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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.

4,515 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,515
Reviews: 1,879
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 387
Gots: 962 | FT: 76
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: 4,515 | Reviews: 1,879 | Display Reviews Only:
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

I have had this brew many times but never did a BA style review for it, so I thought about time.

Batch #7817

Pours to a darkly gorgeous motor oil black body. Head is just about the darkest I have encountered and that is saying alot. Rich chocolate brown bubbles make a foam brick like top that sits at about three fingers. Great carbonation for a beer nearly 2 years aged.

Nose is deeply malty with coco, coffee, a hint of port and smokey malt that shows great promise.

My how mellow while still being a monster of a stout I think to myself with first sip. Dark rich fruits are accompanied by burnt malt. Bakers chocolate and and a nice cordial alchol bite are there also. I am surprised at how well the hops have stayed prevalent in this beer after all this time. Dare I say this beer tastes so much like Darkness now.

There is a bit of age that shows in the mouthfeel with some raw rustic bitter tones and dirty minerals. All of this is overshadowed by the abrubt bitter feel.

Still a very nicely drinkable cold night sipper. This is about as black as a beer gets.

SPLITGRIN, Nov 19, 2008
Photo of barefootbrewer
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

This beer poured a thick oily black with a brown head – some lacing that fades quickly. The smell is sweet, malty and roasted with a hint of licorice. The taste is roasted and malty with chocolate, spice, coffee and fruit flavors present. The mouthfeel is chewy and there is a warming effect from the alcohol which is perfect for this beer. This is a big beer with robust flavors. It definitely hits the spot on this cold winter night.

barefootbrewer, Jan 26, 2008
Photo of Rastacouere
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Pitch black motor-oil when pouring, a mirror to any trace of light adventurous enough to try to get through. Superb chocolate brown 1-inch head, long-lasting and displaying awesome lacing, foamy, sticky like it came nitro-pushed. Very rich malt aroma, satisfyingly bittersweet with tons of molasses, dark belgian chocolate over home-made cookies, dark european bread, torrefied coffee with two creams. Subtle fruitiness (plums, blackberries), just as subtle complementing hops as I love them, piney and obvious hints of smoke. Very complex, but still not overly envelopping in the aroma department. In mouth though, this is a very intense experience, contemplative flavour development with the typical Bell’s milky aspect although there’s almost no sweetness here. Just great smoked chocolate. Multi-dimensional spicy hoppy aftertaste, piney, bitter and very long. Carbonation was much more generous than I was lead to believe from other reviews, it’s just perfect here and I think I’d have enjoyed it less or found it a bit less lively if it hadn’t been for a little tongue-cleaning carbonation to entertain such a thick body. Holy Crap, totally dominant monument that I never expected to enjoy all that much and I’ll admit liking some sweetness in my beers and not being a fan of hopfests. Once again, Raindog is the gentleman to be thanked and re-thanked.

Rastacouere, Sep 27, 2004
Photo of ne0m00re
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

10/13/10- Had a 12 oz bottle of this (Batch 9971).
A: Jet black with a nice caramel one-finger slow head that dies to a collar.
S: Caramel mocha, oatmeal barrel, whiskey alcohol.
T: Caramel, roast, chocolate, banana, raspberries, lingering burnt character.
M: Thicker, but nicely frothy.
D: Really good. I'd have a pint or two.

I'd recommend it.

ne0m00re, Nov 08, 2010
Photo of drtth
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Lighly chilled and poured into a Duvel glass for tasting. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically. Bottle has no batch code but given when and where I purchased it the bottle age should be between 13 and 18 months.

Appearance: Black (a black hole?) with a thick dark brownish head which may be the darkest head I've ever seen. The head dissipates very slowly with solid lacing. Eventually there is a thin surface cover with a ring of foam around the edges of the liquid.

Smell: Dark chocolate, molasses, coffee, and with very faint hops at this age (maybe I'm even imagining them).

Taste: The flavor is much more powerful than you'd expect from the aroma. There is an intial sweetness layered over strong roasted malt bitterness with tastes of espresso and dark molasses and a touch of caramel. The bitterness at the end has the character of both burnt malt and a residue of the hops. What I don't find is any strong alcohol taste.

Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is thick and creamy with a long slow bitter finish.

Drinkability: This is a beer to sip and enjoy but its hard to imagine drinking more than one in an evening. Indeed one may be more than enough.

drtth, Mar 09, 2009
Photo of jbone78
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

I love this one. I am not a fan of super bitter Imperials and this beer is not all bitter.

A- Pours thick black into my small snifter with a dark mocha head. The small amount of head leaves in a short time, but who cares?
S- You can smell the dryness. Toasted malts, light coffee and not a lot of alcohol. At 10.5%, you can not smell it.
T- As I mentioned, the bitterness is countered well with the sweet sugars and coffee/caramel malts? Not over the top with the black malts either. I like.
M- Smooth. Not super malty or hoppy in my opinion. The key word for me would be balanced.
D- Because of the price, I can only buy small amounts of this one.


jbone78, Jul 26, 2009
Photo of sukwonee
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Batch #9459 - 2009/2010 vintage according to the website. Thank you hansgruber for throwing this bottle as an extra among other extras (this was a want of mine).

A: Black/dark brown, very thin mocah head, some lacing.

S: Coffee, Chocolate, molasses, caramel, some bourbon aroma(??), hops

T: Quite hoppy. Chocolate, coffee, brown sugar, vanilla... quite roasty and sweet. I am not sure why but I actually taste some bourbon. Maybe they poured some bourbon into this. Finishes bitter with hops.

M: Smooooth, thick, syrupy. Slight alcohol burn.

O: Very very solid stout. Wish it was a tad bit less hoppy, but I really enjoyed this one.

sukwonee, Jul 22, 2012
Photo of zac16125
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass
Number on bottle: 8944, which didn’t mean much to me until I saw it was the exact same number as the last review on here, so apparently this is a 09 batch. I got this as a stand alone from a private liquor store where it was the only one, and the label does look quite worn.

A: Pours an opaque jet black. Poured very aggressively, it gives 1.5 fingers width of light caramel colored head, which appears dense, but dissipates relatively fast to leave a non-uniform film for about half the drink, then absolutely none for the remainder. Leaves effectively no lacing.

S: A nice, strong roasted malt aroma dominates, accompanied by some burnt malts, a smoky character, and some subtle bold-roast coffee aromas. Alcohol is noticeable. Pleasant aroma, but nothing particularly complex.

T: Lots of roasted and burnt malts, accompanied by hints of chocolate, bold-roast coffee, and an oaky character. There is an appreciable sweetness throughout, coming from dark fruits (maybe fig) with hints of bing cherries, plus a subtle hop bitterness on the back-end. It does a great job of balancing sweetness, burnt roasted malts, and bitterness all while making the alcohol presence known, but kept in check. Great flavor to this beer.

M/D: Smooth, creamy, an almost oily mouth feel. I’m not sure what all this talk from others about the no carbonation is all about, my bottle had plenty of carbonation, in fact, just the right amount. Incredibly easy to drink, and does a great job of masking the 10+%ABV.

O: This beer may have restored my faith in the RIS style. I went away from the style for a while, but recently decided to come back, and in the last couple of weeks have tried a handful of RIS’s, some of which are very highly ranked on this website. I was uniformly disappointed with them all, as they were mostly ruined by a dominating alcohol presence that killed the drink. Not this one. Expedition Stout maintains a great, well balanced flavor, good mouth feel and great drinkability. Cheers to Bell’s who never seems to let me down.

zac16125, Jun 28, 2011
Photo of mtstatebeer
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

12 oz. bottle. Pours a nice black color with a creamy brown head, good lacing. Aroma is mainly chocolate, a little coffee, and some spicy hop notes. Flavor is chocolate and ends somewhat bitter. Hides the alcohol and warms very, very well. Great beer!

mtstatebeer, Sep 03, 2008
Photo of Gaisgeil
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Ever wonder what motor oil tastes like? Me either, but that's what this looks like coming from the bottle. Incredibly thick and dark dark black in color with a dark brown head to compliment.

Nose is really expansive, chocolate, coffee, heaps of roast, molasses, grain, a bit of vanilla? The taste is very powerful, the roast flavors are really very prominent, with the coffee and molasses not far behind. The mouthfeel is so very thick and chewy that the taste lingers for quite a while, almost syrup like, I love it!

This is one heavy-duty no playing around sort of stout. It's definatly not for the meek.

Gaisgeil, Feb 23, 2005
Photo of Bubba83
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

A special thanks goes out to my pal Kegatron for the trade.

How is this beer only #100?

Poured at 45 degrees into a tulip glass. It looked like there wouldn't be much head so I poured vigorously, turns out it is a late riser, cascading almost like a beer on nitro. This only added to the effect. It's midnight black and viscous looking with DARK mocha head. Tiny bubbles too, just the way I wanted it to look, perfect. Great lacing all the way through as well.

Aroma is of roasted chocolate figs, with a background of alcohol and roasty malts. Slight coffee hints but mostly a beautiful chocolate.

Outstanding first impression on taste. Deep, dark chocolate, starts sweet and rich, ends bitter and roasty. Expected a bigger alcohol presence in the flavor but it's barely lurking in the background behind tons of layers of rich decadent chocolate. Some people may say, isn't it a little one dimensional because of all the chocolate? No... Because there is tons of different chocolate varieties here.

Mouthfeel is very thick and chewy, without really any pop on the tongue from the bubbles. I expected about as much from a strong imperial stout like this, but it could be a little more lively. Still, feels really smooth and oily, soothes the mouth.

Drinkability is hard to gauge. A plus is that the alcohol level isn't too apparent. Also, it's quite delicious and you want to go back for more. It's a bit too rich to easily quaff though, a definite sipper as you experience how the temperature changes effect the beer.

Terrific, well done Bell's.

Bubba83, Aug 19, 2008
Photo of wnh
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a thick, ruby-tinted black, opaque, with a dense and frothy medium tan head.

Aromas of earthy dark chocolate, smoke, and roasted grain leap from the glass. The smoke, which hints at peppery country ham, really sets this beer apart. Then comes a (dried) leafy hoppiness in the background to add further complexity. A strong base of sweet caramel ties everything together.

Loads of chocolate on the palate, with sweet and bitter notes pulsating back and forth. There's an unexpectedly strong resinous hop character underneath, providing contrast but contributing to the whole. Very smooth, especially for an imperial stout. This beer lacks any roasty bite found in many similar beers, and is really quite light on the roast on the whole.

Thick and rich and dense, but not unnecessarily chewy. Low level of carbonation, which works with this beer. Finishes bitter--a combination of hops and roast (about the only place the roast shows itself, really)--but fades as the beer lingers on the palate.


wnh, Dec 17, 2009
Photo of PDXHops
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

On tap in a shaker pint, an unfortunate vessel for such a great beer (should have gone with the 10 oz pour so I could get it in a tulip). A modest but dense tan head sits atop the oily body. Good retention and lacing.

The crappy glass victimizes the nose as well, blunting a pleasing blend of roast, chocolate and tangy fruit. A bit of booze in the background.

Great tasting beer with a helluva lot of well-integrated flavors. Even better than the bottled version. Chocolate chips, cocoa powder, big roasted and burnt malts, tangy dark fruits. Hints of tobacoo and molasses. Pleasing notes of blackberry liqueur. Pleasantly warming booziness. There's nothing at all subtle about it- the flavors are practically explosive- yet there are no overpowering flavors. Excellent mouthfeel as well; fluffy and filling, yet creamy.

Overall impression: If, like me, you are surprised to find this on tap, don't hesitate to take advantage of your good fortune.

PDXHops, Nov 07, 2010
Photo of flexabull
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Beer pours a deep black color with a decent sized brown head that quickly faded.

This smells a bit sweet, with some stewed fruit, dark chocolate, and a bit of alcohol.

Flavors are full and rich. There is a very malty coffee and chocolate backbone. It follows with some sweetness, and a touch of hoppy bitterness. The finish is crisp, and with a touch of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is quite good, very full, and well rounded.

Drinkability is good. This has a bit of a boozy feel to it, but it's not overwhelming at all. It works well as an after dinner sipper, and the high scores it has received are well earned.

Thank you MuenchenerKindl for sending this beer out west.

flexabull, Mar 09, 2007
Photo of jmdrpi
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

12 oz bottle, batch 10105 from last winter.

appears black, with thin layer of khaki colored head. strong roasted aroma, with earthy hops in there. taste has the typical chocolate/coffee notes typical of the style, but also has fairly significant pronounced hop flavor. medium to thick body, medium carbonation. pretty smooth.

overall, a great RIS that is a good value compared to most of the limited release bombers from other breweries.

score is the fresh review

***1 year***
still has some earthy hop aromas. taste is dominated by coffeeish flavors, lingering roasty aftertaste. smoother carbonation than fresh

***2 year ***
hop aromas are very faded. flavors in taste are more blended. better tasting. silky smooth body. better than 1 year. flavors are more mellow, but blended together better.

jmdrpi, Oct 31, 2011
Photo of SethB2
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass. Beer pours heavy. Bell's Expedition is the very definition of the motor oil comparison. Pours black with a deep brown head and a very nice amount of lacing. Smells good as well. Roasted, nutty malts covering a slight alcohol smell. Taste is very good. Chocolaty malts and a sweet bite going down. Very nice. Mouthfeel is as chewy as they come, but also like silk. Drinkablility is only hampered by the high alcohol content.

Very nice beer.

SethB2, May 04, 2006
Photo of arkurzynski
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Pours opaque black and thick. Heavy pour results in no head at first, but then comes exploding out of solution in a deep orange yellow color. Aroma is toffee, caramel, molasses, vanilla, a hint of cinnamon, mild coffee. Flavor is very robust. A little sweeter than I expected. Well-rounded thick palate. Mild lacing. The real deal.

arkurzynski, Mar 15, 2011
Photo of khumbard
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Bottled in 2008.

Pours thick and dark. Small tan head that falls pretty quickly. Nose is full of roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruit, and a little coffee. Taste follows suit. Roasty and delicious. Finishes with a slight bitterness, similar to a really dark chocolate. Very good. Little to no alcohol noticeable. I love Expedition with over a year on it. Fresh is good, but a little too hot. Buy some, and put it down for a year and it will hold up against some of the more highly regarded big boy stouts.

khumbard, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of TwelveOunces
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

12 Oz bottle poured into a snifter

Dated 8/28/12 so only a month and a half olf

A- Pours motor oil black with a one finger brown head, some alcohol legs and surprising head retention.

S- Roasted chocolate is the strongest smell in this beer. Smells well hoppend and quite bitter. A really smooth smelling beer.

T- Roasted malts up front, there is dark roasted notes that linger like char and some lighter notes that are reminiscent to caramel and toffee. The chocolate in this beer is quite prevalent and really rounds out the beer as a whole. It's a bitter stout but not as bitter as a Yeti or other hop forward stouts. There is a slight fruitiness from the hops but I think that will fade fast with age. A smooth and well rounded array of flavors.

M- This is obviously a big beer and it drinks like a big beer. Very syrupy and high in alcohol feel. It is however a smooth and well rounded Stout.

O- This is a fantastic stout, Its on par with Stone IRS and Old Rasputin. I cant wait to see how the rest of mine fare with a little bit of age.

TwelveOunces, Oct 13, 2012
Photo of homebrew311
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Pulled this one out of the cellar, brewed in September of 2008, poured into Delirium snifter

A: pours like used motor oil, one of the thickest imperial stouts out there (behind Hunahpus/Mashal Zhukov), with a nice dark head, decent retention and lacing

S: huge notes of dark chocolate and oats up front, compared to the fresh version, this is much more mellow and chocolatey...personally I think this smells better now than before

T: deep rich roasted notes up front with tons of chocolate, a little licorice and molasses, some coffee, everything is big and bold but nicely in balance. The finish is long and leaves a hint of roastieness on the palate. Wow, 2 years have done wonders for this brew.

MF: thick, velvety viscous, low carbonation

D: I have always loved Expo, but have never tried it at this age. I must say that I am amazed by how much chocolate character comes through now. Delicious.

homebrew311, Jul 08, 2010
Photo of BrewMaster
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz bottle with no freshness markings on it. It pours an impervious black and brown color with no true head on it, just a ring of bubbles around the top.

Smell: Toffee, coffee, soy sauce, uncooked semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Taste: Very rich and roasty from the start with notes of chocolate, roasty coffee, caramel, and burnt oak. The beginning is very sweet and it yields to a bit of hop bitterness towards the middle and the end. As the beer warms there is a sour sweetness that develops. An alcohol warmth sits in the mouth and warms the whole body.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth in the mouth. The bold flavors are delivered well with the smooth texture.

BrewMaster, Nov 21, 2004
Photo of bahumutx
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Poured pitch black with a small brown head.

Smell: Coffee, roasted malt, chocolate, and a slight cherry.

Taste: Starts sweet and then moves to a roasted malt and coffee. There is also a hint of chocolate and a slight hint of hops. Sweet but not overpowering and the 11.5% ABV is hidden well.

Mouthfeel: Thick Mouthfeel with hardly any carbonation.

Drinkability: Due to the alcohol and richness of the beer I only could have 1 in a sitting.

A great example of the style. I will definitely be looking for this when the colder weather starts to come back.

bahumutx, Mar 27, 2006
Photo of rundocrun
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

A - pours dark brown/black with a nonexistant head. This stuff is THICK it sticks to the side of the glass when you tilt it!

S - Figs, raisins, dark fruits, slight alcohol aroma.

T - Syrupy sweetness with figs and raisins up front. Heavy malts next. Bitterness hits the back of the palate toward the end. Definite booze detectable after the initial sweetness - not surprising since this stout sits at 10.5%

M - again, this stuff is definitely thick and syrupy, which is something you can expect from an imperial-style stout. Very light carbonation.

D - Being the lightweight that I am, one is definitely enough, but the overall character of this stout makes every sip a pleasure

rundocrun, Dec 03, 2010
Photo of Brad007
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Acquired in a trade with BrewedAwakening.

Pours a pitch black color with a thick brown head into my glass. Very good presentation for the style. Can't possibly get darker.

Coffee, cocoa and cream make themselves known in the aroma. Very nice way to start things off.

Roasted coffee explodes on the tongue, leading to a good hint of chocolate and cream as well (the latter being limited).

Visceral and slick on the palate. Lingering cocoa and coffee. Impressive as is.

Amazing example of the style that is very drinkable at 10.5%. I have to admit that I had never heard of this until now. Regardless, I will most likely seek it out again.

Brad007, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of brentk56
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Appearance: Pours a dirty motor oil color with a huge tan head that sheets lacing

Smell: Roasted notes with dark fruit, coffee, dark chocolate and some hops in the back

Taste: Opens with rich chocolate flavors; after the swallow, the hops kick in for a second, followed by a myriad of dark fruit flavors; bitterness and coffee tones engulf the tongue through to a long lasting finish

Mouthfeel: Thick and syrupy with modest carbonation; a lot of warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: Marvelous flavor; just a bit too boozy; clearly improves with a few years of age though the hops do fade

brentk56, Apr 13, 2006
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,515 ratings.