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

Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,126 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4126
Reviews: 1857
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%

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
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Ratings: 4,126 | Reviews: 1,857 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of PhatAtUT


4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

poured from a bottle, batch 9554, into snifter. had this one cellared for 15 months.

A: almost pitch black. quarter inch thich tan head. sticky lacing. great looking beer.

S: smells sweet. toffee, raisins, figs, cocoa.

T: more bitter than i expected. roasty, chocolate.

M: most impressive characteristic of the beer for me. extremely viscous. sticky.

O: taste did not live up to some of the very upper echelon imperial stouts i have had, but it's still a very solid beer. enjoyed very much.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2011 02:25:30 | More by PhatAtUT
Photo of TheBeerologist

Rhode Island

3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opened a bottle from batch 10068 - bottled 11/11/2010 and poured into a snifter.

Pours nice and thick, dark brown/black with a thin brown head. Looks like a great RIS.

This smells sweet and malty and strongly of raisins and tastes pretty much the same. Still a little hot after 15 months. The carbonation is nice, present but light, with a sticky sweetness.

Overall, I am underwhelmed at this point. It is a good solid RIS but I really prefer it fresh and cannot wait to get some from from a recent batch to review again.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2012 00:14:22 | More by TheBeerologist
Photo of mcintire78


3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep brown to black. Developed a good head over a soft pour, which slowly dissipated. Noticeable carbonation along the sides that gradually fades.

Smell: Strong smell of soy sauce, with malty sweetness.

Taste: Gentle, sweet caramel taste up front, with a bit of a harsh finish.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and thick, amazingly so given the 10.5abv.

Drinkability: The main limiting factor of knocking a couple back is the sweetness of the beer, not the abv. Great for a (1) after dinner drink.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2012 02:03:17 | More by mcintire78
Photo of lowbrau


3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured nearly black with a thick, dark brown head that left a thin but sticky lace on the glass. Smell of sweet, burnt raisins. Very sweet with very little hint of hops. Completely opaque when held up to light.
Taste: Again, very sweet. Almost overpowering, but somewhat balanced by the burnt, malty flavors.
The sweetness wore out my palate toward the end, but still a great beer. Would definitely buy again.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2007 23:03:44 | More by lowbrau
Photo of mgoblue5743

New Jersey

3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a very drinkable stout. Rivals Stone RIS in flavor, though it's a little thin for my liking.

This is an excellent beer. It is very powerful, you can taste the roasted, malty flavor and is one of the rare, high powered stouts that you can drink a few of without falling off your chair. I wish it came in a bomber.

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2010 20:17:55 | More by mgoblue5743
Photo of scalffd


3.28/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Perhaps I am too much of a newbie, but this beer did nothing for my palate. While highly regarded among beer enthusiasts, the alcohol dominated this beer from aroma to finish. The pitch black color was exciting, but the small, fizzy head that soon disappeared was lackluster. The smell and taste of alcohol was too overwhelming to be enjoyable and more balance would make the beer more pleasant. I prefer the Bell's Kalamazoo stout. Sorry, not a fan.

Serving type: bottle

08-12-2006 15:06:47 | More by scalffd
Photo of Upgrayedd


4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

I don't have the batch number in front of me, but this one was bottled only a month or so ago. Since I recently polished off a two year old bottle, I thought I should get another sixer to cellar. This bottle was so new, I expected to get a huge raw hop bitterness level and it did not disappoint. Even though it smells wonderful and has an awesome mouthfeel, it is not exactly drinkable quite yet. After a year or so of aging, I expect the IBU's to calm down and the complexity of the malt to develop. I'll update my review then...

Serving type: bottle

11-01-2007 14:28:57 | More by Upgrayedd
Photo of iuhoosier336


3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a normal pint glass. It didn't have much head and poured very very dark. The alcohol is the first thing I smelled follow by a chocolate sweetness.

While there was alcohol in the nose the taste hid it well. The chocolate and malt hit you right away. Followed by an smokey oak flavor and hints of coffee.

This stout is think and a mouthful. A great winter beverage.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2009 05:27:15 | More by iuhoosier336
Photo of jballeng


4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured jet black with a big tan head upfront which dissipated quickly into a thin layer which lasted the duration of the glass. Poured the consistency of oil. Nice sticky lacing.

S - Big upfront nose of alcohol and coffee, with aftertones of strong vanilla and chocolate. The smell is wonderful.

T - Bitter coffee, dark chocolate, caramel, vanilla, roasted malts, alcohol come through immediately. Nice bitter finish.

M - Thick, like sauce, with some decent carbonation though not a whole lot. Mouthfeel has never been a highlight of Imperial Stouts for me.

D - Again, this is a sipping beer. Thick and viscous, Imperial stouts do not lend themselves to chugging. If you want that drink a Bud, or better yet, don't do that.

Serving type: bottle

07-14-2009 03:06:13 | More by jballeng
Photo of BigTomZ


4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours an oily black with just a bit of head and no real notable lacing.

S: Smells of chocolate, light roasted malts, and coffee.

T: Taste follows the nose. Nice chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, hop bitterness. High ABV is fairly well hidden.

M: Thick and lightly carbonated but goes down pretty well for a thick brew.

D: Drinkability is fairly high for the style. I could drink a few of these before the ABV catches up.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2011 10:08:17 | More by BigTomZ
Photo of drumminbrewer


4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes from a recent cabin trip - cracked open a 2010 from my cellar.

Served in my Duvel glass. Pours a viscous, rich black body...absolutely no light penetration. Large, frothy, creamy head about 1.5 inches tall that slowly dissipates - large amount of lacing left on brim.

Massive nose. Strong notes of espresso in particular. Licorice, anise, charcoal and a bit of earth.

First sip...lord, this beer ages phenomenally. SO creamy...like a dark chocolate milkshake. Raw sugar, lactose, all the above flavors mentioned in the nose (classic to an RIS), and molasses.

Long, strangely "woody" finish for an un-oaked beer. Sits mid palate, not on tip or back of tongue...smack dab in the middle.

My favorite beer from Bell's was always Batch 9000 - and I should say I never particularly cared for Expedition fresh, always found it to be a bit astringent. With only a year of age on it this beer has just about dethroned it Batch 9K. Absolutely fantastic...highly recommend setting aside a few bottles for years to come.

Serving type: bottle

09-22-2011 21:19:56 | More by drumminbrewer
Photo of bifrost17


4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a Bells tulip (October 2012 vintage) 9 months old.

A: Couldn't ask for anything better. I wish I could post a picture in this review of how perfect it looks. Jet black, but not menacing...beautiful...? Awesome mocha colored 2 1/2 finger head with a vigorous pour into the tulip. Head subsides pretty quickly but leaves some awesome lacing behind.

S: So much going on in the nose. Booze, bitter espresso, roasted malts, chocolate, floral hops, and dark fruits are the prevailing scents that I pick up.

T: The taste is a little strange up front. Sourness initially, but after that it's damn near perfection. Dark chocolate notes on the middle of the tongue, and then the beer finishes with an intense espresso like bitterness from the blend of hops and roasted malts. Leaves a lingering flavor of dark chocolate and espresso in my mouth. Amazing.

M: Not too much to say about the mouthfeel, other than it's ideal. Smooth soft creamy silky goodness. Moderate (perfect) carbonation.

O: The first time I ever had this beer was a fresh bottle about 9 months ago. I enjoyed it, but thought it was a little bit of a mess, kind of all over the place, but now, after only 9 months of aging I see the potential that this beer possesses. When Bells states that this beer was designed with aging in mind they weren't kidding. I can only imagine this beer getting better and better with age. What a beautiful beer. I almost wish I lived somewhere in the Midwest so I could load up on this stuff when its in season, but at least my trading buddy in Chicago can send me it during the winter months. Anyways, final thoughts on Expedition...AGE THIS BEER! Can't wait to see what a few years does to this masterpiece.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2012 17:27:44 | More by bifrost17
Photo of BAbaracus


5/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My scores are going to be largely out of line with everyone elses, but my only explanation for this is that the Expedition may be a hit-and-miss beer. This is my first time experiencing it so it’s possible I stumbled across one of their better batches aged for just long enough to blend the flavors perfectly. Anyway, disclaimer out of the way, here we go: Pours pitch black with a gorgeous (almost edible) milk chocolate head, with dense packs of carb bubbles clinging seductively to the sides of the glass. Smells of brown sugar, molasses, a touch of black licorice, and dark malt, all of which blends into a bouquet far more inviting and less intrusive than other beers of this abv magnitude. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous, very milkshake like, leaving a sticky coating on the lips and tongue. Cholocate and sugars predominant up front followed by dark roasted malt on finish. Superb flavoring - all other ingredients whiffed before drinking blend so well into the chocolate and malt as to be almost individually imperceptible. Alcohol is unbelievably well hidden, probably the best that I’ve ever seen for this strong of a brew. Although the alcohol does eventually make its presence known, it’s more in the "gullet burn" than in the taste. You really have to be looking for it on the tongue to even realize it’s there. No perceptible way to improve this beer at all in my eyes, so perfect 5.0’s all around. I do believe this one has slipped into my top 5. I plan on having more very soon so we’ll see if the honeymoon period lasts.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2006 20:27:04 | More by BAbaracus
Photo of KAF


4.8/5  rDev +13.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2007 21:22:05 | More by KAF
Photo of BeckyFreesTibet

New Hampshire

4.8/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A real classic of a beer. It pours thickly, coating the glass like port or cough syrup. The body is almost completely black with a thin, caramel-colored head. Strong presence of vanilla, bourbon and molasses in the aroma with a hint of port and raisins.

The taste is heavy on chocolate, vanilla and bourbon with a slight woody smokiness. Very sweet up front with raisin-y notes and a mellow aftertaste with only a very light bitterness from the hops.

Mouthfeel is thick and smooth. It is sweet, syrupy and completely coats the mouth. Even though this beer tastes and smells a bit boozey, I love the punchy, unapologetic bourbon-iness of it and I find it completely appropriate for a russian imperial stout.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2010 00:23:32 | More by BeckyFreesTibet
Photo of Hoops4life511

New Jersey

4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle received as an extra from a trade with ant880, thanks Anthony. Batch number 10105. Poured into oversized snifter.

Appearance - Nearly opaque black with fluffy tan head that clings to the glass. Falls at a decent rate and clings to the glass leaving gorgeous lacing. Everything you'd want from a great stout.

Smell - Coffee, dark chocolate and a hint of alcohol up front. A slight hint of raisin and soy sauce appears as I bury my nose in the glass. Not an amazing nose, but certainly not terrible.

Taste/Mouthfeel - Roasty smokey malt dominates initially and gives way to a slight sweetness. It is thick and oily in my mouth and leaves my mouth bone dry as I swallow. Burnt coffee is left in the finish and leaves me wanting more.

Overall - Very tasty and potentially dangerous beer at 10.5% ABV. I've wanted to try this for a while, but being unavailable in NJ my only options were to buy a case in PA or trade. I've traded and received this one, and it has shown me that buying a case is a must

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2011 00:08:18 | More by Hoops4life511
Photo of Blybloke


4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I love this time of year. Just bought this and sixer of Sierra Nevada Celebration. I've had this before and it's nice to compare the flavors year to year.

Poured pitch black into a snifter. The caramel-colored head rose an inch and a half. Lace in curtains after about 5 minutes. A gorgeous and intimidating beer.

The alcohol is perhaps a bit too prevalent in the nose but... it still smells incredible - the old stand-bys introduce themselves: toffee, chocolate, coffee, figs, licorice, caramel and banana. But, over everything, there's just a small fraction too much alcohol.

Taste is what you'd expect from the pour and the aroma. It's one of the most complex flavors I've ever come across in 33 years of food and drink. Everything in the aroma is represented here in spades. Plus there's a pleasant subtle sting of alcohol as this clocks in at 10%+ abv.

Mouthfeel is heavy, thick and oily. It leaves a syrupy film wherever it touches on the palate. This is as heavy a stout as you'll come across. Simply wonderful.

This is a perfect beer for a feast, or perhaps to sip while you stare at the fire. If you're an adventurous beer drinker or heavy stout fan, don't miss this one.


Serving type: bottle

11-09-2007 04:11:12 | More by Blybloke
Photo of RockerD


3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at 3 Floyds brew pub.

An amazing looking beer. Has the coolest looking thick dark brown head I'd ever seen!!!! In the light it's as close as you can get to Black and still be Brown.

Smells of a roasted coffee and molasses in January.

Tastes of cocoa in smokey-coffee and rum...? Really good. Smooth and delicious. I love this beer.

Feel's great going in... nothing too special. It's a strong beer but after one you can easily drink another... and you'll want to!

Serving type: on-tap

03-20-2009 03:10:11 | More by RockerD
Photo of pkeigs


4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Expedition has grown to be one of my favorite stouts. I love how accessible it is, and every batch seems to be just as good as the last. Bells kills it!

This one kills me every time I drink, so much complexity packed into a 12 ounce bottle. Smells of dry cocoa, coffee, dark malts. Balanced out with a nice hop bill, but the beer focuses on the malt! Finishes a bit dryer than what I expect, but each sip garners in more complexity. A delicious treat and a beer that I want to have access to all of the time.

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2011 14:01:16 | More by pkeigs
Photo of Jayman931


4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle served in a snifter

Very dark....don't think you can get much darker...Mocha head that gets lighter in color near the top and middle. Good Head retention. Don't drink it cold....let it get in the 60s.

Very Pleasant smell....nice roasted malt character

I really like this beer....unsure how anyone rated it poorly....great mouthfeel extremely well balanced....very small bitter finish...you would never guess it was 10.5%

I'll buy a 6 pack at least once a winter. Quality beer

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2013 05:07:42 | More by Jayman931
Photo of walkinginplace

North Carolina

3.05/5  rDev -27.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2013 20:52:39 | More by walkinginplace
Photo of noclue


4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving Type: 11.2 ounce bottle served in matching tulip/snifter.

Appearance: Pours a thick pitch-black liquid. Tall brown creamy head that dies quickly. Decent lacing.

Smell: chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, faint whiff of hops.

Taste: Brutally harsh malty sweetness. Sweet and fruity up front, but the coffee comes kicking up from behind. Pleasantly bitter finish that lingers on and on. High alcohol content is noticeable, but not overwhelming.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, Smooth, and syrupy.

Drinkability/Overall: This is definately a brew to sit back, relax, drink slowly, and enjoy. Let the temperature come down a bit to enjoy some subtle changes. Maybe even stow some away in the cellar. I must say that this is the best Imperial Stout I have come across. A real treat!

Serving type: bottle

07-19-2004 02:14:23 | More by noclue
Photo of CSquared

North Carolina

4.53/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle donated by Ninjaworm

appearance: can't get any better than this for a stout. midnight black with a huge dark brown head. the head is dimpled and looks like it could suspend small objects.

aroma: bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted coffee, roasted malt, and slightly burnt notes.

taste: the taste is huge on this beer, with flavors of chocolate and coffee reflected in the aroma. mild notes of alcohol, amazingly few for such a big beer.

mouthfeel/drinkability: thick and chewy, this beer has loads of body. a wonderful wintertime beer. for the style, this a moderately drinkable stout

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2004 00:49:05 | More by CSquared
Photo of HellsBELLS24


4.88/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Very strong russian imperial stout.

Has an excellent amount of hopiness and will definately warm you up in the winter. Has an excellent shelf life and this stout continues to get better with age. Has a very rich flavor and can be too strong for some "young" stout drinkers. I feel that this is one of the best stouts that money can buy. I could drink this all year round.

Top of the line world class imperial stout.

Nice job Larry :-)

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2006 23:34:28 | More by HellsBELLS24
Photo of jobyone

North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a freshly opened keg. The beer poured black with an incredibly creamy light brown head. The aroma had lots of burnt smells (coffee, chocolate) and was accompanied by a little bit of fruit sweetness. The flavor had lots of chocolate, coffe and some alcohol. The body was very full and the the aftertaste lingered with a pleasing bitterness.

Serving type: on-tap

01-17-2008 21:10:24 | More by jobyone
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,126 ratings.