Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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

Not Rated.
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,017 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,017
Hads: 5,657
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 490
Gots: 1,512 | FT: 125
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bell's Expedition Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,017 | Hads: 5,657
Photo of jkendrick
3.82/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours dark and viscous. A moderately aggressive pour yields a half inch brown head. There is no light shining through and little carbonation visible rising up in the glass. The head recedes relatively quickly, but leaves some foam stuck to the side of the glass. After a few sips, nice lacing is left in its wake.

Aroma: The aroma isn't as strong as many Imperial Stouts but what is there is malt. and some alcohol. I smell dark and sweet fruit. I don't smell coffee and chocolate as was expected. Maybe just a touch of molasses.

Mouthfeel: Not a ton of carbonation, but it is oily and full-bodied.

Taste: The taste is where the chocolate - dry, powdery cocoa to be exact - that was absent in the nose makes itself known. The fruit, so dominant in the aroma, is relegated to the back. The alcohol is definitely present, but for a 10% abv, it isn't bad. I think the alcohol could have been hidden a bit better. The molasses flavors are most dominant in the middle and there is bitterness in the finish. The alcohol is somewhat warming, but is mostly noticeable in the mouth.

Overall Impressions: This is good imperial stout. It has a very interesting difference from aroma to taste. While the aroma screams fruit and had me excited for something a bit different than the typical coffee/chocolate/molasses dominated impy stouts, ultimately it is the cocoa and molasses that rule the flavor. I'd definitely buy this one again and it's the best offering I've had from Bell's, but it has some flaws.

 1,512 characters

Photo of sweett3k
3.33/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thick Thick beer. My daughter asked me for a sip of my rootbeer float because of the thick creamy head it had.Then she smelt it and asked me if it was a chocolate and raisin milk shake. It has a nice thick coats your tongue feel with a choclate and rasin taste so my sweet pea nailed it. I am a hops man so I say it is O.K. I'll drink one of these at a time when I am in the mood for a thick stout. I just enjoy all the best beers in the world that South West Michigan brews and brings to my table. Now I need a Hopslam!

 520 characters

Photo of Mightykingmalard
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: completely opaque. Beautiful caramel head that burns down fast. Super black. 4.25

S: milk chocolate. A hint of booze. 4.25

T: very characteristic imperial stout taste: smooth taste with a bitter finish. 4.0

M: very smooth. Hard to say much more, but it has a great feel. 4.25

O: a very, very nice imperial stout. Probably one of the best straight up imperial stouts I've had. If it was distributed to ca, I would definitely frequent it. 4.25

 448 characters

Photo of ChazMania
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - this is one thick beer. It looks like pouring Penzoil into the pint glass.Not much of a head and very very dark.

S- molasses and brown sugar with hints of cocoa and mocha.

T- this is very complex. It is strong, full and over the top in a good way. I taste everything that I smell and this beer engulfs the full flavor palate. One of the best stouts I have been honored to have.

M- really does feel thick and syrup like. not carbonated nor fizzy.

D- man, I can only hope to sample this beer again. It's not easy to find here and I paid big for this bottle, but it was worth it!

 596 characters

Photo of mpcrump
3.18/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

A: Very dark pour. Black with a brown head.

S: Roasted malt, coffee, and a hint of chocolate.

T: Very heavy and bitter. Malts and coffee.

M: Thick with little carbonation.

D: Uh-huh. This must be an acquired taste.

 257 characters

Photo of KingG
4.59/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received in a trade early last year.

Served at cellar temp.

Poured into a Rogue pint glass.

Appearance is good. Opaque with no light going through, not even through the edges. Mocha colored head is sturdy off the initial pour then quickly thins out.

Smell is exceptional. Lots of roasted malts and dark coffee. Little bit of hops are detected. Intense nose.

Taste is very good. Dark chocolate, fresh fig, Turkish coffee, dried dates and a little bit of alcohol. Extremely intense flavor. One of the better tasting RIS i've had.

Mouthfeel is very good. Carbonation is medium to slightly low. Creamy, smooth texture.

Drinkability is very good. Quite easy to quaff considering the alcohol. I could drink another after this one.

Overall: Love this stuff. An exceptional RIS that ranks up there with the greats.

 832 characters

Photo of branimal9
4.07/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle, poured into my New Belgium tulip glass...

appearance - 'bout an inch of nice looking brown head, creamy n' fluffy. beer itself is a deep, dark brown. real nice.

aroma - coffee, dark chocolate, a little licorice. getting a bit of vanilla & fruit in there as well. a hit of booziness also.

taste - lots of chocolate. dark chocolate. milky. warming. roasted malts a bit of nice hop bitterness.

mouthfeel - full bodied, thick & creamy. oily. real nice.

drinkability - warming alcohol present, but it's nice n' smooth. this is really drinkable considering the height of the ABV, but this is also my favorite style of beer, so i'm a bit biased.

overall, a really finely crafted imperial stout. glad i scooped up a decent amount of these, as i think they'll age well.

 779 characters

Photo of boogles
3.24/5  rDev -23%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is an overrated beer, a real let down for me.

The *amount* of flavor is the only thing it has going for it. Poured into glass from 12 oz. bottle, with no head until dumped very hard at the end, and it quickly dissipated, although with some lingering lace--very light tan, not at all dark for an imperial stout.

The scent was on par for a regular stout, but with more alcohol, burnt raisins, and roastiness, characteristic of Russian imperial stouts. The taste was very strong and full, about the only thing that distinguishes this beer. Way too sweet, though.

The mouthfeel was no good--far too creamy and very low carbonation, and this begets low drinkability. In all, a decent beer--I'd be impressed to find a beer this good at any unknown microbrewery--but this is in no way deserving of the honor of a top 100 beer, nor is it on par with other offerings from Bell's, such as its simple, well-crafted Two-hearted Ale.

Most egregious, however, is the price at $15/6 pack. There are way better options for as low as $9-$11 in this category alone (especially Victory and Thirsty Dog). This is one Expedition I probably won't be making again.

 1,153 characters

Photo of shoky01
3.85/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Vintage 08 09, 12oz bottle into stem-less red wine glasses.

A: black black, no light getting through this puppy. Brown to tan head depending on thickness. Very light lacing. Bit of carbonation.

S: malty goodness, hint of licorice, coffee and chocolate.

T: anticipation grips me for this one. Shocking to put a word to it. Complex, spices, malts, annice is strong as well as the alcohol. 10.5 to begin with but gotta be near 12 now. There is a bit of bitterness on the end. Smokey too.

MF: sticky and a bit of burn.

OA: would like a fresh bottle to make sure that nothing went wrong with this one in aging. Love the smell but almost let down by the taste. It isn't bad but its almost too complicated to enjoy. Reminds me a lot of the Stone Belgo Annise IRS

 761 characters

Photo of bwyker
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a massively chunky pitch black, with a mud tinted light head speckled with red bubbles. Foam settles immediately to a ring of dirty lacing and pockets of bubbles in the center of the glass. Huge punches of chocolatey roasted malts and alcohol. Taste, well I took a bite and chewed on it…like an alcohol soaked piece of dark chocolate cake with molasses icing. It feels like it was brewed with roofing tar. Immensely chunky mouthfeel. Drinkabilty was not so high, as the alcohol is a bit too noticeable. However, a great after-dinner treat.

 546 characters

Photo of WrathsU
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - deep black pour like staring into a polished onyx gem.

S - Caramelized sugars up front. Roasted coffee tones and chocolate throughout.

T - So good. Tastes like bittersweet chocolate, fresh ground coffee, and caramel.

M - Smooth, very smooth for its abv. Perfectly carbonated.

D - I could drink this forever, one of the best stouts I've ever had.

 353 characters

Photo of Optifron
4.37/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours jet black with brown, thick, creamy head. Leaves moderate lacing.

Aroma: Chocolate, a touch of hops, smooth French roast coffee

Taste: Dark chocolate, but without the intense bitter. Smoother espresso beans. A nicely balanced sweetness, almost like a touch of lactose.

Mouthfeel: Fantastic. Was the first thing that really stood out when it hit my mouth. Incredibly smooth, creamy but not heavy

Overall: Really impressive. I like smoother stouts, and this really fits the bill. Impressively drinkable for 10.5%. Will definitely be picking up more of this.

 577 characters

Photo of Flopjack
4.46/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into snifter

Appearance - Pure black, nice caramel and cream colored head about 2 fingers settles down nicely but remains.

Smell - Roasted malts, molasses, bread, alcohol is warming but not to intense. Thick smell.

Taste - Starts out with a roasted rich dark chocolate, molasses, and rich dark coffee both bitter and slightly sweet. Middle gives a bread and alcohol flavor with a slight warming sensation. Ends just a bit dry leaving smoked and roasted after taste.

Mouthfeel - Medium carbonation, full bodied, coats palate with a thick syrup like feel.

Overall - Great stout. Not only does this beer give a nice blanket when it's cold out, but you can put this one away for awhile. Buy a 6 pk drink one and put the rest in your cellar. Open one every 6 months (at least) and see how it changes!

 807 characters

Photo of Dolphinsmarlins1
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle dated 9/9/14, poured into snifter. Like most stouts, this one definitely improves as it warms. The distinct feature on this one is definitely the mouthfeel. It's got a noticeably higher viscosity, something of which I prefer in a beer. The thicker and heavier it is, the better. Above average flavors, though I don't taste many of notes others suggest (A little chocolate and coffee, but definitely not any marshmallow or caramel). It's a well balanced brew. Wish I had more to imbibe. Happy National Stout Day!

 527 characters

Photo of PhillyJ
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Unique Russian Imperial it's a very tasty Russian covered in milk sweetness. the lacing on this is beautiful and the aftertaste is an earthy hop flavor that lingers after the milk sweetness and malt fades. Not overly complex I find chocolate and dark fruit easily and at 10.5%abv it's smooth and highly drinkable. I'd like to age a few and see what comes of it. A great take on a RIS that I can't wait to find on tap. I will pick up regularly..

 445 characters

Photo of vladtheimpaler
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle aged 1 year. Deep dark brown with a lasting dark tan head. Real nice aroma of coffee, chocolate (dark), carmel, vanilla, and a touch of alcohol carrying the fragrances up the snifter. Flavor is roasty and smooth, with big chocolate malts and roasted barley bitterness. Big thick palate. Bitterness lingers. This is an ager, for to age gets rid of the hot alcohol burn that is present when young. Should be present en every BA's cellar!

 448 characters

Photo of Soilworker
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a 12oz bottle, fresh no aging, into a standard stout/pint glass. Bottle has a batch number on it...this is batch number: 9554.

A: Pitch black with zero light shining through even with a strong flashlight put up to the glass. Nice caramel colored head that is slow to dissipate and the bubbles are very fine. The liquid seems to almost stain the glass.

S: Dominated by an intense and strong blast of fig, plum, and raisin. Bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted malts, and perhaps a hint of roasted coffee provided the backboard for the dark fruit character. There are also small hints of alcohol and vanilla that hit the nose from time to time. Very rich, savory, and bold.

T: Starts off with pretty much an explosion of burnt and roasted malts. I was expecting a start with some wateriness to it but that is definitely not the case. After the blast of malt this settles down to a pleasant bittersweet chocolate flavor with vanilla and espresso notes playing along with it. Somewhat sweet at the beginning. This then fades towards the end to a flavor characterized by burnt coffee and roasted malts and some oaky wood notes that seem to be somewhat charred. The finish holds on the burnt and roasted malt character and there is plenty of bitterness here which seem to be primarily hoppy in nature but have an interesting bitter burnt malt aspect. As you drink it, especially when you start there is a lovely warming feeling in both your mouth but primary in the throat all the way down the stomach. A very impressive taste profile!!!

M: Amazing!!! As you swirl it through your mouth it is smooth and creamy and very bold with a little bit a zing on the tongue from the carbonation. As oily and creamy as the beer is at first, the finish definitely feels dry.

D: Did I mention this was a bold beer? The flavor profile is huge and definitely takes the right palate to enjoy this one. I would love to drink this all night and I would, but this is a beer for sipping if I ever tasted one. The ABV is pretty aggressive but not terribly noticeable during the taste but I'm sure if you managed to get a few of these down it would start to catch up to you.

Overall I loved this beer. I especially liked the rich, bold taste and creamy mouthfeel. This was my first Expedition ever and I can definitely see how aging this one would be a smart move since this would most likely tone down the bitterness a bit. I definitely plan on buying a second or third six pack just for aging past 2yrs. If you like stouts, you must try this beer.

 2,552 characters

Photo of dotsonjamesg
4.97/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Special thanks to jcdgoad for recommending this brew to me....

I purchased this brew from liquorama.net. Not that bad of a price either but shipping costs made it a little pricey, but hopefully worth it. I would really like to point out that Russian Imperial Stout is my favorite style, so you can imagine that I tend to have somewhat of a bias concerning them. In my defense, I would like to let those who read this know that I also grade them very harsh. If this one is truly as good as I have heard, it must be truly impressive; though I have noticed the wide-array views so I am very skeptical and curious.

Served in a chilled 14oz snifter

Appearance: Whoa...probably one of the thickest, darkest ales I have ever poured. The brew had a thin, ½ finger head that quickly dissipated. I have heard some complaints stating the brew is over-carbonated. Since my head was so weak, maybe my pour wasn't aggressive enough. Still looks good to me.

Smell: Probably one of the most aromatic stouts I have ever experienced. I poured the brew and set it aside, as not to be hindered by the heat of my "super-laptop." The brew is sitting about 18 inches away from my nose and I can still smell it...not very common, even with the most aggressive of stouts. The nose is full of chocolate, fig, currants, dark roasted malts, a tinge of hops, and alcohol.

Taste: Much like its intense nose, the brew is rich with dark roasted malts, chocolate syrup, and alcohol. Starts with a smooth and intense chocolate flavor and moves in to brutal bitter, dark roasted coffee-like flavor. The bitterness is harsh and lasts for quite some time. I can see why some people have given this brew some varying reviews. It stays true to its legacy in being a Russian Stout, but it might be a little too bitter. Russian Stouts should be strong, and extremely sugary. This brew is absent of the EXTREME levels of caramelized sugars, commonly found in many Russian Stouts. The enormous, backed-up bitterness may be too intense for most people.

Mouthfeel: Thick, velvety, and very smooth. Carbonation was also pretty nice and matched well.

Drinkability: It is a definite sipper. If you can stand the extreme bitterness, it is heavenly, but you have to possess the ability to drink some of the heaviest of ales ever brewed; and this most certainly qualifies. This brew is extreme, and that's being nice. Don't let the simplistic label or bad reviews fool you...this epic-brew is anything but simplistic. Its character is tremendous and unfathomable by most, and enjoyed by even fewer.

Excuses for the bad reviews? Russian Stouts are definately an aquired taste. This one is pretty intense and not as balanced as others and will probably drive away most people who aren't use to the extreme levels of burnt-bitterness, flavor of alcohol, and syrup-like viscosity.

I would recommend this only to a seasoned Russian Imperial Stout drinker. I would also recommend a very nice cigar with this lovely brew, it would match perfectly.

Enjoy this as much as I did.



 3,048 characters

Photo of MaxAdvo
4.46/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - Pours a very dark, almost black, with deep, dark reddish hues. Almost no head, but don't let that fool you.

S - The smell is slightly off-putting of rubbery leather, but also with a dark, roasty, chocolately coffee.

T - Here's where she pulls on through! It's very robust, full of roasty, Brazilian-like coffee bean. Also a slight of dark fruits. Very similar to Oskar Blue's Ten Fidy.

M - Don't be fooled with having almost no head because you feel the carbonation. It's not overpowering, and has a very creamy fill. Very pleasant with lingering notes of dark coffee and chocolate

O - A very great imperial stout! I really enjoyed this, and will definitely purchase again.

 681 characters

Photo of deford
4/5  rDev -5%

Poured from a 12oz. bottle dated 8/12/14 into a Saints & Sinners Snifter.

A- Pitch freaking black! Half inch orange head that disappears pretty quickly.

S- A musty, syrupy coffee...maybe a hint of orange...no heat.

T- A bit different. Burnt espresso and prunes? Hard to tell, there's a lot going on here...nicely done too. The alcohol is hidden completely.

M- Really nice a bubbly when you give it a swirl...otherwise pretty standard for the style...almost flat.

O- A quality stout worth giving a go...

 508 characters

Photo of HopHunter19
4.78/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - pitch black beer pours like oil, mocha head that sticks and leaves great lacing
S - chocolate, smoke, caramel, burnt marshallow, roasted malts
T - chocolate, dark malted milk ball, roasted malts, smoke, creamy/umami/wholesome, burnt marshmallow
M - perfect, heavy, like a beer chocolate milkshake but better, alc covered, aftertaste is roasty, chocolate, creamy
O - pretty damn near perfect

 394 characters

Photo of jdoolin
4.39/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12oz bottle, poured into a brandy snifter

Appearance: Dead black, like old motor oil. A slight brown head formed and dissipated quickly, leaving a ring of brown lace the entire time.

Aroma: Heavenly aroma of roasted barley, molasses, hints of coffee and chocolate, and of course a bit of alcohol. This beer smelled so good, I couldn't keep my nose out of the snifter the entire time.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Thick, smooth and creamy, like velvet. Just enough carbonation to achieve this and maintain the ring of lace. Taste was an ode to roasted malt. All of the usual roasted malt flavors are here and are wonderfully exemplifed. Of course, the roasted barley itself, coffee (especially in the finish) and chocolate. No hop flavor. Bitterness seems to be achieved more by the roasted malt than the hops. The alcohol was present but subdued by the roasted malt flavors.

Notes: A superb imperial stout. I thought the alcohol would have more presence, but I was pleasantly surprised. The roasted malts are the center of this beer, and Kalamazoo has done a fantastic job exploiting them. A great after dinner sipping beer.

 1,143 characters

Photo of metallistout
4.95/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one damn fine beer!

This thing pours black like Florida Swamp water! The head is so foamy it looks like a giant marshmellow on top.

Smell rich in coffee and chocolate.

Tastes of coffee and chocolate malts with a dry hop finish.

Probably one of the best Imperial Stouts I have had. I love that I can buy this in a sixer.

 332 characters

Photo of abankovich
2.79/5  rDev -33.7%
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.

 594 characters

Photo of johnwarne
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A beer haiku for you:

"A Russian delight;
Don't drink too late in the night
Big ole' heavy stout".

Quite a tasty treat: do not, however, drink this after consuming two others in an evening--it becomes overwhelming and frankly tough to finish [good as it is].


 271 characters

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 2,017 ratings.