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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.

4,661 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,661
Reviews: 1,894
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 10.87%
Wants: 402
Gots: 1,015 | 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
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Ratings: 4,661 | Reviews: 1,894 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of auroracrisis
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz into a Maudite snifter, batch #8864 bottled on 12/8/08. So about 2 years and 8 months old.

The blackest of blacks. This one is seriously like crude oil. Two finger mocha head that dissipates into a collar of foam around the edges of the glass. Bubbles that vary in size floating around the top of the beer. Some legs as the beer rests back in the glass after sipping.

Bakers chocolate up front with anise woven in. A cup of strong espresso up next. Also a bit of very rich fudge and chocolate cake. Then a touch of bourbon like booze. Strange, this isn't barrel aged but it's definitely there.

The brew floods your mouth with chocolate like flavors at first. 80% cocoa bars, fudge brownie batter, and rich chocolate cake. Next we have espresso, then a touch of licorice and earthyness. Rounded out with a hint of whiskey. Time has done wonders here. Every flavor is very well integrated and none of them stand out more than another.

On the palate, it is divine. Silky smooth, oily, and full bodied. Almost no carbonation what so ever and a touch of drying. Fantastic.

Big cocoa and earth aromas accompany a touch of whiskey, with an outstanding melded together complex flavor that follows the subtle nose. A stout that I highly recommend to anyone. Especially aged. Forget all the brewery only releases and just stock up on this stuff.

auroracrisis, Aug 19, 2011
Photo of jeffboo
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Wow, this beer jumps out of the glass at you but fits more towards a barleywine style beer.It looks like a cup of thick cold coffee from yesterdays pot. The beer is pitch-black the alcohol knocks any head out of this pour. The legs are outstanding.It really has a nice chewiness about its body. The aroma is very complex, lots of layers of vanilla, fresh roasted coffee, candied fruits,wood and tobacco. The flavors follow the aroma pretty closely with a long roasted malt finish. Rich, definitely rich is the one word that comes back with every sip. The flavors are very concentrated with just enough hop bitterness to balance. The finish is,overall,rather dry with alcoholic warming to go along with a little residual sweetness. A nice warmer for this time of year.

jeffboo, Feb 10, 2003
Photo of AudioGilz
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours super thick with an old motor oil color and consistency. Not much head to speak of, just a lace.

Appearance: Pitch, dark, opaque, black.

Smell: All I can think right away is potent, in the best way.
Chocolate, coffee, molasses.

Taste: Burnt malt, coffee and chocolate, then substantial hop bitterness, and a warming feeling. High ABV isn’t that evident other than the warming feeling which is very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy, milky smooth.

Drinkability: Slow…drink it slow and savor it.

Notes: I’d say Expedition has Storm King beat when it comes to smoothness. I recommend this stout for anyone who enjoys a very smooth and warm mouthfeel instead of a more bitter and carbonated stout.

AudioGilz, Jan 24, 2003
Photo of Halcyondays
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, Batch 8864 (12-4-08),

A: Pours black, even when held up to the light, moderate brown head.

S: Oil, woody notes, licorice, black coffee.

T: Rich coffee and licorice right of the bat reminds me of the Abyss. Definite notes of pine and hoppy aftertaste. Hints of cherry, orange.

M: Perfect to style. Silky smooth, mouth-coating, thick, robust, rich and warming from the ethanol.

D: A great RIS here, just wish I could get it more living in CA. Probably one of the easiest drinking big beers I've had.

Halcyondays, May 06, 2009
Photo of jera1350
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pretty fresh 2009 edition:

Pours a thick pure black with thin layer of tan suds.

Quite hoppy nose with lots of chocolate and roasty malts. A hint of almost mint/menthol. This may just be the hops though.

Matches up well with the nose. A bit more deep toasted malt and dark chocolate. Kiss of coffee bean. Pretty big grassy hop profile that I'm digging. Toasty finish.

Very smooth and lightly creamy. The body just feels a bit short of what a RIS should have.

Well, that not so huge body allows the drinkability to run very high. Great all around RIS. Bell's has to be one of my favorite breweries. Looking forward to aging a few of these to see how it develops.

jera1350, Jan 09, 2010
Photo of rhinos00
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a snifter.

A- A very nice dark brown. Fingers worth of tan, cocoa colored head formed and reduced to a ring as the beer was consumed.

S- Pleasant smell of chocolate, cocoa and alcohol. Straight forward and simple, but very well executed.

T- Follows the nose. Very surprised as to how the chocolate flavor was able to hold up. Mixed with cocoa and malts, this was definitely a tasty treat.

M- Thick and viscous. Had a smooth quality with little carbonation.

D- Highly drinkable. Barely even noticed the alcohol because it tasted so damn good.

Overall, this was a huge surprise. This is definitely my favorite RIS besides some of the big limited release beers. Bell's definitely brought their "A" game with this one.

rhinos00, Dec 08, 2008
Photo of inebrius
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Christ it was dark. Dark and damp, but I had to move on. I started by probing the darkness and cutting a swath through the dense roasted barley jungle. Juicy currants bathed my sides and cacao beans landed on my back. Vines of hop wrapped around me in bitter spite but I kept on, through the clouded mire of malt, I kept on. I kept on and a sense of elation had begun to wash over me. It wrapped me up in its warm and furry embrace and I was happy now. It was right and good now. It was Expedition Stout.

Cheers to Deuce for the sample!

inebrius, Jul 13, 2002
Photo of sleazo
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A_As I initially poured this, there appeared to be no head coming through. Seeing this I gave the beer a hard pour midway through. This produced a huge cocoa coloured head that overflowed my imperial sized mug. The retention is outstanding as the head just sort of sits there. As it does subside through drinking it leves a foam clinging to the sides of the glass akin to drinking a chocolate milkshake. The liquid itself is jet black.

S_Sweet roasted malt intermingles with coffee, licorice, and a bit of alcohol. Intense.

T_Intensely sweet at first with the licorice and coffee coming through the forefront. The middle leaves a bit of alcohol astringency on the palatte in a warming sort of way. The finish comes back with a slightly more restrained sweetness. As this subsides the aftertaste is a deep roasted grain flavour, almost bordering on burnt.

M_Viscous but not overly so. The rich head adds to the experience and the carbonation is medium for the style.

D_I have had this on tap before as a clandestine offering in a NYC beer bar but was slightly buzzed when it happened. This bottled version is simply outstanding. Warming and perfect for a cool fall evening.

sleazo, Sep 26, 2008
Photo of AdmiralDiaz
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Pours almost jet black with a large brown head holding good retention and minimal lacing.

S: Strong roasted malts with lots of alcohol, chocolate and a decent amount of hops.

T: Very similar the the scent. Strong chocolate and roasted malts with a very good hop balance adding just the right amount of bitterness all with an alcohol overtone. Very big and very good.

M: Very heavy with little carbonation and extremely silky. I've heard many complaints about the carbonation level, but it's just where I like it for a big stout like this one. It's also fairly drinkable for the style and how big it is. Could easily do a couple bottles.

AdmiralDiaz, Mar 15, 2009
Photo of tlazaroff
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Midnight black and thick like motor oil with a head that looks like chocolate foam. Alcohol legs are shown on lacing, which seems to be little, but is expected to not be very good.

S: Roast and espresso are the main notes, with a tad of dark fruit coming through on the end.

T: Chocolate and espresso up front and it stays with you the role experience. Added in the mid palate is a small dose of dark cherry-like fruit and finishes boozy.

M: Cloyingly sticky sweet and low carbonation.. incredibly full bodied.

D: Sipper, for sure. You want to spend some time with this beer to fully enjoy it.

tlazaroff, Nov 19, 2011
Photo of BitteBier
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This stout means business. Pours black and opaque with a cakey, bronze head that remains intact and laces nicely. Smell is striking, melding alcohol dryness, roasted notes, and the standard choco-coffee mix one expects from a stout. Taste smoothes out after a few drinks, especially after the optimum temperature is reached. Taste mimics the smell--rather smooth with a dry bite that piques your interest. Mouthfeel is pleasant; despite a somewhat sticky feel, the taste lingers, rather than the texture. Its strong smell and taste weaken its drinkability a bit, but this beer is worth having even just one.

BitteBier, Mar 12, 2004
Photo of smurphy77
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured from bottle an espresso color with a large foamy tan head. Aromas of brazilian chocolate, espresso and earthy undertones. Bold flavors of coffee and dark, rich chocolate. Lots of alcohol on the finish but it was balanced by the chocolate and coffee flavors. Very drinkable for the high alcohol content. One of the finer examples of this style.

smurphy77, Nov 26, 2007
Photo of GPHarris
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a - poured a three fingers thick dark brown head into a pint glass. the head clings to the glass as it dissipates. the body is black as night and leaves a thick ring of lace throughout. this is an amazing looking brew.
s - light hints of chocolate and coffee. it is the definition of light done right. there's just enough to awaken the senses but not so much that it is overwhelmingly strong.
t - chocolate, oats, malt and cherry, a very complex beer.
m - medium body, smooth and it really coats the tongue.
d - gives a nice warming sensation and the alcohol begins to mellow towards the finish. this beer will be spectacular after one year plus of cellaring.

GPHarris, Jan 24, 2007
Photo of ksimons
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A-dark dark brown, almost black with two fingers worth of dark tan head

S-bitter, roasted malts and coffee and some chocolate

T-starts out sweet, mid taste is a rich roasted malt flavor, and ends with a dry roasted flavor

M-almost full body with light to moderate carbonation, very creamy, roasted mouthfeel

Overall the first time I did not like this beer, and I have no idea why. Great full body, very creamy.

ksimons, Apr 25, 2010
Photo of reebtaerG
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pour from bottle to tulip glass
A-pours dark black with a tan head that dissipate
S-rich aromas rich roast malt, dark fruit, coffee, chocolate and hops
T-very similar to the smell, but taste caramel now
M-full bodied, sticky and thick. Can't taste the alcohol
O-great imperial stout very smooth smell, taste and palate. Great beer even thou I don't drink coffee

reebtaerG, Nov 30, 2013
Photo of Jayman931
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle served in a snifter

Very dark....don't think you can get much darker...Mocha head that gets lighter in color near the top and middle. Good Head retention. Don't drink it cold....let it get in the 60s.

Very Pleasant smell....nice roasted malt character

I really like this beer....unsure how anyone rated it poorly....great mouthfeel extremely well balanced....very small bitter finish...you would never guess it was 10.5%

I'll buy a 6 pack at least once a winter. Quality beer

Jayman931, Jan 07, 2013
Photo of tastybeer
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Looks like deep brown-black oil topped by a tight medium sized frothy head. Head is a dark cocoa brown color and bits of straggly but dense lace appear, disappear and reappear in new locations as the beer moves in my glass. Head fades to a thin but even layer resembling the top surface of a hot cocoa. Smells full of densely gritty-deep rich coffee, raisins, semi tart berries, chocolate cream, evergreens, molasses, thick chewy malts, butterscotch, and flowery ethanol. Good. Taste begins with a smooth wave of malt and chocolate and piles of soft sweet fruit and flowers. Then it erupts with a surge of biittersweet coffee/chocolate and tingly 10.5% abv. Flavors are long an extended. They flow into a smooth coating mouthfeel. Drinkable and yummy.

Hooooray russian imperial stout!

tastybeer, Feb 13, 2008
Photo of bditty187
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black, opaque, no head (maybe a couple dozen stray bubbles), no lace. Deep, rich burnt/roasted malt nose… trace hints of chocolate, alcohol… pleasant, far from overpowering yet it is still very inviting. Amazing depth on the palate, so many flavors tickle the tastebuds. Roasted malt, chocolate, alcohol, prunes, coffee, some almost hidden sweetness… the bitterness is well conceived by the hops. The aftertaste is tremendous (!) with warm alcohol, molasses and coffee-like bitterness. Awesome. Very low carbonation, full-bodied, slick, smooth, chewy mouthfeel. The abv hits the brain head-on yet is pretty hidden in the taste. This beer would work well as a nightcap or dessert. A ‘must try’… highly recommended!

Thank you, feloniousmonk for this awesome beer!

bditty187, May 07, 2003
Photo of revbdub5446
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

vintage 02-03

As a longtime skulker I felt it was finally time for my first review...

No batch number, hence, pre-batch 6000....(bottle dating says 02-03)
Poured into Bell's tulip, opened with a Bell's opener, while wearing my Bell's shirt...last part was made up...

Pours nice with quite a bit of carbonation, even a nice little roar at the end...1/4" caramel head on top. Opaque black...no amber,no translucence.

Smells, like a stout alright...Distinctive Bell's malt and hop aroma...mapley, plummy, coffeeeey....big booze upfront...

first taste brought the fruit and roasted coffee...the burn of the booze followed...Bitterness still here at the midpoint of the glass....no hop character...no shit....

mouth feels pretty sticky and coated...don't say it...

Overall, I love this beer, always a staple, and I'm glad I hung on to it for as long as I did! cheers!


revbdub5446, Sep 10, 2011
Photo of elricorico
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very deep brown, near black and opaque. Only a thin ring of tan head.

Smells of rich coffee and chocolate liquer. Very sweet and roasty impression.

Brown sugar sweetness throughout. Coffee rich through the front half and roasted bitterness in the finish. Well balanced. Alcohol warms but isn't overwhelming. Very nice.

Thick, almost syrupy, and carbonation just barely cuts through. Works well for the style.

This was very nice, one of my favorites of the style so far. Thanks orrshow for splitting the bottle.

elricorico, Sep 05, 2007
Photo of Bung
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Flying Saucer Charlotte. All black pour with 1 finger brown head. More booze and bourbon in the aroma than I ever remember this having. Heavy roast, molasses as well. This is BIG this year, either that or it's just so long since I've had it on draft. Full body, thick oily mouthfeel. I could swear this was barrel aged. A large amount of oaky toffee accents the heavy roast malts chocolates and espresso. Mild hops in the bite at the finish. Not nearly as much dark fruits as I've noticed in the past and much more of this barrel like qualities. Excellent, big sipper.

Bung, Oct 23, 2009
Photo of traviserickson
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Black as hell. Milk-chocolate colored foam with thick lacing

S- Sharp and sweet, not overwhelming

T- Coffee on top of dark malt. Back of the mouth bitterness.

M- Thick, almost too syrupy and quite heavy.

D- I'd have another, but not much more than that in an evening.

traviserickson, Dec 01, 2009
Photo of Rhettroactive
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 11/15/11
*From notes

-- Vintage 2010 --

A: Dark, brooding black. A generous pour yields a killer 2.25 finger cascading mocha head. The retention is top notch, as is the lacing which rims the glass.

S: Dried and candied dark fruits with just a touch of smoke.

T: Really a massive dose of char up front. Yeah, this is aging beautifully. Though it's rather roasty, there's still a solid hop kick on the mid, even after it's been in the cellar for a year. Black coffee runs from the mid to finish, and it lingers for some time.

M: Just over the top. It's silky, creamy and velvety. It feels like a penthouse suite in mouth.

O: Bell's Expedition Stout is easily one of my favorite non-BA RIS's. It's big, bold and brash, yet deceivingly elegant and easy to drink. This has aging potential unlike many others. Though a bit pricey, it's worth every cent you'll pay.

A hearty recommendation.

Rhettroactive, Dec 15, 2011
Photo of Arenbeer
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a goblet glass.

Batch 9971 Bottled September 13th, 2010

A- Pours a thick solid black with 1 finger off light brown head that sticks ends up a nice rim around the edge of the glass with different sized bubbles. Not much lacing but some nice legs

S- Dark roasted malts with a good amount of dark chocolate, raisins, and slight coffee.

T- Tons of sweet yet bitter dark chocolate up front with a nice roasted flavor from the malts and strong black coffee in the finish.

M- Medium to full body that's super creamy with moderate carbonation and a nice slightly dry bitter finish.


Arenbeer, Dec 01, 2011
Photo of SadMachine
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'09 bottle acquired in an IP trade w/ Ahappyhiker2, thanks man!

A- Poured into Stone IRS snifter. Pours pitch black, viscous, and with a thick light-brown head that has incredible retention (especially w/ the age), and leaves generous lacing.

S- Surprising start to the nose as it is reminiscent of a bourbon barrel aged stout with lots of booze and a bit of vanilla. Dark bitter chocolate, Belgian candi-sugar, molasses, brown sugar, and dark alcohol soaked fruits are also perceived.

T- There are huge chocolate flavors right off the bat, both dark/bitter and sweet/milk. There is a healthy dose of roasted malt/coffee in the mix, particularly in the finish. There is also a distinct vinous flavor in the finish.

M- The mouthfeel is thick, viscous, and creamy with nearly no perceivable carbonation. It is less boozy than expected from the nose, which is a positive.

O- I have not had this fresh, but this is drinking fantastic with ~3.5 years on it! I would have been happier if some more of the complexity in the nose came through in the flavor, but it still tastes superb!

SadMachine, May 01, 2013
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,661 ratings.