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

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601 Reviews
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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:
4,027
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
21.56%
 
 
Wants:
2,748
Gots:
1,054
For Trade:
101
User Reviews
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Reviews: 601 | Ratings: 4,027
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 Rifugium
4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at City Tap House, Philly, PA

First (and only at the time of this review) keg to come to Philly!

Served in a snifter, dark brown to black, opaque, with a minimal tan head. Aroma was luscious with dark malts, licorice, vanilla and chocolate; some alcohol noticeable. Taste was rich with malts, dark chocolate, sweet sugars, bourbon-soaked wood; strong in flavor and booze; quite simply amazing all around. Nicely thick and creamy, full bodied. Highly drinkable, and among of the best stouts I've had.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.77/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I cannot believe I was actually able to land this beer. Persistence pays off people! Much thanks to the wonderful man from Kentucky who grabbed me a small growler of this one earlier in the week and rushed it right down to me. Chilled down in the fridge and then immediatly decanted into a pint glass. This one was consumed on 06/26/2009.

The pour was as dark and inky black as one could possibly get. Amazing this thing looked like a black hole. A very small little puff of tan came up over the top and settled down very quickly leaving the top nearly bare with just a touch of lacing. The there was the aroma. Tons of molasses and bourbon that was laced with huge notes of vanilla and coffee. A hint of licorice maybe? Possibly dark fruit but simply amazing and intense but that was nothing compared to what I was in for when I took that first elusive sip. It was on now. Big. Full bodied, thoroughly coating and amazing flavor. Nearly the perfect balance of hot bourbon, rich milk chocolate and coffee all hit you up front. But as it warms it morphs on you, prune like flavors, hints of maybe some grapes like tartness overlay the vanilla from the barrel and make it a sublime finish that literally seemed to get sweeter with every sip.

Overall I am not gonna lie, this one kicked my butt! It was an supreme joy to drink, but it is strong. Taken in context though, I could have sipped on this at the end of the night, every night. It was simply divine. Much thanks again for getting to try this, it was worth the wait and one of the best tasting stouts I have ever come across.

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

Huge thanks to Derek, as always, for the bottle.

Black in color with a small tan head. Aroma is almost overpowering bourbon and vanilla. Rich chocolate and a bit of roasted malt. Simplicity at its finest. The flavor is similarly bold. A touch of alcohol, intense bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Tons of chocolate, some hints of coffee and roasted malt, and a bit of molasses. Excellent, decadent stuff.

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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 TMoney2591
4.18/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tumbler at Firkin.

Review #2800! Solidarity rolls on for me with a beer I've been looking forward to for a long time. This stuff pours a straight obsidian topped by a finger of dark brown foam. The nose comprises bourbon, toasted wood, caramel, and roasted malts. The taste brings in more of the same, along with a touch of dark chocolate syrup. The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a lightly chewy feel. Overall, a damn tasty stout. To me, the barrel is a bit overpowering compared to everything else, but it somehow doesn't go too far in this way. Good times, indeed.

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

Review from notes.

A: Pours a very deep brown, practically black with a small tan/mocha colored head on top that forms a pretty tight cap. Decent read retention with thin lacing.

S: Dark chocolate upfront with some light roasted malt. Bourbon mixed with vanilla and a bit of brown sugar and molasses as well.

T: The first flavor I got was vanilla with dark chocolate, a great combination. The bourbon kicks in adding some wood, a bit of caramelized sugar, and some molasses. Faint dark fruit as well, cherries. Slight bitter/roast on the back end.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation, pretty smooth.

O: A very nice beer, understandable why it scores so hi. Very impressed and look forward to trying it again.

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

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden, Brass Rail and Shady McGrady's all in the same week. Also out of a growler at ffej of july...Yeah, this area does not suck.

A - Pours jet black with a nice one and a half finger tall mocha colored head leaving sticky streaks of lace down parts of the glass.

S - Smells of warm bourbon, milk chocolate, vanilla, dark roasted malt, brown sugar and quite a bit of lactic creaminess. Bourbon is strong initially but the other aroma's grow to help keep it in check.

T - Starts off with a big dose of warm bourbon, chocolate and some lactic creaminess from the double cream stout. Hints of vanilla, oak, brown sugar and rich coffee help to break things up and keep things interesting. Finish is pretty sweet with plenty of boozy bourbon and some dark roast, lingering on the palate long after consumption.

M - Big, full body with a TON of sweet flavors and moderate carbonation. Smooth, boozy feel throughout the glass.

O - I have missed out on trying this one a few times in the past so I was really looking forward to trying it when I saw that it went on-tap. Now that I have had it 4-5 times in the span of a week I can say that it definitely lives up to its billing. Awesome beer for sure.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap tonight at Churchkey in Washington, DC. 10 oz. pours in snifters. This was one of those whales I never thought I'd get to try unless it came to a festival, so was pretty happy to get a few glasses of it tonight.

a - Pours a pitch black color with one inch of dark tan head and light carbonation evident. Head lasts for a few minutes and leaves some spotty lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of bourbon, oak, vanilla, roasted malts, sweet and bitter chocolate, and caramel malts. Really amazing nose with the bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate mixing wonderfully. Pretty perfect nose.

t - Tastes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, sweet chocolate sweet dark fruits, roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and cream. Again, really great here.

m - Medium to full body and low carbonation. Somewhat thicky and creamy, really great mouthfeel. No alchool heat really at all.

o - Overall a truely fantastic beer; reminds me, as well as others I was with, a lot of BCS Rare. Nose is wonderful and no real alcohol heat, I had no problem drinking 3 full glasses of this one. I put it on par with BCS Rare and the normal BCS, which are two of my favorite stouts. Would love to have it again sometime.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at Churchkey in D.C.

The beer is black with a thin beige head. After a few swirls of the snifter the head expands to 3/4 inch, leaving a thick sheet of lacing cascading down the snifter.

The aroma, while nice, is quite a bit weaker than expected, offering bourbon and roast with a hint of vanilla.

The flavor, on the other hand, is a thing of beauty. Bold bourbon presence throughout. Oily thick with a delicious roast character. This is indeed a world class beer and in my top tier of barrel aged imperial stouts. Not terribly complex, per se, but masterfully balanced and just superb.

The mouthfeel is ridiculously good, perhaps the best I have yet encountered in a beer of this ilk. The Double Cream Stout shows itself here. Creamy and full bodied, with alcohol content gracefully disguised.

Worthy of its overall A+ rating, this beer was sublime.

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

I've always loved Expedition stout and since I've heard they did a barrel aged version I couldn't get away from wanting this beer. It's been a long journey and thanks to a local Pittsburgh distributor I finally came into contact with this one.

Pours a pitch black hue with creamy tan head floating above the head, let me tell you about this BA version of Expedition fine lacing left evenly around the chalice.

Aromatics dark malts charred oak, with vanilla and whiskey rich character...also has a toasted marshmallow note with booze that is much needed for a dark imperial stout called Black Note. The finish is full of caramelized dark sugars and it so nice and full of nearly burnt malts. Smells so good, it's amazing what a whiskey barrel can do to a stout, I'm glad New Holland tried to put whiskey into some stout barrels to see if the inverse were true. Each time I take a sniff I get hints of umami from soy sauce tainted meat and spicy notes of ginger impregnated in a marinade of chicken breast.

Flavor has milky creamy dark chocolate notes, flowing with heat of bourbon barrel aging effects, charred oak, and rich vanilla booze infused stout character. Dark fruit with plums and over ripened fruits that are soaked in alcohol infusing through the palate with each sip. In the backend I definitely get that meaty soy sauce, umami character that I've come to know and love salty/sweet and a bit of braised beef or grilled tuna approaches the palate. I believe either of these would be great pairings amongst this beverage.

Mouthfeel full bodied creamy texture seduces your palate, even slow bubbling carbonation what a great experience that is too be had by all lovers of great barrel aged stouts. Salty sweet combination reigns supreme on the palate and leaves me wanting more and more.

Overall, one of the best barrel aged creations I've ever had...light years ahead of the complexity of KBS and Arcadia Shipwrecked BBA beers. I will hold onto the rest of the six pack I have left.

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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 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 stakem
4.22/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Draft served in a snifter. The brew pours black in color with a rich mocha head. The cap fades pretty fast leaving spotty patches of lace sticking to the glass.

The smell is vibrant with bourbon and barrel aging characteristics that smell of coconut, vanilla and lots of neutral oak. Roasty grain is present smelling of coffee and chocolate. Some tangy booze rounds things up.

The taste is tangy with bourbon booze quality right out the gate that doesnt diminish during the experience. Bitter unsweetened cocoa lingers in the mouth coupled with coffee, raw oak, vanilla, and some hints of caramel sweetness as it warms up.

This is a medium bodied brew with a light level of carbonation. It is quite a boozy sipper that is enjoyable. Fans of expedition stout will go crazy over this. Very well done and worth seeking out if it doesnt cost you a limb.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.16/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 Bottle from BlowOffTube, thanks for the opportunity!
Solid black color with a quickly fleeting head. Chocolate, roast, molasses, vanilla, wood, light dark fruit, there's lots going on here and its all good. Rich sweet silky creamy thick body with light carbonation. Damn that's good, wish I had more!

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Photo of smakawhat
4.48/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from the 12oz. bottle into a large snifter glass.

Barely a whisp of faint tan head is made off the pour, but settles to a common 1mm collar while drinking. A nice little coffee cream top, with a body that is walnut black in color, just a little hint of see through around the edges.

Nose is very subtle, with hints of classic bourbon barrel aging. A controlled heat mixing with a large thick roast and caramel mix. Hints of charring thickness and booze. Hints of peanut like and salty character, Somewhat one dimensional and a little varied, but it's a good profile.

A real wonderful thickness. Great thick chocolate ganache finish on this beer, with hints of dark chocolate and bitter cocoa coating feel. A real controlled lingering very mild bitterness on the finish that lasts and lasts. Mild sweetness lingers on the tongue with this powder light heat and faint sting from a little tinge of carbonation. Incredibly coating palate and a nice dark chocolate. This is without question the most dark chocolate tasting brew I have had to date. The hint of sweet and punching dark bitter on this is just perfect.

This brew is all in the aftertaste, with a real incredible chocolate rich darkness. Drinks incredibly easy for such a large stout as well. Very memorable but not for the reasons that are mentioned on the bottles description. I would be shocked if Bell's could pull this beer off on a regular basis. Please try again!

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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 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 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 TheSevenDuffs
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Review from 10-22-12 updated with bottle enjoyed on 11-08-13. Bottle number 129/1534. Batch #11620.

A - Poured dark black; medium thickness on the pour. A thin layer of espresso coloured head formed and quickly disappeared.

S - Huge whiskey and oak aromas up front. The barrel characteristics dominate the nose with some sweet chocolate fudge in the background.

T - Bourbon, some vanilla and toasted oak up front. Although the barrel is dominant, the base beer comes through more than nose indicated. Chocolate fudge, bitter roast, molasses and light espresso flavours integrate nicely with the barrel flavours.

M - Full body. Thick and somewhat viscous. Light carbonation.

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Photo of tempest
4.1/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had a large snifter at Republic in Seven Corners. Overall, a delicious stout and well worth the $8, but I though the character was relatively dull for everything that's been put into it. The bourbon barrel character is smooth, and pleasant with oaky vanilla, but it sits in the background behind even smoother cocoa malts. It's almost like it's too balanced, with few flavors really standing out. I'll admit though, I'm being hard on this very tasty beer. I just don't think it drinks up to its potential.

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Photo of Duff27
4.09/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a mid mocha head on a black body. Wonderful head retention and lacing for a stout. My favorite aspect of this beer.

Smooth, sweet bourbony chocolate.

Present bourbon but not overpowering by any means. Big roasted cocoa notes. Slight cherry aftertaste. Well hidden ABV.

Creamy mouthfeel but doesn't have the thickness you may associate with an impy stout. Low carbonation.

Overall a well put together bourbon barrel age stout from Bell's. Black Note didn't knock my socks off but I would have it again. Thanks for sharing 4DAloveofSTOUT!

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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 aasher
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was sampled at the Beer Sellar in Indianapolis for their Super Bell's Party before the Super Bowl. It poured a full bodied darkest of blacks with a one finger khaki head. It smells like a barrel aged stout. It has the creamed coffee, chocolate, with a touch or bourbon and vanilla. It is essentially a poor man's Bourbon County. It has a good amount of roast with a good amount of bourbon and vanilla. That said, lighter and less intense than Bourbon County. It's really drinkable because of this. The alcohol takes a backseat as well. The longer you sip the more the char makes itself known, alongside the vanilla. It leaves plenty of roast behind. Regardless, it drinks really nice and everything meshes rather well. This is a nice barrel aged stout. I'm glad I could try 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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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,027 ratings.
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