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:
651
Ratings:
4,220
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,729
Gots:
1,169
For Trade:
124
User Reviews
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Reviews: 651 | Ratings: 4,220
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 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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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 shivtim
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from a friend. 2012 vintage aged in his beer cellar in Michigan for one year.

Nearly opaque black/brown, with brown tinged edges when held up to light. Slight lacy brown head.
Nose is bourbon-soaked raisins. Chocolate. Slight anise. Fantastic.
Taste is deep malt, bourbon, some sweetness.

Excellent stout.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

What an awesome beer. Had a pull at Churchkey.

Pours super thick black with a ring of tan head and a nice web of lacing. Looks great, and it previews the excellent silky feel.

Smell is good, I get licorice, vanilla, some sweeter bourbon and oak, a little malt, a touch of roast, and some maple syrup. I just knock it cause it isn't really jumping out of the glass. Some alcohol pops out with a swirl.

Taste is amazing and so is the feel, it's so silly and inviting with a range of amazing layers of flavor. Sticky, chewy, semi sweet and savory, there is no heat in there which amazing. Flavors include licorice, sweeter bourbon-very nice bourbon like van winkle 12, nice roasty chocolate notes, oak, lactose sugar, a little alcohol sweetness, some savory slight bacony notes, and some espresso cream. Wow, stunning beer.

Overall this is killing. What a great beer, my favorite bells and that says something.

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

Uber-geeked to try this one...Aaron, I can't thank you enough! 12oz 2012 bottling split into tulips with my bro -

A: Black opaque pour, very VERY dark and ominous. Minimal head and lace.

S: Initially BIG barrel notes, more whiskey-like than bourbon to my nose...burnt sugar, oak, and a touch of smokiness. Nose is rounded out with notes of sweetness, caramel and vanilla.

T: Caramel and vanilla, lots of it caramel, especially...marshmallow too. A decent bit of warming from the alcohol...milk chocolate, suggestion of roast, light woodiness from the barrels. Well-integrated barrel-aging.

MF: Smooth, full body with lower carbonation levels. Just a touch of heat, and it isn't distracting.

O: This is a good barrel-aged beer, one that shines with a bit more caramel/vanilla/marshmallow sweetness than even BCBS (we tasted the 2012 of BCBS version tasted side by side with BN). It has a lighter body than BCBS too, while still maintaining an Imperial Stout-like mouthfeel with good drinkability.

Good stuff. Thanks again Aaron, cheers!

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Photo of LambicPentameter
4.39/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to fellow BA cvm4 for sending this bottle along in a trade. Enjoyed out of a 12 oz brown bottle with the vintage "2014" stamped on the front of the label. Poured into a 33 oz brandy snifter. Reviewing from notes after enjoying on 2/14/15.

Appearance (4.25) - A pour of moderate aggression yields a finger of caramel-brown foam that dissipates fairly quickly, leaving more of a ringlet around the edges and a spackling of lace on the sides of the glass. Beneath the head lies a dark walnut brown body with no light able to pass through except for a gentle glow of refraction right around the edges.

Smell (4.5) - The smell really makes a good impression, with notes of graham cracker, caramel and some molasses are the initial aroma, with trailing scents of chocolate and roasted malt close behind. There is a slight hint of astringent booziness, but it's faint and really only serves to cut through the sweeter aromas.

Taste (4.5) - Not quite as impressive as the aroma, but good enough that the difference is negligible, the taste isn't quite as sweet as what the smell suggested was to follow. Still notes of caramel and molasses, now complemented by vanilla and some oak, with a stronger presence from the alcohol that wasn't as prevalent in the smell. Again, bitterness comes in the form of roasted malt char and some cacao bittersweet characteristics.

Feel (4.0) - Body is on the slightly heavy side of medium, but still doesn't rise to the girth that I want to have in big imperial stouts like this one. I know the barrel-aging makes that difficult. Carbonation is low and soft, without any of the harshness that might cut through the decadence of the beer. Finish is semisweet.

Overall (4.25), a really nice barrel-aged stout and one that I would gladly drink again if it weren't pretty much a trade-only beer for me to access. However, I don't think I would go out of my way to trade for it again, as there are barrel-aged imperial stouts that are just as good, if not better, that I personally have an easier time getting my hands on.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a pitch black with a very thin tan head.

S - Aromas of heavy bourbon with some vanilla and chocolate.

T - Starts out with a hint of bourbon that transforms into a nice mix of chocolate and coffee. There is a nice vanilla sweetness throughout. Alcohol is very well hidden.

M - Full bodied with low carbonation. Silky smooth mouthfeel.

O - An awesome treat. Lots of rich and lucious flavors. Very smooth and drinkable for BA sout. Highly recommended.

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

Bell's Brewery, Inc. - Bell's Black Note Stout, poured into a Craftgeer snifter.

Aged 1 year, from 12/12/2012

Look - Pours a medium viscosity jet black with no head to speak of (common for these aged stouts, not a big deal). Negligible lacing (the fact that there was some at all is amazing).

Smell - Rich chocolate, coffee, woody, nutty, fruity. Malty w/bourbon throughout. Not overly woody, just right, the fruit is slightly sweet.

Taste - Smooth fudge chocolate and coffee with dark fruits and a touch of bourbon at the end. Sweet vanilla in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Full-medium bodied with low-medium carbonation. Surprisingly not boozy (seriously). Sticky coating in the mouth.

Overall - This is super tasty, from reading other reviews it appears that this one definitely enhances with age, glad I got to try one that was aged one year. Cheers!

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Photo of cfrances33
4.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Bell's Eccentric Cafe, served in a snifter.

Pour: Pitch black, with a half finger of deep khaki head. Nice legs, and this beer is a little more splashy than the pitch black body would tell you.

Smell: Really nice vanilla bourbon, with a distinct roastiness, and creamy milk chocolate. A touch of dark fruits.

Taste: Wow. Bourbon vanilla bomb up front. Nice sweet milk chocolate creaminess, which mixes with roasted malts. Creamy vanilla bourbon finishes.

Mouthfeel: Not too heavy, and just a touch of bourbon heat. Really nice carbonation, which play well with the creamy flavors.

Overall: Awesome beer, definitely looking forward to having this again.

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Photo of Buck89
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 vintage poured into a snifter. A jet black pour out of the bottle, producing a modest tan head that retreated fairly quickly. A soft bourbon presence on the nose, along with caramel, coffee, cherries, and chocolate. I tasted the caramel first and it quickly gave way to all of the above notes. Rich chocolate but not too heavy. The bourbon was a bit hot and this should evolve nicely with a bit of age.

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Photo of deebo
4.05/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Bryant-Lake Bowl.

A-Served a healthy 10 oz pour in a snifter. This baby is black as a black note with a tan film that stubbornly hangs on til the last drink.

S-Sweet and roasted malts are dominant, the bourbon is there too but subdued at first, becoming stronger as the beer warms.

T-The taste is definitely on the sweet side. The malts are chocolately with a medium amount of roasting. Bourbon character is there but not overpowering at all.

M-A bit oily but not nearly as much viscosity as say a GI BCS. Body is also on the light side for such a strong brew, the odd thing is you would expect the alcohol to come out stronger, but it is really well hidden...a definite plus for this version. Very light on carbonation.

D-Probably the highest for any 10%+ BB stout I've tasted.

O-Tastes like a BB stout, but shines in the drinkability. Lacks the complex flavors of some others but a solid beer. Well done.

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Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.48/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Birch.

A - Classic imperial stout look, great lacing, nice brown head, pitch black.

S - Very appealing smell, smoke, charcoal, bitter chocolate.

T - Bitter taste, smokey, pretty complex. Very substantial in abv taste. Very delicious.

M - Fairly creamy and full bodied.

O - Although it may not be one of the best beers around right now, it still earns its reputation as a superb quality beer. Have I had better lately? Maybe. But this is still excellent.

Oh, bullchips. This is awesome.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,220 ratings.
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