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

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

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BA SCORE
93
outstanding

1,979 Reviews
THE BROS
98
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,979
Hads: 5,501
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 11.46%
Wants: 466
Gots: 1,425 | FT: 113
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,979 | Hads: 5,501
Photo of manahansf
3.71/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours thick and dark brown with a light lacy brown head. Vinous malty aromas flow from the glass foreshadowing the brews strength and flavor which is also vinous and has a fig ester flavor. The body is big and heavy with very low carbonation levels making it flow very slow. Likewise, the finish is slow and warms with a vinous end. (332 characters)

Photo of Vdubb86
3.71/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass

This beer pours a deep darkness with a frothy stiff slow dissolving (if at all) tan foam that leaves beautiful lacing. The smell is oddly more hoppy than it is roasted. There is a bit of coffee in the back but not strong in the slightest. It's still a good aroma, but the mixture of hop and rum is a weird. The flavor is has oak, smokey chipotle pepper, with some booze. The booze is really the only off-putting part about the flavor. It could do well with some aging. There is a bitterness from the booze, but it still goes down real nice. If you sip it it drinks real well. Honestly it's good, but disappointing. (638 characters)

Photo of SilentSabre
3.71/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

I have wanted to try this for *ages*. With the temperature around 24F tonight, I figured this would be an ideal time to crack it open. Poured absolutely black as ink with a medium brown foamy head. I could just look at the behaviour of the liquid as it poured into my goblet and tell it was going to be thick as hell in the mouth. Perfect. This was a terrific looking stout; enough to justify me handing out a 5.0. Smell was full of burnt coffee notes with a healthy dose of chocolate and caramel, and toffee, as suspected. Good, for sure, but no higher than a 4.0. Taste let me down a bit. Sort of a, "...hm...that's it, eh?" The flavour profiles one would expect were all there, but I just felt this lacked the deep complexity I was anticipating, and honestly, it wasn't as sweet as the aroma alluded to. Also, I feel that there is no question that this is 10% abv+. The first breath you take after having swallowed has a bit of heat on it. Mouthfeel is right where I was hoping it would be. Thick, chewy, heavy as hell. Great. Drinkability on this one is average at best, I felt. I think this is another classic case of generating hype over a beer and just *knowing* that's it's gowing to be the greatest beer you've sampled in many years, and then the moment arrives, and all you've done is set yourself up for disappointment. A good stout, overall, though. Just not the "be-all end-all" I was thinking it would be. Oh well..
*Note* I don't know how to read their coding system, but my bottle had "8 3 1 1 " ink jetted on the back label. (1,541 characters)

Photo of purdueflyguy
3.71/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 vintage poured into pint glass

Poured black but not quite motor oil black. Was expecting it to be a little thicker looking. Descent mocha colored head.

Not quite as much as much going on as I would expect. Dark chocolate and coffee faint but big roasted malt. A little smokey.

Massive espresso flavors followed by a little bit of chocolate. A little boozy in the flavor but don't really feel any warming surprising for this ABV.

A little too thin as far as the mouthfeel.

Overall not a bad beer but it just doesn't take it to the next level would like to age this and see where it is in a couple years. (614 characters)

Photo of tvv375ia
3.7/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass

A-dark brown with almost no head that doesn't need to fade because it didn't appear

S-some dark roast chocolate smells along with alcohol

T-a little sweet coffee and chocolate but the alcohol makes itself known here also

M-medium to full bodied but little carbonation

O-I wasn't overly impressed but I am going to cellar some and give it another shot maybe some of the alcohol will mellow a bit (440 characters)

Photo of plaid75
3.7/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured an oily black hue with a one finger dark tan creamy head. There was decent retention and good sticky lacing.

The smell featured a rich coffee and caramel aroma with hints of dried fruit.

The taste consisted of nice caramel and chocolate malts with elements of raisin and coffee. There was a significant warming alcoholand a bit of an uncomfortable sweetness.

The mouthfeel was full and chewy.

Overall a tasty RIS. Big flavors and big ABV. (457 characters)

Photo of rmcnealy
3.7/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 10/2/2012

Poured a non-translucent, dark brown that didn't appear to have much, if any sediment. The mocha tinted dirty ivory head faded quickly to leave a small but evident ring around the glass. It was a bit colder than ideal when initially poured so it's been sitting for a few. The first smells had a bit of aged funk but as it warms those scents have become less straightforward. Dark java roast, dark chocolate, sweet caramel, and slight funk can best describe the aromas. There is a slight bitterness and the 10.5% abv is masked pretty well. It is very thin and nowhere near the typical syrupyness you come to expect in higher ABV stouts. The tastes fade quickly and leave something to be desired. Overall it's not a bad stout. The consensus seems to be that Expedition stouts get better with time. Perhaps in another 9 months I'll give another go and update. Not my favorite Bell's brew or RIS, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

Cheers! (953 characters)

Photo of johnwarne
3.7/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A beer haiku for you:

"A Russian delight;
Don't drink too late in the night
Big ole' heavy stout".

Quite a tasty treat: do not, however, drink this after consuming two others in an evening--it becomes overwhelming and frankly tough to finish [good as it is].

Cheers! (271 characters)

Photo of stakem
3.7/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Expedition Stout, a brew I've had multiple times over the years and never bothered to review. Time to remedy that. Thanks to pmsawyer for gifting me with this aged bottle. Poured into a snifter, the brew appears black with a brown head that fizzes fast. Just a few bubbles remain atop.

The smell is heavy of roasted grains, raisiny alcohol and a bounty of licorice notes. As it warms up, some smooth semi-sweet chocolate character evolves towards the back but there is a solid inclusion of raisiny alcohol that tingles the nose with almost a solvent touch.

The tastes hits upfront with licorice and roasty bitter chocolate. Some hop inclusion accents a dark fruity alcohol character. More sips reveal more and more solvent alcohol with some raisin, plum and a bit of roast that is earthy and faintly of coffee.

This is quite a bold, warming sipper that really hasn't mellowed with more than a year of aging. It is medium to full bodied with an enjoyably low level of light carbonation. It is a fairly enjoyable brew but I much rather enjoy a stout that focuses more on roast and dryness than big fusel alcohol that is fruity. To each their own but this one doesn't quite do it for me. (1,188 characters)

Photo of sisuspeed
3.7/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled September 21st, 2009

Poured into a Cigar City snifter. Nice dark tan head on this one that fades to a thin film over a midnight black body.

The nose is filled with anise, coffee, chocolate and a bit of alcohol, though not too hot. The anise is the most dominant note, followed by roasty malts and dark chocolate. Quite sweet.

Thick, sweet, chocolate followed by some oak notes (more like lightly charred barrel), even though I'm pretty sure this beer never sees a barrel or oak chips. Anise notes are still present, but lighter than the nose. Sweet upfront, and then roasty, slightly charred, bitter dark malts on the finish. A decent RIS, but it seems a bit discombobulated at this age. I think I prefer it fresh compared to this roughly 1.5 year old bottle.

Mouthfeel is thick, slick and well carbonated for the style. Still has some heat at this age. The finish/aftertaste is just a bit too char-like for me, which knocks down the mouthfeel a notch.

Drinkability is above average. I'm enjoying the glass in front of me, but there are better RIS's out there. I would probably pick up a pack of Old Rasputin over this any day. However, I've heard from some people that this turns into a gem with some decent age on it, so I'll probably save my other 2009 bottle for another 3-5 years. Worth checking out, but I think Bell's can do better. (1,352 characters)

Photo of Birchgrove77
3.7/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 Expedition Stout purchased from Binny's.

Appearance - Soot black. No light penetrates the depths of this beer. An amazing two-inch cocoa brown head coaxed from a vigorous pour. Fantastic lacing as the glass emptied.

Smell - Seems almost to have a dark chocolate cake smell interspersed with a slight coffee aroma. Maybe a slight raisiny aroma as the beer warms.

Taste - If you could melt a good dark chocolate into a nicely brewed cup of coffee and top up with a nice bourbon you'd have this pint of Expedition. Definitely, an alcohol burn on the back of the throat. As it warmed more of a vanilla character came through that was nice, and reinforced the alcohol warmth as having a bourbon characteristic. As I finished the glass the alcohol warmth and bitterness almost took on a cough syrup undertone.

Mouthfeel - Flavors stay on the tounge and mouth for a while. Definitely has some viscosity to it, but was what I thought it would have.

Overall - This beer surpasses my expectations based on other's reviews. This beer goes great with a couple of Oreos.

Have the rest of the six pack cellared as I think this is a once a year type of beer. A great offering by Bells, but not something that I would want often. (1,225 characters)

Photo of brewtus
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. Pours thick black with a dark tan head that laces well as it slowly fades. Smells oakey, a bit hoppy, and malty. Taste is smokey and a bit bitter. Has a chewy and creamy thickness. Leaves your mouth with a dark chocolate after taste that's pretty enjoyable. The alcohol level is hidden well, if you're looking for a thick solid stout, this is worth trying. Not my favorite but really glad I tried it. (446 characters)

Photo of lowbrau
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured nearly black with a thick, dark brown head that left a thin but sticky lace on the glass. Smell of sweet, burnt raisins. Very sweet with very little hint of hops. Completely opaque when held up to light.
Taste: Again, very sweet. Almost overpowering, but somewhat balanced by the burnt, malty flavors.
The sweetness wore out my palate toward the end, but still a great beer. Would definitely buy again. (410 characters)

Photo of oregonskibum
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. Thanks bainard for throwing this in as an extra.

A: dark inky brown, approaching pure black. Pours a really nice, big, cocoa colored head that stays around for a while. Looks great.

S: Strong dark chocolate flavors. Very little roasted coffee bitterness like many RIS. Seems sweet, but smooth. Very little bitterness present on the nose.

T: Deep, rich, creamy. Chocolate flavors dominate with a slightly sweet, syrupy finish. A touch of hop bitterness, but very mellow and only noticed on the long finish. This is all about the rich malts and chocolate flavors. As the beer warmed, I noticed a sligh roasted coffee flavor sneak in, but only slightly. For the ABV, this has almost no heat or boozy sensation.

M: Slightly heavy with moderate carbonation. This is a big RIS, so I guess in character.

D: Reminds me of a baby Chokolat seeking a home. This was enjoyable to drink, don't get me wrong. In fact, I'll likely hunt out a couple more to put in the cellar. But this beer doesn't quite have enough cocoa flavors to be called a chocolate stout, yet carries many of the sweet flavors to fall in that category. Overall, a very nice beer and something I'll enjoy again in the future.

Follow up note: I wrote notes on this beer while consuming it. Unfortunately, the beer got a little tiring to drink as I finished the bottle and I knocked its score down appropriately. (1,419 characters)

Photo of FosterJM
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

243rd review on BA
bottle to snifter
No bottle code- Emailed bells said only issue was batch 9424 bottled on 10/29/2009

2009 Vintage

App- A very dark brown pour almost black with a dark tan almost brown head. Quickly receding to a ring of bubbles.

Smell- A lot of booze on this even with a year on it. Big RIS scents fill the nose. Chocolate, coffee, malt.

Taste- A bit stout with some less than balanced flavors that somehow still manage to taste great. The malt is a bit too strong with a underdevloped roast. A bit of a nutty aftertaste.

Mouth- A light/medium body with a low carb slick oily feel to it.

Drink- I was expecting a bit more but still pretty good. I give it high marks. (692 characters)

Photo of Tolann
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Like thick oil. Completely opaque. Barely a head that faded quickly to none. Foamy is kinda brownish. Nice looking

S - Sweet Syrup. Chocolate and gooey caramel. Something maybe like licorice. Some sweet espresso.

T - Bigger chocolate taste. Some alcohol taste as well, which isn't so surprising. Some bitterness right before the swallow. Something clean and bright about the overall taste.

M - Smooth, with a sharp alcohol bite, but still really nice given the style. Medium mouthfeel, but I kinda wished it was a little thicker.

D - Hard to see myself drinking this all night. This tastes like a nail in the coffin, go to sleep. Still a very good beer even if its on the higher side. (694 characters)

Photo of Mooseky
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Deep and dark, with an impatient head.

This beer is rich in flavor with so much potential hiding behind the harsh alcohol taste. At first there are little bits of coffee and tobacco, then the alcohol hits... after the fact, there is a lingering taste of fig/ prune/ raisen that hangs around to coat my mouth.

I have no intention of having another anytime soon, but I look forward to reviewing the rest of the six-pack over an incremental period of time. (455 characters)

Photo of AllFineThings
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pretty dark, and has a half inch head which settles down to a wisp which lingers throughout.

Smells like a dark heavy licorice and chocolate, nutty malt.

Is a medium to heavy mouthfeel.

Is a decent drinker and I could buy another single, but nothing mind blowing, just a decent stout from a good brewery. (313 characters)

Photo of vfgccp
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Black with mahogany highlights. Dark cocoa head pours 2 fingers high.

S - Raw malt, light bourbon, oak. Light cream. Mild cocoa.

T - Dark toast, burnt prunes. A lace of oak throughout the profile. Dark cocoa / coffee backend.

M - Smooth with a rolling char-bitterness. Medium/full body.

O - Very nice, particularly if you're a fan of dark-roast flavors. (361 characters)

Photo of sonicdescent
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed from notes, original drink 1/10.

Pours a beautiful black with a thick and creamy two fingered head. Excellent retention and lacing throughout the drink.

Smell is strong chocolate and to a lesser extent roasted malt.

Taste is heavy licorice and roasted coffee way out front. Boozy.

Mouth is thick and low carbonation but has a chalky feeling. This gets better as the drink warms, and oh yeah, the drink will warm you.

I probably would pass on buying this again as it is somewhat difficult to put down due to the chalky and boozy feeling. (550 characters)

Photo of botham
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic. pours a thick opaque black with a slow forming two fingers of dark brown head that retains nicely. moderate lacings.

aroma is roasted, with malt notes of coffee, caramel, chocolate, and a burnt character that acts as the base. mild aromatic hops are present in the background. very rich in the nose, with a full profile.

taste is roasted up front, with the same malt notes as the aroma, and a very refined profile. less rich on the palate than the aroma would suggest, with just enough flavors coming through to sustain the thickness.

mouthfeel is beyond full bodied, with a thick and oily texture. finishes smooth with residual roasted malt and a bit of hops.

drinkability is decent. this is a huge brew. the thickness of the mouthfeel and the richness of the flavors present make this one a sipping beer, not shy about filling up the stomach. regardless, this is a good RIS. cheers! (922 characters)

Photo of Corndork2
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2x 12 oz bottle poured into snifter. One bottle poured and drank at a time. Both bottles finished within an hour.

A - Pitch black...Completely black... No other way to say it.

S: Mocha and coffee aromas, with the smell of alcohol pinching the sinuses.

T: Coffee, chocolate, heavy malts, and a strong taste of alcohol, which I think really clouds some of the depth. Heat sits right on the tip of the tongue, and in the back of the throat.

M - Thick and smooth.

D: The strong alcohol taste hits the drinkability for me. The tastes, smells, and feel is great, but the heat seems to muddy things up.

I bought a six pack of these bottles to try. After trying the first two I am definitely cellaring the other four. I'll try one three months from now and review again. I think a little more time will lessen the taste of alcohol, and really allow the other flavors to shine. (876 characters)

Photo of Scoobydank
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L:SLight chocolate milk head that disapears quickly. Black as night color with no light visible when looking through.
S:Burtn black coffee beans. I also pick up a little chocolate muffin?
T:Coffee lingers on the back for ever with a touch of hops. Super sweet through out. Like sweet sweet chocolate.
M:Warm fat bubbles.
D:The sweetness of this beer is a bit to much for me, could stand to be cellared for awhile. Was not bad, just had better. (443 characters)

Photo of fdrich29
3.67/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Feloniousmonk thank you for this brew.

Poured BLACK. Thick chocolate milk head that reduced to a quarter inch.

Smells like chocoate fudge and nuts.

Tastes like chocolate fudge and nuts.

Mouthfell is weird. Coats the roof of your mouth. Strange sensation.
It's like your drinking something that isn't supposed to be liquid.

Great smell and taste, but the mouthfeel is, well, odd. Worth a try, I'm on the fence with this one. Maybe another sample would help. (474 characters)

Photo of smcolw
3.67/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours like motor oil: thick liquid with no initial head. After the bottle is emptied, a quarter inch head shows up. This settles to a single bubble layer, but leaves a decent blanket of lace on the glass.

Not like a typical stout (much less a RIS): No coffee or dark chocolate smells. This comes across as a creamy brown ale to the nose. Not bad, just not what I expected.

Potent alcohol bite with a chewy, patent malt bitterness. The flavor is closest to espresso. There's a decent dollop of hop bitterness in the swallow. The brew is very thick, like half and half cream. This is enhanced by a lower level of carbonation. I think this would go very nicely with a tart dessert. (680 characters)

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
93 out of 100 based on 1,979 ratings.