle. Vanilla, bourbon, bitter cacao, milk chocolate


2014 bottle.
Ratings: 4, 4.25, 4, 4.25, 4
S: Bourbon, dark fruit, oak, cocoa
T: Huge oak, fudge, tannin, dark chocolate, bourbon, light bitterness, coconut, light vanilla, molasses, hidden alcohol, dry

Overall if the oak tannin was toned down this would get a significant bump

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Photo of emerge077
4.44/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Second time trying Black Note, first time bottled.

Dark and viscous, tawny mahogany edges, frothy tan foam. Little to no lacing, glassy obsidian surface. Creamy viscous feel, not overly sweet, dry and not at all cloying. Big flavors of toasted almond, dark chocolate, espresso, and toasted coconut. Dry aftertaste of almond, chocolate, and trace pipe tobacco. The base beers are harmoniously blended and sing in chorus with the barrel. Expressive and flavorful, a benchmark of the style that seems to be increasingly ubiquitous and often poorly done. Black Note is in the upper echelon of BBA stouts for sure.

Thanks Aaron & Chris for the chance to try this!

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Photo of Moose90
4.44/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage

A — Pours a dark rich pitch black hue into the glass, there is a thin filmy dark coffee brown head that forms and leaves behind a trace of oily lace with each sip.

S — Smell is strong and focused, notes of barrel, vanilla, oak, lightly charred coffee and malts. Slightly boozy. Dark chocolate, coffee, espresso, caramel cream.

T — Licorice, anise, bitter espresso, coffee, chocolate bark, dark chocolate malted milk balls, vanilla, Bourbon, oak, chewy.

M — Full-Bodied, rich, lingering full finish.

O — Very good overall, a fantastic BA Stout.

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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 axeman9182
4.44/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, bottled on date of 12/28/12. Received this one from gpawned and tat2dhllblly. It was allowed to warm before being poured into my Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

Black Note pours jet black, with maybe half a finger of dark, mocha foam crowning the beer. Head retention is good, but the lacing left behind is minimal. The nose is spectacular, with aromas of vanilla, marshmallow, brown sugar, bourbon, and a dusting of dark chocolate all waft out of the glass. The only (minor) complaint I have is that the barrel characteristics are highlighted so much more so than that of the base beer. The flavor profile does have some more cocoa to it, as well as even just a little bit of espresso. It comes at the expense of the nuanced bourbon barrel profile. The marshmallow disappears completely, and vanilla and caramelized sugar fade. All are replaced by more of a straight off boozy bourbon flavor. It's great that more stout shines through, but the tradeoff isn't quite worth it. Still, the flavor's very good (just doesn't quite live up to the expectations set by the nose). The mouthfeel has a certain silky quality to it, and it's paired with an appropriately subdued carbonation. The body just isn't quite full enough to really be excellent though. I've had a couple of "hyped" beers that didn't quite measure up lately, but I'm happy to say that Black Note isn't one of them. Superb barrel aged stout from Bell's

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Photo of russpowell
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an oily/effervescent ebony with one finger of caramel colored head. Good lacing, slight better than average head retention, effervescent through out

S: Dark fruit, carob, caramel, vanilla. Bourbon picks up once warm

T: Vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate, raisin & a kiss of Bourbon up front. More vanilla, Bourbon notes, fig & raisin & carob as this warms, slight smokeyness too. Finishes with dark fruit, vanilla, Bourbon, & chocolate

MF: Chewy, warming, decent carbonation for the style

Despite the style & abv, this went down fast. Every bit as good as I hoped

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

2012 12oz bottle, thanks mrbubbler!

Appearance. Pours black with half a finger of nice brown head.

Smell. Smooth bourbon with tons of oak, vanilla and sweet chocolate, and a little molasses.

Taste. Sweet dark creamy chocolate, smooth bourbon and oak barrel, a bit of vanilla and molasses. Very nice.

Mouthfeel. Full body with creamy smooth lowish carbonation. Great stuff.

Overall. A bourbon barrel imperial stout done right. I should probably crack my 750 from the original bottling soon. This is drinking very well right now and that one is probably at its peak.

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Photo of zoso1967
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black Note pours a deep, dark and pretty much opaque blackish brown that is exactly what I had expected since this is supposedly a blend of Expedition and Double Cream. The head is a deep tan in color. The head retention and lacing are both quite nice.

The aroma is intoxicating with plenty of vanilla and bourbon notes mixed with super chocolaty and rich caramel aromas. The wood and bourbon really are the star of the show in the aroma though. (I had this again at the TC Winter Beer Fest and even out in the cold with bonfires all around I could really pick up on the barrel aged notes)

The flavor is very similar to the aroma but with a bit more chocolate and a slightly charred flavor. Vanilla also plays a big role in the flavor with the oak shining through well. I also must note that there is some serious tootsie roll character going on in this bad boy.

The mouthfeel is medium and a bit thinner than I would like, but that is a common problem I find in beers that have been barrel aged. The finish is sweet, roasty and enjoyable without being too taxing.

This brew is well regarded in the BA community and for good reason. In my opinion it does not quite rise to the heights of KBS or CBS, but it is a well crafted and aged BA stout that I will surly do my best to have a snifter or two of if I get the chance.

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Photo of cbutova
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes taken on a growler pour. Opened with a pop and plenty of carbonation in the beer, pressure-filled.

A- Poured from the growler into an 8oz snifter. Small mocha tan head forms but quickly dissipates falling to almost nothing and lace is out of the question.

S- A balance is found immediately between then bourbon and stout. Rich as it gets with high quality Bourbon aromas, deep chocolatey fudge and strong oak barrel. Feels as if there is some age but not in a negative way.

T- Reminds me of Damon in a way but maybe a bit less pronounced in the stout category, just really smoothed out. Bourbon whiskey, vanilla, dark roast coffee, fudge, caramel and deep roast grains.

MF- Lower end carbonation and pretty heated from the almost 12% alcohol. Thick oily body with a somewhat creamy feel.

In the same realm as Damon goes for Bourbon stouts but a bit more of the whiskey shows and more alcohol heat noticed, still super balanced and smooth. Big oak and chocolate fudge comes to mind.

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

Reviewed from notes taken 10-24-13.

I went to Deagan's in Lakewood with my wife and some friends for Cleveland Beer Week. We got there as soon after 5 pm as we could because we heard that they were tapping this beer at 5.

The beer was brought to me in a snifter. I got a thin ring of rich brown head over a beer that was as black as night.

The smell was malt and dark fruit, with strong notes of chocolate and a good whiff of booze.

Roasty and malty made up the first impressions of flavor in this delicious beer. Milk chocolate soon turned up and made a good show through most of the rest of the tasting. Vanilla, wood and a hint of bourbon came in and finished it off beautifully.

This beer was smooth. It was almost Fonzie smooth. It felt like silk going down, and was the most enjoyable beer I had that evening.

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Photo of Mrappinin
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just popped the 2012 brew. Poor's a deep ruby only noticeable when held up to the light. The head is a thin dark brown mocha color that dissipates quickly. Heavy vanilla on the nose with slight coffee and bourbon to follow up. Rates of vanilla creamy chocolate and coffee and bourbon to finish it all off. Light carbonation make this a very creamy enjoyable BBS. The best BBS I have ever tried hands down sat this on the shelf for about ten months a very smooth blended flavor, it all works togeather.

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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 kbutler1
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Draft. FINALLY, I am able to try this beer! On tap at ABR. Pours a pitch black brown color with a light tan collared head. Dark Chocolate, vanilla, and a touch of earthy leather aroma. Medium/heavy mouthfeel. Roast coffee adds some bitterness, dark chocolate, vanilla, all very well balanced together. Ends with a slight lingering bitterness. I find myself continuing to go back to Bell’s tent to try this one and everytime is just as enjoyable as the last. The 10.5% is there but well incorporated and is not abrasive at all.

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

Pours an opaque black with a quarter inch foamy brown head that dissipates into a ring around the rim.

Deep toasty, nutty notes are prominent early, with lots of chocolate and a not of booze, along with a hint of roast malt at the finish. Subtle dark fruit is present in the form of cherries and plums. Vanilla and oak surface late.

Flavor is sweet, chocolatey, and raisiny, with moderate roast character. Booze is evident in the finish, along with sweet cherries. Oak emerges as it warms.

Body is syrupy and velvety, with minimal carbonation and significant alcohol warmth.

Less roast character than most, and leaning toward the sweet side. Cherry is fairly dominant near the finish. A little hot, but tasty.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ninety-nine down, one to go (or at least until the top 100 changes again). Finally got to try this elusive brew at the Bell's 30 Taps World Record event at Beer Sellar in Indy. Had three 5oz tasters of this stuff.

N.B. This was listed as "BB Double Cream Stout", but Larry Bell assured everyone it was the blend and that the erroneous name was merely due to a label approval issue.

A - A half-finger of dark mocha foam with solid retention, and a little bit of lacing. Pitch black - there was no trace of color, even at the fringes. It's about what I expect from a high gravity Imperial Stout.

S - Tons of bourbon and vanilla notes, a bit of roastiness - it wasn't the most complex nose. I even patiently waited for it to warm up, as it was served WAY too cold, but I didn't really get much more than the basics here.

T - The taste was superb, and was somewhat shocking after the lukewarm aroma. Tons of bourbon, vanilla, sweet malts, milk chocolate, and a bit of dark fruit and barrel. I love the way the Double Cream Stout portion offsets the roasty bitterness and acidity. As a result the aftertaste is surprisingly mild.

M - Mild carbonation, super smooth, lighter in body than I expected (more medium-to-full). Plenty of residual stickiness in this one, and shockingly a bit of heat (even after a couple years in the keg).

D - Super drinkable for what it was - the multiple tasters went down pretty easy. I think out of the ten tickets my wife and I got, we used at least half of them on this superb brew. The only problem is the ABV, and is that really that big of a problem? ;-)

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sample at the Bell's tasting at Brews Cafe on 3/6/08: This beer pours a matte black color with a medium thin light brown head with decent retention. Small patches of lacing on the glass. Aroma of coffee liqueur, bourbon and toasted malt. Rich, chewy body with loads of roasted malt and bittersweet chocolate flavor, as well as bourbon and plum. The finish is roasty and sweet at first with mild alcohol and coffee in the aftertaste. Very enjoyable, and a close second to the Bourbon Barrel Java Stout at this event.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,288 ratings.
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