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

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

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

5,471 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,471
Reviews: 2,012
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 10.59%
Wants: 465
Gots: 1,402 | FT: 114
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,471 | Reviews: 2,012
Photo of benito
5/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Here is a wonderful beer.

Dark as midnight, oily and heavy with a dark tan head that dissipates quickly. The bouquet is a mix of currant, rum, and dark chocolate (pure cocoa). Yet, it is the complexity of the taste, the swirl of different spices and flavors--coconut, cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, raisin, burnt wood, black pepper, and smoke--that makes me swoon.

The various layers of flavor weave in and out of a smooth, albeit heavy, texture that glides across the tongue, leaving a slightly bittersweet aftertaste. For something so heavy, so strong, and so complex, I moved through my first bottle of this with frightening speed and would have kept going if I had had more on hand.

This may be the RIS by which all others should be measured. Like so many of Bell's great beers, this offering is the classiest of acts, a tasty brew, faithful to style that begs to be tried and explored again and again.

Perhaps the expedition is as much a reference to what tasting this beer entails as anything else...

Photo of kirok1999
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Love it or hate it. There seems to be no middle ground.

Appearance- Black as night with a burnt chocolate minimal head. Thick and creamy

Smell- Burnt chocolate, roasted malt, and slight coffee.

Taste- Here's the rub. You either love the burnt chocolate taste or not. There is no question this is a massive brew, It assaults you with chocolate, roasted malts, and hops.

Mouthfeel- Thick and creamy, clings like cough syrup.

Drinkability- Just got this and I'm on my third so I guess it's drinkable to me. This one is on the edge, like I said. love it or hate it.

Photo of RedwoodGeorge
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The pour was much more exciting that I first thought - this comes out a thick, chunky, heavy black liquid that kind of "plops" into the glass with no release of carbonation at all. "Oh great," I thought, "a heavy, flat stout - yippee..." I finished the pour with a flourish but still no more than a few bubbles. I turned my back to toss the bottle in the recycling bin and by the time I turned back around - beercano! A huge head of mocha foam had risen up, out and over the pint glass leaving a small black puddle on the countertop. Even in a very thin layer in the puddle it was completely opaque. The remaining three finger head stuck around for a long time and left a surprising amount of lacing on the glass.

The aroma was very nice - lots of heavy fruit notes with a dark sweet malt and cocoa scents mixed in.

The taste was just short of perfect. (My stout loving girlfriend may not rate beer here on BA but one sip and she declared "This is the best beer I've ever tasted!") There are very strong notes of fig and raisin on top of a rather sweet caramel and treacle base. Echoes of dark chocolate and coffee serve to finish each sip. No hint of alcohol at all - though some of the sweetness may have been due to the high ABV. Good balance to the flavors - they're all strong but none of them is overpowering.

Mouthfeel is rather impressive as well. This is a seriously heavy bodied brew with a viscosity close to maple syrup but it didn't leave a sweet or sticky residue on the palate (quite a trick) There was still enough fine bodied carbonation left to give the beer a creamy consistency similar to hot cocoa. Just a small amount of roasted grain bittering at the end but it's enough to provide a good finish.

Wow - what a beer! I can't imagine how they could have improved it. (Well, okay, if they had tossed it in an oak barrel for a few months it could have been even more awesome but that's about it) This brew was just shy of perfect in nearly every category.

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tumbler. The beer was completely black with a thin tan head. The aroma is sweet and malty. The flavor is rich with malt and chocolate and other things that kick ass. It's perfect for the style, maybe even better than Batch 7000 due to easier drinkability.

Photo of Beaver13
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, batch 6811. Pours an opaque black with an almost non-existent dark brown head that is quickly gone.

The aroma is sweet chocolate, lots of alcohol, raisins, anise and cola.

The flavor is the same as the aroma...very sweet chocolate malts, lots of alcohol, and some dark fruits. It finishes sweet and sugary but with a burnt bitterness that helps to balance it out some. The mouthfeel is medium to full and smooth but low on carbonation.

I was worried that this would be another disappointment like the Mephistopheles. It was similar in some ways (lots of sweetness and alcohol), but this was not as over the top and better balanced. Still a little to sweet and alcoholic for me.

Photo of neonbrown82
4.62/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is the second time I've had this brew. The first time was obviously a bad batch with a thick jism-like substance coating the bottom of the bottle, what I presumed was yeast and proteins.

The beer pours to a completely opaque black with a very thin chocolatey head. Tried hard to get more foam, but the high alcohol must have prevented it from getting to where I would have liked it to be. Pours very thick and viscous, almost as thick as I've seen.

The smell is good. Very sweet with molasses with some rich roasted barley and fruity esters. A little bit smokey. Quite complex and interesting, but still has that hint of anise and soy sauce that prevents me from giving it the extra .5%.

The taste is very similar. Very rich, flavorful and complex. I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Expedition Stout. If I were to pick out one prime example of Imperial Stout, I would be hard pressed to choose between Sam Smith's, Stone's, and this one.

The body is uber thick and chewey. Very nice. Not too bitter or sweet, doesn't dry out too bad in the finish. Good stuff. This sludge almost demands a knife and fork to drink it. As good as it is, it would be hard to drink much more than one in a night. I'm glad I decided to give it another chance and have 2 more in the cellar.

Photo of PorterLambic
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer doesn't pour out of the bottle, it flows. Velvety smooth, no fuss, it knows where it's going. It arrives pitch black with a medium brown head 1 & 1/2" thick. small to medium sized bubbles. Fabulous retention and massive sheets of lace.
Smell is roasted malts, smoke, soy, peat/earth, nuts, serious dark chocolate, you know, the 70% kind. Nice complexity and great balance.
Taste is very close to the nose. Rich, malty, smoke, peat/earth, soy and noticeable but not overpowering alcohol bloom.
I had no idea this brew was 11.5%. Chewy, creamy, borderline viscous, it just flows across your tongue. Full bodied with light effervescence. Unexpected, but pleasant, memories of Samiclaus without the overwhelming presence of that brew. This beer is what the uninitated think all dark beers are, and in this case, it is as it should be. This is a stout that can easily be the standard-bearer for the style.

Photo of geexploitation
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. This one looks HUGE right out of the bottle. It pours incredibly thick, yet silky smooth, with a great big, ruby brown head that leaves a dusting on top of the beer and lacing on the sides of the glass. No light escapes from this beer. The nose of this stout is full of great burnt smells -- espresso, caramel, molasses -- and some yeasty dark fruits and berries. The aroma reminds me very much of Victory's Storm King Stout, actually.

Tastewise, again, "huge" is the theme here. Tons of sweet dark berry flavors, followed by burnt coffee, dark chocolate, and just a hint of peppery alcohol. Considering this thing is 11.5 percent ABV, it hides its alcohol extremely well. Expedition Stout rolls around the mouth with extreme thickness and creaminess, almost like a melted milkshake. I could swill this stuff all night were it not for the staggering -- literally -- ABV. Oh well. Maybe some things are better in moderation.

Photo of Bumpon10s
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A bottle from batch 6811 that I let warm up a bit before opening.

A - Black with a tan head that dissapates into a bumpy lace. Looks thick before it ever hits your mouth.

S - Coffee and chocolate, sweet but with just enough roast to stop it from being sugar. For sure a bittersweet chocolate resides.

T - Roast at the very front, and very back, otherwise all chocolate. A very sweet RIS, most are a charcoal fire in my mouth. Also, if you know what you are looking for you can still get a nice hop touch out in front.

M - Outside of maybe Dark Lord, and maybe even running with that, the richest and creamiest I've had. Super thick and smooth.

D - Drinkability is outstanding, even at a more than wealthy 11.5%. I've had this a few times, and this is the first time I am reviewing it and for some reason it seems so much better this time around.

Photo of Erdinger2003
3.93/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is very nice, the head is thick and doesn't dissapte very fast and has a good lacing that sticks. Black color is solid.

Smell has coffee, molasses, dark fruit tones and is full in body and flavor.

Taste has flavors of coffee, molasses, and slight flavors of dark fruit like prune.

Mouthfeel is very silky and smooth, very nice.

Drinkable for sure, I would buy this for sure.

Photo of SethB2
4.36/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of badbeer
4.78/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown, almost black, pretty thick tan head leaving waves, yes waves of lacing on the glass. Chocolate aroma, only a faint coffee smell and a little bit of alcohol in the nose; a little more coffee roasted flavor and this would have had a five. Chocolate starts you off, leading you into a bit of coffee flavor mixed with some hopiness, then chocolate and coffee paired together with an alcohol warmth at the finish. A complete joyride the taste is. Thick, full bodied, little carbonation and seems to be perfect. Each drink is great and an all out experience of the senses, just a little short of perfect. With reviews varying in quality levels, I'm glad I picked up a good one. Scratch that, great one.

Photo of Fugazme
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black... just as expected. No head to speak of, but some dark tan lacing. Wonderful stick to the glass goodness.

Huge chocolatey-sweet aroma. Large roasted malt smells... whiff is wonderful... big coffee and nice caramel and bourbon.

Mouthfeel is exceptional... silky smooth palate. Milky. Slight alcohol burn in the throat and stomach. Utterly terrific.

Taste is chocolatey/coffee... large roasted grain leftover on the palate and a great balance of alcohol. A truly great example of this style.

Photo of kdmorse
4.58/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Black from top to bottom and edge to edge. Capped with 1/2 inch of beautiful khaki head. Gorgeous smoke, coffee, and dark chocolate aromas with whisps of bitter hops. Some sweet fruity (prunes) alcohol in the nose. Hits the tongue with a wave of coffee perfection. Sweet prune and chocolately flavors as well. Low but appropriate carbonation levels. Thick, but not creamy, mouthfeel. Drinks well for alcohol content, but because of alcohol aroma/taste, it would be hard to do too many.

Photo of waughbrew
4.94/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thick black with a slow-to-rise, not-too-tall, very dark, not-long-lasting-but-laces-some head. Smells like a salted chocolate bagel - very doughy like that. Tastes like deep cocoa fudge with mellow raspberry. Oily and strong herbage. Very nice, though I could like a little more bite. The alcohol is at a perfect level. Thick feel, but not slick and not fluffy: quite amazing really. Finish is balanced and lovely, and welcomes another sip. This is godly.

Photo of skizziks
3.83/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. Pour gives about an inch of dark cocoa foam, thick, leaves thick sheets on the side as it settles. A thin layer sticks around for a long time. The beer is a deep mahogany, not quite opaque.

Aroma is immediately vinous, roasty, with raisins and figs. Deep and complex.

Flavor starts out with some sharp acid, vinous with a wash of malt syrup. Figs follow with coffee beans and cocoa leading to a long lingering finish of burnt coffee. A little astringent, but not overpoweringly so. A nice counterpoint to the syrupy sweetness and roasted bitter.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and thick. Coats the tongue with a lasting impression of powdered cocoa. I don't mean to give the idea that this is some sort of cocoa flavored beer, but there is definitely an element of unsweetened cocoa down in there with all of the other flavors. This is a wonderful, rich, complex beer. I have been sipping on this one for about an hour and a half and enjoying the hell out of it. Drinkability is rated low because the burnt flavors really slow me down (in a good way) where others of the style are relatively easy to sip continuously. Overall, this is a very very good beer.

Photo of Shovelbum
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours…like motor oil. Dark brown, almost like the foam on chocolate milk but darker, finger and half head over a solid black body. Head recedes but leaves a delicate web of chocolate lace. Rich aromas of chocolate, a bit of espresso and a light nuttiness. A trace of earthy hops as well. Upfront, the flavor is the embodiment of richness. Smooth, sweet milk chocolate flavor provides the base joined by a bit of burnt espresso. The scene changes however when a spicy, earthy character makes itself known half-way through the sip. Also a nice vinous fruit character throughout and delectable sweetness that is there in quite a substantial way, but is never demands center stage. Full bodied—no doubt about that. Low to moderate carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel with a clean finish.

Praise the heavens this fine ale. Waves of complexity unfold in your mouth in nearly perfect succession. Depth too. To do this one justice most certainly requires more research. That and a larger vocabulary.

Photo of Graham21
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

BLACK BLACK BLACK! This beer is dark, looks like motor oil. Head was only about a mm thick and left nice lacing in the glass.

In the nose I picked up on chocolate, cherries, roasted malts, hops, light coffee and maple undertones.
I tasted chocolate covered cherries, sweet and roasted malts, raisins, along with maple and coffee undertones, coffee becoming very stong in the aftertaste.
Carbonation is lacking to say the least, and the alcohol isnt hidden, it burns my throat slightly, but the beer seems to be fairly creamy and oil like on the palate. I enjoyed this imperial stout but would have enjoyed it more if the finish would have been smoother and the carbonation would have been there.

Photo of ybnorml
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A black beer, pours like ink. Has a small deep brown head. The aroma starts with hints of cherries. With a deep chocolaty malt coming in stronly behind it. There is a quick rush of cherry like sweetness that runs over your tongue. Followed rich strong dark chocolate/bittersweet chocolate character. Sort of the beer equivilent of biting into an expensive chocolate covered cherry liquor.
Thanks skyhand

Photo of woodychandler
4.53/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

My first reaction was "WTF, did they fill my bottle with motor oil by mistake?!?" I tried an aggressive pour and still only managed wisps of head in the glass. The beer was viscous, black (even the white bits was black), oily, with the only head a thin coating on the top of the liquid. The nose was huge with alcohol and chocolate. The mouthfeel was both slick and thick. After my first swallow, I realized that Larry ain't playin' around here. This is lights out action in a bottle. Nitey nite. My notes remind me to sic Carolyn Blowers on this one, since she has proven capable of drinking Russian Imperial Stouts first thing in the morning. I got an interesting mix of bittersweet chocolate, charcoal, and smoke floating across my tongue. The finish was smoky and chocolaty, just beautiful. My notes ended because of a sudden urge to lie down.

Photo of brentk56
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

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

Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.85/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this paired with FFF Dark Lord in a tasting with Crosling. (PROPS TO CROSLING!!!!) Talk about sensory overload!

Vigorous pour into a tulip glass produces a black opaque body under a decent light brown reverse-cascading head.

Smell of dark chocolate covered raisins, prunes, malty malt on malted malt.

Taste of intense sweet malt, chocolate malt, raisins, figs, charred apples(?), espresso, rye bread and pepper. Ridiculously intense.

Mouthfeel is thick and rich, like a melted chocolate malt. It's round, dense, full, smooth and chewy, with a gluteny, bread-like quality.

Very drinkable for 11.5%. Wowow. Dangerous.

Overall, this is the most incredible beer for the money I've ever had: at $2.33 for a 12-ounce bottle (= 19.43 cents per ounce), it is nearly as good as Dark Lord, which is $15 for 22 ounces (=68.2 cents per ounce).
So . . . for those 364 days a year when you can't lay your hands on a Dark Lord, this is a great and very affordable next best.

Photo of shroompod
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

Photo of bennetj17
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of the thickest black pours I've seen, with a thin burnt amber foam crust that dissipates fast. The smell has light toasted milk chocolate notes, with a hint of raspberry and cherry. Slight alcoholic nose also. The taste begins with sweet chocolate and mild hops, the finish turns dry with a roasty bitterness that I enjoy immensely, though it is fairly subdued. Alcohol is not that noticible, but does burn a bit as it goes down. Thick and chewy mouthfeel, rich with subtle carbonation.

This stout nearly achieves a delicate balance, except the smoky finish is slightly overpowered by the fruity chocolate malt that is perhaps overly sweet. It's a strong brew also, making it hard to drink more that one or two. It is one of the best Imperial Stouts I've tried, yet it still could be better...

Photo of bahumutx
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 5,471 ratings.