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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

5,368 Ratings

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Ratings: 5,368
Reviews: 1,996
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.61%
Wants: 447
Gots: 1,330 | FT: 99
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
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Ratings: 5,368 | Reviews: 1,996
Photo of StlHopHead77
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a sinister,opaque black with a 1/2 inch of lasting,mocha head that dwindled slowly leaving a nice film of lacing.

S-Rich,dark roast coffee,dark toast and bittersweet

T-Refined coffee,scalded milk,lightly charred malts
and creamy chocolate.

M-Creamy,full bodied and smooth.No hint of ABV at all.Really nicely done.

O-A readily available and high quality stout.

Photo of Tone
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, jet black. 1/4 inch head of a dark tan color. Great retention and Good lacing. Smells strongly of sweet malt, slight hops, alcohol, and some roasted malts. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Thick and smooth mouth feel. Low carbonation level present, and a noticeable bitterness and dryness left on the palate. Tastes of strong malt, roasted malt, slight hop kick noticeable, some chocolate, and an overall sweetness. Strong body along with a slight alcohol flavor. Overall, a good complex beer full of different malt flavors.

Photo of brystmar
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been wanting to try this for awhile; thanks to funkyaudio for the bottles!

A: Black pour, active java-colored head springs to life before receding. Beady lace.

S: Rich mocha with an emphasis on the coffee. Roasted malts and chocolate compliment the coffee well. Could enjoy this aroma all night!

T: Chocolate, espresso, molasses, and roasted malts blend together magnificently. Sweetness in the middle, but finishes with bitter coffee and some boozy warmth. Rich & decadent overall; would pair perfectly with a chocolate cake a la mode.

M/D: Creamy and smooth texture makes this brew quite drinkable. Wish they sold this in NYC :(

Had high hopes for this one, and Expedition Stout lived up to them. One of the best shelf RISes.

Photo of br3wmeister
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- One inch medium brown head that looks almost like oatmeal. Tiny frothy bubbles with some lumpy texture. Good head retention with some lacing. This beer is jet black, it does not let any light through.

S- I really enjoyed the smell of this beer, it really has a lot going on. Lots of coffee dark chocolate and even some burnt toast. On the sweeter side some caramel, dark fruits and molasses. There were also some hints of ginger bread, alcohol.

T- Complex layers of sweet and roasty bitterness. Sweet caramel and molasses hits the tongue first then some dark chocolate, roasted barley and hints of dark fruit, maybe cherries. Some alcohol warmth in the end.

M- Thick. This is a full bodied beer that takes control of your mouth. Not much carbonation but some hoppy bite helps to balance things out.

Overall- This is a pretty big beer, 12 ounces of this RIS is all you really need. Small bottle.. big beer.

Photo of stencom1
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%

Photo of whitenads
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Phelps
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 9512, which means it was bottled in December 2009. An 8-month-aged stout? Don't mind if I do!

Looks: Stygian. The liquid creeps from the bottle an inky, syrupy, dense, all-encompassing black. Absolutely ZERO light penetration. The head is such a late arrival I'd almost given up hope of it even showing up to this party, but when it comes, it does so in full form: nearly 1.5 fingers of thick, sticky mahogany. While it leaves rather quickly, it doesn't go quietly; great expanses of unbroken lace grip the sides of the glass.

Smells: like all the best parts of roasted malt. Espresso, dark chocolate, molasses, tree bark, steak, a tinge of vanilla and charred oak. If I didn't know any better, I'd say this was wood-aged.

Tastes: charred. These malt must have been roasted to within an inch of their lives, as the flavor of twice-burnt toast overloads the palate. While the liquid sits in the mouth, the beer's raw and woodsy -- I get a lot of pine, oak and fruity dates. After the swallow, waves of flavors shift and transition like the hues of the Wizard of Oz's horse of a different color. First there's vanilla, then brown sugar, then port, then peanut skins, then plums, then rum, and a satisfying finish of bitter espresso and charcoal rounds it all out. Each sip evokes a different experience.

Feels: treacly. Full-bodied and nearly syrupy, with a perfectly subtle carbonation. The alcohol is warming but not distracting -- impressive when you're wrangling in nearly 11 percent.

Drinks: below the radar. If Expedition Stout was a limited release, I can almost guarantee it would be a far more popular beer. As it is, it's one of the better RISes out there, and easily accessible -- an dangerous combination.

Photo of MattGrimley
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%

Photo of ypsifly
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle with no dates.

Yep, pours like you read about: used motor oil at about 160F. I should know, I changed the oil on my truck this morning. I have the used oil in a pan out in the garage. I'm really tempted to go outside and compare the two in a goblet. Small tan head that disappeared quickly, this was after a rather forced pour.

Smells of alcohol, bread, almonds, cocoa, and a hint of hop. There's some roasted aroma, but its rather slight for the style.

Tastes of mollases, roasted malts, chocolate, and a nice mix of alcohol and hops in the finish. The alcohol comes on with a nice warming affect. The full mouthfeel is what one would expect for the style. Feels like a meal in a bottle, without any carbonation.

This beer suffers only in its drinkability. The high abv alone makes it too much for a session beer. I have a few more bottles cellaring and am anticipating this one after a couple years. Once the alc mellows this will be one kick ass impy.

Photo of swedishmailman
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of murphyl
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured thickly, about the consistency of Kahlua coming out of the bottle, pitch black, absolutely opaque (no joke - I put my emergency see-it-a-mile-away LED flashlight against the glass and saw nothing out the other side). Piles of toffee-colored head left copious lace on the glass.

Smell: Hmm, that's interesting. Alcohol is definitely right up front, along with chocolate, raisins and dried cherries (appropriate for Michigan, but in a stout...?). This certainly piques my interest.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Reminiscent of Kalamazoo Stout, only heavier and thicker, almost like a barley wine in terms of mouthfeel. Chocolate and rum flavors, plus a hefty hit of alcohol up front, fading a long, long roasted finish, with the dried cherries making an encore appearance.

Drinkability: I wouldn't advise you drink more than two of these a night, as the 11.5% ABV will sock your brain and your tastebuds into next week. As a nightcap, a special occasion beer or the end of a session, however, you could do far, far worse.

Photo of eclipse54
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 ounce bottle from inlimbo77 (thanks!). "10105" is printed on the label, translating to a bottled on date of December 10, 2010. Poured into a DFH signature glass...

It pours a solid black with about a centimeter of brown, bubbly head. It dissipates rather quickly, leaving a ring around the edges a patch of bubbles in the center. Small, wet patches of bubbles are left clinging to the walls of the glass. Smells of dark fruits, some hops, chocolate, vanilla, and a bit of caramel. There's certainly a lot here, at it seems quite balanced in the nose. It tastes of chocolate, some fruity hops as well as some darker fruits (plum, date), and a bit of vanilla in the beginning. Towards the end, some roasted malt, more chocolate, and caramel come through. Mouth is rich, thick, and a bit dry on the finish. Overall, a very good stout that I’d love to have again.

Photo of nandemo1
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a pitch black with a thin tan head, and that required some aggressive pouring. Leaves a lot of tan lacing.

Smell is sweet raisin and chocolate. Taste is similar but includes coffee and molassas. Definitely some bitterness in there, balancing the sweetness, at first but then it lingers long afterwards. I'm not getting any alcohol, but this bottle is 11 months old.

Feel is pretty smooth, but sticky. Full bodied.

This is a good beer, but not an everyday go-to for me. It's bitter aftertaste is just a little abrasive for the style, I think.

Photo of hawks10
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle - Batch #8729 - Bottled September 17th, 2008, poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint...

Pours thick and nearly black. A very thin and slow rising, creamy, dark tan head forms and dissipates fairly quickly...

Pretty sweet in the nose, chocolaty...bits of ripe dark fruit with molasses and licorice, complex, a bit sweet, but nice...The 2 years of cellaring seems to have improved the nose, much more sweet, subtle and smooth than a fresher Vintage I had a few weeks back...no trace of roast or bitterness/hops in the nose...

Thick and smooth, creamy, tons of sweet chocolate and molasses, a bit roasted and a slight hint of bitter hops (that I did not notice in the nose) add some balance. Even after two years, this brew still packs a punch, strong...alcohol is very noticeable but not overwhelming, blends well with the full flavor and makes this an enjoyable sipper...

Full bodied, thick and chewy...very creamy but well carbonated, a bit too carbonated for the style, but still a good drink overall...

Age has really mellowed this brew in a very good way, but it is still strong and packs a punch of flavor and alcohol...definitely easier and more enjoyable to drink now than it was/is fresh...

Photo of Wadsey
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Expedition Stout, batch 8728, which was bottled on September 16, 2008

Served in DFH signature glass

A: Pours black with mocha-colored head that briefly emerges from murky depths and then retreats back, leaving oily legs on glass. 

S: An abundance of crystal and roasted malts express themselves in caramel, figs, raisins and dark chocolate. Additional aromas include cocoa nibs, raisins and earth. 

T: Quite sweet up front, but not unpleasantly so. This merges with  aforementioned characteristics seamlessly. Medium-high bitterness quashes sweetness, clearing way for roasty, herbal and somewhat dry finish. Alcohol is a little detectable. 

M: Very big body and light carbonation. Chewy and warming.  A little powdery, which is odd, considering oily appearance. 

O: I might prefer Expedition Stout at two years, but the contents of this bottle pleased my palate. Two knocks on this beer: booze seems amplified and the finish borders on harsh. 

Photo of MsRif
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I believe I have had this on-tap as well as bottled. Poured a dark brown, almost black color with a nice beige head. Beautiful looking brew. Lacing was pretty decent even though the head slowly dissipated. Aroma was that of chocolate, roasted malts and spices. Very rich. Taste was similar to the aroma...chocolate, a bit of coffee, roasted malts...the alcohol is hidden VERY well.

Very creamy, full-bodied brew that goes down smooth. Light carbonation. Dangerously drinkable...try to remember that this is a high octane beer!

Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: This beer pours like black oil and there are some weird chunks in the bottom of the glass which I'm not sure what it is. A brown, creamy head, about 2 fingers thick, is mostly lasting with a lot of sticky lace left on the glass.

S: A strong aroma of roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, and licorice are evident in this beer. There are some notes of booze and brown sugar, maybe dark fruits, but one thing for sure, not a lot of hops.

T: A very rich roasted malt flavor with notes of bitter coffee and dark chocolate. A somewhat complex taste with hints of some booze. Also, a long lasting and bitterness aftertaste that is on the pleasant side of things. Exactly how I imagine a stout to taste.

M: A silky, full bodied beer with very little carbonation. A dry after taste, but on the good spectrum.

D: Would love to drink this in the summer. Maybe 3 or 4 at a time.

Photo of Lucoli
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of backwoodsbarstard
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of nickfl
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Small, brownish-orange head that dissipates quickly. Virtually opaque black body with just a hint of ruby showing through.

S - Roasty malt aroma with subtle notes of both chocolate and coffee. A velvety hop note lurks in the background as a nice complimnet to the roasted malt.

T - Sweet and malty up front with some deep, dark chocolate flavors. Hop flavor kicks in early with a resiny, velvety smooth note and a round bitterness that compliments rather than cuts the sweetness. The finish is strongly bitter with competing bitter components from the malt and the hops and lingering notes of coffee, tobacco, and smoke.

M - Very thick, oily body with low carbonation and a sweet, slightly alcoholic finish.

D - Reasonably drinkable considering how huge this beer is. The flavors are profoundly dark and quite complex, and the only flaw I can find is the mildly hot alcohol in the finish.

Photo of xav33
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bells Expedition Stout
12 oz bottle
Moderate pour in a snifter
Batch 7251, packaged 02/06, ventured into 07/07

Poured black with a medium mostly lasting brown head with fair lacing.

Smelt of strong dark chocolate and mocha without even putting my nose up to it. Upon closer inspection,strong dark chocolate, dried plums, mocha, burnt grain, sherry.

Taste was upfront rich sweet dark chocolate, strong bitter burnt grain, moderate sherry and vinous bitterness, moderate fruity esters, like dried plums or figs, followed by a harsh bitter burnt grain and yeast, and sherry with moderate chocolate sweetness on a long lingering bitter burnt finish.

Palate was full bodied, creamy, silky and viscous, softly but slightly stinging carbonation, strongly astringent and moderately alcoholic.

Overall, a good strong Imperial stout. Not my favorite, but I will see how aging affects it. Lots of alcohol warmth and strong bitter flavors. Hell of a punch on the palate. Very good over all, although a bit over the top, still after one year.

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.

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".

Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Been sitting on a few bottles left over from a six pack for a few months. Broke them out for the Madison Big Stout Session, already known as one of the most epic tastings ever to be attempted.

Pour: crude oil thick and black, glug, glug, glugs into a taster under soapy capuccino head with a bit of chunky lacing.

Nose: espresso, vanilla cream, gasoline booze/hops, oatmeal malt, dark fruit and oatmeal malt.

Taste: appleskin tart, espresso bitterness, creamy vanilla sweet, unleaded booze-spicy, chocolate booze, black cherry and currant booze and a bit of nuttiness in the finish.

Feel: chocolate syrup thick, oily slick, uber-fine carbonation.

Drinkability/Overall: J.H.C., this is a potent beast of a beer - kudos for that - but a bit of a chore to drink, even 6 ounces worth. Yeesh. I'm spent, but must trudge on...

Photo of socon67
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

At Hackney's in Chicago

A - Black pour with a mocha colored foam. Settles quickly and has an inky look to it. Looks ominous and so inviting.

S - Smells of cocoa powder, and currants. Also has a lingering scent of molasses that reminded me of a cruise to Barbados.

T - Sweet and heavy on the malt. Strong flavors of chocolate and brown sugar.

M - Syrupy thick, but maybe a bit to slick. Makes for a stout that is nice but not sessionable, and more for the feel and chalkiness than the ABV.

O - Enjoyable stout that is great to sip after a good meal. A good showing by Bells

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,368 ratings.