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 | website

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:
586
Ratings:
3,931
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
21.56%
 
 
Wants:
2,757
Gots:
1,018
For Trade:
90
User Reviews
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Reviews: 586 | Ratings: 3,931
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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Photo of Moheban
4.89/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle dated 12/28/12 poured into snifter

A: very little carbonation, tiny ring around the rim only.

S: smells like sweet malt, notes of coffee, dark chocolate

T: dark chocolate covered espresso beans . Starts off sweet, with some dark fruit, dark chocolate flavors, then ends with some coffee-like bitterness and bourbon-alcohol. much sweeter than some of the other beers in its class, almost as sweet as a barleywine. Alcohol is somehwhat present, but masked by the sweetness. Very complex.

M: very thick and creamy.

O: quite the treat. Wish we had bells in Cali. Up there with KBS and BCBS.

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Photo of richj1970
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured on draft at local pub.

A: Pours midnight black with one to two finger mocha colored head that dissipated fairly slowly. Some nice 360 degree sticky lacing.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, and cherry. The nose on this one is fantastic. If it didn't taste so good, I would just sit and smell it all day.

T: Big bourbon flavors up front. Roasted malts, dark chocolate, vanilla, and cherry.

M: Thick and creamy. Coats the tongue nicely. Drinks way too easily for the ABV.

O: One of the best stouts I've had to date. Just wish I could land a few bottles somewhere.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle...2012 vintage.

About an 1/4 inch of espresso colored head that vanished very quickly.
Its as dark as midnight,when poured its a lil thinner then oil.
It smells of coffee,bourbon and vanilla....the best smells that comes from beer IMO.
Taste is the same as smell,AMAZING ..although I prefer some more bourbon I understand the 2 years it aged it deff calm the bourbon flavor allot.Mouthfeels is quiet smooth and not very chewy as allot of BA beers are.
Overall one of the better BA beers Ive had up to date....Highly recommended.

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Photo of d5001986
4.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into tulip.

A: Pitch black with a minimal amount of tan head that dissipates quickly. No lacing, doesn't seem to 'stick' to the glass like most do to some extent.

S: Slight booze and roasted malt are most up front. Then chocolate, molasses, vanilla, and coconut.

T: Even better than it smells. Roasted malt, chocolate, molasses, vanilla, pepper, and best of all, a nice mellow bourbon that's not so in your face like many other examples. I swear I also pick up just a trace of cherry in there. Very nice!

M: Not as viscous as some, med-heavy body. Creamy and silky smooth, also slick and oily. Carbonation is very low, but not quite flat.

O: Way more drinkable than it should be. A beautifully crafted stout with tons of complex flavor that meets the hype. So glad I picked up 1/2 a case!

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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 N_Schleret
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A: Pours a thick black with a half finger chocolate head that dissipates to a thin ring, virtually no lacing.
S: Bourbon is the first to my nose with hints of chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and dark fruit.
T: Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, licorice, coffee, and dark fruit. This is a complex and balanced brew.
M: Creamy and heavy. Slightly bitter. ABV is present. As perfect as you can get.
O: This one lived up to the hype and then some. One of the better BA Stouts out there.

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Photo of JohnG190
4.91/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours pitch black with a thin mocha head. Good lacing.
Gobs of bourbon in the nose, with notes of vanilla, toasted coconut, chocolate, licorice, coffee and roasted malt with it. A lot going on in the aroma of this beer!
The bourbon is not as assertive on the palate as it was on the nose, but it is most certainly there. With the bourbon comes vanilla, licorice, and toasted coconut. At 11.5%, the alcohol is very well hidden. The bourbon lasts a long time. Starts sweet and finishes slightly bitter. The palate is as complex as the aroma. This is one silky smooth beer, it's got a big body with almost no carbonation. Overall, one of the finest examples of a BA stout I've ever had!

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Photo of chugalug06
4.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Damn dark black brew. Not overly thick. Caramel colored soapy head grows slowly. No lacing. Thin legs.

DEEP vanilla caramel aroma. Oaky. Robust. Nicely faded coffee. High heat burn, but it's damn nice.

Lots of caramel, vanilla, robust, strong aroma. Smooth, super drinkable. Low (perfect) carbonation. Sweetness is low; 70% chocolate. Bitterness is non-existent. Nearly perfect flavors. Slight rubber aftertaste on the very backend. Sweetness is perfect. Flavors are great!!! Prickly carbonation.

Yep, this one meets expectations. Knocked out of the park, flavors are exception. Feel could be slightly improved. Well blended. Complex. Highly recommended, hope to try again sometime.

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Photo of MacQ32
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - near black color with a finger if dense, lasting, chocolate colored headm decent lacing too

S - boozy and vanilla, oaky and lots of chocolate too

T - similar to the aroma but more chocolate and vanilla than anyrhing else. Also a hint kf dark fruit on the backend.

M - ideal, mediumish bodied decent carbonation
Relatively drinkable

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Photo of PhatAtUT
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2012 bottle poured into tulip

A: pitch black, inch tan head. looks like a delicious imperial stout
S: the smell is a little off-putting to me. kind of a syrupy soy smell that i got from uncle jacobs. not bad, just not a smell that appeals to me personally.
T: so rich and complex. milk chocolate. caramel. vanilla. a sort of fig-like jammy fruitiness. licorice. obvious strong hop profile perfectly balanced out with a very rich but not overpowering sweetness. bourbon character is very subtle, but i dont miss a stronger presence. such a great balanced brew. delicious.
M: very fullbodied and an almost creamy carbonation. very effervescent for such a thick stout. absolutely perfect feel for a big stout.
O: dont care for the smell, but past that, its as good an imperial stout as ive had.

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Photo of JohnParadee
4.71/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Wow! Really enjoyed this stout. Poured from bottle into chilled pint glass. Deep, dark, black color. Virtually zero head, but nice beige/tan collar. Zillions of tiny bubbles coat the edges, but lacing is minimal and not at all sticky. Nose was subtle, but sexy -- bourbon, coffee, dark chocolate, and vanilla hints compete with one another. The palate is where this stout really displays it's showcase qualities -- bourbon and chocolate dominate. Reminds me of a less syrupy sweet version of BCBS and/or a less boozy version of Parabola. Roasted coffee and vanilla make appearances as well. Great finish and mouthfeel. If you don't love this stout, then you obviously have your head up your coo-loo.

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Photo of mikul93
4.37/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Typical of a lot of BA Stouts. Black as night with little head. Faint tan head clinging to the sides of the glass.

S - Bourbon hits the nose initially , followed by dark fruits, oak, bitter chocolate and hint of vanilla

T - Almost like the nose, bourbon hits the tongue immediately followed by tons and tons of chocolate. This is a chocolate bomb. Dark fruit follows with hints of vanilla. A roasty coffee goodness lingers on the tongue afterwards.

M - Lots of carbonation for a BA stout. I wish it was a little bit less. Thick viscosity as expected that coats your mouth.

O - Delicious beer that I will definitely try to get more of. Very nice to have in the cellar.

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Photo of dar482
4.39/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer comes in black color with tinges of brown coming in through the light. A ring of tan head.

The aroma is bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, hints of dark fruit (cherry and dried plums), coffee.

The flavor hits in the front of sweet and dark chocolate, molasses, and vanilla. There's hints of coconut and dark dried dark cherry and plum as well. Bourbon flavor hits throughout. The finish is of sweet roasted coffee and drying oak.

The mouthfeel is very full and bold at first and falls off reasonably quickly by the end of the beer.

This beer changes throughout with temperature, very much so compared to other bourbon barrel aged beers I have had. A very interesting beer to take an hour or so on.

In the end, slightly weak on the finish, thin, and quite overrated.

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Photo of shadetree67
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black with thin brown head that dissipated quickly. Sparce lacing

Smell: Vanilla and oak. Dried fruit maybe prunes. Some bourbon.

Taste: Big vanilla flavor. Slight bourbon. Dark chocolate makes an appearance as the beer warms.

Mouth feel: Medium body and low carbonation. Slight burn from the alcohol but not bad given this is over 11%

Overall: Wish the mouth feel was a bit thicker but that is only a minor gripe about this amazing beer. It's more balanced and smooth than bcbs.

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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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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 586 ratings.
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