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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,661 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,661
Reviews: 1,894
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 10.87%
Wants: 402
Gots: 1,015 | 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: 4,661 | Reviews: 1,894 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of teamizm
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Pours a dark, oil like black. No light shining through this beer. One finger head, decent looking carbonation.

S - licorice, dark fruits, dark chocolate, a little bitterness

T - Roasty, heavy coffee and chocolate flavors, a little long-lasting bitterness afterwords. Good RIS, but lacks a bit of complexity.

M - A little thin, with a little bit of burn. Not as complex and viscosity i was hoping for.

D - Pretty drinkable, but burns a bit.

teamizm, Aug 20, 2010
Photo of SacoDeToro
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured blacker and thicker than Saudi Arabian crude with a small brown head. This may be the most viscous beer I've poured.

The aroma was of rich roasted malts, chocolate, some hops, and herbal notes.

The flavor of the beer was richly roasty without being harsh or ashen. The malts cascaded through a variety of flavors. There were notes of dried fruits, herbs, and licorice. The hops were well balanced and weren't too powerful.

The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. The carbonation was spot on. The drinkability was good.

SacoDeToro, Dec 13, 2006
Photo of PhatAtUT
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

poured from a bottle, batch 9554, into snifter. had this one cellared for 15 months.

A: almost pitch black. quarter inch thich tan head. sticky lacing. great looking beer.

S: smells sweet. toffee, raisins, figs, cocoa.

T: more bitter than i expected. roasty, chocolate.

M: most impressive characteristic of the beer for me. extremely viscous. sticky.

O: taste did not live up to some of the very upper echelon imperial stouts i have had, but it's still a very solid beer. enjoyed very much.

PhatAtUT, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of BMMillsy
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark with a late-forming small mocha head. Smells very sweet like tootsie rolls with some licorice and a hint of vanilla. Very sweet but with a nice bitter finish that keeps it from being cloying. Brown sugar and vanilla up front with a burst of chocolate as it goes down. Good carbonation. Lingering cocoa. Solid stout on national stout day.

BMMillsy, Nov 23, 2012
Photo of abecall98
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this in a trade from Dukedevil0. Good guy.

A - this beer is dark like oil. light 1/4 in head.

S - For sum reason, this has been the first Imperial Stout I have consumed that has a high hop aroma.

T - Malty, roasty, hoppy, chocolate, and a hoppy finish. After the finish, I have a nice slight alcoholic flavor in my mouth.

M - Smooth, creamy, and a very well carbonated. Not overly carbonated, for the style, I believe it is perfect.

D - this beer is drinkable. This does not have a nasty aftertaste, and every drink makes you look forward to the next.

Overall, this is a great beer. I have another 4 beers, for aging, and look forward to them.

abecall98, May 04, 2009
Photo of RoamingGnome
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into CBS snifter. Served at cellar temperature.

A) This is jet black and pours out like motor oil as expected. Nearly 2 fingers of milk chocolate head, with decent retention. This had good lacing and legs.

S) Dark malt + roast. This has some espresso bean, and a hint of dark fruit sweetness. There is a little booze, but at 10.5 % what do you expect.

T) Near the nose... Good amount of roast. A little dark chocolate, and dark fruit, mainly raisins. This definitely has some hops on the backend. Finishes up with roast, hops and alcohol warmth.

M) Close to full bodied... Hell, I'll just get off the fence and call it full bodied. The carbonation was light. This was very smooth and creamy from a feel standpoint, however, my score came down a notch due to an aftertaste that I found a bit to bitter and boozy.

O) This is a highly enjoyable sipper. I'm really interested to try this with some age on it. Definitely a RIS that is worth a try. Glad to recommend.

RoamingGnome, Oct 21, 2012
Photo of RedDiamond
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A seriously dark beer with a thin brown head. The flavor is a muscular mix of dense roasty elements, bitter chocolate, a welcome sweetness, and a formidable measure of alcohol. The smell touches upon mocha at first, then dry roasted goodness, alcohol, and coffee. CO2 is minimal, lace is absent.

An ambitious recipe with plenty of kick. Special thanks to cmaruschak.

RedDiamond, May 17, 2005
Photo of alkemy
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This thing is uber dark brown with a dark tan head. There is absolutely no light getting through this one. Just pouring this gives a sense of its thickness. Alcohol is immediately apparent in the nose. It's also got some fig, prune, dates, and cherry rounding things out with vanilla and coffee. Dark fruits at first, which I really like. The finish is strong with espresso and leaves a taste somewhat akin to burnt toast. I also get bitter chocolate in the taste that was missing in the smell. Sure, the alcohol is present, but not as noticeable as in the scent. I love the rich, silky smooth feel. The level of carbonation matches up quite well.

alkemy, May 21, 2010
Photo of JohnQVegas
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into red wine glass. Thanks again to Jeff (mnjeff) for the sample!

Pours impenetrable black, with almost no visible carbonation, just a thin soapy head.

Nose is roasty, with a big, hoppy acidity on top of everything. Lots of citrus, chocolate, coffee... really, really hoppy for an RIS.

Taste is excellent. Starts off with a big dose of bright, hoppy citrus acidity, bit of pine, borne on the back of a huge, chocolatey malt body with nice coffee bite. Significant resiny hop bitterness lingers on the palate, more of that big, bright citrusy acidity, this time with a stout, roasty counterpart. Reminiscent of Night Stalker, Smutty IS - well done. I can see why this is such a huge favorite to age.

Mouthfeel is great - so smooth and creamy, a light undercurrent of carbonation that lets the acidity from the hops do a lot of the work. Massive body is bigger than full.

Drinkability is mainly hurt by just how massively hoppy this beer is. Big, big bitterness works against that aspect. Still, a tasty treat.

JohnQVegas, Sep 20, 2009
Photo of Shaw
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer was part of the second batch of Bell's beer my friend's girlfriend brought down to Florida from her home in Indiana. Thank you Anna and Adam for sharing. And Anna, this elevates you to goddess status in my eyes.

This looks just like an imperial stout should: super black with a dark brown head. It has a roasted smell that competes with malt aromas.

The taste is heavy on roasted flavors and unfermented sugars. It is sweet, but well balanced with bitter flavors. This is one of the more subtle Russian Imperial Stouts I've had. It doesn't knock you over the head like Rogue's. Maybe you could call this the thinking man's imperial stout?

I really like its mouthfeel. It's huge. It's got more back than a Sir Mix-A-Lot song. It's got a better body than Jane Mansfield. It's ... well, you get the point.

This is a drinkable stout, despite the high ABV. Check it out.

Shaw, Aug 30, 2004
Photo of pmarlowe
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 10068. Sprecher pint glass.

Pours... black. Three fingers of dark khaki foam after an ambitious pour, with nice head retention and some lacing. Aroma is a big malty one, with some creaminess and dry fruitiness, spice and cinnamon thing going in the secondary. Taste is huge, mouthwatering roasted malts, bittersweet cocoa, with a lingering, bitter finish. I think the acidity supports the beer well, but the bitterness on the finish is a little much. Medium carbonation and medium-full body are appropriate for the style, although the heat is noticeable. Overall, this is a well crafted, malt bomb of a stout, whose latter feature limits somewhat its drinkability.

pmarlowe, May 21, 2011
Photo of PlaywrightSam
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Like motor oil. A surprising and enticing dark chocolate head. S: Coffee, hops almost completely subsumed under the heavy pull of cocoa and roasted malt. T: Hops now making a bold appearance, nice bitter finish. M: Milky, not much carbonation. Drinkability: Very, very nice, though with the heavy body and staggering alcohol content, this is definitely a sipping beer.

PlaywrightSam, Apr 03, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Midnight black with no highlights to speak of. The head is a massive milk chocolate brown monster, one of the darkest I've ever seen. The foam is melting slowly and is depositing thick, shredded sheets of lace on the glass.

The aroma doesn't exactly jump out of the glass, but it does become bolder with warming. Each sniff delivers chocolate, coffee and hops, in order from most prominent to least. The flavor is strong, rich and dark, with boatloads of roasted malt. Specifics include generous helpings of black licorice/anise, molasses and bitter espresso.

Expedition tastes rougher, more bitter and more alcoholic than Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout. It'd be a better beer if the alcohol were masked more completely and the edges were smoothed off a little. The mouthfeel is some kind of amazing. This brew is thick, chewy, ultra creamy smooth and goes down like heavy cream.

This is a Big Beer, one that should be sipped and savored. If you like your Imperial stouts with an unapologetically brash, bold, slightly raw taste, but with a refined, well-mannered mouthfeel, then you'll enjoy Expedition Stout immensely. I think I'll age the next bottle.

BuckeyeNation, Feb 05, 2004
Photo of nickfl
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Small, brownish-orange head that dissipates quickly. Virtually opaque black body with just a hint of ruby showing through.

S - Roasty malt aroma with subtle notes of both chocolate and coffee. A velvety hop note lurks in the background as a nice complimnet to the roasted malt.

T - Sweet and malty up front with some deep, dark chocolate flavors. Hop flavor kicks in early with a resiny, velvety smooth note and a round bitterness that compliments rather than cuts the sweetness. The finish is strongly bitter with competing bitter components from the malt and the hops and lingering notes of coffee, tobacco, and smoke.

M - Very thick, oily body with low carbonation and a sweet, slightly alcoholic finish.

D - Reasonably drinkable considering how huge this beer is. The flavors are profoundly dark and quite complex, and the only flaw I can find is the mildly hot alcohol in the finish.

nickfl, Apr 24, 2008
Photo of mwrecording
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Worked hard to trade for a sixer of this.

A: Poured a bottle into my Duvel tulip, a 'typical' black, stout look. Very little to no head and what would seem to be low, but average carbonation.

S: Whew, my least favorite part of this and while I still don't think its 'bad', its an overly boozy smell and mixed with the roasted malts and bitter expresso smell, it isn't a real 'treat'

T: This is what matters most and it is a hit for me. Sweet, bitter chocolate notes with just a tad of a delicious coffee taste at the end, with a tiny bit of alcohol coming through right before the swallow. very tasty.

M: More carbonation than I would've guessed from looking at the pour but maybe since I poured this around 45-50 degrees the refrigeration helped that out. Chewy and a little thick but not anywhere near as much as some stouts this size.

Overal, this was a treat. The Bro's outdated 2003 score made me a little nervous but thankfully the BA scores have been mostly consistent. I'd understand if the sweetness of this stout ruined it for a few people but I enjoy my RIS's with some sweetness, Plus the coffee and bitterness really balances it out.

This is a 2011 bottle so its still relatively young, I'll explore it again in November(month it was bottled in) and I imagine some of the bite will be gone.

I'd go 4/5 on this, really good stuff. Points for the 12oz bottles as well.

mwrecording, Jun 24, 2012
Photo of Bowers-Brew
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - One of the darkest pours I've seen. Nice dark brown head, about 2 inches worth, and lingers nicely.

S - More complex smelling than a lot of the Russian / Imperial stouts. Alcohol, raisin, caramel, toffee, and vanilla notes.

T - Sweet vanilla, bitterness, toffee, bourbon, and slight malty flavor.

O - It's big, complex, and full of new and interesting flavors with each gulp. I can't wait to see how this beer changes with age. I'll be sure to cellar a few for later. It's not an every day beer, but I would certainly get this one again. Great for cold winter nights. Prost!

Bowers-Brew, Dec 28, 2013
Photo of tr4nc3d
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12fl oz bottle poured into my snifter

Pitch black with no light passing through. Brownish one inch head that fades a little quickly and leaves a bit of lacing clinging to my glass.

Good aroma of roasted malts with dried fruit. Good amount of dark chocolate, cocoa, and roasted coffee. Dried fruits of prunes, dates, cherries. A bit of the alcohol is detected as well.

Good taste of dark chocolate and milk chocolate, espresso, a bit of roasted malts midway with a sweet chocolate brownie taste. A bit of bitterness along with a touch of coffee is in the finish.

Full bodied and smooth with a silky mouthfeel

Good RIS that I would recommend for people to try.

tr4nc3d, Oct 26, 2010
Photo of Mightykingmalard
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: completely opaque. Beautiful caramel head that burns down fast. Super black. 4.25

S: milk chocolate. A hint of booze. 4.25

T: very characteristic imperial stout taste: smooth taste with a bitter finish. 4.0

M: very smooth. Hard to say much more, but it has a great feel. 4.25

O: a very, very nice imperial stout. Probably one of the best straight up imperial stouts I've had. If it was distributed to ca, I would definitely frequent it. 4.25

Mightykingmalard, May 08, 2014
Photo of dorianmarley
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is an intense black, like it came from an oil well. The head is light brown that hangs around with a light film. Terrific lacing.

Nose is a densely sweet malt, with raspberry dark chocolate. Toffee and brown sugar. Light alcohol smell too.

Taste is simultaneously very sweet and bitter. Chocolate, roasted cashews, vanilla, and caramel are all there, but not overwhelming. The flavors are dry and balanced.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied while not overly thick. Carbonation is low, and the high alcohol brings a tingle at the finish.

Overall, this is a hardy but drinkable stout that would pair greatly with a robust meal or a cold evening.

dorianmarley, Oct 15, 2013
Photo of bifrost17
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a Bells tulip (October 2012 vintage) 9 months old.

A: Couldn't ask for anything better. I wish I could post a picture in this review of how perfect it looks. Jet black, but not menacing...beautiful...? Awesome mocha colored 2 1/2 finger head with a vigorous pour into the tulip. Head subsides pretty quickly but leaves some awesome lacing behind.

S: So much going on in the nose. Booze, bitter espresso, roasted malts, chocolate, floral hops, and dark fruits are the prevailing scents that I pick up.

T: The taste is a little strange up front. Sourness initially, but after that it's damn near perfection. Dark chocolate notes on the middle of the tongue, and then the beer finishes with an intense espresso like bitterness from the blend of hops and roasted malts. Leaves a lingering flavor of dark chocolate and espresso in my mouth. Amazing.

M: Not too much to say about the mouthfeel, other than it's ideal. Smooth soft creamy silky goodness. Moderate (perfect) carbonation.

O: The first time I ever had this beer was a fresh bottle about 9 months ago. I enjoyed it, but thought it was a little bit of a mess, kind of all over the place, but now, after only 9 months of aging I see the potential that this beer possesses. When Bells states that this beer was designed with aging in mind they weren't kidding. I can only imagine this beer getting better and better with age. What a beautiful beer. I almost wish I lived somewhere in the Midwest so I could load up on this stuff when its in season, but at least my trading buddy in Chicago can send me it during the winter months. Anyways, final thoughts on Expedition...AGE THIS BEER! Can't wait to see what a few years does to this masterpiece.

bifrost17, Oct 29, 2012
Photo of bsp77
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

200th review!

This was bottled in Sept 08 and consumed Nov 09. Saved it a year, as I heard it improves the beer tremendously.

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch motor oil black with chocolate covered head that leaves some very spotty lacing behind.

Smell: Huge roasted aroma of burnt molasses, semi-sweet chocolate, licorice root, dark fruit and noticeable alcohol.

Taste: The roasted malt taste also drifts toward burnt molasses, with some notes of sweet chocolate, anise and coffee. Ends somewhat bitter and with an alcohol kick. Even after aging a year, still seems a trifle raw.

Feel: Very thick and chewy. Low carbonation, quite smooth and extremely warming.

Drinkability: Overall, a luxurious (if somewhat raw) late evening sipper. While not my favorite RIS, it is still quite delectable.

bsp77, Nov 15, 2009
Photo of chinchill
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle date stamped with a fill date of 2 Oct. 2012. Served in a Belgian snifter.

Pours opaque and nearly black, but with red-brown highlights at the edges. Small dark tan head soon recedes.

Aroma: semi-sweet and appealing but relatively subtle.

Flavor: Rich and strong, with dark fruits, dark chocolate, dark roasted grains, and a hint of coffee. Approaches 4.5

Creamy smooth, excluding the impact of high ABV,

O: Excellent, but room for improvement as demonstrated by Bell's Black Note Stout.

chinchill, Mar 05, 2014
Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Been sitting on a few bottles left over from a six pack for a few months. Broke them out for the Madison Big Stout Session, already known as one of the most epic tastings ever to be attempted.

Pour: crude oil thick and black, glug, glug, glugs into a taster under soapy capuccino head with a bit of chunky lacing.

Nose: espresso, vanilla cream, gasoline booze/hops, oatmeal malt, dark fruit and oatmeal malt.

Taste: appleskin tart, espresso bitterness, creamy vanilla sweet, unleaded booze-spicy, chocolate booze, black cherry and currant booze and a bit of nuttiness in the finish.

Feel: chocolate syrup thick, oily slick, uber-fine carbonation.

Drinkability/Overall: J.H.C., this is a potent beast of a beer - kudos for that - but a bit of a chore to drink, even 6 ounces worth. Yeesh. I'm spent, but must trudge on...

Golden2wenty1, Jul 27, 2006
Photo of andrewm190
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer came highly recommended by a knowledgeable friend; he did not lead me astray. This is a great beer. It pours a thick and aromatic head, dark in color, as is the liquid itself. Impenetrable by light. Very deep, rich chocolaty taste that lingers. Minor detraction is that it is a bit heavy on the alchohol, but then, it is a Russian Imperial Stout, and that comes with the territory. Highly recommend the beer, another winner from Bell's.

andrewm190, Oct 18, 2009
Photo of heythere
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

a: Very dark, thick pouring out of the bottle with a medium brown head.

n: a little bit smoky, rich

t: smokiness more prevalent, can taste the alcohol, bitter

m: carbonation is subtle due to thickness of the beer, very smooth

o: very tasty, I think I am going to have to start saving a bottle or two of this every season.

heythere, Nov 05, 2010
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,661 ratings.