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

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

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5,071 Ratings
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Ratings: 5,071
Reviews: 1,934
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 427
Gots: 1,168 | 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: 5,071 | Reviews: 1,934 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of socon67
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

At Hackney's in Chicago

A - Black pour with a mocha colored foam. Settles quickly and has an inky look to it. Looks ominous and so inviting.

S - Smells of cocoa powder, and currants. Also has a lingering scent of molasses that reminded me of a cruise to Barbados.

T - Sweet and heavy on the malt. Strong flavors of chocolate and brown sugar.

M - Syrupy thick, but maybe a bit to slick. Makes for a stout that is nice but not sessionable, and more for the feel and chalkiness than the ABV.

O - Enjoyable stout that is great to sip after a good meal. A good showing by Bells

Photo of cjgator3
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- The pour is a thick dark black color reminiscent of motor oil that produces a tan head. There is no light coming through this puppy.

S- The aroma is dark roasted malt, chocolate and alcohol soaked fruits.

T- The taste is dark and roasty and warming from the alcohol with a bitter finish from the hops.

M- The mouthfeel is very thick and chewy with little carbonation. This is one of the thickest beers that I have tried.

D- The high ABV hinders the drinkability of this brew but it is not meant to drink a sixer of these in one sitting. It is a very nice brew to sip on a chilly night.

This is another great stout from Bell's, I look forward to trying this every winter.

Photo of jegross2
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing the Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Score: 91

Fresh 2011 bottle served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Dark brown, opaque body -- light does not cut through the beer at all. Pours a finger and a half of mocha-colored head that sticks around a while. 4/5

Smell: Rich, malty milk chocolate, some roasted coffee tones and a faint booziness aroma. The milk chocolate aroma is absolutely divine. 4.5/5

Taste: Smooth roasted chocolate, brown sugar and lots of hops Some dark fruit too. Finishes with a light note of bitter coffee in addition to the above mentioned flavors. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, viscous beer with minimal carbonation. The finish is savory. 4/5

Overall: A very affordable, solid Russian Imperial Stout that is widely available and easy to find when in season. The aroma of the beer is absolutely wonderful, though the flavor lacks some of the creamy milk chocolate characters that were present in the aroma and is a bit hop-heavy out of the gate. The flavor of the beer is nothing innovative, and very "average" and straight-forward for the style, but pretty delicious nonetheless. Another reliable beer from Bells that is quite drinkable.

Recommendation: A very good starter Russian Imperial Stout for casual beer drinkers. Beer geeks are implored to try this one as well.

Pairings: Steak.

Cost: $15.99 for a six pack.

Photo of lou91
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this stout straight and high into the center of my Delirium Noel glass to try and get a head but to no avail. It poured still and looked like soy sauce – black and opaque. The nose was like a stout perfume with scents of roasting coffee, sugar and alcohol. The taste is intense with chocolate, coffee and buttered rum. Rich, thick and delicious. Try it with a piece of good chocolate and experience bliss. My only qualm would be the need to vintage date the bottle to see if time helps. Didn’t see any sediment so maybe this is not bottle conditioned.

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Motor oil viscosity pouring out of the bottle! Brown head dissipates quickly to a nice collar.

Smells like chocolate malts, raspberries, blackberries, red apples and a bit of grassy hops. Quite complex.

Mouthfeel is uber thick and creamy. Would have liked to have aged this a while, but phuket...didnt feel like packing it in my luggage. Tastes like alcohol, dark berries, raisins, hay and espresso. This is a big beer and it lets you know it. The high hop content would allow for some good aging and let all the flavors melt together. I could see this being an A+ with a year or so under it's belt.

Photo of Murchmac
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in 1/08 thanks to Flandersned for letting me try this gem.

Dark dark look with some nice looking legs to it.

Heat, barleywine kinda smell to it, dark fruits, figs, carmalized dark fruits,

Sweet balanced taste, some chocolate, some toasty roastyness and cocoa. Excellent.

Good beer with some age on it, probably really good fresh too.

Photo of LooseMoose1978
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of aracauna
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Imperial Stout Blind Tasting notes (11-16-02): Another no-header. Pitch black. Nice rich aroma, chocolate fruitiness, coffee. The flavor is bitter, nice roasty. Creamy mouthfeel. Smooth.

It didn't matter how hard I poured the beer, there was no head gonna form. This is an intensely black beer that sucks the light from the surrounding aread giving it a sort of dark halo. Light can't even pass through the edges. When you pour, you immediately pick up chocolately, coffeeish aromas before you even lean in for a sniff. Upon closer inspection a bit of caramel can be picked up. The flavor is very similiar to the smell except that it explodes on your tongue and can be overwhelming at first. Huge. It leaves the same aftertaste as dark coffee with cream. The mouthfeel is very creamy and chewy. It's a very rich, dessert-like beer.

Photo of AdamMY
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The color is nice and dark, and poured a half centemeter of dirty head which has been fading very slowly.

Smells a bit hoppy, and bitter like a really strong coffee, and bitter chocolate.

The taste is strong, lots of roasted malt. The taste is borderline burnt but oh so strong, and there are actually slight hints of a grapefruit note hidden in there.

The finish is great, lots of caramelized sugars, but again borderline burnt.

But the mouth feel is impeccable, so smooth and creamy.

The drink ability is way to good for a beer with this High of an ABV. Perhaps I need to have more Russian Imperial Stouts.

Photo of MikeRoper1989
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this one on tap a month or two ago and decided to grab a bottle from work tonight to try it again.

Appearance - It is very dark. Black. I poured this into a tulip and hardly got a head on it, but what was there stuck around.

Smell - A nice sweet malty smell. I was getting some coffee and chocolate in the smell.

Taste - Very similar to the smell. A very heavy and malty beer with some coffee taste up front and chocolate coming after. The 10.5% ABV is hidden.

Mouthfeel - Kinda syrupy. The taste is sticking around on my lips and leaves a coating in my mouth. Not a bad thing though.

Overall - I enjoyed this beer more when I had it on tap a month or two back, but it is still great and one that I recommend for anyone looking for a nice stout for dessert.

Photo of StlHopHead77
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a sinister,opaque black with a 1/2 inch of lasting,mocha head that dwindled slowly leaving a nice film of lacing.

S-Rich,dark roast coffee,dark toast and bittersweet

T-Refined coffee,scalded milk,lightly charred malts
and creamy chocolate.

M-Creamy,full bodied and smooth.No hint of ABV at all.Really nicely done.

O-A readily available and high quality stout.

Photo of 57md
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is a deep, dark brown with more than a finger of fluffy tan head. The head seems to linger forever and leaves thin lace rings on the glass. The nose is surprisingly muted for a beer as big as this one – a whiff of alcohol is the most noticeable thing.

This offering is certainly rich and creamy, but the roast profile is just not quiet up to other top shelf RISs. The best part of the drinking experience is the finish when the coffee notes come on relatively strong.

This is a bit of a mixed bag, but certainly a tasty RIS.

Update on 11/21/2014:
Sampled a 15 month old bottle from the 2013 vintage today.

It was definitely superior. The nose was more potent and the flavors were deeper and better defined – except, as expected, the coffee notes were non-existent. I edited my rating for this offering upward as a result of this sample.

Next up: I want to try a 2 year old + sample of this fine RIS.

Photo of Gavage
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep black color with no head. The aroma was huge, as espresso and alcohol were most notible. The flavors followed the aroma as roasted malt, espresso, and alcohol pummeled the tastebuds into overload. Decent bittering balanced this out.

But this bottle poured with no head and was relatively flat compared to others like Storm King. Do not know if this was an aberation, but this caused a lower score in mouthfeel. Drinkability is decent, but the alcohol level was a little over the top.

Photo of Tone
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, jet black. 1/4 inch head of a dark tan color. Great retention and Good lacing. Smells strongly of sweet malt, slight hops, alcohol, and some roasted malts. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Thick and smooth mouth feel. Low carbonation level present, and a noticeable bitterness and dryness left on the palate. Tastes of strong malt, roasted malt, slight hop kick noticeable, some chocolate, and an overall sweetness. Strong body along with a slight alcohol flavor. Overall, a good complex beer full of different malt flavors.

Photo of BPMeyer27
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%

Photo of mnstorm99
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is the first RIS I ever tasted. I have had this beer at room temp 70*, out of the fridge 40*, and 15 minutes out of the fridge 47*. I will highly recommending refridgerating it then let it rest in your glass a little while.
Great oily opaque black color with a nice tan head that hangs on for dear life, lacing never stops. Smell is awesome with a hint of sweet malty carmel, coffee and anise. taste is much like the aroma, maybe not quite as pronounced, but now you find the hops, hidden just below the malty flavors. in the mouth this beer feels like a smooth chewy stout like it should. Drinkability is a little lower only in regard to the fact that one of these is enough for me in a sitting, very sweet almost a dessert beer.

Photo of brystmar
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been wanting to try this for awhile; thanks to funkyaudio for the bottles!

A: Black pour, active java-colored head springs to life before receding. Beady lace.

S: Rich mocha with an emphasis on the coffee. Roasted malts and chocolate compliment the coffee well. Could enjoy this aroma all night!

T: Chocolate, espresso, molasses, and roasted malts blend together magnificently. Sweetness in the middle, but finishes with bitter coffee and some boozy warmth. Rich & decadent overall; would pair perfectly with a chocolate cake a la mode.

M/D: Creamy and smooth texture makes this brew quite drinkable. Wish they sold this in NYC :(

Had high hopes for this one, and Expedition Stout lived up to them. One of the best shelf RISes.

Photo of br3wmeister
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- One inch medium brown head that looks almost like oatmeal. Tiny frothy bubbles with some lumpy texture. Good head retention with some lacing. This beer is jet black, it does not let any light through.

S- I really enjoyed the smell of this beer, it really has a lot going on. Lots of coffee dark chocolate and even some burnt toast. On the sweeter side some caramel, dark fruits and molasses. There were also some hints of ginger bread, alcohol.

T- Complex layers of sweet and roasty bitterness. Sweet caramel and molasses hits the tongue first then some dark chocolate, roasted barley and hints of dark fruit, maybe cherries. Some alcohol warmth in the end.

M- Thick. This is a full bodied beer that takes control of your mouth. Not much carbonation but some hoppy bite helps to balance things out.

Overall- This is a pretty big beer, 12 ounces of this RIS is all you really need. Small bottle.. big beer.

Photo of Naugros
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really dark with one of the darkest heads I've ever seen on a was almost brown. However, it's one of the thinnest heads I've seen on a stout and the retention is not all that great.

The smell took me aback as it smelled like a Belgian triple at first more than a stout, but the usual cast of characters are hiding in the back. Super malty with raisins in the forefront with coffee bitterness and chocolate behind and a touch of bourbon...okay more than a touch...a bit more.

It tastes more like a stout than a Belgian double though and that makes me smile. The coffee comes to the front and a chalky chocolate follows it, adding to a standard RIP mouthfeel. The alcohol does make an appearance in the finish supplying bourbon-like notes. The raisins detected in the nose are gone. Very yummy!

If you're used to drinking RIPs, you'll love this example once you start to drink it. There's nothing special to make it stand out, but it is a solid effort

Photo of bevdaddy
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured in to a TK Tulip from batch 9512. picked up on a recent trip to Philly.

A - Pours out nice and black. In contrast to other reviews, I got a good almost two finger head on this beer which was a nice brown cocoa color.

S - Big whiff of roasted malts. Im getting equal parts chocolate and coffee. there may be a bit of caramel in there too. and i'm also getting some alcohol.

T - the first thing that comes to mind is the balance. all the bigger flavors (coffee, chocolate, some sweetness, roasted malt in general) are all even. nothing stands out too much. and i mean that in a good way. not detecting the hops until i concentrate - so a bit less than other reviews. definite "hotness" present but in a comforting way (less alcohol than i expected after smelling it).

M - medium to low carbonation. but not an issue. feels full and creamy - i really like the mouthfeel on this beer for this style.

D - i like the beer alot, but don't see myself having more than one. for the 10.5 ABV, they did a great job on smoothness, but it is a very rich beer.

Photo of Phelps
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 9512, which means it was bottled in December 2009. An 8-month-aged stout? Don't mind if I do!

Looks: Stygian. The liquid creeps from the bottle an inky, syrupy, dense, all-encompassing black. Absolutely ZERO light penetration. The head is such a late arrival I'd almost given up hope of it even showing up to this party, but when it comes, it does so in full form: nearly 1.5 fingers of thick, sticky mahogany. While it leaves rather quickly, it doesn't go quietly; great expanses of unbroken lace grip the sides of the glass.

Smells: like all the best parts of roasted malt. Espresso, dark chocolate, molasses, tree bark, steak, a tinge of vanilla and charred oak. If I didn't know any better, I'd say this was wood-aged.

Tastes: charred. These malt must have been roasted to within an inch of their lives, as the flavor of twice-burnt toast overloads the palate. While the liquid sits in the mouth, the beer's raw and woodsy -- I get a lot of pine, oak and fruity dates. After the swallow, waves of flavors shift and transition like the hues of the Wizard of Oz's horse of a different color. First there's vanilla, then brown sugar, then port, then peanut skins, then plums, then rum, and a satisfying finish of bitter espresso and charcoal rounds it all out. Each sip evokes a different experience.

Feels: treacly. Full-bodied and nearly syrupy, with a perfectly subtle carbonation. The alcohol is warming but not distracting -- impressive when you're wrangling in nearly 11 percent.

Drinks: below the radar. If Expedition Stout was a limited release, I can almost guarantee it would be a far more popular beer. As it is, it's one of the better RISes out there, and easily accessible -- an dangerous combination.

Photo of murphyl
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured thickly, about the consistency of Kahlua coming out of the bottle, pitch black, absolutely opaque (no joke - I put my emergency see-it-a-mile-away LED flashlight against the glass and saw nothing out the other side). Piles of toffee-colored head left copious lace on the glass.

Smell: Hmm, that's interesting. Alcohol is definitely right up front, along with chocolate, raisins and dried cherries (appropriate for Michigan, but in a stout...?). This certainly piques my interest.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Reminiscent of Kalamazoo Stout, only heavier and thicker, almost like a barley wine in terms of mouthfeel. Chocolate and rum flavors, plus a hefty hit of alcohol up front, fading a long, long roasted finish, with the dried cherries making an encore appearance.

Drinkability: I wouldn't advise you drink more than two of these a night, as the 11.5% ABV will sock your brain and your tastebuds into next week. As a nightcap, a special occasion beer or the end of a session, however, you could do far, far worse.

Photo of schoolboy
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a great big stout. It does not hit you when you open it or smell it, but the taste and especially the aftertaste are really where they should be.

It is a typically nearly opaque almost black color with a little head and beautiful lace. The aroma is subtle and roasty. The taste is a bitter hops blast of a stout. The sweetness is balanced by the bitterness. This I consider correct for the style.

The aftertaste is a wonderfully mouth full of bitter. It's the best part. I don't think I ever had this before and I don't know what I was waiting for!

Photo of eclipse54
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 ounce bottle from inlimbo77 (thanks!). "10105" is printed on the label, translating to a bottled on date of December 10, 2010. Poured into a DFH signature glass...

It pours a solid black with about a centimeter of brown, bubbly head. It dissipates rather quickly, leaving a ring around the edges a patch of bubbles in the center. Small, wet patches of bubbles are left clinging to the walls of the glass. Smells of dark fruits, some hops, chocolate, vanilla, and a bit of caramel. There's certainly a lot here, at it seems quite balanced in the nose. It tastes of chocolate, some fruity hops as well as some darker fruits (plum, date), and a bit of vanilla in the beginning. Towards the end, some roasted malt, more chocolate, and caramel come through. Mouth is rich, thick, and a bit dry on the finish. Overall, a very good stout that I’d love to have again.

Photo of nandemo1
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a pitch black with a thin tan head, and that required some aggressive pouring. Leaves a lot of tan lacing.

Smell is sweet raisin and chocolate. Taste is similar but includes coffee and molassas. Definitely some bitterness in there, balancing the sweetness, at first but then it lingers long afterwards. I'm not getting any alcohol, but this bottle is 11 months old.

Feel is pretty smooth, but sticky. Full bodied.

This is a good beer, but not an everyday go-to for me. It's bitter aftertaste is just a little abrasive for the style, I think.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,071 ratings.