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

BA SCORE
99
world-class
664 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:
664
Ratings:
4,268
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.22%
 
 
Wants:
2,723
Gots:
1,183
For Trade:
129
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 664 | Ratings: 4,268
Photo of AdmiralOzone
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours as dark as night, with a reddish brown head that dissipated rather quickly. Aroma and flavor are beautiful. I wish this beer was more readily available.

 168 characters

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

Thanks to fellow BA cvm4 for sending this bottle along in a trade. Enjoyed out of a 12 oz brown bottle with the vintage "2014" stamped on the front of the label. Poured into a 33 oz brandy snifter. Reviewing from notes after enjoying on 2/14/15.

Appearance (4.25) - A pour of moderate aggression yields a finger of caramel-brown foam that dissipates fairly quickly, leaving more of a ringlet around the edges and a spackling of lace on the sides of the glass. Beneath the head lies a dark walnut brown body with no light able to pass through except for a gentle glow of refraction right around the edges.

Smell (4.5) - The smell really makes a good impression, with notes of graham cracker, caramel and some molasses are the initial aroma, with trailing scents of chocolate and roasted malt close behind. There is a slight hint of astringent booziness, but it's faint and really only serves to cut through the sweeter aromas.

Taste (4.5) - Not quite as impressive as the aroma, but good enough that the difference is negligible, the taste isn't quite as sweet as what the smell suggested was to follow. Still notes of caramel and molasses, now complemented by vanilla and some oak, with a stronger presence from the alcohol that wasn't as prevalent in the smell. Again, bitterness comes in the form of roasted malt char and some cacao bittersweet characteristics.

Feel (4.0) - Body is on the slightly heavy side of medium, but still doesn't rise to the girth that I want to have in big imperial stouts like this one. I know the barrel-aging makes that difficult. Carbonation is low and soft, without any of the harshness that might cut through the decadence of the beer. Finish is semisweet.

Overall (4.25), a really nice barrel-aged stout and one that I would gladly drink again if it weren't pretty much a trade-only beer for me to access. However, I don't think I would go out of my way to trade for it again, as there are barrel-aged imperial stouts that are just as good, if not better, that I personally have an easier time getting my hands on.

 2,055 characters

Photo of TBonez477
4.74/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2012 bottle into snifter

A: Beautifully black and almost pours like motor oil. Barely any head to speak of.

S: Deep aroma of coffee, bitter chocolate and dark fruit. Finishes with alcohol even after 2 years of aging.

T: First sip gives way to the deep scents, revealing some tobacco and leather enveloping the dark fruit flavors. Barely any alcohol heat allowing the focus to remain on the beautiful sweet and bitter balance.

M: Heavy and thick on the palate, appropriately lightly carbonated.

O: The best way to sum up this beer is to explain that I audibly giggled after my first taste. While I would never proclaim to be the most seasoned beer enthusiast in this community (or even anywhere close) this is the best beer I've ever had, a statement I have never made before.

 781 characters

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

On tap at Birch.

A - Classic imperial stout look, great lacing, nice brown head, pitch black.

S - Very appealing smell, smoke, charcoal, bitter chocolate.

T - Bitter taste, smokey, pretty complex. Very substantial in abv taste. Very delicious.

M - Fairly creamy and full bodied.

O - Although it may not be one of the best beers around right now, it still earns its reputation as a superb quality beer. Have I had better lately? Maybe. But this is still excellent.

Oh, bullchips. This is awesome.

 501 characters

Photo of craftaholic
4.37/5  rDev -2.9%
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

Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 bottling poured into a small Great Lakes snifter. I just had a bottle of BCBS out of the cellar a few days ago so it will be pretty fresh in my mind for comparison. The beer pours out very, very dark, but not quite black. Carbonation is low (not uncommon and perfectly acceptable for a barrel-aged stout). I'm getting lots of dark fruit and barrel character on the nose instead of the roasty notes I expected. Plums, dark cherries, and some vanilla and bourbon notes. I also get some bittersweet chocolate notes.

The beer has a full body and a strong, complex flavor. Some sweet malt and a big hit of bourbon up front greet you first. The texture of the beer really enhances all this rich flavor. Some of the dark fruit slides in and out, but mostly it's toffee-like malt, toasted oak, and bourbon. You half expect the bourbon to intensify towards the back of the palate, but it maintains consistency of strength and never quite burns you. It lingers while the profile gradually tends toward dark chocolate and espresso, then keeps lingering on the finish after you swallow.

Very interesting beer. It has a lot of intense bourbon flavor, but never quite seems as hot as it threatens. It's much more like BCBS than KBS, in that it embraces the bourbon instead of coffee and chocolate. Spectacular beer that I hope I am fortunate enough to score again some day.

 1,366 characters

Photo of cfrances33
4.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Bell's Eccentric Cafe, served in a snifter.

Pour: Pitch black, with a half finger of deep khaki head. Nice legs, and this beer is a little more splashy than the pitch black body would tell you.

Smell: Really nice vanilla bourbon, with a distinct roastiness, and creamy milk chocolate. A touch of dark fruits.

Taste: Wow. Bourbon vanilla bomb up front. Nice sweet milk chocolate creaminess, which mixes with roasted malts. Creamy vanilla bourbon finishes.

Mouthfeel: Not too heavy, and just a touch of bourbon heat. Really nice carbonation, which play well with the creamy flavors.

Overall: Awesome beer, definitely looking forward to having this again.

 667 characters

Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.87/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

First off, let me say my thanks to Larry Bell for making this gem, and thanks to The Party Town for making this available for growler fills.
That being said, wow, what a treat! I’m a huge expedition fan, so this beer is what I’m all about. Pours a dark brown with a slight head that recedes quickly after pouring. This is possibly one of the best noses I’ve ever had come from a beer. I spent quite a bit of time sniffing this one. Smell is velvety bourbon, with notes of chocolate and espresso coffee. The taste is incredible. Think bourbon barrel aged Expedition with a very creamy and silky finish due to the Double Cream. This is the perfect combination, everything is working incredbily together. If bottled this would rival and give Kentucky Breakfast a run for its money. Very happy that I had the chance to enjoy this, but very sad as well, because the chances of coming across this rare gem again is small.

 919 characters

Photo of Treebs
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml C&C bottle served in a Deschutes tulip. Bottle # 272/1081. Huge thanks to Andrew (nasty31) for the share. This was the night cap to the pre-DLD tasting.

A: Pours a jet black with a light khaki head forming on the pour. It recedes slowly to a thin collar that leaves some soapy looking lace across the glass.

S: Bourbon up front in the nose and slowly the dark fruits and pure chocolate start to emerge. As the glass warms the sweeter notes of caramel to show and the roasted malts also get amplified.

T: The dark fruits and the bourbon flavors are up front with smooth oak and a nice combination of dark chocolate and sweet milk chocolate. The finish is roasty with a nice addition of caramel and vanilla from the barrel.

M: Smooth and sweet with a low carbonation and chewier body. There is a mild warmth on the back end of each sip.

O: I really got the nice dark fruit and dark chocolate flavors from the Expedition Stout and the creamy malt and milk chocolate flavors from the Double Cream Stout. Overall, combined with the barrel aging this was a very nice beer.

 1,078 characters

Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Yes, this is that good. I sampled this stout at the Valpo Brewfest on 09/29/2012. Poured into my pint glass, the stout was a chocolatey black color with only the slightest hint of a head. The initial aroma was nicely boozy, making it apparent that the stout slept several months in bourbon barrels. The malt in the aroma was present, but was overwhelmed not the bourbon. The initial taste was a sour chocolate with vanilla note and bitter coffee. The booziness lays a pleasingly warm backbone amid the chaos of chocolate, vanilla and coffee notes. The mouthfeel is not quite motor oil, but it is fairly close. Thankfully, the taste lingered several minutes. The aftertaste left a warming sensation that was sticky enough to linger in the back of the throat for several minutes. As far as barrel aged stouts go, this is near the top of the list.

 844 characters

Photo of younger35
4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this at Stub & Herbs on Darkness Eve. They had one hell of a stout lineup that night and between this brew and Bell's Rye Stout, they were the best. Drank from a small 7oz sampling glass. Taken from notes on phone.

Appearance- Pours a pitch ass black with basically no head, no cap or collar or lacing.
Smell- The first thing that jumps out at me is the immediate rush of vanilla that meets my nostrils. The oak is very noticeable but not the dominate nasal trait. Sort of boozy as well but plenty of Tootsie Roll milk chocolate and a raw cocoa nib scent. Maybe a touch of molasses and caramel as well.
Taste- Starts very slightly sweet with a browny batter like chocolaty fudge. The brew is very intense and sort of concentrated with plenty of oak and vanilla. I don't really get much of the Cream Stout as I think the wood and Expedition just dominate. Some light caramel and toffee sit in middle as the beer finishes with some light molasses and brown sugar. Like the nose, the alcohol is noticeable but not devastatingly harsh. Loads of vanilla and nuts in the warm finish.
Mouthfeel- Not the biggest feel in the world but considering all things involved not bad. Somewhere around medium with a light carbonation that you have to search for. Slick warming feel.
Drinkability- The beer is huge in flavor and smell but a bit lacking in the feel and looks department. But I could drink this thing all day. It's like drinking a chocolate covered peanut and caramel truffle. Really nice beer that I'm really glad I got to try. Keep up the good work John!

 1,558 characters

Photo of sukwonee
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for the trade Jim!!!

A: Black body with very little head

S: wow. Huge vanilla, bourbon, oak, dark fruits, some hops, coffee, chocolate,
5 stars here.

T: ok so not as good as it smells - still great. more bourbon notes over vanilla and oak than in the nose. alcohol heat is definitely there. I pick up brown sugar, caramel, coffee, chocolate, but not much dark fruit as in the nose.

M: It's syrupy alright but it's not the thickest stout I had or anything like that. as mentioned alcohol heat is there (dry).

O: Another excellent BA stout. Nothing crazy or anything but great BA stout. I love the fact that it comes in 12oz bottle now.

 648 characters

Photo of aleigator
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a viscous, black color, with a decent mohagony, bubbly head. It leaves back a thick, still bubbly lacing at the edge of the glass.

The nose reveals an astonishing balance between molasses, toffee, coconut, prunes and sweet milk chocolate on the one hand, and wooden, accentuating, slightly hot barrel qualities. The barrel is easily noteable on itself, while it hits the spot by supporting the malty aromas as well, in an outstanding, intriguing way.

Tastes earthier than the aromas revealed, with toasted, bready malts, accompanied by bakers chocolate and a decent amount of whipped cream. That creamy foundation then gets extended by cane sugar, big time toffee and molasses, which blend very well into the burning, wooden alcohol. Boozy Bourbon gets replaced by big chunks of wood, very chewy, with matured coffee beans, creating a pleasant balance, preventing this successfully from becoming too sweet and boozy.

The warmer the beer gets, the more present turns the Bourbon. It provides coconut and a hint of vanilla during the opening, while it becomes quite dominant, as the sweet malt qualities hit the tastebuds. Finishes with ash, scorched malts, slightly dry, while it remains its smooth, chocolate defined mouthfeel.

 1,236 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 Prager62
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A twelve ounce bottle packaged 11/03/2016 with the code PRN 16619 poured in a Bells snifter.

Look- Pours a dark brown revealing a couple of centimeters of light tan foam. It rapidly settles to a thin ring rimming the glass and no lacing is left behind.

Smell- Bourbon forward with sweet dark fruit, vanilla, tobacco and mild char.

Taste- Bourbon, figs, raisins, tobacco, a touch of vanilla and char. A prominent oak flavor is in the finish.

Feel- It's oily with a medium viscosity and a tad hot from the 11.2 abv.

Overall- A beer that I look forward to and I'm fortunate to have scored a few. A bourbon barrel forward stout with a slightly thin and hot feel. As a bourbon lover I enjoy it fresh, but I'm not opposed to cellaring a couple for a smoother alternative. It definitely ranks near the top of the class.

 824 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 chugalug06
4.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Damn dark black brew. Not overly thick. Caramel colored soapy head grows slowly. No lacing. Thin legs.

DEEP vanilla caramel aroma. Oaky. Robust. Nicely faded coffee. High heat burn, but it's damn nice.

Lots of caramel, vanilla, robust, strong aroma. Smooth, super drinkable. Low (perfect) carbonation. Sweetness is low; 70% chocolate. Bitterness is non-existent. Nearly perfect flavors. Slight rubber aftertaste on the very backend. Sweetness is perfect. Flavors are great!!! Prickly carbonation.

Yep, this one meets expectations. Knocked out of the park, flavors are exception. Feel could be slightly improved. Well blended. Complex. Highly recommended, hope to try again sometime.

 688 characters

Photo of russwbeck
4.37/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Churchkey in DC. The lone keg to make the DC/MD/VA area. Very lucky to get to try this.

A: Viscous black pour with a small brown head. What does stick around laces decently. 4

S: The aroma is extremely well balanced. Bourbon and some booze up front, but a lot of chocolate balance it out. Roastiness, I'm guessing coffee, hides in the shadows. Making it's presence known when you need it. 4.5

T: The taste follows the smell wonderfully. The bourbon is up front, but chocolate and booze quickly provide balance and body, before roasty coffee takes over the backend. The balance is there, the flavor profile develops nicely on the palate, and overall the taste is far above average. 4.5

MF: The body could have been a bit fuller, at times I believed it was too watery, still medium to heavy overall. Booze is noted, dry finish. 3.5

O Delicious, certainly lives up to the hype. Balance is enough to make it great. The bourbon is not too intrusive. I thought it was very drinkable. Happy to have had the chance to try this. 4.5

--

Desert at RFD Washington's Bell's Beer Dinner. Bell’s Black Note Stout paired with a Black Note Brownie with ice cream and caramel.

A: Motor oil black pour without much head at all. What was there was light brown. 4

S: Bourbon mainly with a ton of chocolate, some roasted malts and vanilla are coming out underneath. The aroma is rich and balanced nicely. Just on a different level. 4.5

T: My God this is good. And with this decedent brownie and ice cream...it’s a good thing I was sitting down. So much chocolate is in front of me. The integration of the bourbon and the stout is what really makes this great. 5

MF: Very heavy body, low carbonation. Just a perfect pairing with the brownie. Wish I could do this more often. 4.5

O: Extremely enjoyable. The perfect way to finish the dinner off. Rich and boozy. 5

 1,865 characters

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

Served on tap in a cervoise at the Great Taste of the Midwest. I have anticipated trying this for three years, so needless to say, I am excited.

Appearance: My pour is an ebony black color with a modest creamy tan head. As I would expect with the high ABV, the cap fades rather quickly and leaves just a few dots of lace on the glass.

Smell: The aroma does not jump out of the glass, but it is full and complex. Lots of roasted malt and chocolate fudge are noticeable, with coffee and cream, subdued bourbon notes, and some raisins or other dark fruits as well.

Taste: The blend here is just fantastic. It is difficult to describe the intricacy of the interaction of the flavors, but I will do my best. A light bourbon presence exists throughout, so each flavor melds in with that base. Full, deep, almost burnt roasted malt create the deepest bitterness and set the tone for the rest of the flavors. The taste lightens up with some creamy coffee notes. Still bitter, but light and creamy as well. From there, gooey fudge makes an appearance, sticking with a full creamy flavor. The bitter, creamy, and sweet flavors all work well with the bourbon to create different sensations. Some vanilla, oak, molasses, and anise add even further complexity.

Mouthfeel: Luxuriously thick and creamy. Using double cream stout really smooths out any rough edges in the feel. Lightly sticky sweet, a touch of oaky dryness toward the end. Creamy carbonation, a deceptive lack of alcohol presence, and a full body.

Overall: Wow, this is pretty incredible. This is definitely an artful blend of two already good beers. The result capitalizes on the strengths of both beers - creamy and roasty, with the perfect amount of bourbon to blend everything together. This was tapped right as the rain started to come down at GTMW, so it was easy to get several pours as long as you were willing to venture out into the rain. Worth every effort to get it, and I would recommend putting forth any effort necessary to try this beer.

 2,012 characters

Photo of Lemke10
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This pours a very dark brown/ black color with almost no head. The aroma is strong with bourbon and sweet robust malts. The taste is sweet, smooth and strong. This seems to be thinner in texture than most other bourbon barrel stout, but probably has the most unique taste that leaves a tart fruit after taste. A good, well made beer but to currently hold the #20 spot for best beer is a bit of a stretch.

 404 characters

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

Got this from Joe.. who brought it for me from some store. Almost $7 for a single bottle. Dated : 12/28/2012. This better be good.

Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a large snifter glass. About one finger thick dark tan almost shining brown colored head that settles slowly into a thin layer. Thick oily dark brown colored appearance while pouring. Darkest of black inside the glass. Truly is a black note. Calm inside the glass, heavy and viscous. Very good lacing on the sides with each sip.

Smell is fantastic. One of the best smelling Imperial Stout. A lot of chocolate and very apparent bourbon barrel aged notes. Some vanilla that is anticipated. No traces of alcohol. Extremely good burnt up malts and very slight amount of coffee. Too much bourbon heavy. Sweetness and maltiness is also present.

Taste is pretty much the reflection of the nose. Very smooth, lacking booze altogether. Typical Bourbon finish. Burnt up notes are low. Bourbon, wood, vanilla and chocolate in the flavor. Awesome taste overall. Low on the hops so bitterness is only mild. Dry and slightly burnt up finish.

Mouth feel is very much on the full and thick side. Drinks pretty easy, High on alcohol, but no real burning sensation or feel. No astringency of any kind. At 11.8% it drinks very smooth and won't let you feel anything. Provides good amount of warmth. Perfect for the snow season.

A lot of price for an excellent beer. Comes very near BCBS but does not quite deliver the extra value.

Style Rate: 4.5
Personal Rate: 4.5

 1,520 characters

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.41/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Michigan Craft Beer stand at Comerica Park, during the Tigers-Sox game. Was about to order something else, but the bartender told me they just put this one on. Score!

Poured into only the finest plastic cup. Nearly black, caramel around the edges. Carbonation is visible here, and there was only a thin head that didn't survive long. Chalk that one up to the serving vessel, I suppose.

Smells fantastic - rich chocolate, caramel, booze, bourbon, oak and milk/cream. Smells like a top class bourbon barrel imperial stout.

One hell of a tasty stout, and by a very wide margin the best - and strongest - beer I've ever had at a ball game. Despite the plethora of bourbon barrel stouts out there, I really never get tired of the stuff, and this one is no exception. Similar flavors as in the nose - robust whisky and cream notes, as with some nice vanilla and rich chocate-caramel. Damned tasty stuff.

Mouthfeel is a little thinner than I'd like, with zesty carbonation. Still, a creamy, silky beer.

Hats off to Bell's for this terrific stout, and to Comerica for putting this one on tap. Made my night!

 1,122 characters

Photo of mjtiernan
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Courtesy of Kzoobrew...thanks Kevin!

2012 vintage. 12oz bottle poured into a CBS snifter. Served near cellar temp (~55 deg).

A: Pours thick and black. Half a finger of tan head that didn’t hang around too long, leaving an oil slick behind. Decent ring of bubbles around the edge throughout. Prominent alcohol legs. Nothing extreme.

S: Not as much alcoholic bourbon as I expected. Cocoa nibs, molasses, licorice and some dark fruit are most noticeable. An additional tinge of sweetness that I can’t identify.

T: Tremendous. Chocolate, a little bitter roast coffee, some dark fruit, vanilla, a touch of caramel/toffee. The sweetness and bitterness are wonderfully balanced. The bourbon and barrel characteristics are there, but I can’t get over how integrated they are with the entire spectrum of flavors. Moderate warming alcohol in the finish.

M: Creamy, more creamy than most oily BA beers that I have tasted. Low-to-medium carb. Full-bodied. Finishes dry and alcoholic.

O: One of those rare beers that just gets everything right. Feels great, tastes great. A harmony of extreme flavors...which is difficult. Worthy of the attention it gets.

 1,154 characters

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

Really enjoyed getting to sample this one at the 30 tap party in Indy. Easily the best beer I was able to try... At least in my opinion.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown, near black and is opaque - no light having a chance of coming through; comes off the pour with no head and just a thin ring around the surface that is pretty much straight up tan; no presence of carbonation in the appearance.

Smell: Smells sweet, like a desert custard of some sort -- creme brulee?; slight presence of alcohol in the nose and some sweet maltiness that comes across like burnt sugar, very enticing overall...

Taste: Very solid mix of the creme brulee sweetness along with vanilla extract and a bit of an oaky woodiness to it; alcohol is definitely present but definitely closer to the bourbon flavor; slight hint of a mild roastiness in the back and even slighter hints of a semi-sweet chocolate. Very wonderful tasting beer.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, rich and creamy; minimal carbonation; leaves a thin but even coating throughout the mouth; mouth is definitely warmed as is the chest and throat from the higher ABV and presence of it being closer to bourbon.

Drinkability: Probably too good for a beer of this weight and ABV. It was definitely tasty, and if I was drinking it on a cold night, it would probably be even higher than waht I gave it (it's kind of hard to enjoy a double stout when it's almost 90 and humid out).

 1,414 characters

Photo of craytonic
4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Near perfect for the style.

Smell: Deliciousness? Bourbon, cream, molasses, brown sugar, dates, figs. Perfect integration of bourbon and cream, typically it doesn't work out.

Taste: Bourbon, cream, dark sweet chocolate, sweet molasses, brown sugar, oak, vanilla, figs and dates. A bit of a hot chocolate element, also marshmallows, almost like a smore. Wow this is good stuff.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly creamy, rich and smooth.

Drinkability: Best imperial stout I have ever tasted. This one lives up to the hype. Wish I had a barrel of this. This stuff kills bourbon-barrel and vanilla-bean dark lord. Only a few minor imperfections with the malt keep this from being fives across the board. If you see how I rate other beers of this style you will realize how good this one really is.

 797 characters

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.5 out of 5 based on 4,268 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