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

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Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

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1,987 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,987
Hads: 5,552
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 479
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: 5,552
Photo of oceanman
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch 8864 (bottled Dec '08), tasted Feb '10

No light gets through. Thin dark brown head.

Big aromas of chocolate, mint, leather.

Nice, full roasted quality on palate. Powerful flavors of chocolate/coffee on finish. Burns a bit on the way down.

Certainly hefty, but quite creamy and smooth.

No gimmicks to this beer, just a serious imperial stout.

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Photo of loving44
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've been sitting on this one for months waiting for a good time to sample it... it's time!

Pours extremely thick and black... probably the thickest stout I have ever seen. I held my pint glass up to a very bright desk lamp and no light made it's way through at all! Very little head... even after a fairly aggressive pour only a thin caramel colored film of bubbles rose and they vanished quickly. Small whisps of carbonationation can be seen slowly sneaking through the think crude of a beer to the surface.

The nose is full of dark fruits, raisin, plum, fig... also I smell chocolate pudding, black cherry, butterscotch, deep roasted coffee, and slight alcohol. The alcohol is very slight... give no hint to the massiveness of this beer.

Taste: coffee hits me right away with a deep roasted malt character that I don't think I've experienced in many stouts. A very "heavy" flavor if that makes any sense.... This is followed by rich chocolate, coco powder, ripe plum, very intence. As the beer warms more alcohol bitterness comes though.

Mouthfeel: This is like drinking tar.... the thickest beer I have ever had in my life. Carbonation is there but the massive body in this beer keeps it in check. It coats your mouth and stays there.... leaving a protective beer barrier that you will enjoy for hours!

Drinkability: I can't see how anyone could survive drinking more than one of these... two at most. The beer hides it's alcohol very well, but it will catch up with you for sure! If you can find this, pick it up. This is a must try for stout lovers!

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Photo of Nowhereman529
4.31/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is the pour that I would expect from a good stout, nice and black with very little head, a little ring of tan foam around the edge of the glass.

Smells pretty strongly of dark roasted malt and molasses, perhaps a little coffee in there as well, plus a hint of alcohol in the background. Smell isn't all that strong over all.

The flavor on this one is excellent with dark malt up front supported by a bit of chocolate and molasses with a little bit of a hoppy finish. It's well balanced with sweet up from and bitter at the end.

Mouth feel leaves a little bit to be desired, in that the carbonation is a little low. Not low enough to kill the beer by any means, but could be fluffed up just a little.

Overall an excellent beer, I would drink again and again. Definitely one of the top stouts on my list!

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

Pours pitch black with a small tan head that disappeared quickly leaving some good lacing. The smell is chocolate, dark fruit, coffee, some warm alcohol and it just screams, drink me. The taste is very sweet in the best way possible. It is sweet while still being so well balnced and drinkable. The beer is one of the thickest I've ever drank. Just coats your whole mouth with it's deliciousness. Overall, one of ypmy favorite beers.

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Photo of silverblaze540
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%

A - Motor oil black and completely opaque with almost no head. What little head there is is tan in color.

S - Dark fruits. Prunes and cherries. Malty and sour.

T - Intensely complex taste. Strong fruity sweetness, malty, and a light bitter aftertaste.

M - Very thick and smooth. Strong burn from the alcohol.

O - Very strong flavors. Very sweet with not a lot of bitter. Almost a dessert by itself. Very interesting beer.

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Photo of kwalters
3.91/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

The grand daddy of the Bell's stout lineup finally makes an appearance in my glass.

My expectations were very high having read many good reviews and having enjoyed several other imperial stouts and Bell's stouts. Expedition pours as black as a new moon in a midnight sky. The head is small but tightly bubbled and beautiful. Surprisingly, the aroma from this brew is subdued. You can pick out roasty tones, but you'll have to work a bit.

The taste is not at all subdued. Roastiness and burnt wood abound. Bittersweet chocolate and hoppiness are easy to find and enjoy. But I kept wondering if something was missing. The best part of Expedition is the mouthfeel. Like so many of Bell's stouts, Expedition is very creamy and smooth.

If it weren't for the big price ($14.99/sixer) this big brew would be topnotch. But considering that I can get comparable Michigan imperial stouts from Arcadia and Founders for $5 less, Expedition will have a hard go of it trying to frequent my fridge.

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Photo of granite
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A--- Poured a dark mahogany with a frothy little tan head.

S--- Esters, rich mocha and a heavy hand of roasted malt in the aroma.

T--- All chocolate malt and warming alcohol in the front. Fruity and vinous like in the middle. It finished with a nice astringent dryness provided by the roasted malt.

M--- Full bodied with a chewy mouth feel.

D--- This was a very well made American imperial stout. It had a very complex malt profile and a big mouth feel that I expect from this style. It has a little too much alcohol to session but it was the perfect winter dessert ale. It was delicious and I highly recommend it.

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Photo of SmithwicksNut
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours thick with a brown head. A very dark Brown appearance, coffee dark.

S: Sweet chocolate with toasty malt aroma.

T: Same as Smell. Chocolate with toasted malts. In some aspects almost chocolate shake like.

M: Thick, very rich toasted malts sit on tongue alomost weighing it down.

O: A very big dark sweet ale almost milkshake like. I, personally, am not a fan of Imperial Stouts but I had to try this because I have heard so much about it. Its good.

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Photo of Transatlantic
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - You crawl your way under a 1989 Dodge Shadow, use a torque wrench to break loose the screw. Out pours the liquid that has been lubing the engine parts for five years without a change. That is what you see when you pour Bell's Expedition Stout. Old old burnt motor oil, black as black can be. No light on this planet can pierce through this beer with it's one finger dark mocha chocolate head.

S - As an RIS should be, it's loaded with the smell of dark dark bitter chocolate with a hint of roasted coffee. Dark dark malty goodness.

T - The first initial kick you get is just how sweet this beer is. Mixed with that taste of dark bitter chocolate, this is almost like drinking chocolate syrup...only appetizing.

M - The mouthfeel is as you'd guess judging by the way it pours. Full solid bodied beer, leaving no part of the mouth uncoated. This beer keeps it's flavor lingering around for a long while.

O - You can NOT give this beer a bad review. For it's style, it's a winner. Great appearance, great flavor, great thickness. The only thing it's missing is something new....but it's still great!

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Photo of Elendinn
4.37/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a half-pint pilsner glass.  Thanks hellomisterp!

A - pitch black with a very miniscule amount of caramely, milk chocolate head. No lacing.

S - lots of dark chocolate up front, a bit of coffee, with some hoppy bitterness and bourbon in the backend.

T - chocolate, coffee, alcohol, bruleed sugar, spice, a bit of char-- finishes with a hoppy dryness and a lingering coffee flavor.

M - pretty carbonated, full-bodied, not syrupy -- not quite as smooth as I'd like.

D - a little too dry in the finish to be easily drinkable, but still very good. One bottle's plenty as the alcohol is rather noticeable. Pairs extremely well with pumpkin pie creme brulee. Could've used another year or two of age on it.

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Photo of montecristo2
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a small snifter.

Wow, oily black-very dark stuff indeed.

Smells of chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit-prunes maybe?

Very small head upon the pour, which dissipates very quickly to a light lacing on the sides of the glass.

Sweet on the front, with a dark chocolate/coffee raisiny flavored finish. This is a good one from Bell's, but one that I will only have once in a while and one at a sitting. Not a beer I want to drink all night, but definitely a beer I want to savor and slowly enjoy. A good cold weather beer, but even though yesterday was the last day of summer, who cares? This stuff tastes great any time of the year!


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Photo of EHopkinsi
4.37/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a pint glass and consumed 19 November 2014.

Date stamp on label reads 135292 PKGD 10/23/14 C. So I'm guessing this stuff is just under a month old.

Look- Pours like a dirty oil spill. The two finger thick head is solid, and has the color of some overpriced candybar frappawhappachinomucca concoction at a coffee shop. Head slowly settles down to a 1/4" layer of creamy goodness that lasts the duration. Pretty good lacing.

Smell- Malt, chocolate, alcohol. The latter is pretty noticeable, maybe just a little too much so, but not bad. It's just letting you know it's a RIS.

Taste- Yum! Tasty, malty-chocolate notes; more than just a little coffee. That's on the front. It finishes with hops that, while they take back seat to the malt, they aren't exactly shy. At the beginning of the glass the alcohol floats in with, but over top of, the hops. Not excessive or huge, but still pretty dang big, too. By the middle of the glass its rambunctiousness has faded and it is more of a suggestion than a presence in the finish.

Feel- Interesting. A little thin for my preferences in a RIS. That said, it does have a creamy, sticky-lip inducing goodness to it, though. Can't ding it too much.

Overall- One really good stout! I wish the feel was thicker, but the other criticisms almost feel like nit-picking. Getcha some and enjoy it. I will definitely have it again.

Edit- After reading other reviews, I think "molasses" is a note I should add in. Being a noob I didn't know I knew it was there until reading other reviews.

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

I poured the beer into my Rapscallion and got a huge fluffy head that took some time to settle...just like HOTD Adam. Wow. Mostly malt in the nose with some hints of alcohol, cocoa, and prunes. After my first taste, all I can think is chewy. The weight of this beer makes me feel like I'm drinking brownie mix. As the beer warms alcohol makes its apearance, along with figs, burnt malt, semi-sweet chocolate, and piney hops. As the beer warms it goes from being sweet to sour and then maybe even to malty (feels like a jam band song). Anyway, quite an interesting RIS and well worth the price.

Gripe: Not knowing the age of this beer blows.

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Photo of k75
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Damn - just incredible

this stout pours inky black hole black with a big tawny brown head

nose is of complex chocolates and licorice mixed with black strap molasses

taste is big and rich - dark chocolates, black licorice, molasses

the ABV is hidden very well ( at first anyway ) nightcap luxury stout !

finish is long and satisfying - all things dark and luscious

a true masterwork of brewing.


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Photo of cassanoj
2.77/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a stange glass. Thick, black and syrupy. Brownish head, but not much of it.

Smells like chocolate and licorice. Other flavors - molasses, coffee, nice roasted maltiness. Some dark fruits - plums, raisins.

Tastes like... beef. Not a fan. I like how thick it is, it's a nice sipper. Kind of weird that there's virtually no carbonation. I can't get over that beef taste. Behind the beef lies some sweet chocolate, dried fruit, caramel, malty.

The mouthfeel is okay. I like the thickness but I wish it was balanced out with some nice carbonation. Not a very complex beer, or if it is, I think it's rather unbalanced on the thick, chocolate side.

Overall, I think I would have liked this beer more if it didn't feel like I just hunt it down and shot it. I definitely understand the name though. It is what it tries to be and I can certainly appreciate that. Just... not my cup o' tea.

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Photo of turamarth
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a new belguim goblet.

Appearance: Poured a Cm thick tan head. Dissipated quickly. Body is pitch black.

Nose: Chocolate milk. Lots of chocolate milk. Malts, malts, malts! Has almost all chocolate malts in the nose. A little spice as it warms.

Taste: Again, very very chocolaty. There is a nice spiciness on the back of the tongue. Some nice toasty notes. Maybe the tiniest hint of booze. Some dark berry note too.

Mouth: Feels silky smooth, despite the thickness. Also, leaves the mouth pretty thick.

Drink: Pretty drinkable, sweet and tasty. The higher abv is hidden quite well in my opinion.

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Photo of Jayman931
4.39/5  rDev +4.3%
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 would never guess it was 10.5%

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

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Photo of VRH
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%

The 2011 batch from the tap of Beverage World, this brew pours dark reddish brown black with a big tan head. Aromas and flavours of molasses cookies, spicy ginger snaps, cinnamon, bitter chocolate, coffee, hints of wet straw, soy sauce, grass, & vanilla. Full bodied, rich palate combines with dry, crisp, smoky roasted finish. Truly outstanding!

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Photo of Graham21
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

BLACK BLACK BLACK! This beer is dark, looks like motor oil. Head was only about a mm thick and left nice lacing in the glass.

In the nose I picked up on chocolate, cherries, roasted malts, hops, light coffee and maple undertones.
I tasted chocolate covered cherries, sweet and roasted malts, raisins, along with maple and coffee undertones, coffee becoming very stong in the aftertaste.
Carbonation is lacking to say the least, and the alcohol isnt hidden, it burns my throat slightly, but the beer seems to be fairly creamy and oil like on the palate. I enjoyed this imperial stout but would have enjoyed it more if the finish would have been smoother and the carbonation would have been there.

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Photo of Daehpoh
4.51/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presented in a tulip glass, this looks amazing.
Black with one finger mocha head that coated the interior of the glass.
Aroma of coffee and chocolate.
Taste is extremely full and busy. Chocolate, coffee after, great hop balance. Too many flavors for me to distinguish, but this is the best tasting stout I have ever had.
Full bodied for sure, but not dense. The flavors are not weighed down by their collective substance, but are on full display to be enjoyed.
Delicious and smooth, but huge flavors and high abv limit its drinkability.
If a better RIS exists, I haven't had it. This beer is top shelf.

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Photo of Hellabeerguzzler
2.51/5  rDev -40.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

I love a good stout. But a stout has to be drinkable. This stout was overly sweet, sickeningly sweet, with little or hardly any carbonation. When poured a small head can be seen and the booze in this pitch black mixture strips the lacing from side of the glass. Smell is a bit overcooked with hints of dark chocolate, some fruits, and some spices but mostly booze. I've had similar and even higher %ABV brews that hid the booze much better than this one. Bells, I love your line, and a few of your beers may be my absolute favorites....

This stout is not one of them.

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Photo of Eldalonde
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours pitch black with a dark brown full head. The smell just fills the room once the cap has been cracked...phenomenal. Rich aromas of bourbon, tobacco, sweet and bitter dark chocolate, copious amounts of coffee. There is also a bit of a hoppy bite in the aroma. The flavor is just spot on. Rich oily mouthfeel gives flavors that are close to the nose. Bitter roasted coffee and dark chocolate are the most accessible flavors with those heavily roasted malts coming across with such brilliance. Tobacco and toffee combine with molasses to give an incredible complexity. This beer also has that 'raw' edge that I love in stouts so much. The finish is long, dry, and lingering. This beer provides everything I look for in a RIS and leaves nothing undone. This is just wonderful

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

The color is nice and dark, and poured a half centemeter of dirty head which has been fading very slowly.

Smells a bit hoppy, and bitter like a really strong coffee, and bitter chocolate.

The taste is strong, lots of roasted malt. The taste is borderline burnt but oh so strong, and there are actually slight hints of a grapefruit note hidden in there.

The finish is great, lots of caramelized sugars, but again borderline burnt.

But the mouth feel is impeccable, so smooth and creamy.

The drink ability is way to good for a beer with this High of an ABV. Perhaps I need to have more Russian Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of beavers
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Syrupy and gooey blackness poured into a SA pint. A huge two fingers of dark brown foam that look more like the head of a rich Italian espresso. Outstanding retention and gorgeous lacing down the sides. Smells of rich espresso, vanilla bean, molasses, chocolate malt, alcohol is in the very back. There's a little smokiness going on here too. Immensely thick, creamy, and viscous mouthfeel. Sweet vanilla and brown sugar notes hit the tongue first before being consumed by huge flavorful and bitter coffee, cigar tobacco, oak, with a long and lingering (bittering) charred finish that stays in your cheeks. This is a clear definition of bittersweet. An alcoholic finish that is noticeable but not undesirable. This is an intense RIS and one of my favorites for sure. Will review more later with a little time on it to see how the intense bitterness and alcohol evolve. A brilliantly balanced beer nonetheless.

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