Monday, August 17, 2015

Bell's Black Note Stout (2014 Vintage)

The Stats
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.40%
Current Ratings...
- Beer Advocate: 4.49/5 (Top 250: #37)
- RateBeer: 4.31/5 (Top 50: #10)

A blend of Bell's Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout, Bell's Black Note is a bourbon barrel aged monster that is one of Bell's highest rated, and most sought-after beers.

Pours completely jet black with no hints of dark brown or ruby red. Got half a finger (maybe) of tan/khaki head.

The bourbon is quite prominent on the aroma as is oak, cherry, dark chocolate, and a small amount of roasted coffee.

Tons of smooth, sweet bourbon on the taste. It has a combination of raisins, plums, cherries, coffee, roasted malts, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate that all mesh together beautifully. Huge oak from the barrel-aging and what I interpret as either some lactose or vanilla are in there too. Just imagine bourbon-spiked mocha and you've got Bell's Black Note. A comparable barrel-aged stout would be Goose Island Bourbon County. Frankly, it would be a neck and neck race for which one is better.

Mouthfeel is sublimely smooth and creamy. A better word would be "velvety" and it coats every part of your mouth. Carbonation is a lot more present than I had anticipated, but it is moving everything along. There's no way I would think this is 11.4% as it drinks far too easily bordering on dangerous. Some minor stickiness on the finish, but I think it adds to the rich bourbon and chocolate.

Black Note is a superb barrel-aged stout that excels at so many levels. Bourbon is dominating, but at the same time it is not overpowering or too hot for the mouth. It's sweet, but not cloying and the barrel has imparted charred oak and vanilla to a stout rich in coffee and chocolate with a creamy feel.


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