Black Note Stout | Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout
Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States

Style: American Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.20%

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.

User Reviews & Ratings
Reviews: 805 | Ratings: 4,875
Photo of RedhawkPoke
4.04/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Beer pours a dark body with only a modest amount of head. Head quickly faded away leaving only a faint amount of lacing.

S: Getting a fair amount of chocolate like sweetness on the nose. Also getting some prune and other assorted fruit smells. Only the slightest amount of oak is present to me. Beer's aroma is sweeter than the beer actually is.

T: This beer mixes a handful of flavors but none exemplary. Expresso seems to be more noticeable here unlike the nose. Along with some expresso also getting plums and other dark fruits. Nothing stands out and the beer feel too hot, but the barrel aging didn't add much more than heat to the beer.

M: Not sure that barrel aging was needed here. The barrel aging only made the beer taste more like bourbon. The bourbon flavors clash with other areas. Along with too much heat the beer was also somewhat thin.

O: Average beer. The aromas were a slight favorite. However, even the aromas were not close to be outstanding. The addition of barrel aging did not improve this beer only made it taste more like bourbon.

 1,067 characters

Photo of Quackershnoc
4.62/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: this thing is black and beautiful; thin khaki head that rims out

Aroma: malty; licorice; dark fruits-figs, dates, prunes; bourbon; oak; vanilla; chocolate; bready

Taste: black licorice, chocolate, and malt; moves into fruit, oak, and smokey/roastiness; finishes with bourbon, more oak, more malt, vanilla, chocolate, coffee; aftertaste is bourbon, vanilla, and malty

Mouthfeel: silky smooth; creamy; liquid velvet; not as thick as anticipated

Overall Impression: oh my goodness…this thing is awesome; there is so much going on in here; huge and complex; it might be easier to figure out what flavors are not in here than try to list everything that is in here; just phenomenal

From notes taken on 4/19/2013

 725 characters

Photo of CNoj012
3.84/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This beer pours a pitch black color with a two finger, creamy light brown head. Retention is above average for the style and there are some filmy chunks of lacing left on the glass.

Smell is sweet dark fruits, bourbon, oak, vanilla, molasses, coffee and chocolate. The coffee and chocolate really come out more as the beer warms. Very complex nose with lots of layers.

Taste is much different and honestly fairly average. The dark fruits are the most flavorful aspect, with a bit of chocolate. There is no real bourbon flavor, just a bit of harsh booziness on the finish.

Feel is medium, but fairly thin for the style. Smooth and creamy with a bit of stickiness on the finish and into the aftertaste.

Overall I'm pretty disappointed with this beer. If the taste was more similar to the smell it would be a different story, but the flavor profile just doesn't do it for me. On top of that the thinness of the body is really a let down.

 938 characters

Photo of Kdouble
4.59/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A bottle date Oct. 5, 2017 poured into a TH tulip.

Look - A dark slick black with a thin tannish head which stayed for several minutes.

Smell- An interesting mix of bourbon barrel and sweet vanilla. As it warmed, I got more of a light coffee aroma. Really interesting how this changed as the beer warmed.

Taste- Like a fantastic dark chocolate dessert with vanilla added. It was not a sweet taste but just enough to make it enjoyable. The bourbon was more of an aftertaste. The dark fruit taste really kicked in around the middle of the glass. Much like the smell, the taste changed as the stout warmed. Very enjoyable.

Feel- Not really a full-bodied feel but very close. It only lingered on my tongue slightly and no alcohol burn like you would expect from a high ABV beer.

Overall- Bell's definitely hits a home run with this one. I have started getting into stout's more lately and the compares right there with some other heavy hitters. Get it if you can.

 967 characters

Photo of kwakwhore
4.63/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

An absolutely luscious stout. Opaque black pour with very little head. Sweet dark fruit and hint oF bourbon and even a bit of caramel on the nose. Flavor and feel are the best parts of this beer. A hint of bourbon, dark chocolate, and espresso are the main notes. The feel is sensuous and chewy. One of my very favorite barrel aged stouts.

 339 characters

Photo of MagicJeff
4.3/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled dated 10/5/2017. Poured into my 3 Taverns tulip.
Look: Jet black body, light tan head. Not much head retained after a minute or two.
Smell: Bourbon. Vanilla. Like someone spilled bourbon on a wood floor and left it there for a year. Kind of like the bourbon afficando's room at the frat house. (the guy who drank Evan Williams instead of the bottom bottom shelf, then would randomly get hooked up by his dad over Christmas with a bottle of something fancy). I digress.
Taste: Vanilla, bitter dark chocolate. Not really picking up the winter fruits. The vanilla isn't cloyingly sweet either. Works really well with the faintest bourbon finishing notes. Some slight alcoholic spice on back end. Okay, now that it's warming up, I pick up some raisin and date notes.
Feel: Full bodied but lighter full bodied. Creamy. If this wasn't bourbon barrel aged, I'd be shocked to find out this was over 11% abv.
Overall: Very good selection from Bell's. Could drink more than one of these, and this is rare for me to say about a bourbon barrel aged stout. Definitely worth seeking out; I'd love to try this fresh too.

 1,126 characters

Photo of JdubsNY
4.96/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Bold espresso and rich dark chocolate taste with notes of cherry (or some such fruit). Warmed to perfection with bourbon barrel-aging. Bell's really nailed this one.

 167 characters

Photo of chicagobeerguy
4.32/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet black with a chocolaty thin head that dissipates fast. Aroma is chocolate cake, coffee, vanilla, roasted malts, and bourbon. Taste is chocolate, fresh coffee, and sweet bourbon. Mouthfeel is smooth but could be fuller. Overall this is a very good beer that will please.

 281 characters

Photo of ArrogantB
4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle purchased at Chattanooga Wine and Spirits for $6. Super dark and roasty smell, some booze. Subtle bourbon barrel flavor, chocolate, tasty. This is a good stout though the barrel influences are playing the background.

 228 characters

Photo of labisch
4.6/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Purchased a four pack at a local store in January.

This beer looks absolutely beautiful in the glass, with an extremely dark, barely translucent color and a small but apparent head.

It smells of vanilla, bourbon, and something sweet and sharp, like a milky chocolate.

After sipping, you first notice the thick feel in the mouth and the creamy chocolate, fruity, and caramel taste. This is shortly followed up by a, sweet finish shared with a nice body of alcohol, but not as 'ethanoly' as I anticipated.

Overall the beer is worth the hype, and something to get your hands on. Save it for a special occasion!

 612 characters

Photo of cbenson
4.43/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Black as the name suggests and barely opaque with some burgundy showing on the edges. Hardly any head. Slight carbonation.
Smell: Amazing! Strong notes of vanilla bean and dark chocolate with a tart freshness.
Taste: Exuberant and rich with notes of caramel, toffee, cherry and vanilla latte. A little too sweet on the tail end.
Mouthfeel: Thick, full and smooth with a hint of carbonation and a slightly dry finish.
Overall: Sweet, full, rich and delicious with no alcohol shining through. Very drinkable but perhaps a bit too sweet.

 542 characters

Photo of ManapuaMan
4.19/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Excited to get a couple bottles whilst in Ohio. Cracked one open during the holiday stretch when, admittedly, a lot of big brews were being consumed. I say this only because my experience didn't reach the lofty expectations set by the masses' experience.

Black body that looks a shade of brown at the edges. Faint cardboard-colored head quickly bubbles up and then fades within a few minutes. Dark, sedative and imposing liquid.

Aroma is a lot of dark fruit, char and subtle umami. I often pick up the latter when the char aspect is prominent. Noticeable booze and oak. Hot.

Taste follows along - dark fruit like stewed plum, raisins and fig lead the way followed by roasted malt, smoke, char and barrel. Light alcohol astringency. Chocolate undertones but not fudgy or sweet. Bold beer.

Finishes lighter than I expected; substantial in feel, for sure, but more of a product of the bold flavors and heavy ABV. Feels thin. Finishes with prominent alcohol heat.

I'll be revisiting this again in a few months and updating my review. When an experience deviates substantially from the experiences of such a large group of informed users it certainly feels like something could have been amiss with my busted palate.

 1,217 characters

Photo of BillRoth
4.47/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally had a bottle (2017). Good news or bad news I tasted it next to GI BA Bourbon (2017) and Alesmith BBA Speedway (2015).
I thought this was a remarkably excellent stout. But it did pale a bit in the comparison.
Beautiful pour with big creamy bead and perfect lacing. Nose was a bit restrained but rolled out as Beer warmed. Very nice. Taste was just delicious. Very malty with chocolate and dried fruit. Some background hops but no bitterness. Not much barrel though you could pick up hints of vanilla; nougat and mild roasty bitterness. It’s a wonderful gentle display of flavors. Feel is likewise velvety with very soft carbonation, but not the big full mouth feel of the other two.
Overall this is as good as the hype. Wonderful BBA IS from Bell’s. Really takes their excellent Expedition to another level.

 820 characters

Photo of fmccormi
4.45/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Straight pour from a pry-off 12oz bottle to a tumbler. Been saving this for a special occasion, and the government just shut down, so . . . that’s something.

Appearance (3.75): About one finger of brown sugar-colored foam rises off of the pour, fizzling away with fat bubbles in the middle and whipped foam at the edges, atop an essentially black body. Like, it’s a big stout. Of course it’s black as shit. Regardless, the head’s lovely, but doesn’t stick around as long as I might have expected.

Smell (4.25): Smooth dark chocolate, cold brew light-roast coffee, subtle vanilla bean, fruit cake, macerated dates, and bourbon-soaked raisins come together fairly smoothly, but with a nice oomph behind the boozy fruitcake aroma. Molasses comes out of the bottle, but it’s mostly fruitcake with vanilla, raisins, cocoa powder, and a touch of coffee behind it, kind of in descending order of prominence. I dig the fruitiness—and notable lack of woody oak!

Taste (4.5): Here, the barrel is a little more prominent, but in the way it brings tangy, somewhat boozy fruit to fore, rather than bashing you over the head with gross, vanilla-drenched (at best), woody (at worst) flavors. It helps to bring out the mixture of tannic, macerated dates and earthy, slightly bitter cocoa powder picked up in the nose, elevating them to a level above the tangy, boozy fruitcake and molasses. A light, fruity roast of coffee underscores the whole affair, resonating with the earthy cocoa powder, the colorful fruitcake, and the tangy molasses all at once. There’s a floral, slightly citrusy flourish behind the date and raisin flavors here that I have to attribute to the barrel aging—my guess is it was a fairly refined bourbon that rested inside these barrels. And thank God for that. The finish is smooth, chocolatey, and creamy, with shockingly little booze to be found on the palate.

Mouthfeel (5.0): Smooth, smooth, smooth—no burn, and again, shockingly not boozy. The body is full, go figure, but it spreads across the palate lightly with the most pillowy carbonation possible, before foaming into the softest, creamiest whipped espresso foam sort of feel you could ask for. The alcohol present in this beer (and in the barrel) makes itself known only in the way the body lightens up a bit as the beer goes down. Outstanding.

Overall (4.5): I wasn’t blown away by the appearance of this beer, but everything else about it is either very good to exceptional. Really, it’s a masterful imperial stout whose strong points are found equally in its most bombastic and most subtle characteristics. And, it’s not a kick-you-in-your-face imperial stout, but rather a sipper that continues to open up and entertain on multiple levels. Is it worth the hassle of actually getting your hands on a bottle? Maybe if you’re a stout hound. But it’s outstanding, regardless.

 2,885 characters

Photo of Newbeergeek1
4.23/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The style is one of my favorites and Bell's is one of my wish list breweries to visit someday. Well worth the traveling around I had to do to get some (16 miles round trip). Total Wine only gave out one 4 pack/customer and I can see why as it's just a fine brew and their amount to sell was limited. I had to bring my beer mule wife to get a 2nd 4 pack. I bought on reputation alone and was not disappointed at all. In fact, I had a second one right after the first one and I rarely ever do that.

 501 characters

Photo of thebeers
4.19/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a rich, red-tinted dark mahogany color that nears black. The two fingers of tan head leave soapy lacing.

Big bourbon aroma with cherry, toffee, chocolate, leather, wood and alcohol.

Nice little bite of alcohol heat up front in the taste. Bitter chocolate, milk chocolate and a splash of vanilla both stand out, lingering a bit into the aftertaste.

Medium bodied with strong carbonation in the feel.

Not as thick and creamy as many of its peers, but still an excellent barrel presence and nice chocolatey malts. Great beer.

 539 characters

Photo of b79turner
4.23/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2017 bottle poured into a tulip glass. Nose is very good, caramel, coffee, dark chocolate. This is a great BA stout. I didn’t pick up much barrel but still a solid beer

 170 characters

Photo of wanderingwheelz
4.9/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I feel like this beer exceeded my already high expectations. I was figuring it would be inferior to Bourbon County and other “world class” rated bba stouts, but it’s right on par. And big kudos for the 12 oz packaging!

 224 characters

Photo of dukeandduke
4.48/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12/28/17: 6 Oz Snifter pour shared from 12 ounce bottle. Pitch black pour, thin tan head. Nice aroma balance of strong bourbon offset by chocolate and vanilla. Taste similar to aroma, very pleasant mix of bourbon and sweetness of chocolate and vanilla. Thiner mouth feel and texture than other bourbon stouts, very smooth drinking. Overall excellent offering by Bell's, thanks for sharing Andy!

 394 characters

Photo of DaverCS
4.59/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours black in color with 1/2 a pinky finger worth of a caramel colored head. Great lacing and alcohol legs.

Aroma is a bit on the tamer side. Some alcohol, charred oak, molasses, and a bit of dark fruits. The beer doesn't scream out of the glass.

In comparison to many other barrel-aged stouts on the market, the mouthfeel is only moderate. While it isn't watery by any means, it isn't overly viscous, which allows it to be a bit more drinkable. Taste is a delicate balance between heavily charred oak, burnt coffee, and molasses and the more tame dark fruit flavors. While both are noticeable, the roasted notes are more overt with AMPLE bourbon flavor. Some vanilla becomes pleasantly present as the beer warms.

Overall, this is a good beer and highly rated for a reason. While very good, I do prefer a bit of a thicker body; however, I would gladly drink again and would seek out. I see this pairing well with pecan pie and vanilla ice cream. It gets a 92/100.

 970 characters

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

Poured a bit more vigorously than I normally do but I'm glad I did, it produced a beautiful black with a solid three fingers of tan foam. I personally enjoy a nicely carbed stout so when I saw that head I got a little excited.
Smells wonderful too, initially I got the dried dark fruits, followed by chocolate and barrel.
The taste is more bourbon and chocolate forward, roasted malt, coffee, the fruits are there but not as heavy as I thought they would be from the nose.
Medium to full bodied, very smooth feeling, good card level with a little bit of alcohol heat on the tongue.
Overall a very well balanced straight forward BA stout.

 639 characters

Photo of ThaneMcC
4.21/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2017 poured in tulip glass
Lovely inky black poor, moderate effervescence and 1fb of tan head and copious threading after an aggressive pour. Very viscous. Smells strongly of bourbon, wood, cocoa and hints of coffee and warmed leather. Tastes follows aromatic notes, sweet roasted malts forward, strong bourbon vanilla, wood notes and twang of bourbon and transitions smoothly into dark fruits, peat and well hidden abv.
Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied- viscous with minimal carbonation and just enough astringency to clean the palate and lift the sweet malty notes - preventing it from becoming syrupy.
I’m a fan of expedition stout- this beer adds a new dimension to create a solid brew. Great stuff- worth the price point...

 732 characters

Photo of Tigerfan82
4.66/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L-Black as night with a tan color head with tight bubbles.
S-BOURBON!! coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malts, dark fruits, and a wonderful toffee note. Slight booze that lets you know it's a big boy beer.
T-Follows the nose. Roasty toasty goodness. More bourbon, coffee and toffee with a slight coconut.
F-Not overly thin but not quite to the thick category. Very smooth and warm when going down.

 397 characters

Photo of NilocRellim
4.37/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown almost black colour. Smells like dark molasses and sticky tree fruits, with roasted malts. Tastes well balanced and flavourful; roasted malts and sweet fruits upfront, a little oaky, with a cocao nib and mocha finish.

 242 characters

Photo of Lucular
4.46/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Really smooth BBA stout. Not overly sweet or boozy. Lots of bitter chocolate and vanilla with some bourbon, caramel, and licorice. Slightly bitter for my taste but I expect that will diminish over time. Still have two bottles left and plan to cellar those for a year or two.

 274 characters

Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 4.54 out of 5 with 4,875 ratings