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

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world-class
652 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:
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 jerefreakinmiah
4.98/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Found on the bottle reserve list at The Federal in Durham, NC

I have to say that I LOVED this beer. It changed so much as it warmed. First espresso and vanilla, then big, bouzy bourbon, finishing chocolate and roasty as it approached room temp. Not as viscous as I expected, which was surprisingly refreshing. Lingered on the tongue for a while, but not heavily (make sense? I hope so).

Simple review for a simply amazing brew!

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Photo of Jmitchell3
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage from a 12 oz bottle poured into a stemmed snifter.

A: pours a dark dark brown, almost black. Light .25" head with a light brown color.
S: bourbon up front, not overpowering. Some fruity notes, plum, dark cherry and a hint of chocolate. Hints of alcohol.
T: sweet bourbon flavors on the front, followed by a bit of stout dark chocolate with bourbon and cherry. Hints of plum, chocolate and coffee in the later stages.
M: full, heavy body with ample carbonation. Mouthfeel is think, a hint of creaminess. Finish is heavy and a dryness lingers on the tongue for a while.
O: very nice bourbon aged stout. Drinkable but complex. I'll be working through this one as it warms up. Excited to see how it ages.

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Photo of mjpolzin
4.06/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 vintage split with by brother in law.

A great beer but another example of a "world-class" brew that doesn't quite live up to the hype once I get a chance to try it.

Fairly thick pour into the glass but not the thickest beer I've ever seen. More bourbon in the nose than what I got once I tasted it. The roastiness that is characteristic of Expedition Stout was here as well. It helped make it a fairly complex beer once the roasted malts and bourbon blended together but I may actually prefer this one with a little more age on so some of the roasted flavor could fade away.

Would like the opportunity to try a fresh one just to see what changes happen in the 1 year+ that this bottle sat for.

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

In the words of P. O. D. , here comes the boom! 2014 edition. Had the same first impression as with Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine (holy shit!).

Awesome bourbon aroma that carries right through to the taste with a perfect finish. Smooth velvety drinking like a cream or milk stout with just the right amount of roastiness and bourbon flavor. The body can't be overstated for a barrel aged beer.
This is hands down the best barrel aged stout I have ever tasted to date. Significantly better than KBS. Makes my top 3 beers in general right now. Hard to believe people liked the '12 version better - can't even fathom much improvement.

Gotta admit, I have been disappointed by Bell's offerings overall. Not bad, but never had anything special other than aged Expedition, until now. If you don't like bourbon all that much, I wouldn't recommend. If you don't like a strong coffee profile/presence, I would.

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

2014. Poured into a tulip glass. Pours black with a mocha film on top and a few bubbles around the rim. The smell is very potent. Coffee, chocolate, toffee, licorice and bourbon. Strong bourbon and barrel taste up front. Darks fruits come through nicely, especially at the end. Nice alcohol burn to go along with it. Huge flavor on this one. Very creamy mouthfeel with a dry, somewhat bitter coffee/licorice aftertaste. Another great bourbon barrel beer, although I prefer a couple others to this.

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Photo of prtwin2a
4.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Pitch black
S: Bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla
T: Just a joy to experience! A lovely blend of bourbon and chocolate, a great brew!
M: Smooth as heck, not overwhelming with bourbon, just right blend!
D: Just phenomenal. Love this beer!

Overall: A (very close to an A+!)

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

2014 bottle

- Pours like motor oil, thick and black, with small amount of dark foam.

- Smells awesome with notes of coffee, sweet toffee and bourbon with fruit notes in the background. Not an overly intense nose, but interesting and pleasant.

- Taste is magnificent. Layers of coffee and oaky bouborn,with a charred/roasty bitterness that persists to the finish and is balanced against a nice stone fruit sweetness. Great medium -thick mouthfeel. This beer is just so well balanced and complex.

- Overall a superb beer which has a lot going on, but nothing is overpowering. Flavors and smell are great, the body and complexity are quite good and is just extremely well balanced.

IMO, much better than KBS. More complex than BCBCS, more balanced than BCBS. BCBS may still be my favorite of these, especially if aged a few years.

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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 timc100
4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014

Pours a translucent dark brown, black in the class with a fizzy dark mocha head. Aroma of bitter dark chocolate and barrel - char, vanilla, oak, some bourbon. Notes of mocha and dark roasted coffee as well.

Very good barrel aged stout, however missing a lot of the richness and depth of flavor that expedition has. Very little dark fruits, thinner body, and a lighter pour as well.

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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 JayCheG
4.74/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

After drinking this beer I had the urge to review it

A: Pours a pitch black with a small khaki head. Very little lacing.
S: Overwhelmingly bourbon. Hints of chocolate, malts, maybe some vanilla. Not a very complex smell but enjoyable..
T: This is where Black Note makes its mark. Wow! Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, toffee, a bit of fruit just very well blended. Beautiful taste!
M: Very creamy, almost like drinking a stout milkshake. Nice!
O: An extremely good BBA stout. #1? Probably not, I can think of a couple better but I thoroughly enjoy this beer and definitely worth the hype!

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Photo of andrewjraab
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Pitch black with khaki head that leaves nice lace after each drink. A window shade of film falls off the glass after each drink.

S - Chocolate, vanilla, coffee, roasted coffee beans, wood, bourbon, cherries, dates.

T - Layers and layers of flavors - chocolate, vanilla, coffee, fruity, booze, oak, warming alcohol. Velvety mouth feel, rich and creamy, each drink coats and warms on the way down.

O - This is an amazing brew where the actual brew meet and exceeds the hype and expectations. I was able to secure one of these with the limited release and DAMN I want to get my hands on a few more. Truly a world class beer.

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Photo of macher0
4.86/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Damn near room temp. Purchased and consumed at the Grale Haus in Louisville.

A. Poured jet black with a fine bubble amber head that retreats to an amber rim. Slight effervescence. Not especially thick (but maybe the serving temp is a factor).

S. Awesome. Some dark roasted malts, toffee, vanilla, dried figs, and BOURBON.

T. The taste certainly follows the nose. Dark roasted malts, bourbon soaked oak, vanilla, figs. Minor notes of coco and coffee. Some sweetness from the aging but not overpowering or negative. A little dusty. Not hot at all.

M. Way smooth. Moderate carbonation - especially for the style. Heavy body. Slightly oily.

O. Well done. A super well crafted ale, top to bottom. They just brought it from the cellar and threw it directly on the shelf. I went for it without refrigeration, but if a beer could hold up to that, this is the one. This is not boozey beyond what is expected. I feel perfection is unattainable but one cannot get any better in the taste and mouthfeel metrics.

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

Bottled Dec 28, 2012.

Beer is jet black with a small tan head.

Nose is very good. A nice blend of bourbon scents (oak, vanilla, bourbon itself), dark fruits, and chocolate. The nose reveals a well blended barrel-aged stout, with the barrel being obvious but not overwhelming.

Taste lives up to the promise of the nose. There is nothing unexpected here: it has all the flavours one would expect from a bourbon-barrel aged stout. What makes it great is two things: (i) the base beer is of a very high quality; and (ii) the flavours are very well proportioned. Bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark fruits, chocolate and some roasted malt are all there, and all harmonious with one another.

Mouthfeel is also great. Full bodied, moderate to low carbonation level and very very smooth. Despite the high ABV, it drinks quite easily. Alcohol hear is there but surprisingly muted for what it is.

Overall, terrific. Absolutely a first rate BBA stout.

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Photo of drmcleod10
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 Bottle

A- Dark as night, not as thick as some other stouts and around the edges of the glass light can get through. Minimal lacing and head on this one

S - The nose is fantastic here on this one... reminds me a lot of BCBS but with more dark fruits on the nose. Huge bourbon nose followed by vanilla chocolate and figs

T - dark fruits on the mouth, figs and dates dark chocolate and lots of bourbon on the finish

M - Medium bodied with more carb than i expected

O - Definitely lives up to the hype and really enjoyed this beer. Its a dark fruit BCBS

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

Date: 4/16/14
Location: DiCicco's Ardsley
Glassware: Tulip
Appearance: Pours black as black can be. A modest produced next to no head. What little carbonation there was had a light caramel color. There is a large viscous ring that surrounds
Aromatics: The beer starts with a mouth watering bourbon smell Smooth flavors like vanilla, caramel, toffee. Stronger flavors like bitter chocolate, coffee and molasses.
Flavor: Starts cold with a huge bourbon flavor that nearly over takes over the beer. As the beer warms it starts to find its balance and you find new flavors like the dark fruits, prunes maybe some raisins.
Mouthfeel: The beer hides the alcohol very well but ultimately it finds it's way to hang on the lips.

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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 hops202
4.72/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 3/12/14. Poured into a Stone Snifter.

Nice look - very black but looks a little thin for BBA stout of 11.5%. Smell is absolutely incredible. It doesn't get much better than this. Tons of suger and vanilla, good balance of caramel, chocolate and bourbon. Taste goes right along with the nose and is possibly one of the smoothest and most balanced BBA stout I have come across. It is certainly up there with BCBS and with less in your face bourbon to go along with it. Black Note has truly lived up to all of the hype and then some.

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Photo of kdahnke123
4.48/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 Vintage. 11.4% ABV. Poured at cellar temperature into a snifter.
A - Pours an almost black color with a medium brown head. The head is long lasting, leaving an even longer lasting lacing.
S - Up front is bourbon, followed by chocolate and a strong, sweet malt presence.
T - Roasted malt, bourbon, vanilla and a good bite of booze/hops on the end.
M - Medium thick and smooth, with a minimal amount of carbonation
O - A very pleasant stout. A little light on the bourbon. Good but not quite up to the level I was expecting given, the hype and the cost, even though I'm a big Bell's fan. I would recommend trying one at some point if you can find one.

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Photo of blankenhoney
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2014 bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Black with a tan head that settles at the edge of the glass. A bit of tan and foamy lacing.

S: Strong barrel notes; boozy dark fruit; cacao; some Red Hots-like spice or cinnamon.

T: Fudge; lots of barrel; a bit sweet; faint coffee, vanilla, and some bitterness on the aftertaste.

M: Light and silky; foamy and highly quaffable. On the thin side for this style, but that worked for me. Somewhere between light- to medium-bodied, pulled off successfully and definitely not 'too thin.'

O: Quite good despite the dominant barrel and chocolate flavors. Would like to see if aging a few of these bring out the flavors I got in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel was the star of the show for me.

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Photo of MCain04
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Here we go, 12 oz bottle split with BostonRyan. poured into 10 oz snifter from the most recent vintage.

A: dark black, tan head. dissipates into a rim around the perimeter.

S: Bourbon heavy. some nice chocolate and vanilla notes are present with roasty malty, but bourbon dominates.

T: thankfully much less bourbon heavy taste. it had the girth and complexity of expedition with a smooth mellow creamy sweet note from the double cream. they complement each other beautifully. chocolate, vanilla, oak, and toffee flavors. the finish had a lot of Bourbon heat though. only drawbacks are the bourbon heavy finish and a little too sweet.

M: Perfection. thick and creamy and full with a nice feel throughout.

O: A real treat. Not heads and shoulders above the other BBA stouts but comes in close to the top. might not be worth all the hype and might be too bourbon heavy but still enjoyed thoroughly.

Re-reviewing this after opening a 2014, comparing side by side with 2012.

Definitely still a bourbon-heavy nose is in the fresh version, while 15 months in the cellar calmed that down in the aged version. 2014 is boozy with a lot of barrel characteristics. 2012 is boozy as well but better integrated barrel character. 2014 is prickly, and thin while 2012 is smooth but still a little thin. Overall I'm not sure I agree with my high marks on this fresh, but the aged version is drinking nicely right now. Regardless, I think there is way too much hype surrounding this. There are equal BBA stouts without the craze and price that are attached to Black Note.

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Photo of did3376
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 2/12/14 Poured into stout glass.

A:Thick and black. About a finger of dense, tan head that fades over a few minutes. This stuff is dark, held light behind glass and could not see it.

S:Slight bourbon, roasty, raisins and chocolate.

T:Hints of bourbon quickly followed by slight coffee, then dark chocolate. Chocolate flavor seems to linger. Some alcohol is noticeable in the nose, but not overly strong. Roasted caramel and hints of black cherry noticed as well.

M:Smooth, medium consistency. Slight feel of carbonation dancing on my tongue. Slightly astringent.

O:Very good. Well balanced. Slightly bitter aftertaste. I believe some aging would improve this beer nicely. Definitely improves as it comes up to room temperature. Bottle was taken from basement which was probably around 45-50 degrees.

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Photo of DrewskiWhit
4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A standard BAIS. Tons of legs. Nice lacing

S very nice. Lots of vanilla sweetness, dark fruit and some booze. Reminiscent of parabola

T follows the nose. Some bitter smokiness on the end. Lots of vanilla. The booze is well hidden but a slight burn is present on the back

M good feel. Silky smooth. Not too thick very moderate carb

O a good beer no doubt but this just isn't blowing me away. This has a nice dark fruit component but I think I prefer the coffee stouts. I think I'm to the point where just throwing a stout in a bb doesn't equate to a 5.0

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.23/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured between 2 Jack's Abby snifters, 2012 Vintage.

It poured dark brown with a wisp of an off white head that receded almost instantly. Smelled of whiskey/booze, hints of dark chocolate, dark fruits like raisin or prune, roasted malts in the background. Taste was interesting. A big punch of whiskey up front, then mellowed out into dark chocolate, and a bit of tang from the dark fruits. It's wonderful on the tongue. Finishes dry with a nice warming sensation. Makes you want to keep sipping this. I thought this tasted very similar to Blackout or BA Siberian. It's on the thinner side for a stout.

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

Received (6) bottles in a trade.
A: Pours dark brown, with minimal white head. Virtually no retention and lacing.
S: Strong bourbon upfront, notes of oak, dark chocolate, and rye.
T: Boozy, charred oak, dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, and burnt bread.
M: Creamy, rich, full bodied stout that clings to your mouth.
O: Very complex and robust stout. I would like to try this again after it's been aged a year or two.

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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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