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

4,906 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,906
Reviews: 1,915
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 418
Gots: 1,097 | 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: 4,906 | Reviews: 1,915 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ppoitras
4.53/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, WOW, some almost nitro action from a CO2 bottle beer, weird, but cool. Formed a thick, frothy 2" chocolate-hued head above a dark, dark brown/black brew. Head lasts more or less forever, and laces like you wouldn't believe. Aroma is is of heavy grains and malts, but not the bitterness that is usually associated with such a constructed brew. Heavy malts dominate the flavor, but their bitter ness seems to hide behind their sweetness, and make for an easy drinking brew, considering the heaviness and alcohol strength that is hiding somewhere in there... Mouthfeel is excellent, and drinkability is dangerously high for such a brew. An amazing phenom of brewing construction, this one is.

ppoitras, Jun 08, 2004
Photo of biegaman
4.38/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Beyond just inky or oily, this is a total solar eclipse. It is utter darkness. Needless to say, no highlighting or transparency is afforded. The surface is, unlikely considering its strength, crusted in a spring mud-like substance. A beer that's simply black doesn't require much inspection, it can simply sit and be admired for what it is.

And it smells big enough to block out the sun as well! Tremendous (frankly intimating) notes of bitter espresso, port soaked berries, black licorice, charred oak barrel and artisan dark chocolate truffles resonate through the senses. With a long list like that you ask: is there any stone left unturned? Nope. It seems they've thought of everything.

A rich and heavyset flavour profile offers decadent notes of dark chocolate and espresso. While still young, a backdrop of green, lightly zesty hops is easily discerned. These seem to grow a tad more piquant with warmth. Ironically, so too does the beer's sweetness which is now starting to resemble such flavours as double-double coffee and creme brulee.

At only 6 months of age this has plenty of potential yet to blend and develop flavours. From experience I know it will. The beer won't only sustain a little time on the cellar shelf, it'll most likely benefit from it, too. The alcohol's a bit forward (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that) and the flavours could stand to meld a little more.

I don't care if it takes an expedition to find this beer, it's worth searching out! Bell's Brewing should be conferred the highest possible accolade of beer for their lineup of stouts, of which the Expedition is arguably the most impressive. This Michigan brewery allows you to have your cake and (literally) drink it too!

biegaman, Apr 08, 2009
Photo of rab53
4.75/5  rDev +12%

rab53, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of KAF
4.8/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Absolutely amazing! This is the best stout ever! Pours very dark if not black. Thick foamy tan head. Nose of chocolate and a little coffee. Thick and full bodied. Great aroma but an ever better taste. Creamy and thick on the palate. Dark chocolate and coffee in the flavor. Just a great beer.

KAF, Oct 18, 2007
Photo of tdm168
4.18/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - black and as thick as oil with a thick, short cap of brown head that sits atop this brew forever

S - licorice, dark fruit, coffee, roasted malts

T - big roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, faint dark fruit, very bitter

M - full bodied, warm, smooth, perfectly carbonated and oily

This is a really solid beer. The bitterness is a bit intense and detracts from the rest of the flavors. The overall flavor profile is impressive. Rich, chocolate, roasty, bitter coffee, underlying dark fruit -- really enjoyable. I would have this again for sure.

tdm168, Nov 15, 2012
Photo of chinchill
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle date stamped with a fill date of 2 Oct. 2012. Served in a Belgian snifter.

Pours opaque and nearly black, but with red-brown highlights at the edges. Small dark tan head soon recedes.

Aroma: semi-sweet and appealing but relatively subtle.

Flavor: Rich and strong, with dark fruits, dark chocolate, dark roasted grains, and a hint of coffee. Approaches 4.5

Creamy smooth, excluding the impact of high ABV,

O: Excellent, but room for improvement as demonstrated by Bell's Black Note Stout.

chinchill, Mar 05, 2014
Photo of dmorgan310
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

dmorgan310, Apr 19, 2013
Photo of plaid75
3.68/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured an oily black hue with a one finger dark tan creamy head. There was decent retention and good sticky lacing.

The smell featured a rich coffee and caramel aroma with hints of dried fruit.

The taste consisted of nice caramel and chocolate malts with elements of raisin and coffee. There was a significant warming alcoholand a bit of an uncomfortable sweetness.

The mouthfeel was full and chewy.

Overall a tasty RIS. Big flavors and big ABV.

plaid75, Dec 10, 2006
Photo of Kelp
3.18/5  rDev -25%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thank you once again to beerisheaven for this one. The appearance is nice inky with a nice sark tan head. Smells like a traditional RIS to me, chocolate, coffee, and malt. Nothing different there. The taste is unlike any RIS I have ever had. Molasses, malts and a bit of chocolate make up the initial taste. Then Bitter hits my tongue and takes over. All I can taste now is the bitter from some unknown source. I think a little age would do wonders for this beer. The mouthfeel is smooth, velvety and a bit creamy. I could not drink another of these right now. It just is way to bitter for me. I would love to try an aged and brand new one side by side, but for now ugh.

Kelp, Jan 16, 2010
Photo of billab914
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Down to my last one out of the 12 I bought so I figured I better review this one before I'm out. Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Stone RIS glass.

Pours nearly black with a half inch tan head that settled to a thin covering that sticks to the sides. Nice lacing on the glass as well.

Aroma has coffee and bitter chocolate with some slightly sweet roastyness to it.

Taste has some dark chocolate, coffee and roastedness followed by a nice long bitterness that lingers in the mouth.

Mouthfeel is heavy bodied and slightly slick and carbonation is moderate.

Drinkability is good for a RIS, I really enjoyed these and will be buying them every winter for sure.

billab914, Dec 16, 2009
Photo of iL0VEbeer
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

iL0VEbeer, Oct 14, 2012
Photo of sendbeer
3.25/5  rDev -23.3%

sendbeer, Oct 22, 2012
Photo of ShanePB
2.5/5  rDev -41%

ShanePB, Nov 21, 2013
Photo of HopHead84
3/5  rDev -29.2%

HopHead84, Sep 02, 2014
Photo of Zaphog
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Zaphog, Apr 02, 2012
Photo of PEIhop
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

PEIhop, Feb 06, 2012
Photo of liamt07
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle courtesy of TMoney2591, via the Support Your Team BIF. Thanks for this one, dude. Batch 9435, 341ml bottle into a snifter. Almost a year on this one at this point.

Pours a heavy and thick black with a short milk chocolate brown head, both thick and creamy. Tons of beautiful lace. So much in the nose in terms of dark fruits (figs, plums), licorice, molasses and a touch of milk chocolate. Molasses and dark fruits lead the charge on the tongue, and flows effortlessly into some bitter dark chocolate and dry coffee beans. Finishes slightly dry as a result, full and syrupy with a ton of body. Excellent mouthfeel and outstanding drinkability for the alcohol content. One of the best I've had, easily.

liamt07, Nov 24, 2010
Photo of JohnGalt1
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
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 Viggo
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep black, no light is visible, dark brown head forms and laces. Smell is toasted bread, hops, yeastiness, licorice, coffee and alcohol. Taste is insane coffee, lots of chocolate, nice hoppiness, very roasty and satisfying. This was the thickest beer ever. The bottom is full of sludge and it took a struggle of epic proportions to take that down, but it was well worth the espresso shot. Amazing beer, one I would be proud to drink at any point in time. Thanks DrJay.

Viggo, Jul 20, 2005
Photo of rolltide8425
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

rolltide8425, Mar 31, 2013
Photo of Bighuge
5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours like motor oil. It is midnight black in appearance. Beautiful. With a creamy brown head that has some retention. On the nose, I get deep roasted malt, burnt tones, anise and licorice. Smells great. The sensory overload on the buds with the first taste is incredible. Coffee, cocoa, burnt malt, licorice, dark fruits, bittersweet chocolate and a HUGE bitterness that I love. One thing that I do not note is a significant alcohol taste. (Surprising being that it is 10%.) Saying that this beer has a full body is like saying that Claudia Schiffer is good looking. Both are understatements. This is a brew to behold.

This is the first brew I've rated 5's across the board. (I've reconsidered my stance of not giving all 5's after seeing somebody's opinion that all 5's mean exceptional in every category, but not necessarily the Perfect Beer, which I believe may be impossible to find.)

Bighuge, May 07, 2002
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful slick black pour, mocha head, 1" deep, no carbonation issues here. Looks professional, and one of those used motor oil type descriptors. Aroma of deep roast, chocolate.

Amazing coating of the palate with the luscious black liquid, great chocolate consistency throughout, larger than any other flavor component to the beer, and does a magnificent job at hiding over 10% abv. Similar to Rogue's double chocolate stout, but a little less chocolate, but hides the alcohol better and is much smoother. Somehow, despite the motor oil sludge appearance, this is kind of light on the palate in terms of drinkability and mouthfeel, gotta love something that brings that amount of chewiness and flavor, but doesn't just stick to your tongue/ribs. Can't beat the creaminess of this one. Slight cherry noticeable in the end, along with resonant notes of light espresso. Only bitterness comes from the chocolate.

Huh, I see the bros re-tooled their review from a C- to a C.

Beerandraiderfan, Jul 12, 2011
Photo of DrJay
4.88/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Completely opaque, inky black with a rich mocha head. Carbonation was on the low side, resulting in a thin head of small bubbles. Plenty of lacing and good retention. Super malty aroma, licorice, roasted, chocolate, alcohol, dark fruits to the point of being vinous. Flavour starts with some dry roasted and sweet malt, then moves on to cocoa, a moderate bitterness with light hoppiness, and alcohol warmth. Long sweet finish with plenty of roasted malts. Heavy body, chewy and viscous, low carbonation, with the texture of heavy cream. Afterwards, I poured the dregs into my glass. They came out chocolatey brown and super thick, but very chocolatey and tasty. Wow. Lots of complexity and surprisingly drinkable, with the alcohol very well hidden.

DrJay, Jul 04, 2005
Photo of Alieniloquium
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Firestone snifter. Batch 10068, 12/17/2010.

Appearance - Inky viscous black that yields only the slightest tinge of brown at the edges. Not much of a head. Thin khaki collar around the edge with just a lonely dime-sized island of foam roaming the surface.

Smell - I can smell the molasses from the open bottle. Tons of molasses. A stronger sniff unveils booze, licorice, and ashy burnt malt.

Taste - Ridiculous molasses again. Really creamy in the middle with just a little bit of sweetness and then the onslaught begins. Licorice, dark fruits, the darkest chocolate. Burnt pieces of chocolate, really. Ashy and extremely bitter. Booze comes back at the last gasp and bites the throat.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation, boozy, nearly acrid in its ashy bitterness. And yet it manages to be creamy and delicious.

Overall - Every complaint I have ever had about fresh Expedition Stout has turned into an attribute in this bottle. Two years has done this very well.

Alieniloquium, Mar 16, 2013
Photo of Tone
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

Tone, Feb 03, 2009
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 4,906 ratings.