1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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
94
outstanding

4,529 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,529
Reviews: 1,882
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 392
Gots: 969 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,529 | Reviews: 1,882 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of PieOhMy
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into tulip.

A Pours thick and oily. Pitch black with a thin light brown head.

S First scent is a zesty and boozy grape smell. This is followed by cocoa and raisins and prune. Rich aroma.

T Follows the smell quite directly. Chocolate. Dark fruit. Raisin. There is some coffee bean in the flavor that is not too potent in the smell. Big warm and boozy in the end.

M Thick and rich. Foamy. Full like a big stout like this should be.

O Very tasty. It's got all the flavors that make an Imperial Stout great and none of these overpower the other. Smell is great. I like that the coffee seems to be toned down some as sometimes it's easy to go overboard with that.

PieOhMy, Oct 23, 2013
Photo of StJamesGate
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Sepia film over that blackest beer I've ever seen.
Blackberry crumble, ash, and fish sauce on the nose - faintly. Warms to some BSDA fruit notes and peat smoke.
Molasses, cold espresso, prune juice, licorice hard candy, with undertones of dark baked pretzels, then gooey pine resin hops.
Christmas pudding finish and long tarry linger with some black malts and port-like cherry.
Full, viscous, smooth, round, chewy, oily, no heat.

Like the Ford of the same name: huge, oily, intimidating and unwieldy.

This is almost too big to enjoy. Every dark flavor of coffee, char and fruit is crammed in here but without the bitterness from either roast or hops to really tame the sweetness. i feel like this is a sugar headache waiting to happen.

Deep and dark, big and smooth, oh so black but maybe too sweet. I'd like to see this one with some age on it.

StJamesGate, Mar 12, 2013
Photo of tillmac62
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 7/26/13. Pours black as a starless night with a lasting head. Subdued nose of roast. Nice creamy mouthfeel, light carbonation and with the 10.5% alcohol content well covered by the malty sweetness, hops and roast. A strong, but pleasant, aftertaste of roast and malt sweetness with that alcohol "burn". For such a "big" stout, this is exceptionally well balanced. One of the best stouts I have ever tried and this one struck me as smoother than their Kalamazoo variant. Smooth finish with the chocolate malt asserting itself.

tillmac62, Oct 08, 2013
Photo of MDDMD
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A-dark brown black with a smallish tan head and minimal lacing

T-chocolate, coffee, dark roasted malt, molasses

T-dark chocolate, molasses, dark roasted malt, coffee, earthy, mild bitter finish

F-medium body with mild carbonation, smooth

O-great balance in this RIS, enjoyable to sip this

MDDMD, Oct 18, 2013
Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have been able to drink this a few times and really like it,poures a rich black color with small brownish colored head.Smell is sweet and earthy,the taste is a complex mix of earth,chocolate,and roasted malt.When it warms a little the alcoholic notes really come thru,very true to the style.A good high quality imperial stout from my favorite brewer.

oberon, Apr 20, 2003
Photo of JasonA
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black, no real carbonation

Raisin, alcohol, malt and more malt. Almost smells like pancake syrup.

Syrupy sweet in a good way. Caribian island dark rum, roasted malt. Coffee. There is a flavor, maybe an inhibitor along side of the alcohol. Almost a smell when I taste it. Sherry sweet, maybe port.

There is something in the taste of this in my mouth that is really neat. I want to say syrup. It is a bit thicker than I would like. Im surprised at how they were able to make it this thick.

Hard core. Reminds me a bit of Brooklyn BCS in the content, but more syrupy. I dont think I could drink many of them, but a single of this will slap you in the face ... one that I would enjoy. Though I think my tummy would not be happy. Thinking about it, a full growler of this would make me a weekend. Sign me up.

Maybe this bottle brew needs to sit a bit, maybe not. This is a very interesting beer. I think a little less syrup and more cream, this could be perfect as the flavor is top notch.

JasonA, Jul 27, 2008
Photo of MisterDeeds
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aged over a year in the wonderful cellar of RixBeer.

Pours a solid black with no light showing through. Very slight head, cocoa powder in color.

Smell is nice and roasted. Coffee with a raisin or plum-like fruitiness. Also picking up on that boozy brandy-like aroma that hints at the aging.

Taste has a few different kicks going on. It begins with a very subtle semi-sweet raisin taste, and is quickly overcome by the roasted coffee bitterness. Very unique from most aged beers I have had, in that the warm alcohol kick comes more towards the front than in the aftertaste.

Very little carbonation to it, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on who you ask. I happen to like it with this brew, because I think that too many bubbles would make the bitterness too overpowering.

The mouthfeel is thick almost milky, and the roasted coffee (almost burnt) seems to line your entire throat. (Again this could be good or bad, depending on your taste, but for me it is very strong.)

A very nice treat (thanks Rick!) and I would love to try one a year down the line to see what else goes on.

Is Bell's planning on coming to Massachusetts anytime soon?

MisterDeeds, May 25, 2009
Photo of dogfishandi
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks again to mizzouguy fo thhuge box!

12oz bottle, just above fridge temp poured into a snifter. bottle code 10068, roughly 1 year old.

pours out completely opaque black with about 1 finger of some dark mocha colored head that slowly fades to a thin ring. not a whole lot of lace after the head dies down.

as soon as the bottle was cracked i got a big whiff of burnt roast and alcohol. as it opens up the aroma is mostly deeply charred roasted malt, a bit of hot alcohol, and some dark fruits. also somewhat noticable is a bit of cocoa and roasted coffee. maybe a bit of earthy, piney hops trying to show?

again with the deeply charred roast. some warming alcohol, but nothing too excesive. some dark fruits and cocoa at times. a bit of hops in there, hard to really tell with everything else going on.

smooth, sticky, full bodied mouthfeel. kind of light on the carbonation which always works well in a RIS.

a solid tasting RIS, very nice burnt roast character. there is something i cant quite put my finger on that seems like it doesnt really belong, whether it be hops or yeast. but this is still something i would come back to.

dogfishandi, Dec 08, 2011
Photo of mocktm
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer #2 at World of Beer in Fort Myers, FL - 9/28/2011

Into a snifter, this appears thick and impenetrably black, used motor oil with a large cap of espresso colored head that quickly fades away with some light lacing.

Nose is dark roasted malts galore: dark chocolate, heavy coffee, and licorice with some earthiness in there as well. Abundance of sweetness with some underlying booze presence.

This is like drinking a spiked coffee chocolate milkshake, but I mean that in a good way. Malty and rich all the way with some woody/herbal undertones, this finishes with a mild alcohol burn in the back of the throat, evidence of its 10.5% ABV.

Monumentally thick and viscous, chewy and complex, this is a mother-load of a stout. Although most would consider this a sipper, its surprisingly smooth and slick, and thus quite easy to drink.

Some stouts get talked up a lot, and thus leave some others behind, but for my money, this is a phenomenal effin' beer that is as good, if not better than most of those aboard the hype train. Throw in that it's still available in six packs for a reasonable price, plus ages incredibly well - I just have to ask you, how can you go wrong?

mocktm, Sep 30, 2011
Photo of turamarth
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a new belguim goblet.

Appearance: Poured a Cm thick tan head. Dissipated quickly. Body is pitch black.

Nose: Chocolate milk. Lots of chocolate milk. Malts, malts, malts! Has almost all chocolate malts in the nose. A little spice as it warms.

Taste: Again, very very chocolaty. There is a nice spiciness on the back of the tongue. Some nice toasty notes. Maybe the tiniest hint of booze. Some dark berry note too.

Mouth: Feels silky smooth, despite the thickness. Also, leaves the mouth pretty thick.

Drink: Pretty drinkable, sweet and tasty. The higher abv is hidden quite well in my opinion.

turamarth, Feb 07, 2009
Photo of zjungleist
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch #6811. Pours pretty much pitch black with a small tan head. I can tell just by looking how thick this stuff is. Actually, at first, there was no head, and slowly one bubbled up from the inky depths. The smell is great, with boatloads of bakers chocolate and a nice sharp, green hop smell. The taste is not perfect though, it was really really sweet. It started with pretty much perfect hops, and then immediately became very sweet. I would say the sweetness overpowered what would be the peak flavors, but then mellowed with some great chocolate and cream flavors and a lingering coffee aftertaste. But seriously, this stuff is sweet. Maybe with a little bit of age that would mellow. I'll probably cellar the bulk of what I have. I wish there were dates instead of batch numbers, but I'll wing it. The mouthfeel was pretty thick, and though there was a bit of carbonation that could be summonsed with a good swirl, it was a bit off balance in the respect. So.. flavor and mouthfeel are both a bit off balance, yet it was quite enjoyable and complex.

zjungleist, Jan 23, 2006
Photo of BillyB
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Excellent Russian Imperial Stout, although I wouldn't try to drink too many in one sitting!

Pours opaque with absolutely no light coming through. Dark tan head quickly fades.

Aromas of roasted malt, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, dried dark fruits like plums, raisins, even some prunes. Also caught some fig and date notes.

Tastes are the same as aromas with a big whiskey-ish alcohol taste and chocolate, coffee and dark fruit character.

Creamy and full bodied with a strong alcohol warmth.

An excellent example of the style.

BillyB, Feb 25, 2007
Photo of 33nickadams
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my 50th review, and I have decided to review one of my all-time favorites. This one was bottled on September 13, 2010.

None-more black black with about a tan finger that dissolves rather quickly. Smell has a touch of alcohol, molasses and black licorice. For being over a year old, it is still has a very bold taste. Coffee, chocolate and molasses still are noticeable. This could age much longer and still have some very distinguished notes. Heavy mouthfeel, creamy as well. For being over a year old, I would have liked some of the flavors to be more subdued. I will review the same batch a year from now. Still, its one of my favorites. Here's to the next 50 reviews!

33nickadams, Nov 13, 2011
Photo of HURTemHIZZY
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a near black color with a modest, very dark tan head that dissipates fairly quickly but maintains a small ring and leaves some decent lacing. Smells and tastes of coffee, toffee, and caramel. nice creamy mouthfeel and a very smooth beer. Alcohol is slightly noticeable but is not overdone at all.

HURTemHIZZY, Feb 15, 2010
Photo of JohnGalt1
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz that SAS gave me a while back.. shared with Brenda.. but most went into the New Belgium snifter.. This bottle has been sitting in the cellar for close to a year.. tonight is the night.. Thanks Steven.

Easy 1" dark brown head.. great lace and a beautiful cap.. the brew is black.. obviously.

milk chocolate and dark fruity esters dominate the nose.. there may be some hops left.. but mostly cocoa and prune and dried cherries.. are still around.. waaay more complex than my feeble senses can put on paper.

The flavor has a little bit of unexpected char.. very rich RIS characteristics.. roasty and a bunch of deep brownie chocolate.. but the burnt flavors are there and may be a bit too much.. the hoppy bitterness combined with the burnt grains make for a great brew. but it still needs some more time to meld.. rich yet sorta unbalanced.. smooth and rough.. coffee... and a bit of cream.. the mouthfeel is expected for a brew of this caliber.. great and filling.. the carbonation may be a touch high.

Thanks Steven.. I've been waiting to enjoy this one for way to long.. I've had the Expedition a couple of times before, but never took the time to really sit back and savor...

JohnGalt1, Jan 16, 2009
Photo of SHODriver
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep black with a dark tan head. Very little in the way of a head and this beer is quite viscous judging by the pour. Daddy likes.
S: A touch of alcohol, a touch of chocolate, some roast malts, a little sweetness with a hint of vanilla. Things are looking good, very good
T: A little bland at the front but it builds slowly with some nice coffee and chocolate flavors. Plenty of roast malt flavor to go around with a lingering slightly aftertaste. It takes awhile for this beer to gain flavor but when it does it's great.
M: A touch watery with light carbonation and although a touch watery at the front it finishes slightly chewy.
D: This is a sipper and due to being a stout it isn't exactly sessionable but finishing off this bottle won't be a problem

O: A solid offering from the folks at Bell's. If it had a bit more flavor at the front end it would be a home run.

SHODriver, Feb 11, 2011
Photo of jcnd9803
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a thick black color, with some slight amber hues. No head and little lacing in sight.

S: Some licorice and chocolate. Also some smoke it seems. Amazingly, I'm not picking up any alcohol, but I know it's there!

T: Ahh, there's the alcohol. A nice mix of roasted malt and chocolate.

M: Leaves a thick, creamy, sweet, feel on the palate. Also some tickle from the alcohol.

D: I think this is a great beer, fresh and aged. A perfect night cap Plus, given the price of most big stouts, this is a deal IMO.

jcnd9803, Feb 26, 2010
Photo of ribsfate
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this as my fifth overall selection from Bell's. Not in the same sitting. :)

Poured into a pint glass from bottle bought at Thirsty's Quik Six in York, PA. About 20 mins at room temp.

Pours very dark black, somewhat thick with a nice two finger, foamy, dark caramel colored head. (poured a little fast and sipped the head; instant chocolate blast) Head laced the glass until it was rinsed out. Very pretty beer.

Nose is roasty malts and chocolate with a hint of hops on the back end. Tiny amount of alcohol scent for the strength.

Taste is a bit like the head but much more subdued chocolate notes, leading into bunches of smokey, roasted barley, bitter coffee, just a touch of hop bitters. Very nicely balanced flavors which sorta play back and forth as you drink.

A very smooth (imho) feel from start to finish. Not as thick or heavy as i was expecting but not in the least disappointing. Doesn't leave a residual flavor for very long.

I enjoyed this brew very much and am currently in the search for one or two more singles, warm, to store and try at a later date.

ribsfate, May 08, 2011
Photo of jiggahertz
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: 12oz bottle poured into a snifter after having this for ~8 months in the cellar. Deep dark chocolate brown with a sudsy dark cappucino single finger head. Lacing is faint.

S: Roasted malts, chocolate and coffee have a nice fragrance.

T: Really a lot going on here. Alcohol up front and everything else that was present in the nose. Quite a bite of chocolate, hops are almost non-existent. Finish is dry and long, slightly on the bitter side.

M: Finish stays around for quite a while, almost too long, really coats the mouth.

D: Was impressed by the complexities in the taste, the finish was slightly less than desirable, but one of the top stouts on my list.

jiggahertz, Nov 22, 2009
Photo of wardough
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well done, Mr. Larry Bell

Poured a jet black into a snifter. Almost zero head, but a crema lies on top with a trace of light lacing. Smells pretty sweet-raisins, malty goodness, prunes. Taste is by far the best part of this stout-starts of sweet, followed by some bitterness from chocolate that start pushing out the sweet. I like the balance of this. Mouthfeel is pretty good, smooth and velvety on the tongue. I could drink this all night long.

wardough, Nov 21, 2009
Photo of Duhast500
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch #9971

Poured from the 12oz. bottle into a Playboy pint glass.

The color is a dark black with a thin brownish head ans some slight lacing left on the glass.

The smell is raisin with a bit of a rum flavored nose. Some boozy flavor is slipping out in the aroma and gives off a bit of a dry fruit flavor.

The taste is a bit rum raisin, is warm with a heavy alcohol flavor and taste slightly like a bananas foster. Some caramel flavor mixed with a toffee like crunchy flavor.

The feel of this beer is big, with a high ABV giving this beer a punch that was unexpected, this beer has you on the ropes. A really fascinating stout.

Duhast500, Dec 01, 2010
Photo of Jules11788
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Thin film head, very light lacing; super black color that lets no light through at all

S: Sweet malts, chocolate, musky wood, vanilla beans, a touch of bourbon

T: Starts with some raisins and figs up front, transitions into a sweet smoky woodiness that finishes slightly bitter; finishes with flavors of dark fruits and bitter malts that linger.

M: Medium body, light carbonation, barely any booze

O: This was a great Imperial Stout, one that I would probably get again

Jules11788, Nov 19, 2011
Photo of
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle

Opaque black, with a modest brown head. Towards the finish, edges appeared to be a clear, dark mahogany color.

Aroma was molasses, dark fruits (raisins & figs), and chocolate.

Taste was mainly sweet, and followed aroma. Chocolate, dark fruits. After a bit, coffee and roast came into play, more at the finish. A bit of bitterness at the end, not much, though. Alcohol was present and strong enough to be noticed. Finally, at about room temperature, a soy sauce like flavor came into play.

A very thick body, chewy and viscous. My idea of a stout. Creamy, based on (my guess) very well integrated carbonation. Smooth and dry. Alcohol warming in play at first sip.

Wow, thickest beer I've ever had, I believe. A sipper for sure, and what a way to spend a winter evening.

, Mar 05, 2007
Photo of pzrhsau
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Nice jet black murky color with a deep brown head.
Smell: You can really sense the depth and richness in the spicy aroma. Very much reminds me of bread with a very aged fruitiness.
Taste: Great blend of dark malt and a slight hoppy spiciness afterward. The malt almost leaves you with a chocolatey bread aftertaste that sticks on your tongue for a long time.
Drinkability and Mouthfeel: Just enough carbonation to smooth out the heavy oily texture of this masterpiece. Great stout. Its presence really stays with you and gives you a warm feeling.

pzrhsau, Feb 18, 2010
Photo of MikieV
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark, almost black with a thick, rolling rich rust colored head. Thick rust colored lacing stuck to the glass as I drank.

First, I have to admit, this was my first ever Imperial Stout.
I was in love from the first sip!

This is a bold, robust beer. It has very intense flavors. Dark bitter chocolate, booze, roasted malts all come through. Some slight fruitiness as well. A fairly thick beer, leaving some solids in the bottom of the glass. Very smooth mouth feel despite it's thickness.

At 10.5%, one of these is just right for me!

MikieV, May 02, 2011
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,529 ratings.