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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.

1,987 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,987
Hads: 5,557
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 480
Gots: 1,452 | FT: 121
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,987 | Hads: 5,557
Photo of HuskyinPDX
2.93/5  rDev -30.4%
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.

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Photo of CaptFrothy
2.94/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

9/26/11 date on the bottle, so this is better than 2 years old, cellared.

Looks the park, dark and menacing with not much beyond a thin white ring of head.

Smells decent, but I can smell the alcohol, that's not a good thing for me.

Taste is burnt coffee, bitter chocolatey with some alchohol on the back end.

Overall, I'm disappinted, this has been conditioning in the basement for over 2 years, mouthfeel has no silk at all, somewhat prickly, the bitter chocolate/coffee taste with alcohol isn't working - ten tidy, old raspution lost abbey serpent stout, BCBS all vastly superior tasting imho.

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Photo of merman69
2.99/5  rDev -29%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Poured very dark, with a nice thick brown head that stuck around for a while. Smelled great, with a nice roasted aroma. Notes of coffee and chocolate. However, was dissapointed once I took a sip.... it is SICKLY sweet! I almost couldn't drink it. The flavor was good, what I would expect from a nice dark stout like this, but the sweetness was too much and by far overpowered the experience. So sweet that I didn't even realize it was a 10% ABV selection until after I had a few sips.

I've heard good things from their other stout, but I don't think I'll be having this one again.

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Photo of Stoneman78
2.99/5  rDev -29%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Received in trade from MuenchenerKindl

Appearance is clear brown-to-black hue, huge thick brown head of creamy condensed foam dissipates to a moderate thickness, moderate lacing on the glass

Smell is toasted malts and alcohol mostly, tones of bitter chocolate and coffee, some toffee and earthy green tones

Taste is bizarre, so much so that I wonder if this may be a bad batch, mostly burnt bitter coffee malts and a strange load of dark fruits and grassy earthy hops, some sour buttermilk sensation creeps through, the finish is bitterly acidic with slight alcohol warming

Mouthfeel is medium-to-full bodied, creamy smooth texture borders on watery, low carbonation

Drinkability is poor, i have heard a lot of good things about this beer and would love to give it another shot, perhaps on draft, just in case this was a bad bottle. if this taste is indeed representative, there is just too much sourness and bitter burnt malts to warrant a return visit

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Photo of bwd110
2.99/5  rDev -29%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle poured into Stone RIS Tulip.

A: Traditional motor oil black, very viscous looking. Really cool dark brown head, darker than most. This goes away quickly leaving a very thin sheet of lace.

S: Alcohol fumes abound. This one could do better with a toned down abv. If the nose is a clear indicator, this is gonna be one raw IRS, and probably not one of my favorites.

Also getting dark chocolate and espresso notes, and a sharp molasses sweetness underneath the alcohol phenols - sort of unpleasant.

T: Boozy. The alcohol hits hard and fast, with an almost bourbon twang to it. Black licorice and anise dominate any coffee or chocolate notes. I think I need to cellar my remaining stash to smooth this one out around the edges.

M: Thick and chewy. Fairly creamy and would be quite smooth without the alcohol burn on the way down. Overall, very good fit for the style.

D: Slow sipper, need to move on after one.

Overall, this is a decent IRS, but does not live up to the hype. I'd easily place Stone's RIS and Old Rasputin above this one. Heck, give me a Kalamazoo or Double Cream/Expedition Blend over this one. Too rough around the edges for my tastes/abv needs to be better masked, a boozy mess IMHO.

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Photo of mashedpotatoes
2.99/5  rDev -29%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours pitch black, very thick and viscosey. Head is minimal. Smell is strong alcoholic, cough syrupy. Taste is bittersweet molasses. Aftertaste lingers a bit too long, especially with the excessive astringent taste this beer permits. The feel is round, sticky but invasive to the palate, I feel like it's setting up unwanted camp on my tastebuds. Drinkability is low, although the ABV is high the balance of off flavors and peculiar aftertaste leaves me longing for something different. Suggestion: Try all Bell's as a single first. I've found severe inconsistency in this brand.

This one was not bad but also not good.

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Photo of LCB_Hostage
3/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Came across this on the beer menu at a restaurant last night and was excited to give it a try. Bell's distribution around us is spotty at best, but I did see a couple Six-packs of this in a bottle shop recently and almost picked one up. The $20 price tag was a bit high for the moment, though so I held off. Now very glad that I did.

Served on tap into a tulip

A: Deep, dark black. Little to no head by the time it arrived at the table. No lacing to speak of.

S: Less than I would have expected. Alcohol was very present as was roasted grains and some sweet fruit. A bit of chocolate lingered, too.

T: Again, not quite what I was anticipating. Almost cloyingly sweet and relatively smooth upfront with some alcohol warming on the way down, but not that much given the 10%+ ABV. I guess I'd say this was very well balanced, because no individual flavor stood out (unless you consider sugary sweetness a flavor). It did leave a trace of rather unpleasant bitterness on the back of the tongue -- not in a hoppy way, but more in a "something burnt" way.

M: The only word I could think of as I was drinking this was "oily." I expected a syrupy character from a RIS, but this just coated everything and wouldn't come off.

O: I guess I'm just not in Bell's target audience. This is the second highly acclaimed Bell's beer (the other being 2-hearted) that seem seriously over-hyped to me. This wasn't a bad beer by any circumstances, but neither was it something that lived up to its reputation or pricetag. I know that "balance" is supposed to be a sign of superior brewing skill, but to me, if NOTHING stands out about a beer, it's balanced to the point of being boring. And I would have to say that for me, Expedition Stout was an $8 glass of Meh. Oh well, different brews for different crews.

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Photo of joepais
3/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to MuenchenerKindl for this one too

Bottle poured into a sniffer produced fingers worth of coco colored head that turned quickly to a skin coat of lace .it sat on top of a jet black body

Aromas of vinous fruit, fist time I really can say that but pretty mild aromas after that some toasted malts

Flavors here roasted malts and chocolate some raisins with a heavy bitter finish

Thick and creamy finishes with oily coating on the tongue

I don't know I think I had this bottle to early will have to revisit this one was bottled Nov 07 I've being drinking a lot of stouts lately and this is not one of the tops but not on the bottom either

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Photo of quasimoto
3/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I lucked out, this one isnt oxidized, unlike the the Brothers had.

A - Dark opaque black and way syrupy. there is barely any head. But what there is it is dark tan. Not the greatest thing I'd like to see, but who cares.

S - Dark malts. Chocolate, some molasses, some smoke. It's pretty good but not really strong.

T - Threre is some gummy paper and some alcohol. These are encompassed by the afforementioned flavors of chocolate, coffee, molasses, and I guess there is cardboard in there. The after taste reminds me of cigarette butts.

M - Thick, and chewy. there is no carbination to speak of and there is some bitterness at the end.

D - It is a little heavy , not a session beer. If it wasnt for the aftertaste of the cigarettes it would be ok.

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Photo of jeonseh
3.01/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

From this years batch of Expedition and poured into my brandy snifter

A - Deep and dark black with a reflective sheen to it. There are no traces of carbonation or anything moving within this brew. On top sits about 1/2 a thumb of a creamy, lighty carbonated head that seems to be composed of a bunch of little bubbles settling on top of one another.

S - smells like a mixture of things that seem to come at me at different times. At first impression, I thought it smelled mostly like chocolate malt and then after awhile, there also were hints of cherry coming up through the nose. Additionally, there seemed to be a bit of a deep, dark coffee roastiness as well. Nose is actually a bit muted on this one as the scent is there but just barely and not really overpowering at all.

T - initially, have to say this was a lot sweeter than I expected. The beer seems to come in and swirl caramel and toffee flavors in over your mouth as it reminded me a lot of sucking on a caramel. There is also a slight hoppiness that is mixed in and also a bit of a tartness that seems to go alongside the cherry flavors a bit and comes in between the sweeter flavors that come first and the darker roastier flavors. After these fade away, the impression is the taste of bitter coffee coming in as well that appears to counteract the sweeter flavors and prepares you for the warming alcohol feeling that this beer leaves you with. After drinking more and more of this, it seems that some of the sweeter flavors have faded and instead there seems to be an earthy, raw hops flavor that has come to dominate the beer and in away is a bit overpowering and unbalanced as it is the only real flavor tasted and destroys some of the sweeter notes that initally went so well with this brew. Moreover the longer I drink it and the warmer it gets, the more out of balance this beer seems to be as the greener, earthy hops seem to really dominate this brew and be the only thing I can taste.

MF - has a decent body which comes right in the middle of being too thick and thin but instead is just right. Also has a decent amount of carbonation for an RIS and this carbonation really seems to pop out when you first sip this beer as it was one of the first things I noticed. It seems to be what ushers in the sweeter caramel flavors that come to the tongue. There is also a slight tingly and bitter feeling left in the mouth after drinking this one that makes me have a desire to munch on something while drinking it.

D - overall a decent stout but just think that the raw hoppiness of it makes it a bit too out of balance to really appreciate its finer points. After awhile it seems to be all you can taste. have to say this is also a nice beer to drink on a cold winter's night for the simple fact that the alcohol in it really does warm up your whole body and yet it does not stand out in the flavor such that this beer is undrinkable or overly boozy. Would like to try one after it has aged some to see if the raw hoppiness fades away some and makes this even creamier and smoother.

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Photo of frank4sail
3.01/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Not much of any action at all on the pour. I poured agressively and got just a little hint of a light brown head. Nice dark opeque thick look but no real carbonation. Big sweet coffee, plum, raisen smell with some bitter chocolate as well. Big strong abv , black coffee, and bitter burnt caramel. The mouth is thick and flat.. I am shocked after seeing the reviews here.. but for me it is a flat, overly intense beer that really lacks balence.Dissapointing for me... Not drinkable enough to have another.

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Photo of Dodo2step
3.02/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

P- Grape and Gourmet in Va Beach.

A- Pours a thick viscous midnight black motor oil color. A light tan head come sand goes right after the last drop hits the top of the beer.

S- roasted caramel malt. a lil bit of oak wood as well. a burnt chocolate coffee hint as well.

T- a burnt toasted coffee flavor. The burnt flavor is more pronounced than the coffee itself. Burnt wood as well. Update: After 2/3 of the way through the carbonation of the beer is gassy. I constantly have to stop to let one out. Not appealing to m so i drop this rating.

M- thick and full of dark burnt flavor. Coats the mouth and hangs around. Very thick. Creamy and viscous.

D- this is a beer that is very good to drink but you cant put too many of these down. I struggles with it at first but it did get easier. If you dont like burnt caramel or roasted coffee this isnt a beer for you. This beer is very had for meto put down...too much burnt coffee caramel flavor. IT reminds me of eating the coffee out of the filter.

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Photo of DuqTroops
3.03/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance - very very dark in color with a tannish head atop the body.

Smell - lots of great aromas from this. chocolate / coffee

Taste - overwhelming taste of alcohol. too much for this lightweight. the smell is a lot better than the taste.

Mouthfeel - too much alcohol in the taste and could not handle this.

Drinkability - i couldn't handle one beer, let alone two.

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Photo of largadeer
3.06/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance - Black in color, viscous and oily. An inch of dark brown head rises and falls over the course of a few minutes.

Smell - Sweet and roasty with a hint of alcohol. Molasses and dark chocolate are very pronounced, with undertones of licorice and vanilla.

Taste - Bold and bitter. Moderate sweetness; flavors of molasses and dark chocolate are met with an almost burnt bitterness. The finish is long and coating, leaving a bittersweet aftertaste. Well crafted, but too intense, acrid and sweet. If that's your thing, you'll probably love this.

Mouthfeel - Incredibly rich and creamy; easily one of the most full-bodied brews I've had. Medium to low carbonation.

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Photo of JebBeerFish
3.06/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My first Bell's beer. Had one bottle 2 nights ago, had a second tonight to validate or dispell first impression. Nice coffee flavor but without any chocolate counterpart, and instead a hoppiness in the back of the beer that substantially detracts from the flavor, almost as if a 1/4th of the beer was poured off and an equal amount of a black ipa added. Label states beer ages well. I will cellar this until the Fall when I will try another. A disappointment for me.

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Photo of tgbljb
3.06/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a very deep broen color witn minute tannish coating.
Smell is very significant for alcohol, with some bittersweet chcolate in the background.
Taste is too sweet and syrupy. The alcohol is definitely present, with an almost syrupy sweetness. There are some hops present but they are too astringent.
Left a not pleasant taste in the mouth.
Just drinkable at best. Not worth the money.

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Photo of PeterLemonjello
3.07/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Nice think black color with a small head of foam that fades quickly. Not a lot of lacing. Lots of yeast sediment in the bottom of the pour.

S - Roasted malts and chocolate at first sniff. As beer warms starts to smell like playdough, very odd.

T - Dark malts, slight rum flavor, chocolate, not a lot of dark fruit flavors. A sharp bitterness on the finish from the amount of yeast in the pour.

M - Nice thick/slick mouthfeel. Not too carbonated (how I like my big stouts).

D - Given the sharp bitterness, this one is not real pleasant to drink. Certainly not meant to be a sessionable beer, but the sharp bitter flavor really takes away from the overall experience and is hard for the beer to show any complexity with such a dominating force to compete with.

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Photo of 1Adam12
3.08/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours black, hard pour gave it a nice 2 inch head. Smells of malt and alcohol. This seems like it's going to be hot. And it is. Tastes of a bit of malt, but it is an alcohol bomb. I want more depth! Very creamy mouthfeel, but the insane amount of alcohol on the tongue diminishes how creamy it really is. Overall....eh. Average at best.

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Photo of dstc
3.08/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours dark like a stout with a brown head. Not much head though, a little flat. Does leave thin lace behind. Strong roasted malt smell and a bit metallically. Nice strong flavor with bitter aftertaste. Good, but nothing special. Somewhat thick, low carbonation mouthfeel. Average stout. I was dying to try this after seeing some reviews and had a friend bring me a six pack from Michigan since I couldn't find it here in Florida. Was also excited when I poured the first glass (I love seeing a brown head, not white, on a stout) but was disappointed in the taste. Again, it's not bad, just average.

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Photo of Brent
3.09/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a stygian black - no light could escape the gravitational pull of this beer black-hole. A tannish head quickly fizzed about, and then departed, thereafter the beer seemed quite lightly carbonated. Aroma was sweet and creamy, boasting of highly roasted malts. Dark roasted malt flavors packed the liquid, like strong brewed coffee, without the coffee flavor. Mouthfeel was rather disconcertingly thin, which seemed out of place against the onslaught of roasted malt. Hops in the finish vied with a rather harsh alcohol flavor for control of the finishing note, with the alcohol winning out after a hard-fought battle. Overall, the flavor profile seemed out of whack for the style - a great deal of effort had gone into crafting the beer, but the final product is one which failed to win me over.

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Photo of walkinginplace
3.09/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.75

Being a fan of Bell's Brewery and having read all the hype on Beer Advocate for Bell's Expedition Stout I expected to really enjoy this one but I can't say that I did.

A: Thick and as dark as I have seen, strong head, seriously pitch black though

S: Strong coffee and dark chocolate smell, pretty much what you would expect

T: Syrupy would be the first word I would use. This tasted very thick like chocolate syrup (more so than I would have liked or expected). Heavy dark chocolate taste but not as heavy on the coffee taste as one might think. Not terrible but definitely not as good as I had expected.

F: Creamy and syrupy would sum this up nicely. Thick to say the least.

Overall: Not a fan. Taste was OK and the smell was excellent but the mouthfeel is simply too thick to enjoy much. My least favorite Bell's brew thus far.

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Photo of nmyers
3.1/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer poured black with a very thin dark brown head on it with little retention and it looked really thick. It seemed to ooze out of the tap. The smell was good molasses, raisins and dates very sweet smelling. The smell was much better than the taste, it was slightly sweet in the beginning and finished very bitter. There was not much alcohol flavor for being 10.5%. It also had very little carbonation. Over it was ok because I am a fan of stouts.

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Photo of MonkeyBread
3.1/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Tastes like used motor oil. If I wanted something so acrid, bitter and viscous I'dattach a funnel to the gas tank on my car. Bell's seems to have no clue how to produce a decent stout. Pretty much their entire line is an undrinkable mess. How this gets nationally distributed is unreal. Take your average home brew and it would taste like the second coming of Christ compared to this undrinkable mess.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.1/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It's my birthday! Best before date 10/02/17. 10.50% ABV confirmed. 355ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a New Blegium goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are through the roof given this beer's reputation. Acquired for $7.99 at a local beer store.

Served straight from the refrigerator but allowed to warm considerably over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

As I poured, I noticed it wasn't generating a head, so I really amped up the vigor.

A: Pours a quarter finger beautiful rich tan colour head of decent cream, good thickness, and awful retention - which is fairly excusable given the ABV, but I've seen other beers handle more than this without issue. Colour is a solid black. Not quite jet black, but dark as hell. Nontransparent and opaque, as it should be. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Coffee, chocolate, dark malts, cream, chocolate malt, caramel, roast, a bit of alcohol, and even a hint of toffee. Well balanced but not clearly focused. I'm getting excited for it. A mild strength aroma. Doesn't beat you over the head like many beers in the style.

T: Coffee, roast, intriguing chocolate, espresso, background floral hops, cacao, malty sweetness, hints of smoke, caramel, raisin, and a bit of dark fruit (maybe plum). Malty sweetness increases as it warms. No note seems particularly dominant, which is actually sort of a problem here. Without focus, it becomes messier. That's not to say it's imbalanced; the balance is only slightly off in that the flavours are too sweet. I imagine this would fade with time. I get molasses and licorice when I look for them. The flavour doesn't blow me away like I expected. It's actually somewhat disappointing. I don't get any yeast, but a bit of alcohol on the finish. There's a medicinal chocolate-covered raspberry note buried in the finish as well. It's certainly got body. I get more and more licorice as it warms. I despise licorice. Also, more raisin comes through along with the dark fruit - the best aspect of this beer. It's like the bastard child of a quad and an imperial stout, but far less enjoyable than that sounds.

The booze really warms the stomach - a bit too much.

Mf: Far too sticky for the style. Also chewy like licorice. Too smooth and wet. Outright wrong for the style; it should be coarse, dry and creamy. I'm unimpressed. This needs some work. It does have *some* dryness from the roast, but nowhere near enough. Undercarbonated.

Dr: Drinkable for the high ABV, but underwhelming within the style. I like the experimentation, but there are far better imperial stouts at this price point. I honestly wouldn't get this again unless it was aged or on draught. They need to tone down the sweetness and fix the mouthfeel. It does hide its ABV well in the taste, but not so much in terms of heat. I look forward to trying more Bell's, but this was a huge disappointment.


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Photo of stegmakk
3.12/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Well...I don't believe the hype...
As I opened it up and poured into my glass, I had to take a sniff to make sure I wasn't pouring old oil into my glass...
Dark almost black, thick, no carb
Aroma sweet raisin molasses
Taste too sweet, and not complex at all...I thought there might be a chocolate flavor there somewhere but the sweet molasses over took everything...not wretched but not great...
I loved the thick mouthfeel on this one, and for drinkability, I couldn't drink more than 1 at a time...

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 1,987 ratings.