Bell’s Black Note Stout

Posted on 16. Aug, 2012 by in Beer Reviews


What we have here is one of the sought after beers of the last few years.  It was originally available on draft only and could only be seen a few times a year.  It was one of those beers you dream of having.  This year Bell’s decided to release this beer in bottles.  I believe the release was somewhere around 1,500 bottles.  They’ve also made it more available on draft.  I’ve seen a bunch of Beer Fests this year.  So what is this magic elixir.  Basically blend Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout and age it in Oak Bourbon Barrels.  There you have it.  I was lucky to land a bottle of this in a trade.  I don’t exactly remember what I traded but I do remember it being a rare beer that I gave up.  I’ve heard people call this beer the perfect balance of beer and barrel.  So I was psyched to give it a try.  We pulled this beer out to celebrate my one year anniversary with my fiance.

Black Note pours pitch black.  Doesn’t poor as heavy and thick as other huge stouts I’ve seen.  Head on this one is minimal.  Just a small lacing around the glass.  As soon as I popped this beer my nose was just stuck in the bottle.  It has a very nice big nose and honestly it’s the best part of this beer.  Bourbon is nice and big.  Oak, vanilla, milk chocolate, brown sugar, and roasted malt.  It’s just lovely.

Being that the smell was just so lovely the taste had to be the same!  Wrong.  Up front this beer is nice as it hits the palette.  Warming bourbon and oak melds into dark fruits, roastiness, and chocolate.  Then all of a sudden, mid palette the taste thins out and just dies.  Nothing more.  It stops in its tracks and crashes.  Nothing lingers.  It’s disappointing.

Mouthfeel is another disappointment.  It’s not horrible but I was really hoping for a more thick and full mouthfeel here.  Instead is medium bodied with a bit of thinness.

So how does a beer be a disappointment and still get an A in my book?  It’s a really good beer.  It’s a really good barrel aged beer.  It just doesn’t live up to the hype that has surrounded it for all these years.  There are better Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts out there that aren’t such a pain in the ass to get.

Found: Beer Trade
ABV%: 11.50%
Price: n/a
What the company says: 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.
Other beers to try from this brewery: Bell’s Hopslam, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
Other beers to try within the same style: Founder’s KBS, Deschutes The Abyss
Rating: A

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