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:
662
Ratings:
4,263
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,720
Gots:
1,184
For Trade:
131
User Reviews
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Reviews: 662 | Ratings: 4,263
Photo of fx20736
4.29/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bought 2 bottles from Beers of the World on 5/3/14. Poured into a pint glass, served cool.

appearance: black with two finger khaki head. Nice lacing.

smell: bourbon, molasses, brown sugar, alcohol esthers.

taste: coffee, chocolate, bourbon, molasses, alcohol on the tail.

mouthfeel: creamy, slippery.

overall: This is a good, decent BA IS, about on par with Parabola.

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Photo of stdaniel
4.91/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle served at 45 degrees. Sipped slowly to allow the flavors to develop.

A: Pitch black with the slightest caramel colored head that quickly reduces to nothing.

S: Sweet bourbon, caramel, vanilla.

T: Very similar to the nose. Sweet bourbon and caramel dominate, vanilla in the background. Balanced enough for the unrefined palate such as mine to distinguish individual flavors.

M: Creamy. Not bite for a 11.5% stout.

O: Holy smokes, this has to be one of the best balanced BBA stouts I've tasted. The taste and aroma are harmonious. Luxurious mouthfeel. I've said balanced three times now and it is absolutely true.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle purchased at Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

This one pours dark and opaque, as I would expect given how light-repelling Expedition was. Small, mocha-colored head that recedes quickly, with a little bit of lacing. Surprisingly, there's a good bit of visible carbonation.

Smells strongly of dark fruits, with some dark chocolate, and mild, smooth bourbon.

The taste is similar, and pretty great. This is one of the dark fruity-est stouts I've ever had, just a ton of sweet, but earthy fruit flavors- currants, raisins, cherries, plums, etc. Some bitter dark chocolate, and subtle bourbon that folds in nicely with the other flavors.

Creamy, smooth moutfeel, despite the appearance, there's not much carbonation noted on the palate. Unfortunately, the body seems a bit thin for a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout- maybe I'm spoiled by other one's I've tried, but the body just doesn't quite stack up. A disappointing tick against a pretty damn good beer.

This is one is definitely one of the best BA stouts, but it just misses the top tier due to the slightly thin body. If it was thicker and more viscous, it would be near perfect. The dark fruit flavor in this is just amazing.

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Photo of 57md
4.71/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

In the past six months, I've had a great deal of success tracking down hard to find bourbon barrel stouts. Scoring a bottle of 2014 Black Note is the latest in my good run.

Pours a deep dark brown with ruby edges. The half finger of head dissipates quickly. The bourbon notes on the nose are soft and almost sweet. This offering has a hearty body that holds up well to the bourbon. Also, the bourbon flavor is just right - not too hot. The roast profile might be a bit muted, but that would be my only criticism of this gem.

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Photo of barhoc11
5/5  rDev +11.1%

A: Black as the name says with a nice creamy tan head

S: Smooth bourbon with a hint of cocoa nibs/coconut

T: Wow, this is so creamy and smooth its hard to believe this is 11+% abv. The bourbon is not harsh at all and comes across with a coconut taste which is so very good

O: I think this is my favorite barrel aged stout... less than 12%. It is such a smooth drinking Imperial Stout that it is hard to describe. I would be sure to pick some up if you ever get the chance

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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 ONovoMexicano
4.49/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle of the 2014 picked up at a Whole Foods in Washington, DC. Poured into a teku.

A pitchblack, viscous-looking beer that from the pour produces a thin, maybe half a finger thick, dark khaki-colored head. What little head there is persists well and forms a ring around the edges of the glass above the body.

Burnt caramel, oak, and barrel are what my nose finds and I want to say this is bourbon-barrel aged (I haven't read too much into this beer). The aroma is similar to BCBS with vanilla hints and a pungent malt presence that smalls gooey. I do get a hint of hops but not much.

Nice! Lots of oaky spice and a thick molasses flavor. It"s sweet and caramelly, but I get some hop spice towards the end.Oak and other bourbon-like notes begin becoming more apparent, as do the malt's flavors.

This brew has a spritely effervescence that makes its presence felt through the thick creaminess and viscosity. It's sweet, has a bit of a bite, and a tiny hint of bitterness, but what is most notable is how well buried the alcohol is.

This is an excellent brew. So many flavors work their way through and are joined my what seems like just as many sensations. I suppose my only qualm is that this resembles BCBS in numerous ways, yet is about 2.5 times the price per bottle.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. Back label says PKGD 03/12/14. Celebrating my 900th review with this miracle of a gift provided by mjshearer1.

A- Pours a fully opaque black color with a 1/2 inch light brown head that retains a bit before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a bubbly center patch of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a thin jagged ring behind.

S- Big rush of dark roasted malt with heavy notes of dark chocolate, bourbon and molasses. Also some caramel and vanilla undertones. Booze fume is there but works well with the rest of the aroma.

T- Initial dark chocolate comes across subtly and then the barrel creeps in and brings a bit more intensity as well as some vanilla sweetness. Wonderful black coffee aftertaste brings the profile around full circle. Additional notes of raisin and more molasses. So drinkable for the ABV and yet the flavors linger good and long so that they can be savored by only sipping sporadically. As it warms, it somehow becomes more sweet and even less boozy, however the dark roast becomes even more prevalent making it a bit more bitter.

M- Quite creamy and viscous plus there's some sticky residue in the afterfeel. Medium-low carbonation and the fullest of bodies.

O- A great BBA beer that's full-on with the bourbon presence but not so much that it becomes too hot or one-dimensional. Though I still think BCBS and KBS are both above it, this one is certainly a major contender and deserves to be appreciated for its own unique qualities.

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Photo of Kramerwtmf
4.67/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Had this side by side with Kbs. Kbs smelled better but everything about this beer makes it better including how smooth it is. The espresso flavor in the finish really sets this beer apart. It has a bourbon county aroma but the flavor is unreal. Do yourself a favor and get a bottle if you don't have one!

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Photo of DubbelTrubbel
4.71/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 (bottled 03/12/14) into snifter

A- Black with hints of coffee brown, thin khaki head

S- chocolate, bourbon, vanilla. Pretty heavy on the bourbon. Reminds me of a chocolate-covered vanilla wafer cookie. Some roast and oak barrel notes

T- heavy coffee flavors, rather bitter, hints of chocolate. Oakey-barrelly notes.

M- Excellent balance of thickness and dryness. Really nice

O- A masterful creation. Bell's best beer, next to Hopslam (which I love). More grown-up (sorry) than KBS, and more finnesse than BCBS. Seems less sweet than either. But the sweetness that is there plays off of the aggressive bourbon flavors, and keeps them in check. This vintage may improve, but in my opinion, it is ready to drink. I prefer this to KBS, but I also prefer BCBS to this- by just a nudge. Another outstanding contribution to the genre of barrel-aged stout.

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Photo of jerefreakinmiah
4.98/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Found on the bottle reserve list at The Federal in Durham, NC

I have to say that I LOVED this beer. It changed so much as it warmed. First espresso and vanilla, then big, bouzy bourbon, finishing chocolate and roasty as it approached room temp. Not as viscous as I expected, which was surprisingly refreshing. Lingered on the tongue for a while, but not heavily (make sense? I hope so).

Simple review for a simply amazing brew!

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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 mjpolzin
4.06/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 vintage split with by brother in law.

A great beer but another example of a "world-class" brew that doesn't quite live up to the hype once I get a chance to try it.

Fairly thick pour into the glass but not the thickest beer I've ever seen. More bourbon in the nose than what I got once I tasted it. The roastiness that is characteristic of Expedition Stout was here as well. It helped make it a fairly complex beer once the roasted malts and bourbon blended together but I may actually prefer this one with a little more age on so some of the roasted flavor could fade away.

Would like the opportunity to try a fresh one just to see what changes happen in the 1 year+ that this bottle sat for.

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Photo of WesMantooth
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

In the words of P. O. D. , here comes the boom! 2014 edition. Had the same first impression as with Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine (holy shit!).

Awesome bourbon aroma that carries right through to the taste with a perfect finish. Smooth velvety drinking like a cream or milk stout with just the right amount of roastiness and bourbon flavor. The body can't be overstated for a barrel aged beer.
This is hands down the best barrel aged stout I have ever tasted to date. Significantly better than KBS. Makes my top 3 beers in general right now. Hard to believe people liked the '12 version better - can't even fathom much improvement.

Gotta admit, I have been disappointed by Bell's offerings overall. Not bad, but never had anything special other than aged Expedition, until now. If you don't like bourbon all that much, I wouldn't recommend. If you don't like a strong coffee profile/presence, I would.

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Photo of Mikeypnh
4.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014. Poured into a tulip glass. Pours black with a mocha film on top and a few bubbles around the rim. The smell is very potent. Coffee, chocolate, toffee, licorice and bourbon. Strong bourbon and barrel taste up front. Darks fruits come through nicely, especially at the end. Nice alcohol burn to go along with it. Huge flavor on this one. Very creamy mouthfeel with a dry, somewhat bitter coffee/licorice aftertaste. Another great bourbon barrel beer, although I prefer a couple others to this.

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Photo of prtwin2a
4.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Pitch black
S: Bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla
T: Just a joy to experience! A lovely blend of bourbon and chocolate, a great brew!
M: Smooth as heck, not overwhelming with bourbon, just right blend!
D: Just phenomenal. Love this beer!

Overall: A (very close to an A+!)

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

2014 bottle

- Pours like motor oil, thick and black, with small amount of dark foam.

- Smells awesome with notes of coffee, sweet toffee and bourbon with fruit notes in the background. Not an overly intense nose, but interesting and pleasant.

- Taste is magnificent. Layers of coffee and oaky bouborn,with a charred/roasty bitterness that persists to the finish and is balanced against a nice stone fruit sweetness. Great medium -thick mouthfeel. This beer is just so well balanced and complex.

- Overall a superb beer which has a lot going on, but nothing is overpowering. Flavors and smell are great, the body and complexity are quite good and is just extremely well balanced.

IMO, much better than KBS. More complex than BCBCS, more balanced than BCBS. BCBS may still be my favorite of these, especially if aged a few years.

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Photo of Notacraftdrinker
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Yummy yummy yummy. Pours dark black color. Almost oil like. Great aroma. Tingly mouthfeel. Nice heat finish. Tastes like a sweeter Kbs. 11.5 percent. But the flavor and balance keeps it nice and clean with just enough booze to know your drinking a high power beer.

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Photo of timc100
4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014

Pours a translucent dark brown, black in the class with a fizzy dark mocha head. Aroma of bitter dark chocolate and barrel - char, vanilla, oak, some bourbon. Notes of mocha and dark roasted coffee as well.

Very good barrel aged stout, however missing a lot of the richness and depth of flavor that expedition has. Very little dark fruits, thinner body, and a lighter pour as well.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Ah the fabled Black Note. It's quite boozy with strong bourbon tones. Heavy and forward, but balanced enough. Mild vanilla on the back end. Thick and well bodied in character and feel. It's a strong bourbon aged stout. I wouldn't mind more complexity, but it's nice.

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Photo of JayCheG
4.74/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

After drinking this beer I had the urge to review it

A: Pours a pitch black with a small khaki head. Very little lacing.
S: Overwhelmingly bourbon. Hints of chocolate, malts, maybe some vanilla. Not a very complex smell but enjoyable..
T: This is where Black Note makes its mark. Wow! Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, toffee, a bit of fruit just very well blended. Beautiful taste!
M: Very creamy, almost like drinking a stout milkshake. Nice!
O: An extremely good BBA stout. #1? Probably not, I can think of a couple better but I thoroughly enjoy this beer and definitely worth the hype!

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Photo of andrewjraab
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Pitch black with khaki head that leaves nice lace after each drink. A window shade of film falls off the glass after each drink.

S - Chocolate, vanilla, coffee, roasted coffee beans, wood, bourbon, cherries, dates.

T - Layers and layers of flavors - chocolate, vanilla, coffee, fruity, booze, oak, warming alcohol. Velvety mouth feel, rich and creamy, each drink coats and warms on the way down.

O - This is an amazing brew where the actual brew meet and exceeds the hype and expectations. I was able to secure one of these with the limited release and DAMN I want to get my hands on a few more. Truly a world class beer.

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Photo of macher0
4.86/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Damn near room temp. Purchased and consumed at the Grale Haus in Louisville.

A. Poured jet black with a fine bubble amber head that retreats to an amber rim. Slight effervescence. Not especially thick (but maybe the serving temp is a factor).

S. Awesome. Some dark roasted malts, toffee, vanilla, dried figs, and BOURBON.

T. The taste certainly follows the nose. Dark roasted malts, bourbon soaked oak, vanilla, figs. Minor notes of coco and coffee. Some sweetness from the aging but not overpowering or negative. A little dusty. Not hot at all.

M. Way smooth. Moderate carbonation - especially for the style. Heavy body. Slightly oily.

O. Well done. A super well crafted ale, top to bottom. They just brought it from the cellar and threw it directly on the shelf. I went for it without refrigeration, but if a beer could hold up to that, this is the one. This is not boozey beyond what is expected. I feel perfection is unattainable but one cannot get any better in the taste and mouthfeel metrics.

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

Bottled Dec 28, 2012.

Beer is jet black with a small tan head.

Nose is very good. A nice blend of bourbon scents (oak, vanilla, bourbon itself), dark fruits, and chocolate. The nose reveals a well blended barrel-aged stout, with the barrel being obvious but not overwhelming.

Taste lives up to the promise of the nose. There is nothing unexpected here: it has all the flavours one would expect from a bourbon-barrel aged stout. What makes it great is two things: (i) the base beer is of a very high quality; and (ii) the flavours are very well proportioned. Bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark fruits, chocolate and some roasted malt are all there, and all harmonious with one another.

Mouthfeel is also great. Full bodied, moderate to low carbonation level and very very smooth. Despite the high ABV, it drinks quite easily. Alcohol hear is there but surprisingly muted for what it is.

Overall, terrific. Absolutely a first rate BBA stout.

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Photo of drmcleod10
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 Bottle

A- Dark as night, not as thick as some other stouts and around the edges of the glass light can get through. Minimal lacing and head on this one

S - The nose is fantastic here on this one... reminds me a lot of BCBS but with more dark fruits on the nose. Huge bourbon nose followed by vanilla chocolate and figs

T - dark fruits on the mouth, figs and dates dark chocolate and lots of bourbon on the finish

M - Medium bodied with more carb than i expected

O - Definitely lives up to the hype and really enjoyed this beer. Its a dark fruit BCBS

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,263 ratings.
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