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): 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:
650
Ratings:
4,218
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,729
Gots:
1,167
For Trade:
124
User Reviews
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Reviews: 650 | Ratings: 4,218
Photo of pixieskid
3.6/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Fux for sharing this bottle last night. Has been on my list of rare Imp. Stouts for some time, glad to cross it off. Unfortunately, I didn't have the same experience...

Pours an almost black color with a thin white head, dissipating quite quickly.

Nose; bourbon, oak, charcoal, and some dark fruits.

Taste; bourbon upfront with a touch of bakers chocolate, I too got peanut butter, finishing with a ton of burnt malt and a slight salinity (reminiscent of soy sauce but not like 09' Abyss).

Mouthfeel; oily and surprisingly thin. This can happen with barrel treatments (i.e. Boris vs. BA Boris is the best example off the top of my head) but I think it comes from the Double Cream Stout aspect of the beer as well.

Overall; I wasn't a fan but I will admit, I have been a bit under the weather lately so I know my palate isn't quite up to par...

Retried a bottle of 2013 and can say that the initial review was so low because of the fact that the beer was oxidized. This recent bottle was much better but still not very impressive. The thin body and overly boozy aspect from the barrel aging didnt do much for me. Decent example of the style but over rated and no better than any other barrel aged imperial stout out there.

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

Thank you thank you to my special friend for this one...

Pours a pitch black wih some nice white head. Looks pretty. Well carbonated. Smells rich and chocolatey. Buttery bourbon and a nice roastiness. The aroma is top notch. Tastes Roasty. Lots of expo not so much double special cream. The taste is a bit bitter from the roast. Good solid mouthfeel. Well carbonated. Overall solid but a bit to roug around the edges.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.95/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml into a tumbler glass.

A- pours black with a 1 finger tan head. Minimal lacing.

S- big chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, some spice.

T- chocolate, roast, bourbon, slight vanilla, with some bitterness near the end.

M- medium body and carbonation. Slightly thinner than other similar BA stouts.

O- good BA stout but doesn't knock your socks off. Nose is slightly better then the taste.

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Photo of zac16125
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle into a snifter
Bottled on: 12/28/12

A: Pours an opaque black with some browning on the edges when held to light. 1/2 fingers width of light mocha colored head builds and then quickly recedes. Leaves only small patches of lacing.

S: Massive bourbon upfront. This is followed by rich dark cocoa and chocolate fudge. Oak, vanilla, the barrel notes are huge. Hints of roasted malt and dark fruits as well. Maple syrup. Incredible aroma.

T: The initial sip is luscious dark chocolate, followed by bourbon, and finished with coffee and roasted malt notes. The flavor levels with each sip are just wonderful. I also get raw oak, faint dark fruit notes, vanilla, some bitterness on the finish.

M/D: Velvety smooth, full bodied, fairly thick but not chewy, carbonation a touch higher than I prefer for the style, but appropriate. No hint of the ABV and drinkability is excellent.

O: Overall, just an excellent beer. I feel very lucky that I was able to get a hold of a bottle of this. Excellent from top to bottom. Definitely worth seeking out.

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

Bottle #1071 - Thanks Shawn!

The pour is pretty standard for any stout, lovely jet back color with no transparency. Watching it pour is like watching motor oil pour from the canister, syrupy and viscous, yet thin enough to resemble something you would want to drink. An aggressive pour yields some head, but not much, and easily dissipates within moments, not uncommon of a high ABV stout. The nose is remarkable, the Double Cream Stout is in full effect in the nose, lots of milky lactose notes, roasted coffee and grainy malt compliments the subtle bourbon and charred wood that comes forth at the end, exceptional balance between the barrel and the base blend, neither seems to dominate, but instead they compliment each other quite well. I’ve had many a milk stout but the is the first time that the nose has suggested harmony between a milky or creamy stout and anything pleasant from a bourbon barrel. The flavors tend to favor Expedition Stout, heavier on the roast and bourbon, but also with a sweeter element, especially as it warms. Big notes of coffee and malt jump out, not unlike the Double Cream Stout, but they resinate in a way more reminiscent of Expedition Stout. The flavors are bigger, more robust and thicker, pairing well with the bourbon, which never takes over the beer, but only adds a nice layer of complexity and woodiness that compliments the roasted coffee and bold chocolate and caramel malt flavors. The body is nice and thick, minimal carbonation which plays nicely into the milky and creamy stout playbook of Double Cream Stout.

Verdict: Exceptional stout from Bell’s, I wish they released more of this so it could get around, but I’m very happy to have had a bottle. The creaminess and roastiness go hand in hand and the barrel aging adds just enough complexity to take this blend to a new level, without overpowering or dominating the palate. If you have the chance to try this beer, make it a top priority, the hype is deserved.

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Photo of tmoneyba
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Growler sample from shigadeyo.

Poured a black color with a moderate creamy brown head that diminished slowly and produced sticky legs and fair lacing.

Good roasted malt, licorice and woody bourbon aroma.

Full body with a smooth texture.

Complex sweet stout flavor with a smooth bourbon woody finish.

Very well balanced complex barrel stout.

This is a standout beer.

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Photo of JDizzle
4.27/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed this at Bell's Eccentric Cafe. Still on tap the day after "All Stouts Day". Score!!!!

A:black as nite, with a roasted brown head. Oily looking.

S:chocolate, coffee, bourbon, oak, multi-dimensional smelling beer. Not too much of one smell disracts from the whole experience. It smells amazing!

T: the ultimate!!! So smooth with a prominent bourbon barrel flavor that compliments the expo and cream that come together. One of the best BB stouts I have had.

Mouthfeel is oily, full with medium carbs.

Overall, I can't say enough about this beer. I have been wanting to try this for a while now and feel lucky to have had it.

On a good note: the lady working the bar said they shitloads of this and we should see more of it around this year!!

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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.

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours black as night, with a strong brown colored head that suddenly disappears before I even take a sip. It's aroma is great. Roasty, full of bourbon, molasses, chocolate, oak and more. It's high abv is very prevalent in it's aroma.

Malty and sweet, boozy and warm, with notes of molasses, black licorice, more boozy warmth, figs, and coffee. It's downright tasty. It's slightly thinner than I was expecting it to be. It's absolutely full-bodied, but probably a touch thinner than bells expedition stout, and I wasn't expecting that. It's a great beer. One that *almost* lives up to it's mega-hype.

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.29/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into small Eclipse snifter glass. 2012. Pours a pitch black color with a tiny light brown/tan head that disappears quickly. Scent is sweet vanilla and bourbon up front. A little oak and cherry aroma with some bitter chocolate and dark fruits. Roasted espresso as well. More vanilla lingering in the nose with a bit of toffee. Taste immediately reminded me of a BA stout I've had on multiple occasions. The initial flavors remind me of some of the Eclipse variants, where the overall beer remind me of Parabola (somewhat). Bitter chocolate up front with some nice bourbon flavors (and burn). Sweet vanilla with some sherry and oak flavors. A hint of coconut with some boozy whiskey flavors. More chocolate and a bit of roasted espresso in the finish. Mouthfeel starts out very nice, but tends to be a bit thin in the finish. Drinkability is pretty high for such a high ABV BA imperial stout. Overall, this beer is a great one. I guess for how hard the 750ml bottles were to get, I expected a little more. I absolutely love Parabola and rated it very highly. Although the flavor of this beer remind of Parabola in a way, I feel it is not on the same level. Solid beer overall, and I am VERY glad I scored me a four-pack via trade.

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.32/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a small tan head.

Scent of sweet molasses, oak, bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, roasted malts, and sugars. The oak and bourbon characters do not overpower here, probably one of the most balanced scents in a barrel aged beers I have come across.

Taste of chocolate, bourbon, roasted malts, molasses, dark fruit, oak, and smoke. Similarly with the scent, this has a nice balance between the base beer and the bourbon barrel.

Mouthfeel is medium heavy bodied and smooth with low carbonation.

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

its huge but drinkable which i would figure its saving grace and the reason why its so sought after. But as for the midwest i would say this is a standard. Of excellence to say the least but in bourbon country its is also the most accessible. Both for attaining the barrells and lets just call it practice.

The base to this stout is one of my favorite. The beer is not so much noticeable in the nose. I get the malty notes of the nose that was vanilla and bourbon hints. The beer is actually quite lean and easy going. Carbonation isn't particularly creamy. But malt smooth. Tingle. Bourbon, coffee toast, and a nice lingering note. Quite standard. Although a nice treat for the fan.

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Photo of Hophead717
4.49/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at St Stephens Green as part of Philly Beer Week. Poured into a GI tulip glass.

A: Black, tiny head, with a bit of lacing along the glass, but not much.

S: Bourbon-heavy, with a light semi-sweet roastiness. Overall, a very sweet nose.

T: Very sweet also. Bourbon dominates throughout, beginning with the early sip. Mild roastiness provides the canvass for this great masterpiece of a beer.The double cream stout's influence is noticeable, as the base-beer is vaguely sweet. Semi-sweet chocolate also comes across mid-sip. The finish is mainly of bourbon, with light undertones of semi-sweet roastiness.

M: Medium-bodied. Not heavy or thick at all, which was unexpected. I perhaps would have liked this to be a touch thicker, but that's largely splitting hairs. Well carbonated.

O: Incredible beer and one that I am so glad I got to try. I wouldn't trade the farm for a bottle of this, but I definitely plan to seek it out every time it is on tap in the area.

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Photo of beagle75
3.88/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft service into a snifter at The Flying Saucer in Kansas City.

A: Opaque black color with a diminishing residue of light beight bubbles. Scant lacing remains on the glass.

S: Dark chocolate and vanilla are well represented. Little spirit or wood influences transmitted in the smell. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins very off-dry with rich chocolate and vanilla from the smell as well as dark cherry fruit. Acidity is moderate into the middle as fruit is replaced by some pure roast. Another spike of acidity occurs before the mellow finish fully matures, yielding some late bourbon notes but remaining light on wood and booze.

M: Thick viscosity, creamy but slightly acidic on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: Best categorized as a dessert beer--it is not as assertive on the palate as some stouts that are born 'imperial' then givven the bourbon barrel treatment. Entirely respectable, it would serve well as a gateway to the world of barrel aged beers.

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Photo of vinny21bal
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really a great beer. Texture in the mouth. The nose is good. The taste is over the top. I really like this beer around room temperature with a little age on it. Again this beer is a lot like bcbs or Kbs where it is a little hot when fresh. But as far as quality it is up there with the big dogs as well.

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

on tap at brewpub for All Stouts Day and left on afterwards:
This beer was pitch black and produced a small snow white head that left trace lace as it subsided. An aroma of malt, bourbon, chocolate, cocoa and anise. The flavor was of malt, chocolate and anise. It had a medium body and slightly creamy and a sweet finish. Love this combination.

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Photo of bgold86
4.79/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a snifter glass, nose is of chocolate, coffee, sweet vanilla and dark fruits, good but not spectacular. Taste on the other hand is a different story, huge bourbon, huge chocolate, big dark dried fruits, just spectacular.

Falls short of a perfect 5/5 but well worth the price of admission.

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Photo of Etan
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a tulip.

A: Pours a shiny black body with a very small chocolate-colored head.

S: Rich notes of milk chocolate, oak and bourbon, light cherry. Very chocolatey with a hint of fruit.

T: Taste comprises dry oak, bitter roasted grain, light raisins, dark chocolate, some tannic caramel, dark alcohol on the end.

M: Between medium and thick-bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: Although the aroma and feel are quite nice, I wasn't as impressed by the taste as I could have been. I can think of a bunch of other stouts that have better barrel characters. Still a very good barrel-aged stout.

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

This only gets better with age. This is the 2012, stored @ 50 F, and poured into a snifter.

A: Black , with thin head, thick pour.

S: Heaven. Vanilla, cherry, almond(?) and of course some chocolate.

T: Follows the nose. This was great when I had it fresh, but is AMAZING with some age on it. I have revised to a 5/5.

M: Smooth, creamy, velvety, and no alcohol bite. Slight bitter finish on the tongue from the barrel aging.

O: I am regretting trading this away, when I had 12 in the cellar. This will be an enjoyable one for future sessions, and I will definitely look for more this fall.

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Photo of monitorpop
3.92/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black with a one finger airy tan head that quickly faded to a ring.

S: Smooth bourbon with subtitle chocolate, coffee and vanilla extract.

T: Dominate bitter dark chocolate with some coffee that fades into lingering bourbon. More bitter than sweet.

M: A bit thinner and than I expected. Some nice warming alcohol in the finish.

O: More bitter and less sweet than I prefer, but still a really good beer that certainly improves as it warms up.

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

10oz pour at city taphouse bell's event

A: Deep brown/black body. One finger dark khaki head that held for some time after the pour. Spotty lacing.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, sweet cream, molasses, roasted malts and dark fruits. Complex and well layered. Nothing really overpowers the other elements.

T: Nice blend of boozy-goodness and sweet, dessert like malts. Warm bourbon is present from the first drop. Sweet milk chocolate, cream, molasses, caramel, a little roasted coffee, vanilla and some figs.

M: Thick, full bodied and viscous. Low carbonation, but appropriate. A bit boozy, but not overbearingly hot. Nice lingering sweetness.

D: At first it was fairly easy drinking considering the thickness, but the beer eventually slowed down for me. This was likely the result of the underlying sweetness. A very nice beer, that is a bit different than the other big stouts out there. Thanks to Bell's and City Taphouse for the fun event.

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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 rodlavers
4.84/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12oz format, dated 12/28/12, poured into a snifter.

Less than a finger of thick dark tan mocha head, pretty much disappears after just a few minutes, maybe not even that long, leaving a very thin ring around the glass. Very minimal lacing. Black coffee coloring, with small traces of red, very small traces.

Nose really opens up as this thing warms a bit. At first a little one dimensional, with a flat roasted character present up front. After the pour, bourbon, vanilla, molasses, dark fruits, some coffee and chocolate, and whole host of other aromas announce themselves, giving Black Note a super complex, yet balanced overall aroma. There are earth tones in there, as well. Even a bit of tobacco.

Taste is equally complex and balanced, but not quite as amazing. Everything in the nose combines to create a very enjoyable flavor profile, but nothing is too prominent. It's all very balanced. I do find myself looking for something extra, more robust. It's not too hot, either.

Feel's smooth and velvety up front with a chalky finish, if that is possible. Somewhat hoppy and bitter at the same time. Carbonation is definitely noticeable.

Overall, I do really enjoy Black Note. It's complexity and uniqueness lend it something other bba stouts do not have. It's definitely not as smooth as some others I've had , but it's amazing in its own right. Cheers.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.92/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from the tap at Birreria Paradiso into a very generous snifter, Happy Hour price $4. LOL I would have paid... well never mind. The liquid was dark too black had a cool looking one finger mocha head with a bit of lace.

The smell was just oh so good, big bourbon on that great Bell's stout. Lots of coffee and chocolate noted dancing with the vanilla and alcohol, truly a master piece.

The taste followed the aroma, lots of bourbon, mild vanilla working with all the great flavors of the cream stout.

The mouthfeel was good to very good thick and creamy but the carbonation could have been a bit better to make the body just right.

The drinkability was A1A, man did I enjoy this brew. This is a must try beer. Thanks Larry! Prosit und Zum Wohl. MK

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

Type: Bottle 2012
Glass: Snifter
From: Bell's General Store
Price: $24 a 4-pack

Appearance- Pitch black and opaque. Small tan head the faded pretty quickly and only left a lacing along the side.

Smell- Chocolate, molasses and bourbon, and a touch of sweetness

Taste- Chocolate, brown sugar, bourbon and molasses, with a finish of bitter roasted malts. Perfectly balanced and not lacking in any way.

Mouthfeel- Creamy and thick. Low carbonation and a warming finish. Exactly what it should be.

Overall- This beer is exactly what I want it to be. It is a stout no doubt with the perfect addition of bourbon. Most BBA stouts are taken over by the bourbon, while this is not a terrible thing, it still takes away from the beer. The use of Expedition and Special Double Cream gives it both a smoothness in the body but a slightly bitter finish that is perfect for the style. I couldn't and wouldn't as for anything different in a bourbon barrel aged stout. At $6 a bottle it is definitely a treat but one that I would buy a 4-pack at any opportunity.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,218 ratings.
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