Black Note Stout from Bell’s Brewery, Inc. is a blend of their Expedition Stout and Double Cream stout. It is then aged in retired bourbon barrels for months. I was lucky enough to try this beer on tap at Chappy’s Taproom. This beer was recently released in bottles in extremely limited quantities for the first time.
From the Bell’s website:
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.
Alcohol by Volume: 11.5%
Original Gravity: 1.112
Shelf Life: N/A
Well, what do you expect? It’s black as night, and sat under a mocha-colored head that dissipated quickly. There was no lacing, but the beer had some pretty apparent alcohol legs. There wasn’t any light coming through on this one. With a name like Black Note, would you expect anything else?
This is heavy on the bourbon in the nose, which brings notes of vanilla and toasted coconut. There is a lot of nice complexity that ranges from sweet to slightly boozy. A hefty amount of chocolate and licorice comes through, and brings a bit of coffee and roasted malt with it. This is the type of beer that you get full from by just smelling – there is a LOT going on!
First off, this beer is remarkably smooth. The bourbon is not as strong as it was on the nose, but it is definitely present. With it, the bourbon brings notes of vanilla, licorice, and toasted coconut come out. Surprisingly, the alcohol is very well hidden. The beer starts off milky sweet, with smooth caramel and toffee characteristics, then finishes with a nice hoppy bitterness. The bourbon lasts a long time after the swallow, making this beer have an absolutely amazing after taste.
This beer drinks like a pillow – it’s smooth! It has a velvet-creamy mouthfeel, sort of like melted chocolate. There isn’t much carbonation, which adds to the creaminess. The beer has a nice big body which makes it a sipper. The intense aftertaste lingers for an extremely long time.
This beer is incredible. It can hang with the big boy bourbon barrel aged brews and hold its ground. It’s a special beer from a brewery that is arguably one of the best brewers of stouts. I wouldn’t say that this is the barrel-aged stout to end all barrel-aged stouts, but it is absolutely incredible and worth seeking out.
SCORE: ★★★★ 4/5
This review can also be found at Snobby Beer.