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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
BA SCORE
4.54/5
World-Class
4,452 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): 11.20%

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:
#67
Reviews:
700
Ratings:
4,452
pDev:
7.93%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
2,709
Gots:
1,236
Trade:
130
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,452 |  Reviews: 700
Photo of XmnwildX12
4.25/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of mendvicdog
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%

Photo of russpowell
4.45/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an oily/effervescent ebony with one finger of caramel colored head. Good lacing, slight better than average head retention, effervescent through out

S: Dark fruit, carob, caramel, vanilla. Bourbon picks up once warm

T: Vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate, raisin & a kiss of Bourbon up front. More vanilla, Bourbon notes, fig & raisin & carob as this warms, slight smokeyness too. Finishes with dark fruit, vanilla, Bourbon, & chocolate

MF: Chewy, warming, decent carbonation for the style

Despite the style & abv, this went down fast. Every bit as good as I hoped

 580 characters

Photo of ZEB89
4.23/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.18/5  rDev -30%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Pours an inky, black body with a sustained, light sandy-beige head.

Smell: Char-hinting heavy roastiness with a crust of bitter dark chocolate, with lesser touches of dark fruit, vanilla-infused molasses, woodsiness and peppery alcohol.

Taste: Bulky roastiness, a bit ashen and chary and laden with booziness and soy. Rolls sweet to bitter (charred) with a salient, less-than-satisfying alcohol presence coupled with woody tannins. A bit of dark chocolate, licorice, gummy molasses and prune. The nose held a bit more promise, though the heavy char, soy and booze leave it lopsided and unbalanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Light carbonation.

Overall: Downright overhyped.

 691 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
4.46/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes.

A: Pours a very deep brown, practically black with a small tan/mocha colored head on top that forms a pretty tight cap. Decent read retention with thin lacing.

S: Dark chocolate upfront with some light roasted malt. Bourbon mixed with vanilla and a bit of brown sugar and molasses as well.

T: The first flavor I got was vanilla with dark chocolate, a great combination. The bourbon kicks in adding some wood, a bit of caramelized sugar, and some molasses. Faint dark fruit as well, cherries. Slight bitter/roast on the back end.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation, pretty smooth.

O: A very nice beer, understandable why it scores so hi. Very impressed and look forward to trying it again.

 722 characters

Photo of duceswild
4.21/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev -11.9%

Photo of mdfb79
4.65/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap tonight at Churchkey in Washington, DC. 10 oz. pours in snifters. This was one of those whales I never thought I'd get to try unless it came to a festival, so was pretty happy to get a few glasses of it tonight.

a - Pours a pitch black color with one inch of dark tan head and light carbonation evident. Head lasts for a few minutes and leaves some spotty lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of bourbon, oak, vanilla, roasted malts, sweet and bitter chocolate, and caramel malts. Really amazing nose with the bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate mixing wonderfully. Pretty perfect nose.

t - Tastes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, sweet chocolate sweet dark fruits, roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and cream. Again, really great here.

m - Medium to full body and low carbonation. Somewhat thicky and creamy, really great mouthfeel. No alchool heat really at all.

o - Overall a truely fantastic beer; reminds me, as well as others I was with, a lot of BCS Rare. Nose is wonderful and no real alcohol heat, I had no problem drinking 3 full glasses of this one. I put it on par with BCS Rare and the normal BCS, which are two of my favorite stouts. Would love to have it again sometime.

 1,184 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.77/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I cannot believe I was actually able to land this beer. Persistence pays off people! Much thanks to the wonderful man from Kentucky who grabbed me a small growler of this one earlier in the week and rushed it right down to me. Chilled down in the fridge and then immediatly decanted into a pint glass. This one was consumed on 06/26/2009.

The pour was as dark and inky black as one could possibly get. Amazing this thing looked like a black hole. A very small little puff of tan came up over the top and settled down very quickly leaving the top nearly bare with just a touch of lacing. The there was the aroma. Tons of molasses and bourbon that was laced with huge notes of vanilla and coffee. A hint of licorice maybe? Possibly dark fruit but simply amazing and intense but that was nothing compared to what I was in for when I took that first elusive sip. It was on now. Big. Full bodied, thoroughly coating and amazing flavor. Nearly the perfect balance of hot bourbon, rich milk chocolate and coffee all hit you up front. But as it warms it morphs on you, prune like flavors, hints of maybe some grapes like tartness overlay the vanilla from the barrel and make it a sublime finish that literally seemed to get sweeter with every sip.

Overall I am not gonna lie, this one kicked my butt! It was an supreme joy to drink, but it is strong. Taken in context though, I could have sipped on this at the end of the night, every night. It was simply divine. Much thanks again for getting to try this, it was worth the wait and one of the best tasting stouts I have ever come across.

 1,582 characters

Photo of Zaphog
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.42/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Bx Beer Depot. A keg of Hopslam and a keg of Black Note. Amazingly, the Hopslam kicked long before the Black Note, so I enjoyed three of these as I watched people go nuts for Hopslam.

Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Big khaki head. Not a particularly dark head, though. Decent retention. Oh yeah, it's black.

Smell - Huge barrel notes. Bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Roasted chocolate, but otherwise the stout is a touch lost in the barrel. Boozy, too.

Taste - Chocolate and a building tingle of bourbon. Vanilla flavor throughout. The chocolate comes back in the finish in a much more bitter manifestation. Less boozy in the finish that the smell would indicate. Really wonderful incorporation of barrel and stout.

Mouthfeel - Very creamy, which I assume is the Cream Stout. Boozy and chewy, but not too thick. Low carbonation, which is strange. Nearly flat.

Overall - It's damn good. I don't know how much separates the best BA stouts, but this one is quite nice. I'm happy not to have traded for it and rather just came and drank the equivalent of a 750 on tap. Will be back for more next year.

Edited based on drinking the hell out of this at the Michigan Summer Beer Festival.

 1,196 characters

Photo of orangesol
4.47/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden, Brass Rail and Shady McGrady's all in the same week. Also out of a growler at ffej of july...Yeah, this area does not suck.

A - Pours jet black with a nice one and a half finger tall mocha colored head leaving sticky streaks of lace down parts of the glass.

S - Smells of warm bourbon, milk chocolate, vanilla, dark roasted malt, brown sugar and quite a bit of lactic creaminess. Bourbon is strong initially but the other aroma's grow to help keep it in check.

T - 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. Finish is pretty sweet with plenty of boozy bourbon and some dark roast, lingering on the palate long after consumption.

M - Big, full body with a TON of sweet flavors and moderate carbonation. Smooth, boozy feel throughout the glass.

O - I have missed out on trying this one a few times in the past so I was really looking forward to trying it when I saw that it went on-tap. Now that I have had it 4-5 times in the span of a week I can say that it definitely lives up to its billing. Awesome beer for sure.

 1,226 characters

Photo of womencantsail
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%
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.

 398 characters

Photo of BEER88
4.71/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of dfhhead25
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of PA-Michigander
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%

Photo of MarkyMOD
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.63/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at Churchkey in D.C.

The beer is black with a thin beige head. After a few swirls of the snifter the head expands to 3/4 inch, leaving a thick sheet of lacing cascading down the snifter.

The aroma, while nice, is quite a bit weaker than expected, offering bourbon and roast with a hint of vanilla.

The flavor, on the other hand, is a thing of beauty. Bold bourbon presence throughout. Oily thick with a delicious roast character. This is indeed a world class beer and in my top tier of barrel aged imperial stouts. Not terribly complex, per se, but masterfully balanced and just superb.

The mouthfeel is ridiculously good, perhaps the best I have yet encountered in a beer of this ilk. The Double Cream Stout shows itself here. Creamy and full bodied, with alcohol content gracefully disguised.

Worthy of its overall A+ rating, this beer was sublime.

 865 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
4.18/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tumbler at Firkin.

Review #2800! Solidarity rolls on for me with a beer I've been looking forward to for a long time. This stuff pours a straight obsidian topped by a finger of dark brown foam. The nose comprises bourbon, toasted wood, caramel, and roasted malts. The taste brings in more of the same, along with a touch of dark chocolate syrup. The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a lightly chewy feel. Overall, a damn tasty stout. To me, the barrel is a bit overpowering compared to everything else, but it somehow doesn't go too far in this way. Good times, indeed.

 611 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
4.16/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 Bottle from BlowOffTube, thanks for the opportunity!
Solid black color with a quickly fleeting head. Chocolate, roast, molasses, vanilla, wood, light dark fruit, there's lots going on here and its all good. Rich sweet silky creamy thick body with light carbonation. Damn that's good, wish I had more!

 306 characters

Photo of thatoneguymike
4.25/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of stakem
4.22/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Draft served in a snifter. The brew pours black in color with a rich mocha head. The cap fades pretty fast leaving spotty patches of lace sticking to the glass.

The smell is vibrant with bourbon and barrel aging characteristics that smell of coconut, vanilla and lots of neutral oak. Roasty grain is present smelling of coffee and chocolate. Some tangy booze rounds things up.

The taste is tangy with bourbon booze quality right out the gate that doesnt diminish during the experience. Bitter unsweetened cocoa lingers in the mouth coupled with coffee, raw oak, vanilla, and some hints of caramel sweetness as it warms up.

This is a medium bodied brew with a light level of carbonation. It is quite a boozy sipper that is enjoyable. Fans of expedition stout will go crazy over this. Very well done and worth seeking out if it doesnt cost you a limb.

 852 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've always loved Expedition stout and since I've heard they did a barrel aged version I couldn't get away from wanting this beer. It's been a long journey and thanks to a local Pittsburgh distributor I finally came into contact with this one.

Pours a pitch black hue with creamy tan head floating above the head, let me tell you about this BA version of Expedition fine lacing left evenly around the chalice.

Aromatics dark malts charred oak, with vanilla and whiskey rich character...also has a toasted marshmallow note with booze that is much needed for a dark imperial stout called Black Note. The finish is full of caramelized dark sugars and it so nice and full of nearly burnt malts. Smells so good, it's amazing what a whiskey barrel can do to a stout, I'm glad New Holland tried to put whiskey into some stout barrels to see if the inverse were true. Each time I take a sniff I get hints of umami from soy sauce tainted meat and spicy notes of ginger impregnated in a marinade of chicken breast.

Flavor has milky creamy dark chocolate notes, flowing with heat of bourbon barrel aging effects, charred oak, and rich vanilla booze infused stout character. Dark fruit with plums and over ripened fruits that are soaked in alcohol infusing through the palate with each sip. In the backend I definitely get that meaty soy sauce, umami character that I've come to know and love salty/sweet and a bit of braised beef or grilled tuna approaches the palate. I believe either of these would be great pairings amongst this beverage.

Mouthfeel full bodied creamy texture seduces your palate, even slow bubbling carbonation what a great experience that is too be had by all lovers of great barrel aged stouts. Salty sweet combination reigns supreme on the palate and leaves me wanting more and more.

Overall, one of the best barrel aged creations I've ever had...light years ahead of the complexity of KBS and Arcadia Shipwrecked BBA beers. I will hold onto the rest of the six pack I have left.

 1,999 characters

Photo of dvmin98
4.36/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Beer rating: 4.54 out of 5 with 4,452 ratings
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