Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,981 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,981
Hads: 5,516
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 6.92%
Wants: 473
Gots: 1,441 | FT: 121
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bell's Expedition Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,981 | Hads: 5,516
Photo of maggotbrain
3.63/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer is deep black with a moderate brown head. The head has receded to a brown, bubbly film on the top of the beer. There seems to be little to no lacing on the glass as the beer is consumed.

Sticking my nose into the glass, I detect a bit of chocolate and a lot of alcohol.

The beer tastes pretty good: coffee, a hint of chocolate, and a malty sweetness. It also has quite a bit of alcoholic spiciness, which doesn't bother me since when I'm not drinking beer, I enjoy Scotch neat. I could see the alcoholic nature of this beer being off putting to many people, though.

The mouthfeel is good--low carbonation and a nice, thick body.

The drinkability of this beer pretty good for an imperial stout, though the high abv would make me hesitate before opening another one of these bad boys. (795 characters)

Photo of mdhobbs
3.63/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Having tried some of Bell's other offerings and reading the reviews prompted me to seek this one out for a try. This stout pour very dark with a very dark head on the pour. There was enough of a boutique that made me want to take a nice long sip and enjoy but I was a bit disappointed. I don't equate a stout necessarily with hoppiness but that is what over-rode this tasting. (376 characters)

Photo of weatherdog
3.62/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass

Batch 9435

It pours a almost black with ruby highlights. The head is deep cherry wood color that is very apealing. I've had a few different stouts from Bell's and they seems the head color seems to be distinctly darker than other breweries. It's kind of nice to see a deep carmel red color as opposed to the normal tan. there is minimal lacing as I am finishing the drink.

The smell is pretty off-putting. There is a strong medicinal smell like isopropyl alcohol; not pleasant at all. Behind those off smells are the usual roasty coffee type but I can not get past the medicinal character.

The taste thankfully redeems itself with a rich deep roastiness cholocalte with a large helping of residual sweetness. The sweetness is heavy but not cloying as to hamper drinkability. The roasty notes last through out the sip and linger a little bit. just a hint of alcohol hotness on the end but that is to be expected.

I think it is a little to carbonated for me. I prefer my bigger stouts that have a lot of sweetness to be on the low side of carbonation. Drinkability is above average for the style for me. I'm not sipping this as i normally do with big stouts but drinking it rather quickly. (1,231 characters)

Photo of thewalkindude
3.62/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass at the local Mellow Mushroom. I'm usually a huge fan of Russian Imperial Stouts, and while this one was pretty good, there were a few aspects that put me off about it. But I'll save that for a minute, first, let me get to what I liked about this beer. The appearance was a rich, black color, pretty much opaque when held up to the light. The Expedition sported a two-finger thick dark caramel head that faded relatively slowly and left a nice lacing on the glass, although not as much as I'm accustomed to with a stout. This one was heavy in the mouth, with a bit of a bite from the carbonation. As far as the actual taste of the beer is concerned, this one is bitter, even for a stout, with strong espresso, extra dark chocolate, and alcohol flavors throughout, which only grow stronger as it warms up. Left a pleasant bitter malt flavor on my tongue.

Unfortunately, the Expedition's carbonation makes the flavor sharper than I'm usually accustomed to in a stout. Also, it smells like wet play-doh on the beach, which I was forced to endure every time I brought it up to my lips. Besides these complaints, this was a solid beer. (1,156 characters)

Photo of ryno09
3.61/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours pitch black with one of the darker brown heads I have seen. The finger head quickly fades do to the high ABV. Carbonation seems a little on the high side of the style.

On the aroma I get a ton of roasted malts along with dark fruits and molasses. Some alcohol present as well. On the palate I get a ton of chocolate - something I didn't get from the aroma. Up front some of the dark fruits are present before the chocolate takes over leaving a lingering somewhat sweet finish (482 characters)

Photo of claspada
3.61/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled: 9/13/2010

Pours a jet black body with a full, frothy dark tan colored head.

Aromas begin with a ton black malts, roasted coffee, dark chocolate syrup, scorched/burnt almonds and molasses. Really roasty and almost smokey which I am not a fan of. As it warms I get a large amount of herbal and floral hops, also not my favorite thing in a stout.

The tastes begin with fairly intense black, roasted malts with flavors of coffee and exceedingly dark chocolate. Some burnt nuts again and extreme dark espresso beans. The hops are bold in their bitterness, and provide a taste of earthiness and herbal flavors. Finishes with a lingering bitterness and acidic char taste.

The mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with a mild amount of carbonation. Quite a chewy mouthfeel. Warming from the first sip and well into the finish, alcohol becomes more apparent as it warms.

Overall this is a high quality made stout but a bit too hoppy and charred malt forward for my liking. Lovers of dark porters and Russian Imperial Stouts will find this a great pleasure but my tastebuds have eschewed from enjoying these highly roasted and bitter flavors that I enjoyed early on in my craft beer lifetime. This probably needs at least 2 years in the cellar to be drinkable for my liking and to fully reach it's peak and hide the intense flavor profile. (1,339 characters)

Photo of BeerDawgs
3.61/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

A - A dark, chocolatey dark stout. Average head. Low carbonation.

S - Many spices prevalent. There are a lot of moving parts here

T - Smooth for a strong stout, but at the end there are multiple flavors popping up. Fruits, chocolate, malts, spices, etc. Too many to be able to pick out individual items.

M - An explosion of flavours. Low carbonation.

D - I rank it low in drinkability because the high alcohol content is not masked at all. It is too overwhelming. You are done after 1, even though the taste is excellent. (526 characters)

Photo of seh410
3.61/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Randy (randjuke) for these awesome beer!

Appearance: One fingers worth of thick, bubbly mocha/caramel colored head that does not dissipate quickly. The actual beer is black as night - there is absolutely no light coming through. This beer is pretty, no one around it.

Aroma: Coffee is right up front, followed by toasted malts, dark chocolate and a definitely perceivable alcohol note

Taste/Mouthfeel: Lots of coffee, maybe some dried fruits and toasted malts on the back side. You can taste the liquor for sure - this is definitely not a low ABV beer and you can taste it right up front. The mouthfeel is chewy and thick - very full in the mouth, which I like in a stout.

Drinkability: This one is definitely a sipper. It's nice and rich and tasty, but there's no way you could - or should - put down more than 1 or 2 12oz bottles of this baby. That said, I think it is nice and balanced and I'd be willing to drink it again. I'd like to see what it tastes like aged, or on tap. (995 characters)

Photo of badboyrsl84
3.6/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle in to a pint glass a thick black liquid with no withstanding head.

Smell - Bakers chocolate and alcohol

Taste - starts out thick with chocolate and hot with alcohol and finishes with a weird metallic taste and some more chocolate. The metallic taste stands out to me and makes me wonder if this is a bad bottle. OH WELL.

Its very drinkable at 10.5% and although the metallic taste is hindering this review I will say it has potential. (460 characters)

Photo of battlekow
3.6/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewing Bell's Java Stout and Expedition Stout together, brother vs. brother. May the manliest man win.

Expedition pours a deep, dark, inscrutable black, impenetrable as a nun, with almsot no head. I think Bell's has solved the oil crisis.

Smells sweet, like vanilla and prunes. There may be some coffee there, but next to the Java Stout, who could ever tell?

Tastes sweet and syrupy, anise and prunes and some nice bitterness at the end. It's good, but I just prefer the Java Stout and its intense coffee flavor to the sweet/sour dark fruit characteristics of this Russian imperial stout. Does have a nice mouthfeel, chewy and juicy.

The Expedition Stout is good, but is Stephen Baldwin to the Java Stout's Alec. (727 characters)

Photo of BilbosNuts
3.6/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to mjw52 for this one.

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a deep brown color with an 1/8 inch, mocha colored head. The head eventually dissipates to a thin ring around the top. Minimal lacing is left behind.

S: Dark roasted malts and a touch of coffee. A molasses-like sweetness comes through towards the end.

T: Similar to the aroma with typical roasted malts with a touch of coffee and molasses-y sweet notes.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with minimal carbonation and very smooth. It has a syrupy like feel to it with a touch of sweetness lingering on.

O: I was a little disappointed with this one. Maybe my expectations were too high, but it seems kind of one dimensional and a bit bland. I'm glad I tried it, but I can find other local RIS's that are equal in quality. (803 characters)

Photo of crossovert
3.6/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle purchased from the Bell's General Store.

Pours into my pint a dark black with slight ruby edges when held to light. The head is thick and creamy and large. It is brown/tan and leaves thick lacing behind.

SMell is very carmally, also some molasses, nuts, maple, brown sugar, coffee, and cocoa.

Mouthfeel is extra thick but the alcohola nd slight carbonation do bite the lips. It tastes chocolatey and fruity, with a definite alcohol bite. It is pretty sweet and bittersweet but it doesn't reach cloying levels. This is one of those big ass beers that you drink to warm up. They could have bumped it up to 12% though considering the strength of the alcohol already on the palate.

This is a big and bold Russian imperial stout, but for a true Michigan jewel I recommend the Dark Horse Plead the 5th. (813 characters)

Photo of uwmgdman
3.6/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The beer pours a jet black into my pint glass with a moderate dark tan head. The aroma is highly roasted; coffee like, moderately sweet and there is a little chocolate and alcohol aroma. The flavor is highly roasty, there is a strong bittersweet malt flavor as well and a bit of alcoholic bite. The carbonation is medium and body is very full. Overall this brew is well done, coming in over 10% ABV the alcohol bite is appropriate, not overly harsh. Definitely one to sip……..one in a night. (492 characters)

Photo of corywalston
3.6/5  rDev -14.1%

A. Aggressive poor and a ballet of bubbles and a reverse waterfall of deliciousness. This must be what the universe look like being born. A sliver of black at the bottom of the glass that grows into existence out of the ether. Once the show is over there is 2 inches of brown head that retains its structure.
S. Sweet, liquorish, coffee, taffee, dark fermented figs.
T. Smokey, charcoal, liquorish, soy sauce, coca. After Taste is charcoal, figs, and slight onion but in a very good way.
M. Thick delicious creamy syrup. Hell yah
O. Very good, I would definitely recommend to Imperial stout lovers. This is almost as good as Great Devide's Yeti. I was told it gets better with age, so there will be a case in the basement next to the Yeti. (740 characters)

Photo of isubsmith
3.6/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours like beer syrup. Extra dark. Large thick brown head.

Smell: Wow. Very very strong aroma. Lots of chocolate and strong espresso coffee tastes. Faint hints of the high alcohol. Lots of roasty smells.

Taste: Bitter chocolate and bitter espresso. Lots of hops. Rather creamy mouthfeel. Bitter roasty flavors linger on the tongue.

Drinkability: Not the most drinkable imperial stout. Too bitter for me. It's hard to drink anything after this beer. I've certainly had other imperial stouts that don't leave such a lingering taste. (552 characters)

Photo of kingcrowing
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a chalice.

Pours a thick oily back with bascally no head or bubbles at all. Nose is very roasted and burnt. It's slightly boozy but very well covered given the high abv.

Taste is a bit harsh but mellowing as it warms. Burnt coffee dominates and leaves a bit of an unplesant aftertaste is slightly bitter and harsh. (340 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

It’s big and pretty good, but my bottle need more time. There’s too much alcohol flavor and the chocolate and coffee taste feel like they’re only just budding. There’s a nice addition of hops flavor under the malt, but the alcohol that follows leaves a bad feel. (266 characters)

Photo of TexIndy
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Re-review: original 7/10/07 review at bottom:
Brought back from Indy during Xmas. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Back label has bottling code that you can check on website. This one was bottle in late Sept. It was dark black in color even against a light. Slight carb in center with sliding, non-stick lacing. It had a small dark brown head that quickly evaporated into a very thin collar.

The aroma was coffee, dark fruit, roasted malt and still a big hint of the 10.5% ABV. Didn't really enjoy - too much dark fruit and alcohol for me. The taste followed the aroma. Too much dark fruit and alcohol and not enough coffee, roasted malt or chocolate that I find in the RIS that I really enjoy. Creamy texture but too bitter a finish and ABV too present.

Overall, this one misses the mark for me. Shame since I really love most other Bell's and most RIS. One and done (OK two and done since I did re-sample it).

***Original 7/10/07 review***
4.5 4.0 3.5 4.0 3.5
Got from my brother-in-law in Indy. Poured from a 12oz bottle with a bottling code on back label. It was a dark black color. It had about a finger of dark brown head that settled into a thin film. Slight lacing. The aroma was coffee, roasted malts and a big hint of the ABV. The taste was good but had a really bitter finish that kinda ruined it for me. It got better as it continued to warm but still too much. This is only the 2nd RIS I've had with Siberian Nights being the other. I loved the Siberian so not sure which is more representative of the style but hoping Siberian. I can see why this is highly regarded but it's just not for me. (3.5, RB, T, O) (1,637 characters)

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bell's Expedition Stout
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.50 %

LOOK: Pours a dark brown, almost black, with a solid inch of brown foam. Mostly clear with no sediment.

SMELL: Roasted malt with a good amount of burnt aromas, pumpernickel bread, and alcohol.

TASTE: In the flavor there is more of the roasted flavor, a bit of a yeasty twang, bread, spiked coffee, and definitely some clean and assertive alcohol flavor. Bitterness has died down to a suggestion and works with the alcohol bite. Faint chocolate, coffee, but mostly just roasted flavor with a kick of booze.

FEEL: Full bodied, smooth, medium carbonation. Has a bit of alcohol and burnt flavor lingering into the finish.

OVERALL: A pretty standard Imperial Stout, big in its ways, but certainly enjoyable. Can be aged for extended periods of time, but the alcohol will always be there, as it is a big part of the flavor. (912 characters)

Photo of Homerbag
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours like used motor oil and looks about the same. Leaves a creamy caramel colored head that retains as a thin foam head.

Alcohol smell takes center stage followed by some biteresweet chocolate, coffee, and some dark fruit. Taste is sweet like dark fruit and chocolate, but leaves a very bitter after taste like a strong cup of espresso.

This feels good. Thick and creamy coating the tounge. This is the best feature of this beer.

This isn't bad. Isn't good. It will not be hard to finish, but not one I will look for again. (528 characters)

Photo of LauraAlberts
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black Motor Oil with Tan Head

Smell: Smells sweeter than it is - orangy Butterscotch

Taste: Ricola, Butterscotch, Toast & Dark Chocolate

Mouthfeel: Full Bodied stout beer

Drinkability: Definitely a sipper. I was kind of unimpressed with this stout. There is a bunch of hype going on about it because we're finally getting it here in Charleston. Enjoyable. (371 characters)

Photo of EllaLythe
3.57/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a Sam's Pint glass

Looks good pouring from a height of six inches to get some kind of head. Not much luck in that department. Plenty of lacing through out.

Smells like a wonderful rich toasted malt filled tongue pleaser

Taste is black malt and viscous coffee and alcohol. Slightly cloying aftertaste. The thickness is the real downside for me. A little lighter would have been great.

I liked it overall but this maybe my last six pack. Just didn't compare to some other Imperial Stouts I've had. (525 characters)

Photo of profzoom
3.56/5  rDev -15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a bold stout with a thick black color and a gorgeous chocolate milk head. Its high alcohol content is not hidden by its aroma. The sweet malt smell is accompanied by the distinct scent of alcohol. The taste is similar; robust, almost tangy malts which are unable to mask the taste of the alcohol. This is a beer one must definitely sit down and experience. It's not for relaxing or shooting the breeze. Like many of Bell's beers, it is of high quality but doesn't stand out as something exceptional. (507 characters)

Photo of djmichaelk
3.56/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle (courtesy of Bucwild, thanks Dave!) into a snifter.

A - Very black, with just a bit of maroon edging when held to the light. Only a rumor of head, with the slightest of rings around the glass. Wisps of what might be considered lacing remain on the glass. If it had legs it'd be great looking.

S - When freshly poured, it definitely reminds me of cheerios, along with some caramelized sugar. Some dark fruits -- figs and raisins -- linger in the background. And a hint of the alcohol to come.

T - Again with that bready, cheerio-ey, oat taste, which is very pleasant to me. Not much in the way of the sweetness that I got in the nose, but there is a lactic cherry flavor lurking somewhere in there (which doesn't bother me in the slightest). I usually expect coffee flavors in this style, but I'm not getting any of that here. The roastiness is very much in the back.

M - Thick and viscous, like motor oil. As it should be. The strong flavors stick around for a while after each sip. The high alcohol gives it a dryness that keeps it from being cloying.

D - Over 10% abv shows in this one. It doesn't burn, but it makes itself known early on. More than one of these and you're probably done for the afternoon (although it's morning for me -- hey, don't judge me!).

O - Nice one from Bell's. In my search for the perfect morning beer, this might not quite fit the bill, but it definitely makes an impression. I'd like to have this available to me regularly. (1,478 characters)

Photo of sidetracked
3.56/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a good dark brown head present. Spots and a ring of head linger.

Smell is bitter roasted malts, lots of sweet molasses, a little dark rum soaked fruit, and some alcohol heat.

Roasty malts mix with bittersweet chocolate and sweet molasses and brown sugar upfront. Little dark fruit sweetness. Taste follows through to the finish. Little more roasted bitterness and alcohol heat at the finish.

Full bodied and syrupy with a little chewiness and light carbonation. Little chalky and powdery. Some alcohol heat at the finish.

Fairly sweet overall with lots of molasses and brown sugar. Roasted bitterness helps round the taste out at the finish. Pretty standard. I remember this beer being better than this in the past. Bottle from winter 2010/2011.

5/2/2011 (776 characters)

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
93 out of 100 based on 1,981 ratings.