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:
652
Ratings:
4,225
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,727
Gots:
1,173
For Trade:
126
User Reviews
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Reviews: 652 | Ratings: 4,225
Photo of unclejazz
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the Blue Tusk 5oz into a wine glass.

Pours jet black very little head has solid legs like a good wine. The aroma has bourbon, vanilla, almond, roasted malt and almost a Dr. Pepper sort of vibe. Vanilla leads on the first taste, very creamy, and then bourbon and dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is rich but not heavy, you get a creamy texture from the cream stout element. Overall this is a wonderful beer and worth the hype. I have had this before in a bottle and it's maybe even a bit more enjoyable on draft.

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Photo of weonfire
4.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Obviously a jet black. only when held up does light bend around the glass showing a deep brown around the edges. tiny amount of mocha colored head collects around the rim of glass.

S - tremendos. Chocolate, carmel, vanilla and bourbon. Maybe brown sugar? Maybe molasses? Goodness i wish i could smell this all day.

T - So smooth. Straight velvet. Chocolate starts, bourbon follows, a touch of alcohol, just the smallest hint of smoke and very sweet as it goes down. blended so so well. 11.5ABVs? nowhere to be found. very well disguised.

M - Full, thick, velvet, high viscosity, wonderful.

O- BCBS or Black Note? I really can't decide. Tremendous beers. Tough to come across. Buy them when u have the chance.

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Photo of dbc5
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into 10 ounce Kentucky Bourbon Stout snifter.

A: Motor oil black with a brownish tan head. Moderate pour yields a 1 finger head that recedes fairly quickly but leaves a constant ring around the edges of the glass. Minimal lacing left on the glass.

S: Smells sweet. Picking up vanilla, dark chocolate, brown sugar, and malt sweetness. The bourbon is apparent, but not as assertive as in some bourbon barrel aged stouts.

T: The sweetness in the nose carries over in the taste. Chocolate syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla hit my palate first, then the bourbon makes its presence known. Doesn't carry the same roast character that is present in a beer like Bourbon Barrel Plead the Fifth, falling more on the sweet end of the continuum. The bourbon adds an interesting element to this stout blend and makes for a really nice drinking experience.

M: As expected from a big, barrel aged stout, the carbonation is fairly low in this one. Nice thickness to this beer.

O: Really like this one and thrilled that it is available in 12 ounce bottles. Given that this is a sweeter bourbon barrel stout, the 12 ounce serving size is ideal. I'm nearing the bottom of my glass and am not tiring of the beer at all. My only critique is that I would like a bit more roast character, which is why I would give the edge to a beer like BBPt5th, KBS, or BCBS. Despite that, Black Note does not fall too far below those beers.

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Photo of alcstradamus
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap and Stub & Herb's. Only ordered 7 oz. which upon reflection was a big mistake. This may be the only chance I ever have to try this beer, and it lasted for nearly an hour and a half so I had plenty of opportunity to get more.

My pour came from a pitcher so I just got a plain black liquid. However, I saw other pours that came directly from the tap and this one was a beauty. Pitch black with a full finger of caramel brown head. Classic imperial stout.

The smell is the one aspect of this beer that I just couldn't fully appreciate. There was no smoke in the bar, but the lingering food smell plus other distractions make it hard to really get the full experience. But what I got was a spectacular rich bourbon aroma that was just screaming at me to drink it now.

And oh boy...drink it I did. And I loved every single drop of it. Huge caramel and vanilla notes. Smooth luscious bourbon with no burn whatsoever. This might be the smoothest barrel aged beer that I've had to date. Just absolutely rich and decadent, almost like the liquid manifestation of a marble cake with bourbon icing. One of the best tasting beers I've ever tried.

Mouthfeel was full and creamy, exactly as it is supposed to be. I drank my 7 oz. and looked around and most other people in the place had only gotten down half of that. And I wanted more, I needed more, but stupidly I chose not to get more. This is a fantastic beer that I will probably never have again, but I will always remember it as being one of my favorites.

UPDATE 8/18 -- Had a chance to consume about 12 oz. of this beer at the 2010 Great Taste of the Midwest. I have nothing to add to my original review other than that is was perhaps a bit hotter than I remembered but every bit as tasty

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Photo of VncentLIFE
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at the Mellow Mushroom in Greensboro, NC.

The smell has a pretty good amount bourbon. Thick roasty characteristic from Expedition.

The taste is wow. The bourbon from the barrel stands out straight away, then you get all that roasty malt and notes of coffee and dark chocolate. The most impressive part is the addition of the creaminess from Double Cream Stout.

Perfect blending of base beer.

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Photo of yamar68
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Massive thanks to alelover for hooking me up with my first taste of Black Note! 2012 vintage:

Certainly is black... there's a bit of muddled clarity around the edge of the glass. A short-lived medium brown head produces a dense, stubborn collar - oily lacing above and clouded beading beneath. Very nice looking stuff.

Smooth, sweet caramel bourbon immediately shows some BCBS qualities. It's hard to really even pull in any alcohol character, a big sniff just offers a deeper layer of oak. Milk chocolate and mellow burnt brown sugar. Maybe a bit of molasses. Incredibly smooth - as smooth as you could hope for a beer like this.

Creamy twist cone flavors covered with silky bourbon and bitter caramel. Faint leafy tobacco dries up the tail end of the palate. Coffee grounds, more milk chocolate, candy corn... pretty damn unique I'd say. This one certainly doesn't need any age but I'm excited to see what it does regardless.

Very, very good.

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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 kirok1999
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at South Park Tavern which might have been a little over seating capacity that night.
Pours a deep black with a few ruby hints. A bit of a frothy small head and some lacing.
Smell is mildly boozy and sweet. Lots of vanilla and caramel.
Taste is wonderfully complex. There's slight bourbon, lush caramel, vanilla, and a bit of chocolate and coffee as it warms. The Double Cream Stout comes through very well and is not overpowerred by the Expedition. There gets to be a bit of alcohol burn as it warms up too. Not a lot of carbonation.
It definitely needed to warm up. I could drink quite a bit of this and wish Bells would bottle it.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a Bells chalice. Unfortunately the store label covered some of the dating but it looks like 3-12-14. Deep, dark, black body with a very small dark tan head. The head dissipates almost immediately, as expected for the high abv.

One of the better aromas I've had from a stout. Strong vanilla, caramel with light notes of roasted malt and bourbon. Light licorice note as it warms.

Delicious! The bourbon is much more noticeable in the brew than other barrel aged beers I've had, and that's good! Plenty of the aforementioned vanilla, caramel, and roasted malt with light added notes of molasses and a citric finish - light orange peel.

The mouthfeel is a bit lighter than expected but it does not detract from the overall experience. If I could get a few bottles of this and try it as often as I've had KBS and BCBS, it might be a tough fight to pick a winner.

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

Bell's Black Note is a delicious imperial stout with lovely dark fruit, bourbon and oak flavours.

A: Black colour and a thin head that fades fast. 4

S: It smells of bourbon barrel as well as sweet raisiny malt. 4.5

T: A strong and slightly bitter malt flavour. There is some coffee flavour too. Delicious. The finish is quite sweet with some sweet raisin and dusty oak. 4.5

M: Thick and foamy. 4.5

O: 4.5

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Photo of NickSMpls
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

One bottle from our our go-to beer guy. Let this warm a bit before you taste it. Viscous pour, jet black, low carbonation. Aroma of roasted coffee, figs, and whiskey. Taste matches the color and smell...pure stout distilled down to its essence. Sip slowly and savor the layers of flavor. A high ABV leaves a lingering warmth on a cold night. Find a warm fire and enjoy.

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Photo of DMarlinJ
4.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2012 vintage bottled in February so almost 5 years in the cellar. Not much head from aggressive pour. A lot of sticky broken lace coating glass. Smells of oak and vanilla up front and dark fruits. Towards bottom of glass getting more alcohol coming through but oak still strong. Flavors blend well into one. Plum, raisin, vanilla, oak and some bourbon heat. Carbonation at first distracts from smooth creaminess that follows nicely. Light feel that is not a heavy sweet coating that sometimes goes with stouts. Not tiring on the mouth to the end even as it warms. Overall it was great, just some slight room for improvement if the alcohol burn didn't distract.

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Photo of projectflam86
4.67/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes.

Poured from the tap into a snifter.

A- Pours a jet black color with only the tiniest bit of light shining through the edges. A thick coffee brown head leaves good lacing.

S- The first thing I notice is how subtle the bourbon is on the nose (which is much more preferable to it being overpowering). Deep roasted aroma with some hints of vanilla and oak.

T- Amazing how much bourbon flavor you get without the stingy alcohol burn. Waves of roasted coffee, vanilla, milk chocolate, anise, dark fruits, and bourbon all meld together nicely.

M- Full bodied with medium/low carbonation. The alcohol is hidden so well I would have guessed this at 8%.

O- Truly a special brew. I'm so glad I got the chance to try this.

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Photo of maxcoinage
4.81/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured bottled (bottle date 12/28/12) into a snifter with a nice tan colored 2 in head that settled rather quick, left some nice lacing, color is pitch black

aroma - bourbon, dark fruits, chocolate

taste - coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, bourbon/booze in the finish , but seemed a bit weaker than I was expecting

mouthfeel - thick and creamy, low to medium carb

overall - amazing! wish i would have been able to try it fresh but was only able to secure one bottle back in January. Had to wait for the right moment, and a promotion seemed to be it!

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 version, it is a 12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip/snifter style glass. Liquid come out of the bottle is a cola brown color but gets dark brown as it rises in the glass. Not much in the way of highlights. Slightly darker than tan colored head, mostly small bubbles goes away after a few minutes, not much in the way of lacing. Each sip gives sort of a syrupy cling to the glass though. Decent looking beer, decent representation of the style.

Smell is really good. Dominant feature throughout is vanilla and oak aromas from bourbon barrel aging. Outside of that there's plenty of dark roasted malts providing a nice sweet and rich chocolate characteristic with a touch of bitterness. At the end there's some candy coated dark dehydrated fruits.

Taste is a step up. Lots of roasted malts providing the chocolate and the faintest light roasted coffee flavor; a little sweeter than I anticipated based on the smell, but in a good way. The candy/liquor coated dark dehydrated fruits (figs, raisons, dates) come through a little stronger. Broubon, vanilla and oak are obviously strong characteristics as well. Everything is meshed really well together, you can tell this is a carefully crafted beer.

Mouthfeel is probably the best part. I guess I'd say full bodied with an appropriate lasting/lingering flavor, but it doesn't feel as heavy as a full bodied beer, more like it'd be a medium body. Nice and smooth with a low medium carbonation level. Appropriate sweetness gradually moving to a warming finish, almost hot. A little bit of age could do alright to take a little heat away but I wouldn't do it more than 6-8 months, this was ready to drink now. Really drinkable, this one goes down nice and easy and is a year round bourbon barrel stout. Huge props to EasyReader for this one, you're the man!

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Photo of kkleu357
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Got a bottle of this as an extra. Never had it before, but reminds me of of CW Bourbon Barrel Stout, just thicker and boozier. Thick dark body. Tons of chocolate flavor with oak and slightly too much whiskey. Very good.

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

On tap at Crunchy's in East Lansing, rating from notes

snifter= 7$

A&S: A wide range of smells: dark cherries, raisins, bourbon, roasty malts, burnt sugars, marshmallows tones. Kinda smells like a Old ale (lots of similarities to 4D). Medium tan ring of head, with whisks of head in the center. Spots of lacing like a fine wine. Very syrupy looking pitch black colored beer. Not much head probably due to the plus 10% ABV.

T&M: Many similarities to the scent. Differences include lots of bourbon midetaste to the back. Roasty with hints of dark chocolate upfront. Much smoother then their expedition stout, with even a bolder taste.

Overall: very good, no flaws. I wish I had a bottle to sit down and enjoy vs drinking at a bar. I had really high hopes for this beer and they were pretty much all met.

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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 davey101
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2012, 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Batch #11620, bottled 12/28/2012. Thanks to ObiWanKushnobi for this long time want!

A - Pours a pitch black body with two fingers worth of mocha foam. Settles out into a thin cap. Moderate lacing and retention.

S - Starts off with the bourbon...oak, vanilla, and some char. Then some roasted malts and sweet cocoa powder. A touch of dark fruits too. No element really dominates here, just well integration of two base beers + a barrel.

T - Just all kinds of balance going on here. Smooth vanilla and oak, a bit of a bourbon butterscotch, lightly bitter coffee beans, and dry cocoa powder. A little bit of everything here. Finishes with a real faint but pleasant alcohol warmth.

M - Creamy, smooth, and decadent....thank you Double Cream stout! Surprisingly high drinkability compared to other BA stouts.

O - Perhaps the most balanced and easy drinking BA stout I have ever had. This is a damn impressive beer and I wish I somehow had year round access to this. Forever ISO, but I still prefer BCBS for its unrelenting bourbon element.

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

Loads of flavor here, including solid barrel presence without overwhelming or coming on too boozy. Maybe a touch thin, but that's very nit-picky, and the variety of dark fruits and roast/smoke/chocolaty flavors more than compensate. This is a wonderful stout

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Photo of alysmith4
4.76/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Managed to try just a bit of this at a bottle-share, but it was definitely memorable. I didn't care for Expedition, however Black Note is truly a testament to what barrel-aging can really do to a beer. It was so velvety smooth and creamy, and the lactose really helped offset the boozy heat it seems. Tasted like a melted bar of bittersweet chocolate and figs. Very enjoyable!

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Photo of brew3crew
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tasting at Jackie O's. Out of a hand bottle

A-black body with tan head that sticks around for a while

S-sweet bourbon vanilla. Absolutely incredible

T-great blend of smoothness vanilla and bourbon. Definetly worth the buzz

M-medium body and smooth

O-absolutely brilliant. I know know what the buzz is about

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Photo of TCgoalie
4.67/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

300th review, I had to make it a good one!
On tap at HopCat - 11/27/11

Poured into a tulip and served with a dark mocha head. There is a nice wall of lacing near the top and stringy lace on the adjacent side.

A lot of woody notes - oak and cedar - resonate amidst smells of dark chocolate and vanilla.

The taste can be summed up at a high level as earthy and complex. In more detail, I taste oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, burnt grains, tobacco, cedar all working toward a sweet raisin ending. The tongue is finally left with some well placed booziness and a coffee like bitterness.

While chewy, sticky, dry, and full, the mouthfeel is nothing in excess. It is a well balanced feel not distracting but well placed.

At first, I wasn't blown away at the taste. After giving it many sips, I was really intrigued by the nuances of the flavors. Thanks to Hopcat's wood aged festival, I had the likes of KBS, CBS, BA Blackout Stout, and BB Plead the 5th over the weekend. I can easily say that Black Note is on par with the best Imperial Stouts out there.

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Photo of CraigP83
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Black, little to no head. Smell is chocolate, whiskey. Touch of black licorice flavor, Absolutely tons of chocolate, dark baking cocoa. Good BA stout but not the greatest

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Photo of stewart124
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a pint glass.

Deep brown to black with a tiny amount of dark tan head.

Nose has strong roasted malt aroma with espresso and chocolate present. Some dark candied fruits coming out as well.

Mostly roasted malt characters and more espresso with a nice dose of bourbon barrel. Firm bitterness with some of the alcohol detectable. Overall smooth and easy to drink. There is noticeable residual sweetness but nothing cloying. As this warms more fruit comes out and there is a chewiness that leans towards the double cream stout.

Rich, smooth, and generally a delicious Imperial Stout. I was very excited to get my hands on this and even more excited that it came in a pint glass. Sneaky alcohol percentage and another one of Bell's beers that is so drinkable.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,225 ratings.
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