1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Bell's Expedition Stout - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Not Rated.
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

4,924 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,924
Reviews: 1,916
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 419
Gots: 1,103 | FT: 77
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 4,924 | Reviews: 1,916 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by CharlesRiver:
Photo of CharlesRiver
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My expectations for this beer are sky high. I have heard so many great things about it. Not what I expected at all. When I popped the top of the bottle, it didn't make a noise.

Pours black as night with no head or bubbles or anything to make note of. The smell is very sweet, chocolate, coffee and a bit earthy. The taste is even more sweet. Coffee, chocholate, earthy, bark all leads to a nice bitter finish. Reminds me a bit of Le Coq (Sp?), but much easier on the wallet.

Overall I like it. Not what I expected but very good.

CharlesRiver, Apr 17, 2003
More User Reviews:
Photo of teromous
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From the label: "13415 PKGD 08/22/14 C" so it is just under two months old.

Appearance: Oily black with a thick creamy khaki head that fades leaving fine bubbled lacing on the glass.

Aroma: I pick up the scent of caramel and a hint of coffee. It is very light on the aroma.

Taste: It has a very very rich flavor consisting of coffee, oak, chocolate, molasses, and a hint of bourbon around the edge. The bottle doesn't say anything about bourbon barrels or anything but this is how it tastes. It is a very excellent tasting stout.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is superb. It is thick and smooth. It is a sipper, but it doesn't burn with the high alcohol content.

Overall: This is a very excellent RIS. It is thick, smooth, and full of flavor. Less than two months in the bottle and it has the quality of a well-aged imperial stout. I highly recommend trying this out and buying more than one. It is very easy to drink and is delicious.

teromous, Oct 05, 2014
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.38/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a jet black body with a full, frothy tan-colored head.

Smell: Aroma of black malts, roasted coffee, dark chocolate syrup, scorched almonds, molasses, and herbal, piney hops.

Taste: Black roasted malts with flavors of coffee and exceedingly dark chocolate. Some burnt almonds and fire-blackened marshmallows. The hops are bold in their bitterness, but not overbearing, and provide a taste of dried herbs and pine. Finishes with a lingering bitterness and acidic char taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Mild carbonation. Chewy mouthfeel. Warming from the first sip.

Drinkability: A very fine stout both fresh and cellared. To wit, I had an '02 this past weekend that had morphed into a slightly roasty chocolate liqueur.

ChainGangGuy, Feb 13, 2008
Photo of Stevedore
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 12/27/12 poured into a Bell's tulip and quaffed today, 3/9/13. Review is based primarily on today's bottle but also uses notes from previous bottles from the same vintage which were consumed fresh.

Aroma: I definitely get the dark fruits- raisins, figs, cherry. It's definitely sweet smelling with quite a bit of heat on the nose. Really good smelling imperial stout- the ones I've been drinking are usually roasty and/or hoppy. But this is straight up dark fruit. Really a nice change of pace. (4)

Colour: Pours a dark dark dark jet black, looks great. It comes out with an absolutely beautiful 1cm dark brown head that dissipates within 30 seconds into absolutely nothing, leaving a very thin brown collar over an abyss of black beverage. The lacing is absolutely thick, and swirling agitates the collar and makes it even thicker. You can't do any better than this brew for its appearance! (5)

Flavour: When I first drank it fresh back in December, it tasted rather medicinal with a straight-up overdone cherry tartness- not complex at all and rather hard to drink. I didn't like it at the time but I decided to give it 3 months to see how it changes over time. And it would appear that just a bit of age really develops this beer. The heat has been covered up by a more complex flavor combining hints of the underlying roasty malt character with the dominant dark fruit flavours as described in the nose- raisins, cherry, figs that contribute quite a bit to the aftertaste. It's not boozy at all and has developed nicely in such a short amount of time. (4)

Mouthfeel: On the lighter side of a thick body. Decent carbonation. Goes down smoothly leaving a nice balanced finish that is neither wet or dry. The aftertaste is probably dominantly tart cherry that goes to town on your taste buds for quite a while afterwards. Not the thickest imperial stout but it's a very smooth quaff. (4)

Overall: It makes sense that this beer develops with some age on it as it would seem that Bell's intended it that way. I'm happy that I hung onto the six-pack I bought last December. I'll probably try it at 3-6 month intervals to see how it develops from here on. It's a nice change from the usual roasty and hoppy imperial stouts (e.g. Founders Imperial Stout, Plead the 5th, etc.), as the dark fruits are the strongest contributor to the flavour. (4)

Re-reviewed 5/30/2014. 2013 vintage (7/19/2013) poured into a Bell's goblet. A bit over 10 months old now. Essentially, appearance is the same, and I do get a ton of dark chocolate bitterness with even more dark fruit and some vanilla essence in the nose. Flavour profile is similar, heavier on the dark fruits- dates, raisins- roast malts and dark chocolate mixed in with milk chocolate and caramel, with a bit of vanilla and molasses. Very complex, interesting and decadent beer that has a nice slick mouthfeel that isn't quite too thick or oily but just right. Overall, a great RIS that stacks up with the other Michigan RIS's- Founders RIS and DH Plead the 5th to name a few.

Based on this vintage, I would re-review to a 4.5/4.25/4.5/4/4.25 which comes out to a BA score of 4.35.

Stevedore, May 31, 2014
Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have been able to drink this a few times and really like it,poures a rich black color with small brownish colored head.Smell is sweet and earthy,the taste is a complex mix of earth,chocolate,and roasted malt.When it warms a little the alcoholic notes really come thru,very true to the style.A good high quality imperial stout from my favorite brewer.

oberon, Apr 20, 2003
Photo of Shawnadams330
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Shawnadams330, Oct 20, 2014
Photo of RoyalT
4.85/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Black in color with a slightly reddish hue and an awesome, dark tan head that showed great retention and laced the hell out of my glass. I can't say enough about how cool this looks at the pour.

Smell - Big, beautiful roasted malt notes along with some nice coffee and very dark fruiting, most notably figs and dates. There's also some brown sugar to this one along with a hop balance of some kind. This nose is very complex, and I'm sure that I'm missing a lot.

Taste - The bitter coffee comes out huge at the taste. All the other players from the aroma are here as well, but it's the coffee that takes things up a notch. There's also some malty cocoa to the flavor profile. This is not for the faint of heart.

Mouthfeel - Super creamy and milky smooth. This is a full-bodied stout if there ever was one. The bitter nature of this ale will give you the shakes.

Drinkability - I loved this stout, although it may be too bitter for some. I'll give Stone the edge simply because it has a bit more balance (with more big fruits) but this is certainly one of my Top Ten beers of all time.

Comments - A big thumbs up to francisweizen for sending me this awesome offering from Bell's. This is an experience that I'll never forget - and one I hope to repeat : )

Update - I got an '04 bottle of this from my brother-in-law in Madison, WI, and cellared it for four years. For some reason I was in a giddy mood tonight and decided to pop it open.

Oh, Lordy, is this a good beer. First let me say that this has not changed nearly as much as I thought it would after four years of cellaring. It hasn't sweetened up like I thought it would and could probably stomach another four years. Having said that, this is one of the most flavorful beers on the planet and is probably STILL too bitter for most even after four years in the cellar. Damn the torpedoes though I am enjoying the hell outta this one.

RoyalT, Jan 21, 2004
Photo of aszatk01
4.75/5  rDev +12%

aszatk01, Nov 24, 2013
Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.53/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Golden2wenty1 for the sample.

Dark, near opaque brown with a Crayola brown skim on top. Crude like. Well hopped and burning aroma of vanilla, coffee, plum, and booze. Tastes and feels like bitter and acidic coffee sludge with a hint of chocolate and a shot of gasoline thrown in for good measure. Dark fruits are also present. Very assertive, butt kicking beer. A bit much to drink more than a few ounces of. Long term aging would do this beer well.

DaPeculierDane, Jul 27, 2006
Photo of DanGeo
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

DanGeo, Apr 16, 2013
Photo of Smokesnotes
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Smokesnotes, Oct 25, 2014
Photo of tectactoe
4.34/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a squid-ink shade of black, letting no light through this one at all, super dark tan head, excellent staying power with thick bouts of lacing left along the edges of the glass. Aroma is full of rich, bittersweet dark chocolate, highly roasted malts and grains, sweet black licorice, and a touch of deep fruit sweetness and ashy hop bitterness. The presence of this beer is very powerful from the aroma alone. Some alcohol detectable, but not too heavily; just enough to provide a nice warming sensation on the tip of the nose.

One sip of this and you know you're in for a treat. Thick, sweet licorice up front, along with sweetness in the form of over-ripe dates and figs. Roasted cocoa beans, bitter espresso and thick coffee, dark chocolate and cocoa beans, bitter, creamy, and milky. An ashy, leafy hop profile asserts itself just in time to balance the extreme sweetness and put everything into perspective. Fading out, the beer leaves a nice combo of sweet and bitter behind on the palate with cocoa, roasted malt, and ashy hops. Alcohol warms and make itself known, but never burns or scares you away - it just adds another element. Super thick, motor oil body with a low-medium amount of carbonation.

This beer is extreme - it's heavy, thick, powerful, and jam packed full of flavor. I believe it's slightly underrated, but I may be biased since it's readily available in my area when in season. Take this one slow, it's a doozy, but it's damn good.

EDIT: 2006 vintage, enjoyed 3/21/2013. Thanks to Chris from bringing this one from this cellar. Bell's wasn't kidding when they said this one would hold up. No head, still silky smooth. Flavors are all there; dark coffee, bitter cocoa, sweet licorice. Mellow booziness with a light oxidation - understandable given the age. Fantastic. Seven years old and still holding up like a fuckin' champ.

tectactoe, Dec 31, 2012
Photo of kidrogers
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Not usually a fan of imperials, the alcohol burn is never a friend of mine. But this one was different, it was more flavor than booze. One of the few rips that I would order while out! Loved it

kidrogers, Nov 02, 2014
Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -5.7%

t2grogan, Oct 06, 2014
Photo of TCHopCraver
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours black with just a hint of brown into a standard pint glass. One finger head is dark brown and disappears rather quickly. I cannot see through its defenses.

S: Lots of dark chocolate with touches of anise and toasted malts. Some dark cherry and fig scents are also present.

T: Has a very smoky taste upfront that marries with the sweet chocolate/fruit flavors decently. Over the duration of the sip, the smokiness wins out over the sweetness, leaving a slightly unbalanced taste. The finish has a pretty acidic coffee flavor. The taste kind of reminds me of a s'more with a marshmallow that was held over the campfire a bit too long.

M: It has a pretty big feel, which I appreciate. It doesn't quite coat my palate in waves like other beers of the style I have had, though.

D: The high a.b.v. and competition between the sweetness and acidity in the taste make this beer lack in the drinkability category a little for me.

I think this is definitely a beer that could improve with some age on it and I will probably update my review when I've had a bottle with a year or more in the cellar.

TCHopCraver, Mar 07, 2010
Photo of OhioBobcat
4.75/5  rDev +12%

OhioBobcat, Aug 05, 2013
Photo of MadScientist
4.75/5  rDev +12%

MadScientist, Mar 27, 2013
Photo of CavemanRamblin
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

CavemanRamblin, Nov 07, 2014
Photo of jono0101
5/5  rDev +17.9%

jono0101, Dec 24, 2013
Photo of kaimcm
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

bottle poured into a pint glass. carried back from Ohio by my bud, cheers Croix!

A: black as tar with a really dark chocolate head. one of the darkest heads Ive seen in recent memory. nice light stick.

S: sweet and roasty malt, some vanilla and bourbon-esque notes. smells a tad stale. hints of cinammon and even cherries. booze.

T: huge creamy wave immediately followed by some roasted bitterness. a little chocolate is overtaken by lots of stale coffee which is then itself replaced by a grounds bitterness. toffee, some of that elusive aromatic cherry. a earthy woodyness persists on the finish which is mostly dry with just a touch of residual sweetness.

M: incredible. like a malted milkshake. big, thick, creamy, just awesome.

D: huge body, 11.5%, and not available in Mass! but all things considered this goes down pretty well on this painfully humid night. one a night for sure though, quite filling.

kaimcm, Jul 28, 2006
Photo of hopsleeroy
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Tilley4 for this brew.

A-Poured into oversized wineglass. Midnight black pour with no light getting through-no red around the edges. Virtually no head.
S-Sweet and malty, Roasted coffee, A little bit of a smoked aroma
T-Coffee up front with vanilla and malt sweetness finishing the end and a smokiness to the whole taste. Unsweetened dark chocolate came through on the end as it warmed. Did not detect alot of fruit flavors. Alcohol barely noticeable. There was a slight vegetable taste throughout.
M-Very creamy and caoted the mouth. This bottle had a slight fizzing effect when I drank which was surprising.
D-I could sip on this one for quite a while, but the high alcohol content would really catch up with me.

hopsleeroy, Apr 29, 2008
Photo of Spaten454
4.75/5  rDev +12%

Spaten454, Jun 14, 2014
Photo of weatherdog
3.7/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass

Batch 9435

It pours a almost black with ruby highlights. The head is deep cherry wood color that is very apealing. I've had a few different stouts from Bell's and they seems the head color seems to be distinctly darker than other breweries. It's kind of nice to see a deep carmel red color as opposed to the normal tan. there is minimal lacing as I am finishing the drink.

The smell is pretty off-putting. There is a strong medicinal smell like isopropyl alcohol; not pleasant at all. Behind those off smells are the usual roasty coffee type but I can not get past the medicinal character.

The taste thankfully redeems itself with a rich deep roastiness cholocalte with a large helping of residual sweetness. The sweetness is heavy but not cloying as to hamper drinkability. The roasty notes last through out the sip and linger a little bit. just a hint of alcohol hotness on the end but that is to be expected.

I think it is a little to carbonated for me. I prefer my bigger stouts that have a lot of sweetness to be on the low side of carbonation. Drinkability is above average for the style for me. I'm not sipping this as i normally do with big stouts but drinking it rather quickly.

weatherdog, Jan 21, 2010
Photo of Stevejc52
4.63/5  rDev +9.2%

Stevejc52, Aug 14, 2014
Photo of GameOfBeers
4.72/5  rDev +11.3%

GameOfBeers, Aug 18, 2014
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 4,924 ratings.