Black Note - Vanilla
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

Black Note - VanillaBlack Note - Vanilla
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Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States
American Imperial Stout
Ranked #211
Ranked #575
4.42 | pDev: 6.33%
Apr 29, 2022
Jun 29, 2019
Black Note - VanillaBlack Note - Vanilla
Notes: A malty harmony of dark chocolate, espresso, and dried fruit notes, aged in freshly retired oak bourbon barrels. Aimed squarely at stout aficionados, Black note makes a grand statement about the art of the dark. This version is aged with Madagascar vanilla beans for a sweeter, creamier twist.
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Photo of chinchill
Reviewed by chinchill from South Carolina

4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
12 oz bottle with a bottling date of 19 November 2019 stamped on the back label. It was served in a Belgian snifter so 7th a full pour bringing out some rather thick liquid at the bottom of the bottle. In the glass this is opaque but has a thin ruby colored edge. The head is both thin and short lived.

The aroma provides an exquisite mix of bourbon, dark roasted grains, vanilla, oak, and chocolate. The same elements are found in the flavor along with creamy coffee. As noted on th tree bottle's label, this is a sweeter version of Black Note. I found it to be slightly sweeter than optimal.

Overall. Excellent, if not actually better than regular Black Note.
Apr 29, 2022
Photo of fujindemon74
Reviewed by fujindemon74 from Pennsylvania

4.78/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75
L- pitch black

S- subtle roast, barrel & vanilla notes pair well

T- vanilla note is there but not obnoxiously so, roast and barrel complement one another well, nothing cloying about it at all

F- a luxurious creamy medium mouthfeel

O- a finely crafted BA Imperial Stout with vanilla, would purchase again
Jan 01, 2022
Rated: 4.45 by chrismattlin from Ohio

Oct 09, 2021
Rated: 4.59 by dtm426 from Michigan

May 30, 2021
Rated: 4.48 by goleeoh from Michigan

Mar 04, 2021
Rated: 4.37 by Can_if_you_can from Minnesota

Feb 02, 2021
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Reviewed by NCSapiens from Indiana

4.26/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Pours black with a tin ring of tan head. Aroma is straight bourbon barrel oak and vanilla. The taste is an unhappy clash of bourbon barrel, vanilla, dry roasted malts, fig, raisin, burnt coffee, cocoa powder. Tastes good, but the mediocre bourbon barrel detracts from the subtle deliciousness of the dark fruits. Too many cooks in the kitchen in this one. The vanilla is in the bourbon barrel and on the finish, but not a dessert vanilla that was expected given the name of the beer. The creamy mouthfeel is the single best attribute. Overall it is very good beer worth having, but at the price point and in comparison to the original Black Note I can’t help but be slightly disappointed.
Dec 26, 2020
Rated: 4.74 by Blogjackets from Ohio

Dec 19, 2020
Rated: 4.24 by Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

Nov 28, 2020
Rated: 4.31 by Jcarriglio from Florida

Nov 22, 2020
Photo of bret27
Reviewed by bret27 from California

4.64/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5
2019 version thanks to NolaHopHead.
L: black, minimal dark brn head.
S: Chocolate, licorice, bourbon, vanilla.
T: roasty chocolate malt, vanilla, bourbon, oak. Not boozy at all actually.
F: fairly viscous and creamy.
Overall: very nice. No heat. Just nice and creamy without being overly sweet.
Nov 16, 2020
Photo of WunderLlama
Reviewed by WunderLlama from Massachusetts

4.44/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Received from foundersasap in bif#12

bottle poured into a teku . Black motor oil liquid capped by a pencil thick brown cap that quickly recedes to a dense creamy ring and a small island. Numerous streams of Tiny micro carbonation . Some lacings . Finally settles to a ring

this is a barrel aged stout . Fragrant waves of dark fruits, raisins , figs, molasses, bourbon , tobacco
And roast malts. I cover the glass with my hand and I get a whiff of dark chocolate. Bourbon !

The taste is bourbon and no heat from the alcohol. Roast malts, hint of char. Dark fruits . Fig. Raisins. Delicious

Smooth and creamy, chewy , velvety smooth . I think this beer has a high abv but it is well crafted and expertly hidden . More sweet that astringent but not overly sweet

I like this beer , tastes great . The mouthfeel is the best aspect of this beer followed by the taste and then aroma
Oct 11, 2020
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Reviewed by CraftFan5 from New Jersey

4.06/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
4 October 2020 - Beer #191

Price: $8.99 at Food Emporium on 8th Avenue in Manhattan

Appearance: 5 - all black, and lovely, but small, dark head. Nice lacing.

Nose: 4 - mostly stout, not much vanilla. Very malty.

Taste: 4 - not much vanilla, if any. Not much barrel, if any. Just a basic, decent imperial stout.

Mouth: 4 - thickens as you chew, but somewhat dead. Maybe a bit of a tingle.

Overall: 4 - doesn't hold a candle to the OG Black Note, but certainly not bad.

Oct 07, 2020
Photo of hoptheology
Reviewed by hoptheology from California

4.47/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5
12 oz bottle from Jay, dated 11/18/2019.
Into Boulevard smokestack snifter.

Pours a really wonderful silken black with a tall creamy cap of beige, 2 fingers, receding to 1/2 in time. No lacing, but the head looks marvelous.

The stout aroma is just impeccable. It's like the perfect imperial stout aroma. Tons of heavy silky roasted malt, dark roasted coffee, tons of vanilla, hints of tobacco, leather, and a little bit of hazelnut. It's just fantastic.

Flavor is of roasted malt, caramel, caramel malt, a little bit of vanilla, a little bit of burnt coffee, some wet bourbon oak, a touch of smoke, and a little bit of ash and more caramel.

The first thing I noticed when I put this to my lips was how unbelievably creamy this beer is. It's just otherworldly. So soft, so supple, and the roastiness comes in and gives it a nice acidic bite. Alcohol heat is surprisingly hidden for a beer of this calibre.

Overall, an absolutely wonderful beer that I'd be glad to find again. I have my reservations about Bell's publicity stunts, but I really do enjoy offerings like this and would like to think I'd seek it out again.
Aug 16, 2020
Rated: 4.83 by TP2MSU from Michigan

Aug 16, 2020
Rated: 4.64 by GreatStoutman from Texas

Aug 14, 2020
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Reviewed by beersampler6 from Michigan

4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Delicious vanilla-hinted imperial stout. 11/19/19 date printed on bottle. Pours a slightly thin dark black opaque color with a little tan head and spotty rings of lingering lacing. Smells of dark roast coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, caramel, malt, fainter nuttiness, a little fig. Taste follows the nose - the vanilla was quite light and subtle but I really enjoyed it. Smooth, sticky mouthfeel, just a little coating of the palate, good carbonation. A great beer.
Aug 13, 2020
Rated: 4.31 by szmnnl99 from Michigan

Jul 25, 2020
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Reviewed by ryan1788a5 from Massachusetts

3.9/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75
12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pitch black with a half inch of beige head that falls to a thin slip shortly. Tiny dots and patches of lacing.

S: A blanket of creamy vanilla is front and center, and tempers notes of char, chocolate, and espresso. Malted milk balls come to mind. Touch of smoke. Undercurrents of sweet bourbon and oak have a soft touch.

T: Huge pull of vanilla right up front. It comes across as very bold extract-y, actually. Bitter espresso and dark chocolate follow. Milk chocolate too. Slight interjecting hop bitterness is green and oily. More coffee, roast, and smoke. The barrel asserts itself on the back end, bringing oak, sweet and corny bourbon, and barrel char. This is front and center in the finish.

M: Full, rich, and thick in body. Velvety smooth and coating. Prickling carbonation. Subtly soothing alcohol warmth.

O: Not a bad drink, but I’d rather have it without the vanilla than with it, or at least dialed back a bit. It’s a little too potent and extract-y to me, to the point that it distracts more than it adds.
Jul 14, 2020
Rated: 4.45 by warnerry from Michigan

Jul 12, 2020
Rated: 4.73 by MJSFS from Florida

Jul 10, 2020
Rated: 4.75 by JamesLeung from Florida

Jul 08, 2020
Rated: 4.55 by Giggy from Michigan

Jul 06, 2020
Photo of Eyedoc27
Rated by Eyedoc27 from Illinois

4.49/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
I didn’t get much vanilla out of this one but still doesn’t disappoint
Jun 29, 2020
Photo of maximum12
Reviewed by maximum12 from Minnesota

3.4/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3
Found two 12 oz. bottles of this stuff & the first one tasted like chugging vanilla extract, so let this one rest hoping beer appears. Let’s see.

It’s black, as any good stout would be, with a few bubbles floating in the liquid. The nose is strong roast with a background of vanilla & cocoa. Not bad.

Vanilla Black Note – the vaniller in this has died back like Minnesota mosquitoes in January. What’s left is a rather uninspiring stout. Big dark roast echoing the nose with 22% of the vanilla of Black Note past & a soft, unfocused amount of whiskey. Boozy. Thick. Half a bottle is just fine.

Big step down from the base beer, either fresh or with several months on it. Pretty good.
Jun 20, 2020
Rated: 3.97 by fehrminator from North Carolina

Jun 13, 2020
Photo of mothman
Reviewed by mothman from Minnesota

3/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3
2019 bottle. Tan head, black color.

Tastes like recent batches of black note. Bad whiskey, burnt coffee, cocoa and cocoa powder. No vanilla. Overly roasted. Black note has gone down hill since the first few batches. This is on par with recent batches and the vanilla didn’t even help.
Jun 07, 2020
Photo of superspak
Reviewed by superspak from North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
9600th review! 12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 11/19/2019. Pours dense pitch black color wit ha 1-2 finger dense and fluffy tan head with fantastic retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice dense spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Fantastic appearance. Aromas of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, cream, toffee, bourbon, toasted oak, roasted nuts, and dark bread/crust; with lighter notes of coconut, licorice, molasses, raisin, prune, fig, date, leather, tobacco, smoke, char, herbal, grass, pepper, and yeast/roast/oaky earthiness. Minimal booze in the aromas as it warms. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malts, vanilla, bourbon barrel, and light earthy hop/fruity yeast notes; with big strength. Taste of huge milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, cream, toffee, bourbon, toasted oak, roasted nuts, and dark bread/crust; with lighter notes of coconut, licorice, molasses, raisin, prune, fig, date, leather, tobacco, smoke, char, herbal, grass, pepper, and yeast/roast/oaky earthiness. Mild herbal, woody, grassy, peppery, roast, charred bitterness; and bourbon/oak tannin spiciness on the finish. Lingering notes of milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, cream, toffee, bourbon, toasted oak, roasted nuts, dark bread/crust, licorice, molasses, dark fruit, leather, tobacco, smoke, char, herbal, grass, pepper, and yeast/roast/oaky earthiness on the finish for a while. Amazing complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malts, vanilla, bourbon barrel, and light earthy hop/fruity yeast flavors; with a fantastic roast/hop bitter/sweet balance; and no cloying/acrid/astringent flavors after the finish. Lightly increasing dryness from lingering bitter/tannic spiciness. Medium carbonation and full body; with a very smooth, creamy/silky/velvety/bready and lightly slick/sticky/chalky/tannic mouthfeel that is fantastic. Mild increasing warmth of 11.5%, with minimal lingering barrel booziness after the finish. Overall this is an amazing barrel aged imperial stout. All around amazing complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malts, vanilla, bourbon barrel, and light earthy hop/fruity yeast flavors; very smooth and dangerously easy to drink for the ABV, with the mildly bitter/drying finish; amazingly soft/silky feel. Amazing balance of super rich malts, vanilla, and bourbon barrel presence/integration; with solid earthy hops, and restrained fruity yeast. Not overly sweet/heavy from lingering dryness. A highly enjoyable offering, and amazing style example as expected of the brewery. Did not prefer over the base beer at all.
Jun 05, 2020
Rated: 4.5 by smartassboiler from Illinois

May 19, 2020
Photo of Jas0921
Reviewed by Jas0921 from Florida

3.91/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4
This is definitely a big beer.... huuuuge presence of dark chocolate and faint coffee bitterness.... just very little bourbon or vanilla. Not what I hoped for at all...
May 17, 2020
Photo of fountainofyouth
Reviewed by fountainofyouth from District of Columbia

4.62/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
2019 bottling, poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Black as night. Pours a small light brown head that rapidly disappears.

Smell: Wow, like a fresh bar of dark chocolate and some sweet bourbon. Delicious.

Taste: Very tasty. Roasted barley, semisweet chocolate, hints of vanilla, surprisingly light oak character. Strong flavor but not overpowering.

Feel: Medium-bodied, light carb and very creamy. Smooth finish.

Overall, an excellent stout nearly on par with the best. This could have used just a little more time in the barrel to bring everything fully together.
May 17, 2020
Photo of Colenso
Reviewed by Colenso from Massachusetts

4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
2019 Bourbon Barrel-aged brew poured from 12oz bottle to wine glass at RT

A: Dark brown, slight reddish hue against the light, no head retention and very light lacing of the glass with fine structure in the carbonation.
S: Boozy barrel, dark fruit, raisin, fruitcake, plums, nice mix of dark fruit and sweetness
T: Alcohol warming, smooth barrel flavor, roasted notes, and mild coffee perk. Well-balanced at 11%.
M: Moderate, not thin, not chewy, very subtle effervescence. Smooth, almost creamy, on the palette.
O: A fine stout, very smooth to drink with rich barrel warming and dark fruit. The vanilla flavor was a little hard to discern, but may be reflected in the smoothness of the mouthfeel. Definitely try!
May 16, 2020
Rated: 4.6 by XmnwildX12 from Minnesota

May 15, 2020
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Reviewed by TreyIsWilson from Michigan

4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
A - Pours pitch black with a one finger tan head. The head dissapates quickly leaving a nice amount of soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is dark chocolate, roasted malts and oak.

T - The taste is dark chocolate, black coffee, roasted malts, vanilla, oak and bourbon.

M - Medium body with medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a soft dry finish.

O - Really nice Black Note variant. The vanilla is light and adds a touch of creaminess to the base beer. I still prefer the original.
May 14, 2020
Rated: 4.35 by jakea from Wisconsin

Apr 25, 2020
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Reviewed by kevanb from Illinois

4.4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
12oz bottle, packaged on 11.19.2019, poured into a 14oz snifter glass.

The beer pours a deep jet black color, thick and viscous with a finger of khaki head that has moderate retention and yields a few spots of lacing and a nice layer of film around the circumference of the glass. The aroma is lovely, nice vanilla bean, marshmallow sweetness, assertive barrel character, strong roasted chocolate, toasted dark grains, a hint of coffee, coconut and brown sugar. The flavors are good, nice chocolate and barrel character, very oaky with a great roast and charred character, toasted coconut, rich grains, smooth vanilla bean, light marshmallow, a bit of lactose creaminess with a touch of stone fruits at the finish. The mouthfeel is good, coating and creamy, heavy and thick body with a smooth finish that is lightly dry and has a touch of boozy heat.

Verdict: A very good barrel aged stout from Bell's. Tons of vanilla character without being overly sweet and saccharine and there is a great interplay with the barrel character, especially as it warms and the roast character of Double Cream and Expedition stouts aren't lost on this, which adds further depth and character.
Apr 24, 2020
Rated: 4.63 by OtisCampbell007 from Tennessee

Apr 12, 2020
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Reviewed by stortore from Illinois

4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
12 ounce bottle into a snifter. Bottled 11/19/19, had 1/2/20.

Pours near black and opaque, thick looking, with a half inch quickly dissipating head and light, soapy cling. Aromas of vanilla, chocolate, raisins, oak, some bourbon, malt, some cocoa, a little marshmallow. The flavor also begins with potent vanilla, then bourbon, roasted malt, chocolate, raisins, light caramel, a hint of tobacco. Smooth, a solid full body, well carbonated.

The vanilla is a great addition, but the barrels seem to have less of a presence in the flavor, and the body feels a little lighter than the original. Still, this is really good and very enjoyable. Well worth a purchase.
Apr 02, 2020
Rated: 4.42 by Zazzi82 from Tennessee

Apr 01, 2020
Rated: 4.47 by Coronaeus from Canada (ON)

Mar 30, 2020
Black Note - Vanilla from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 123 ratings