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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,981 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,981
Hads: 5,518
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 11.46%
Wants: 474
Gots: 1,441 | 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: 1,981 | Hads: 5,518
Photo of luvND
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

P: 12 oz bottle, batch 7251, bottled 2/24/06
A: Absolute jet black, settles into a nice 1/4 inch head that laces nicely down the glass
S: Beautiful, toasted malt, chocolate, coffee, just pleasing
T: Rich, chocolate again with some coffee, the hops do come through and leave a really nice aftertaste
M: Thick, as it should be for the style, sticks to the tongue after the swallow
D: Very drinkable for over 10% alcohol, I have a slight cold, but I can neither smell or taste the alcohol
Notes: This is one great stout, maybe top 3 in my book. I will definitely try to get a case of this every year. We'll see how it ages, but it is damn fine as is, right now. (664 characters)

Photo of maggotbrain
3.63/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer is deep black with a moderate brown head. The head has receded to a brown, bubbly film on the top of the beer. There seems to be little to no lacing on the glass as the beer is consumed.

Sticking my nose into the glass, I detect a bit of chocolate and a lot of alcohol.

The beer tastes pretty good: coffee, a hint of chocolate, and a malty sweetness. It also has quite a bit of alcoholic spiciness, which doesn't bother me since when I'm not drinking beer, I enjoy Scotch neat. I could see the alcoholic nature of this beer being off putting to many people, though.

The mouthfeel is good--low carbonation and a nice, thick body.

The drinkability of this beer pretty good for an imperial stout, though the high abv would make me hesitate before opening another one of these bad boys. (795 characters)

Photo of RichieS2
5/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a 12 oz bottle into a Trappist Goblet.

Appearance - Opaque black even when held up to a light source. Had a mocha brown froth with a good amount of lacing. Textbook appearance of I-stout.

Smell - Strong hints of coffee with some detectable undertones of chocolate. Overall very pleasing almost like being in a coffee shop. Again textbook for an I-stout.

Taste - Heavenly to say the least. The beer starts with strong malt sweetness that fills the palate. Then the malt transitions to the more bittersweet taste of roasted malt, which again brings the coffee analogy to mind. The bitter sweetness ends with bitterness equal to that of pale ale. In case you were not keeping track that is 3 tastes in the beer's flavor, each and everyone one of them is not just good but great.

Mouth feel - Satisfyingly thick and warm in the mouth.

Overall - I do not hand out a perfect score easily. This beer has earned it. (919 characters)

Photo of downeyj4
4.65/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is probably one of my favorite imperial stouts. It really has everything that you would want in an imperial stout, but isn't thick like oil sludge. All of the flavors balance out well. It has a great amount of roastiness and bitterness, but still finishes nicely. It surprised me when I found out the ABV, or else I would've had a few more pints. (351 characters)

Photo of bigdonniebrasco
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 edition:
vigorous pour produces HUGE mocha head pure black contents that brings on the burnt motor oil references.

Hoppy nose with lots of chocolate and roasty malts. A hint of almost mint/menthol. This may just be the hops though.

Matches up well with the nose. A bit more deep toasted malt and dark chocolate. Kiss of coffee bean. Really huge hop profile. Toasty finish.

Very smooth and lightly creamy. The body just feels spot on for what a RIS should have.

Great all around RIS. Bell's has to be one of my favorite breweries. Looking forward to aging a few of these to see how it develops.

* PS. LET THIS WARM or all you will get is bitterness! (659 characters)

Photo of inhoc00
3.65/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Living in Chicago for almost 6 years now and this is my first bells expedition...

a- as expected, black with almost no head. in the light gives off a purple hue near the top.

s- light chocolate, bit of roasted malts. nothing over the top.

t- similar to the smell with a bit of sherry and a lot of booze. the booze then becomes an after taste that sits on the roof of your mouth. not sure if these are better with a couple years on them but perhaps.

m- has a bit of carbonation to it. not as smooth/creamy as I thought it might be.

d- the past two weeks i've had a ten fidy, founder imperial stout and a young gi bcs. this has the least drinkability. it just really boozy now and doesn't seem to hide it the way the other imp stouts do.
in the constant michigan battle of bells vs. founders in the category of imperial stouts, i must give it to founders. (860 characters)

Photo of xhuskr
4.92/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

share a bottle with friends today. Pulled a bottle out I had put away quite some time ago. Turns out...a LOONNGG time...it was a '07 Batch 8145

A...dark and glorious
S...licorice, cocoa, vanilla?
T...same as above, but a hint of bourbon?
M..smooth as silk
O...best beer I"ve had in awhile...wish I had more...

I stopped at that for the day...hard to get better.

I've been thinking of drinking more of what I've saved..great enjoyment and makes room for new beers in the rotation (481 characters)

Photo of kenpo23
3.74/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: wow, what a great dark pour this was. great head to go with it and i was mightily impressed with the way it looked.

S: honestly...i smelled it and thought 'eh'. the toasted malt smell just left a bit to be desired. coulda been better.

T: a tad on the sweet side but its got a malt and chocolate taste that stand out no matter what. the roastiness that hits you last...i wished it was through the whole thing not just and end note.

M: very thick very creamy. crazy dry at the end.

D: i could drink these down and not even realize i'd had so many. i would indeed search this brew out. (589 characters)

Photo of optimistictour
4.73/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My profile says my favorite style is Russian Imperial Stout so the first statement in this review should be an admission that I'm *somewhat* partial to the style. That being said, I'm a critical cartographer of this fertile land with a discerning nose (and tongue) for what makes an RIS really stand tall.

First of all, the Expedition Stout looks devastating. It's oubliette dark, conjuring a head not halfway towards normal light froth coloring, both bigger and lacier than I'd expect given the hearty ABV. Basically this is the strongest beer I've witnessed with such visual poetry.

It smells like there's a lot more going on than in your average RIS. It's true. This one hints at a faint licorice and/or candied raisin veneer, framed in a darker than dark chocolate sea. There's a sweet whiff of danger here, too.

Hitting my tongue, it's at once everything an RIS should be and ingratiatingly different. There's more sweetness and less coffee than expected; a thicker body and more buzziness help convey the idiosyncratic blend. This beer lives up to its name with tastes lifted across the globe, and will, with all certainty, leave its distinctive mark on the drinker.

Sure the 10.5% abv reveals itself at times, flickering out like the sun behind some strange delicious clouds... but it's almost always wrapped in the sweetness or dark chocolate bath of the flavor. Even acknowledging the slightly confrontational physical nature of the beer, it's one of the best I've ever had. A true adventure, something to challenge and savor and absolutely relish.

Maybe you won't drink more than 2 of these in any one sitting, but it'll always be worth the trip when you choose to do so. (1,686 characters)

Photo of nmyers
3.1/5  rDev -26%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer poured black with a very thin dark brown head on it with little retention and it looked really thick. It seemed to ooze out of the tap. The smell was good molasses, raisins and dates very sweet smelling. The smell was much better than the taste, it was slightly sweet in the beginning and finished very bitter. There was not much alcohol flavor for being 10.5%. It also had very little carbonation. Over it was ok because I am a fan of stouts. (453 characters)

Photo of BigAl723
4.48/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased from the local market, single bottle. Poured into my Founders KBS snifter.

A: Dark as night. Zero and I mean zero light comes through. Pretty simply put, its real dark. Almost no head.

S: Very dark fruits, bread, earth, molasses, all of the above. Real floral stout. Slightly hoppy but not too much. Malts with real heavy character at the nose.

T: Well first off, I drank five Sam Adams' Octoberfests before drinking this so it should be a "treat." Dark bitter chocolate, coffee, toffee, sweet malts, hops, wow! One of the most complex stouts I've ever had in my life. Blows my mind every time I drink one. It's so dark, so evil, so hoppy, so bitter. I love it!

M: Real heavy! This baby leaves a coating in my mouth. Heavy mouthfeel with real nice carbonation. Very pleasant.

D: Not real drinkable but this isn't the kind of beer you sit back and drink a six pack of. If you're just drinking one 12oz bottle or maybe two, you're money. It's pretty drinkable for how heavy and complex it is.

Overall, like I mentioned earlier, one of the best stouts I've had for how bitter, heavy, and complex it is. The 11% can take a toll though. Be warned, it's a beast! (1,173 characters)

Photo of winegourmet76
4.65/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great beer karma to Nick who bestowed this to me. Three years old. I have heard great things and love the style, was elated to try this one.

Appearance: black as night, aggressive pour, brown head, good lacing

Nose: remarkable, and I have had some amazing wines in my time, but this is irresistible to a great nose. Dark rich chocolate, like 80% cacao, followed by rich, rum and brandy macerated raisins. Very few beers warrant savoring the nose for so long as this one. So rich, so indulgent, can the flavor measure up?

Taste: brandy, chocolate-covered raisins, smoke, this one is definitely in its prime. Mostly I get the rich brandy/rum flavors, which is a nice change from the usual roasted coffee IRS flavors. Only the Bell's Batch 7000 that I was fortunate enough to try bests this one in complexity.

Mouthfeel: A little thin, expected it to be more creamy.

This is a beer that ranks in my top five, hands down. So rich, so complex, I wish I had some to share with my friends. This beer is exactly why I love this style so much. (1,042 characters)

Photo of Cummins9110
4.13/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into glass

A - darker than the pit of a black hole, little to no head

S - Smells of toffee and slight dark fruits

T - taste of chocolate/coffee and dark fruits/maybe slight cherry notes endes with high IBU and slight alcohol burn at the end

M - full full bodied and very thick, I'm almost eating the beer (exagerated)

Overall its a good beer and its my first RIS but in reality it doesn't fully live up to the hype (426 characters)

Photo of AleDrinkToThat
4.78/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured from the bottle into a Karmeliet tulip glass, the hue was blacker than Palpatine's soul, and there was a gorgeous medium brown two-finger head (and I didn't have to really force the pour).

Smell: A rich combination of chocolate and roasted malts, with tart fruit and a hint of alcohol.

Taste: An incredibly complex stout, it struck me immediately with rich roasted chocolate, coffee, and toffee malt, and then tart, dark fruits and licorice. The bitterness was minimal, and the alcohol warmed my mouth and throat a little as it went down.

Mouthfeel: It was the chewiest, thickest stout I've tasted yet.The carbonation was quite low, but not at all missing entirely. The mouth-coating was enhanced by the wonderful complex combination of sweet and tart.

Drinkability: I'd had a few other 9-10% beers before this one last night, which I wouldn't recommend. It might as well have been laced with Lunesta after those. NOT a session beer. Sip slowly, as it should be savored. I feel bad for those who didn't come to love this stout. As a lover of imperials, this is the most complex and tasty imperial I've ever had. I could drink this all da...er, several times a week. Yeah. (1,194 characters)

Photo of SchmoTerp
3.83/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours and looks like a stout should with a dark tan head. Head took some time to dissapate. The mouthfeel are thick, robust, with some slight smokiness. The tastes are more subdued with balanced malts, there is a nice heaviness in the aftertaste. This beer was quite smooth and easy to drink - something I would definetely look forward to in the future. (353 characters)

Photo of runningjoke
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into pint glass.
Agressive pour brought out a foamy head that dropped to a halo on the cap. Onyx black in color.
Smells of burnt toast, roasted malts, maybe some dark fruits, and alcohol.
Tastes imediately sweet with a hot finish, mildly peppery. Leaves a minerally bitter aftertaste. Aromatics faintly present.
Coats the mouth and thankfully not overly carbonated so it lingers for ponderance. Unfortunately, the aromatics are so faint, it doesn't leave much to ponder.
I enjoy most beers, present one included, I am happy with the purchase, I just wish they would have focused more on developing the aromatics than the alcohol content. (644 characters)

Photo of ryno09
3.61/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours pitch black with one of the darker brown heads I have seen. The finger head quickly fades do to the high ABV. Carbonation seems a little on the high side of the style.

On the aroma I get a ton of roasted malts along with dark fruits and molasses. Some alcohol present as well. On the palate I get a ton of chocolate - something I didn't get from the aroma. Up front some of the dark fruits are present before the chocolate takes over leaving a lingering somewhat sweet finish (482 characters)

Photo of Jfriz25
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Pitch black with a little brown head that quickly disappears.

Smell- Big roasted malt with a nice chocolate sweetness. Faint alcohol at the end.

Taste- Rich roasty flavor with chocolate and a bit of bitterness that I perceive as coffee. A decent amount of alcohol but not unpleasant.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation, maybe a little too much but it is thick and creamy.

Overall- This was the 2011 version. I bought a 6 and stashed them so this is the first Expedition stout I've had. Looking forward to getting some years on this to see that alcohol mellow and the chocolate come out even more. (607 characters)

Photo of treedoctor5002
4.77/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

First of all this is by far the thickest and darkest beer I've ever had.
Pours more like a quart of used motor oil than a beer and has a thin dark tan head to it.
At first it's like drinking liquid dark chocolate. I detected some maple, molasses, rum raison and coffee flavors. Finish is full of roasted malt flavors. I could only sip this beer at first but as it warmed up it got smoother and smoother. Kind of odd in a way. You really have to let this one warm up to get the full effect. Slightly high on the alcohol level so I had to mark it down just a notch for drinkability. Not for the faint of heart! The most complex stout I've ever tried. If your buddy says he's a beer guy, test him with this one. (711 characters)

Photo of DackAchan
4.68/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours pitch black with a one finger head of mahagony. Little bit of lacing.

S- Smells of chocolate, and raisins, dominated by roasted toffee and very woody.

T- Excellent taste. Rich complex flavors. Roasted toffee and smoked wood. Undertones of chocolate and raisins.

M- Heavy body, pretty smooth, slight alcohol bite to it at the end.

D- Good drinkability, little bit of bite adds to the experience. One I'll have to have again. (439 characters)

Photo of Oktoberfest
2.87/5  rDev -31.5%
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. (1,448 characters)

Photo of jamiesessions
3.73/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark black colour swirls into my snifter and leaves little, if any room for light. A dark-khaki head appears and leaves some, but not a whole lot of lacing. Smells strongly of coffee, with chocolate also there in the mix. Taste is much like the smell, but I am slightly put off by the intenseness of the alcohol. The high abv is nice sometimes, but it seems to interfere with my enjoyment of the beer. Coffee taste is nice, but it's a bit off here, less of a good coffee, and more of an old stale coffee taste, with a bit of chocolate background. It's very chewy, and most certainly a sipper. I'm glad I purchased this, but it's certainly not something i'll be purchasing agian (677 characters)

Photo of Jim_Benz
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A 12 oz. bottle (2013) poured vigorously--at cellar temp--into a shaker pint.

A: Dark brown with a one-finger tan colored head that quickly dissipated and left only small amounts of fragmentary lacing.

S: I have a cold so I wasn't picking up much beyond cocoa, some roasted malt, and a little coffee.

T&M: Rich, creamy, luxurious cocoa--not anywhere near too sweet--backed by the subtly warming presense of its not unsubstantial ABV. I wanted a little dark fruit to be mixed in but couldn't find any; maybe with age? Carbonation was just about perfect for my taste and the body tended medium toward heavy but smooth and creamy. Was a little thick on my tongue at the finish--which lingered for quite awhile-- but overall kind of pleasant. It left a taste of dry cocoa powder on the back of my tongue. The alcohol was warm but it didn't burn. Very nice.

Overall? I'm glad I still have five of these left and will probably let a few age for a year or so (still craving some dark fruit amidst that slightly bitter cocoa). I might even buy another six-pack while they're available. Good stuff. (1,093 characters)

Photo of Steffano
3.31/5  rDev -21%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Bottle date 8/22/13. After pour there is very little head, pretty dark color. Smell is coffee dominant. Good mouthfeel. Taste is primarily molasses and licorice, not as coffee forward as I expected, with a little bit of alcohol heat. While letting it warm up reduces some of its harsher characteristics, have to say i'm disappointed in this one given its reputation. I would put stone ris, narwhal, and old rasputin far ahead of this one overall. (446 characters)

Photo of markskar
4.64/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

There isn't much of a head to this brew, but it pours pitch black--no light escapes. It'd be nice if it were a bit more carbonated, both visually and in the nose, but it's quite fine the way it is.

The aroma is dark roasted coffee, with a dark, dried fruit aroma (I always found the "dark fruit" descriptor to be vague--but I'm thinking of how raisins would smell if they smelled the way the taste). Nice chocolate notes in the nose too.

Flavor is much the same as the aroma--coffee, chocolate, and dark fruits. I am absolutely floored by the flavor. I would rate the taste up there with any world class RIS I've ever had.

Mouthfeel is mostly smooth and creamy, but just a bit sticky. The mild stickiness allows the wonderful flavors to linger on the tongue though--in a very pleasant way.

Extremely drinkable for a brew over 10% abv. Goes down nice and easy, with a flavor that just begs for more. Like a delicious chocolate desert, you know you probably shouldn't...but what the hell... (992 characters)

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
93 out of 100 based on 1,981 ratings.