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

5,468 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,468
Reviews: 2,012
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 10.59%
Wants: 466
Gots: 1,395 | FT: 112
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: 5,468 | Reviews: 2,012
Photo of far333
3.78/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours out dark as motor oil, with a thick dark brown head topped with lumps like oatmeal. The aroma comes right up to my nose - hops followed by raisin and burnt malt with distinct sweet chocolate hints. Taste is pungent. Flavor is bitter cofee and dark chocolate, with a strong alcohol finish and tingle. Chocolate and raisin lingers, as does a sting in the top of the palate, behind the nose. Mouthfeel feels a little thin for this one, and the drinkability is low due to the incredibly strong flavor. I find myself sipping this one to let the flavors come out as small amounts roll around the mouth. Excellent beer that makes its presence known.

Photo of apbarwood
3.78/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm drinking this one hot off the presses, just a couple weeks after it arrived on the shelves. It looks black, or at the very least a dark brown-black. Not much head to speak of and just the faintest amount of caramel-colored lace. The aroma isn't exactly weak but it's not strong. I'm definitely picking up some roasted malt and a bit of dark fruit, maybe raisins. There's also a bit of alcohol in the bouquet that carries over in the flavor and while it's not really unpleasant, it doesn't seem to add anything. I hope and assume that will mellow with age. The flavor leads with some bittersweet chocolate and a trace of a sweeter caramel. It's followed quickly and overpowered by a strong, bitter, roasted malt and coffee flavor. The raisin-ish dark fruit flavor is still around and comes through a bit more as the beer warms up and seems more noticeable on the finish. There's definitely a nice complexity to this beer that seems to attach itself to every part of my palate and it has nice mouth-coating and warming qualities. When fresh, it definitely seems to show it's youth and is quite aggressive and biting but I can definitely see this beers potential to age nicely. I'd let this one sit for six months or so at least to let it mellow out a bit and allow some of it's more subtle qualities to step forward.

Photo of yamar68
3.78/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ominous black coffee body topped with a thick pillow of dense medium brown head that slowly fades to a solid cap, laces nicely.

Molasses, dark chocolate, raisin, boozy maple syrup qualities, hot cocoa... evolving with warmth.

Bitter coffee and chocolate, boozy figs or dates, the bitterness fades from sweet earthiness to alcohol, great flavors but a poor finish I think.

I'm excited to have a sixer of these to age, tons of flavor but just a tad hot if you ask me.

Photo of fropones
3.78/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a nice dark reddish brown, nearly black, with a 2.5 finger black cherry mocha head.

S - Chocolate, toffee, coffee, roasted malt.

T - More of that roasted malt, followed out by some toffee and chocolate. Hints of hops in the back, but this bottle has 6-9 months on it. Fairly astringent.

M - Nice carb, rich and creamy. Kind of chewy.

D - Not the best to drink on a hot summer day like today, but that was my choice. Alcohol not very well hidden and the astringency of the roasted malt is sort of bothering me more and more.

Photo of waldoiverson
3.78/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle to us pint

A: motor oil black and creamy but small mahogany head

S: slightly tart and lactic with creamy softness

T: Smooth, cherry, and toasted caramel, a nice hit of alcohol

M: smooth and minimal dryness caused by alcohol

D: one per session please, it's best to let it warm over an hour and get all the flavor changes

Photo of Mudpuppet
3.78/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Riedel sniffer. Pours a pitch black with a light tan thin head.

S- Nice nose very fruity. Plums, currants and cherries.

T- Starts off with a very fruity flavor that turns into coffee and chocolate on the aftertaste. A huge amount of flavor from this brew.

M- Low carbonation. Too low maybe.

D- This is a good drinker. Deep and bold beer with lots of malts and fruity notes. This is a much better beer on tap than in a bottle. A decent beer overall though

Photo of kkipple
3.78/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

** 2007 vintage, drunk early 08.

A. What's left to say? Uber-dark, thick brew with a small lingering dark red-brown head, some lacing. Thick and absolutely opaque.

S. Heavy malt, heaps of molasses, cocoa and coffee. Dark bread and burnt sugar, deadening alcohol, a single bitter, angry hop note and a touch of red grape. Very hefty, this one. Could be more complex.

T. Very dense roasted grain in this one, pure darkness! Big big roasty flavor with the usual coffee and dark chocolate, pretty aggressive alcohol, molasses and brown sugar. Viscous and oily, dense and slick. Hints of vanilla and charcoal. Sort of like a mini World Wide Stout. It's all very intense, but wears on you after a while and I must confess, couldn't sustain my interest for the duration.

M. Extremely slick, low carbonation, warming. Massive roast-coffee / malt aftertaste.

D. No. This is pretty solid, but too thick and intense for more than a single bottle. Even then I'd recommend 6 ounces as an optimal pour. This is good, not great, but IS better as it ages. Try if you can.

Photo of jtd1969
3.78/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark Brownish black with brownish head. Lots of lacing

S - Sweet vinegar,sugary malt

T - Roasty,sweet yet bitter tartiness. Unique in stout department.chocolate, some dark fruit

M - full bodied, rather boozy, medium carbonation

O - Imperial Stout no doubt, just not what I tend to lean toward. I recommend trying it as it may be to your liking. To me it is a decent stout, but not great...

Photo of beertunes
3.78/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received in a recent trade, but I've forgotten with who, apologies and thanks! Bottle with code # 9554. Poured into 10oz glass. Poured solidly black with just under an inch of light brown head that had decent retention and lacing.

The aroma full and rich, lots of roasted and toasted scents. The flavors were also well executed examples of the style. In addition to the roasted flavors there was a nice little hop tang at the end.

The body was typically full, rich and tongue coating. Drinkability will vary depending on your personal taste for the style, 1 of these at a time is usually enough for me, YMMV.

Overall, a very good example of the style and better than some much more highly hyped versions. Worth trying when you see it.

Photo of rbrianforrester
3.78/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

All in all, I liked this beer. It's not something I could sit down and drink all night, a bit too sweet for me. My bottle didn't produce as much head as I would like, and I felt the nose was lacking some of the characteristics I'd like to see in a stout.

That said, at 10.5% ABV this is definitely something I'd like to cellar and open next winter. Very probable that the sweetness would mellow and the chocolate and smoke would be more present.

Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.78/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to JeepCop for this bottle.

A: Pours a thick, completely opaque black with about one finger of mocha head. There is just a bit on lacing left on the glass as it drinks.

S: I pick up a lot of roasted malts, some milk chocolate, raisins, and caramel. This beer has a great nose. All of those smells blend nicely together, without any dominate overtones.

T: It starts off a little sweet with a hit of raisin. The flavors quickly change so that the roasted malts begin to shine through. That familiar burnt toast taste peaks, and then blends into a smooth and creamy milk chocolate. It finishes smooth, but a bit boozy.

M: Starts off dry, but finishes smooth. The thickness of this beer coats the palate, and the flavors linger for a bit after it drinks. It's sticky and chewy and the alcohol finish makes it bitter to the end.

O: I think this beer is just alright. Having it fresh, I feel that it is a bit hot. But I've had it before with two years of age on it, and it was too sweet. Perhaps one year of age is the target for this beer. I'll have to save one, and try it again next November.

Photo of BrownNut
3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Oct 2, 2012 batch, drunk Dec 10, 2012. Bottle to tulip. Served cool.

A - 3.75 - Black. Rusty tan head that dissipates quickly. Want more.

S - 3.5 - The smell is fairly faint. What's there smells delicious, but it's just distant. Gentle chocolate malt, gentle hint of leather. There's a facet that reminds me a little of certain pumpkin ales, surprisingly. Almost some fruit, almost some liquor.

T - 3.75 - Strong burnt char note right out of the gate. Fairly bitter for that reason. Hint of chocolate in the background. It's hard to imagine any kind of delicate fruit taste surviving in this harsh environment but I swear I get a little something - not sure what kind. Pretty hot booze in the throat. I like that but many might see it as too much. Everybody says to cellar this one anyway so that should take care of that. It gets easier drinking farther down in the glass, but still has a fairly bitter char thing going on, more than I think is reasonable. It's over the top with burnt taste while young like this. Looking forward to trying it this time next year and the next.

M - 4.5 - Heavy bodied, viscous, approaching pudding feel. Ends kind of powdery inside the slippery.

O - 3.75

Photo of Auracom
3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2-3 oz. from the 12 oz. bottle on March 24th, 2011 in my mini snifter - one of 10 beers in my stout tasting; from notes.

A - Not quite a complete black color, really no head/retention from this sample.

S - Underlying toffee and caramel malts, slight mocha, raisins, and some alcohol.

T - Raisins and other dark fruits dominate front and middle of tongue. Bitterness from coffee and chocolate/dark chocolate in back.

M - A lot of carbonation in this one... far more than I was anticipating and more than is generally necessary for the style. Medium-heavy body, no chewyness.

D - More alcohol detection in this one than I'd like. It's not very focused and doesn't find a real balance in the taste. The core dark fruit flavors just don't work very well. Combined with an average nose, and it's an okay example from Bell's.

Photo of jessecarr
3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I waited until I had a second one of these before reviewing it. I'm glad I did. The first one I had seemed to be tough to finish, as it was not very carbonated and it was overly tart and licorice-tasting.

This one was great! It went into a Corsendonk tulip and left a monstrous three-inch head. The carbonation stayed, and left a nice creamy, bready head.

The appearance is jet black (what does that even mean?) with a thin head that endures through the final half of the glass.

Taste is a bit too licorice for me. The alcohol is here, and the aftertaste leaves a bit of a sharp alcohol taste that fights with the anise to leave something a bit too sticky and sharp for me to want another. BUT, this is a great single-sipper. Make sure you sip it warmed up a bit.

Photo of dwarbi
3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured with almost no head at all. Very little carbonation present. Completely black. Could not see through it at all. Very good nose. Very complicated. Smells strong, too. Tastes a little tart (!) and very thick, but it leaves a pleasant aftertaste and it very drinkable.

Photo of BigDaddyWil
3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a snifter glass.
No batch date on bottle.
Purchased a single at Cloverleaf for $2.70.

Slick, dark black, oily liquid pours from the bottle. A minimal tan colored head forms and then quickly disappears. No lacing, low carbonation, but an oily coating clings to my glass. Lots of dark fruit smells, raisins and prunes. Hints of burnt coffee and chocolate and roasted malts. Taste mimics the smell, but heavy on the burnt coffee and chocolate then fades with some hop bitterness. Slight alcohol burn in the belly. Lots of aftertaste. Creamy, smooth, medium bodied feel. Hard to drink more than one, especially with an abv of 11.5%. If your a fan of Russian Imperial Stouts its a must try. I have one in the cellar to try at a later date.

Photo of joefuzz
3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

09 vintage batch 8944 poured into snifter

Pours jet black even when held up to light nothing shines through. I poured it very hard and got not much of a tan head.

Smells of fresh roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate with a slight vanilla almost bourbon scent coming through

Tastes strongly of dark chocolate and burnt coffee a good amount of slighty boozie

Mouth is a little light pretty much expected carbonation for a 3 year old stout

Overall okay beer glad I held onto a few but I don't know if I will be buying more

Photo of SierraFlight
3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

On tap at World of Beer, Ann Arbor poured into snifter. Midnight black with tall chocolate milk-colored head that leaves rings of lacing on the drink down. Aroma is chocolate, dark fruit, roasted malt, and alcohol. Taste is similar - malty with chocolate, coffee, and roasted flavors. Modest bitterness from hop and espresso supply balance. Full bodied, creamy, chewy, and thick texture, low carbonation, and a bit of burn on the finish.

Photo of BeerLover99
3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: deep black body, trace head, little lacing

S: ripe fruit, caramel, nutty, toffee,
heavy boozy scent, dark cocoa

T: dark chocolate, roasted malt, big alcohol flavor,
ripe fruits, light
bitter finish

M: med/heavy body, smooth, chewy

O: I enjoyed this, might have again.
Not a must have. I love RIS, but this
is not one of my favorites.
Big sipping brew.

NICE, NOT A MUST HAVE!

Photo of EgadBananas
3.76/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Many thanks to Mike (busternuggz) for this!

Poured into a Stone IRS tulip.

100% opaque. Big chocolate mousse colored head; 2.5 fingers. The lacing coats the glass as it fades.

The smell is sweet; cocoa, burnt molasses, roasted malts. Theres a faint, but easily noticeable on a big sniff, presence of coffee/espresso. Bitterness seems to be from roasted coffee alone from what I can tell.

Noticeably bitter and faintly tart/sour at first...boozy. Reminds me of a milder Mephistopheles stout...only drinkable! Midway through, a nice coffee taste shown through. It's fairly roasted and/or burnt in the malt department.

This is very thick, rich, and on the chewy side. Very fine RIS stats.

Very tasty, but noticeably boozy. 1 satisfies just fine.

Photo of Vixie
3.76/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pitch black. Held up to the light, and the light has no chance. Forms a little of a tan head that is leaving some nice lacing behind.

Not as strong a smell as I expected from the looks of it. Mainly smokey with hints of chocolate and coffee.

Coffee, chocolate, smoke, vanilla. Can't really taste the alcohol at all, and finishes with a bitter coffee aftertaste.

Feel is nice, smooth and full.

This was what a RIS is all about. While not the best example of the style I have had, this is a really good one. Big, in your face, no doubt this is a serious beer. It isn't the best example of the style I have tried, but easily one of the better ones. Worth seeking this one out.

Photo of dfillius
3.76/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Aggressive pour yields 3/4 fingers of mocha colored head with good retention. Opaque black liquid. Perfect for the style. The label doesn't call to me though.
S: Licorice, black patent malt, port, dark fruit, slight vanilla. Strong esters stand out, which is a negative.
T: Sweet and malty up front with a roasty follow and bitter finish. Quite hoppy actually. Alcohol pervades throughout, which is okay, but not great.
M: Sweet and warm with a dry finish. Breathy alcohol finish. Nice that it's not hot.
D: A good RIS though not my favorite as it is a bit harsh overall for me. I would not buy again or order another.

Photo of goodbyeohio
3.76/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

thanks orbitalr0x for the chance to try this brew

first off, let me talk about the label. perfect. very pleasingly simple in a way that i can appreciate as an (ex) graphic artist. speaks volumes without saying a word. bell's has the brewing expertise to feel confident with simplicity, and i can't blame them.

this beer is dark, boy.. dark lord dark. oily. not much head, once settled absolutely none. smell is rather abrasive.. raisiny liquor with thrice-roasted malt and cough-syrup sweetness. the 11+% on this beer makes no attempt to hide itself. if chocolate exists here, it is in a boiled-and-reduced hershey's syrup kind of way.. and if coffee exists here, it's in a grounds-left-in-the-machine-for-two-days sort of style. taste is milder than i would expect with such a big nose.. smooth with a hint of cream and surprisingly hoppy in the finish. everything else is malt and dark, dark chocolate. not too deep, but burnt and layered. can't do any more than sip this puppy, and foamy burps tasting like nestle's barleywine emerge from my pie hole.

a daunting beer, a valiant effort. for the style, not my favorite.. nevertheless i am in awe of this magnificent creation. few people get the RIS right, and bell's does so with NO FRILLS.

Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.76/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - this is one of those impenetrably black stouts, with a dark brown moderately thick head, of course too dark to observe any carbonation amounts

S - nice, a rather complex aroma, sweet toffee and vanilla aromas with a strong alcohol component and a deep dark chocolate backbone

T - whoa, a rich coffee bean flavor came outta nowhere, some chcolate persists, as does the alcohol, and there is also a rich hoppy backbone, a nice complex stout

M&D - sweet smooth mouthcoat, with a highish warming ABV, easily drinkable, sweet and strong all at once, while maintaining its palatability, a great stout from a great brewery, keep up the good brewing Bells, wish i could get some out east more often

Photo of TCHopCraver
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 5,468 ratings.