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

BA SCORE
99
world-class
640 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
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:
640
Ratings:
4,163
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,732
Gots:
1,144
For Trade:
118
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 640 | Ratings: 4,163
Photo of MemphisSooner
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This smells like afresh baked pan of brownies and bourbon. In other words, it smells like evething right in the world.

The taste is even better. Bourbon, brown sugar, chocolate dominate. There's enough sweetness to balance the booze and strong flavors and make this thing super tasty.

A world class imperial stout. Find it if you can. Well done Bells!

 355 characters

Photo of WestMichiganWhaler
4.71/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Very good, but did not live up to my hopes and dreams. I guess living in West Michigan, the hype surrounding this beer had me expecting my socks to get knocked off. Very dark, very balanced. KBS with more bourbon, less chocolate...

 231 characters

Photo of Drvitlkeyustolit80
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First had 1/12/17 at home. Traded for it from Eric L. Dark chocolate is prominent, with dark fruits, and a subtle bourbon finish that doesn't overpower. Superior texture and mouth feel make this irresistible.

 211 characters

Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.83/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Oily black with a beige-brown head.

Aroma of old moldy oak barrel, meat locker, snuff tobacco, leather, cigarette butts, and slight vinegar.

Flavor is a touch milky to start (somewhat thin), but then forms a bit more character with tobacco, earth, and finally on the finish it all comes together - bourbon, rich chocolate, oats, and leather on the aftertaste.

Feel is thin to start, then begins a medium profile, and finally a thick juicy finish with a roasty dryness.

Overall, this is the 2nd 2016 bottle I've had this year, and I remember the first one being better. This seems to have some issues regarding smelling a bit vinegary and ashy, with the flavor really lacking until the finish. I remember the first bottle being flavorful all the way through. Sad, but I have one more bottle I can take care of yet before my 2016 stash is depleted.

Rated with price in mind ($6/bottle).

 894 characters

Photo of Franziskaner
4.26/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Black as night with no light penetration and a fingernail of brown around the rim and the majority of the top. The aroma is an exceptional blend of bitter roasted barley and sweet bourbon. I'm tasting a surprisingly balanced melange of darkly bitter roasted barley and sweet bourbon. The mouth is shockingly smooth, silky, and lightly chewy.

 344 characters

Photo of croush
4.08/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From bottle - second batch of the 2016 version. This is really stronger bourbon flavor than I remember prior bottles being. However, I just don't get much after the bourbon flavor in terms of flavor - I need some more substance after to think it's truly world class like BCBS.

 278 characters

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

Tasted in a snifter from draft at Kuma's Corner on January 12, 2017. Look is dark brown with a tan head and lingering lacing. Smell and taste is dark dried fruit and roasted malts. Feel is full in body with a warm and bittersweet finish.

 240 characters

Photo of jcflorian
4.39/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is pitch black with super thin head and minimal lacing.

Aroma is barrel up front, strong bourbon with chocolate notes and slight coffee.

Taste is booze forward with the chocolate coffee late flavor. Had better ba stouts but this is very tasty

Mouthfeel is a little thinner than I prefer but still good.

Overall- not quite worthy of the high ranking but still worth seeking out. Just not same level of the other beers with this hype

 452 characters

Photo of BrewsOverHoes
4.61/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12 oz bottle poured into a stout glass.

Look: Pours surprisingly thin jet black, with a small light mocha head. Minimal lacing left on the glass with each sip.

Smell: Huge bourbon and roasted malts. Fresh coffee and dark chocolate.

Taste: Dark chocolate initially, vanilla, touch of bourbon accompanied by some alcohol bite, but barely. Roasted coffee and hints of sweet caramel. Touch of bitterness on the back-end levels out any sweetness. Just excellent.

Mouth feel: To me this is really smooth. It's not too thick nor too thin. It finds a balance inbetween the two.

Overall: Bell's can brew stouts with the best of them and this is an example. The bourbon is just present enough to enhance and let the other flavors of the stout's bases to shine. If you see it, order a glass or get a bottle. You won't be disappointed.

 829 characters

Photo of Meyers1023
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured extremely dark with very little light brown head. The nose is full of bourbon. Hard to get anything else beyond that. The taste definitely has bourbon in it and heat from the alcohol but you do get a great medley of other flavors. Chocolate comes out with hints of vanilla and coffee. Smooth feel with decent carbonation. One of my favorite barrel aged beers. Was scared of it by the smell but the flavors balance so well together and the smooth feel make this an experience any craft beer drinker needs to have. Glad I have multiple bottles.

 549 characters

Photo of Zoomslowik
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L- Very dark. Pours with a solid mocha head. It fades to a thin ring around the glass.

S- Heavy on the roasted malts and bourbon. Some bittersweet chocolate. Pleasing.

T- Roasted malts and caramel. Bourbon is there, but not as strong as the aroma. A little chocolate in the base. Not quite as smooth and balanced a flavor profile as I would like.

F- This was a target of mine for a while because I heard it had a nice, creamy mouthfeel and that's what I look for in a stout. Well, it wasn't quite there. I was a bit concerned when I saw how thin it poured. It did have a rich, smooth feel, but it wasn't nearly as thick and creamy as some of my favorites.

O- I was excited to finally get my hands on one, but it was merely solid. There's nothing wrong with it per say, but it didn't live up to my (admittedly high) expectations.

If it matters, this was the 2016 B2 version.

 883 characters

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

For me, a perfect stout. Rich and flavorful with chocolate, vanilla, bourbon notes, a nice background bitterness and roasty coffee notes. All of this combined with a sweet creaminess makes it moreish indeed.

 207 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
4.08/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Now for something completely the hallmark of style. A big roasty stout put into bourbon barrels. This was one of the early ones, but it still keeps on rockin' in the free world.

Pours black. Shocking. Creamy 1/2" tan head. Aroma of roast and bourbon. This is going exactly as one would expect.

Taste, chocolate and bourbon, decent amount of alcohol heat in the mouth feel. Not as highly hopped as some beers in this style, helps contribute to the smoothness, that and an appropriately lower carbonation aspect. A little bit of dark fruit bitterness to it. Good format and price structure helps get that overall bump. Viscous, is there molassess going on here? Some burnt caramel feels to it.

 707 characters

Photo of rmank
4.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

One of the smoothest BBA stouts I've ever had! Does a real good job at hiding the higher ABV and the taste is so complex- dark fruits, oaky, burnt caramel, slight molasses.

So glad I got to check this one off of the Wants list.

 228 characters

Photo of jds16
4.72/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Thick tan head, ring of head lingers all the way down the glass leaving great lacing. Smells of brown sugar, vanilla, bourbon, coffee. Taste follows the nose with the the addition of rich chocolate. Mouthfeel is the real star here, so creamy. Between the magnificently blended flavors and creaminess, this goes down dangerously easily.

 336 characters

Photo of Boccu
4.82/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

Thanks CD!! Pours pitch black with a nice head that fades quickly. Aroma is awesome. Deep coffee, vanilla, molasses, light bourbon, marshmallow and chocolate. Taste is extremely balanced. Bourbon is well hidden. Not overpowering at all but still present. Vanilla, molasses, marshmallow, espresso, dark chocolate, oak, brown sugar with a light bourbon finish. Exceptional bourbon stout. Very complex yet very smooth. This is worth searching for. Excellent job by Bells.

 472 characters

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

Taken me over five years to finally get ahold of this one. Been on my wants since the very beginning. Short and sweet review as usual of me these days.

Pours ultra black with a small khaki head. No lacing on a finished glass.

Smells chocolate, almost like cocoa powder with a touch of brown sugar and an ever present oak barrel esque ness from the mash.

Taste virtually follows the nose with the sweetness and booze amped up.

Exceptionally smooth on the swallow though the body itself is a touch lackluster by comparison to the rest of the beer

Overall I'm glad I finally got to try it out after all these years. I feel that it is a great stout but nothing earth shattering.

 680 characters

Photo of surfcaster
4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to MB for a 4 pack gift. Wow. A rarity in NC

Pitch black pour with a 1/4 inch frothy brown head

Nose is light on bourbon--not all overpowering

Taste is just amazing--well integrated, smooth--chocolate/brown sugar/vanilla/expresso--all works so well together.

My absolute favorite of the style

 306 characters

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

2016 vintage reviewed fresh in a snifter

Appearance: super dark brown with a small khaki head

Nose: vanilla, oaky, bourbon, toasted coconut, roasty malts, toasted marshmallows, barrel char

Taste: follows the nose very well. The body is medium high to heavy, fairly sweet but nothing too crazy, amazingly balanced.

This beer is completely worth the hype and will age well.

 375 characters

Photo of Treyliff
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2016 vintage
12oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours a viscous jet black color with a small creamy khaki colored head that eventually reduces to a ring around the glass

S- opens with fresh espresso and dark chocolate followed by dry fig and black molasses. The barrel aroma is alive and well, giving off notes of caramel/toffee, wet oak & vanilla whipping cream. More dark fruit emerges near the close, currant, dark cherry, and compliments a bold bourbon aroma on the finish

T- Plenty of dark chocolate, fresh espresso and charred malt up front, followed by sweet vanilla cream, molasses and burnt brown sugar. Dark fruit notes of fig, raisin and black cherry emerge, followed by the barrel notes kicking in; wet oak, vanilla, caramel and spicy bourbon. The finish is almost port-like, with more bourbon & char lingering

M- medium heavy body with moderate-low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel than continues into a slightly warming, creamy finish

O- everything you look for in a straight up, bourbon barrel aged stout. Just enough barrel elements, and the blend of the two Bell's stout seems to work better than each on their own

 1,151 characters

Photo of CHickman
4.91/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

PKG 11/03/2016: Pours pitch black color with a foamy 1 finger brown head that faded slowly, leaving great spotty lacing.

Smells perfect for a bourbon barrel aged stout. The bourbon and oaky notes lead the charge, followed by molasses, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, vanilla, syrup, burnt coffee, hot fudge, dark fruit and then more chocolate with a hint of piney hops which makes for an extremely complex and wonderful nose.

Wow, it tastes just like it smells but with booze and heat from the high ABV, however it does not negatively impact the flavor. Even more chocolate and coffee come through with espresso, chocolate syrup, smoked malt, charred wood and brown sugar adding dynamics before some earthy and woody barrel notes kick in. It's hot in a good way with the rich malt, bourbon and barrel notes making for a delicious combination. World class indeed.

 862 characters

Photo of Blackop555
4.81/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2016 batch 2

Pours black with a thin tan head that fades fast.

Smells of chocolate vanilla and coffee and bourbon

Tastes of bourbon and molasses at first. Fading quickly to vanilla and roasted flavor. Slight alcohol flavor to it but well hidden. Creamy smooth body with lower end of carbonation but adds to the velvety feel. Flavors change throughout as it warms. Definitely will drink more

 395 characters

Photo of von_kaiser
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

finally.....insanely dark, rich & viscous pour. rich bourbon scent and taste w/ a subtle chocolate flavor. extreme full bodied feel, chewy.....all comes together nicely as it approaches room temperature. will most certainly revisit regularly.

 245 characters

Photo of GreatStoutman
4.82/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Loads of flavor here, including solid barrel presence without overwhelming or coming on too boozy. Maybe a touch thin, but that's very nit-picky, and the variety of dark fruits and roast/smoke/chocolaty flavors more than compensate. This is a wonderful stout

 258 characters

Photo of RAFH
4.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Finally had my first Bell's Black Note Stout on Christmas Eve of 2016. This beer is everything the hype had advertised. The beer is easily one of my top ten beers of all time. Got the 12 ounce bottle as part of a four pack for $24.

 234 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,163 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.

    Subscribe