1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

5,356 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,356
Reviews: 1,993
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.61%
Wants: 447
Gots: 1,325 | FT: 97
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: Ratings & Reviews
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 5,356 | Reviews: 1,993
Photo of Gasc0igne
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 21st August 2014. Consumed @ 4 months old.

A: Cola pour, black with strong red hue at edges, medium size tanned head, short retention, nice alcohol legs, minimal lacing

S: quite dark fruit heavy, good roasted malt and no coffee, good dark chocolate throughout, licorice and alcohol finish, alcohol is actually quite pleasant though it is very noticeable, fairly subdued aroma

T: quite bitter but not overly as I was expecting, very heavy roasted malt and a beef jerky smoked salty funkiness, meaty, a decent espresso on the back end along with a milk chocolate/molasses thing, maybe some cherry...maybe

M: on the lighter side of full, a tad chewy thanks to medium carbonation, there is some dryness to the finish, some stickiness and no alcohol burn

O: glad to try this young to compare with my older bottle. A good ris and will certainly improve with age.

Photo of sjrodriguez
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of spointon
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this one from a 12oz brown bottle into a tulip pint glass.

A= This stout poured black as night with zero light penetration. With a very aggressive pour, the dark tan head rose a full 2" and took a long time to settle to a thin cap. Lots of sticky lace down my glass.

S= The aroma profile started from a base of sweet/syrupy dark malts, accompanied by bittersweet chocolate, licorice, treacle, and some earthy hops. Lots of alcohol present as well.

T= As in the smell, I found flavors of sweet dark maltiness and treacle as well as roasted grain, bitter dark chocolate, and mild black licorice. I was surprised that the hop notes were as strong as they were, bringing an earthy bitterness to the middle of each sip. The finish dried considerably and was alcohol filled. The aftertaste was long and pleasantly packed with sweet and roasty flavor.

MF= Heavy and full bodied with carbonation being on the lower side of medium. Slightly slick in the mouth yet very much a tongue coating beer.

D= While this is an outstanding RIS, it is not something I could have more than two of in a sitting due to the very strong flavors and heaviness. Still, I enjoyed this stout a lot and will definitely buy it again when I have the chance.

Photo of Stevedore
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 12/27/12 poured into a Bell's tulip and quaffed today, 3/9/13. Review is based primarily on today's bottle but also uses notes from previous bottles from the same vintage which were consumed fresh.

Aroma: I definitely get the dark fruits- raisins, figs, cherry. It's definitely sweet smelling with quite a bit of heat on the nose. Really good smelling imperial stout- the ones I've been drinking are usually roasty and/or hoppy. But this is straight up dark fruit. Really a nice change of pace. (4)

Colour: Pours a dark dark dark jet black, looks great. It comes out with an absolutely beautiful 1cm dark brown head that dissipates within 30 seconds into absolutely nothing, leaving a very thin brown collar over an abyss of black beverage. The lacing is absolutely thick, and swirling agitates the collar and makes it even thicker. You can't do any better than this brew for its appearance! (5)

Flavour: When I first drank it fresh back in December, it tasted rather medicinal with a straight-up overdone cherry tartness- not complex at all and rather hard to drink. I didn't like it at the time but I decided to give it 3 months to see how it changes over time. And it would appear that just a bit of age really develops this beer. The heat has been covered up by a more complex flavor combining hints of the underlying roasty malt character with the dominant dark fruit flavours as described in the nose- raisins, cherry, figs that contribute quite a bit to the aftertaste. It's not boozy at all and has developed nicely in such a short amount of time. (4)

Mouthfeel: On the lighter side of a thick body. Decent carbonation. Goes down smoothly leaving a nice balanced finish that is neither wet or dry. The aftertaste is probably dominantly tart cherry that goes to town on your taste buds for quite a while afterwards. Not the thickest imperial stout but it's a very smooth quaff. (4)

Overall: It makes sense that this beer develops with some age on it as it would seem that Bell's intended it that way. I'm happy that I hung onto the six-pack I bought last December. I'll probably try it at 3-6 month intervals to see how it develops from here on. It's a nice change from the usual roasty and hoppy imperial stouts (e.g. Founders Imperial Stout, Plead the 5th, etc.), as the dark fruits are the strongest contributor to the flavour. (4)

Re-reviewed 5/30/2014. 2013 vintage (7/19/2013) poured into a Bell's goblet. A bit over 10 months old now. Essentially, appearance is the same, and I do get a ton of dark chocolate bitterness with even more dark fruit and some vanilla essence in the nose. Flavour profile is similar, heavier on the dark fruits- dates, raisins- roast malts and dark chocolate mixed in with milk chocolate and caramel, with a bit of vanilla and molasses. Very complex, interesting and decadent beer that has a nice slick mouthfeel that isn't quite too thick or oily but just right. Overall, a great RIS that stacks up with the other Michigan RIS's- Founders RIS and DH Plead the 5th to name a few.

Based on this vintage, I would re-review to a 4.5/4.25/4.5/4/4.25 which comes out to a BA score of 4.35.

Photo of BigB415
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good stout. Poured black with dark brown head, good lacing. Had a little burn on the end that didn't make it 100% smooth but still good. I can oversee that since I'm used to it. Going to get another one soon and I'm going to age that one and see how it tastes.

Photo of AdamBear
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-black with a nice dark tan head

S-really dark semi-sweet chocolate. reminds me of the little morsels. it has a decent strength. smells quite powerful.

T-comes in with a good and sweet taste of dark semi-sweet baking chocolate. its quite a warm taste. it tastes like a strong RIS. the after-taste is matching with just a slight grassiness and dark roasted aspect to it. it has a certain bitterness to it as well. a very thorough RIS, very representative of the style.

M-heavy body. medium creamy carbonation with a dry finish

O-this along with the Rasputin, i think, are the quintessential russian imperial stouts. they're full of a good strong dark roasted flavor, and they're not afraid to show some warmth along with bitterness. both are fairly slow drinkers, even for the style. even the 12 oz i wouldn't mind just sharing with a friend. i'd say this one is a bit more even, with a louder touch on the cocoa. definitely worth taking a snab, though there are many other stouts i'd much rather have. its a tough category though, so for the price...this isn't bad.

Photo of madbrewer9
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown/black almost opaque. Some reddish hightlights at edges. Almost non-existent tan head with very fine bubbles. No lacing. Very noticable legs.
Great aroma, molassas and dark fruit.
Taste follows the aroma with mollassas and dark fruits, but also some bitter chocolate and hop bitterness.
Med full to full body, creamy, yet finishes slighty dry.
Very drinkable considering the strength. Beautiful beer.

Photo of branimal9
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle, poured into my New Belgium tulip glass...

appearance - 'bout an inch of nice looking brown head, creamy n' fluffy. beer itself is a deep, dark brown. real nice.

aroma - coffee, dark chocolate, a little licorice. getting a bit of vanilla & fruit in there as well. a hit of booziness also.

taste - lots of chocolate. dark chocolate. milky. warming. roasted malts a bit of nice hop bitterness.

mouthfeel - full bodied, thick & creamy. oily. real nice.

drinkability - warming alcohol present, but it's nice n' smooth. this is really drinkable considering the height of the ABV, but this is also my favorite style of beer, so i'm a bit biased.

overall, a really finely crafted imperial stout. glad i scooped up a decent amount of these, as i think they'll age well.

Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Minimal brown head that shortly became nothing more than a film sits atop an opaque black beer.
Aroma is mesmerizing. The best aroma on a stout I can remember. Chocolate covered fruit (strawberries come to mind) pretty much sums it up.

Taste is big and bold. Sweet chocolate covered fruit (melons come to mind) up front. This gives way to roasty bitterness, alcohol and hops. The two extremes balance this one out nicely between sweet and bitter.

Lots of body and some creaminess to the mouthfeel. Thick? I think your car could get 3000 miles out of this stuff if you used it in place of 10W-30.
Drinkability is the drawback of this one for me. I just don't find it real drinkable.
Overall, this is a big beer and one of the better imperial stouts out there, IMO.
Big thanks to Blatzman for providing me with the bottle and prompting me to give this beer another try! I simply wasn't ready for this beer when I had it a couple years ago.

Photo of trumick
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black very little light penetrates if at all. There is very little head that hangs around for a bit with nice lacing all around.

Smell is of sweet molasses, burnt coffee, dark fruits and chocolate.

Taste is right on with the nose burnt coffee, sweet dark malts chocolate and hops. It finishes dry and with a nice burnt coffee dark bitter chocolate that goes on froever. There is an alcohol taste. I can tell it is there, almost overwhelming, it's also warming.

Mouthfeel is smooth and full bodied, robust with just the right amount of carbination, I would even call it creamy.

Drinkability would be great but for the abv. The abv. is too noticeable. It stands out and that puts it lower on the drinkability scale.

Photo of chrismattlin
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of AdamMY
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The color is nice and dark, and poured a half centemeter of dirty head which has been fading very slowly.

Smells a bit hoppy, and bitter like a really strong coffee, and bitter chocolate.

The taste is strong, lots of roasted malt. The taste is borderline burnt but oh so strong, and there are actually slight hints of a grapefruit note hidden in there.

The finish is great, lots of caramelized sugars, but again borderline burnt.

But the mouth feel is impeccable, so smooth and creamy.

The drink ability is way to good for a beer with this High of an ABV. Perhaps I need to have more Russian Imperial Stouts.

Photo of gskitt
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this beer in monks in Philly. Poured what looked to be black in the dim lighting. No head, I mean none. Roasted malt, vanilla were the dominating scents. Taste was toasty malts, some vanilla sweetness, had some char on the finish. Mouthfeel was a bit lacking, no carbonation, it needs a bit. Overall, a very nice stout.

Photo of OlieIPA
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Black, small and tan head, and poured really thick.

S: A lot of coffee and aging qualities.

T: Alchohol is definitely easy to spot out...not overwhelming though. Coffee, maybe some chocolate, and aging qualities once again.

M: I love the mouthfeel on this beer. Perfect!!! Full-body, easy and even carbonation, and last on the palate.

D: Good. Some alcohol is present in taste...but not too much.

Overall: Great beer!!!

Photo of Gobzilla
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: poured a dark as night black with a super thin brown head and left hardly any lacing sticking to the glass.

S: I definitely was greeted by roasted chocolate malts, some oat grains, slight smokey, booze, and some cookie notes as well; very nice nose.

T/M: there was actually some hop bitterness on the backend but upfront the chocolate roasted malts were dominate alongside toffee, slight licorice, coffee, and a touch of bourbon. The brew was full inbody with a low amount of carbonation which had a roasty, sweet, slight astringent, boozy, hoppy bitter, and silky finish.

D: it drank pretty good considering the ABV but I'm not much of a hoppy RIS type of dude I would much rather stick to the ones that aren't as bitter on the finish. Even though it had a quality I didn't like it was still damn tasty.

Photo of DannyDan
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A. Pours a thick black oily body with a tan head. Not much in carbonation, not much in lacing and little retention. Did get a good size head by giving it an aggressive pour.
S. Chocolate, coffee, molasses, licorice is the most notable smells in this brew.
T. Bitter chocolate, and coffee up front followed by some licorice and sweet molasses in the middle and finishes off with some caramel and some alcohol.
M. This is a nice smooth and creamy feel that leaves a little stickiness on the lips and leaves the mouth dry.
D. For being a strong full bodied beer it goes down nicely. This is one that I'll gladly buy again. Not perfect, but still good.

Photo of Patrick999
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I choose my snifter for this one. The contents poured as viscous black oil, as any self-respecting imperial stout should. Small cap of espresso crema.

Not lacking in the aroma department, but really, what imperial stout is? Big hit of vanilla and even a little whiskey, though there's no wood aging here. Nilla wafers. I'm not really getting much of the chocolate and coffee I usually get from big-assed stouts, which is OK as this is definitely a nice aroma. There's banana, rum, and almond in there too.

It didn't necessarily smell like it, but this is indeed quite bitter and roasty. Charred malts bring the bitter first, then the substantial citric hop brings it home and keeps it there. Not much alcohol heat noted at all, but then again, I have no idea how old this bottle is - for all I know, it could be two years old. I was going to say that this isn't sweet, and I was going to say that this beer would be better if there was a little more sweetness balancing all the bitter roastiness, but there *is* definitely a creeping sweetness here that helps balance the beer out considerably. Again, beyond the hop bitterness I get much more vanilla and whiskey than I do chocolate and coffee.

Feel is soft and fluffy, just what I want out of an imperial stout. Please don't kick my ass with big bubbles in a 10.5% dark-as-night beer. Thankfully, this doesn't. Softness is almost as if it was poured from nitro-tap or cask.

As you would expect, this is a sipper. It could be easily shared with 2-3 as a dessert beer. This isn't, to me, overtly chocolate-y for an imperial stout...I could see this contrasting really, really well with a quality chocolate dessert. One bottle is a bit much, however, at least for me.

Photo of barczar
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black with a dense, frothy quarter inch cocoa head that slowly dissipates, leaving minimal lacing.

Cocoa, hints of plastic, sorghum, roast malt, figs, and dark berries are fairly subtle in the aroma by the time I get to the fourth in the flight.

Dark cherries and roast malt dominate the initial sip, finishing fairly bitter with coffee grounds and a bit of acridness. Molasses sweetness, dark chocolate, and nutty, toasted malt add complexity at the base. Plums, figs, and soft raisins emerge later, along with booze.

Body is thick, creamy, and smooth, with low carbonation and significant alcohol warmth.

Dark fruit, chocolate, coffee, and roast malt are well represented, but drier and more bitter at the finish than I prefer. Think majority of the bitterness is hop derived. Fairly complex. The nutty malt saves it for me. Wish the aroma were more pronounced and the finish were less bitter.

Photo of Florida9
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Black in color, but not overly viscous. Pours with a light brown crema-like head .

S: Sweet chocolate, raisins, plums. Complex of dark fruit aromas.

T: Bittersweet chocolate and a little coffee. Long dry cocoa finish. Alcohol is perceptible.

M: Thick, but not overly thick. Carbonation is on the lighter side, but is appropriate. Leaves a powdery or dry sawdust feeling in the mouth.

D: A very good, quite complex beer. Excellent sipper and another very good beer from Bell's.

Photo of Fux
4.07/5  rDev -4%
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 !

Photo of EnthusedAboutBeer
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Photo of kpantz
4.08/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Executive Summary: A heavyweight in the world of Imperial Stouts. I can see the reason for its reputation. Slightly more boozy on the palate than others I've had. In all, a fantastic stout.

Appearance: Pours like syrup into my tulip glass. Pitch black with a dark tan head. Gorgeous lacing.

Smell: Roasted malts and a woody aroma with distinct molasses and coffee essence.

Taste: Alcohol more present than expected here. Woodiness is here, too, as is a smoky element I didn't detect in the nose. Definite molasses presence with accents of dark chocolate. Pronounced hop bitterness on the way down, too, like a swift kick in the ass (like you need it with this sucker).

Mouthfeel: Creamy and thick. Light carbonation. Slightly sticky. Just awesome.

Drinkability: It's pretty hefty. A sipper. A damn tasty sipper, but a sipper. Wouldn't have more than one at a time.

Photo of nataku00
4.08/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a shaker pint. Pitch black in the glass and fully opague. Nice finger of mocha color frothy head with very tiny bubbles, but it dissipates fairly quickly to a small collar around the edges. A little bit of lacing on the glass but it slides down from all the alcohol feet.

Nose is semi sweet chocolate, roasted malts, a bit of light coffee, slight sourness, and burnt caramel. Sourness became more apparent as the beer warmed to room temperature, but it wasn't too off putting.

Tastes follows the nose closely, chocolate and roasted malts bittering initially, smooth sweet chocolate ending with a mix of lactic sour and burnt caramel. Nice creamy mouthfeel from the full bodied beer lightened slightly by the ample small bubble carbonation. Alcohol warmth on the back of the throat, but it sips nicely on a cool day.

Photo of peabody
4.08/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

Photo of dismal
4.08/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the bottle to a pint glass. Pours pitch black whit a one finger dark tan head that pretty quickly reduces to almost nothing. The head that is left leaves almost nothing as lacing down the glass. The smell is typical of the style, coffee and chocolate mainly stand out. There is also the typical roasted smell found in stouts. As far as taste goes it starts off kind of boozey with chocolate following shortly after. The chocolate stands out more right after the booze and especially when it warms up. There is some coffee in the taste that is in there but it's not jumping out or anything. Mouthfeel is typical of the style, kind of thick but not to thick to become chewy and not to thin just right in there to be perfect. Drinkability wise this one is right in there. Once this warms up a bit it's very very good. I could easily do a few of these in a sitting (which I have). Overall a very good RIS. The alcohol may be more apparent than other RIS' but this one is still very solid. At the bar I tired this at I will be getting it as long as they have it in and I will be picking up some when I can find it in a store. A good RIS and worth trying if you have the chance.

to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,356 ratings.