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

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

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

5,473 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,473
Reviews: 2,013
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 10.59%
Wants: 465
Gots: 1,402 | FT: 115
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,473 | Reviews: 2,013
Photo of soulgrowl
3.87/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Tamari-thick blacker-than-midnight opaque black. Spotty mocha latte brown head with poor retention.

Smell: Smoked cherries - does that make sense? Because that's what comes to mind. Extremely roasty and deeply fruity, a massive malt anvil. Light soy sauce, sherry with lots of warm alcohol, honey graham crackers, sweet caramel, apple jelly, brown sugar on toasted wheat bread. Moist, molassesy gingerbread and lots of raisins, Cracklin' Oat Bran... I could go on. Insanely complex, and in a somewhat atypical way - low on chocolate and coffee aromas, high on grain aromas. Clean, acidic, oily hops add a fine, pointed spice, distilled by the volatile alcohol.

Taste: Weird - spicy as hell from the alcohol and hops, with burnt coffee, 90% cacao chocolate, tangy sherry, aniseseed spice. Aggressive alcohol impedes the full development of the malts' nuances (if they're there) on the palate, which is sort of a shame. This could probably improve with a year or two in the cellar. Piney, Goldings-esque hops stoke the flames of alcohol for a hot, spicy finish with a blossom of chocolate and tannic nut notes, similar to an Snickers bar laced with rum.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and very, very thick - yet somehow, not syrupy at all.

Drinkability: Aggressive as hell, and in my opinion, not complex enough to warrant it. Not bad - try it if you like Stone's RIS - but not my favorite.

Photo of Fatduck
3.87/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Here's a beer I should have tried earlier. I'm a big fan of the RIS, and a big fan of Bell's. High time this one gets reviewed. I just finished my taxes and this is my reward.

This thing is black, nothing gets through, even on the edges. Smells of deep roasted/burnt coffee/chocolate with some raisins.

Taste is good, big full body, nothing like a good RIS to ruin your review, right?

Very drinkable

Photo of Jammies
3.86/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-pours a deep brownish black with a thin layer of light brown foam that slowly recedes to the edges of the glass

S-light and slightly nutty. Nothing overpowering

T-very smooth with light coffee and nutty flavors

M-smooth and slightly malty as expected

O-great flavor and pleasantly smooth. one of the better stouts out there.

Photo of nhindian
3.86/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

Batch 9971, bottled on September 13, 2010.

A - Pours a viscous, black motor oil black that culminates in a visually impressive, 3-fingered, dark mocha head. Retention is fantastic, and if it weren't for how slowly this beer drinks, it would last for more than half of the life of the beer. Body is pitch black, with only the slightest bit of chocolate highlights appearing at the bottom of the snifter, where it's at its thinnest. Lots of beautiful lacing as it drinks.

S - The nose is very sweet, full of malts and chocolate goodness. Also some appearances of thick molasses, raisins, and licorice. Throughout the whole nose there is a lot of alcohol presence. Overall a thick and heavy smell that is a bit intimidating.

T - First impression and all I can think of is that this is thick, chewy, and comes with wave after wave of flavor. The malts have a sweet, burnt flavor that contributes a nice, robust coffee flavor. Next comes some bittersweet chocolate and the dark fruits. These fruits help give a nice sugar characteristics that complements the high alcohol heat that this beer currently exhibits. A nice touch of hops at the end to complement the alcohol.

M - Mouthfeel is thick thick thick. And syrupy. Even after a few minutes between sips, all of the flavors still dance on the palate and there's a noticeable coating on the mouth. A long lasting bitterness in the finish resembling that of bittersweet baker's chocolate.

D - Drinkability is moderate. Even though this beer screams complexity, it's just a bit too much in terms of mouthfeel and alcohol. Being a little over 2 months old, it's still a bit hot for a RIS, so I can only assume the heat will dissipate after a few more months.

Overall, this beer seems like a more robust, thicker, more alcoholic version of Storm King, which lasts with me throughout the experience. I'm hoping some of the bitterness will round out more as it ages.

Photo of mpyle
3.86/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very opaque with a thick, brown head. Head is dense, creamy, and with a decent linger for the small head size.

A strong chocolately sweet aroma - straightforward but clean. Not much alcohol and no hops in the aroma.

Malty sweet chooclate flavor, nice dark malt roastiness, alcohol evident but controlled. Finishes roasty and sweet. Sweetness doesn't quite approach the cloying level - enough hop bitterness and dark grain bitterness to maintain a semblance of balance.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with lowish carbonation. Alcohol warming evident, as should be for style. Minimal astringency from the dark grains - actually some sensation of chocolate milk - a bit creamy.

Overall a bit sweet, but doesn't deviate too far from its stout roots. Very flavorful without being overpowering. I'm afraid to say I could drink more than one of these, which at 11.5% ABV might not be a good idea!

Photo of scruffwhor
3.86/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this beer sit peacefully in the fridge for 6 months after purchasing.

Appearance- Pours a dark, spent motor oil color. This is a good thing. To quote the great Garrett Oliver on his opinion of this beer,
"...seems to absorb light, mopping it up like a black hole in space." I couldn't agree more. A film of foam is leftover after the pour and gradually thins to a ring around the beer.

Smell- Reminds me of 7-eleven coffee that has been sitting on the burner too long. With some smokey and burnt malts mixed with a little mocha.

Taste- When the beer is a bit chilled, the flavor of mocha and smoked malts ndominates with a little grassy hops jumping in. Once it warms to almost rom temperature, the flavors take on a slightly milky and dark roast 7-Eleven coffee taste.

Mouthfeel- Oily, heavy, syrupy, but not bad.

Photo of TheDM
3.86/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This brew has a very hoppy aroma and an extremely black, as in a black hole, body with no head whatsoever. It had a very strong coffee flavor. It almost burns as it goes down. Somewhat of a bitter initial taste that lingers well after is has gone down.

Photo of shoky01
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Vintage 08 09, 12oz bottle into stem-less red wine glasses.

A: black black, no light getting through this puppy. Brown to tan head depending on thickness. Very light lacing. Bit of carbonation.

S: malty goodness, hint of licorice, coffee and chocolate.

T: anticipation grips me for this one. Shocking to put a word to it. Complex, spices, malts, annice is strong as well as the alcohol. 10.5 to begin with but gotta be near 12 now. There is a bit of bitterness on the end. Smokey too.

MF: sticky and a bit of burn.

OA: would like a fresh bottle to make sure that nothing went wrong with this one in aging. Love the smell but almost let down by the taste. It isn't bad but its almost too complicated to enjoy. Reminds me a lot of the Stone Belgo Annise IRS

Photo of MrBen
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A good beer, but not great enough to be a regular buy for me. The pour is lovely, scent is tasty, color is great, and so on. Bell's quality, upfront as always. Taste was good overall, but too hop-forward for my liking. Raw alcohol was fairly prominent throughout. I'll stick with Kalamazoo Stout and Java Stout.

Photo of devilben02
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle, I could tell that this one was a shade of dark brown, but it was as dark as can be, with a medium-dark brown head that clung tenaciously to the side of the glass. The aroma is interestingly different from many other imperial stouts, with an up-front alcohol character that seems like a licorice liqueur along with some underlying sweetness. The flavor is roasy, sweet, and almost tangy, featuring the same licorice character found in the aroma, with complementing characteristics of charred firewood and bitter chocolate. Texturally, it is mouth-filling and resinous, but not to the point of being syrupy.

Overall, although it is not potently boozy, the flavors are dense (but I wouldn't characterize them as "rich"), making it readily apparent that this beer is a force. I sipped it slowly and enjoyed it, but I don't know how often I would go back for more.

Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: pitch black, minimal brown head and lacing.
S: dark dried rum soaked fruit, dark caramel, molasses, vanilla, coffee, chocolate.
T: big sweet dark malts, roastiness and some hop bitterness vainly attempt to bring balance, lingering sweet finish. a bit boozy.
M: thick, viscous, lightly carbonated.
D: definitely a sipper and might improve with some cellaring time.

Photo of mjsheehan08
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Bell's expedition stout

Turns my snifter into a black-hole. Head is dense with a mocha tan one finger head that clings to the glass for safety. Lace paints the side of the glass, and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon. 

Nose is really fragrant. Rum, raisin, figs and other dark fruits start out the nose, and then some booze kicks in. There's also a sugarery sweetness that comes through from the malt, and I'm expecting a great malty brew. 

Alot if dark fruit in the front, but the kind of dark fruit that is wrapped up in a big ball of molasses. Really a great blend of malts here. As it continues on, a shot of expresso comes through and lingers with you after you set your glass down. As I am about halfway through the 12 oz bottle, a little heat builds up at the top of my mouth and throat from the alcohol. 

Feel is eh. For as full flavored as this beer is, I was expecting a little more body in it. It was kind of thin with little to no carbonation. 

I can feel the booze after 1, but I could probably drink 2 of these. 

Photo of BarrelO
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a goblet. Batch 8864, packaged on December 4, 2008.

A: Blacker than black with a smaller-than-expected head that quickly dissipates. Lots of lacing.

S: Alcohol, roastiness, a bit of chocolate, something between licorice and soy sauce.

T: Roasted malts with hints of licorice. As the beer warms up, chocolate notes start to show up. Finishes with huge hop bitterness. Pretty big alcohol burn.

M: Thick, almost viscous. The hops dry the mouth out in a hurry.

D: A solid sipping RIS.

Photo of belgbeerdrinker
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: black thick brew, light head forms ring, ring of lace around top
s: roasted, caramel sweetness, heavy alcohol smell
t: sweet chocolate flavors abound, roasted coffee, with nice vanilla and warming alcohol finish that eventually turns bitter
m: almost syrup-like with a decent carbonated finish
d: overall a nice brew with plenty going on

Photo of Jwale73
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a nonic. Pour was black as night. Half-inch coffee colored head quickly dissipated into a quarter-inch layer of foam that maintained decent cohesion. Consistent, sticky lacing coated the sides of the glass throughout the tasting. Strong scents of malt, coffee and alcohol. Taste similar to nose, but also extremely sugary sweet (maybe molasses); burnt taste lingers at the finish. Somewhat of a syrupy mouthfeel with a hint of carbonation. Not bad, but drinkability is somewhat compromised by the thick mouthfeel, pronounced flavor of alcohol and bitter finish that lingers in the mouth. What's weird is that I typically enjoy many of these features in an RIS, but the combination just didn't come together for me.

Photo of mchegash
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - 4.25/5
Pours a beautifully perfect golden-chocolate colored head. The head dissipates in a minute or so, but the color was awesome while it lasted. The beer itself is pitch black. This beer looks dark, mysterious, and awesome.

Smell - 3.5/5
The smell surprised me. It is very floral and sweet, while still having some tiny hints of chocolate. The smell is also fairly alcholic (unsuprising, at 10.5%). The smell reminds me of a Belgian Tripel. Overall, I don't really think I'm a fan of the smell. It's not a bad smell, but it's not what I want a stout to smell like.

Taste - 3.75/5
Sweet, vanilla, bourbon, slightly roasty. Smoky. Still has that "floral" quality, but now in the taste I think it might be better described as caramalized sugar + fruitiness. As I said above, this taste/smell reminds me of a beer I had recently, the New Holland Black Tulip (a Belgian Tripel). The taste is slightly alcoholic as well.

Mouthfeel - 4.5/5
Medium bodied and silky smooth, it glides across your tongue. Definitely creamy, but still the carbonation adds a nice kick. There is a small to medium amount of medium to high intensity carbonation. I love the feel of this beer in my mouth

Overall - 4/5
This is definitely a unique stout, just not quite sure if the flavors are exactly what I'm desiring from a stout.

Photo of jjanega08
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A= pours a thick black with a light brown head that sticks nicely to the glass
S=malty plums, figs, carmel and some spicy hops
T= chocolaty and coffee, plums follow and a slight booze touch going down
M= sticky with average carbonation. Heavy feeling
D= average. Gets a little too sticky and boozy. As the beer warms the alcohol is more prevelant.

Photo of Westsidebuddha
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The smell of this beer is roasty with a light barbeque flavor. The pour is very dark like motor oil. As the beer settles in the pint glass, the look is very thick with a flat head. The taste is definitely stouty with a strong alcohol feel on the backend. A good stout that is worth another try.

Photo of biggmike
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown bordering on black color with tan head that lasted a while and left nice lacing. Aroma was of chocolate, dark fruit, molasses, and coffee. Flavor is very similar with a bit of alcohol present in the taste. Good mouthfeel. Overall a good beer that I think might benefit from some aging.

Photo of mcintire78
3.84/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep brown to black. Developed a good head over a soft pour, which slowly dissipated. Noticeable carbonation along the sides that gradually fades.

Smell: Strong smell of soy sauce, with malty sweetness.

Taste: Gentle, sweet caramel taste up front, with a bit of a harsh finish.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and thick, amazingly so given the 10.5abv.

Drinkability: The main limiting factor of knocking a couple back is the sweetness of the beer, not the abv. Great for a (1) after dinner drink.

Photo of hoagzzz
3.84/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Not a stout guy by nature.. I'm working on it. But this was a little rougher for me than founders imperial.

Photo of ShawnL
3.84/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The high alcohol content of 10.5% took away some of the flavor and tended to dominate the taste.

Photo of drpimento
3.84/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shazam! KIck ass, mo fo. now this is truly big beer. again, maybe it's just my thang, but I pick up hop type hallertau yeast flavs; too fruit for me. Not a bigb head, but lots of lace. almost visquous. roasty dark chocolate, dark overruoe fruits. Would imagine that this beer would age like a dream. creamy body

Photo of buschbeer
3.83/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 9512

I poured into my glass to maybe a half inch of brown head. This beer is dark to say the least. The is no light coming through this beast. The aroma is chocolate, molasses, and some alcohol. The taste is black coffee and I get a fairly strong alcohol presence. That's about it. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy. I like that. I think this beer is a little hot yet. I am going to sit on my remaining bottles for at least a year and give this review an update. If the alcohol mellows out this could be a great beer.

revisited 6/13/2012

The alcohol has faded. I get some dark chocolate on the nose and in taste. I get some almost anise taste. Very thick and tons of flavor. Not sure if I like the flavor now.

Photo of donkeyrunner
3.83/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Viscous, oily black--nice. Thin, muddy brown head that I had to force on there. Disappeared instantly...no lace, no retention, nada. My beer boner just died.

Aroma is hickory, chocolate, and espresso accentuated by a mild alcoholic kiss. Deep and provocative.

Sweet tips the scales vs. roast malt on this stout. Chicory, baker's chocolate bitter with dark fruit and espresso. Deadly alcoholic, you'll feel it before tasting it. Big, full mouthfeel.

Good, but I expect more from Bells.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 5,473 ratings.