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

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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 109 | Ratings: 383
Photo of Phelps
4.14/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared by tlay10, this is Batch 7777, which means it was packaged Jan. 2, 2007.

Pours an inky sable. A cinnamon-colored head rises after a vigorous pour but fizzles away after a few seconds, leaving a thin, frothy ring.

In the nose: chocolate-dipped cherries and a heavy bourbon aroma of vanilla and toasted oak.

Lip smacking! There’s way more cherry tartness here than in the usual version. The flavor begins with sweet and tart Bing cherries, then blends into smooth chocolate. Barrel flavors arrive last: vanilla, toffee, oak. It’s a perfect blend of sweet and tart.

The medium-light body, peppered with lightly massaging bubbles, holds together very well as it moves. Alcohol is fairly noticeable in the nose, and the tartness stays nice and mild.

Good stuff. A smooth, complex, well-balanced blend that’s vastly superior to the standard Cherry Stout.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into Duvel Green tulip. Bottled January 2, 2007. Huge thanks to northernbrews for this great extra!

A: Pours an extremely dark brownish-red with a billowing, dense, dark brown head that slowly faded into a thick film leaving little lace.
S: Huge notes of sweet yet musty cherry pits and skins. Black cherries pretty much dominate the nose but there are some notes of soft bourbon. Smells almost like a fine port or sherry.
T: No matter how good a cherry stout is I always have a hard time convincing my brain that the stout is not infected. This one tastes fine though. I'm not really picking up much of the bourbon except maybe in the finish. For the most part the flavors are sweet, fruity and dry. The finish does have some notes of vanilla, and there is an overall damp woody quality to the brew.
M: Carbonation really froths up on the palate big time. The body is extremely airy from the carbonation and stays thick as the bubbles settle down. Once I let the beer sit for while and the bubbles have had a chance to settle this beer becomes a lot more drinkable.
O: Really enjoyable all around, especially after the carbonation died down. I could sip on this for days. I can't thank you enough for this awesome brew Jeff!

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Photo of Lunch
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by the legendary, ygtbsm94. Thanks Brad!

Batch # 7777 poured into a Great Lakes snifter (please don't judge me too much as I would have brought my Bell's tulip if I knew that this beer was going to be cracked). I always been a little leery of cherry in a stout, but Bell's is usually so solid that I went in with high hopes. Pours a very dark brown that is almost black with a decent amount of light tan head. The smell on this is great as the cherry does not overwhelm. I'm not sure if this is do to its age or not, but I am really enjoying the the dynamics going on between the cherry, bourbon and chocolate. Taste is rich with a silky and creamy mouthfeel. Loads of chocolate, cherry and bourbon with cheery being a bit in the background which I really enjoyed. Fairly thick with lower carbonation. I would definitely have another.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by ygtbsm94. Thanks Brad! I've been wanting to try this one for a couple years now.

Batch 7777.

The beer is a deep, dark brown with minimal head. The aroma brings a lot of barrel characteristics, with a subtle fruitiness from the cherries. The flavor is excellent, and right away I am impressed with the balance of the beer and cohesiveness of all the flavors. The cherries are not incredibly forward, though they are present. Instead, they play a supporting role and meld beautifully into the overall profile. The feel is smooth, with alcohol content quite subdued, likely do to four years of aging. Plenty of good carbonation still exists. Overall, a really tasty brew. I definitely recommend it.

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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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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle shared by normyk (I think) at a Jackie O's tasting. Thanks Rob! Another 2oz pour (the second review I'm making with such a small sample, but I really wanted to keep a note of it for the future).

It was dark black and opaque, tan head (i.e. looked like a stout). The nose was REALLY nice, boozy bourbony chocolate and sour cherries, man this smelled potent and rich. And just as intense in flavor too, tart cherries up front, rich tofee in the middle, lots of bourbon throughout.

I'd love to get a full bottle of this stuff, and I imagine I'd take my time going through it. This feels like a luxurious sipper.

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Photo of brew3crew
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Part of an epic tasting at jackie o's with brad and Co.

A-black in color with no head
S-nice blend of bourbon and cherry
T-very tart taste up front but a smooth bourbon finish. Very sweet at the end
M-medium bodied and smooth
O-very good. Age has done a lot for this

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Photo of craytonic
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Deep black mahogany pour with a dark-colored head

Smell: Tart cherry juice with some very faint oak, bourbon, and vanilla. It is subtle but enjoyable.

Taste: This one is mild but I like that you have to hunt for it - it is all there. Things don't have to be 110% in your face to be good. Tart cherry juice, fudge, fresh tobacco leafs, toffee, brown sugar, oak, vanilla, and bourbon.

Mouthfeel: A bit thin when judged against its contemporaries in this style, but not in a bad way.

Drinkability: Could have been a bomber! Great desert nightcap.

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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 BeerAndBourbon
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A. Black with small tan head and ruby/amber edges.

S. Lots of boozy bourbon with ample oak and vanilla.

T. Oak, vanilla, and some sour cherry come through in the taste. While it's boozy on the nose, it doesn't really come through as boozy on the tongue. Fairly subtle flavors for the style, but delectable.

M. Medium body with fairly high smooth carbonation.

D. Delicious. I'd definitely drink this if the opportunity arises again.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Dark with a bit of brown head

Smell- buttery bourbon with a hint of sour cherry

Taste- Sweet and bourbony... hints of sour cherry

Mouthfeel- A bit "slick" but thick and tasty... almost like a milkshake

Drinkability- definitely quite drinkable... could easily finish a full bottle

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine Vol. II Issue X:

Wow ... stout, bourbon and cherry all in one bottle. Our mouths are salivating before we even pop the cap.

Pours a tight and multi-sized, bubbled brown lace, which holds its own, nearly pitch-black in color. Smells of a really good but scary hunch punch (meaning booze and juice mixed together). The bourbon does come out a little bit further in the aroma with some vanilla and wood. Both the bourbon and tart cherry flavors backhand the taste buds a few times and the taste buds respond with, "Thank you, may I have another?" As soon as the palate becomes accustomed to the booze and fruit, it focuses in on the stout characteristic of char and cocoa powder, though some of that char could have come from the barrel, depending on freshness. Quick kiss of alcohol, though it stays somewhat tame for 8.5-percent ABV. Slight astringent wood tone in the drying finish.

A straight-up sipper here, even a 12-ounce bottle will take a good while to go through ... regardless of how you want to tackle this beer, it is a lot of fun to drink.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a deep pitch-black color stout with a small dirty brown foamy head with good retention and minimal lacing. Aroma of semi-sweet cherry juice with roasted malt notes and loads of black chocolate notes as well. Taste is also a nice balance mix between some semi-sweet cherry juice (taste like real cherry and not some fake syrup) with loads of black chocolate malt notes and a light dry roasted malt finish. Oak was not to apparent. Body is quite full with good carbonation for style with no apparent alcohol. I usually don't like so much sweetness in my stout but this one was interesting enough.

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Photo of radshoesbro
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this in a BIF from Tayner.

Pours a deep dark brown with edges that are cherry red. Interesting!

Smells of bourbon soaked wood and next to no cherry.

Tastes of bourbon and tart cherries. There is a delicious sourness that makes me almost wonder if it's a bad bottle, but I love it! A delicious alcohol warmth comes over me after a time. Quite wonderful.

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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 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 koopa
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle received as one of many generous extras from iceicebaby at an in person trade at the Bullfrog Frambozen release in June of 2009. Thanks Sean you are simply awesome!

Appearance: Pours opaque with a one finger mocha crown that shows little retention and a bit of lace.

Smell: Nice moderately toasted barrel, cherries blanketed over sweet malt, with milk chocolate notes and a hint of bourbon soaked vanilla as a backbone.

Taste: A touch vinous but the lightly medicinal cherry sweetness keeps it from getting too acidic. The lush sweet malt from the nose is much less prominent in the taste profile. The finish has nice lingering notes of wood, bourbon, and red wine.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and fairly well carbonated which really helps keep the red wine meets bourbon barrel flavor profile from lingering too long.

Drinkability: The flavor profile is bold and the mouthfeel really helps keep it drinkable. It would be nice to try this beer again fresh to see what the year of age did for this brew. I'd assume its more medicinal, sweet, and less vinous when it's fresh. I did catch this one before the vinous quality got to be domineering which is awesome.


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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 GbVDave
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into two small snifters. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

Batch # 7777

A: Pours pretty black with about one finger of dark mocha head. Retention was decent and some little specs of lace were left behind.

S: Big "oaky" red wine aroma along with some bright red cherry, roasty malt, and just a hint of bourbon in the finish.

T: Once again, large amounts of oaky red wine flavors with tart cherry, roasty malt, with barely any bourbon.

M: Big, tart, and dry. Tangy cherry and oaky red wine tannins.

D: Pretty good. Was there more bourbon in this when it was fresh? Alc. doesn't play a huge role in this.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.42/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of stubone (thanks Allen). Shared on 2/3/10.

A: The pour is a dark, dark brown (you could easily call it black) with a nice (but thin) tan head on top.

S: The nose is very interesting on this beer. There's the obvious stout components of chocolate, roasted malt and coffee, but the cherries provide a slight tartness to the nose that works amazingly well with the rich roasted and bourbon aromas.

T: The flavor profile is unlike any other beer I've had. The cherries are slightly tart (not sour), and interact in such an interesting with the chocolate, roasted malt, and bourbon.

M: The body is medium to full with a low level of carbonation.

D: This is really a different beer, but an absolutely delicious one. The cherries are not sour, but they do provide a touch of tartness to cut through the rich flavors of the base beer and the barrel characteristics.

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Photo of drgonzo3705
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice solid black with a small but ample head. Not any real lacing going on however.

S: Big whiff of chocolate and bourbon soaked cherries followed by some tobacco notes and a bit of an oaty bran aroma.

T: Chocolate and bourbon aromas fill my mouth followed by a bit of a tart cherry.

M: Nicely carbonated with a lighter medium body.

D: Not too shabby at all. Doubt I could drink a ton but a few bottles could be very enjoyable.

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Photo of mothman
3.92/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 7777

Poured into Darkness Snifter

Pours about 1/4 finger of mocha tan head that fades down to a ring quickly. Color is a pretty much straight forward black.

Aroma: Starts out with some fresh cherries, then the oak and vanilla come into play, and follows up with some chocolate, raisins, and molasses. Very nice aroma.

Taste: Hmm, the taste is a little off it seems. Something must not have aged that well here. Starts out with tart cherry juice, then a big amount of roasted malts with a vinegar taste comes out. Also has some chocolate and oak flavors with very subtle vanilla notes in the background. A very dry flavor.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy, with the slightest hint of heat. Pretty full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends with a tart cherry taste full of roasted malts.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with the taste of this one. It just wasn't what I expected it to be. It was good to get to try it, but not something I would go crazy to try again. It is a sipper and my 12 oz bottle may take a little bit to finish.

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Photo of alleykatking
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap today at Bell's.

A- Pours a very dark brown nearly black color. Holding this up to the light it doesn't let any light in at all. No head on the beer given to me. No lacing at all. I really didn't expect much with a ABV of 11%.

S- They served this in a snifter I have to say first. Upon smelling this all I picked up at first was a merlot aroma and nothing really much else. Once this warmed a little I picked up more tart cherry undertones. I really didn't pick out too much bourbon or even barrel qualities that I figured I would. Still all in all this is a very good smelling beer.

T- Big tart cherry upfront in this beer. It comes through more than in the taste than in the aroma. Right after that there is some chocolate sweetness that comes in and out with the cherry notes as well. Some hints of oak and bourbon in this but nothing too overpowering at all.

M- This had a heavy mouthfeel to it. The carbonation in this was around where it should be. The beer itself moves around the palate in a sluggish cherry slothlike state. Leaves hints of cherry and bourbon in the palate and in the aftertaste.

D- This beer is very drinkable but only in small doses. I would like to drink this a lot but alas with it sitting in at 11% I wouldn't be able to drink a whole lot.

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Photo of boatshoes
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle as an extra in a recent first time trade with Dyan. Thanks a bunch, excited about reviewing this one!

Appearance- Pours with a surprisingly massive and pillowy two finger brown head over a completely opaque black that doesn't let any light in. Head retains very well and settles down to about half a finger for awhile before finally diminishing to a fine layer over the surface of the beer. My New Belgium snifter keeps the carbonation surprisingly lively as well in the center of the brew, with beading surfacing throughout the drinking experience. Very nice looking.

Smell- Really like the nose on this one. Lots of huge notes of sweet malt, roastiness, caramel, and chocolate come through initially. I predominately notice the malt and chocolate tones before catching some astringent bite that suggests a little bit of the cherry and some booze showing through. Very sweet smelling but combines nicely with that little bit of bite in the nose as well to balance out.

Taste- Interesting. The bourbon certainly makes this a bit of a different animal from the normal cherry stout. Initally I get chocolate again, lots of sweet malts with a touch of roastiness, and some vanilla from the bourbon. However, these flavors are followed closely by a sharp bite of cherry and alcohol. The sharp bite is much more prominent in the taste than in the nose and competes a little bit with the sweeter, vanilla elements from the barrels. However, this competition isn't bad, just two sides of the the same coin in this beer. The flavors could use to meld a touch more, but they do somewhat as the beer warms. That being said, I really dig the combination of the cherry and the bourbon actually. A lot going on.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- For the unique style, drinkability is fairly high on this beer. The sharp bite of the cherry does well to take on the sweeter nature of bourbon and allows this brew to be much more drinkable than it might be otherwise. That being said, in terms of mouthfeel, I did find the alcohol to be somewhat prominent and the brew to be a bit on the thin side overall for a bourbon barrel aged stout. However, it was not so bad as to detract from the overall qualities of this beer.

Overall, a very interesting and unique beer to put through the bourbon barrels. The aging only served to make it more unique. Comes with my recommendation. Thanks again Dyan!

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Photo of gford217
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle courtesy of armchairboogie poured into a tulip.

Pours opaque black in the glass with a big bubbly mocha head that dissipates pretty quickly to a solid ring and leaves only patchy lacing.

The aroma is basically bourbon-soaked cherries dipped in chocolate. The cherries are slightly tart with lots of dark chocolate sweetness. The bourbon is not overpowering but definitely present.

The taste starts out with a big blast of tart and sweet cherries. It's definitely got more of a sour kick than the aroma. The backbone is sweet, dark roasted malts. There's only a hint of bourbon in the finish and the taste is definitely bigger on cherries than the aroma.

The mouthfeel is slick and medium to full-bodied with a soft carbonation that leaves the palate sticky with cherry sweetness with a hint of puckering tartness, though just a touch.

This is a very nice cherry stout that has plenty of body and stout character, but it's the cherries that really make the taste stand out. Another great stout from Bells.

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Bell's Bourbon Barrel Aged Cherry Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.03 out of 5 based on 383 ratings.
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