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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.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

4,906 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,906
Reviews: 1,915
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 418
Gots: 1,096 | 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: 4,906 | Reviews: 1,915 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bwyker
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a massively chunky pitch black, with a mud tinted light head speckled with red bubbles. Foam settles immediately to a ring of dirty lacing and pockets of bubbles in the center of the glass. Huge punches of chocolatey roasted malts and alcohol. Taste, well I took a bite and chewed on it…like an alcohol soaked piece of dark chocolate cake with molasses icing. It feels like it was brewed with roofing tar. Immensely chunky mouthfeel. Drinkabilty was not so high, as the alcohol is a bit too noticeable. However, a great after-dinner treat.

bwyker, Oct 21, 2006
Photo of khiasmus
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to kkipple for the half bottle.

A- Black as used oil, a finger of tan head that lasts as a single layer forever.

S- Rich molasses, toffee, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, and a good hop balance.

T- Molasses again, tons of burnt grain and chocolate - the burnt grain lends a strong bitterness that lingers in the finish along with the sweet malt. Hop balance is there too, but there are more acrid, burnt notes than hoppy.

M- Chewy, silky, rich, heavy, medium-high carbonation, and a dry, almost puckering finish.

D- I'd have one once a week if I could.

khiasmus, Jan 20, 2008
Photo of Fux
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Opaque black. Even the (very small) foam is dark, very dark brown. The head leaves a thin layer that persists for a good while.

S: Quite surprised by the hoppy character of this beer ! Behind that: chocolate malts, roasted cocoa, caramel malts, liquorice, dark fruits (raisins, dark grapes), relatively faint coffee smell and strong alcohol.

T: Coffee, molasses, nuts and roasted chocolate. Finishes with a nice bitterness which counterbalances the overall sweetness.

M: Thick, creamy, almost sticky. Low carbonation. A bit too heavy for me.

O: A very good one for the style, but definitely not appropriate for a beginner ! I would have preferred something lighter !

Fux, Nov 01, 2011
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

this is a colossal beer, and one that comes with quite a bit of hype. for me, it was a shade under the quality of the most elite Russian imperials, but its a damn good beer nevertheless. it pours a really dark brown color, coffee in color really, with a robust milky cream head and an aroma of black barley and more hops than expected, this is bitter for sure. some hot alcohol greets my lips, followed by raw cocoa, toasted nuts of some kind, maybe macadamias, something oily, and then the bitter super dark, almost burnt barley. its quite the journey, but the whole thing really is overshadowed a little bit by the alcoholic intensity. some age may indeed do this good, as mine is less than a year old. fortunately I have some more bottles for this. which reminds me, thanks again to thebrewo for making yet another great beer possible for me in Colorado. obviously full body, but not as thick or viscous as some, decent carbonation for what it is, and a very warming alcohol finish on top of all the bitter. this is an impressive beer, but one that age will service well I think. bells can really do no wrong for me.

StonedTrippin, Jun 21, 2013
Photo of brewdoc75
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is actually my first Imperial Stout. I've always been a bit scared of these because a lot of them that I see have been aged in bourbon barrells and such. I hate bourbon. After reading this site, I decided that this would be a reasonable choice.

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Jet black w/ a dark toffee colored head.

Smell: Not a whole lot of aroma. Smells of burnt grains, a hint of chocolate, and a little bit of alcohol.

Taste: Nice strong bite initially. Pleasant roasted coffee flavors mixed in with toffee and caramel flavors. A little sweet. Finishes w/ a nice bitterness. One of the best things about this beer is that I don't really taste the ABV that is listed. I barely taste the ABV at all.

Mouthfeel: Very heavy, rich mouthfeel. Despite this, it is quite smooth and relaxing. Good carbonation.

Drinkability: I was quite afraid of Imperial Stouts before trying this beer. I had always thought it would taste more like bourbon than beer. This beer is not like that at all. It is similar to a nice dry stout, but there is much more complexity there. It is almost too easy to drink with an ABV like this. I think this has opened me up to the world of Imperial Stouts.

brewdoc75, Nov 04, 2007
Photo of anvilx
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%

anvilx, Saturday at 02:56 AM
Photo of brewskifan55
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Thanks, CorgiDad!

A: Black with shades of brown. No head, but a tan ring wraps around the glass. Light lacing.

S: Dark chocolate, light coffee, anise.

T: Rich and robust. Sinful. Chocolate cascades in with lighter coffee notes than I expected. Dark fruits (raisins, dates, plums). Cocoa.

M: Medium to heavy with medium carbonation. A dry finish.

O: Another winner from Bell's. A great sipper. Make sure to go on this Expedition.

brewskifan55, Jul 13, 2014
Photo of JimmyFlatRock
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%

JimmyFlatRock, Dec 05, 2012
Photo of Brenden
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Thick and rich, this midnight-black stout looks every bit as big as the any RIS could strive to be. It's got the motor oil viscosity that makes these beers so appealing, not to mention great for cold weather. The brown head forms a solid cap between one and two fingers high with lots of density to it. It drops fairly chunky lacing rather plentifully.
The aroma doesn't pop out of this brew, but it is big. It's heady, too, some sweeter sort of rum-like booziness tempting the nostrils along with some moderately bitter, somewhat milkier chocolate, almost smoky roast, and mostly sweet dark fruits with a touch of tartness. It's almost complete, and some char tickles the nose a bit much, but this is nice regardless.
The big malts start off with sweeter notes of toffee and vanilla even as the chocolate comes in along with coffee grounds, not spent but not quite fresh. Still, this is very tasty stuff, and the alcoholic heat is kept pretty well in check as well. Char comes out with the roast in the middle, while the blend of dark fruits rounds out the finish.
Where this beer really shines is the feel. If ever I was tired of middle-of-the-road breweries brewing a medium or barely full-bodied RIS and I needed something I knew I could find, there's no question this substantial, robustly-bodied beauty would do it. It coats the tongue almost luxuriously but doesn't sit too heavy though it's seriously thick and rich. A little char adds a drying note into the finish.

Brenden, Dec 07, 2013
Photo of RickS95
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours an extremely black beer with only some lighter brown tints when held up to light. The light doesn't come through, but the faint brown only shows then. The head is gorgeous, a mocha colored pillow of bubbles. Retains very well and leaves an attractive film of lace.

The smell isn't as aggressive as I'd like, but it's all malt. No evidence of hops, just malt. A bit of chocolate and smoke.

This bottle has only beer around for five months, so the flavors haven't yet melded together. It's abundantly malty, with a nice kick of alcohol from mid-sip throughout the finish. I've got a four pack and I'm having two tonight, so I expect when I have the next two bottles this score will go up. Currently, there's little complexity as it goes simply from malty to boozy.

Smooth is the word of the day. It's exceptionally smooth and creamy. An initial blast of sweetness precedes the heat from the alcohol, as well as the bitterness from the alcohol and the chocolate. The finish is both warm and dry, and lingering. Full bodied creaminess. It's so soft for such a strong beer.

While a bit bitter and relatively high in ABV, it's quite easy to drink. As it warms more and more sweetness comes out, making it even more drinkable. I've never seen this in town before so I'm really excited to know I can age a couple more bottles for the future.

RickS95, Dec 28, 2013
Photo of StoutHunter
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

I picked up a bottle of Bell's Expedition Stout a couple weeks ago for $2.99 at The Lager Mill. I have tried this beer before once or twice at some beer festivals a couple years ago, so it's time to stop procrastinating, sit down, and give this beer a proper review, so lets see how it goes. Batch #10699 bottled on September 26th 2011. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- The label on this beer is pretty nice, it's simple yet good looking, classy looking. It poured a nice looking used motor oil black that let no light come through and it had a half a fingers worth of mocha colored head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and it left a little bit of spotty lacing.

S- The aroma is pretty roasty and robust. It starts off with loads of highly roasted dark malts that have a medium amount of sweetness to them and impart some black coffee aromas and a little bit of bitter dark chocolate and vanilla. I also picked up medium amount of alcohol and I couldn't smell any hops.

T- The taste starts off with loads of slightly charred roasted malts that impart lots of dark chocolate flavors along with a little bit of vanilla. In the middle I pick up medium amount of molasses like sweetness followed by some dark fruits and a little bit of caramel. There is a really slight bit of coffee in the flavor but it's not nearly as present as it was in the aroma. There is a little bit of warming alcohol on the finish, but it's not nearly as strong as I thought it was going to be, it's hidden well. It has a bitter chocolate aftertaste.

M- Rich, smooth, on the medium side of being full bodied, and it had a low amount of carbonation, I would have liked just a little more carbonation.

Overall I thought this was a really good RIS. This beer was all about the heavily roasted dark malts, just like it should be, and it provided a nice amount of complexity. After smelling this beer I thought it was going to have a half and half mixture of chocolate and coffee flavors but instead it was dominated by the chocolate letting the coffee take a back seat, I liked this and I found it to be a little different then most of the other RIS's I have tried that have a pretty heavy coffee presence in the taste. For being 10.5% I thought the alcohol was hidden pretty well, some people claim that this beer needs two to three years of aging to calm down the booziness, and while I have no doubt this beer gets better with age, it drinks pretty well fresh and I didn't find it close at all to being overly boozy, and that made for some descent drinkability, I don't know if I would grab another bottle but one goes down pretty smooth and without a problem. What I liked most about this beer was the flavor, it was pretty much what I look for in a good RIS, and the heavy chocolate presence was pretty nice. What I liked least about this beer was the carbonation, I would have liked it bumped up a couple notches. I will for sure be buying this beer again, it's a great local RIS, I haven't had an aged bottle of this beer before but I would definitely like to throw a couple bottles in the cellar to see how this beer develops over the years. If you love RIS's this is a must try. This is a very good RIS, I like it more then Old Rasputin. but it still doesn't knock off Founders Imperial Stout as my favorite RIS. Great job Bell's this is one hell of a beer from one hell of a brewing company, cheers. 2013 Update, I just had this years batch that was bottled in 7/26/13. It's good but it it's a little boozy fresh, I changed the scores accordingly.

StoutHunter, Oct 26, 2011
Photo of LambicPentameter
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed out of a 12 oz brown bottle marked clearly with "PKGD 10/22/12" on the label. Poured into a large 22 oz snifter.

Appearance - Like black ink out of the bottle, an aggressive pour yields a frothy one finger cocoa head that dissipates pretty quickly, leaving sparse and silky lacing and a smattering of bubbles across the top of the liquid. A gentle swirl reveals a great deal of carbonation simmering below the surface. Body is jet black with only the faintest hint of chestnut when a light is held directly behind the bottle.

Smell - Upfront involves heavy notes of charred wood, cocoa nibs, molasses and burnt sugar. Subsequent inhalations reveal some subtle smokey elements and overcooked gingerbread. Very unique and promising.

Taste - I'm not quite as big a fan of the taste, although it is a very good example of the style. The baked goods sweet overtones of the smell have faded back for espresso bitterness and a smattering of dark fruits, like plum or raisin. Some astringent alcohol, with a warmth in the chest after swallowing I wish the taste were as well entwined as the aroma, but a solid effort nonetheless. I imagine it would be even better with some more age on it to mellow out the bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Viscous and creamy, with lingering mouth coating and heavy carbonation for some kick to the heavy bodied brew.

Overall, a great take on RIS, although there are examples of the style that I would likely drink before this one. I would hazard a guess that six months old is close to the bare minimum age you want to crack a bottle with, based on how it tastes at eight months.

LambicPentameter, Aug 27, 2013
Photo of confer
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours as black as motor oil with a half-finger tan head that never leaves.
The really isn't much aroma, which is a little surprising.
This bottle I had must have been a young one. It was very bitter and the start but ended with a deep coffee taste that hung around for a long time.
Thick and creamy which i did expect.
The other bottle is going into the basement for at least a year.

confer, Mar 16, 2014
Photo of hops202
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a Stone Imperial Russian Stout Snifter. Bottled 8/22/13.

Very dark pour. Not too much carbonation present and seems like there is used motor oil in my snifter. Smell has Incredible amounts of roastiness, molasses, and some dark candied fruit and syrup. Maybe even some hickory smoke and burnt char. Taste is similar with some bitterness to add. I believe this is still "young", needs to age some, and plan to drink a 2012 side by side with a 2013 in the near future and re-review. Stay tuned!!

hops202, Mar 27, 2014
Photo of darthvohn
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glass Used: Nonic Pint
Vintage: 7/26/13

Appearance: Dark as the night. Very little head on this one, however it was a milk chocolatey brown. Next to no lacing.

Smell: Boozy (especially after warming), rich dark fruits (prune and fig), chocolate-caramel scents drifting around the glass.

Taste: Chocolate, dark fruits, and boozy heat. A bitter bite on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Very thick, sticky, med carbonation. Creamy smooth.

Overall: Any RIS that's heavy on dark fruits and chocolate wins me over, and this one did. I only wish I would have put some age on this one. The booze was pretty strong on the nose and palate but the flavors, oh man, had me loving every drink.

darthvohn, Jan 06, 2014
Photo of stencom1
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%

stencom1, Oct 15, 2014
Photo of MattGrimley
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%

MattGrimley, Oct 01, 2014
Photo of sgoodship
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Picked up a 6 in St. Joe's while camping in Michigan. I'd been wanting to try it for quite some time.

A: Dark brown almost black. Looks thick and viscousy on the pour. Has some brown/red in it and shows mahogany highlights against the light. The head is a golden copper brown - almost metallic looking. It took a pretty aggressive pour to coax it into providing a finger head. The head dissipated almost immediately. As the drink was sipped, it provided some spotty lacing and left oily brown coffee residue on the glass that slowly slid back to join the liquid.

S: Nice bold smell. Bitter cocoa, coffee. A hint of booze and bready maltiness.

T: The dark chocolate and coffee milk shake is what hit me first. The burn from booze comes in and there is a distinct strong burnt bitterness in the finish and aftertaste. The aftertaste becomes dry and the bite becomes an almost metallic coffee. A touch much at times but it is certainly makes you want to go in for more.

M: Full bodied and velvety smooth. There is enough carb there to liven this thick brew up a bit.

D: Love this RIS. It's pretty smooth. Booze sneaks in here and there but overall it is pretty well hidden. The pronounced bitterness was a touch much for my personal tastes at times but it didn't stop me from pounding this back quicker than I intended to. Another great Bells beer and I'm sad it can't be found in Chicago.

sgoodship, Aug 07, 2009
Photo of marvin213
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I think this beer looks purty darned good. WAY black like a big-time stout should be. A thin layer of dark foam tops her off. As I look at this here stout sitting in my Smoke on the Water (Greenville, SC) pint glass, I must say it appears mouth-watering appealing to me.

The smell, quite frankly, is good. I don't know what exactly it is that gives Russian Imperials their distinctive smell (I know, I'm sure it's explained on BA somewhere), but this one's got it. And I like it. Nothing else though--no chocolate, no coffee, etc. It's a good-smellin' Russian Imperial Stout.

Interestingly, I seem to taste some coffee. The taste is suprisingly light, which is good, I suppose, for a 10.5% RIS. Is there a such thing as a Stout Light? I like it, but it lacks character. Unless, as I discover with each sip, it is that it's a Stout Light (w/ a big ABV). Yep, that's my conclusion: this beverage is a basic RIS with the maximum amount of water allowed by the style. That would explain why it travels so well and ages so gracefully. It's like a Bud Russian Imperial Stout Light. I think that's purty cool, but it helps with drinkability more than taste.

The mouthfeel is good, but light. How is this signature Bell's Stout so like water to me? I'm simply not that tough. The more I analyze this beer, the more I'm convinced that it is indeed a Stout Light. The mouthfeel is a malty good with a surprisingly watery residue. Since I enjoy it, it's good.

Drinkability is better than good. If I were to enjoy a Russian Imperial Stout while throwing frisbee on a sandy Hawaiian beach, this'd be the one. I marvel at the 10.5%. As I try to make sense of the discrepancy b/w BA and the bros on this one, I figure that the Expedition is quaffable enough for us Plebians to appreciate it, but not quite distinctive and unique enough for the bros (i.e. Patricians) to outright endorse it with an "A" or a "B".

marvin213, Mar 25, 2009
Photo of Osiris9588
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Based on a 3oz from a tasting at Spagio Cellars in Columbus. The color is pure motor oil, with a weak chocolate milk head. The nose is comprised of sweet aromas--chocolate, molassass, licorice, and something alcoholic that resembles bug spray.

The state consists of chcolate, licorice, vanilla, cream sherry, coffee in the finish, and maybe just a whisper of hops.

The mouth is complex, sweet and creamy in the middle, and features a drier sherry finish--very lively on the palate, despite a lack of carbonation. Probably wouldn't want to drink a six pack in a sitting, but is an unique example of the style.

Osiris9588, Oct 20, 2006
Photo of swamiswamu
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a huge beer, the sears tower of beer. It looks like spent motor oil with a brown head. The taste reminds me of the "hungry, hungry homer" Simpsons episode when Duff has a chemical to add to Duff's malty goodness. It was what an imperial should be, a much bigger version. I can't drink more than one because it is just that big.

swamiswamu, Dec 22, 2004
Photo of quikfish13
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very thick black with no sign of carbonation in the pour. Suddenly a nice foamy and thick two finger head appeared out of no where threatening to spill over the glass. Smells of roasted malts and dark chocolate were very prominent with a slight hint of coffee and alcohol.

This stout smacks you heavily with alcohol in the after taste with a very dark chocolate and bitter hops flavor in the middle. Virtually no carbonation in the mouthfeel.

Leaves a very heavy taste and sometimes a lttle hard to swallow. Not really a beer I could see having a session with a six pack with. None the less a good beer to drink and savor for the extremely bold flavors. Any fan of stouts should give this a try at least once.

quikfish13, Mar 09, 2007
Photo of CRJMellor
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours syrupy black with some nice carbonation producing 1/4 inch dark tan head, that is clinging to the glass as I drink it. Aroma was slightly chocolate with a little smoke or peat, also a little bit medicinal and maybe a raisin hint. Slight hop aroma deep in the background. Mouthfeel is not as strong as the look would indicate, smooth, rich and syrupy. Taste is overpoweringly coffee, roasted caramel and highly alcoholic on the back end. (Glad my bed is only one story away). Definitely a winter beer for a cold Michigan night. Malt profile really comes to life as the beer warms in the glass. Almost has a Doppelbock malt finish to it. I feel lucky to be living so near to greatness ! Excellent beer.

CRJMellor, Dec 03, 2003
Photo of peabody
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured roughly into a pint glass and the suds seemed to take a long time to develop. Dark brown suds with a little lacing.No light can penetrate this concoction.
Raisin and plum and cherry are the first thing I smell.Sugar and malt are the second thing.
First taste is quite bitter but the chocolate and coffee are strong here.
No alcohol present even though it is a high abv. Grapes and raisins
and dark malt with a touch of hops.
Mouthfeel is very clean and the dark tastes stay in the mouth for a while. The alcohol is only present at the very end of the taste.
I like this beer. Too bad I can't get it all the time.

peabody, Sep 03, 2006
Photo of metter98
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a finger high dark tan head that has excellent retention properties and hardly died down and left lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are moderate aromas of roasted malts in the nose along wit some hints of licorice.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, although the licorice becomes more prominent as the beer warms up and lingers through the finish. A light to moderate of bitterness is present.
M: It feels a little more than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonated. All of the roasted malts make the finish feel dry.
O: This beer is quite drinkable considering the strength because the alcohol is well hidden from the taste (provided you can get past the roastiness).

metter98, Dec 11, 2012
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 4,906 ratings.