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

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Bell's Black Note StoutBell's Black Note Stout

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States

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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 591 | Ratings: 3,984
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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Photo of MarcWP
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

2012 vintage poured into Firestone snifter.

Appearance is on par with other barrel aged stouts. Black, dark roasty almond colored tiny head. Leaves little lacing.

Aroma is fudge, vanilla, toasted coconut, fig jam, bourbon, spice cake, and creamed coffee. I've got to say the aroma on this one of the best I've come upon in a barrel aged stout! So balanced between everything, thinking the year in the cellar helped take the bourbon back a notch.

On the palate there is a huge surge of coffee and fudge with the dark fruit taking a back seat. Bourbon throughout with coconut, vanilla, faint oak, and Brandy beans. If I had to describe the flavor I would have to say its like a not so boozy BCBS and Parabola had a baby. It's somewhere in between that spectrum but on a scaled down level. Just smooth.

The mouthfeel is where this suffers a bit. Not bad but maybe just a bit thin, with aftertaste disappearing rather quickly. The flavor screams viscous but the body thins out a little soon failing to support the formers gung-ho approach.

Overall a truely worldclass barrel aged stout. Quite smooth, very flavorful, surprisingly easy drinking for 12% abv, and very balanced between flavor nuances. I think I enjoyed this a bit more than Parabola but a little less than regular BCBS.

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Photo of anteater
4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle.

A: Black and deep, practically no head whatsoever

S: Strong! You can smell this one from far away. Roasty malt, espresso, chocolate, bourbon and vanilla

T: More of the nose. Rich espresso, bourbon, roasty malt, chocolate and vanilla from the oak. Bitterness is present but in the background. Lots of flavor, very well balanced

M: Pretty thick, very smooth

O: One of the better barrel aged stouts I've had. Better than KBS, not as good as BCBS.

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Photo of AdamF625
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A- black and almost flat with a thin dark brown head that fades quick and leaves no lacing.
S- bourbon, chocolate, oak, plums
T- follows the nose my friends tons of cocoa and sweet bourbon, oak, some dark fruit, toasted marshmallow
M- thicker body with little carbonation. It is ridiculously smooth and easy to drink for a big beer. No burn to report from the high abv and barrel aging. This was bottled in February of 2012 so let's keep that in mind.
O- this beer really took to the barrel well and is graceful at almost two years old. Very smooth and flavorful.

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Photo of chanokokoro
4.48/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2012 Vintage 12 oz. bottle poured in a Bell's Brewery Inc. branded snifter

Pours jet black capped by a one and half finger tan head. Great retention and plenty of lacing, especially for a barrel-aged brew. Plenty of oak, dark chocolate, and even hint of whipped cream with hints of booziness on the nose. Opens with semi-sweet chocolate, dark fruit especially black cherries and prunes joined by chocolate milk notes. Hints of bourbon and the perfect touch of oak and boozy alcohol add to the complexity on the finish. Lighter side of full bodied, lower level of carbonation, but higher compared to most barrel-aged stouts. Velvety, creamy, luxurious on the palate--really exceptional. Awesome brew, and without a doubt better than when it was fresh.

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Photo of beerdrifter
4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up this 2012 vintage bottle in a great trade with Evan! Pitch black pour with a one finger caramel-colored head that fades quickly with minimal lacing. Bourbon and milk chocolate dominate the nose along with hints of licorice, oak, booze, and some subtle dark fruit. The taste really rich and is once again dominated by the bourbon and milk chocolate along with hints of fudge, licorice, vanilla, dark fruits, espresso, brown sugar, and oak. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and slightly syrupy with a smooth and subtly warming finish. Overall, this is right up there with my favorite BA Stouts. The ABV is well hidden and it's not as hot and boozy as most in this category. Highly recommended!

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Photo of NeedBeerHere
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out as dark black as any stout I have ever had.with a tiny dark brown head that dissipated quickly. Smell is definitely some nice chocolate, dark fruits like raisins, burnt malts, and some fine brown sugat. This is REALLY an amazing smelling stout that reminds me of BCBS with a four years on it yet this only has one year. This really smells well put together. Taste is everything in the nose with a TINY bit of booze from the barrels but it is very muted and as perfect as I could possibly ask for. This is no normal stout. It tastes amazing. Mouthfeel is really nice and thick which is awesome for this stout. Overall this is one of the best stouts I have tasted in a great while. Ironically this is the third time I have said this today as I have been blessed by the stout gods today. This hasn't ever happened to me before ever. Get one if you can because this is one of the best stouts I have ever tasted.

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Photo of GJ40
4.49/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a 12oz bottle in a DFH snifter. 2012. Started at 60 degrees. Thanks surge1311!

A - Deep black with no light and a minimal tan head.

S - A nice mix of bourbon, oak, vanilla, chocolate and coffee. Great depth and very inviting.

T - A very balanced and complex blend of bourbon, oak, chocolate, vanilla and other subtle flavors. Assertive yet delicate. This is far from the bourbon bomb that some barrel aged beers deliver.

M - A moderately thick consistency with a low carbonation. Provides a very smooth delivery of the flavors.

O - A fantastic beer!!!

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

Bell's Brewery, Inc. - Bell's Black Note Stout, poured into a Craftgeer snifter.

Aged 1 year, from 12/12/2012

Look - Pours a medium viscosity jet black with no head to speak of (common for these aged stouts, not a big deal). Negligible lacing (the fact that there was some at all is amazing).

Smell - Rich chocolate, coffee, woody, nutty, fruity. Malty w/bourbon throughout. Not overly woody, just right, the fruit is slightly sweet.

Taste - Smooth fudge chocolate and coffee with dark fruits and a touch of bourbon at the end. Sweet vanilla in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Full-medium bodied with low-medium carbonation. Surprisingly not boozy (seriously). Sticky coating in the mouth.

Overall - This is super tasty, from reading other reviews it appears that this one definitely enhances with age, glad I got to try one that was aged one year. Cheers!

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Photo of peensteen
4.39/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Liam.

Deep brown nearly jet black, ring of tan head, little to no lace really. Smell is bourbon forward, lots of coconut and vanilla, well roasted, chocolate with liquorice and coffee as well as a bit of a fruity hint in there as well. Taste has quite a bit of chocolate, coffee and oak, coconut, vanilla witha bit of a light lingering sweetness, bourbon in the finish. Medium-full body, lightly carbonated and bit oily with a creamy mouthcoating as well. Just awesome stuff, an awesome beer consumed on a night filled with awesome beers, would love the opertunity to revisit this again.

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Photo of wedge
4.32/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

@ Tyler's (Raleigh)

I completely stumbled upon this like it was meant to be.

Black, of course, with a creamy tan ring of a head collecting at the edges. Smooth bourbon and roast aromas featuring thick molasses, toasted coconut, vanilla, wood, and toffee. Super smooth taste: loads of chocolate, dark fruity esters, vanilla bourbon notes, and some oak with a little espresso in the finish. Rather light on the alcohol for its strength. Very pleasant, definite whiskey barrel, but far from overly boozy or harsh. The flavor is good, but I am madly in love with the lingering after taste of berries, coffee, and an almost marshmallow-like element. Luscious, heavy mouthfeel with light carbonation.

Better than the Bourbon Barrel 9000, which, while good, was immense and sticky. This was more cohesive and not too rich. Excellent.

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Photo of cbutova
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes taken on a growler pour. Opened with a pop and plenty of carbonation in the beer, pressure-filled.

A- Poured from the growler into an 8oz snifter. Small mocha tan head forms but quickly dissipates falling to almost nothing and lace is out of the question.

S- A balance is found immediately between then bourbon and stout. Rich as it gets with high quality Bourbon aromas, deep chocolatey fudge and strong oak barrel. Feels as if there is some age but not in a negative way.

T- Reminds me of Damon in a way but maybe a bit less pronounced in the stout category, just really smoothed out. Bourbon whiskey, vanilla, dark roast coffee, fudge, caramel and deep roast grains.

MF- Lower end carbonation and pretty heated from the almost 12% alcohol. Thick oily body with a somewhat creamy feel.

In the same realm as Damon goes for Bourbon stouts but a bit more of the whiskey shows and more alcohol heat noticed, still super balanced and smooth. Big oak and chocolate fudge comes to mind.

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Photo of roger617
4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 bottle poured into snifter on 11/30/12.

A: Very dark in color, pours with just a thin layer of tan head that reduces very quickly and leaves no lacing. Appears to be very thick, yes without coating the inside of the glass they way comparables do with swirled.
S: Surprisingly sweet aroma, followed by roast, bourbon, chocolate.
T: All the flavors going on combine so well into a balanced blend of goodness. Lots of chocolate and bourbon up front, with lingering coffee, roast, sweetness.
M: Very coating on the tongue, rich and smooth. Carbed well, and very drinkable for a beer at 11.8%.
O: This is an incredible beer. A little thinner than comparables, but the aroma and flavors are all certainly there as expected. I was able to purchase 1 at a release event on Black Friday 2013, and yes, drank it the next day. I'm not sure this one would benefit much by aging, it's already pretty dang smooth at 11 months from bottling. I'd love to get some more in the future!

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Photo of vinny21bal
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really a great beer. Texture in the mouth. The nose is good. The taste is over the top. I really like this beer around room temperature with a little age on it. Again this beer is a lot like bcbs or Kbs where it is a little hot when fresh. But as far as quality it is up there with the big dogs as well.

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Photo of jsprain1
4.69/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A- Black, with a one and a half finger cocoa head. Fell down a little quicker than I would like, but boy that is a nice color.
S- Licorice, coffee, chocolate, burned toast.
T- Heavy on roasted character but there is a bit of rounding hops to it. More licorice, coffee, chocolate, and a hint of vanilla. Really in your face with delicious flavors. Long finish to it.
M- Full bodied. Low carbonation. Silky.
O- Loved this one. It is not a regular drink, but definitely worth tracking down.

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

draft at federal in Durham.

pours an opaque black with a small head. dark fruit, chocolately malts. dark fruits at the beginning, slight bourbon...not overwhelming at all. ABV absolutely undetectable and drinkablity is this beers #1 attribute. full bodied..very creamy. low carbonation

overall love this one.

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

Bell's most sought after stout is blacker than the dead of night... Literally no light can pass through this viscous looking libation. A splash of tan color in the center and a thin ring around the edge are the only indications of a head on this beast. If one looks closely, it is apparent that there is *some* carbonation, however, as there are small bubbles intermittently rising to the surface.

The rousing aroma is very chocolatey, like the finest dark chocolate available to humanity! The next two aspects I detected were roasted walnut and of course that vanilla-like Bourbon that's oh so pleasing! The more subtle notes present include dark roast coffee, molasses, and fig/dark fruits. I could sniff this beverage all day and be happy, but thankfully the evaluation of the nose is over and it's time to drink this baby!

As I take a sip, so many things come to mind... First of all, after all this contemplation of the color and aroma, the beer is now the absolute ideal temperature for drinking. The flavors do not disappoint as they are as tasty as the aroma teased at. The sweet malt intermingled with the only slightly sharp, oaked bourbon character is particularly balanced and well done. It's so velvety smooth, fully coating the mouth with the flavors lingering. It's so big bodied, and nicely intoxicating. The finish is semi-dry with a nice earthy nuttiness.

Overall, this is one of the finest beers available to humanity! Bells, you have indeed made a grand statement about the art of the dark! I am glad I had this to make this pseudo-holiday 'Stout Day' a real cause for celebration! Hey, it is Friday...

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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 mrn1ceguy
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A very smooth, light BA stout. Drink it fresh so that the non BA cream stout portion can really smooth everything out. Easy to enjoy solo in one sitting.

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Photo of Abbbp
4.93/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Once again thanks for opening the cellar Bryan, the fact that we side by sided this with a KBS and an old Rasputin 17 was just awesome. But of the 3, sorry KBS and your #3 ranking, this Bell's is just flat out superior.

Poured into a snifter it darkens the cup, with lil to no head. It's aroma just reeks of an old bourbon warehouse, where the forgotten barrels have just soaked the bourbon for ages and the rest has been stolen as the angel's share. That and chocolate, big espresso, deep dark fruits all bring together a symphony for the nose.

The taste however is what really sets this ye old American Double apart- it isn't overwhelming. It's smooth, it's as though the fermentation of this fruit allows for delicious lambic carbonation to build giving it a drinkability like none other I've tried before.

Bravo bravo Bell's, you've done it. This not only lived up to the hype but far exceeded it. It's a damn shame that you're not in Texas, you leave me no choice to pillage other states and take their stock.

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Photo of portia99
4.31/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle (12/28/12) poured into a Brooklyn snifter.

A - Pours an extremely dark brown color with good clarity that can be seen around the edges of the glass when held to a light, showing more brown highlights. A thin half finger of head forms briefly, fizzing away slowly over a minute or so to leave a thin tan collar of foam...no real lacing.

S - Even without putting my nose to the glass, I am hit with the aroma of this beer. Tons of sweet toffee/caramel and brown sugar notes. Lots of vanilla, toasted coconut, bourbon, roasted malt notes.

T - Notice dark fruits up front - rather pruney. Vanilla and brown sugar sweetness, a touch of burnt malt, dark roasted malts, hints of licorice. Bourbon...noticeable for sure, but well controlled - mild booziness, but in proper proportion - well done.

M - Medium body with a medium carbonation that seems just a touch to high for my preferences. Very mild boozy warmth, nice variety of sweet, mild roast, finishing with cool licorice.

O - Overall, a very good BA imperial stout. Very nice aroma filled with lots of bourbon complexity, plenty of sweet notes, mild booziness - lots of good stuff for a stout lover. Body is a bit thin for me and carbonation a bit high...too much life here for my preferences. Minor complaints. Glad to finally try this one...has been eluding me for a while. Excellent BA stout, but doesn't weigh in at the top of the scale for me...several others that outshine this one.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 3,984 ratings.
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