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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
BEER INFO

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

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:
602
Ratings:
4,032
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
21.56%
 
 
Wants:
2,742
Gots:
1,062
For Trade:
103
User Reviews
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Reviews: 602 | Ratings: 4,032
Photo of Rifugium
4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at City Tap House, Philly, PA

First (and only at the time of this review) keg to come to Philly!

Served in a snifter, dark brown to black, opaque, with a minimal tan head. Aroma was luscious with dark malts, licorice, vanilla and chocolate; some alcohol noticeable. Taste was rich with malts, dark chocolate, sweet sugars, bourbon-soaked wood; strong in flavor and booze; quite simply amazing all around. Nicely thick and creamy, full bodied. Highly drinkable, and among of the best stouts I've had.

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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 birderbeerer
4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A balanced and exceptional beer. Very dark but not too big or filling.

Licorice is obvious, but it blends well with the roast flavors and the sweeter malts. No huge flavors here; rather, it's a well-blended, well-balanced, measured and subtle combination of flavors. Very easy to drink.

It doesn't leave me wanting to chase after more and more of it, but it's an amazing beer that I'd drink over and over again.

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

A: good head and a bit of lacing. Very dark and beautiful looking.

S: good bourbon angel but it does not overpower. There are some roasted notes that shine through.

T: again excellent bourbon, oak, vanilla, and some coffee, chocolate, and a slight bitterness.

M: medium carbonation on a big body is wonderful

O: excellent beer all the easy through. Would have again. Paid 8 dollars for a10 ounce pour. Worth every penny.

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Photo of founder26
4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap before and after this bottle they are quite similar. This review is from the 12oz bottles dated 12/29/12, poured into a snifter

A- black with a little red around corners. Not much head at all.

S- this is the second best part about this beer, it is intoxicating. First smell is of light bourbon and chocolate, middle you get some oak, vanilla, and caramel, finishes with coffee.

T- to me this is where I dont like this beer as much as bcbs or kbs. It has too much sweetness and bitterness, not enough chocolate ot bourbon.

M- this is the best part about this beer, so creamy and smooth. Not much carb but thats ok.

O- I like how drinkable this is, I just wish it had more of a roastyness and less sweet/bitterness. I hope some age will help that.

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

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: black as night with a nice 1 finger mocha head

smell: vanilla, chocolate, bourbon barrel, roasted malts,

taste: bitter chocolate, roasted malts, hints of vanilla,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, full body,

overall: an outstanding stout. glad I was at the right place and time to give this bad boy a try.

Cheers,
The CPJ

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

I got one of the last few at Bestway and Iam thankful to Roger for it.Poured into a snifter jet black with a one inch deep beige head atop.Aromas of chocolate and roasted nuts mixed with alcohol dipped dark fruit,very rich and appetizing.Thick and chewey in the mouth,it coats the mouth and glides down easily.Wow the complexity on the palate is something to savor,dark roast and chocolate with some nuttiness and even some faint wood smoke,the alcohol is big but not over bearing lending some sweetness to go along with some deep raisin notes.You really gotta give it to guys or gals who can craft a beer like this,so rich and lush but with so much complexity,kick ass that's all I can say about it.

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Photo of metter98
4.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On-tap at Thirsty Monk, Asheville, NC

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a patch of beige bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Strong aromas of vanilla are present in the nose along with notes of bourbon.
T: The taste has lots of flavors of bourbon and associated vanilla from the barrel aging process.
M: It feels full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation along with some warming from the alcohol.
O: This beer definitely tastes strong but does a good job hiding most of its alcohol.

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

12oz bottle from jaheussner (thank you!). Bottled 12/28/12. Served in a Sweetwater snifter.

Pours oil black with a thin quarter finger cap of mocha head. A few dots and veins of lace.

Smells of sweet vanilla, bourbon, chocolate and roasty malts. Very inviting.

The taste doesn't disappoint. Smooth, sweet boubon, oaky vanilla, dark chocolate, creamed coffee, dates/figs, leather and syrup. Booze is near non-existent. Phenominal depth and balance.

Smooth, creamy, medium heavy body yet lighter than expected. Nice light carbonation. The elixir coats the tongue and lingers for a long bourbon soaked, chocolate covered dates aftertaste.

Outstanding. I'm a fan of Bell's stouts and this is by far my favorite. Wonderful balance between the roasty, chocolatey malts and sweet barrel character. After getting shut out of all of the local stores supply, I'm very happy to have gotten to try this. Definately worth seeking out to try.

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

A: As you might expect with the style and the name, this beer is black as night. A tiny, dark head manages to appear for a few seconds before subsiding into a faint and incomplete ring around the glass.

S: Mellow bourbon, roasted malts, perhaps a hint of chocolate. Aroma really isn't that potent, but it is certainly appealing.

T: Just hit the bourbon barrel stout jackpot. Front end hits with a mellow, but firm, bourbon punch. The flavors radiate over the palate as I get whiskey, woody notes, and vanilla. The stout flavors come in on the finish with darkly roasted malts and hints at bitter chocolate.

M: Not as viscous as I would like, but not thin by any means. Soft and silky. Only slight alcohol warming. The ABV is well hidden.

O: Simply outstanding. This is certainly a top tier BBA stout. Hopefully we'll see this again from Bell's sooner rather than later.

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

Appearance: Its dark, its slightly carbonated. Nice dark head. Pretty typical of the style.

Smell: Smells to me like chocolate and some whiskey. Very chocolately.

Taste: Boom! Huge sweet chocolate and lots of fruits. I get a lot of cherry here, but its got that dark fruity taste that Expedition has. Tons of sweet chocolate and a nice bitterness to finish. I love the interaction between the chocolate and fruit. The bourbon is not overwhelming, and it finished with just a bit of nuttiness. Love how this tastes. Hugely different than I remember from the 2012 batch.

Mouthfeel: It's light but creamy. I feel the carbonation is perfect. Not as thick as some which I enjoy.

Overall: What an awesome experience. I just loved the taste and that fruit chocolate nuttiness going on. Crafted perfectly.

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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 broodog
4.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Black Note Stout Batch 11620 (I think, A little hard to read) Bottled 12/28/12 - Into a Bell's Tulip

Appearance - Pours jet black - 1 finger tan head which dissipates rather quickly into a ring. Lacing is nice

Smell- Bourbon, Coffee, roasted malt

Taste - Wow - In a class by itself. A rush of flavor. Bourbon followed by coffee, followed by roasted malt , molasses. Blend together perfectly. Alcohol is there, but not overwhelming.

Mouthfeel - Not as thick as some other BB stouts at this ABV. Feels great going down.

Overall - A wonderful experience. If you can get your hands on a few, try one now. Save a few for aging.

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

Thank you thank you to my special friend for this one...

Pours a pitch black wih some nice white head. Looks pretty. Well carbonated. Smells rich and chocolatey. Buttery bourbon and a nice roastiness. The aroma is top notch. Tastes Roasty. Lots of expo not so much double special cream. The taste is a bit bitter from the roast. Good solid mouthfeel. Well carbonated. Overall solid but a bit to roug around the edges.

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

This bottle thanks to genuinedisciple
12 oz bottle poured into Kuhnhenn tulip
Bottled on 12/28/12

Pour: Jet black with a very minimal tan head that dissipated almost instantly. Looks like your run of the mill big bourbon stout. No lacing but alcohol legs are visible.

Smell: Bourbon, char, oak, vanilla, some chocolate and coffee. Some dark fruits but its all about the bourbon with this one.

Taste: This is a big sweet, huge bourbon forward beer. There is oak and barrel notes throughout the entire taste profile. Vanilla and roast and I'm getting an earthy type character. Chocolate and faint coffee noted as well.

Mouthfeel: On the heavy side of medium and not like the other big bourbon aged stouts I have had being a bit thinner. It does coat the palate with it's sweet bourbon goodness and is creamy and silky.

Overall: A very good beer and of obvious high quality. Is it the best BA stout I have had, no but a damn fine beer. Not a beer to empty your cellar over or jump through hoops to get but if it is within reach, don't hesitate to grab it.

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Photo of jeonseh
4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Has this on tap at Tribes Alehouse.

A - Poured into a snifter, its a very, dark black beer that allows no light to get through. It has a small coffee colored head that stays strong along the edges

S - Notes of coffee, vanilla, dark chocolate, caramel malt and bourbon barrel spicyness. You definitely get the creamy sweetness of the double cream stout with the darker expedition favors. As I let it sit and warm up, the nose become much stronger and sweeter as the vanilla becomes more prominent

T - Initially, sweet vanilla, mocha chocolate, caramel and the heavier coffee favors come through. You definitely get the barrel aged spiciness in this one. One of the nice things about the barrel aged aspects of this is its blended in perfectly with the beer to add new levels of flavor. The spice from the bourbon really lingers on the tongue. As it warms up, the vanilla and sweetness really opens up.

MF - Velvety smooth allowing it to coat the tongue and mouth beautifully. This is where adding the double cream stout really stands out as that and the aging seem to have taken off some of Expedition's rougher edges. After the beer goes down, it leaves a nice tingle on the tongue to go with the bourbon flavors. This is the part of the beer that is just amazing.

O - A wonderful, well balanced beer by Bell's. It shows how well barrel aging can add to a beer's flavor without overpowering it. Definitely worth having and a great beer overall

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

Tap at Flying Saucer Charlotte NC. Thought I would have to get lucky on a trip home to Michigan to try this one.
Maybe Charlotte beer week actually has its usefulness??

Deep black, thin layer of darker tan head. Sticks to the glass just a bit.

Aroma, Well blended roast, chocolates, vanilla, peat, anise, coffee.

Taste, even better. Roast malt and anise blend seamlessly into oaky vanilla, caramel, milk chocolate, cocoa.

Slick full body, warming in the throat. Coats well with a near creamy carbonation. If this us anything like Expedition in bottle, it probably needs some time. On draft it is world class right now.
Had Double Cream at my wedding for a reason, this big barrel aged expedition blend ups the game 5 fold.
The list of beers I HAVE to try is getting nice and short. Not worth the effort to try most of them and I'm tired of the game.

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

On tap at the Beer Bistro. Joan Jett black pour with a mocha head. Wow, all kinds of bourbon in the nose. Creamy and smooth with lots of mellow bourbon, deep roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, and oak notes. I’ve been chasing this stout for a long time and was not disappointed. Thanks to Dan and Tom for meeting up with me. It’s nice to get to experience these beers with local members of the beer community.

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Photo of stephens101
4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A smallish, dark tan head is in a big ass hurry to get moving off this pitch black brew.

Smells quite rich and desert-like with prominent notes of milk chocolate, chocolate cake, black licorice and black cherries.

Taste starts with deep, sweet and bitter chocolate notes followed by a touch of vinegar, an uncertain candy sweetness, obvious oak, subtle earthy hops and medicinal cherries.

A warming alcohol cuts through a heavy, slightly syrupy body.

An ambitious and exceptionally flavorful beer that could've ran wild but keeps it all in check.

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

Big thanks to JLindros for sharing this bottle! Poured into a Kate the Great tulip.

A - Poured a deep dark brown nearly oil with a good half finger mocha head that fades to leave light clouds and a puffy halo. Solid, solid appearance for the high ABV.

S - Aromas of a very well done but classic aroma. Good bourbon notes here but not overwhelmingly so, nice barrel and vanilla much fainter than I've grown accustomed to. Chocolate and sweeter malts with the alcohol noticeable but very downplayed for the ABV.

T - Taste is just delicious. Sweet malts, sweet bourbon and barrel notes. Chocolate and sort sweet, good quality bourbon. I appreciate that. Nice faint alcohol notes, very well planned out beer with everything working in harmony.

M - Mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy, chewy but not boozy.

O - Overall this was a very good bourbon aged stout. Very very nice, wish I had my own 6 pack to enjoy! Well done!

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Photo of AJacob81
4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Promoted as a sideshow to the Hopslam firkin tapping at Hackney's, this of course was the first keg to blow. Glad I got some.

A - Pitch black, with a tightly packed cappuccino-colored head of about a finger that was retained surprisingly well, albeit without any significant lacing.

S - The bourbon asserts itself up front, but there are strong supporting RIS notes of roast, dark fruit, some chocolate and coffee. The bouquet opens up nicely as the beer warms, drawing you back pleasantly for each sip.

T - The nose is inverted, with the flavors of Expedition Stout hitting first, followed up nicely by the warming charred oak and booze of the bourbon barrel. Perfectly balanced, with a hint of sweetness in the finish that enhances rather than distracts.

M - Exquisitely smooth and velvety, the brilliant addition of Double Cream Stout shines through here. Soft and creamy, yet medium to full in body, this stout isn't as viscuous and chewy as some of its peers, but it sits on the palate wonderfully.

This is a beast of a bourbon barrel stout. Its various elements are in awesome harmony, and while it won't kick you in the face the way some of its ilk will (not that there's anything wrong with that), it makes a delightful late-winter companion, even in a ridiculously crowded bar.

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

Bought this from the brewery store yesterday; a little exited.

A- pours a deep black with no instant carbonation. Carbonation rises slowly and forms a ring for the duration.

S- smells like sweet fig. Next a touch of bourbon barrel. Ends with a faint smell of graham cracker and possibly licorice. Smells divine.

T- my favorite part. Very well balance between roast/bourbon/ And sweetness. Pleasantly smooth bourbon that rises to the nose aft swallowing. Not much heat at all.
There is a lingering licorice/fig flavor that pleasant.

M-a little sticky, but less than I would have expected. Perfect amount of carbonation. Washes over the tongue with a slight amount of carbonation but doesn't detract from the rich flavor of the beer.

O-dark and Bourbony. Smooth and pleasant to drink. No one flavor is overwhelming. Never pass this beer up.

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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 FUwolfpacker
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really happy that I was able to grab this one at a local store. Got 2 of the last 5. Bottled 12/28/12.

Poured from the bottle into a Westbrook tulip.

A: Pours black as oil and just as thick. Very thin tan head. Mild lacing.

S: Mostly vanilla and oak at the start. Maybe a little roastiness. Some mild coconut.

T: As you would expect, the vanilla, oaky, bourbon booziness is the first thing you taste. While it is prevalent, it isn't overwhelming like many of the bourbon barrel imperial stouts I've had. A nice sweetness but not cloying. Some mild warming in the chest but no burn. It's faint but there is some mild chocolate, roasted coffee, coconut, and dark fruit (raisins?) as the bourbon notes fade away. They become a little more prevalent as the beer warms. Roasted flavor and maybe some mild oak flavors stick around for a little while.

M: Very smooth, silky, creamy. Carbonation is mild but it is there.

O: This is a truly great bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. The bourbon character is there, but is not overwhelming. This makes it a pretty drinkable despite the 11.5% ABV. Definitely the best BBA stout I've had to this point. Worth making the effort to get if you haven't had it.

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Photo of jtingue
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 12/28/12. Poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance. Pitch black. Pours with a finger of hazelnut colored head. This dissipates quickly, but there is a nice ring around the top of the glass.

Smell. That now familiar bourbon aged smell permeates the nostrils: buttery, sweet and vanilla. An underlying layer is implies creamy milk chocolate. There is something about bourbon aging that give the smell a certain softness, a softness that expedition already has in its chocolate notes.

Taste. Starts out with a strong punch of bittersweet chocolate. Some vanilla tinged oaky sweetness permeates the whole experience. It occasionally becomes dominant, being manifested as a toffee like flavor. Other times it fades into the background, allowing the chocolate notes of the stouts to dominate.

Mouthfeel. Excellent creamy body is broken up just enough by tight carbonation.

I just had to review this one after having the first few sips. A very refined bourbon barrel aged beer. It gets to the level of KBS as far as balance goes, something that BCBS doesn't do for me.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,032 ratings.
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