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

Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout
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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #20
Ranked #77
4.57 | pDev: 7.66%
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States
Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout
Notes: 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.
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Reviews: 814 | Ratings: 4,891
Photo of Bierguy5
4.67/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at South Park Tavern. Pouts a nearly jet black color. No highlights to be found. A thin tan collar.

Nose full of bourbon, oak, chocolate, caramel, and some dark fruit. A whiff of vanilla in there two. What a complex, and inviting nose!

Lots of wood up front. Fades into a creamy chocolate with a hint of dark fruit. Some bourbon comes out, and a hint of coffee. A bit of vanilla finishes things off.

Full body. Very creamy, with lower carbonation. Lots of lingering warmth from the alcohol. A very complex, fantastic beer.

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Photo of kirok1999
4.47/5  rDev -2.2%
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 rhinos00
4.82/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at South Park Tavern. Let my glass sit a while to get the beer to room temperature.

A- Dark brown, almost on the verge of being black. Very little to no head. There was an off-white, cream colored ring that left some lacing as the beer was consumed.

S- Huge notes of bourbon infiltrate the nose. Reminded me of Bourbon County Stout. In the background, there was faint hints of vanilla.

T- Wow, this was quite a pleasant surprise. After the strong aroma, I thought I was going to be dealing with a bourbon onslaught. However, the bourbon was well balanced in comparison to the other ingredients, allowing for a smoother, mellow taste. Rich notes of chocolate, vanilla, molasses and bourbon all mix together for a perfect combination.

M- This was my favorite part of the beer and what distinguished it from many similar bourbon barrel aged RIS I have had before. The double cream stout really comes into effect in this one. It had a creamy texture unparalleled to none. Quite a wonderful addition to a big, complex RIS.

D- The creamy texture and well-balanced bourbon flavors made this go down like water. I drank this until the keg went dry.

Overall, this is a fantastic blend, one that I will probably never get to try again. The creamy texture really put this beer over the top in my mind. If this beer ever crosses your path, try it. Don't hesitate.

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Photo of beachbum1975
4.25/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this one on tap at Comet's Hopnosis Event on 12/06. Took detailed on notes while drinking. Big thanks go out to Beangiver for many things - especially hosting this event - this was the whole reason I went!

No surprise on the appearance... Pours a super viscous, black - much like an oil spill into my tulip glass. Thick, creamy ½ inch espresso colored head which doesn't retain long, leaving an attractive ring around the edge of my glass. I let this one sit, as it was served too cold - warmed with me hands for about 10 minutes before trying...

The nose brings an immediate blast of the bourbon barrel aging. I get the expected vanilla flavor, followed by black cherries and figs on the front of the whiff followed by coffee grinds and a touch of milky creaminess. After sniffing and trying to express what's going on, it all seems wrapped up in a delicious alcohol/whiskey blanket. The nose is rich with aromas and complex - smells phenomenal.

WOW! This shit is amazing tasting. The barrel aging really takes the forefront on this one - vanilla all over the place. I'm actually surprised how much the barrel aging dominates the flavor, it's rather heard to get past it to detect the RIS and double cream atrributes... After trying to dissecting the flavor more, I get cherry, heavily roasted malts and coffee flavors. Finishes wet with a lightly floral tang, likely due to the hops from the Expedition side of this stout. Aftertaste is has a lingering vanilla finish. Full bodied and full flavored brew.

Mouthfeel is thick, wet and velvety with ample carbonation. Nice, a meal in itself.

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.45/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sample at the Bell's tasting at Brews Cafe on 3/6/08: This beer pours a matte black color with a medium thin light brown head with decent retention. Small patches of lacing on the glass. Aroma of coffee liqueur, bourbon and toasted malt. Rich, chewy body with loads of roasted malt and bittersweet chocolate flavor, as well as bourbon and plum. The finish is roasty and sweet at first with mild alcohol and coffee in the aftertaste. Very enjoyable, and a close second to the Bourbon Barrel Java Stout at this event.

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Photo of egajdzis
4.64/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured an opaque black color with a thin, tan head that left light lacing on the glass. Aroma of bourbon, raisins, buttercream, lactose, vanilla, cognac, smoke, and marshmallow (almost s'more like). Taste of dry roasted malts, more smoke, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, chocolate, a bit of lactose, and faint alcohol, with a super-creamy mouthfeel. Thanks to Chris for this!

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Photo of hopdog
4.64/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to egajdzis for sharing this gem! I'm still counting my lucky starts to have tried it!

Poured a dark black color with a very small sized off white head.

Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, wood, caramel, smoke, dark fruits, and roast. Very complex and I was getting something different every time I took a whiff.

Tastes of vanilla, caramel, bourbon, lightly vinous, chocolate, and roast. Creamy and smooth body.

I was I had a whole growler of this one!

Notes from and tasted on 7/18/07.

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Photo of prototypic
4.4/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Arrived with a two and a half finger, creamy tan head. It's a very dark brown color, nearly black. No light creeping through. Retention and lacing were excellent.

Smell: Very complex. Bourbon aroma is readily apparent and blends extremely well with roasted and chocolate malts. Dark fruit and cherry are present in addition to a light coffee flavor. Excellent smelling beer.

Taste: Just as complex and fascinating. Roasted and chocolate malts are sweet and smooth. The creamy, lactose element of this beer really contributes to its smooth nature. Bourbon flavor is excellent and really elevates this beer to another level. Hints of dark fruit, cherry, and even vanilla add depth and complexity. Alcohol is slighty noticeable, but hardly offensive.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's thick and certainly a sipping beer. One to savor. Carbonation is excellent. ABV is ostensibly high, but it's sooo smooth and drinkable. It's anyone's best guess as to how strong it really is. Drinkability is obviously limited somewhat, but not much. This truly is a special beer. I can only hope I encounter it again someday.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.92/5  rDev +7.7%
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 brentk56
4.4/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Tasted at the Kerstbier Fest at the Capital Ale House

Appearance: Arrives at the bar with an obsidian color and a tan head that spots the glass with lace

Smell: Bourbon, cream and dark fruit, primarily dates

Taste: Figs and dates dominate the opening flavor profile with dark chocolate and bourbon flavors arriving by mid-palate; after the swallow, the creamy flavor also plays a role along with a surprising hint of licorice

Mouthfeel: Medium to heavy body with moderate carbonation and some warmth

Drinkability: Wonderful balance between the fruit and the chocolate, the cream and the bourbon

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Photo of marksto
4.65/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Featured on tap at the Indiana Brewer's Guild Festival in Indianapolis. Many thanks to Bell's for making this excellent beer available this year.

Pours black with a slightly dark head that lasts. Has big, bold whisky bourbon in the nose, along with a honey-like malt sweetness - very nice. Silky on the palate, with caramel, oak, whisky, alcohol, coffee, and chocolate all interplaying with nice complexity. Seductive, delicious, and a real treat.

Very thankful to have had the opportunity to sample ths one, and I made several trips for refills. Given the chance, you will too - highly recommend.

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Photo of weeare138
4.64/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to egajdzis for this...
Appears a near black with dark brown edges. The small tan cap fades into a little film and mild collar. Spotty streaks of lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of butter cream, lactose, bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, cocoa, dark chocolate...pretty intense, complex, and enticing.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a "smores" like taste (I see egajdzis took author rights for my original thoughts), along with creamy caramel standing out.
Mouthfeel is sweet up front, smooth, full of bourbon and cocoa. Delicious stuff. This is what I had hoped KBS was going to be.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

First off, let me say my thanks to Larry Bell for making this gem, and thanks to The Party Town for making this available for growler fills.
That being said, wow, what a treat! I’m a huge expedition fan, so this beer is what I’m all about. Pours a dark brown with a slight head that recedes quickly after pouring. This is possibly one of the best noses I’ve ever had come from a beer. I spent quite a bit of time sniffing this one. Smell is velvety bourbon, with notes of chocolate and espresso coffee. The taste is incredible. Think bourbon barrel aged Expedition with a very creamy and silky finish due to the Double Cream. This is the perfect combination, everything is working incredbily together. If bottled this would rival and give Kentucky Breakfast a run for its money. Very happy that I had the chance to enjoy this, but very sad as well, because the chances of coming across this rare gem again is small.

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Photo of mcallister
4.77/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bought at Party Town in Florence Kentucky. Thanks Party Town!!!

A very nice looking beer and not sure why I'm not givinig it a 5 out of 5. Black in color with a small tan head that fades quickly. Very still and mysterious.

Quite possibly the best nose I've witnessed on a beer. Charred bourbony oak aromas with toasty vanilla tones. Roasted burnt chocolate malts, mollasses, and raisin with a large lactose aroma on the finish. Black fruits of currant, black cherry, and hints of pepper. Somewhat sweet and very enticing.

Again hard not to give a perfect score for taste. Just the slightest imperfection in the mid palate keeps this from coming to fruition. This beer is hugely complex with intense roasted chocolate malts. Marshmallow flavors with a thick creamy lactose induced mouthfeel and mid palate. Charred flavors with a tingly carbonation with creamy, silky smooth textures. Vanilla and caramel meld well with the layered dark fruit flavors. Hints of licorice in the flavor and sweet toasted oak. Bourbon flavors show through and really integrate nicely with the roasty flavors. Alcohol shows through somewhat but isn't overwhelming. A beer I could honestly drink the rest of my life and never get tired of.

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Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 4891 ratings