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

Bell's Black Note StoutBell's Black Note Stout
BA SCORE
4.55/5
4,397 Ratings
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
Ranking:
#61
Reviews:
688
Ratings:
4,397
pDev:
7.91%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
2,714
Gots:
1,194
Trade:
126
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,397 |  Reviews: 688
Photo of bpfrush
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of grahuba
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of mynie
4.39/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Glugs out very dark and viscous with minimal carbonation and small brown head.

Smells like whiskey, chocolate, and vanilla. The aroma is strong but not overpowering. A very nice blend.

Tastes like it smells--it's clear that this is Bell's direct response to BCBS. Whiskey and stout barley start things off, moving into a bittersweet middle of vanilla and dark chocolate, finishing off with the pleasant burn of ethanol.

Tried this side-by-side against a regular bottle of 2013 BCBS, and Goose Island's brew was a narrow winner due its firmer body and more complex finish. The fact that Black Note gave it a run for its money is quite a compliment, though, and I look forward to sampling some more of these in the future.

 724 characters

Photo of dgilks
3.85/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of AgentMunky
4.56/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a small snifter from a growler of unknown provenance. Thanks stranger at the bar.

4A: Completely dark. No head. Some clinging lace.

4.25S: Rich, deep, dark bourbon, flat malt and stale yeast. A little like an old ale. The barrel aging seems to have mellowed all aspects but heightened the sweetness. Slightly pungent alcohol.

4.5T/5M: Absolutely fucking luxurious. It envelops the mouth the way silk sheets might cradle an emperor. The Double Cream Stout sweetness shines and is accentuated by the bourbon barrels, but the darker, bitterer anise and dark chocolate and hints of creamy coffee from Expedition Stout are also noticeable. I don't even miss the carbonation because this beer is so full and sexy and caressing. The aftertaste is dry and more bitter than the rest of the beer.

5O: This is truly magnificent and I cannot overstate how thrilled I am to finally try it. Definitely recommended. Best bourbon barrel aged beer I've had.

EDIT 16 Jan 2015: Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a St Bernadus goblet. 2012 vintage. Bottle 28 Dec 2012.

4A: As above.

4.5S: Smells slightly sharper, but also richer. Dark malts, only a hint of old ale yeast.

4.75T/4.75M: Oh gods. As above, but sharper and more carbonated around the edges. Still velvety.

5O: Still incredible.

 1,294 characters

Photo of jera1350
4.62/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Bodega Brew Pub.

Served in a 10 ounce nonic with a solid black body and a dense head of brown colored foam.

Incredibly rich smell of dark malts and bourbon. Molasses, lactose, coffee beans and bourbon.

Rich malty flavors with deep complexity. Chocolate. The bourbon is there and does not overwhelm or stand out more than the malt. It's a nice complement to the overall brew.

Very sticky and rich with a full body.

Awesome beer. Wish they would bottle this bad boy on a regular basis. Lighter on the barrel, but it makes for an overall enjoyable beer that is towards the top of the list for the style.

 620 characters

Photo of BarrelAgedG
4.25/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of 2beerdogs
4.02/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of bobv
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.26/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks, gillagorilla!

Pours a pitch-black color. The head is...well, it's more of a shabby-looking film, really. Lighter tan in color, it features really bad retention. Naturally, no lacing is left behind.

As expected, plenty of rich yet nuanced bourbon barrel shows up aromatically. Oak, vanilla, and even mild marshmallow all appear. The base is loaded with notes of roasted malt, baker's cocoa, and espresso. What it lacks in intense fudge and brownie batter notes it makes up for with notes of licorice and dark fruits. The barrels have done their job here, and that's take away the sharper features of Expedition Stout while adding additional depth. And deep it is! It continues to unfurl layers as it opens up, and seems to feature more complexity (aroma-wise) than even many of the style stalwarts.

It first features a flavor of dark fruits and licorice (how 'bout that, just like the aroma dictated...), which then gives way to espresso around the middle. The finish, natch, is quite oak-laden. As a nitpick, the barrels here seem to take on more of a generic oak quality, instead of offering vivid bourbon flavors of vanilla or toasted coconut. In fact, compared to many other barrel-aged stouts out there, this doesn't seem particularly sweet at all. Despite the seemingly drier, more utilitarian approach, it doesn't come across as being harsh (unlike fresh Expedition Stout) or out of balance. It's every bit as complex as it needs to be, yet still finely balanced. This is close to my ideal stout, it just needs a bit more actual bourbon presence (as opposed to just oak) and maybe 10% more depth.

Because it's so well attenuated, the mouthfeel is surprisingly - dare I say - crisp. It's not light-feeling or dinky (by any stretch), but it goes down surprisingly easily. It does this all without a vicious, alcoholic bite. Carbonation is obviously low.

This, in my opinion, is the best beer Bell's makes. It's an excellent blend that's both balanced and tempered by bourbon barrels, while retaining the stronger qualities of the two (especially Expedition Stout). I surmise this one will be a mofo to find - I'd gladly make that effort to seek it out again. It's easily on par with some of the better barrel-aged stouts on the market.

4.26/5: A good blueprint on how barrel aging can improve the flaws of some beers, while adding a wonderful dimension on its own

 2,383 characters

Photo of TurdFurgison
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of rlee1390
4.41/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Black in the glass, one finger brown head that leaves some lacing behind.

S-Balanced bourbon, roasted malt, chocolate, coffee with faint vanilla.

T-Great balance, moderate bourbon, roasted malt, chocolate, slight coffee and slight bitterness.

M-Medium to heavy bodied, very creamy.

O-A great BA stout, however it isn't at the same level on BA Speedway, BCBS, Parabola or some of the Eclipse beers.

 403 characters

Photo of threedaggers
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of andrenaline
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of zekeman17
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of cjgiant
4.36/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared bottle: nice bourbon-tinged chocolate where barrel shows in a thinner feel late taste. Well balanced and a must revisit for full review.

144 characters

Photo of GraduatedCashew
4.25/5  rDev -6.6%

Photo of akang
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of mig100
4.61/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of MattyG85
4.89/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at The Blue Door Pub in St. Paul, MN. Served in a 10 oz. goblet glass.

Appearance: Color is a oily jet black. Moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of deep tan creamy head that recedes to a very thin layer. Decent amount of lacing is left on the glass.

Smell: Big scent of bourbon whiskey up front with good hints of vanilla, wood, and oak. Sweet dark malts with big hints of dark chocolate, coffee, dark toasted bread, molasses, burnt caramel, toffee, and biscuit. A fair amount of syrup and burnt sugars. Subtle hints of dark raisin, plum, fig, and cherry. A light hint of smoke and earthy hops. The bourbon and sweet chocolate stand out the most. A big and rich aroma.

Taste: Just as big and complex as the aroma leads. Nicely dark, sweet, and boozy. Big taste of bourbon whiskey up front with good notes of vanilla, oak chips, and the whiskey barrel. A little bit of smoke. Big dark roasted malts with notes of dark chocolate, bitter coffee, toasted bread and biscuit, sweet molasses and syrup, burnt caramel, and toffee. Undertones of dark fruits including dark cherry, plum, and raisin. Subtle earthy hops in the background. The bourbon and dark chocolate elements really stand out. Rich and very good taste.

Mouthfeel: A fairly heavy body with a moderate amount of carbonation. Thick, creamy, and fairly slick and syrupy. Some alcohol heat is present but its not overly hot.

Overall: A really great barrel aged imperial stout. The bourbon flavor is big and great and the dark chocolate and molasses sweetness is very good.

 1,553 characters

Photo of atone315
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of Zazzi82
4.49/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Daniellobo
4.25/5  rDev -6.6%

Photo of pkalix
4.76/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

wow. very smooth; very mellow. 2012, February, almost three years old and drunk on the anniversary of my dad's passing. cheers! nothing to compare it to, never had one before, but very, very nice. thanks to Dan for the brew! this bottle says 11.8%. lots of tempered bourbon aroma and flavor, dark fruit, fig, chocolate, caramel, tobacco..... but no egg as someone mentioned (?)....

 381 characters

Photo of THECPJ
4.53/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: black as night with a nice 1 finger mocha head

smell: vanilla, chocolate, bourbon barrel, roasted malts,

taste: bitter chocolate, roasted malts, hints of vanilla,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, full body,

overall: an outstanding stout. glad I was at the right place and time to give this bad boy a try.

Cheers,
The CPJ

 355 characters

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Beer rating: 4.55 out of 5 with 4,397 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.