Bell's Bourbon Barrel Aged Cherry Stout | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

109 Reviews
Bell's Bourbon Barrel Aged Cherry StoutBell's Bourbon Barrel Aged Cherry Stout

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

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
American-style stout with tart Michigan cherries aged in bourbon barrels from various distilleries.

Added by mcallister on 07-21-2007

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Reviews: 109 | Ratings: 384
Photo of aforbes10
1.83/5  rDev -54.6%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Picked up a single bottle at the Bell's general store. Pours black with a short brown head. Laces like syrup, with not much bubble tracking. Smells, frankly, terrible. Awful, rotten fermented fruit in a garbage pail smell. Very buttery and gross smelling. Bourbon and cherries obvious on the nose too, but not in any way redeeming. Taste is an improvement on the smell. Cherry and chocolate stout flavor is a little fake-y. Bourbon obvious but not overwhelming. Quite muddled and not really all that good. A surprisingly poor effort form Bell's.

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Photo of PlinyTheYoungest
1.84/5  rDev -54.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Thanks to thedindaniel for sharing this with me. We were both excited and anxious to share it, and then we tasted it...

A- Besides there being no lacing the beer looks pretty good. A deep dark black with ruby edges (the ruby became more apparent going down the drain) and a nice thin khaki head.

S- Smells like a red wine with cherries. Or possibly like a Port or Sherry. Not a terrible smell but a bit off putting for me.

T- A rush of tart cherries that clings to the gums (thedindaniel's fiance enjoyed the faces I made while sipping). But the cherries are accompanied by a weird meaty quality. Slight hints of vanilla and bourbon but all overpowered by what tastes like to me, a ground beef cherry pie.

M- While I was only able to get through a few sips due to the aforementioned taste, the mouthfeel was really nice. Smooth and creamy with light bubbles coating the tongue.

D- Unfortunately this is the first beer I have ever poured down the drain. I used to think people were ridiculous for calling beers "drain pours", but thanks to this beer I now know exactly what they are talking about.

I'm shocked this beer has an A- on here, maybe some people are just into cherry meat pie.

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Photo of SacoDeToro
2.05/5  rDev -49.1%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Sampled two separate bottles in two sittings, both with the same results.

The beer poured a deep black with a brown head that had a reddish tinge.

The aroma of the beer was dominated by an awful butterscotch smell. Diacetyl all over the place. There were notes of roast, bourbon, and cherries in there, but I was nauseated just trying to get past this buttery mess.

The flavor of the beer had a lot of roast and cherry flavors with some bourbon, but the diacetyl was very prominent. It left a nasty buttery flavor in my mouth. A few small sips was all I could handle.

The mouthfeel was full along with the body. The carbonation was medium and appropriate for the style.

My threshold for diacetyl is very low. The large amounts in both bottles killed it for me. I was hoping the first bottle was a fluke, but unfortunately, it wasn't. I normally would've recused myself from rating a beer so poorly, but getting two consecutive bottles with the same issue signaled either a problem in the beer prior to bottling or an issue with the overall packaging.

I'm surprised how many reviews I've read where people have denoted strong butterscotch and butter flavors/aromas. This is a major flaw.

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Photo of thedindaniel
2.14/5  rDev -46.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Acquired via trade thanks to swnicholson and shared with Pliny the Youngest on the same night as some vintage Stone RIS.

A- Looked pretty good, had hints of a dark-reddish color underneath its dark, dark brown. Not much lacing, thin light brown head.

S- Pliny hit it on the spot for me saying this smelled like a cross between a Port wine or even a darker red, a Malbec for instance. Also picked up on vanilla, obviously from the bourbon barrel. This had my mind racing of the possibilities that can happen when you mix bourbon stouts with cherries! (oh my!)

T- The cherry juices overpowered the rest of this beer for me, which I thought would be impossible for a bourbon barrel stout. Guess not. Overly sweet, artificial tasting almost. The beer was, as another friend would say, "a mess". It seemed lost, nothing seemed to work for it.

M- I only managed a few sips before drain-pouring this, but one of the few things this beer had going for it was its mouth-feel. Nice and thick, perfectly carbonated.

D- Definition of a drain-pour. Didn't want to too. I was really looking forward to this, seeing as I traded for it (though it was just one of several bottles), but it wasn't worth my time.

Had to review this beer to hopefully drop the rating a bit. Thought I couldn't go wrong with barrel aged RIS from a good brewery like Bell's and had an A- here at BA. Perhaps past vintages weren't so heavy on the cherries? If it was toned WAY down, this could work. Otherwise, avoid!!!

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Photo of maximum12
2.35/5  rDev -41.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Pulled in a 10 oz. snifter of this at Whistle Binkie's after having a Batch 9000.

Pour is black. Smell is cherry & bourbon. So far, so good.

Bourbon Barred Aged Cherry Stout suffers from a weak base beer. The cherry is sharp & rather tart, which clashes sword-on-shield with the bourbon. Grunk. Frankly, that contrast just made me wince & wish I'd stuck with the 9000....really, really wished. Cherry, bourbon, tart, sweet malt. What hurts is the medicinal, Walgreen's cherry Generic Cough Syrup taste. Couldn't finish my glass & left at least a third in the glass.

Perhaps I was naive to think bourbon could help the base beer, or that I'd like it more than I had in the past, but that wasn't the case. This is simply not a good beer.

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Photo of brdc
2.52/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thanks hoppymeal for this one.
Small capped bottle, aged at least one year, poured into a snifter.

Nearly pitch black, with only a faint reddish highlight on the very edge. Thin tan head, no retention or lacing.
Aroma is reasonably well balanced, with some stout notes and just a hint of cherry tartness and bourbon.
The flavor, unfortunately, gets completely out of hand, and the coffee and chocolate just get buried under a barrage of cherries.
You gotta love cherries, because there is not much more left here.
One of the few Bells misses.

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Photo of rallison
2.57/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Just like SacoDeToro, I was hoping the first bottle I had was a fluke with the diacetyl. Not so much..

This beer looks nice, but the first smell is butterscotch with cherry and some chocolate mixed in. This is one of the most diacetyl-laden beers I have smelled.

The taste is decent given that you don't concentrate on the smell. Good, creamy imperial stout with nice cherry notes. However, I cannot get past the diacetyl on this beer.

Good mouthfeel - low to medium carbonation with a nice richness. Drinkability is low for me given the flaws.

Not recommended. Kill that diacetyl and you've got a pretty decent beer. As is, I've heard there are things called drains. I've also heard you can pour things into them. I wonder, what happens when you pour something like this into this new-fangled thing called a drain. Oh, right - order is restored in the universe.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
2.96/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bottle, batch 7777. Pours black with a small tan head. Aroma is heavy on the diacetyl and bourbon. Flavor is sweet and bourbony with diacetyl in the background and butterscotch in the finish. The cherry is much less pronounced than in the regular cherry stout--here it's just more of a sweetness. Sticky and a bit heavier than the regular too. I can't really say it's an improvement....not really a fan.
6/4/6/3/13 (3.2/5)

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Photo of brentk56
3.14/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Looks like soda, with a huge reddish-brown head that fizzes away completely leaving neither foam nor lace above the espresso brown colored liquid

Smell: Butterscotch diacetyl dominates but is joined by coffee, dark chocolate and some cherry juice

Taste: Opens with a load of butterscotch that is replaced, by mid-palate, with a more respectable blend of dark chocolate and tart cherry; after the swallow, the chocolate and cherry flavors are joined by coffee; tart cherry juice finish; the bourbon is very subtle but arrives at the very end

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with very little carbonation left after the first few minutes; warmth from the alcohol

Drinkability: Despite being marred by diacetyl and carbonation problems, this beer concept has some potential; maybe we will see it better executed another time

Thanks, hoppymeal, for the opportunity

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.19/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Trevor for this beer! Really excited to try this rarity from Bells!

Vintage 2008. Batch Number 7777; it was packaged on 11/10/08.

poured into oversized tulip.

Appearance: black bodied beer with less than one finger of a deep red and brown head. This beer really stains the beer glass. Head drops down to a ring around the glass really quickly.

Smell: Jet fuel and really tart cherries. I think it get some oak, but its really hard to pick out.

Taste: Okay, the nose scared me and I was thinking that this beer was way past its prime and was going to be a disaster. Its better tasting than I expected. Beer starts out with tart cherries. Little bit of oak, tobacco, and its got a sour note to it. I am guessing that the sour note is what happened to the bourbon notes from aging in the bottle for this long. The cherries notes are decent to me because they do not taste like cough syrup like most other cherry stouts do, but the beer is all cherries from start to finish. Where is the stout hiding at in this beer?

Mouthfeel: moderate bodied beer with low to moderate carbonation. The beer still has decent carbonation for its age. A little swishing of the beer in your mouth brings the beer back to life as far as the carbonation goes. This beer has no heat to it and its not syrupy or boozy.

Overall: Never drank this beer fresh, but I stumbled upon it in my travels with a fellow BA while driving up to the Founders KBS release last weekend. All things said...I think that this beer is past its prime. It was awesome to be given this oppurtunity to review the bottle! Thanks again for the beer Trevor!

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Photo of homebrew311
3.41/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears a dark brown with layer of light brown head. Smell features heavy cherry, bordering on artificial. Chocolate, brownies, and caramel come through. Bourbon character is tame. The taste starts with tart cherries and fizzles out from there. Sweet cocoa character comes next but falls off quickly. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy and thick. Overall, not a huge fan.

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Photo of Douglas88
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle shared by footbalm, thanks man. Pours a dark brown body with a thick light brown head. The aroma was perhaps the oddest thing I've ever smelled in a beer; buttery sweet candies, like butterscotch mixed with oak and some cherry. I must say for some time I couldn't get over that butterscotch, it's in the flavor too. After a bit I noticed more cherries, a sweet chcolate finish and a smooth rich body. Very nice, but also quite odd. I think that I'll try it again, but the butter/cheese flavor and aroma was way too much. Decadent for sure.

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Photo of Sean9689
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Spaulding for trading this to me @ DLD '09.
Poured from a 12oz bottle into 6oz goblet.
Batch 7777, 01/02/07.

A - Pours black with a fizzy reddish/tan head that quickly vanishes leaving just a few bubbles here and there on the top of the stout. No lacing on this, just a simple blackish color.

S - Lots of cherry right up front (duh!) with some oak and bourbon hints as well. Also, I detect some vanilla sweetness on the end.

T - Tart/sour cherries, oak. Not really that much bourbon but I do get some heat while breathing through my nose with my mouth closed. Nothing mind-blowing here, hmm.

M - Light-Medium on body, too light for me for this style of beer. Fizzy carbonation, which I really don't care for, but it's not so bad I can't stand it. Really wish this one was a little more rich, thick, and creamy.

D - Tough to find but I'm not worried, not something I'm really going to go crazy about if I cannot locate any additional bottles.

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Photo of akorsak
3.7/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz bottle courtesy of swnicholson in Black Booty 3.

A: The ale is pitch black, moonless midnight, with a cordovan brown colored head. That head swelled to almost two fingers before receding like a deflated moon bounce.

S: The ale smells like a butter rum dumdum, only thick with boozy potential. Vanilla is strong, matching the butter rum. Wild cherry lingers just below the surface but is not as strong as in the original.

T: The bourbon intensity from the nose settles into a groove in the taste, far more relaxed. The cherries manage to make themselves knwon, in fact they dominate the taste with a sour-sweet body. After the initial blast of tartness, butter rum sweetness emerges. While I've never come across butter rum in a bourbon barrel, the sweetness pairs nicely with the cherry. A medicinal sweetness follows the barrel and springs from the tartness. A nice twist on the original cherry stout.

M: The mouthfeel is pleasingly tart. The butter rum from the bourbon barrel is different but I think that it works in this ale.

D: The ale is a little too heavy to really crack into. This bottle is a nice nightcap.

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Photo of kasper
3.73/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours oily, few shades from pitch black. Short but creamy chocolate-colored head fades to a ring with globs of wet lacing.

S: Initially strong aromas of red wine, an acidic sourness from the oak, and underlying aromas of vanilla.

T: Expecting cherry, but more of the wine flavor. This is similar to SFTO Wine, only with a different body style. Somewhat astringent flavors of red wine and sour cherries with a noticeably acidic sourness that lingers on the finish along with a tad of dryness from the oak. The sour cherry/wine flavors overshadow most of the malt, which i cannot decipher.

M: Medium bodied, low carbonation, fairly smooth. A tad sticky.

D: This was apparently a one-off brew and I have no idea how this brew should taste fresh. It's fairly sour/tart so the flavors may have developed in the bottle. It's interesting and complex but I feel many of the "stout" characteristics are missing.

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Photo of brystmar
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by blatantdream, thanks!

Black body, tons of brown head atop the surface. Strong cherry aroma reminds me of a rouge. Bourbon is there too, though not as strong as expected.

Sharp, tart, biting cherries overwhelm the stout base initially. Balances better as it warms. Bourbon and chocolate soothe my throat after swallowing. This is interesting, though it's more Denise's thing than mine.

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Photo of Reagan1984
3.76/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big Thanks to Fiver29 for providing this in a recent trade. Thanks!!!

Pours with a luxurious thick active head. Creamy, dark tan and nice retention.. The beer is the darkest brown color there is... The head eventually fades to a ¼ thick cap on the beer.

The aroma is deep and of bourbon and cherry. (lots of insight there huh??) You get a sense that this may be a tart beer.... Does not smell artificial. Perhaps some vanilla tones.

Wow, tart is right.... My initial thought is that it needs a bit more sweetness for balance. A touch of cocoa powder at first, then the tart cherry flavor comes through. This settles back and melds with a dark roasted flavor... Finally giving way to a touch of bourbon and vanilla notes. I almost want to put in a ¼ teaspoon of sugar to balance it a touch. (I won't)

I do admit that this is a beer that grew on me as I worked my way through the glass.

Creamy mouth feel, but the tartness takes away from that a bit as you slightly pucker towards the end. Pretty thick bodied beer.

Fairly drinkable. Not sure it's really my cup of tea. The cherry is a bit much. I am not a sweet beer fan, but this one deserves just a touch more sweetness. This might be good over vanilla ice cream.

Very glad I had a chance to try this unique beer.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.77/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got a bottle of this from zapata, thanks man - and hey, where've you been? I'm tasting this side by side with Bell's regular Cherry Stout. Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into my shaker glass. Appears a dark brown, almost opaque color with around a finger or so of dark ecru foam. This smells amazing. Brings back memories of the cherry topping my mother used to make to go along with her cheese blintzes. Notes of sweet and tart cherries, vanilla, caramel, butterscotch and bourbon dominate the nose. Tastes of sour cherries, bourbon, tart cherry skin, butterscotch and molasses. A warming alcohol burn greets the throat with each sip. Moderate in body with medium carbonation and a dry, sour finish. It took me a while to sip my way through the entire bottle. This is a great pick for a nightcap beer.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black with a nice mocha head. Great retention and a thick collar.

Smell - Very oaky. Nice bourbon. Deep cherry. Kinda chocolatey.

Taste - The bourbon is the highlight. Nice oaky vanilla. Black bitter chocolate. Cherry flavor isn't as tart as regular.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Not very heavy or sweet. Well carbonated.

Overall - High quality beer. Covers up the parts of the base beer I don't love.

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Photo of pwoody11
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a pitch black with about half a finger brow colored head.

Aroma is strong and pleasant. I pick up the alcohol immediately. A second longer inhale brings out the cherry and an oak like scent.

Taste is a cherry chocolate coffee with a couple of shots of bourbon in it.

The drink is smooth, but a little too much heat. Definitely not one to gulp, but still an enjoyable brew. Glad I got to try it.

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Photo of tburkhart
3.82/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at the brewery awhile back and am just now getting around to drinking it.

Pours black. Light brown head. Not a whole lot else to these beer, but that's all this beer needed.

Smells of bourbon and chocolate. Cherries come through a bit, but not over barring.

Cherries come through strong in the taste and boy are they tart. I was hoping for a bit more bourbon flavor but all I got was cherries.

Very smoot and creamy mouthfeel.

Personally I could only drink 1 of these on occasion (not a huge cherry fan), but if you enjoy cherries you could sip on a few of these.

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Photo of JDizzle
3.83/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap @ the Eccentric Cafe. 2012 version

Looks really nice. Super dark black in the middle with light brown edges. Not much head to speak of.

It smells like a bourbon barrel aged stout. Not a whiff of cherries? Still, smells good.

I thought I would love this, but its not the case. The bourbon barrel is upfront and powerful the tart cherry hits in the middle, but keeps on lingering too long through the finish. Almost like an cherry that is not ripe. Kinda reminds me of Skoal cherry...

Not as thick and chewy as I thought it would be. Low carbs. Sour finish.

Glad I was able to try this one.

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Photo of prototypic
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Once again, thanks to hoppymeal for this one. You've sent me way too much great beer, man.

Appearance: It's very dark and looks onyx in color. No light is getting through at all. Very ominous. It's capped with a darker mocha colored head. It only reached a finger deep and dissipated with haste. Carbonation appears to be quite active.

Smell: The nose is very strong on buttered toffee initially. The more I stick with it, it becomes apparent that it's the predominant aroma. There's a nice bourbon scent that comes through at the secondary level. I don't know what to expect. It smells like it's more of a complementary element. I'm hoping that's the case. Not much cherry is appreciable on the nose. There's a little, but it's very faint. Smells like a healthy amount of roasted and chocolate malts were used. It smells good, but it's a little heavy on buttered toffee.

Taste: The flavor profile is kicked off with buttered toffee. It is a strong flavor and I'm not a huge fan of it. Roasted and chocolate malts give it a solid base that's a little sweet. A nice bourbon flavor creeps in and improves it quite a bit. It is more of a complementary player and plays that role nicely. Vanilla and light cherry are noted and add some quality depth and character. It's slightly boozy and runs a tad warm. It's not enough to offend me, but it is notable. Finishes sweet and warm.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's medium bodied and feels too thin. It'd be better with a fuller body. Carbonation is also a little high and buzzy. Drinkability is above average. The feel is alright and it's got a good flavor. But, the buttered toffee aspect will make one of these more than enough.

Barrel Aged Cherry Stout is good beer. It's a ways away from excellent beer. It's got a good, deep flavor. But, there's too much buttered toffee. If that'd could be eliminated or softened, this beer would be much better. Overall, I enjoyed it and am glad I had the opportunity. But, can't help but that about what could've been. Thanks, Derek.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle pour at the 2014 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest held at the Paso Robles Event Center in Paso Robles, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, bourbon, funk, and slight cherry aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa, cherry, and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a cherry presence that is slightly funky and sour all around.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ygtbsm94 for opening this bottle. Batch 7777 served in a Bruery tulip.

Pours a very dark brown with a minimal off white head. THe nose has a lot of the barrel character plus loads of cherries and a bit of vanilla. Bourbon and oak are highly prevalent. The bourbon dances with the cherry quite beautifully in the flavor department. Really nice interplay between all the flavors with the oak and vanilla playing a nice supporting role. Medium body and low carbonation. This one came onto my radar recently, and I was quite fortunate in having it poured right in front of me by the ever-generous Brad.

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Bell's Bourbon Barrel Aged Cherry Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.03 out of 5 based on 384 ratings.
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