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

2,079 Reviews
For Trade:
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002

User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,079 | Ratings: 5,933
Photo of egajdzis
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured an opaque black color with no head at all, and no lacing to boot. Had an aroma of chocolate, NUTS, and slightly roasted malts. This brew tasted like chocolate covered nuts, Very sweet, with a slight tinge of alcohol. It had a creamy, oily mouthfeel. The biggest of the night!

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Photo of cratez
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

355ml bottle, purchased by my girlfriend at Beer World in Largo, FL. Right off the bat I realized this is one of the best beers I've ever tasted. Ranked 11th on RateBeer's Top 50 in the US, and for good reason.

Pours an impenetrable black with a paper thin ring of tan/brown head. Dots of lacing all over the snifter. Stellar look.

Smell and taste are roasted malt, slight earthiness, fruity, floral, and resinous hops, figgy-plummy notes, thick caramel and taffy flavours, burnt toast, nuts, and a beautifully smoky aftertaste with warm, biting alcohol.

Full-bodied mouthfeel, syrupy in texture, with a dry coffee finish and some warmth going down. Lingering chalkiness on the palate.

Heaven in a bottle, the complexity defies description. Very close to a perfect beer.

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Photo of Meerkey
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Extremely dark. Almost black. Raw umber? Completely opaque, even when held up to the light.

S: Dark chocolate and coffee. Bitter. Malt. Very strong. Smells quite good.

T: Whoa. Creamy and sweet. A lot of the chocolate and coffee, the alcohol is present as well. Really complex.

M: Creamy and smooth, with carbonation and alcohol to kick in to keep it interesting. Bitter aftertaste.

D: This is wonderful. I recommend it.

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Photo of merlin48
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at room temperature into a Fuller's pint glass, this pours an inky, opaque dark brown with a fascinating head that is only 2 cm, but appears to give garnet hues on the tan fringe. Nice sheets of lace are left behind. Aroma is inviting, with a big mocha chocolate punch, some wood smoke, and a hint of alcohol. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, with medium carbonation. Taste is delicious. Creamy, milk chocolate dominates the palate, with burnt coffee, wood smoke, walnut nuttiness, raisins, and some English hops for bittering balance. Alcohol remains well hidden until it emerges a bit near room temperature. Finish is dry and bitter, with a bittersweet chocolate aftertaste. Exceptional flavor here, and very nice balance. One of the best stouts I've ever enjoyed.

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Photo of IBUnit63
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into Hess truck glass at parents' house...

WOW. Pours jet black like old motor oil. Brutally viscous with an almost jelly-like milk chocolate-colored head with strength. Blown away - can't get better than this.

Don't know how they did this but it smells like BBQ in the smoker and cinnamon toast all at once. Sweet, roasted malt is still not unbalanced at all.

Deep, thick roasted, smoky, charred malt combines with sweet brown sugar to generate one of the best beer tastes I've ever experienced. Still blown away - amazing.

So, so warm on the mouth - a tinge of carbonation keeps it from getting heavy.

I could drink more of this than I probably should - it's heavy, but quite drinkable. Again, one of the best beers in any style if not the best I've ever had. Awesome.

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Photo of fsvan
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into New Belgium globe.

A- Completely opaque black. No light gets through even at the edges. A finger of sticky brown head that persists for a good while.

S- Huge roasted malts and chocolate dominate. The alcohols is present, but while still cool is rather pleasant, adding a little kick to this malt bomb. Smell is very smooth.

T- The first thing that stands out is the bitterness is much greater than the nose would suggest. Tons of dark malt, chocolate, with a biting bitterness. A lovely finish that seems to go from bitter to sweet and back again.

M- An absolute mouth coater. This guy sticks around long after gone in the form of a sweet chocolate mouth coating.

O- A fantastic, albeit it huge, RIS. If you're up for a giant stout, Expedition fits the bill.

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Photo of Neehan
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle into pint glass.
Jet black body with a thick, fluffy brown head. Very bubbly and diligent, leaving good lacing from top to bottom. The smell is of roasted nuts and malts with a fiery texture. Very strong roasted to burnt flavoring with a smoldering, almost smoky aftertaste. The mouthfeel is thick, creamy and very chewy. A fantastic sipper from a great brewery. I can't wait to see how this ages.

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Photo of gimmehead
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a thin chocolate milk head. Looks like dessert. Big aroma consisting of bittersweet chocolate roasted malts with a slightly burnt or acrid ( but not offensive) note. Also a nice black licorice, raisiny alcohol mix. I swirled the last few ounces around in my snifter for what seemed like hours, and almost couldn't bear to end the aromatic romance by drinking it. Outstanding. The flavor outdoes the nose! Roasted caramel malts, a rich smokiness and bitter coffee hit you up front with with a sweet raisiny alcohol warmth bringing up the rear. Mouthfeel is very thick, I almost needed silverware. The perfect after dinner drink.

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Photo of grub
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

got this bottle as a bonus in a recent trade with nlmartin. thanks nate!

pours an opaque black colour with a full inch of dense dark brown head. after a few minutes the head drops and leaves lots of lace behind.

aroma nice. very rich bready malt. some roast. dark chocolate. just a hint of alcohol.

taste is nice. rich, roasty flavour. thick bready malt. espresso and dark chocolate. a little alcohol in the flavour and a little warm on the way down. some licorice too.

mouthfeel is thick and rich. moderate carbonation that seems about right.

drinkability is good. it's thick and rich and almost seems more like a sipping drink. very well balanced and quite tasty. would be nice to try this one after some aging.

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Photo of hayesez
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The Expedition is an outstanding Russian Imperial that I always keep on hand. At only $15 a six-pack, I keep about 12 in my basement and rotate them so that I'm always drinking one that has been aged for over a year. It's a great stand-by when craving a heavy stout. Cracked one open today during the football games. Poured into my Russian Imperial Stout tulip glass.

Pours dark as can be with no penetrating light at all. A two-finger heavy brown cap quickly forms on the top before dissipating to a thick ring around the edges. Blotches of tiny bubbled lacing remain long after the beer is gone. Every time I swirl this, a one finger head rises on top of my beer releasing that wonderful aroma!

A strong smell of chocolate dominates each sniff. Even after over a year of chilling out, there is a still a presence of alcohol in there as well. There is also a vinous quality that I get on the end...and I'm sure there is a lot more that I'm missing as well. Although I don't get it in this glass as much as with other Expeditions I've had, there is generally that overripe fruit smell as well. Not so much in this bottle, but common in this beer.

I really do enjoy this beer. The flavors have had a chance to blend together well to produce a very nice balance of chocolate and roasted malts. It starts with a sweet cocoa and then finishes just a tad more bitter than I would prefer, although that is pretty common in the style. The alcohol is well masked although as it warms up, it is a little more obvious.

This is a thick and heavy beer. Very chewy and lingers around in my mouth, exactly like I like Russian Imperials. Very drinkable given the 12 ounce serving size. Too much more than that and I think it would begin to be a bit of a challenge.

Consumed - 1/17/2009

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Photo of projectflam86
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a deep black color that doesn't allow any light through. Completely opaque with a creamy mocha colored head that leaves lots of sticky lacing.

S- Huge aroma of chocolate, espresso, and roasted scents. Alcohol is noticeable.

T- Bitter cocoa and coffee flavors initially that give way to some sweet malt in the finish. Big roasted flavor that develops into espresso, molasses, dark malts and bittersweet chocolate. Strong and robust flavor with plenty of alcohol coming through.

M- Big and chewy with nice carbonation. Very full body with a creamy feel. Incredibly smooth.

D- This is one killer RIS! Big and bold with a menacing amount of roasted flavor. The only thing that hurts its drinkability is the very noticeable alcohol level. One of these with a year or two on it would be fantastic!

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Do large stouts get any more classy than this? Bell's makes it look easy as they layer the taste of roast, chocolate, alcohol, and fruit onto a succulent and savory base that seduces the palate at every turn.

The onyx-black ale arrives at the bar with a stern, disciplined, and masculine appearance. It's depth of clarity gives the beer a mirror-like sheen although it's black color makes it opaque. A mocha-stained head caps the beer with a blanket of foam that easily retains the session and laces the glass with confidence. Even a gentle swirl of the glass leaves brandy-like shiny legs clinging to the glass.

High roast, light smoke, and cocoa-rich chocolates overwhelm the nose with a backing of rum and bourbon booze that reveal notes of toffee and molasses. Underlying fruit aromas of red grape, cherry, and blackberry seem to carry a charred character and create a mouthwatering effect heading into the first sip.

Notions of chocolate wrapped espresso beans come to mind as the sweeter malts coat the front of the tongue and palate with its malty richness. Slightly scorched molasses allows for a rich and savory taste to rise at middle palate. This is the point where espresso roast, bittersweet chocolate, and charred dark fruit weave together for a complex but pleasantly rounded taste. Bold however, the taste is further complemented by piney and citrusy hops that assist the roast bitterness to finish. Cherry flavored alcohols and walnut oils all integrate into taste and continue the varying tastes that unveil themselves as the beer warms.

And with its marshmallowy texture, the enormous malt complexes provide a nearly chewy body to start. This silky and succulent texture keeps the beer's flavor squarely focused on the taste buds. But a patient transition to semi-dry maltiness is rewarded in finish as the beer's alcohols act like port wine and fine cognac to signal closure. It's extended roasty bitterness melds seamlessly with the next sip.

Bell's Expedition is a world-class stout, by which all others could be measured. I'm not sure if it is perfect at any one attribute, but it's near that on all. Plus there's several complexities that go above and beyond what the style prescribes. It pairs well with rich foods like honey-dripped dates, smoky bacon, and well aged gruyere.

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Photo of BeerHonky
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I purchased a case about a year ago from the Beer Yard in Wayne, PA. I realized right away that this is a beer that you have to let age. I drank a few fresh, but the flavors were all competing and too strong. After a year of aging, I have to say this beer is unbelievbale. It pours thick and black and totally opaque. Two finger's worth of super thick, fluffy tan colored head. The beer smells of dark roasty malt, lots and lots of roasty flavors appear to be on the way. There is also some hints of figs and raisins soaked in alcohol. The aroma leaves to mystery as to how this tastes. There are good hints of chocolate and coffee amongst all the roasty malt and dark fruit flavors. The mouthfeel on the aged beer is significantly different than when fresh. Its much creamier and smoother now. My only problem with this beer is that its a tad sticky, sweet. But thats something that is part of this style of beer. The drinkability is a tad difficult because its sweet and high in alcohol. This is just a great beer.

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Photo of euskera
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle..

Pours out like warm molasses, with a thin but delightfully chocolaty head. Smell is classic RIS, murky and sweet with just a touch of hoppiness. Taste is divine, espresso, raisins, malt, chocolate; it's all there. Mouthfeel is warm and inviting with a rich ground coffee finish. Dangerously drinkable; I gave it a 4 because I don't know how much further than one you can go. Absolutely delicious. I'm glad I bought a six pack of this stuff..

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Photo of Slynger
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an inky black with the barest glints of ruby highlights in the lower portions of the glass. A small but creamy mocha colored head with a touch of redness rises slowly from the depths of the glass then rescinds at the same pace.
The nose is deep and distinct without being overly complex. Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and cherries with some citrus hops in the background.
Whew doggies! One sip is all it takes to get excited about this one. It is so full, smooth, and creamy but with enough carbonation to liken it perfectly to a milkshake. Tastes of creamy caramel, smooth dark chocolate, sweet cherries, and a lightly bitter mocha / roasted espresso finish that lingers along with some citric hops.
This one is really good. And ranks up close to Old Rasputin and Blackout Stout for me. I hear this one ages well, but I may have trouble waiting on the other five.

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is pitch black with thin tan lacing. Scent of molasses, honey, oak, brown sugar, chocolate, some alcohol, and raisins. Taste of molasses, chocolate, roasted coffee beans with a hint of blackberry and raisin. Mouthfeel is very smooth with a faint clinging tartness.

This is an expertly crafted beer with a great balance and an excellent flavor. Very drinkable, but this is a great sipper.

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Photo of cope0021
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow. This is an awesome beer.

Pours a deep, dark black with a tan head. Head starts out about an inch thick and quickly thins out, but sligh tan heads remains the entire time.

Smells slightly sweet with a pleasant aroma.

First taste is heaven. Great balance of alcohol heat and darker grains (bitter coffee and chocolate notes). Mouthfeel is just right; not too thick, not too thin.

Alcohol creeps up on you towards the end of the glass. The alcohol is not overpoweing in the flavor, but by the end of the glass you can feel it.

Great beer. Highly reccomend.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is the ale I chose to celebrate my 500th review. I picked this up at Capone's in Norristown and cellared this for 6 months. Decanted at approx 45 degrees in a snifter and goblet for the sake of experiment.

A - Very, very very deep brown w/ medium brown head that appears like a sturdy tree trunk w/ rings after a swirl of the glass. The bead is ultra fine w/ a smooth cappuccino-like appearance on the foam.

M - Dry, luscious roasted malt w/ a toasted charred feel like the texture of over-roasted marshmallows. Intense spice and sweetness w/ moderately low carbonation and a decent amount of hop bitterness as the liquid is swallowed.

S - Supreme dark malt w/ heavy roast and fruit aromas. The sweet chewy malt has a creamy milky caramel aroma. There is subtle molasses and smokey wood notes w/ light spiced hop odors that round out the smell of this complex ale.

T - Dark fruit and berry flavors w/ vanilla-like oaky and slightly smokey flavored sweet chocolate cookie-like malt. The hops are pungent w/ sweet leafy and piney flavors that have a sugar coated taste. The flavors of dark crystal malt w/ roasted grains tastes as fresh as fresh brewed wort. A nice brown sugar-like note w/ a nice accent of citrus coming from the hops works in a synergystic way. There are many flavor layers w/ a dominant dark chocolate flavor that surrounds the tongue and makes this stout seem like a hoppy version of liquid truffles w/ anise spice added for good measure.

D - One of the best American Imperial Stouts I have tasted in a bottle. Just about flawless w/ a balance of hops and so much malt flavor you can't go wrong here. Even the boozy taste is within optimal range for my taste (6 months cellared) I prefer the bottled version, but I will update this when I can w/ the draft version. I can honestly say this deserves all the accolades this big stout receives.

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Photo of ncvbc
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Deep dark pour, very thick black with rich tan head. Great smell of dark fruits, molasses, roast coffee. A nice balance of roast and sweet. Taste is also very nice. Some sweetness of dark fruits and molasses up front followed by a deep roast flavor. They blend pretty effortlessly together. There is also a hop presence lying underneath, adding a nice edge. Creamy mouthfeel made of silk and and velvet. Perfect carbonation and the lightest tickle on the tongue from the faint complimentary hops. Quite drinkable and it reminds me why I enjoy this beer so much. I might have to pull out a bottle to keep that memory fresh in my mind.

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Photo of brewcrew76
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Solid black with a good 2 fingers of creamy dark brown head. Brown sticky lacing everywhere

S - Roasted malt, chocolate, leather, smoke and dark fruits.

T - Roasted malt, cocolate, bitter coffee, molasses, dark fruits, sweet candy and a touch of boozyness that actually goes well with the other flavors.

M - Thick and chewy but more creamy than syrupy. Bitter finish that lingers.

D - A very strong beer for how little you can taste the alcohol. One of the better RIS I have tasted.

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Photo of seedyone
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

02/11/14 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. A fine, fine brew. First nostril full is of a mild coffee. On the tongue it has a very pleasant bitterness from coffee & a mild chocolate. Steady, steady stuff. Sessionable plus.

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Photo of Lunch
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 12oz. bottle purchased at Shangy's in Emmaus, PA into my Bell's tulip at the appropriate temperature (01/01/10).

A: Pours a deep oily jet black with a two finger cap of a cappuccino foam that dissolves slowly leaving some patchy lace.

S: Excellent bouquet of fresh espresso and dark chocolate along with a roasted malt. Some tones of milk chocolate and cocoa are present as well.

T: Beautiful flavor containing notes of fresh coffee, espresso, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, chocolate malt, and some bittering hops. The bitterness seems to linger on the tougne for some time and continues into the finish.

M: Thick and full-bodied with smooth and creamy carbonation. None of the 10.5% abv is present at all.

D: Incredibly drinkable as the flavors are well balanced and rich. The 10.5% abv. is hidden expertly never showing itself at in the slightest.

Overall this was a truly a wonderful Imperial Stout that certainly lives up to the hype. Another quality product from Bell's and certainly one that has to tried by all Imperial Stout fans. Highly Recommended.

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Photo of magictacosinus
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to c64person for sending me two of these, both bottled on "9/19/11." Thanks! I've never had this fresh (I really want to), but this apparently only gets better with time so I felt around now was a good time to crack one open. Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a teku glass.

Pours not totally opaque (black with brownish tones), yet in the glass, I can barely get any light to pass through this. Looks almost solid, like hardened chocolate syrup when left alone. The mocha colored head adds to the effect, with tons of lacing sticking around with each swirl in a shrapnel coated manner. I'm impressed that carbonation is this good this late in the game - it's very elegant yet powerful in presentation. Really delightful looking and fresh I'd only imagine it looks better.

Ahhh, yes, haven't had a imperial stout that smelled like this in a while - the last one being Marshal Zhukov - it's an effect that I'd like to call the "truffle" condition that the best of these imperial stouts hold. At first, there's a chocolate truffle roasted richness (think 85% cacao), with lingering notes of peanut brittle, cashews, as well as lightly burnt toffee, molasses, cinnamon, and coffee. Underneath, there's a plethora of dried dark fruit and herbal qualities that are often found in high quality aged tannic red wines - raisins, figs, prunes, and dark cherry pits. Bright mint, peppercorns, licorice, and light spicy notes from the alcohol finish it up. Everything is wonderfully balanced, and the alcohol is hidden gracefully. Quite extraordinarily opulent, bright stuff.

Wow! This is amazingly rich, yet unlike Zhukov, not nearly as mouth coating or hedonistic - this is far more approachable, with an easy drinking texture and loads of layers of flavors that open up over time. At first, the palate is coated with a dense, dark chocolate flavor, with a powdery, melting sensation akin to eating fudge, alongside toffee, caramel, and burnt brown sugar notes. Then, the fruit flavors explode, to which my friend and I agreed it tasted like a chocolate covered raisin filled with molasses, or a coffee chocolate covered raisin or fig of sorts. Finishes spicy, with light chili powder notes, some mint, light black licorice, kirsch, and light cocoa butter at the finish. The aftertaste is powerful - goes on for a while and rewards the senses with a rich chocolate chili flavored sensation alongside the fruit. This is surprisingly medium body given the style, and it's definitely less carbonated than one would expect, but it somehow works perfectly, driving up the drinkable qualities and yet simultaneously makes this a sipper due to its rich roasted qualities, rather than the sweet qualities that your everyday RIS provides. Creamy, rich, yet very approachable. World class stuff.

This is one of the greats, and with its tremendously high aging qualities, this is perhaps one of the most unique stouts brewed in the country that is available quite often. I'd love to get a case of this and age it, but location is seriously screwing me up here. Simply phenomenally complex and easy-drinking stuff. Rewards you in the long run and sticks it to the hyped beers as any old school craft recipe should. Highly recommended.

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Photo of CSquared
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle donated by Ninjaworm

appearance: can't get any better than this for a stout. midnight black with a huge dark brown head. the head is dimpled and looks like it could suspend small objects.

aroma: bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted coffee, roasted malt, and slightly burnt notes.

taste: the taste is huge on this beer, with flavors of chocolate and coffee reflected in the aroma. mild notes of alcohol, amazingly few for such a big beer.

mouthfeel/drinkability: thick and chewy, this beer has loads of body. a wonderful wintertime beer. for the style, this a moderately drinkable stout

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Photo of Bumpon10s
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 2,079 ratings.