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

Bell's Black Note StoutBell's Black Note Stout
BA SCORE
4.55/5
4,397 Ratings
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
Ranking:
#61
Reviews:
688
Ratings:
4,397
pDev:
7.91%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
2,714
Gots:
1,194
Trade:
126
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,397 |  Reviews: 688
Photo of Jaszucs
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of TPiwaron
4.49/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of tbcleary
4.16/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BeantownBrews
4.59/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of DMarlinJ
4.68/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2012 vintage bottled in February so almost 5 years in the cellar. Not much head from aggressive pour. A lot of sticky broken lace coating glass. Smells of oak and vanilla up front and dark fruits. Towards bottom of glass getting more alcohol coming through but oak still strong. Flavors blend well into one. Plum, raisin, vanilla, oak and some bourbon heat. Carbonation at first distracts from smooth creaminess that follows nicely. Light feel that is not a heavy sweet coating that sometimes goes with stouts. Not tiring on the mouth to the end even as it warms. Overall it was great, just some slight room for improvement if the alcohol burn didn't distract.

 678 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.26/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks, gillagorilla!

Pours a pitch-black color. The head is...well, it's more of a shabby-looking film, really. Lighter tan in color, it features really bad retention. Naturally, no lacing is left behind.

As expected, plenty of rich yet nuanced bourbon barrel shows up aromatically. Oak, vanilla, and even mild marshmallow all appear. The base is loaded with notes of roasted malt, baker's cocoa, and espresso. What it lacks in intense fudge and brownie batter notes it makes up for with notes of licorice and dark fruits. The barrels have done their job here, and that's take away the sharper features of Expedition Stout while adding additional depth. And deep it is! It continues to unfurl layers as it opens up, and seems to feature more complexity (aroma-wise) than even many of the style stalwarts.

It first features a flavor of dark fruits and licorice (how 'bout that, just like the aroma dictated...), which then gives way to espresso around the middle. The finish, natch, is quite oak-laden. As a nitpick, the barrels here seem to take on more of a generic oak quality, instead of offering vivid bourbon flavors of vanilla or toasted coconut. In fact, compared to many other barrel-aged stouts out there, this doesn't seem particularly sweet at all. Despite the seemingly drier, more utilitarian approach, it doesn't come across as being harsh (unlike fresh Expedition Stout) or out of balance. It's every bit as complex as it needs to be, yet still finely balanced. This is close to my ideal stout, it just needs a bit more actual bourbon presence (as opposed to just oak) and maybe 10% more depth.

Because it's so well attenuated, the mouthfeel is surprisingly - dare I say - crisp. It's not light-feeling or dinky (by any stretch), but it goes down surprisingly easily. It does this all without a vicious, alcoholic bite. Carbonation is obviously low.

This, in my opinion, is the best beer Bell's makes. It's an excellent blend that's both balanced and tempered by bourbon barrels, while retaining the stronger qualities of the two (especially Expedition Stout). I surmise this one will be a mofo to find - I'd gladly make that effort to seek it out again. It's easily on par with some of the better barrel-aged stouts on the market.

4.26/5: A good blueprint on how barrel aging can improve the flaws of some beers, while adding a wonderful dimension on its own

 2,383 characters

Photo of brittanylicious
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Zazzi82
4.49/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of SHDoyle
4.51/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Description: Dark black (shocker) with no head or lacing. Smooth appearance but otherwise "normal" for a stout. The bourbon and oak come through loud and clear on the aroma but here are also strong notes of dark fruit. Unlike many other stouts, I didn't really pick up any discernible coffee or chocolate on the smell. Very straightforward but very good overall. Taste is more complex than the smell and along with bourbon and oak aplenty there are slightly sweet, dark chocolate flavors. Maybe the bourbon masked it on the smell. Mouthfeel is super smooth and creamy with no real carbonation.

Suggested food pairing: Prosciutto

If you like this been then you should also try: BCBS

Overall: 4.5 (This beer is very good and I would definitely drink it again) This one meets the high expectations it has come to engender. Depth of flavor and smell with a spot on mouthfeel. It's a shame that it's so difficult to come by, but well worth making the effort to do so.

 975 characters

Photo of Cheezus
4.7/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of paddyfrankie
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of LilLebowskiUrbanAchievers
4.02/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Nic1985Ace
4.77/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle, 2016 vintage

L: Pours pitch black with 2 fingers of frothy tan head, good retention. Settles into a tan ring.

S: Nose is big chocolate, oak, and bourbon. Coffee comes through with some vanilla undertones.

T: Taste is chocolate, vanilla is prominent. Coffee comes in and adds a really nice roasty bitterness. Beautifully balanced. Oak and bourbon is there but not overwhelming.

F: Very smooth, excellent creamy mouthfeel.

O: Really a tremendous BA stout. Delivers in every way. Fantastic offering from Bell's.

 557 characters

Photo of Spud762
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of A_Rad
4.29/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of phizzle
4.77/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Skellbop
4.64/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of tbryant21
4.05/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of thuglife
5/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of justinp444
4.89/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2016 second release. Poured into a mini snifter it has a black body with a thin beige head. Smell is chocolate, bourbon, licorice, little bit of a nutty smell, and big vanilla. Taste of chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, bit of coffee on the end, roasted malt, almond, and licorice. Mouth feel is smooth creamy and full with a full body and smooth moderate carbonation. One of the easiest drinking while still being complex stouts I've had.

 434 characters

Photo of bcsbeer
4.34/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Hoppity1
4.44/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Angerhaus
4.81/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Sabtos
4.1/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very dark brown mahogany with a fleeting mocha head.

Thick, rich smell that I can even feel in my throat when I take a small whiff. Nutty, thick chocolate, walnut and wet, dense oak, with a faint, spicy, peppery bourbon resting in the background.

Taste is heavily charred, dark oaky, woody, nuttiness, finishing as a slick, waxy chocolate. There is almost a hint of peanut butter in there. Bourbon continues to not be overpowering on the palate, with a spicy kick of heat on the very back end.

This is blended expertly, with a full bodied feel, soft hefty froth, some lightening tang, a nice balance of flavors, and a complexity and deepness of characteristics not often found in the barrel aged stout. However, this review was for the 2016 version, and I found, having a 2014 version about a year later that the heat of the beer doesn't actually seem to mellow out substantially over time, sort of putting rest to the idea of hoarding these for a better day, at least for this beer. If you don't like what heat this beer does bring, you probably shouldn't buy a ton to cellar.

 1,080 characters

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

Long awaited review. I've been seeking this bad boy out for years. It's surprisingly thin but it has a delicious bouquet of flavors! There's a lot of Bourbon on the nose from the barrels and the flavor profile is great. Unfortunately it didn't blow my mind but I'm glad I finally had it!

 287 characters

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Beer rating: 4.55 out of 5 with 4,397 ratings
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