Category Archives: Bell’s

Review of Bell’s Black Note Stout (2012)

How’s it going everyone?  Well I hope.  For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be trying the 2012 edition of the Black Note Stout produced by Bell’s Brewery, Inc. based in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

I’ve heard some really nice things about this brew, so I’m really interested in seeing how it is.

From the website,, I found this description.

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. 

Sounds good enough to me.  Let’s pour.


This beer came in a 12 oz. bottle and it had an ABV of 11.8%.

It discharged black.  Absolutely no highlights shown through even when held toward a light source.  The head was tan in color, smooth, creamy and soft.  It was sized fairly well and the retention time was more than solid. The lacing was thin, yet it was consistent as the crown settled back into the liquid.  After I began drinking though, no foam was to be found.  Just a thin skim of alcohol left on the sides of the snifter.

The bouquet consisted of dark chocolate fused with decently strong aspects of Bourbon Whiskey.  A nice waft of oak and deep espresso followed.  Underlying those notes were hints of very light vanilla, dark fruit of plum and black licorice jelly bean scents.  The nose was robust, aromatic, complex and…. very nice.

The flavor released more of the chocolate and Bourbon tones.  The vanilla appeared to be a touch stronger, while the oakiness became more relaxed and the dark fruit complimented.  A good shot of roasted coffee bean imparted a sturdy bitterness and as the beer warmed I started to detect some sweet, sugary molasses/sorghum savors.  Again, complex and very tasty.

The mouthfeel was medium to mostly full bodied.  Smooth, chewy, oily, slick and dry.  As to be expected, the carbonation was on the lower side.  A deep warmth was felt at the back of the throat and on into my belly. Nice!!!  A lot of flavor drenched the palate after each sip as well.

Overall, I thought this to be a very, very good beer.  Probably the best beer in the Bell’s line in my opinion.  It is more of a sipper for sure and it would be best relegated for the cooler months of Winter, but the drinkability was surprising good for a brew this big.  I’ll tell ya, I’d definitely pick it up again if I happened to run across it. Actually, I’d like to find a couple more bottles.  One to drink now and one to set back for a few years just to see how it would evolve.  With that being said, give the Bell’s Black Note Stout a try if you have yet to do so.  If you are a fan of the big Bourbon Barrel Stouts I have no doubt that you could appreciate this one.  Also, feel free to tell me of your experience if you’d like.

Thanks for reading and commenting everyone.  I really appreciate it.

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  4.3 out of 5

Grade:  A

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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Bell's, Country: USA


Review of Bell’s Pale Ale

What’s up guys?  For today’s craft beer review I’m going to having the Bell’s Pale Ale produced by Bell’s Brewery, Inc. located in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

No introduction needed for Bell’s, so let’s get to the website,, and see what the commercial description has to say about the Pale Ale.

Pale Ale stands apart from the model of completely hop-dominated pale ales, offering a noticeable degree of malt body to counter the hop bitterness. A blend of floral & herbal hop notes provide the aromatic & flavor highlights, alongside the distinctive contribution of our house ale yeast. A crisp bitterness finishes the experience without being harsh.

Let’s drink.

This beer has an ABV of 5.2% and it comes in a 12 oz. bottle.

It poured a very hazy, orangish/yellow color with quite a bit of sediment present throughout.  The cap was small, soapy and white.  The retention time was weak and the lacing was thin and insignificant.

The brew smelled of toasted biscuits and grain.  A light orange citrus hint as well as a small floral component.  That’s about all I got honestly.  It was pretty straight forward for the most part.

The orange citrus came out a touch more in the flavor.  A very solid bitter “bite” accompanied the fruit.  An expressive amount of bready/biscuit malt and grain brought about a sturdy footing.  Like the aroma, mostly simple and conventional.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied.  It was somewhat dry, crisp, kind of refreshing and thirst quenching.  The carbonation was good and decent amount of flavor was left behind after each gulp.

Well.  This beer was ok.  Nothing crazy or special in my opinion.  All in all, just an average beer for me.  It wasn’t bad or off putting, but it didn’t really knock my socks off or provide anything to get overly excited about either.  It seems to fall a bit short when compared to some of the other Pale Ale’s that are being produced today.  I wish I had more to say, but that’s about it really.  I’d say give the Bell’s Pale Ale a try if you see it.  You may find it to be the one beer you’ve been looking for.  Be sure to leave a comment if you sample it.  I love to hear a second opinion.

Thanks for reading everyone.  I really appreciate it.

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  3.2 out of 5
Grade:  C+    


Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Bell's, Country: USA


Review of Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale (2010)

Hello everyone.  For today’s craft beer review I’m going to sipping on a Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale (2010) produced by Bell’s Brewery, Inc. located in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Like I’ve mentioned before I’m sure, I am always able to get my hands on most anything Bell’s produces.  This beer has been one of my favorites of theirs from the beginning and I have had this particular bottle (batch 9970) in my possession for about one and a half years, so I figured it was about time to open it.

From the website,, we find this description of the Third Coast Old Ale.

Third Coast Old Ale focuses on malt, offering notes of burnt caramel & other earthy malt flavors. Designed with vintage aging in mind, the malt aspect is matched to a heavy complement of hops. Sharply bitter at first, this will fold into the malt character over time and balance out the maltiness.

Let’s see how it has held up shall we?

This beer comes in a 12 oz. bottle with an ABV of 10.2%.

It poured a deep burgundy, plum/raisin color.  The cap was off white to light tan in color.  It was full, thick and creamy.  The size was good, the retention time was excellent and the lacing was superb.  Some thin, clear alcohol legs were left on the sides of the snifter when tilted.  This brew looked delicious to say the least.

As far as the aroma…. it was great.  A big nose of dark fruits.  Dried raisins, figs and small hints of date.  Some big, bready notes in there too.  Very doughy with zips of booze.  Also, a great deal of caramel malt blended with a molasses fragrance to create a very sweet and sugary bouquet.  Some earthy hops were found as well.  While easily noticed on deep whiffs, they only played a complimentary role and never became a defining factor.

With the taste, the booze lets you know it’s there for sure.  A nice jolt of it on the initial sip.  It was followed by toasted breads, dark fruits (raisins, figs, dates) and syrupy, sweet caramel and toffee savors.  Again, more of those earthy hops, which provided just a smidgen of bitterness to help counterbalance some of that malt.  As the brew warmed quite a bit, the alcohol came back in full force and completed the flavor profile.

The mouthfeel was medium to medium/full bodied.  It was dry, smooth and chewy.  The carbonation still seemed rather nice considering the bit of age.  A great deal of warmth and burn was felt on the back end and plenty of flavor was left covering the roof of the mouth and tongue long after each sip.

Overall, we have a very nice beer right here.  After not having it in quite some time, it remains one of my favorites of the Bell’s line.  It really is a solid beer all around.  It’s a brew that needs not be rushed through, so as to let it warm and develop.  A certified sipper for sure.  I, honestly, think it leans a little more toward the English Barleywine style than the American style as well.  The malts dominate significantly more than the hops.  I don’t know how well the Third Coast Old Ale would fair in the middle of the Summer, but for a cool night, it would be a perfect companion.  So, the next time you see this brew, pick up a bottle and see what you think.  Be sure to let me know in the comments also.

Thanks for reading everyone.  I really appreciate it.

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  4.15 out of 5
Grade:  A- 

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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Bell's, Country: USA

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