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
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:
663
Ratings:
4,265
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,721
Gots:
1,183
For Trade:
130
User Reviews
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Reviews: 663 | Ratings: 4,265
Photo of JamesShoemaker
4.49/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into my snifter. First batch of 2012, I think. Bottled on 12/28/12. My Mom picked up three bottles of this for me in Michigan while I was away in New York. Thanks Mom!

A - not terribly impressive. Pours like an RIS, black with a little head, dark brown, recedes abnormally quickly. Not bad, but nothing super notable.

S - pretty delicious. A lot of bourbon on the nose, similar to Backwoods Bastard, if I had to compare it to anything else. A little sourness; I assume it's got a subdued hop profile. Malt forward, and very rich.

T - great, one of the most BBA-forward beers I've ever had. Lots of sweet, sticky whiskey with just a little malt on the end. An almost truly complete profile, delicious. Very negligible points off for the wood notes dominating the base.

M - smooth, smooth, smooth. Alcohol and carbonation are incredibly balanced; drinks dangerously easily. Sweetness sticks to the cheeks in a very pleasant way. I wish I had three hundred bottles of this instead of just three (now two).

O - excellent beer, one of my favorite BBA stouts. This is my first bottle; I look forward to getting some year in and year out, or at least asking my Mom to!

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

this is every bit as good as they all say it is, one of the best beers ive had from bells, and one of the better bourbon barrel stouts going. this beer was ahead of its time, and its taken me far too long to track it down, but finally i have found it, and its worth the wait. a real gem, not quite black as the name suggests, more of a hersheys brown, with a short but sturdy and lasting tan head. heavy oak and char on the nose and taste, as much as there is whiskey and vanilla themselves, its woody and sweet, but intense in a different kind of way, somewhat more refined, and as much chocolate malt as there seems to be roasted barley on it, which i really dig, and i think is an underutilized element in these big barrel aged stouts. the flavor is like the nose, heavy wood and carbon, a lot of vanilla too, and just a bit of booze warmth. also some other middle flavors here, cocoa, raisin, even root beer, its quite evolved and interesting, and has a ginormous body, silky smooth though and slippery going down. this was head of its time, these are past en vogue to downright overdone these days, with the proliferation of barrel brokers and upstart egocentric breweries, these are everywhere, but its good to taste something this esteemed and appreciate again the fact that all barrel aged stouts are not created equal. this is better than most, and as elusive as its been for me, a much delighted in rarity. very high on this one right now...

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Photo of AdmiralDiaz
4.49/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: very dark body with a one-finger brown head with decent retention and minimal lacing.

S: Smells of strong bourbon alcohol and strong notes of chocolate and some vanilla. Very bold and very attractive, can't wait to try a sip.

T: Similar to the taste, Strong alcohol with a bourbon creaminess along with chocolate, dark berries, and roasted malts. Very good, but didn't knock my socks off like I had hoped.

Overall: Well carbonated and silky mouthfeel. The drinkibility is lower on this one though, It's delicious and smell amazing but it would be hard to put down a couple pints of this. Great beer though, get it if you can, while you can.

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

Poured from a 2014 bottle into a Teku glass. First noticed that it was quite a thin head, different from many other high ABV stouts that I've had. Rich mouth feel without being syrupy. Bourbon is well integrated with other flavors, including molasses and dark fruit. Exceptional quality stout and one I'd look to procure again.

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

Shared this with a couple of fellow BA'ers and found it to be quite good, but not quite up to my Gold Standard, as set by Goose Island Proprietor's. But did a side by side tasting of it along with Lost Abbey's Agave Maria, and found it did edge out the Agave Maria by a nose. Pun intended. You would be hard pressed to drink a full bottle of this beer by ones self I feel. Solid 4.5 beer.

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Photo of larryarms847
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a crude oil like pitch black with a wonderfully light brown head that just looks like I could lay on it is so thick and fluffy.

Aromas of sweet chocolate, tart and bright coffee/espresso, raisins/plums/dark fruits, and bourbon envelops the overall package.

Take the chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, bourbon, perfectly balanced them, and what you have is Black Note Stout.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, perfect for how I like my stouts!

This is a truly remarkable BBA imperial stout, really. Bell's nailed it on the head with this one and I'll be on the hunt for it again this next release season.

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

Received two 2016 bottles as beer mail after having this on tap twice at GABF 2016. Consumed one bottle in January 2017 and will sit on the second bottle approximately January 2018.

A: Pours inky black, minimal cola-like head with almost no retention.

S: Coffee, bittersweet chocolate, dark fruits, and bourbon barrel (caramel and vanilla).

T: A surprising amount of coffee that lingers from sip to swallow. Aromas materialize on the palate in a symphonic manner. Finishes with some bourbon heat.

F: Not as thick as other BA stouts... even with the Double Cream Stout playing part.

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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.

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Photo of Drvitlkeyustolit80
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First had 1/12/17 at home. Traded for it from Eric L. Dark chocolate is prominent, with dark fruits, and a subtle bourbon finish that doesn't overpower. Superior texture and mouth feel make this irresistible.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. Back label says PKGD 03/12/14. Celebrating my 900th review with this miracle of a gift provided by mjshearer1.

A- Pours a fully opaque black color with a 1/2 inch light brown head that retains a bit before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a bubbly center patch of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a thin jagged ring behind.

S- Big rush of dark roasted malt with heavy notes of dark chocolate, bourbon and molasses. Also some caramel and vanilla undertones. Booze fume is there but works well with the rest of the aroma.

T- Initial dark chocolate comes across subtly and then the barrel creeps in and brings a bit more intensity as well as some vanilla sweetness. Wonderful black coffee aftertaste brings the profile around full circle. Additional notes of raisin and more molasses. So drinkable for the ABV and yet the flavors linger good and long so that they can be savored by only sipping sporadically. As it warms, it somehow becomes more sweet and even less boozy, however the dark roast becomes even more prevalent making it a bit more bitter.

M- Quite creamy and viscous plus there's some sticky residue in the afterfeel. Medium-low carbonation and the fullest of bodies.

O- A great BBA beer that's full-on with the bourbon presence but not so much that it becomes too hot or one-dimensional. Though I still think BCBS and KBS are both above it, this one is certainly a major contender and deserves to be appreciated for its own unique qualities.

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

Very dark appearance with little head and just the right amount of carbonation. Very pleasant and complex aroma of coffee, chocolate and bourbon. Taste is very good and matches aroma.

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

Tasted in a snifter from draft at Kuma's Corner on January 12, 2017. Look is dark brown with a tan head and lingering lacing. Smell and taste is dark dried fruit and roasted malts. Feel is full in body with a warm and bittersweet finish.

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

Huge thanks to Derek, as always, for the bottle.

Black in color with a small tan head. Aroma is almost overpowering bourbon and vanilla. Rich chocolate and a bit of roasted malt. Simplicity at its finest. The flavor is similarly bold. A touch of alcohol, intense bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Tons of chocolate, some hints of coffee and roasted malt, and a bit of molasses. Excellent, decadent stuff.

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

This beer poured jet black with a nice one and a half finger tall mocha-colored head leaving sticky streaks of lace that lasted throughout. Aromas of warm bourbon, milk chocolate, vanilla, dark roasted malt, brown sugar and quite a bit of lactic creaminess. The flavor starts off with a big dose of warm bourbon, chocolate and some lactic creaminess from the double cream stout. Hints of vanilla, oak, brown sugar and rich coffee help to break things up and keep things interesting. Big and full smooth mouthfeel with a ton of sweet flavors and moderation carbonation throughout. The finish was quite sweet with plenty of boozy bourbon and some dark roast, lingering on the palate long after consumption. I look forward to cracking open my Black Note bomber that I acquired early in 2012!

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

I have been fortunate enough to have had this beer on several occasions. I know I have reviews and notes somewhere and I know I gave this beer a 5. but that was back then...and now this beer has become much more readily available and I have been able to sample it multiple times (including tonight)...and as much as I love it it is no 5. so time to review it instead of waiting for tomorrow or whenever I will upload my notes.

the beer pours a sludgey jet black with a thin creamy off tan head. night nice barrel aged shine. smell is black roasted malt and bourbon. good wood presence and good balance. taste is silky and smooth. the heat is on for this one as the ABV is very noticeable. goes down easy and is definitely one of the better barrel aged stouts. just a bit more in your face then some of the others. I have always found this one to be the strongest feeling. definitely worth checking out and lives up to the hype but it is no 5.

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

750ml bottle courtesy of waltersrj, shared with Bitterbill and mkorpal at the Library bar in Laramie, WY. Bottle #242 (short review)

Pours black with a nice tan head, nice lacing and legs are left behind on the swirl. Nose has a lot of caramel and chocolate, quite malty with some hints of oak. Not boozy. Taste is really wonderful, an excellent blend of two stouts with additional complexity from a barrel. Barrel note is not the sole feature of this beer, and that is the reason we all enjoyed it. An incredibly well done beer and worth trading. Smooth and very easy to drink given the heft.

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Photo of cpetrone84
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark coffee brown with tight dark tan head. Nose has some subtle roasted malt, notes of coffee, vanilla cream, chocolate cake. There is a mild sweet bourbon note. It tastes well balanced, faint touch of sweetness with rich chocolate cake and vanilla notes. The coffee is lighter, Light note of sweet bourbon that picks up as it warns, more present than the nose but still subtle. Soft creamy feel, full bodied but not heavy with good carb and extremely drinkable.

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

Enjoyed in a 5oz glass as part of a 6 beer flight at Bell's Brewery...

Appearance - Dark and black, very little head or lacing to speak of, semblance of legs when swirled in the glass.

Smell - Whoah! Wonderful combo of Vanilla, carmel, toffee, bourbon and oak.

Taste - OMG, what a rare treat! This was served fresh and on tap, starts big bourbon with vanilla bean and oak, then creamy bailey's and burnt toffee, then dark roasty coffee with dark fruit flavors. Lingering oak and bourbon with some pleasant heat between sips. Very special.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full mouthfeel and mouthcoating, silky and so smooth, there is just enough carb to add some wonderfully crisp edges along the sides of the tongue, add to overall complex mouthfeel.

Overall - So complex and well balanced, what a nice treat, plan your trip to Bell's around the availability of this in their taproom, I can only begin to imagine what a year or so would to to a wonderful stout like this, must try!

***Re-Review, this was is a bomber aged for 2.5 years, purchased after the 5oz pour that I rated above, which was poured fresh on draft - part of a flight at the brewery:

Appearance - Pours a solid finger of a warm medium brown cinnamon head that comes down to a thin rich looking cap in a minute, color of the body is an opaque black,

Smell - Begins with rich dark ripe fruits, sweet creamy vanilla, milk chocolate, a whiff of coconut, and a wonderful bourbon saturated oak. After letting it breath in a large snifter for a few minutes the nose "reverses", with the creamy vanilla and bourbon soaked oak taking the forefront, and the rich fruits and milk chocolates in the back

Taste - Wow, this is delicious, but is very much like the nose after breathing in the glass - the first dominant flavors are a lovely oaky bourbon, the vanilla is more of a dried vanilla bean now, and there to balance are a darker semi-sweet chocolate that's barely been dipped in cream, the fruits are present, hints of plum, fig, and black cherry. At the end of the quaff you get a slight astringency of dark fruit skins, some dried oak, some lightly roasted malt, even a hint of black licorice, and a slightly warming of bourbon that wafts up into the sinuses.

Mouthfeel - The mouthfeel is nearly full here, but this "effect" is mostly from the bold and mouth-filling flavors. This is very smooth and silky feeling, just short of creamy, but not heavy or mouthcoating at all. In fact, an aged Expedition coats the mouth quite a bit more than this. The finish is on the drier side, with pockets of warm bourbon fruits and dark chocolates left in the mouth corners. Carb on this is almost medium and still very effervescent, and while soft and smooth still provides just a bit of scrub, and leaves wonderful tingly edges over the sides of the tongue. Really a nice mouthfeel here.

Overall - This is really an excellent bourbon barrel aged stout. I've just recently rate a similarly aged bottle of KBS, and this is Better. Better because the flavors are so well balanced, and the mouthfeel is superior as KBS just seemed a bit less substantial. BCBS is still perfection, but this comes pleasantly close. The bourbon is so well balanced by the depth of additional flavors, and the mouthfeel and weight are right for the style. This is also typically more attainable and available multiple times throughout the year. Get your hands on some Black Note. Fresh is good but aged is even better for those that are willing to cellar it for awhile - keep an eye out for this in a 4-pak which has been done a few times recently. Cheers!

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Photo of lemmy187
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally get a shot at the legendary black note. Pours medium black with about a finger of mocha head. Looks thinner than expected. Nose is dominated by the bourbon with notes of raisin, chocolate, and roast. Taste is super balanced between the barrel, dark fruit, and roasted malts. Highly drinkable for a BA stout. Feel is on the thin side with moderate carbonation. Great stout....but the thin body holds it back from being world class.

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Photo of JLK7299
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired in a recent trade. What a BBA Stout! I often feel like BBA stouts are overbearing on the bourbon but this one has just the right amount. Very drinkable! More please!

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

10oz pour at city taphouse bell's event

A: Deep brown/black body. One finger dark khaki head that held for some time after the pour. Spotty lacing.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, sweet cream, molasses, roasted malts and dark fruits. Complex and well layered. Nothing really overpowers the other elements.

T: Nice blend of boozy-goodness and sweet, dessert like malts. Warm bourbon is present from the first drop. Sweet milk chocolate, cream, molasses, caramel, a little roasted coffee, vanilla and some figs.

M: Thick, full bodied and viscous. Low carbonation, but appropriate. A bit boozy, but not overbearingly hot. Nice lingering sweetness.

D: At first it was fairly easy drinking considering the thickness, but the beer eventually slowed down for me. This was likely the result of the underlying sweetness. A very nice beer, that is a bit different than the other big stouts out there. Thanks to Bell's and City Taphouse for the fun event.

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

Enjoyed at The Bavarian Lodge.

Pours a deep black color that shows no light. There is a thin layer of dark tan head. There is oily residue but no lace.

The nose is amazing. Toasted coconut, chocolate, molasses, light vanilla, and a touch of booze. Rich bourbon notes are married well together.

The flavors involve more toastes coconut, dry oak tannin, vanilla, light chocolate and molasses. The bourbon comes in again and smooths things out. Very tasty and actually quite similar to BCBS.

The mouthfeel is rich and creamy upfront and then transforms into a dry feel. Light carbonation.

Overall, Black Note is a great bourbon barrel stout that really doea live up to the outrageous hype. Great nose, awesome flavors, and velvet smooth. Great brew.

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

750ml bottle (#290/1081) poured into a medium-sized Duvel tulip. Gigantic thanks to Chris for tracking down and sharing this scarce gem.

A: Completely opaque black body with a solid, creamy cap of brown head. Good retention, delicate lace. A swirl reignites the head and coats the glass with some reddish legs. Lovely.

S: Pure, straightforward bourbon-barrel goodness. Vanilla, coffee, bourbon, chocolate, licorice, and some faint dark fruits. Hugely complex, with a nice balance of sweetness and booziness. Terrific.

T: Sweet and bourbon-soaked at first, with vanilla, coconut, coffee, molasses, and spicy alcohol. Delicious.

M: Rich, creamy, full-bodied. Perhaps a bit more carbonation than necessary for the style, but luxurious all the same.

O: What a beer. It was amazingly close to breaking through to perfect scores in every single category, and was a sheer pleasure to savor. If I were to offer a complaint, it would be that it wasn't particularly distinctive - it just tasted like I expect a really, really great BBA stout to taste (much like Czar Jack, although with a bit more intensity that that incredibly smooth beer). It was worth the hype, and I just hope that Bell's makes more of it after they expand. I'd love to have it again.

Cheers!

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,265 ratings.
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