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

BA SCORE
99
world-class
668 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
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): 10.80%

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:
668
Ratings:
4,286
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,726
Gots:
1,188
For Trade:
126
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 668 | Ratings: 4,286
Photo of Zoomslowik
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L- Very dark. Pours with a solid mocha head. It fades to a thin ring around the glass.

S- Heavy on the roasted malts and bourbon. Some bittersweet chocolate. Pleasing.

T- Roasted malts and caramel. Bourbon is there, but not as strong as the aroma. A little chocolate in the base. Not quite as smooth and balanced a flavor profile as I would like.

F- This was a target of mine for a while because I heard it had a nice, creamy mouthfeel and that's what I look for in a stout. Well, it wasn't quite there. I was a bit concerned when I saw how thin it poured. It did have a rich, smooth feel, but it wasn't nearly as thick and creamy as some of my favorites.

O- I was excited to finally get my hands on one, but it was merely solid. There's nothing wrong with it per say, but it didn't live up to my (admittedly high) expectations.

If it matters, this was the 2016 B2 version.

 883 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

For me, a perfect stout. Rich and flavorful with chocolate, vanilla, bourbon notes, a nice background bitterness and roasty coffee notes. All of this combined with a sweet creaminess makes it moreish indeed.

 207 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
4.08/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Now for something completely the hallmark of style. A big roasty stout put into bourbon barrels. This was one of the early ones, but it still keeps on rockin' in the free world.

Pours black. Shocking. Creamy 1/2" tan head. Aroma of roast and bourbon. This is going exactly as one would expect.

Taste, chocolate and bourbon, decent amount of alcohol heat in the mouth feel. Not as highly hopped as some beers in this style, helps contribute to the smoothness, that and an appropriately lower carbonation aspect. A little bit of dark fruit bitterness to it. Good format and price structure helps get that overall bump. Viscous, is there molassess going on here? Some burnt caramel feels to it.

 707 characters

Photo of rmank
4.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

One of the smoothest BBA stouts I've ever had! Does a real good job at hiding the higher ABV and the taste is so complex- dark fruits, oaky, burnt caramel, slight molasses.

So glad I got to check this one off of the Wants list.

 228 characters

Photo of jds16
4.72/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Thick tan head, ring of head lingers all the way down the glass leaving great lacing. Smells of brown sugar, vanilla, bourbon, coffee. Taste follows the nose with the the addition of rich chocolate. Mouthfeel is the real star here, so creamy. Between the magnificently blended flavors and creaminess, this goes down dangerously easily.

 336 characters

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

Thanks CD!! Pours pitch black with a nice head that fades quickly. Aroma is awesome. Deep coffee, vanilla, molasses, light bourbon, marshmallow and chocolate. Taste is extremely balanced. Bourbon is well hidden. Not overpowering at all but still present. Vanilla, molasses, marshmallow, espresso, dark chocolate, oak, brown sugar with a light bourbon finish. Exceptional bourbon stout. Very complex yet very smooth. This is worth searching for. Excellent job by Bells.

 472 characters

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

Taken me over five years to finally get ahold of this one. Been on my wants since the very beginning. Short and sweet review as usual of me these days.

Pours ultra black with a small khaki head. No lacing on a finished glass.

Smells chocolate, almost like cocoa powder with a touch of brown sugar and an ever present oak barrel esque ness from the mash.

Taste virtually follows the nose with the sweetness and booze amped up.

Exceptionally smooth on the swallow though the body itself is a touch lackluster by comparison to the rest of the beer

Overall I'm glad I finally got to try it out after all these years. I feel that it is a great stout but nothing earth shattering.

 680 characters

Photo of surfcaster
4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to MB for a 4 pack gift. Wow. A rarity in NC

Pitch black pour with a 1/4 inch frothy brown head

Nose is light on bourbon--not all overpowering

Taste is just amazing--well integrated, smooth--chocolate/brown sugar/vanilla/expresso--all works so well together.

My absolute favorite of the style

 306 characters

Photo of ClavisAurea
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2016 vintage reviewed fresh in a snifter

Appearance: super dark brown with a small khaki head

Nose: vanilla, oaky, bourbon, toasted coconut, roasty malts, toasted marshmallows, barrel char

Taste: follows the nose very well. The body is medium high to heavy, fairly sweet but nothing too crazy, amazingly balanced.

This beer is completely worth the hype and will age well.

 375 characters

Photo of Treyliff
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2016 vintage
12oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours a viscous jet black color with a small creamy khaki colored head that eventually reduces to a ring around the glass

S- opens with fresh espresso and dark chocolate followed by dry fig and black molasses. The barrel aroma is alive and well, giving off notes of caramel/toffee, wet oak & vanilla whipping cream. More dark fruit emerges near the close, currant, dark cherry, and compliments a bold bourbon aroma on the finish

T- Plenty of dark chocolate, fresh espresso and charred malt up front, followed by sweet vanilla cream, molasses and burnt brown sugar. Dark fruit notes of fig, raisin and black cherry emerge, followed by the barrel notes kicking in; wet oak, vanilla, caramel and spicy bourbon. The finish is almost port-like, with more bourbon & char lingering

M- medium heavy body with moderate-low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel than continues into a slightly warming, creamy finish

O- everything you look for in a straight up, bourbon barrel aged stout. Just enough barrel elements, and the blend of the two Bell's stout seems to work better than each on their own

 1,151 characters

Photo of CHickman
4.91/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

PKG 11/03/2016: Pours pitch black color with a foamy 1 finger brown head that faded slowly, leaving great spotty lacing.

Smells perfect for a bourbon barrel aged stout. The bourbon and oaky notes lead the charge, followed by molasses, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, vanilla, syrup, burnt coffee, hot fudge, dark fruit and then more chocolate with a hint of piney hops which makes for an extremely complex and wonderful nose.

Wow, it tastes just like it smells but with booze and heat from the high ABV, however it does not negatively impact the flavor. Even more chocolate and coffee come through with espresso, chocolate syrup, smoked malt, charred wood and brown sugar adding dynamics before some earthy and woody barrel notes kick in. It's hot in a good way with the rich malt, bourbon and barrel notes making for a delicious combination. World class indeed.

 862 characters

Photo of Blackop555
4.81/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2016 batch 2

Pours black with a thin tan head that fades fast.

Smells of chocolate vanilla and coffee and bourbon

Tastes of bourbon and molasses at first. Fading quickly to vanilla and roasted flavor. Slight alcohol flavor to it but well hidden. Creamy smooth body with lower end of carbonation but adds to the velvety feel. Flavors change throughout as it warms. Definitely will drink more

 395 characters

Photo of von_kaiser
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

finally.....insanely dark, rich & viscous pour. rich bourbon scent and taste w/ a subtle chocolate flavor. extreme full bodied feel, chewy.....all comes together nicely as it approaches room temperature. will most certainly revisit regularly.

 245 characters

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

Loads of flavor here, including solid barrel presence without overwhelming or coming on too boozy. Maybe a touch thin, but that's very nit-picky, and the variety of dark fruits and roast/smoke/chocolaty flavors more than compensate. This is a wonderful stout

 258 characters

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

Finally had my first Bell's Black Note Stout on Christmas Eve of 2016. This beer is everything the hype had advertised. The beer is easily one of my top ten beers of all time. Got the 12 ounce bottle as part of a four pack for $24.

 234 characters

Photo of CraigP83
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Black, little to no head. Smell is chocolate, whiskey. Touch of black licorice flavor, Absolutely tons of chocolate, dark baking cocoa. Good BA stout but not the greatest

 170 characters

Photo of SD-Alefan
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2016 edition. Pours black with a minimal tan head that fades fast.
Aroma is dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses and bourbon.
Taste is dark chocolate, dark fruit, vanilla, a touch of coffee with a roasty and warming finish. Mouthfeel is smooth, medium and silky.
Overall, just plain SMOOOOV.

 288 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, 2016 vintage, packaged on 11/03/2016. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch and a half tan head that stayed around for a while. There's also a decent amount of lacing. I like the aroma, the brew smells like vanilla, bourbon, dark fruit, molasses, dark chocolate, and coffee. Taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also some caramel and burnt/charred malt noticeable too. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and coating with a moderate amount of carbonation. I thought this was pretty good, glad I was able to find a bottle. I know I'd like to try this again in the future! $7.99 a bottle.

 658 characters

Photo of NickSMpls
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

One bottle from our our go-to beer guy. Let this warm a bit before you taste it. Viscous pour, jet black, low carbonation. Aroma of roasted coffee, figs, and whiskey. Taste matches the color and smell...pure stout distilled down to its essence. Sip slowly and savor the layers of flavor. A high ABV leaves a lingering warmth on a cold night. Find a warm fire and enjoy.

 376 characters

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

Was very happy to get a bottle, from 2016
Dark brown with redish tint, mocha head that last awhile, leaving tan lacing
Smells of vanilla, camel, bit of bourbon
Alcohol sting of the tongue while absorbing the flavors from the aroma
Not as thick as I'd expect, maybe the Cream Stout?
No disappointment, glad I got to try this delicious stout

 340 characters

Photo of Cfred371
4.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look: The beer is a dark brown, with light on the edges, and virtually no head. What little head there is comes in khaki, and dissipates quickly.

Smell: an initial dark fruit/raisin smell, and some vanilla comes through. Malts as well. After generating some head, the barrel and bourbon come through in a big way.

Taste: Bourbon, vanilla and the barrel really are prevalent throughout, but, as the beer warms, a raisin comes through, as does some of that coffee, chcolatey flavor

Feel: a medium full body, some carbonation, but not much, and a nice smooth finish.

Overall: A solid bourbon barrel Stout showing off quite a bit of flavor. The finish is long, and the beer is tasty.

 686 characters

Photo of LAp
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip. Pours a deep brown/black with just the faintest hint of red. As the pour starts, no head began to emerge, so I poured more aggressively. Despite best efforts, this beer yields only the faintest meniscus of mocha head which recedes with almost no lacing. The nose is dominated by vanilla and bourbon on top of the typical stout nose profile. The palate, when first poured, is primarily dark chocolate, marshmallow, vanilla, and bourbon (the bourbon note though, significantly, is not a saccharine one, but a reserved whisky taste that accents, rather than dominates, the palate). As the beer warms, the creamy vanilla and marshmallow come more to the fore, and the bourbon notes open up into deep overtones of cherry and oak. The mouthfeel is thick, but not syrupy (a huge achievement). This is an elegant, and simple BB stout. Rather than seeking nuance through a wealth of adjuncts, this beer takes simple concept, the unmodified bourbon barrel stout, and executes it masterfully. Though I have a personal taste for the more experimental BB stouts of Deschutes and others, I have a tremendous respect for what Bell's has done with this outstanding brew.

 1,204 characters

Photo of Sparty1224
4.77/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Serving: 12 oz. bottle poured into a Founder's CBS snifter. Bottled on 7/1/16, making this almost 5.5 months old at this point.

A: Pours a nearly pitch black color with just a hint of caramel-mocha head on the rim. Tons of alcohol legs up the glass, very oily.

S: Tons of vanilla, marshmallow, caramel, and cocoa up front. Soft notes of bourbon and oak come through right at the end. Not a huge barrel presence, but it's there.

T: More oak and bourbon up front in the taste. Huge vanilla, marshmallow, caramel, and fig in the finish. Even picking up a small dash of hops from the usually quite aggressive Expedition Stout in the finish as well.

M: A bit thinner than previous editions, but still medium mouthfeel overall.

O: I've had several vintages of this beer in the past (both fresh and aged), but never had the chance to review it fresh until now. This one has always been my favorite BA Imperial Stout in Michigan, ahead of KBS and BB Plead, mostly because it's the most drinkable to me. I really love that marshmallow/vanilla vibe from the Double Cream Stout, and it almost puts this on the spectrum of a VBDL. It doesn't pack quite the punch as I remember, the barrel might not be as big, and the mouthfeel a touch thinner, but this beer still kills it whenever it decides to show it's face.

Recommendation: You haven't had one of the best beers from Michigan until you've had this one.

 1,402 characters

Photo of Buck89
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 vintage poured into a snifter. A jet black pour out of the bottle, producing a modest tan head that retreated fairly quickly. A soft bourbon presence on the nose, along with caramel, coffee, cherries, and chocolate. I tasted the caramel first and it quickly gave way to all of the above notes. Rich chocolate but not too heavy. The bourbon was a bit hot and this should evolve nicely with a bit of age.

 407 characters

Photo of pezhead_79
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, saying this is great would not be news. Just a very smooth BA stout that makes me wish I had more every time. A perfect balance of taste and aroma.

 153 characters

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,286 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe