1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. 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
95
world-class

4,916 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,916
Reviews: 1,915
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 419
Gots: 1,102 | FT: 77
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: 4,916 | Reviews: 1,915 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Oktoberfest
2.88/5  rDev -32.1%
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 -32.1%
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 -32.1%
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
Photo of Hop_God
2.88/5  rDev -32.1%

Hop_God, Oct 13, 2014
Photo of ThirdLap
2.9/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Got this through a great trade with aforbes10. Thanks Andrew!

Split this one with BA member 'macktbone' in two standard pint glasses. The minimal amount of dark brown head dissipates quickly, leaving only thirty-weight motor oil. Swirling the glass coats it with a translucent brown coating that is slow to disappear.

Lots of soy on the nose, with molasses, dark roasted malt, along with some sweet alcoholic beverage that I can't put my finger on. Some have said sherry, but I'm not sure that's it.

As promised, I'll be honest about what left my lips upon taking my first taste of this beer. I think the exact words were something along the lines of "holy shit".

It's not bad, just not well-balanced. I get way too much soy here. Very tangy and astringent with lots of burnt flavors... I get some coffee and caramel. The alcohol is very in-your-face.

Mouthfeel is much how it looks to be, thick and viscous. This beer really coats the mouth. Carbonation is minimal, and I really think a bit more would perk this beer up a bit.

Getting through my half was a bit of a challenge. I will probably return to it someday, hopefully on tap. Right now it just reminds me a bit too much of a SA Triple Bock. Hopefully the HopSlam arriving tomorrow will provide a better example of what Bell's is capable of.

[EDIT: I'm really thinking my bottle had gone bad. I will seek out and re-review this beer as soon as I can.]

ThirdLap, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of CaptFrothy
2.91/5  rDev -31.4%
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.

CaptFrothy, Nov 02, 2013
Photo of merman69
2.93/5  rDev -30.9%
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.

merman69, Dec 21, 2013
Photo of jeonseh
2.95/5  rDev -30.4%
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.

jeonseh, Feb 27, 2008
Photo of Dodo2step
2.95/5  rDev -30.4%
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.

Dodo2step, May 25, 2008
Photo of frank4sail
2.98/5  rDev -29.7%
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.

frank4sail, Nov 29, 2003
Photo of Stoneman78
2.98/5  rDev -29.7%
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

Stoneman78, Jan 31, 2008
Photo of bwd110
2.98/5  rDev -29.7%
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.

bwd110, May 19, 2009
Photo of mashedpotatoes
2.98/5  rDev -29.7%
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.

mashedpotatoes, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of LCB_Hostage
2.99/5  rDev -29.5%
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.

LCB_Hostage, Mar 28, 2013
Photo of whitekiboko
3/5  rDev -29.2%

whitekiboko, Feb 03, 2012
Photo of mtparty37
3/5  rDev -29.2%

mtparty37, Jan 25, 2012
Photo of fiedler84
3/5  rDev -29.2%

fiedler84, Jan 11, 2012
Photo of Bieniek30
3/5  rDev -29.2%

Bieniek30, Nov 07, 2014
Photo of timjim1327
3/5  rDev -29.2%

timjim1327, Nov 17, 2013
Photo of Beestin
3/5  rDev -29.2%

Beestin, Apr 13, 2014
Photo of user785335
3/5  rDev -29.2%

user785335, Mar 24, 2013
Photo of JohnQVD
3/5  rDev -29.2%

JohnQVD, Jun 02, 2012
Photo of hopsandstouts
3/5  rDev -29.2%

hopsandstouts, Jan 22, 2012
Photo of JohneHoodlum
3/5  rDev -29.2%

JohneHoodlum, Dec 06, 2011
Photo of ZPB
3/5  rDev -29.2%

ZPB, Jan 04, 2012
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 4,916 ratings.