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 clvand0
2.7/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

This beer poured a very very dark black color and it seemed quite thick. The head was thick and dark brown. Lots of lacing on the glass as well. The aroma was full of maltiness, chocolate, and coffee. Very powerful aroma. The main part of the flavor is the thick, dark maltiness but it also has some chocolates, coffees, (a small amount of) fruits, and several other things. Quite complex taste. The mouthfeel was interesting because the flavor is so strong. It almost killed my tastebuds at first. As with most imperial stouts, this one was a bit too strong for my tastes - very well made though.

clvand0, Oct 03, 2003
Photo of crayphish
2.7/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I waited a fairly long time to get my hands on an Expedition. Expectations were huge. The stout pours a fairly thin black, carbonation barren liquid. The lack of any sort of head and carbonation really hurts this brew. Hard to get a handle on the smell. I get some roasted elements, along with a vegetable oil bleh. Not appealing. The taste is weak chocolate, roasted barley, and the vegetable unpleasantness again. I'm hoping that this batch might have gotten funked. Hopslam is an amazing imperial style brew, I can't see Bell's missing this badly. This beer was hard to finish. Hopefully one of the last 3 in the sixer changes my opinion.

crayphish, Mar 03, 2009
Photo of Blanco
2.73/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

black with a darker head than most stouts big lacing from the head with a slight film on the side of the glass reminiscent of wine lacing. big dark fruit and alcohol in the nose right up front. sweetness as well. wow, the flavor is strong and out of control. first strong bitterness and then roasted coffee, which was not present in the smell. definitely makes you pull back and sip on her and unfortunately it's not as good as I expected. Though it has some potential, seems a little too fresh for me.

Blanco, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of yourefragile
2.73/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle

I had been looking forward to trying this one for a long time and unfortunately the beer was not able to live up to my expectations or appearance. I'm hoping I had a bad bottle and will try this again in the future and hope for better....

A: Ok, lots good so far, pours a very thick, sludgy black and from hard pour has a nice sized tan head that has nice retention and leaves incredible lacing. Looks like a great RIS.
S: Not as strong as expected or mentioned in other reviews, but it has a sweet, rich aroma with chocolate, molasses, roasted flavors, etc.
T: Sweeter than expected, alcohol is well hidden, but something just seems...off. Everything just seems flat, overly sweet and not balancing bitterness. I mean, the flavors are there from the aroma and tastes like it should be a good RIS, but I don't know, I don't feel like thinking any harder about this.
M: Thick, creamy, flat, no carbonation, just....not good. Too sweet, no bitterness or hops detectable...
D: Ok, I'm being redundant, I only bump up the drinkability for the 10.5% alcohol being well hidden, otherwise it was very difficult for me to finish this bottle as I just didn't enjoy and would rather just have Kalamazoo, Double Cream, Java or basically any of their other stouts (for much cheaper). I'll update this review in future when I try again.

yourefragile, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of aaronxsubaru
2.73/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

this tasted like teriyaki sauce. It has alot or roasty, maybe even burnt tasting notes to it. I personally did not like this, this was my first imperial stout so i'm not quite sure what to expect. Personally i won't try this again, but i like stouts and porters enough to not give up on this style. This particular beer however was a little too bold, and not well balanced enough for me.

aaronxsubaru, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of abankovich
2.75/5  rDev -35%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured with a pretty nice light brown head with the beer being extremely dark as it should be.

Smells very strong and sweet of molasses and maple syrup maybe some brown sugar as well. Some chocolate notes as well.

Very sweet on the initial sip, a lot of malt and syrupy flavors present. Almost a little too syrupy for me. I wish there was a little more bitterness throughout to balance it out. Chocolate and Java hints on the very back end as it washes down.

Mouthfeel is medium to thick and the drinkability isn't too high on this one for me due to the overwhelming sweetness for the style.

abankovich, Mar 23, 2008
Photo of HardyA
2.75/5  rDev -35%

HardyA, Oct 21, 2013
Photo of WckdVbz
2.75/5  rDev -35%

This is a Black DIPA, not a RIS.

WckdVbz, Aug 12, 2014
Photo of chicagobeerriot
2.75/5  rDev -35%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Drinking this fresh to get a baseline to compare flavors as this beer ages. Completely opaque, even when held to the light. A vigorous pour produced a thick, rocky, mocha colored head that produces substantial lacing.

The smell is complex, but causes some concern for what's to come. Some light soy sauce and over-charred coffee beans are in the mix with some more pleasant molasses notes.

The taste is a mixed bag. Thankfully, the soy smell does not translate to the flavor profile. There's a bit of soy there, but not enough to be offputting. The first sips begin well, but the balanced sweetness is soon overwhelmed by the char and alcohol finish. The finish is too bitter, too boozy, simply too much. I've heard so much about how this beer ages and I sincerely hope that the conventional wisdom is true because it's kind of a mess fresh. The alcohol and burnt toast flavors have to moderate and the sweetness has to develop before this beer is worth your time. Hopefully that's exactly what will happen. Will check back a year from now.

chicagobeerriot, Nov 23, 2009
Photo of Talisker
2.75/5  rDev -35%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I had been looking forward to trying Bell's Expedition Stout - one of my favorite styles made by one of my favorite stout brewers. No freshness date on the bottle - what's up with that, Bell's? - but this one was cellared for at least 6 months after I got it.

And while Expedition Stout has some worthy attributes, ultimately this is for me more a miss than any sort of hit.

Pours into my snifter a thick, dark brown. Not quite one finger of dark brown head. Very nice aroma, toffee, lots of roast, some chocolate. But it's all downhill from there - taste is unintegrated, hot, liquorice-y to the point of cinnamon candies. The sweetness doesn't balance that heat, and the heavy alcohol exacerbates the problem. Very prominent, causes a certain burn on the tongue and the back of the throat.

I would gladly try this once more on tap - I love most everything else I've tried from Bell's, so I owe Expedition at least that - but I won't be picking up any bottles again.

Talisker, Jan 17, 2008
Photo of yankees27
2.75/5  rDev -35%

yankees27, Nov 25, 2012
Photo of Jspriest
2.75/5  rDev -35%

Jspriest, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of iuhophead87
2.75/5  rDev -35%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A- Dark black with almost no head! Looks almost like molasses or barbeque sauce.

S- It smells like molasses, raisons, and dates. Smells much sweeter than it tastes.

T- I had high expectations for this beer, but was greatly disappointed. There seemed to be almost no carbonation. It is more malty than sweet and where is the creaminess of a stout, it is not in this beer. Almost reminds me of cough syrup with a little hops added. Not a big fan of this beer, although I do like most beers brewed by "BELLS" .

MF- Thick and starts out sweet, then the flavor goes quickly as you choke down this raison juice.

D- The taste + alcohol content make this beer almost undrinkable. However, If you are able to get one down the 10% ABV is a plus. There is no way I could drink more than one of these.

I'm a big fan of Bells, but could do without this concoction of hopped up prune juice.

iuhophead87, Apr 05, 2008
Photo of condorsim
2.75/5  rDev -35%

condorsim, Mar 25, 2014
Photo of Mitchster
2.75/5  rDev -35%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Fall 2007. $2.50 for a single 12oz bottle at Jack's. Pours out to a very dark brown, but not as oily and sheer black as prior versions. Forms a large, voluminous sticky dark cocoa head with excellent retention and lacing. Very nice looking beer. Nose of heavily roasted grains, big malts, lots of herbal hops, vanilla, walnut (a little more subdued than prior versions) and a wisp of alcohol. Mouthfeel is big and coating. Big bodied, but not as big as I remember it..certainly not as oily. Hrmm, off-flavors galore...the requisite cocoa, prunes, and big dark malts are there, but it has a very definite "homebrew" plastic-y pang, and by that I mean, there are some off-flavor fusels and aldehydes (but not in a good way). It reminds me almost exactly of a RIS I brewed a long time ago..fermented it too warm and it kinda had this funky rubbery taste. Bitterness is moderate. The finish is kinda rubbery...tastes likes plastic and bleach.

Hrmm, quite the disappointment. I'm glad I didn't pick up a 6'er of this. I'm gonna go drink my Stone RIS to wash this taste out of my mouth. This one is going down the drain.

Mitchster, Nov 09, 2007
Photo of sh00ky
2.75/5  rDev -35%

sh00ky, Jan 16, 2012
Photo of Alex5
2.75/5  rDev -35%

Alex5, Dec 10, 2013
Photo of NYCWheatFanSC
2.75/5  rDev -35%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a thick dark black with a small, cherry mocha head that recedes quickly to a microfilm on top with a sturdy collar that leaves alot of lacing as the beer goes down.

S - Licorice, alcohol, and burnt brown sugar dominate.

T - The estery alcohols impart an almost robitussin-eque flavor that is rather off-putting from the start. Smoke, and caramelized molasses are also big players here, but not strong enough to mask the cough syrup flavors.

M - Nice and chewy, with a bit more carbonation than I would expect which unfortunately brings out alot of the more acrid flavors.

D - Would not seek this one out again over many, many others I have readily available.

NYCWheatFanSC, Jan 09, 2010
Photo of thirtysixbelow
2.78/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

a - not good. Looks like motor oil being poured in. Completely opaque black with almost no carbonation. After I was done pouring the head took a second to creep up. It got to about a finger and a half of dark chocolate looking head. It held up for a few minutes before going down to a skim.

s - sweet smelling with chocolate, coffee, and caramel notes.

t - sweet coffee flavor up front. After that the alcohol sets in. I figured it was going to be hard to cover up 10.5% abv and it is. The alcohol gives a good warming with a strong bite. It has a hoppy bitterness that I wasn't expecting. It doesn't really strike me as hoppy, just oddly bitter. This is a little much for me.

m - looked like motor oil pouring it into my glass, and that is also about the consistency. Normally I don't mind a really smooth beer, but I just can't get that image out of my head. More carbonation in the mouth than you would think after pouring it though.

d - I don't know if my palate just isn't ready for this or not, but it's way too much. The only thing I enjoyed about this beer was smelling it. The alcohol and bitterness just doesn't sit well. There wasn't anything interesting up front either. I was hoping for some good stout flavors after smelling it, but :(

thirtysixbelow, Feb 25, 2008
Photo of Winter
2.83/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Presumably from the 2002 bottling as none of this six pack's residents are sporting any neck labels. Pours a thick viscous black with absolutely no head what-so-ever, even after an attempted hard pour. Aroma consists of alcohol, expresso and chocolate. Some sweetness also detected. Full-bodied and coating mouthfeel. The taste is vinous and alcoholic. Grainy and chocolate flavors emerge toward the back. Finishes dry with a roasted malt and ghost-like tabacco flavors.

Defintely a sipping beer and very hard to finish. I did not want another one, and quite frankly, how many of these could one desire, especially with the carbonation issues? My impression, at least from this batch, is that this beer is highly overrated. I'm not completely turned off, but I'll wait for the new bottles. The Bell's retailer should have these pulled off the shelf and supply a more fresher, properly brewed and bottled product.

Winter, Jan 16, 2004
Photo of kjyost
2.83/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Batch 9512

Poured quite oddly, with a moderate pour no head was appearing,so poured aggressively and after the pour the head built up nicely leaving a mocha head of a finger atop an inky opaque body. Moderate lacing. The aromas coming off were initially very strongly of molasses with a slight coffee undertone, evolving to a more balanced nose of molasses and malt.

Burns lightly of alcohol on the palate. Feels too cold initially,so I need to let it warm up. A strong bitterness that is upfront and lingers. Molasses, with maybe a bit of roasted malt underneath. As the drink built a cloying sweetness that seemed wrong for this beer built and built until it became difficult to drink and the bitterness lingers too strongly.

Prickly in the mouth and covers it initially but doesn't feel like its there after save the bitterness stuck on your tongue.

kjyost, Mar 27, 2010
Photo of srv33
2.85/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had heard such good things about this beer so I was excited when I nabbed one of the last singles from a local shop. Dark brown pour, almost no foam head. Light smell, not very fragrant, bit of soy and pine. Taste is full bodied, stout-like, slightly lactic, sits heavy on the tongue, not too bitter, with notes of echanacia. I wanted to be wowed by this but was just not impressed - I think its possible I might have gotten a bad bottle, as I have read others experiencing more of a head when poured whereas I had almost zero.

srv33, Jun 29, 2012
Photo of Oktoberfest
2.88/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

My wife said “motor oil” as I poured a bottle into our newest pilsner. Her father, an avowed Busch Light drinker, calls all the craft beers we drink “motor oil.” At last, though, the name is accurate.

It’s dark. REAL dark. A searchlight wouldn’t cut through it. The text printed on the back of the pilsner is completely illegible.

The smell is mostly coffee, layered with alcohol. I don’t detect much chocolate from the odor, or it’s overcome by the alcohol smell.

My wife tried a sip after saying she wouldn’t like it. She did like it, it turned out, but she added that she couldn’t drink much more. She also said it needed to warm up.

It’s a RIS so it’s a big beer and goes down very warm. I’m guessing it’s last year’s stock since we bought a single bottle just last week. Virtually no head save a few stings of bubbles clinging to the glass. Bitter, coffee tasting with touches of raisin and very light hints of chocolate. Unlike some other Russian Stouts I’ve had, the prevailing taste seems to be the alcohol itself. It tends to crowd out the other tastes, leaving the usual complexities of a stout left to muddle around with one another until none of them come to the fore.

They were speaking of this beer in hushed tones at the Dayton Alefest last week but I wonder if that’s for the $14.99 sticker shock than the actual taste. It’s not bad at all. But for Bell’s and for fifteen bucks I expected better.

Oktoberfest, Sep 02, 2005
Photo of HuskyinPDX
2.88/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Taken from notes taken on 3.31.11
Bottle code 9971 bottled on 9.13.10

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a motor oil black with red edges. A small, slight brown head forms.

S - Scents of coffee, nuts and bourbon are present.

T - Chocolate, and a bad bitter coffee.

D - No carbonation, almost flat.

O - I think this was an oxidized bottle, not good.

HuskyinPDX, Jun 02, 2011
Photo of Wolfpack2005
2.88/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle to DFH snifter

A-Pours slightly heavy leaving a dark tan 1 finger head that fades quickly, Pitch black in color.

S-Picking up a little bits of roasted malts and dark chocolate. Also a slight alcohol smell as well. Nothing very strong.

T-Strong burnt malt taste up front with a slight taste of old coffee. After the harsh taste fades i'm left with a strong alcohol taste that lingers for a while and is not masked at all.

M-The only redeeming quality of this beer is the smooth mouthfeel and relatively low carbonation, which I like for this style.

O-Very disappointed in this brew coming from such a solid brewery With the high praise it gets I was expecting a lot more. Seems very unbalanced and lacks any sort of complexity. Not a good example of the style. I'll lay one down to see if time helps the flavors blend, but otherwise will probably not buy this one again.

Wolfpack2005, Dec 14, 2012
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,529 ratings.