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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.

4,405 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,405
Reviews: 1,873
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 374
Gots: 940 | FT: 76
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: 4,405 | Reviews: 1,873 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kreeper


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This brew has a very hoppy aroma and an extremely black, as in a black hole, body with no head whatsoever. It had a very strong coffee flavor. It almost burns as it goes down. Somewhat of a bitter initial taste that lingers well after is has gone down.

Serving type: bottle

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2010 02:30:55 | More by kreeper
Photo of jasonjlewis


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to MuenchnerKindl for the sample.

Pours a nice big head with great retention. Nice dark brown color.

Smell is of mint and chocolate and caramel with some coffee beans. Raisiny smell comes out as the beer warms.

Toffee sweetness upfront. Taste is sweet with chocolate malts. Roasted malts are not dominant at all. It finished wit a nice dry hop bitterness. Mint comes through as an undertone and coffee flavor helps to add a bit of complexity. Not boozy at all for a 10.5% abv beer.

Smooth and creamy mouthfeel adds to the enjoyability of this beer.

A very easy RIS to drink. I wish there was a little bit more complexity to it, but it is still very nice.

Very easy to drink. Not a lot of complexity for the style, but not hard to drink at all.

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2008 09:59:19 | More by jasonjlewis
Photo of cbutova


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes, bottle was about 8 months old.

A- Black. Dark tan creamy head builds to a moderate size and has decent retention. A very nice ring and a good cloud remain and leave a coat of lace.

S- Lots of roast malt up front. Some dark fruit/raisins, coffee, cocoa in the background. Alcohol makes it through once in a while.

T- A good aggressive blend of roast malt, alcohol and dark fruit. Nice straight up RIS. Very roasty, almost to the charcoal like level. A fair level of sweets.

MF- A low carbonation level in a moderately thick, oily body. Could be heavier and creamier. Well hidden ABV.

DB- Good price for a big RIS. The roast malt and dark fruit work well for an up front big stout flavor. Becomes a bit syrupy as the temperature rises.

Serving type: bottle

08-09-2010 23:02:33 | More by cbutova
Photo of WeissbrauMeister


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a 20oz. snifter.

A- Black. With a brownish head.

S- Dark. Licorice. Alcohol.

T- It starts sweet with tones of toffee and alcohol and finishes with a strong alcohol and and hoppy taste.

M- Right on par.

D- I could drink a few of these (limited to 3).

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2011 05:54:25 | More by WeissbrauMeister
Photo of ABisonEgo


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

'12 bottled on 10/02

Appearance - Black with ruby red highlights along the edges. 1 and a half finger beige head with lacing along the edges

Aroma - coffee, dark chocolate, dark fruits, a bit of hop character, though i cant really pinpoint the exact scent...maybe more of an earthiness

Taste - Very coffee and hop forward...almost astringent at first. Some dark fruit apparent towards the middle of the mouth, and bitterness on the finish. Almost a spicy, earthy finish...but very hoppy. While most imperial stouts rely on the hops for balance, this one is almost overtaken in the finish by the hops present.

Mouthfeel - Very creamy...which is pleasant. The beer finishes with a bitter tingle with a medium to full body. A little lighter than expected, but about ideal.

Overall - Great complexity on this one, however, Im a little turned off on how the hops overtake the beer. Its as if this one was meant to age, which there is nothing wrong with and it even says its worth aging on the bottle. If the hop character faded away a bit and the beer smoothed out, im sure this would be one amazing beer. Having said that, I guess its time to open my '09!!!

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2012 03:35:21 | More by ABisonEgo
Photo of abents


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a thick oily black that looks delicious. Thick brown head that laces beautifuly. Smells of roasted malts and chocolate hint of alcohol. Tastes of coffee with a bigger malt taste that follows. Very noticible alcohol, but not overpowering the taste is smoothed out and feels very creamy. Some bitterness but very sudden. Mouthfeel is a full bodied with that interesting creamy texture. Low carbonation and alcohol warming. A very drinkable brew to say the least. A great stout from Bell's well done.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2004 03:09:47 | More by abents
Photo of TheBlackMallard


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured an oily black. The tan head grew out of nowhere and quickly disappeared. Smells of sugar, coffee, dates. Tastes of sweet roasted mocha coffee. The aftertaste starts bitter and quickly gives way to sweetness. Thick creamy mouthfeel. Very smooth, but I think one is enough for me.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2005 06:02:04 | More by TheBlackMallard
Photo of DarrinRasberry


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Bottle served in a Guinness mug.

A: Thick, oily black body produces an almond-colored head that stays around forever and leaves traces all down the glass. Looking into it taking my first sip gives an exciting feel, like drinking good, creamy hot chocolate in the winter.

S: Dark chocolate, nuts, malts, and alcohol dominate.

T: Very, very rich taste hits with heavy malts and finishes with dry, bitter dark chocolate, with the alcohol almost hitting *too* hard. This is a delicious, remarkable beer.

M: As thick as some milkshakes, this beer will coat your mouth like a candy bar. Just enough carbonation. Quite possibly the best mouthfeel I've ever experienced in any beer.

D: The alcohol wears a bit as time goes on; I can only imagine myself drinking one.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2010 00:06:14 | More by DarrinRasberry
Photo of johnnnniee

New Hampshire

4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solid black that lets no light through. Tanish head that dissipates quickly, but leaves lots of marks down the surface of the glass. Aroma is wine like, with roasted malts, licorice, some chocolate and coffee too. Taste is sweet. I pick up some dried fruit, molasses, some roast and some faint hop or roast bitterness in the end. Mouthfeel is thick, and a bit sweet. Almost leaves my lips sticky like my kids with candy. Not your average Imp Stout, but I love this stuff. Bells continues to impress me!!

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2008 02:34:35 | More by johnnnniee
Photo of hanco005


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of batch 7205, poured into my St. Bernardus glass

A—pours black as night with some chunks of tan stuff that settles on the bottom like stones, no head at all, no lacing at all, it’s very thick and murky

S—alcohol, bourbon, almost overwhelming, faint coffee and licorice, a little soy too maybe, very strong in the smell

T—bitter alcohol flavors are strong with some coffee, chocolate, licorice tones, a sipper to be sure

M—very thick, full bodied, almost no carbonation

D—this is a sipper, no doubt about it, a perfect dessert beer, but one is plenty

Serving type: bottle

06-27-2006 18:31:05 | More by hanco005
Photo of granite

New Hampshire

4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A--- Poured a dark mahogany with a frothy little tan head.

S--- Esters, rich mocha and a heavy hand of roasted malt in the aroma.

T--- All chocolate malt and warming alcohol in the front. Fruity and vinous like in the middle. It finished with a nice astringent dryness provided by the roasted malt.

M--- Full bodied with a chewy mouth feel.

D--- This was a very well made American imperial stout. It had a very complex malt profile and a big mouth feel that I expect from this style. It has a little too much alcohol to session but it was the perfect winter dessert ale. It was delicious and I highly recommend it.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2007 11:57:08 | More by granite
Photo of phrygian68


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Corsendonk Christmas Ale Chalice!
Black as night! with a very minimal head that dissipated rather quickly! lacing is virtually none! The mouthfeel is extremely thick and creamy with heavy notes of bitter chocolate, coffee, burnt caramel,and figs with a nice lasting bitter finish,one of the best Stouts i have had the pleasure of tasting!

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2007 01:08:48 | More by phrygian68
Photo of veggiemafia


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours blacker than black. You have to ask yourself how much more black it can be, and the answer is none, it can be none more black. Moderate dark tan head that dissolves pretty quickly to thin islands. But hey, with 11.5% I think that's kind of excusable.

Smell is big on baker's chocolate with a booziness reminiscent of Tia Maria coffee rum. Also, raisins/prunes/dark fruit make a huge appearance, as do some really earthy smelling hops.

The hops in this serve to rein it in and keep it from getting too sweet, but it REALLY pushes it for me in terms of being too sweet and fruity. That earthiness keeps it dry and pretty refreshing, but it's still really big on dark fruits and raisins and maybe like a tart blackberry jam thing. That distinct tart fruitines is something I've only experienced in this and Batch 7000, and Southern Tier Jah-Va.

Mouthfeel is viscous and thick, but still really creamy and velvety and luxurious.

Good drinkability for a stout of this size, because let's face it, this is a huge ass beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2006 06:02:01 | More by veggiemafia
Photo of numinorian


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 1.5

A Opaque black with a thick dark brown head. The lace sticks like paint on the glass that leaves thick swaths of tiny sticky bubbles

S Strong thick smell that has a sugary sweetness, aside from the malty coco and coffee flavors that you would expect from the style. A slight nutty scant as well.

T Coco taste is prevalant, with a strong hoppy kick. Strong alchahol taste.

MF Has the concistancy of motor oil. Thick and increadibly rich and brash, this one is not for the faint of heart.

DA not very easy to drink. Definitly a sipper.

Overall this is a magnificent beer. This doesn't try to be an easy going beer and it doesn't try to make everybody happy. When bells set out to make a powerfull stout they pulled out all the stops. I'm a huge fan.

Serving type: bottle

03-22-2009 20:09:00 | More by numinorian
Photo of broodog


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 10759 pkgd 11/1/11. Poured into a Founder's tulip

A- Pours almost jet black. Not a very lively pour. Very little carbonation. Lacing is minimal.

S- lots of roasted charachter. Nice aroma. Some molasses and chocolate behind the roasted barley.

T- love this flavor. Very well balanced beer. Plenty of roasted barley, coffee molasses.

M- Assertive. Deep, dark, thick. Everything a stout should be here.

O- spot on RIS from bells. Textbook, except for the carbonation and lacing. I'll be sipping this one all winter long by the fire. Wearing my robe and bear claw slippers after a tough day at the rat races.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2011 03:20:05 | More by broodog
Photo of Reed415


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a black color with almost no head

S - Dominated by dark caramel chocolate malt, some hops are lingering in there

T - Chocolate, Coffee, Roasted Malt, with a small amounts of hops

M - Full Bodied, Moderate Carbonation, Significant alcohol warmth, Somewhat sticky

D - Very malty Stout, but very good

Serving type: bottle

06-21-2007 01:01:02 | More by Reed415
Photo of jayrod20


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured pitch black, with a one finger creamy brown head that lasts forever. Complex aroma; coffee, roasted malt, chocolate, plum, and hops. Big malt flavor, complimented with coffee, smoke, hops, and some dried fruit. Full bodied. The beer is excellent, but I recall finding previous batches more flavorful and more enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

05-06-2008 04:17:49 | More by jayrod20
Photo of BlastTyrant

New York

4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dead black with a one finger brown head. Aroma is sweet, with coffee, molasses, and brown sugar, along with alcohol notes. Flavor starts sweet with vanilla and coffee, which quickly gives over to a grassy, hoppy finish. For an 11%+ ABV brew, I think the alcohol is well masked - it's detectable, but not overly so. Hardly any carbonation in the body - smooth, slippery mouthfeel.

Serving type: bottle

09-09-2005 03:58:23 | More by BlastTyrant
Photo of COBeerBuff


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The 2008 vintage 12 oz. bottle was received via trade from lackenhauser in Black Booty '11.

Appearance: The vigorous pour into a Spiegelau tulip glass yields two fingers worth of mocha colored head. I'm amazed at the amount considering this beer is almost 3 years old. The retention is amazing, and the look of the head on top of the opaque black liquid looks awesome!

Smell: Vanilla, cocoa, toffee, and buttermilk all highlight a very powerful nose on this heady brew. There are also some hints of spiced malts as well, but the predominant flavors are all sweet caramel and sugar goodness. This smells decadent! The bourbon wood and vanilla flavors create such a fervent combination that this might be the best nose I've smelled on a bourbon-bal aged stout ever.

Taste: This beer is a malt bomb to be sure. The initial sip yields a ton of toasted and roasted grains and barley. The burnt taste carries through to the aftertaste, for sure. The sweetness that was present in the nose isn't quite as prevalent in the palate, but there is a bit of carmelly sweetness and a bit of vanilla goodness, but it's a lot more muted than I expected.

Mouthfeel: For a 3 year old beer, this is a lot heavier than I expected. The flavors feel a lot more put together, but the overall mouthfeel is quite heavy. This is a sipper, through and through.

Drinkability: If I could get another bottle or two of this beer, I would totally would. I've passed on this beer locally so to get a 3 year old bottle in trade as an extra is wickedly awesome. Thanks lackenhauser for the experience. The alcohol is definitely present in the nose, but the finish is definitely smoother than expected.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2011 04:01:52 | More by COBeerBuff
Photo of scotorum


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Amazed to find sixpacks of this BA high-rated stout in Florida. Previously I had only found any Bell's at the Cratf Beer Outlet in Philadelphia, and then only a few of their lower-rated products. Bought one bottle to try, in a mixed fourpack.

Was hoping for something really exceptional, but although I found this very good, it was not amazing. The ABV was hidden quite well, but that is not necessarily that difficult to accomplish with an imperiall stout.

To be fair, I am not the biggest fan of Russian Imperial Stouts. Generally I much prefer a sweeter, good milk stout.

As a caveat, I drank this within a day of purchase. Unfortunately aging it first as recommended was just not practical. OTOH I did not check the bottling date, so cannot vouch for the freshness of the 12 ounces I had.

UPDATE 1/8/14: Back in Florida and bought a relatively fresh bottle in a mixed six at Whole Foods in Orlando. "Packaged 9/19/13" so this was being bottled about the time I was drinking my first one! Here's a more conventional review than I mustered earlier:

Poured from the 1q2 oz. bottle into a glass tumbler.

a: Black with an inch thick tan head which receded to even surface foam and extensive lacing.

s: Dark bitter chocolate and coffee.

t: Dark chocolate and black coffee, which is to say a strong imperial stout flavor. Considerable lingering bitterness on the sides of the tongue. High ABV well covered.

m: Medium to heavy.

o: A quintessential imperial stout. Eminently sippable. Raising my previous newt 3.95 ratings for appearance from 4-4.25, smell from 3.75-4, taste from 4-4.25 and overall from 4-4.25.

Serving type: bottle

09-09-2013 20:48:10 | More by scotorum
Photo of Floydster


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

During the past few weeks, I have several vintages of this beer including one from 1995 that I took to our BA gathering on Saturday, 1999, 2003, 2005, and more recently a 2007 bottle which the review is mostly based on, poured into my New Belgium snifter

A-Completely black, no highlights here, big 1 1/2 inch tan head that was pretty soapy, stayed around a while, some retention, nice lacing
S-Dark malts, roastiness, cream, light coffee, milk and dark chocolate, prunes, other dark fruits, smokiness, burned accents, and cocoa nibs
T-Fresher version of this has more reliance on coffee and dryness, starts off with some dark cocoa, some coffee beans in the middle, roasty accents make up the finish, sweet chocolate comes out as it warms, some prunes in the finish as well, flavors really mold together nicely, chocolate is inviting and not overly sweet, enjoyed the balance in this one
M-Full thick body, nice level of carbonation, mouthfeel is roasty, slightly warming, sweet at times, and fairly dry, taste lingers for a long time and leaves a thick texture in your mouth
D-Can easily drink a bottle of this myself, but cannot see going much beyond that, pretty heavy on the stomach, alcohol content is high but hidden very well, extremely smooth, especially the aged bottles

This beer gets better with age, the older the better was my experience with these, cannot believe how thick the body still was thirteen years later, thanks to hoppymeal for that really old bottle, you are the man Derek, still have a few fresh ones in my closet, I will try to age them as long as possible now, looking forward to drinking again, certainly recommended

Serving type: bottle

10-08-2008 21:45:11 | More by Floydster
Photo of Tucquan


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on 2010-01-11 in a bottle from my trading buddy, Steve.

Pours a deep, dark brown with a very short, dark tan head. The head fades quickly.

The smells are of fruit, chocolate, coffee and licorice.

The taste profile follows the aroma very well but with the addition of caramel and molasses complimenting the chocolate, acrid coffee, alcohol, and to a lesser extent the licorice and fruit flavors. It seems most of the bitterness is from the malt roast but I taste a bit of grassy, hops bitterness too. At 10.5% ABV, this brew certainly warms the belly but the alcohol is well-balanced with the other flavors.

The mouthfeel is very creamy. I could've used a bit more carbonation to smooth it out.

All-in-all, a well-crafted and delicious brew that can be drunk now or aged for years.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2010 13:15:35 | More by Tucquan
Photo of rka758


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Brewing (lot 9971) poured into SA perfect pint
Purchased for about $3 per

A: Pours a deep black with thin tan head.
S: Dark chocolate
T: Getting tastes of roated coffee and burnt chocolate.
M: This is THICK. Instantly coats your interior of your mouth.
D: This is good, very good, but a def. sipper. I want to drink this all night, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be a good idea for tomorrow me.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2010 01:49:14 | More by rka758
Photo of cvfish


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - This beer poured an oily black that let no light show, it produced a brown fluffy head that retained well and left a great lace around the side of glass

S - The aromas of this beer were burnt, charred malts, bitter chocolate and a good deal of booze

T - The beer starts with a great deal of burnt malts, has some chocolaty bitterness with coffee notes, and finishes with a good kick of booze at the end

M - This mouth was everything I expected from an Imperial Stout, smooth and creamy, thick body, and light carbonation

D - This was a good Imperial Stout, a little more booze on the taste than I like, except in the case of Bourbon Cask aged, of course

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2009 21:02:12 | More by cvfish
Photo of Mavigo


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this at the Red Haven in Okemos, a sort of Pure Michigan- haute cuisine hybrid restaurant, got this off tap and was served in a pint.

A: poured an opaque black with a quarter inch light-brown tan head that lasted like 10 minutes before shrinking but was basically present the whole time, had good amounts of lacing too.

S: smells woody, chocolatey, boozey, smoky

T: Tastes like chocolate, malty, a woody taste, strong booze, kind of bitter, its pretty thick, even kind of salty to me, taste some malts too

M: its a bit on the dry side, its thicker, lower levels of carbonation

O: Overall, I thought this was a stand up stout, it was pretty smooth and rich, agreed with me very well, tasted great with the steak I had.

Serving type: on-tap

10-26-2012 02:37:11 | More by Mavigo
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,405 ratings.