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

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Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

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1,987 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,987
Hads: 5,552
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 479
Gots: 1,452 | FT: 121
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002

Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,987 | Hads: 5,552
Photo of beveritt
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into a snifter. The label is the standard Bell's style, with a compass rose. The batch number (7251) indicates that this was bottled on February 25. 2006. Gotta love that batch lookup on Bell's website.

Appearance: Pours a thick, viscous black, with almost no head. A millimeter thick layer of dark brown foam that quickly settles into just a few bubbles. The beer is completely opaque.

Smell: Alcohol sweetness backs a roasted barley aroma with strong hints of licorice and raisins.

Taste: Thick and caramelly sweet, alcohol is present, but blends well. Mouthfilling flavors of fum-raisin cake and malty sweetness. Slightly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Low level of carbonation, incredible body.

Drinkability: A great nightcap drink, but certainly not a session beer. Spend the time to enjoy this one.

Update: Sampled a bottle from this six pack last night, 12/28/08. This makes it two years in the cellar and 3 months shy of 3 years since production. Sampled against a fresh bottle. The aging helped to mixed some of the incongruous flavors together, and made an all out great beer. This is going to become a cellar staple for me.

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Photo of mbudner
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Batch 8944 (1/29/09)

A- Pours a deep black with a beautiful 2-finger, medium-brown head. Great lacing as it dissipates, lots of depth and fluff to the coating on the glass. Looks nice and viscous as it pours and as I swirl it.

S- Sweet molasses, dark fruits like figs, sweet chocolate. Slight booziness comes through in the nose. Caramelized sugar. Mild salty, soy-sauce like flavors, which seem to be appearing a little early, but inviting.

T- Very much mirrors the smell. Chocolate sweetness with a little soy-sauciness. Slightly more roasty than I expected from the aroma. A little bit of booze. This reminds me A LOT of the Dark Lord '08 I sampled back in May 2009 (less chewy.) The finish is kind of disappointing, but thats my only complaint and its not bad in the scheme of things. The bitterness from the roasted malts become in more prevalent as I move through this one. As it warms, I get more tobacco and leathery smokiness. Really complex.

M- Great creamy, coating mouthfeel. Slightly more carbonated on the tongue than some of the bigger stouts, but not overly-carbonated in general.

D- Overall, this was a great stout. I had tried it years ago before having some of the hyped greats and I would say that the aroma and taste of this were remarkably similar to the '08 vintage of DL. It was noticeably thinner, however, and slightly more carbonated. The finish in the taste was also a little more plain that I had hoped for. A really remarkable brew that doesn't get enough credit, most likely because of the fact that it is not rare.

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Photo of soupyman10
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I tried this beer twice, 10 months apart, and decided to average the scores to create my final score.

Pours jet black beer with nary a hint of brown. Dark tan head with great lacing. Nose is incredible - molasses, roasted malt, raisins, and other dried fruit. Complex and aromatic. Taste is likewise amazing. First roasted malt and coffee. Soon after lots of sweetness, brown sugar. Some light but not offensive alcohol, raisins and apricot, lemon. Closes with good hop bitterness and roasted malt again. Feel is full-bodied and creamy, almost syrupy. Absolutely excellent, one of the best beers I've ever tasted.

Tried this one after aging from a sixer for about a 10 months. Pours an exceptional dark black color with a deep orange-brown head that quickly dissolves down to a fine glaze of foam. Looks pretty solid, and the lacing stays with it as the beer drains, although I would have liked the head to stick around a little longer. Nose is extremely sweet: caramel, chocolate malt, and lots of dried fruit. Maybe pomegranate. Breadiness. A nice nose, although you really have to dig at it to get all the aromas out. Felt like I was just about dip my nose in the thing. Flavor is sweet as well. Dried fruit up front, all over the place. Roasted malt shows up in the middle a bit and wears on the tongue, adding some graininess and toning the whole thing down a bit. Alcohol shows up at the back end, although its fairly well hidden in the spicy hops. The hops makes a sort of bitter coffee malt taste. Breadiness as well. Body is low on carbonation (although it feels a bit fizzier as the beer goes on) and high on body - very thick and exceptionally creamy. Interesting to notice that the Bros do not feel this one due to the lack of carbonation. I guess in my mind that's not a problem, and adds to the creaminess of the beer - its almost Guinness-esque. Overall, after a year I expected the alcohol to be non-existent, but its still a fairly strong presence. I guess that sort of diminishes the score for me a little bit. Overall though, quite tasty, still.

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Photo of WakeandBake
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ultra black color pour with a thin tan head that falls to a thin rim and hangs out till the end.Aroma of coffee,chocolate,caramel,dark roasted malt and some anise just to name a few that I could pick out.Flavor is DARK roast coffee,chocolate,some dark fruit like rasins and plums,and bitter hops. Very thick ,full body you can chew this stuff. A thing of beauty !

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Photo of CharlieMopps
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours an oil-like pitch black, topped by two and a half fingers of dense khaki head. Displays excellent retention, some lacing.

S: Chocolate and malt goodness come forth, with a bit of graininess and a hop scent. There is an airiness to it, and a faint hint of alcohol.

T: An immaculate first sip! Introduces itself with a roasted malt character that sticks around and fades in the aftertaste, coupled with a solid chocolate taste that's not overpowering. These two traits are coupled with a smooth middle that slides into an mild alcohol kick, ending with a hop flavor that is unrivaled for its balance to this beer.

M: A combination of great characteristics. Well-carbonated, full bodied and mealy, but shows off a lighter side as well. Somewhat viscous and syrupy, but this too is near perfection.

D: My god, I would have no problem stocking an entire fridge with this stuff. This is one of the best stouts I've had for a couple reasons. For one, its balance of malt and hop flavor is incredible. Two, Bell's hits the mark with the mouthfeel of this stout, making it taste like a benchmark beer, something by which other stouts should be measured. So, in closing, this stuff is damn good, so try it.

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Photo of Foxman
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It pours an inky black, as dark as the darkest night, impassable to light. One finger of frothy cocoa colored head swells promptly, then settles slowly to patches of foam. Sticky fingers of lacing gild the inside of the glass.

The aroma brings earthy tones of dark roasted malt, bitter and burnt, but full of espresso and chocolate notes. A milder caramel undercurrent duels with a sherry character in the olfactory underworld, and gives way to a hoppy resonance. The alcohol throughout is present but fairly mild.

First sip delivers a dense, syrupy malt sweetness, roasted and leathery, which is allied with chocolate covered espresso beans and a mellow biscuit grain presence. A vinous character plies its trade in the middle in unison with the warming, vaporous strains of alcohol. A black cherry sweetness caresses the sides of the tongue briefly. The finish is a lingering bitterness of artfully burnt grain and distantly floral hops. This is one delightfully complex blend of bitter and sweet.

Heavy bodied, pouring like ebony oil, it slides about the mouth like chilled molasses, leaving traces of nectar everywhere. A dry glow at the finish caps a textural massage of the palate.

It captures light and transforms it splendidly into a smooth and distinguished elixir. Everything about it takes the extra steps to excel, delivering more than you expected, no matter what you expected. The balance is fun but seriously grounded in the down-to-earth components. The high ABV is very apparent, but everything about this makes you want to ignore its strident warnings and have yet another, and I think it's worth whatever risk you may run. Any expedition you need to undertake to procure this fine stout is one you should make gladly, and soon.

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Photo of danielocean03
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased single 12oz bottle, Batch 6672, from Crown Liquors in Fishers, IN. Poured a thick, deep murky black, reminiscent of used motor oil, absolutely opaque, can see no light through my pint glass even at the edges, black as night. Very thin dark tan head gave way to a tan hued light sticky lacing. Smells primarily of dark chocolate/espresso and a warm sweetness from the alcohol. Taste is rich and complex, characterized mostly of chocolatly malts, coffee, undertones of roasted grain and alcohol, starts sweetly and then finishes off with a slightly bitter bite from the coffee/hop profiles. Hard to believe this brew is packing 11.5% abv somewhere, covers up nicely. Mouthfeel is light carbonation, smooth and creamy, thicker bodied. Drinkability suffers only on the strength of this exceptionally smooth stout. Hats off to another fine product by Bell's.

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Photo of jpro
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle (12-27-12) poured into a tulip glass...

A: Pours super viscous; black; mocha, one-finger head; no head retention; no lace; looks like a big, powerful, imperial stout.

S: Thick layers of malt aroma; dark chocolate; rich caramel; fudge; coffee.

T: Sweet malt / molasses; roasty charred malt; a hodgepodge of chocolate; coffee; finishes with a touch of smoke; hop bitterness is impressive.

M: Full bodied; low-moderate carbonation; sticky on the palate and sweet; creamy and viscous.

O: Wow. One of the best Russian imperial stouts around! Have a couple more that I'll let age for awhile.

*from notes 11.05.13

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Photo of chalsk
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark black color with a caramel colored head. Has an aroma of toffee, caramel, and hints of dark fruit. Yeah, this is a good stout. You have the sweet hitting the front of the tongue, the bitters on the back with hints of smoke. You can also taste sweet caramel and some coffee/toffee flavor. Ultra complex, but everything is work so well. A rich beer. Love it.

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Photo of Risser09
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. Bottle

Appearance: Dark black liquid pours thick and viscous. Looks like a thick espresso. Head is about 1 finger thick and subsides quickly. Brown head.

Smell: Burnt barley and coffee. I would say that there is some smoke in there somewhere.

Taste: Wow. Did I just take a huge bite of dark chocolate? This beer is thick enough to be chewed indeed. Burnt flavors of dark chocolate, barley malt, and espresso. Molasses sweetness hits in the midtones. Coffee-like finish that is dry. I don't sense the 11.5% alcohol at all. Very well masked.

Mouthfeel: Thick, viscous and delicious. Easy to swallow as there is not very much carbonation.

Drinkability: This beer would be best consumed as a dessert in itself. It has the body to fill your stomach and complete a meal. At 11.5% alcohol it will bring on a buzz even after a meal. This is definitely not a session beer. Enjoy it slowly and thoroughly.

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Photo of almychristopher
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

this beer pours out blacker than used engine oil with a thick perfectly even creamy brown head. that's right brown. quite a pretty stout especially for one of the russian imperial variety which is exactly what it smells like with a chocolatey roasty nose that is out of this world. the taste is also wonderful, full of all the burnt to a crisp malt that the nose promised and even a bit of the hops that were largely hidden in the nose. the mouthfeel is lovely, the thick velvety richness makes it a great stout and plenty palatable for an imperial.

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Photo of jbphoto88
4.61/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark black, thick beer. Looks almost as if you can cut the beer with a knife. It has a milk chocolate colored head that starts small and builds to a billowy one inch pillow. One of the best looking beers I've ever seen.

Smells like warmed dark malts, a little chocolate, dried cherries, currants and some love by the brewers at Bell's.

Taste is nothing short of exceptional. It has a silky mouthfeel that coats your tongue with flavor. There is a little of everything in this beer and the flavor are so well balanced they don't fight. It starts out with some sweet dark malts followed by dark fruits and mild hops. There is a nice chocolate after taste that lasts through the warmth from the higher ABV. Spectacular.

I've read some of the earlier reviews of this beer and I have to give credit to Bell's. If the old batches were poor they definitely got their act together for this one. The 2007-08 batch is world class.

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Photo of TLove
4.61/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A super-rich roasted toffee, anise, and dark chocolate tastes, this stout is exceptional in nearly every way. Pouring the beer, you can see the richness of the beer - it looks like motor oil at first and then the head slowly rises to the top. The smell is similar to other strong stouts, though the almost harsh consistency of the liquid bring out such smells far more prevalently than the others.

True to its Russian Imperial Stout roots, the high ABV (11%) is apparent in the taste, as are the abovementioned flavors of toffee, anise, and chocolate, which give the mouthfeel of a dark chocolate liquor. The drinkability, depending on your tolerance of high ABV, ultra-rich, virile liquids, varies between the difficult to swallow and the can't-wait-to-relax-with-and-enjoy-its-beautiful-balance.

This beer is phenomenal for the avid stout drinker, though not for the faint of heart.

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Photo of abfraser
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, viscous black with a dense mocha smallish head.

S: Sweet molasses, roasted malt, some dark raisin-like fruit. A nicely complex beer.

T/M: Awesome stuff. Very well balanced, with a good creamy mouthfeel. Not a ton of carbonation but enough that it's not syrupy or cloying. The smells are all there in the mouth, with a nice lingering sweetness that is never overpowering. Very complex.

D: Despite the 10%+ abv I could drink several of these. Not something you'd normally say about a RIS, which is a testament to how well this one is balanced.

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch #8311, 2/7/08. Poured vigorously into a Unibroue tulip to stimulate a light brown thick head atop a black body. Never had one fresh and probably never will after smelling this liquid gold. Aroma is of dark chocolate, toasted malts and the sweetness of a RIS with some age on it, and its bursting out of the glass. Beautiful smell, simply spectacular. Taste follows closely to the aroma and it should be noted how easy it is to drink this one is considering the ABV. Mouthfeel is extremely thick and almost seems chewy. Buy this one by the case and find a place to stick it for a few years. Drink from the old cases, keep buying new ones. Do it. Just do it.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a mysterious midnight black that looks like a void in space itself. The head was a dark copper and tan that started quite small, but then fell to a thin ring, leaving no head what so ever.

Smells of syrupy chocolate and an awesome, dare I say wholesome, roasted barley. There are also swirling bits of dark fruits and a subtle nip of fruity hops. This one just makes me feel good smelling it. Five stars! …er, points.

Tastes exceptionally sweet, but the sweetness is clearly natural and wholesome. This emanates from the smooth dry roasted barley that isn’t too charred (espresso), nor underdone (barley wine), but just right. Bell’s hit that right on the nose. There’s also some port like qualities with some cherries and a definite brandy, presumably where the alcohol is hiding out of sight.

The mouth feel is thick as hell and sticky with a light easy going carbonation that only adds to the over all thickness.

I really like the quality of this beer and the perfect roast of the malt, but the sweetness, although right on, is a little distracting.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of doubleipa
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown head that fully diminishes. Color is black. Aroma - big strong coffee, dark chocolate and roasted/toasted. A hint of smoke, as well. This is one of the fullest bodied beers I've ever had. Really outstanding - got better an it warned to room temperature.

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Photo of steelreign
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is HUGE! Pitch black pour with zero head (And I mean nothing). Looks like motor oil sitting in my glass....but motor oil never smelled this good!! Aroma is so complex - roasted malt, chocolate, toffee, licorice....hops, name it! Wow.

The taste is dense, thick with roasted maltiness with a nice hop hammer balance. So incredibly smooth and complex. A party in the mouth.

Viscous mouthfeel. Thick, nice low carbonation. High ABV is apparent, but enjoyable, on a small consumption scale at least. Not to be drank in mass quantities (unless you are a masochist). This is one of the best of the style without question!

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Photo of Gatch
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 9/19/ if my math is correct, it's two days from being two years old! Picked this up at the Bell's Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo with a sign on the cooler door that said temperature fluctuations of beer in a bottle is fine as long as they aren't extreme temps. Learned something and therefore didn't stress about carrying this in my trunk with some other beer on a roadtrip from Denver. Downtown Kalamazoo is pretty nice, by the way.

A: Dark as any beer could possibly be with a huuuge dark brown, bubbly, frothy, sticky head that leaves behind great lacing and retention. One of my finer pours.

S: So deep and complex. Lots of dark fruit, super dark chocolate, roasted and charred malt, dark earth, wood, licorice, black strap molasses, and definitely some sharp booze.

T: Whoa. Everything that's in the nose but better. Way better! So rich, so flavorful, so damn good. Heavy on the roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, and dark, sweet, dried fruits.

M: Not surprising here...incredibly smooth. Great body, minimal carbonation, and flavor that is off the scale. Fairly easy drinking for its' strength. But the finish is very sweet, strong, and dark.

O: An outstanding and unique stout. I imagine this would be pretty harsh fresh so I'm glad I was able to enjoy it after two years of aging and mellowing.

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Photo of arizcards
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked up a couple of singles in late February from AJ's in Scottsdale for $3.19. From batch 9512 which was bottled on 12-18-09.

Beer poured black as night with a nice tan head that is leaving lacing behind. Nose is mocha, roasted malts, floral hops. Taste is a wonderful combination of roasted malts, mocha, chocolate, and bittering hops. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, perfectly smooth, creamy with good viscosity. Drinkability is amazingly great, even at a young age. The abv is very well hidden. I think I will save the other bottle for awhile to see how well it ages! Awesome beer, glad to see Bell's in Arizona!

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque darkness with a wispy head of those cherished tiny bubbles that lend themselves to a soft texture in the mouth. A bunch of lacing present.

The smell is amazing and complex. In fact it changes around the warmer it gets. At about 55deg it starts out with that sweet tootsie roll chocolate aroma that's kicked up by a touch of bourbon. The barrel-aged aroma tends to take over gradually as it warms up. It begins to smell like a Kahlua chocolate then it warms to a steady state choco-cherry-vanilla.

Full bodied, the mouth feel is a horse race. The mouth is being conditioned by the warmth from the alcohol while the smooth mocha flavor demands equal time. That complexity itself is 'MONEY' but it doesn't stop there.

The oak aged flavor of sweet chocolate, light coffee, cherries and vanilla are really pronounced. It finishes with another level of coffee and that java flavor tends to linger nicely.

Definitely one to be savored. The 10.50 % ABV is showcased. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Pencible
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Another outstanding stout from Bell's. This time an imperial, it poured opaque black with good brown head. It smelled like molasses and dark chocolate with some roasted coffee. It tasted strongly like very bitter/dark chocolate with a roasted flavor, mixed with natural/wood cask notes and a bit of alcohol taste. It was very thick but not too sticky, with a strong but mostly sweet aftertaste. Overall this was a very flavorful stout, but not too strong to drink more than one. Very enjoyable, reminiscent of the Old Rasputin with slightly different flavoring.

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Photo of bulletrain76
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle. I really wasn't terribly impressed with Bells's other stouts, but this is pretty damn good stuff. I'm going to skip the beer color and go right to the head because that's really all that sets stout apart; I mean, you know it's black, right? has a good sized brown head off the bat, but settle into a solid ring of tan foam in a couple minutes. Big, vinous, chocolate, port-like aroma, with cherry and other fruity accents. Like a delectable black forest cake in a glass really. The flavor is the same rich dark chocolate with fruity, port-like complexity. You can tell that there are plenty of hops to balance the malt, but they don't really protrude at all. There is a light alcoholic bite in the finish that reminds you how strong this is and dries enough sugar off on your tongue to invite the next sip. Thick, mouth-coating body. Definitely the most balanced imperial stout that I have had to date. Amazing beer actually

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Photo of shapudding
4.63/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured an amazingly dark chocolate brown, almost blackish.... Great thick and creamy head reduced down to about one finger of luscious caramelly beige lovleyness. This is a beauty to look at, perfection marred by the tons of large pieces of sediment throughout. Scents of chocolate, toffee, sassafrass...roasted yumminess.... So great and creamy, wonderful mouthfeel. Tastes so dark and yummy... Chocolate, very dark black coffee, burnt toast, grapefruit. Light carbination. Very good and one I could sit back and handle a damn few in a sitting. Good amount of thickness to it, but not so it is too heavy. Very great stout. Love this one!

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 1,987 ratings.