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 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 KickInTheChalice
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served on tap in a cervoise at the Great Taste of the Midwest. I have anticipated trying this for three years, so needless to say, I am excited.

Appearance: My pour is an ebony black color with a modest creamy tan head. As I would expect with the high ABV, the cap fades rather quickly and leaves just a few dots of lace on the glass.

Smell: The aroma does not jump out of the glass, but it is full and complex. Lots of roasted malt and chocolate fudge are noticeable, with coffee and cream, subdued bourbon notes, and some raisins or other dark fruits as well.

Taste: The blend here is just fantastic. It is difficult to describe the intricacy of the interaction of the flavors, but I will do my best. A light bourbon presence exists throughout, so each flavor melds in with that base. Full, deep, almost burnt roasted malt create the deepest bitterness and set the tone for the rest of the flavors. The taste lightens up with some creamy coffee notes. Still bitter, but light and creamy as well. From there, gooey fudge makes an appearance, sticking with a full creamy flavor. The bitter, creamy, and sweet flavors all work well with the bourbon to create different sensations. Some vanilla, oak, molasses, and anise add even further complexity.

Mouthfeel: Luxuriously thick and creamy. Using double cream stout really smooths out any rough edges in the feel. Lightly sticky sweet, a touch of oaky dryness toward the end. Creamy carbonation, a deceptive lack of alcohol presence, and a full body.

Overall: Wow, this is pretty incredible. This is definitely an artful blend of two already good beers. The result capitalizes on the strengths of both beers - creamy and roasty, with the perfect amount of bourbon to blend everything together. This was tapped right as the rain started to come down at GTMW, so it was easy to get several pours as long as you were willing to venture out into the rain. Worth every effort to get it, and I would recommend putting forth any effort necessary to try this beer.

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

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark pitch black with a nice creamy, foamy 1 inch thick head. Tons of thick lacing.

Smell - Classic bourbon aroma, with chocolate, vanilla, coffee and added sugars. Roasted malts, some smoke also. The cream stout is noticed slightly at the finish.

Taste - First sip starts off with plenty of bourbon, along with some dark roasty malts, coffee and chocolate. The addition of the cream stout comes in after the initial blast of bourbon, and adds some sweet, creamy notes. Some dark fruits such as raisin and plum add a tart, bitterness. Vanilla is a large amount of flavor in each sip. Smoke and wood are also picked up at the finish.

Mouthfeel - Bourbon and Dark roasty malts are the dominate flavor throughout this beer. Palate gets dark fruits, coffee, chocolate and the cream stout flavors. Aftertaste is malty, woody, bourbon warm.

Overall - Excellent beer yes. Complex flavors, big, bold flavors. Is it the best beer ive ever tasted? Not at all. Honestly id prefer a simple barrel aged expedition stout over this 50/50 blend. The huge java/mocha flavor of expedition is replaced with some cream stout flavor that im not a big fan of. In all, a great beer that everyone needs to try but nothing to go crazy over.

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

From a trade with midwest4016. Added to "sweeten the deal." Good look, man! I'm excited for this beer. Bottled 12/28/2012, so it's been sitting for 13 months. Time to let this baby loose.

A- 12. oz bottle poured aggressively into a Bell's snifter. About half of a finger of a light mocha head fades within a minute. No light getting through on this one. Mastery of the art of darkness. A few bubbles of carbonation continue to rise, feeding a light film and ring of foam around the edge on top of the beer. Spotty lacing. Really good looking beer.

S- BOOM. Bourbon. So smooth. Beautiful notes of chocolate, toffee, vanilla. Huge dark fruits, as well. Without a doubt, the bourbon dominates, but it does so without being overwhelming. This aroma hits all the right notes. Just as I was typing that, my dog farted. Fuck you, Ginny.

T- Same as the nose, except, there's a roastiness that comes out as it warms. So glad that was maintained from the Expedition. That's what takes it to the next level for me. Smooth chocolate, warm bourbon, sweet toffee and vanilla. But the roast makes this a nearly perfect beer as far as flavor goes. Only drawback is that it is a HAIR too sweet. Still... Awesome. 11.8% ABV? Hidden remarkably well.

M- Light carbonation, though it almost borders on medium. Heavy, oily mouthfeel, though it was a tad thinner than I anticipated. Delightful warmth from the alcohol. Chocolate and bourbon smother the palette. Well done.

O- Amazing beer. Ages incredibly. I've now had a vintage, but have not yet tried the beer when fresh. Needless to say, I will be seeking this out when it is released this year. Phenomenal representation of the style. I could get lost in the sweet music of Black Note for eternity. Must. Get. More.

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Photo of kzoobrew
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap a few times recently at Bell's, review is taken from notes from each occasion.

Poured into an oversized snifter. Deep black and opaque body, light fails to break the surface. One and a half finger coffee stained head lingers a bit longer than I expected. A slight amount of lacing clings to the walls of the glass.

Beautiful aroma. Chocolate and caramel aromas meld with the Bourbon. The balance between the the sweetness and bourbon is inching close to perfection. Roasted malt with slight char is subtle beneath. Pleasant vanilla noted through out.

Bell's could not have picked two better beers to blend and barrel age. The bold and assertive flavors of Expedition are complimented wonderfully by the smooth and creamy Double Cream. The flavor begins much like the aroma. Caramel and chocolate infused bourbon rolls across the tongue. Pleasant roast develops on the midpalate only to has the edge softened by a vanilla and milk creaminess.

Full bodied, though tiptoeing on the lighter side of full. Low carbonation, very appropriate, provide a very enjoyable creaminess to the mouthfeel. Long finish, I would not want it any other way.

Black Note had been my biggest personal wale for the longest time. I am very fortunate to live close to Bell's and have had the opportunity to drink it several times now. Each time I drink it I am as impressed as the first. Tremendous balance in the blend and the bourbon is integrated beautifully. Very easy to drink but one that will certainly catch up with you. As enjoyable as any beer I have ever had, one worth seeking out.

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Photo of MOVERTON1284
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a small amount into a mini-snifter during a share. Great barrel aroma and taste. Very smooth and not overpowering. While it may not get as much hype as others, this beer is balanced and delicious

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Photo of jimmy82063
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Finally received the elusive Black Note - Poured into a Bell's Snifter

A - Jet Black with a thin brownish head. Minimal lacing.

S - Outstanding - bourbon comes right through.

T - Bourbon of course, coffee, chocolate and some nice drak fruit. There is a real nice semi sweet chocolate finish at the end. A bit of the oak and burnt sugar are noted as well.

M) - This is so smooth and in regards to other style offerings this is where this stands out. Absolutely no harshness!

O) An outstanding beer, very easy to drink - this will cause a commotion if it ever hits the New York area.

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Photo of SHDoyle
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Description: Dark black (shocker) with no head or lacing. Smooth appearance but otherwise "normal" for a stout. The bourbon and oak come through loud and clear on the aroma but here are also strong notes of dark fruit. Unlike many other stouts, I didn't really pick up any discernible coffee or chocolate on the smell. Very straightforward but very good overall. Taste is more complex than the smell and along with bourbon and oak aplenty there are slightly sweet, dark chocolate flavors. Maybe the bourbon masked it on the smell. Mouthfeel is super smooth and creamy with no real carbonation.

Suggested food pairing: Prosciutto

If you like this been then you should also try: BCBS

Overall: 4.5 (This beer is very good and I would definitely drink it again) This one meets the high expectations it has come to engender. Depth of flavor and smell with a spot on mouthfeel. It's a shame that it's so difficult to come by, but well worth making the effort to do so.

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Photo of davey101
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2012, 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Batch #11620, bottled 12/28/2012. Thanks to ObiWanKushnobi for this long time want!

A - Pours a pitch black body with two fingers worth of mocha foam. Settles out into a thin cap. Moderate lacing and retention.

S - Starts off with the bourbon...oak, vanilla, and some char. Then some roasted malts and sweet cocoa powder. A touch of dark fruits too. No element really dominates here, just well integration of two base beers + a barrel.

T - Just all kinds of balance going on here. Smooth vanilla and oak, a bit of a bourbon butterscotch, lightly bitter coffee beans, and dry cocoa powder. A little bit of everything here. Finishes with a real faint but pleasant alcohol warmth.

M - Creamy, smooth, and decadent....thank you Double Cream stout! Surprisingly high drinkability compared to other BA stouts.

O - Perhaps the most balanced and easy drinking BA stout I have ever had. This is a damn impressive beer and I wish I somehow had year round access to this. Forever ISO, but I still prefer BCBS for its unrelenting bourbon element.

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Photo of soughtbygod
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

About to try my first black note: 2012 poured from a 12oz bottle,

I am a huge fan of BBA stouts, I have had CBS, CW BBA stout, KBS, Class X kern River, BCBS, Parabola etc, some live up to the hype and others fall flat, I am about to test drive Bells Black note:

Appearance: Opaque black no like gets through as you pour it almost no head forms and the head that does form is dark dark tan with fine bubbles.

Smell: Wow interesting, this has dark plum, raisins, black licorice, the bourbon is there but very muted and hidden, I also get almost a sweet coffee on the nose.

Taste: The taste is very good this is definitely a top 5 for me, the hidden bourbon is no longer hidden that is the first upfront flavor, but even though that is the upfront flavor it is not hot like one would expect for 11.8 %, as it continues to ease over my taste buds the other flavors emerge vanilla first, then a touch of sarsaparilla, and finally on the very back of the tongue coffee candy that reminds me of loomis coffee candies in the gold wrapper my mother used to eat them when I was young.

Mouth feel: not much to say here this was very typical, smooth and creamy not the best mouth feel I have had but not the worst.

Overall: I am very impressed with this beer, I still give higher rating to my all time favorite CBS, but this is def in the top 5 for me and worthy of seeking in the future, cheers fellow BA's

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Photo of treznor
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Jet black and inky with a dark tan head.

S - Can definitely get the bourbon off the aroma here! Some dark chocolately, raisany notes down there as well.

T - Complex, dark, the taste lingers for a bit and increases in complexity with something extra coming out at the end.

M - The 'weak' point of the beer as its slightly thin.

O - A great beer to sit around and sip.

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Photo of kkleu357
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Got a bottle of this as an extra. Never had it before, but reminds me of of CW Bourbon Barrel Stout, just thicker and boozier. Thick dark body. Tons of chocolate flavor with oak and slightly too much whiskey. Very good.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

draft at federal in Durham.

pours an opaque black with a small head. dark fruit, chocolately malts. dark fruits at the beginning, slight bourbon...not overwhelming at all. ABV absolutely undetectable and drinkablity is this beers #1 attribute. full bodied..very creamy. low carbonation

overall love this one.

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Photo of -Rick
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L: jet black with almost no head. Little carbonation also
S: bourbon, vanilla, chocolate and coffee
T: like the nose, sweet. Anika bourbon followed by a chocolate coffee finish. So well blended.
F: creamy goodness that lingers in the mouth for a long while
O: an amazing BB Stout. Not flashy or fancy with odd characteristics, just a solid solid beer!

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

What an awesome beer. Had a pull at Churchkey.

Pours super thick black with a ring of tan head and a nice web of lacing. Looks great, and it previews the excellent silky feel.

Smell is good, I get licorice, vanilla, some sweeter bourbon and oak, a little malt, a touch of roast, and some maple syrup. I just knock it cause it isn't really jumping out of the glass. Some alcohol pops out with a swirl.

Taste is amazing and so is the feel, it's so silly and inviting with a range of amazing layers of flavor. Sticky, chewy, semi sweet and savory, there is no heat in there which amazing. Flavors include licorice, sweeter bourbon-very nice bourbon like van winkle 12, nice roasty chocolate notes, oak, lactose sugar, a little alcohol sweetness, some savory slight bacony notes, and some espresso cream. Wow, stunning beer.

Overall this is killing. What a great beer, my favorite bells and that says something.

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Photo of dbc5
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into 10 ounce Kentucky Bourbon Stout snifter.

A: Motor oil black with a brownish tan head. Moderate pour yields a 1 finger head that recedes fairly quickly but leaves a constant ring around the edges of the glass. Minimal lacing left on the glass.

S: Smells sweet. Picking up vanilla, dark chocolate, brown sugar, and malt sweetness. The bourbon is apparent, but not as assertive as in some bourbon barrel aged stouts.

T: The sweetness in the nose carries over in the taste. Chocolate syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla hit my palate first, then the bourbon makes its presence known. Doesn't carry the same roast character that is present in a beer like Bourbon Barrel Plead the Fifth, falling more on the sweet end of the continuum. The bourbon adds an interesting element to this stout blend and makes for a really nice drinking experience.

M: As expected from a big, barrel aged stout, the carbonation is fairly low in this one. Nice thickness to this beer.

O: Really like this one and thrilled that it is available in 12 ounce bottles. Given that this is a sweeter bourbon barrel stout, the 12 ounce serving size is ideal. I'm nearing the bottom of my glass and am not tiring of the beer at all. My only critique is that I would like a bit more roast character, which is why I would give the edge to a beer like BBPt5th, KBS, or BCBS. Despite that, Black Note does not fall too far below those beers.

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

2016 edition. Pours black with a minimal tan head that fades fast.
Aroma is dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses and bourbon.
Taste is dark chocolate, dark fruit, vanilla, a touch of coffee with a roasty and warming finish. Mouthfeel is smooth, medium and silky.
Overall, just plain SMOOOOV.

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

Nov 2016 release:
Poured into a tulip black with a tan head.

Aroma is of bourbon, roasted malts, chocolate, oak.

Taste follows aroma, wafting bourbon, chocolate, oak, vanilla sweetness. Bourbon heat on the finish. Well balanced.

Mouth feel is moderate to full, slick.

Was very happy to finally get a chance to try this.

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Photo of dejrrma
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

$7 for a 8 or 12oz pour at BSP. Reviewed on 5/5/12 (just only now typed up my review). I believe the keg was from 2011.

a- black, still with a reddish tint, a slight ring of head
s- slight bourbon, coffee, vanilla extract.
t- Lots of dark chocolate and a touch of coffee and roast. woody and slight vanilla. not as much "bourbon" taste as I expected, so the beer is not overpowered by it. still, i think it's just a bit too understated.
m- really smooth and creamy. i was blown away. it has a medium carbonation and a full-body
o- enjoyed this beer tremendously. still love kbs more, though.

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Photo of yamar68
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Massive thanks to alelover for hooking me up with my first taste of Black Note! 2012 vintage:

Certainly is black... there's a bit of muddled clarity around the edge of the glass. A short-lived medium brown head produces a dense, stubborn collar - oily lacing above and clouded beading beneath. Very nice looking stuff.

Smooth, sweet caramel bourbon immediately shows some BCBS qualities. It's hard to really even pull in any alcohol character, a big sniff just offers a deeper layer of oak. Milk chocolate and mellow burnt brown sugar. Maybe a bit of molasses. Incredibly smooth - as smooth as you could hope for a beer like this.

Creamy twist cone flavors covered with silky bourbon and bitter caramel. Faint leafy tobacco dries up the tail end of the palate. Coffee grounds, more milk chocolate, candy corn... pretty damn unique I'd say. This one certainly doesn't need any age but I'm excited to see what it does regardless.

Very, very good.

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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 oline73
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is review #1000 on BA. Poured from the bottle into my Hunahpu's snifter.

Appearance: This beer pours black with just under a finger of thick tan head. The head fades fairly quickly to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Sweet roasted malt and full of bourbon heat. I'm getting some chocolate and dark fruit notes as well. Lots going on here.

Taste: Doesn't disappoint at all. This is a very smooth and creamy stout, especially given the abv. Roasted malts with some sweet chocolate notes. I'm getting hints of coffee and dark fruit as well. The bourbon taste is rather strong, but it doesn't overpower the other flavors, it adds to them.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side of medium, but I think it could have been a little bit thicker and that would have been alright. The carbonation is tingly and the finish is dry.

Overall: I really enjoyed the balance and complexity of this stout. It was a sweet beer, but not in an overwhelming way. The rest of the flavors were allowed to contribute and it all worked out perfectly. I would love to have more given the chance.

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Photo of smokeypeat
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Once again the power of the central PA/SEPA beer market comes through and I finally get to try Black Note.

Pours a jet black into the goblet with a light coffee tan head that quickly disappeared leaving just the slightest head. Some alcohol legs on the glass.

The smell on this one is up there. Rich vanilla bourbon with some great hints of toasted coconut. Fainter hints of toffee and light tobacco.

Taste is as good as I hoped for. The base beer here really holds up well to the bourbon treatment. Plenty of roasted coffee notes, bakers dark chocolate, and a dash of anise. The bourbon adds a great interplay of vanilla, caramel, toffee, and woody oak. No one aspect of the beer dominates but there is a great mixture of a lot of my favorite flavors.

Mouthfeel on this beer really worked for me. I don't know if it's because it was on tap or not, but I found the carbonation level to be perfect. The beer was extremely creamy and really easy to drink, and the alcohol was perfectly masked.

All in all, Black Note lived up to the hype for me. I was fortunate to get a whole growler, and frankly it seems like an embarrassment of riches. Everyone who got a pour of this agreed that it was top notch. I would definitely go out of my way to get this beer again.

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Photo of tarheels86
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tap at Churchkey. Pours ink with a medium tan head leaving webby reddish lace. Nose is rich buttery bourbon with tropical notes like dried pineapple and dried papaya. Toasted coconut. Let it decant to cinnamon ganache and very subtle meat/umami character. Soft booziness, coffee liquor. So many rich subtleties makes this an incredible experience. Taste is similar to normal and Rare Bourbon County Stout. Super creamy, rich coconut oil mouthfeel. Feels less sharply bitter than normal Expy. Softer and easier to love than normal Expy. Superlative soft mouthfeel. Nice bitterness comes through to cut initial sweetness. Great mouthfeel- mild heat reminds of soft bourbon aging but softness is unreal. Roasty bitterness and coffee character hints that this is not BCS but something else. Very beautiful. Complexities are easier to fall in love with than normal Expedition which can be too aggressive and powerful at times. Had this on tap now four separate times- always delicious and silky. Not sure what's up with that bottle picture, since that is not what the bottled version of this beer looks like. 12/6/2011 9/4/9/5/18=4.5

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Photo of draheim
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle (bottled 12/28/2012 - thanks again Hoptologist!) into a snifter. Pours oily black w/ a very thin tan head that quickly dissipates to a narrow collar. I know it's not supposed to matter with big stouts like this, but I still like to see a little head+retention.

Aroma is big powerful bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, rum-soaked tobacco, toffee/molasses, and caramelized dark fruit. Fresh-baked sticky buns. Smells phenomenal.

Taste follows nose. Dark bitter chocolate, coffee, bourbon, dried figs/dates, vanilla, caramel, and more bourbon. Nice boozy heat warms the throat. Everything very nicely balanced, maybe just a touch sweeter than I like my BA stouts.

Mouthfeel is sticky, chewy, a little syrupy.

Overall, a solid barrel aged stout, in the same league as Parabola and KBS and better than BCBS. I'd buy this every year if I could.

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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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