1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.

4,410 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,410
Reviews: 1,873
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 374
Gots: 941 | 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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,410 | Reviews: 1,873 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SQNfan


4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This was back in color with a brown head of fine bubbles. There were scents of molasses, chocolate, roasted coffee, dark fruit and a slight spicyness toward the end. In the mouth this was concentrated with lots of midpalate power and shows off mainly coffe & chocolate flavors with a hint of the alcohol. Very well balanced with the hops just poking out at the end. I look forward to trying this repeatedly as it ages.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2008 20:28:21 | More by SQNfan
Photo of BobZ


4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz Bottle poured into a Pint glass. Bottled on 10-22-12

Appearance: Pitch black with a 1/2" tan head that vanishes quickly leaving only a ring.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee and (unexpected) hops.

Taste: Very well balanced with the chocolate flavor coming through first then the coffee then a pleasant hoppy bitterness. The bitterness from the roasted malt works very well with the bitterness from the hops contrasted against some sweet chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Rich and creamy on the palate and clean on the finish.

Overall: Delicious stout, unique it having a hop profile which is noticeable in a roasted malt forward beer. It deserves it's excellent reputation.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2013 15:59:49 | More by BobZ
Photo of Skidz


4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours out the darkest brown imaginable and appears silky smooth out of the bottle. Sits completely black, and totally opaque in the glass with thick brown head on top.

Smells sweet, with caramel, chocolate, roasted grains and a light hint of dark fruits.

Tastes of bitter-sweet chocolate, heavy on the roastedness, alcohol becomes present in the full bitter finish. Great taste all around the board.

This beer is as smooth and silky as I could ever imagine a beer to be. Big, thick body really compliments this. Great for social occasions and is best made a treat, not for a six pack night.

Serving type: bottle

05-14-2004 16:11:30 | More by Skidz
Photo of CrellMoset


4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bell's Expedition Stout, on tap at Flying Saucer, Charlotte, NC. Served in a traditional American pint glass.

Appearance: Huge finger-plus of deep chocolately, cocoa head with absolutely great sticking power. It sits atop a thick, black sea of bottomless gook - though it doesn't look as unpleasant as that might read. Some sticky, thick lacing, sheetlike, fluffy in places looks really nice - definitely an attractive beer.

Aroma: Char and heavy black roasts with flourishes of French roast and cocoa dominate. This one's nearly pushed to the edge, heavy and thick, with a few wooden, green earthy notes peeking their head through the black clouds every once in a while.

Taste: Very nice. Heavily, deeply roasted astringencies, but also plenty of sweet cocoa, toast, some light bittering hops and grassy, hay-like notes. As the haze clears, one can detect a few faint but increasingly noticeably dark fruit notes, the obligatory raisin and fig. A very complex and well-rounded beer.

Mouthfeel: Fluffy, even, and milky, this one is of a perfect thickness and body, cut by a perfect amount of effervescence. Simply velvet.

Drinkability: Better than out of the bottle, in my opinion. The flavors just really came through on this one, and I'm beginning to appreciate this beer much more than I previously did. Sure the alcohol's way up there, but it's well-hidden and really takes a backseat to the great array of flavors and aromas here. Recommended, as always.

Serving type: on-tap

01-09-2009 05:19:17 | More by CrellMoset
Photo of enfield249


4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a very thick dark black, with dark tan foam.

S - Very strong roast and coffee smells, with some strong malt back ground.

T - First I get a really strong malty sweetness, backed up by some amazing coffee and nutty roast. After a min or so there is a little hop bitterness

M - Full, full full. Sticks around on my tongue for a long while. Very mild carbonation

D - An awesome Russian Stout. Very good, and an best of style.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2008 23:24:57 | More by enfield249
Photo of tectactoe


4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a squid-ink shade of black, letting no light through this one at all, super dark tan head, excellent staying power with thick bouts of lacing left along the edges of the glass. Aroma is full of rich, bittersweet dark chocolate, highly roasted malts and grains, sweet black licorice, and a touch of deep fruit sweetness and ashy hop bitterness. The presence of this beer is very powerful from the aroma alone. Some alcohol detectable, but not too heavily; just enough to provide a nice warming sensation on the tip of the nose.

One sip of this and you know you're in for a treat. Thick, sweet licorice up front, along with sweetness in the form of over-ripe dates and figs. Roasted cocoa beans, bitter espresso and thick coffee, dark chocolate and cocoa beans, bitter, creamy, and milky. An ashy, leafy hop profile asserts itself just in time to balance the extreme sweetness and put everything into perspective. Fading out, the beer leaves a nice combo of sweet and bitter behind on the palate with cocoa, roasted malt, and ashy hops. Alcohol warms and make itself known, but never burns or scares you away - it just adds another element. Super thick, motor oil body with a low-medium amount of carbonation.

This beer is extreme - it's heavy, thick, powerful, and jam packed full of flavor. I believe it's slightly underrated, but I may be biased since it's readily available in my area when in season. Take this one slow, it's a doozy, but it's damn good.

EDIT: 2006 vintage, enjoyed 3/21/2013. Thanks to Chris from bringing this one from this cellar. Bell's wasn't kidding when they said this one would hold up. No head, still silky smooth. Flavors are all there; dark coffee, bitter cocoa, sweet licorice. Mellow booziness with a light oxidation - understandable given the age. Fantastic. Seven years old and still holding up like a fuckin' champ.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2012 22:42:51 | More by tectactoe
Photo of KYGunner


4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark black in the glass you catch no other hues or coloring in the light. A thin yet creamy brown head rests atop the darkness and sticks to the edges.

Sweet whiffs of chocolate malt mix with a malty graham cracker scent. Touches of vanilla and coconut give the impression it's barrel aged.

Nicely thick and viscous the taste is of burnt coffee and burnt malt. There is a sweetness of chocolate but its fleeting. The burnt flavors are strong and smooth but there is a slight tinny alcohol after taste. Very warm going down its a great cold weather ale.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2013 22:06:55 | More by KYGunner
Photo of hoosiersapper27


4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- Black as black can be, 1 finger head that disappears quickly, but there is a ring of foam where the head was.

Smell- Dark fruits with a slight berry smell. Caramel and malt.

Taste-Dark fruits, caramel, malt, hops backbone, port or a dark wine, alcohol but not like liquor.

Mouth feel- Thick and heavy good carbonation not chewy to me.

Overall- BIG BEER not for the weak or fainthearted. Somehow this beer is reminding me of Guulden Draak, I believe its the dark fruits.

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2013 00:06:06 | More by hoosiersapper27
Photo of andrewsporter


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - An absolute juggernaut. Pours like sludge. A creamy dark brown head about an inch thick; wouldn't budge. Awesome lacing, thick circles.

Smell - An afterthought for me, didn't do justice to the taste.

Taste - Whammy. So much flavor. Surprisingly sweet, bitter. The bitterness I'd lend to the high abv that lingers in the back of the mouth forever. Sweetness is definitely chocolate.

Mouthfeel - extremely thick as it looks, definitely enjoyable.

Got this one as a gift from a friend. From the looks of other posts I'll buy a pack if I can find one and store it off for a while.

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2011 00:58:53 | More by andrewsporter
Photo of FatheadBrew


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours dark black with a very small tan head that quickly dissipates

S: This smells like a rich, decadent dessert. Very chocolatey in the aroma. Some initial aromas that I couldn't put my finger on, almost like alcohol-soaked fruits. The smell invites you to take a sip.

T: Sweet start. Roasty finish. This flavor is very full and very good. The finish is a combination of roast barley and burnt chocolate and seems to go on forever. As it warmed more, the alcohol character became more prevalent.

M: Full, thick, almost like a thin syrup. Carbonation was right where it should be.

D: For such a heavy, strong beer, I definitely wanted another one. This one goes down dangerously easily.

Overall, one of the best Imperial Stouts I have sampled. This one is a must try.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2007 04:30:38 | More by FatheadBrew
Photo of glid02


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Cask at the Atlanta Cask Ale Festival.

Pours black with a surprisingly large one-finger brown head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of mild dark malts with a nice roastiness and hints of pine hops.

Tastes much more robust than it smells. Smooth roasted malts with large unsweetened chocolate flavors kick things off. Hints of anise enter into things midway through the sip along with very mild amounts of pine hop flavors. Roasted malt flavors mosey back in before a solidly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is great. I was looking forward to trying this on cask simply because of the mouthfeel and I was not disappointed. A great thickness with grainy and soft carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I finished my glass without a problem and could have another.

Overall this is a more intense smell away from being a great beer however as it is it's still knocking on the door. Well worth a shot.

Serving type: cask

02-06-2010 03:01:53 | More by glid02
Photo of alovesupreme


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours as a pitch black monster with a good dark read and fair retention. Light can be seen penetrating the corners of the glass to reveal a scarlet hue.
Lots of aroma, Mocha, bourbon and molasses.
Roasted flavor is very prominent, revealing baking chocolate and coffee, with some vanilla bourbon and raisons in the finish.
Nice mouthfeel, not overly carbonated with a good viscosity.
A great beer that I wish I had access to. If this were the case I would certainly have a good amount around the house.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2009 16:44:15 | More by alovesupreme
Photo of haddon


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

found this beauty on tap at The Lodge in Hilton Head.

pours a dark chocolate with a mocha head that dissipates fairly quickly.

aroma is not as strong as expected but some notes do show up as it warms: espresso, chocolate, coffee & hops

super rich & sweet flavors! dark chocolate, black cherry, toffee & caramel. alcohol warms as it goes down.

full body that is very rich and creamy. not much carbonation detected but fairly par for the class

because it is so rich and sweet, don't know if I would order a whole pint again... but couldn't think of a better after dinner drink to finish off a great evening!

Serving type: on-tap

06-02-2010 00:35:01 | More by haddon
Photo of ImusBeer


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance was very black with a fine bubbled tan head. Good retention and heavy lacing.

Smelled of coffee and chocolate. Taste of chocolate coffee and vanilla.

Mouthfeel was thick rich and creamy . Warm buttery texture also a bit syrupy. A heavy beer but good, a nice beer for winter.

Serving type: on-tap

01-02-2010 21:39:29 | More by ImusBeer
Photo of Alieniloquium


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Firestone snifter. Batch 10068, 12/17/2010.

Appearance - Inky viscous black that yields only the slightest tinge of brown at the edges. Not much of a head. Thin khaki collar around the edge with just a lonely dime-sized island of foam roaming the surface.

Smell - I can smell the molasses from the open bottle. Tons of molasses. A stronger sniff unveils booze, licorice, and ashy burnt malt.

Taste - Ridiculous molasses again. Really creamy in the middle with just a little bit of sweetness and then the onslaught begins. Licorice, dark fruits, the darkest chocolate. Burnt pieces of chocolate, really. Ashy and extremely bitter. Booze comes back at the last gasp and bites the throat.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation, boozy, nearly acrid in its ashy bitterness. And yet it manages to be creamy and delicious.

Overall - Every complaint I have ever had about fresh Expedition Stout has turned into an attribute in this bottle. Two years has done this very well.

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2013 00:57:33 | More by Alieniloquium
Photo of akorsak


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A snifter glass served at Capone's during both Founders/Bell's nights.

A: The stout is pitch black, no other words adequately describe the dark depths of this stout. Unfortunately there was no head atop this black beauty, besmirching the nice appearance.

S: The nose is roasted malts, dark thick grains that have bready and vinous characteristics. Some sweeter grains punch up the strong burnt aromas.

T: The taste is right in line with the big aromas from the nose. There is a thick roasted burnt malt flavor, bitter and strong that remains throughout the drink. That burnt flavor is nicely matched up against a graham sweetness. The alcohol underlying this beer is huge, completely unable to hide itself even amongst the abundance of flavor here. The finish is burnt and bitter, leaving a long full taste in the mouth.

M: The stout is huge, easily overwhelming the tastebuds with dark roasted flavors and big alcohol. This is not a stout for the faint of heart.

D: A snifter is great, more than one and you'll be seein' double. This is a complex beer that is best enjoyed slowly with good company.

Serving type: on-tap

08-31-2007 01:56:06 | More by akorsak
Photo of jsanford


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my Stone IRS tulip. Batch 9459, so this is right around 10 months old.

A - Pours inky black with a 1-finger, cola brown head.

S - Dark roasted malt, coffee, licorice and raisins.

T - Very rich and sweet with a ton of dark roasted malt character, cocoa powder and coffee. Getting a bit of an alcohol burn towards the end, but it's not unpleasant.

M - Rich and creamy with low carbonation. Very dry finish, almost as if my mouths been coated with cocoa powder.

D - Very solid drinkability, I could see sipping on one or two of these throughout the night. The initial overwhelming sweetness evens out nicely as the beer warms up, making this much more enjoyable then I would have initially thought. Great beer from one of my favorite brewers!

Serving type: bottle

08-25-2010 03:56:48 | More by jsanford
Photo of errantnight


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The first Russian Imperial Stout to really blow me away... (not at the time of this review, but ever... I first experienced this beer over a year ago, and it's stuck with me... this bottle was picked up a couple months ago when I was in Iowa)

Pours like motor oil, with a gorgeous deep brown head. The lacing and head are definitely on the thin side, but it sticks around as well as any. It just looks fantastic.

The aroma and taste are definitely dominated more by raisins, prunes, and coffee. The chocolate/mocha notes are present but subdued, and particularly towards room temperature rich, french pressed coffee and a rich sweetness providing great balance. A dessert, for sure. Aroma could be more intense, but it hands in there nicely. A delightful sipper.

So rich and thick that it doesn't go down as nicely as Stone's, or Smutty's (two of my favorites), but I love this beer, and I pick up a few every time I'm in the midwest. Even at 12 oz I like this best as a beer to share at the end of an evening, best with a little bit of chocolate.

Serving type: bottle

09-22-2007 19:21:42 | More by errantnight
Photo of weeare138


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a pitch black with a thick tan head that slowly fades into a small oily, tan film and thick tan collar. Lots of spotty lacing and webs left around the glass.
Smell is of intense roasty nuts, chocolate cake, caramel, molasses, espresso, along with minty and piney hops.
Taste is of rich, chocolate cake, laden with rum drenched espresso beans. Lots of hops in here.
Mouthfeel is thick,smooth, velvetty, richly of chocolate, bitter cocoa, a potent punch of hops and mild, mild carbonation that makes this almost like syrup.
ABV is present and I'm still on the fence with this. It started off great but ended up very syrupy with a mild soy sauce taste lingering. I guess I'll split the verdict and call it good.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2006 02:37:58 | More by weeare138
Photo of shroompod


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz poured cold into goblet
Thin tan head retreats quickly . Very dark.

Smell is a faint grassyness. Not a lot their for me.

Taste is a nice balance of hoppiness , bitter chocolate. The maltiness and hops seem to fight for dominant profile. I like a good fight.

Mouthfeel is thick , slightly carbonated.

Drinkabitly is great for high ABV Imperial stout. I'd take this on a journey North , east , or hell, I'd drink it on the beach.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2006 01:09:23 | More by shroompod
Photo of btuthill


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Violent pour from 12 oz bottle produces ~2 inches of medium density brown foam. smells like a stout, simply. previous bottles poured more gently held too much carbonation and interfered with the enjoyable taste of this beer. the heavier pour allows the sweet chocolate and dark fruit tastes to swirl. the 10.5% alcohol is barely noticeable. this is very nearly a 5 in taste, but that number is saved for a rare few. the mouthfeel is smooth and well palatable. my 'drinkability' is based pretty highly on taste, so i could see myself enjoying a couple of these.

a nice part of the bell's repertoire. i would gladly have another.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2008 02:47:04 | More by btuthill
Photo of TCgoalie


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a half finger mocha head. A residual foam remains across the beer adding nice affect. Lacing is decent, but I bet it is amazing on tap.

The smell is great featuring coffee, dark chocolate, dark fruits, bourbon, and a wonderful smoky essence. The smell is a meal in itself and is very good.

The taste is on par with the smell in that it is intriguing and dark. The smokiness is a welcome addition and really sets expedition stout apart from other RIS's. Coffee, chocolate, bourbon, and smoke combine to exhibit the majority of the taste. Very nice.

The feel in the mouth is full with a soft effect. There is not much carbonation, so I believe this helps with the smooth texture.

I think the Bros. are a little off with the grade on this one. An excellent RIS.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2011 03:23:16 | More by TCgoalie
Photo of BostonHops


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle served in a snifter.
thanks to abanton for the opportunity.

pours a deep chestnut / mahogany, sits a jet black tone... yields a 1/2" mocha head that lapses fairly quickly into a collar around the glass; some lacing evident. nose offers a nice potpourri of a lot of the usual suspects: roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee, with secondary notes of vanilla and some dark fruit elements.

more of the same carry pull through in the flavor. lots of roastiness, chocolate and coffee with distinct cherry / fig notes, vanilla and a touch of molasses. some booze, notably in the finish. chewy, full bodied mouthfeel with medium carbonation.

overall an excellent RIS, packed with flavor and very tasty. to be sure, one of the better renditions out there.

(originally reviewed: 02-12-2012)

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2012 04:45:00 | More by BostonHops
Photo of jdklks


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

REALLY REALLY dark brown, not black, with a little head and lightER edges. smells sweet, like brandy and chocolate, maybe some sweet fruits mixed in (strawberry, blueberry).

lots of alcohol in the nose. ROASTY malts. not as sweet as the smell would suggest, but sweet enough. a bitter, almost coffee bitterness to the finish and aftertaste. dark fruits. plum, blueberry. lots of alcohol all the way through. not as much chocolate as expected from the smell. a very good imperial stout.

mouthfeel is great. thick and chewy. drinkability is hindered by the alcohol sting and the thickness, though it is still very good.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2009 05:14:26 | More by jdklks
Photo of Rifugium


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at Eulogy, Philly, PA

A: Dark brown and opaque, with a healthy head. Served in a tulip glass.

S: Roasty and chocolaty, some subtle spicy notes.

T: Smooth and chocolaty, some coffee, wonderful malts, moderate alcohol.

M: VERY smooth, creamy, thick body, minimal carbonation.

D: Highly drinkable, and good to the very last drop.

Serving type: on-tap

12-11-2010 18:41:49 | More by Rifugium
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,410 ratings.