Written by John King
Recently, I headed over to the Holy Grale to meet my buddy, Hipster Steve, for their Bell’s Black Note Stout tasting. With the event starting around 4 p.m., I figured by the time I got there at 5 p.m., the place would be packed with people. Per usual, I was wrong; I mean it was a Tuesday. We grabbed a table and ordered the special offering of the evening.
Bell’s Black note is a blend of their Expedition Stout and their Double Cream Stout (both quality beers by themself) put to rest in freshly dumped oak bourbon barrels for months. Although it’s been bottled before, this batch was draft only (well, that’s what the distributor said). Therefore, this could have been my only chance to drink the beer.
Coming in at 11.5% ABV, the beer pours a pitch black with a thumbnails worth of cream light brown latte-resembling head. Talking about our days at work allowed the head to settle a bit before I took my first sip. The first thing that hits is an intense amount of dark chocolate, like biting into those Dove candies my wife is all about. I was surprised at how less boozy, and more smooth and creamy the mouth feel felt. It reminded me of a 2009 Speedway Stout I had on New Years Eve of this year or just stuffing my mouth with a bunch of marshmallow fluff. The nose was bittersweet chocolate, cream, and bourbon.
Some notes of bourbon and oak at the end of the taste, with a mixture of darker dry fruits (figs and dates) and even more dark chocolate. I didn’t notice much roast at all, which is all right by me. An extremely well balanced beer than didn’t stay in the glass that long. I quickly ordered another as people started to come in by two’s and the Grale quickly resembled a Sunday morning at church, with just less booze. I found out later the keg tapped not too long after I left, so to those who were able to get some, be very thankful. The people at Bell’s know what the heck they are doing.