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 | website

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:
586
Ratings:
3,928
Avg:
4.5
pDev:
8.44%
 
 
Wants:
2,754
Gots:
1,017
For Trade:
90
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Reviews: 586 | Ratings: 3,928
Photo of weeare138
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to egajdzis for this...
Appears a near black with dark brown edges. The small tan cap fades into a little film and mild collar. Spotty streaks of lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of butter cream, lactose, bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, cocoa, dark chocolate...pretty intense, complex, and enticing.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a "smores" like taste (I see egajdzis took author rights for my original thoughts), along with creamy caramel standing out.
Mouthfeel is sweet up front, smooth, full of bourbon and cocoa. Delicious stuff. This is what I had hoped KBS was going to be.

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Photo of corby112
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with a half finger beige head that quickly settles into thin, lasting ring.  Spotty lacing and legs coat the glass.

Incredibly inviting nose with sweet and spicy bourbon barrel notes excellently integrated into the elements of the base beer.  Spicy whiskey/bourbon with toasted oak and vanilla.  Toasted coconut and vanilla notes really stand out along with the dry, earthy  oak presence.  Underneath, there's some luscious chocolate, licorice, vinous fruit, oatmeal and toast.  Smells amazing!!!

Viscous and full bodied with a strong bourbon presence that is perfectly integrated into the flavors of the base beer.  Some dry toasted oak and spicy bourbon along with smooth vanilla bean and roasted coconut.  Again, the toasted coconut flavor is realy prominent and the vanilla rounds out the hot booze.  Great bourbon flavor.  Underneath, there is a nice combination of sweet and roasted malt notes with hints of dark chocolate, burnt sugar, toast, oatmeal and coffee bean coutered by licorice and vinous fruits.  Slightly dry in the finish with a good amount of boozy heat and warmth in the chest.  Abv not masked very well but the base beer flavors aren't obliterated and it's still somewhat easy to drink.  Very nice.  

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Photo of JohnParadee
4.71/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Wow! Really enjoyed this stout. Poured from bottle into chilled pint glass. Deep, dark, black color. Virtually zero head, but nice beige/tan collar. Zillions of tiny bubbles coat the edges, but lacing is minimal and not at all sticky. Nose was subtle, but sexy -- bourbon, coffee, dark chocolate, and vanilla hints compete with one another. The palate is where this stout really displays it's showcase qualities -- bourbon and chocolate dominate. Reminds me of a less syrupy sweet version of BCBS and/or a less boozy version of Parabola. Roasted coffee and vanilla make appearances as well. Great finish and mouthfeel. If you don't love this stout, then you obviously have your head up your coo-loo.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.97/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

A: Poured black , sordove sluggish with a moderate dirty cap which leaves some good bubbles and lacing.

S: Chocolate, light whiff of licorice, coffee and a light booze sting

T: Big coffee upfront with chocolate, black licorice and roasted notes. Light addiions of dark fruit in the background. I felt any barrel was really backseat on this bottle but then again I had been consuming bookoo stouts. But really, I perceived more velvety stout qualities than I did barrel so that was a hit for me.

M: Full bodied, low to medium carbonation, yet I felt it was a bit thin going down. Its not as full or thick as I expected from the pour

O: A good beer but I have been drink a lot of Kalamazoo lately and I actually enjoy it over this Imperial Stout. Odd huh?

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle purchased at Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

This one pours dark and opaque, as I would expect given how light-repelling Expedition was. Small, mocha-colored head that recedes quickly, with a little bit of lacing. Surprisingly, there's a good bit of visible carbonation.

Smells strongly of dark fruits, with some dark chocolate, and mild, smooth bourbon.

The taste is similar, and pretty great. This is one of the dark fruity-est stouts I've ever had, just a ton of sweet, but earthy fruit flavors- currants, raisins, cherries, plums, etc. Some bitter dark chocolate, and subtle bourbon that folds in nicely with the other flavors.

Creamy, smooth moutfeel, despite the appearance, there's not much carbonation noted on the palate. Unfortunately, the body seems a bit thin for a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout- maybe I'm spoiled by other one's I've tried, but the body just doesn't quite stack up. A disappointing tick against a pretty damn good beer.

This is one is definitely one of the best BA stouts, but it just misses the top tier due to the slightly thin body. If it was thicker and more viscous, it would be near perfect. The dark fruit flavor in this is just amazing.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12/28/12 on bottle
A- This beer pours an inky black thick body with a deep tan head that covers ½ of the glass before fading to a thick ring.

S- The aroma during the pour is a rich black malt with full barrel oak aroma and some buttery graham cracker malt and molasses make up the finish.

T- The full roasted barley flavor is rich but mellow with a big leathery oak flavor to follow and a blend of paper straws and deep chocolate nougat finishing with a sherry hint. The chocolate malt lingers after each sip. There is also a chalky quality in the finish which is pleasant.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a slippery texture and a nice alcohol warmth but very little carbonation in the mouthfeel.

O- This is a nice full flavored stout with big barrel character and it stayed very mellow in the malt bitterness and had some nice chocolate malt flavors which I thought started to get covered by the big oak character.

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

Goose Island BCS tasting on 6/16/2012, thrown in for variety.

A: Very dark, with a dark brown head which recedes quickly.

S: Bourbon, molasses, chocolate, toasted nuts.

T: Caramel, honey, bourbon. Nice biscuit malt body.

M: Well carbonated, slightly oily, good long linger. Mouth coating, but fairly clean. Slight wood on the finish.

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Photo of akorsak
4.27/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Al's. Luckily this one lasted until I got back from vacation.

A: The stout is dark, a black combination of two already black beers. A crème colored head, pulling some of the darkness of the ale into its whiteness, is ample is size, coating the sides of the glass.

S: The nose is bourbon, tempered by the cream and imperial stout aromas. Coffee and roasted malts, chocolatey, have a sweetness that goes nicely with the vanilla from the barrel. Sweetness, not sugary, is the mark of the stout - rich and warming.

T: Sweet bourbon leads off, the vanilla and coconut pairing with wooden thickness. The wood sets up the stout flavors that follow. The Expedition adds coffee and burnt bread flavors - filling on their own. Lactic sweetness, thank you Double Cream, fills a void, softening up the Expedition's full-on assault. The bourbon remains throughout each sip, mingling with the stout. It returns for a heavy, boozy swansong at the finish, a strong dose of flavor that isn't too strong. The Expedition and bourbon go very nicely together.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth and full, delicious without too much booziness. One glass, allowed to warm, did the trick for me. A heck of a find for Al's and I'm glad that I snagged some - a delicious stout.

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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 Rhettroactive
4.27/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From tap to snifter on 1/10/12
*From notes

-- Thanks to the folks at RFD for hookin' me up with this epic want --

A: Black. Or damn close to it. Really, this is one dark glass of beer. Minimal head, with a faint, creamy collar.

S: Heavy whipping cream, aged wood, toasty brown sugar and luscious bourbon overwhelm my nostrils.

T: One of the things I love so very much about craft beer is the journey, where the brew leads your palate. Bell's Black Note, my friends, is this kind of beer. It begins rather mellow, it doesn't push the limits and extremes that others in the BA RIS world do. Rather, it's a delicate balancing act of whipping cream, rich chocolate, crushed vanilla bean, toasted tannin and incredibly smooth bourbon. There's also a pretty sizeable hop kick on the mid to finish.

M: Not overly viscous. It's quite mild and medium bodied, allowing the beer to almost flow through, without getting caught in the density of many in-style.

O: Bell's Black Note has easily been one of my top wants for years, and to have the opportunity to have a giant snifter of it at my leisure with good friends was an absolute pleasure. This really did remind me of a Charlie Parker number, as all you gotta do it sit back and let the master do their thing.

We did this side-by-side with BCBS '11, which in my opinion did this beer a disservice. A brew as special as this shouldn't be compared to what I feel is the best in class. Rather, it should stand on it's own. So yeah, BCBS may have packed the oomph that Black Note didn't, but on it's own, this delicate little number really is something special.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.26/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 bottle poured a motor oil/cola black body with similar viscosity and left minimal tan head. Aroma is heavy on the chocolate but also has striking scents of black cherries, figs, toffee, possible raisins, lactic/vanilla sweetness and has small notes of wood and booze. Unique beer as it is so thick and malty, bread notes even, but passes over tongue watery/slick smooth. This slickness contains chocolate notes (chocolate being the dominant taste profile), wood, lactic/vanilla sweetness, I guess in a way I'm saying beer has a chocolate milk vibe at times, with black cherry, raisins/figs, possible plum (runs the dark fruit gamut) tastes in the background. Wonderfully balanced beer and probably too sweet for some but one that I recommend to any beer drinker (not just stout drinkers).

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

draft at federal in Durham.

pours an opaque black with a small head. dark fruit, chocolately malts. dark fruits at the beginning, slight bourbon...not overwhelming at all. ABV absolutely undetectable and drinkablity is this beers #1 attribute. full bodied..very creamy. low carbonation

overall love this one.

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Photo of dar482
4.39/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer comes in black color with tinges of brown coming in through the light. A ring of tan head.

The aroma is bourbon, oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, hints of dark fruit (cherry and dried plums), coffee.

The flavor hits in the front of sweet and dark chocolate, molasses, and vanilla. There's hints of coconut and dark dried dark cherry and plum as well. Bourbon flavor hits throughout. The finish is of sweet roasted coffee and drying oak.

The mouthfeel is very full and bold at first and falls off reasonably quickly by the end of the beer.

This beer changes throughout with temperature, very much so compared to other bourbon barrel aged beers I have had. A very interesting beer to take an hour or so on.

In the end, slightly weak on the finish, thin, and quite overrated.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

355ml bottle poured into tulip 20/10/14, big thanks alfie for the bottle

A sits black in the glass with a deep cola edge, two fingers of mocha foam sits around for a couple sips before falling leaving just a couple dots of lace

S chocolate syrup, vanilla, bourbon, charred wood, some booze, sweetened coffee, chocolate covered raisins, prune, and a hint of smoke

T much more charred bourbon barrel in the mouth, darker coffee and a little licorice, a pumped up boozier version of the nose and it works well for me

M leaning towards full but thinner then expected, bubbles fluff it up a bit and a fair amount of heat on the way down, lots of roast lingering long and strong

O well rounded and very tasty if you don't mind intense boozy barrel, need to mellow out a bit but drinking well fresh

This needs some cellar time for sure, I could see this already great beer getting much better down the road, pretty stoked I have two more bottles Cheers alfie!!!

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Photo of pat61
5/5  rDev +11.1%

Had on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl. This is a big bourbon barrel aged stout that smells and tastes like a bourbon barrel.
It pours black as night with a dark tan creamy cap that rapidly dissipates. The beer has legs and lace.Tthe beer hits the palate with all the major flavor groups - big alcohol, bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, sherry, caramel and the flavors delightfully linger long.
Big and chewy, the beer is a delight.

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Photo of barczar
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque black with a quarter inch foamy brown head that dissipates into a ring around the rim.

Deep toasty, nutty notes are prominent early, with lots of chocolate and a not of booze, along with a hint of roast malt at the finish. Subtle dark fruit is present in the form of cherries and plums. Vanilla and oak surface late.

Flavor is sweet, chocolatey, and raisiny, with moderate roast character. Booze is evident in the finish, along with sweet cherries. Oak emerges as it warms.

Body is syrupy and velvety, with minimal carbonation and significant alcohol warmth.

Less roast character than most, and leaning toward the sweet side. Cherry is fairly dominant near the finish. A little hot, but tasty.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.23/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured between 2 Jack's Abby snifters, 2012 Vintage.

It poured dark brown with a wisp of an off white head that receded almost instantly. Smelled of whiskey/booze, hints of dark chocolate, dark fruits like raisin or prune, roasted malts in the background. Taste was interesting. A big punch of whiskey up front, then mellowed out into dark chocolate, and a bit of tang from the dark fruits. It's wonderful on the tongue. Finishes dry with a nice warming sensation. Makes you want to keep sipping this. I thought this tasted very similar to Blackout or BA Siberian. It's on the thinner side for a stout.

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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 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 avalon07
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and had a thick consistency. There was a small amount of creamy, tan-colored head that quickly dissipated. Fair lacing.

S: A big aroma of bourbon, dark fruit, and chocolate. Very enticing.

T: Tasted of bourbon, roasted malt, chocolate, dark fruit (plums, raisins), vanilla, and some coffee in the finish. A massive, assertive, muscular flavor. Extremely complex and flavorful.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a thick, chewy finish. Full-bodied.

O: Bell's seems to have a knack for making stouts (see Expedition and Java Stouts) and this one just adds to the pantheon. Not a brew for the faint of heart, Black Note is quite a robust beer and one of the best examples of the style.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tap pour at the Great Taste of the Midwest 2010. Been looking forward to trying this one for some time!

(A)- Pours a fairly thick pitch black color with a decent brown head that stuck around for awhile. Bits of lacing here and there too.

(S)- A rich chocolate and licorice aroma with bits of molasses and raisin. A good roasted profile behind that with light hints at a bread component.

(T)- Very similar to the smell. The chocolate in the smell combined with the licorice creates a light bitter yet sweet profile at the same time. Some molasses. The chocolate flavor is great in the background. Dynamic.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Thick, but also smooth which is great for the style. A good feel and profile with a light warmth going down.

(D)- A fascinating beer that they need to bottle and sell in the future; they would make a killing off of it! One of bells best and most unique. One of the highlights of the event.
**Update. Having had this quite a few times now on tap, I feel that this just gets better and better on my list of the better stouts out there in the market today. Because of this, I definitely think this deserves a bump up from my initial review in the overall rating (from an initial 4.5 overall rating).**

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Photo of TX-Badger
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours black like oil with plenty of nice rich khaki colored head. Lots of bourbon on the nose, some oak, cocoa, espresso, a hint of dark fruit on the back end; follows onto the palate. Finishes with roasted malt chocolate, and bourbon. Great imperial stout.

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Photo of rfgetz
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep, dark black with minimal head. Scent is filled with booze with touches of roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate, roasted nuts, dark dried fruit, vanilla. Taste is of young, fresh, high grade burbon backed with aggressive roast flavors, touch of sweet cream and vanilla, molasses, brown sugar, smoke. Full bodied, not quite oily, strong aftertaste. A great beer that is on eof the few booze bombs that hold up well. A sipper for sure.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to rjm217 for trading me this beer!

poured into a snifter glass. First beer that we drank at a small tasting with local BA buddies on 2/24/12. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance: dark black bodied beer with 2 fingers of medium khaki head that fades slowely to a small ring around the glass. Decent lacing in noted to the side of the glass. 4.5

Smell: you get the barrel right away, but its a nice smelling stout with decent balance. Chocolatey, bourbon, smoke, roast, and faint vanilla. 4.0

Taste: bourbon barrel right away just like the nose. Roasty, smokey almost like a charred wood note. Some vanilla and wood. Mild notes of chocolate and coffee. You also geta hint of black licorice. The aftertaste is most intriguing and unique because it has notes of cherries and smoke. All the flavors are really mild I wish this was a little more robust for a BA stout. 4.0

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with low carbonation. The beer is smooth with no booziness noted to the beer. Thin mouthfeel; this is what is the beer main downfall. Make the beer a little bit thicker! 3.5

Overall: Its an easy drinking barrel-aged stout by Bells. Nice complexity, but suffers on the mouthfeel. Just a nice smooth brew, but its almost too mellow. I was just a little bit dissapointed by this beer, I had way higher expections for this brew. 4.0

Original Score-3.98

09/04/12---

Got the oppirtunity to revisit this beer on draft at the olympic tavern tonite. It has changed alot since the last time I drank it. Its drinking much better now!

poured into a fancy looking goblet by the bartender at the olympic tavern, rockford, IL.

The biggest changes that I have noticed in this beer is the taste and mouthfeel.

It honestly has a bigger whiskey presence and has much more chocolate notes! Its really tasting magnificent. Not so much of a dissapointment anymore. This hangs with alot of the big names of BA stout! The mouthfeel is alot silkier and just plain wonderful. Just a touch of booze and a fantastic whiskey note, and its still quite drinkable for a BA stout. The barrel aging is shining right now!

New Score-4.35

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.02/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks, Chris!

Jet black, rather hysterically so, this beer is blacker than OA Dark Lord. There's a thin, tan head that recedes to a ring rather rapidly

The nose is a pretty excellent combination of licorice, molasses, bourbon and vanilla. I'm not picking up much Double Cream character. Dark chocolate, fudge and a touch of alcohol is present in the back. This mostly smells like what I'd expect BA Expedition to smell like.

Opens with plenty of licorice, molasses and vanilla, there's some bourbon character. Very, very intense, this is almost harsh. There's some dark chocolate mid palate but the finish is disappointing, with the flavors vanishing, leaving just a bitter licorice finish. Full in body with low carbonation, the flavors are great, but the intensity of the licorice is not much to my liking. While I did drink my 4oz, I'm glad I got to try this without having to give up the farm.

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Bell's Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
99 out of 100 based on 586 ratings.
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