Bell’s Black Note Stout: 11.8% abv
Background: Bell’s Black Note Stout. This is a sought after beer in some parts, and for a moment, I lost the review for it. Silly mistake. Bell’s is a pretty big company, and as far as microbreweries goes, this one is an old one; Bell’s has been around since 1983. Back then, Bell’s was called the Kalamazoo Brewing Company and was founded by Larry Bell. In 1996, Bell’s changed its flagship summer beer’s name to Oberon and in 2005 Bell’s changed their name to Bell’s. What’s most impressive is Bell’s 500,000 barrel capacity as of last year, and the availability. Bell’s is available in 14 different states and the District of Columbia. This makes Bell’s huge, taking tons of money into the market. Now, Bell’s provides us with a unique stout offering. Black Note Stout combines the Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout and throws it in a refill bourbon cask to let it age. That’s the story behind this brewing beast, and now the results. Is it worth the high price tag?
Nose: Yeast, slight must, chocolate, cocoa, coffee, butterscotch, oatmeal, vanilla, rich caramel, raisons, oak, molasses, nutty, and slight malt influence
Arrival: Wood, bourbon notes late in arrival, roasted almonds, vanilla, lemon-lime citrus, bitter rind, spicy, coffee, cocoa, slightly hot
Body: Caramel, thin mouthfeel, wood, slight earthiness, bit of hops, touch of cinnamon, chocolate, hot spice, Rock N’ Rye soda, molasses
Finish: Caramel, wood, vanilla, lingering spice, butterscotch, dark cherry, sweet wheat flavors, malt and rye, medium length
Final Comments: This is a complex beer. There is no arguing with that. We enjoy the complexity of this beer, but there is a caveat. This beer is not dynamic. We don’t know what it is we are missing, but everything seems pretty flat, and there isn’t a great progression from the arrival to the finish. It is a dry and sweet beer, with rich, unique character to it. Our one reservation is that the beer doesn’t have a dynamic taste to it. We are nit-picking because this is an expensive, limited beer.
Why you’d buy it: You want to experience a bourbon-barrel aged beer that is complex and unique, and hard to get.
Why you wouldn’t: There are much more available bourbon-barrel aged stouts which have similar quality.