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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

4,515 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,515
Reviews: 1,879
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 388
Gots: 962 | FT: 75
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: 4,515 | Reviews: 1,879 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mendvicdog
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%

mendvicdog, Dec 13, 2012
Photo of jwc215
2.7/5  rDev -36.2%

Pours pitch black with a light brown head that soon fades to a patch, then disappears. Nice color, but disappointing head. I know that the abv works against head retention, but there was none to speak of.

The smell is of dark chocolate with some subtle dark fruit notes. The alcohol masks most of the aromas.

Thick, dark chocolate with an alcohol punch upfront. The sweet chocolate is so dominant that it reminded me of a chocolate stout more than an IRS. It is certainly full-bodied, but more in a chocolate malt sort of way. It reminds me of when I was a child and would put too much chocolate syrup in my milk. The alcohol creates a harsh edge, as it is not masked in any way. As there is little, if any hops, it becomes cloyingly sweet. They have the chocolate and alcohol down pat, but where is the complexity that the style calls for? A dark fruit essence tries to come through, but that is too syrupy and masked by the chocolate and alcohol.
The feel is creamy and softer than the taste, but without any carbonation it does not go down so easily. And, again, the sharp alcohol edge detracts more than adds.
I can appreciate a beer with a high abv, and this is one of my favorite styles, but this one doesn't do it for me. Overly malty, even for the style, no carbonation, and the alcohol is not masked and doesn't really add to the flavor, leaving the sweet rich chocolate to be the only dimension to its potential.

jwc215, Sep 21, 2006
Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +18.2%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 30, 2011
Photo of DrunkinYogi
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%

DrunkinYogi, Dec 25, 2012
Photo of smcolw
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%

Pours like motor oil: thick liquid with no initial head. After the bottle is emptied, a quarter inch head shows up. This settles to a single bubble layer, but leaves a decent blanket of lace on the glass.

Not like a typical stout (much less a RIS): No coffee or dark chocolate smells. This comes across as a creamy brown ale to the nose. Not bad, just not what I expected.

Potent alcohol bite with a chewy, patent malt bitterness. The flavor is closest to espresso. There's a decent dollop of hop bitterness in the swallow. The brew is very thick, like half and half cream. This is enhanced by a lower level of carbonation. I think this would go very nicely with a tart dessert.

smcolw, Jan 15, 2011
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Sampled February 2004
Pours a deep black color with a creamy brown head. Thick aromas of chocolate, coffee, burnt caramel, an aroma I usually associate with Lactose stouts, and alcohol all waft form my glass. What a thick viscous brew, it is quite creamy on my tongue. The thickness and body of this brew helps to balance the roast character, so that it is not overwhelming. It is like a rich, creamy, chocolate covered espresso bean, but accentuated a bit more towards the creamy dark chocolate. This beer has a burnt/ roast astringent finish, which, helps to balance the rich malty sweet flavors that are up front. There is not much in the way of hops, but they would seem out of place in this brew. The alcohol is well hidden in the taste, and is only really noticeable in the aroma. Wow, what a wonderful, smooth, sipping beer.

Gueuzedude, Mar 02, 2004
Photo of MarkyMOD
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

MarkyMOD, Jun 13, 2013
Photo of XmnwildX12
4/5  rDev -5.4%

XmnwildX12, Nov 22, 2013
Photo of Halcyondays
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%

12 oz. bottle, Batch 8864 (12-4-08),

A: Pours black, even when held up to the light, moderate brown head.

S: Oil, woody notes, licorice, black coffee.

T: Rich coffee and licorice right of the bat reminds me of the Abyss. Definite notes of pine and hoppy aftertaste. Hints of cherry, orange.

M: Perfect to style. Silky smooth, mouth-coating, thick, robust, rich and warming from the ethanol.

D: A great RIS here, just wish I could get it more living in CA. Probably one of the easiest drinking big beers I've had.

Halcyondays, May 06, 2009
Photo of beernads
4/5  rDev -5.4%

beernads, Apr 05, 2013
Photo of Gavage
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%

Pours a deep black color with no head. The aroma was huge, as espresso and alcohol were most notible. The flavors followed the aroma as roasted malt, espresso, and alcohol pummeled the tastebuds into overload. Decent bittering balanced this out.

But this bottle poured with no head and was relatively flat compared to others like Storm King. Do not know if this was an aberation, but this caused a lower score in mouthfeel. Drinkability is decent, but the alcohol level was a little over the top.

Gavage, Feb 19, 2004
Photo of kojevergas
3.08/5  rDev -27.2%

It's my birthday! Best before date 10/02/17. 10.50% ABV confirmed. 355ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a New Blegium goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are through the roof given this beer's reputation. Acquired for $7.99 at a local beer store.

Served straight from the refrigerator but allowed to warm considerably over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

As I poured, I noticed it wasn't generating a head, so I really amped up the vigor.

A: Pours a quarter finger beautiful rich tan colour head of decent cream, good thickness, and awful retention - which is fairly excusable given the ABV, but I've seen other beers handle more than this without issue. Colour is a solid black. Not quite jet black, but dark as hell. Nontransparent and opaque, as it should be. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Coffee, chocolate, dark malts, cream, chocolate malt, caramel, roast, a bit of alcohol, and even a hint of toffee. Well balanced but not clearly focused. I'm getting excited for it. A mild strength aroma. Doesn't beat you over the head like many beers in the style.

T: Coffee, roast, intriguing chocolate, espresso, background floral hops, cacao, malty sweetness, hints of smoke, caramel, raisin, and a bit of dark fruit (maybe plum). Malty sweetness increases as it warms. No note seems particularly dominant, which is actually sort of a problem here. Without focus, it becomes messier. That's not to say it's imbalanced; the balance is only slightly off in that the flavours are too sweet. I imagine this would fade with time. I get molasses and licorice when I look for them. The flavour doesn't blow me away like I expected. It's actually somewhat disappointing. I don't get any yeast, but a bit of alcohol on the finish. There's a medicinal chocolate-covered raspberry note buried in the finish as well. It's certainly got body. I get more and more licorice as it warms. I despise licorice. Also, more raisin comes through along with the dark fruit - the best aspect of this beer. It's like the bastard child of a quad and an imperial stout, but far less enjoyable than that sounds.

The booze really warms the stomach - a bit too much.

Mf: Far too sticky for the style. Also chewy like licorice. Too smooth and wet. Outright wrong for the style; it should be coarse, dry and creamy. I'm unimpressed. This needs some work. It does have *some* dryness from the roast, but nowhere near enough. Undercarbonated.

Dr: Drinkable for the high ABV, but underwhelming within the style. I like the experimentation, but there are far better imperial stouts at this price point. I honestly wouldn't get this again unless it was aged or on draught. They need to tone down the sweetness and fix the mouthfeel. It does hide its ABV well in the taste, but not so much in terms of heat. I look forward to trying more Bell's, but this was a huge disappointment.

C+

kojevergas, Nov 04, 2012
Photo of GClarkage
4.88/5  rDev +15.4%

11/24/07- Received via trade with Lou91.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with a code marked 6672 on the bottom of the back label. Not a clue what that means. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Very black in color. 3/4 inch milk chocolate colored head. Head has nice staying power. Lace streaks and spots and patchwork remain after the finish.

Smell- Strong nose of molasses, deep sweet malt, coffee, licorice and chocolate. Full house in this nose. One of the better ones out there.

Taste- Wow, this is right up there with my all time favorite tasting imperials. Huge milgled flavors of dark chocolate, roasted fresh coffee beans and mollasses. Sweet and dark like candy. Just an explosion of flavors that meld so well together. Hops are there, but come out more in the aftertaste than the actual consumption.

Mouthfeel- Creamy, viscous, extremely mouthcoating. Thick and chewy, but unlike cough syrup. Medium carbonation level with a bitter aftertaste that gets stronger and stronger.

Drinkability- Abv is noticeable, but doesn't seem like the 11.5% Seems high though. Damn I wish I could get these out here. May have to do some mail order. Top notch stuff that competes with Stone, Alesmith and a few other ones IMO. Will be doing what I can to get more of these.

GClarkage, Nov 27, 2007
Photo of oriolesfan4
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

oriolesfan4, Sep 22, 2013
Photo of imperialking
5/5  rDev +18.2%

imperialking, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of InspectorBob
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

InspectorBob, Nov 28, 2012
Photo of corby112
5/5  rDev +18.2%

On-tap at the South Philly Taproom.

Perfection! Dark black pour with a coffee colored head. Very full aroma with hints of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, caramel. This beer is so smooth that it become dangerous at 10.5 abv. The flavor is very complex with malty chocolate and coffee, dark berries, and many other things that are silly to even try to list. Simply amazing!

corby112, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of woodychandler
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%

My first reaction was "WTF, did they fill my bottle with motor oil by mistake?!?" I tried an aggressive pour and still only managed wisps of head in the glass. The beer was viscous, black (even the white bits was black), oily, with the only head a thin coating on the top of the liquid. The nose was huge with alcohol and chocolate. The mouthfeel was both slick and thick. After my first swallow, I realized that Larry ain't playin' around here. This is lights out action in a bottle. Nitey nite. My notes remind me to sic Carolyn Blowers on this one, since she has proven capable of drinking Russian Imperial Stouts first thing in the morning. I got an interesting mix of bittersweet chocolate, charcoal, and smoke floating across my tongue. The finish was smoky and chocolaty, just beautiful. My notes ended because of a sudden urge to lie down.

woodychandler, Apr 16, 2006
Photo of weeare138
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Appears a pitch black with a thick tan head that slowly fades into a small oily, tan film and thick tan collar. Lots of spotty lacing and webs left around the glass.
Smell is of intense roasty nuts, chocolate cake, caramel, molasses, espresso, along with minty and piney hops.
Taste is of rich, chocolate cake, laden with rum drenched espresso beans. Lots of hops in here.
Mouthfeel is thick,smooth, velvetty, richly of chocolate, bitter cocoa, a potent punch of hops and mild, mild carbonation that makes this almost like syrup.
ABV is present and I'm still on the fence with this. It started off great but ended up very syrupy with a mild soy sauce taste lingering. I guess I'll split the verdict and call it good.

weeare138, Mar 02, 2006
Photo of yourefragile
2.73/5  rDev -35.5%

12 oz bottle

I had been looking forward to trying this one for a long time and unfortunately the beer was not able to live up to my expectations or appearance. I'm hoping I had a bad bottle and will try this again in the future and hope for better....

A: Ok, lots good so far, pours a very thick, sludgy black and from hard pour has a nice sized tan head that has nice retention and leaves incredible lacing. Looks like a great RIS.
S: Not as strong as expected or mentioned in other reviews, but it has a sweet, rich aroma with chocolate, molasses, roasted flavors, etc.
T: Sweeter than expected, alcohol is well hidden, but something just seems...off. Everything just seems flat, overly sweet and not balancing bitterness. I mean, the flavors are there from the aroma and tastes like it should be a good RIS, but I don't know, I don't feel like thinking any harder about this.
M: Thick, creamy, flat, no carbonation, just....not good. Too sweet, no bitterness or hops detectable...
D: Ok, I'm being redundant, I only bump up the drinkability for the 10.5% alcohol being well hidden, otherwise it was very difficult for me to finish this bottle as I just didn't enjoy and would rather just have Kalamazoo, Double Cream, Java or basically any of their other stouts (for much cheaper). I'll update this review in future when I try again.

yourefragile, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of orangesol
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden into a nonic pint.

A - Pours dark as can be with a thick, pillowy, one finger head, dissipating down to a thick film of head, leaving thick rings of lacing down the glass.

S - Rich, chocolatey, nose with a bit of lightly roasted dark malt. Chocolate is quite bitter but not to the point of being overpowering. A bit on the sweeter side compared to others in the style. More and more roast comes thru as it begins to warm.

T - Lots of dark, roasty, flavors in this one. Plenty of bitter chocolate up front giving way slowly to a mix of sweetness and rich roasty malt. Finish is very roasty that lingers long after consumption. Alcohol is ever present, unable to hide in the shadows for long, offering a warming sensation on finish. Not the best I have had but still very nice.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Fairly creamy feel with a very nice balance of flavors.

D - Fairly high. I really like this one a lot but it can become overpowering after the first glass. I could have one or two of these but that would be about all.

orangesol, Jan 02, 2011
Photo of tempest
3.6/5  rDev -14.9%

It’s big and pretty good, but my bottle need more time. There’s too much alcohol flavor and the chocolate and coffee taste feel like they’re only just budding. There’s a nice addition of hops flavor under the malt, but the alcohol that follows leaves a bad feel.

tempest, May 25, 2007
Photo of barleywinefiend
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%

Wow. This is how a RIS should taste! Thanks Drunkmonk!
Where do I begin? Perhaps the best RIS I have had. Poured a deep thick black with a nice deep brown head. Carbonation was good. Nose is sticky, sweet with cocoa, espresso, roasted malts. Taste is very smooth. Lots of cocoa, coffee, roasted malts and maybe even some vanilla. Mouthfeel was great. Drinkability was awesome. So good and the 10.5 ABV was well disguised. Awesome brew.

barleywinefiend, Jan 30, 2009
Photo of Billolick
3.43/5  rDev -18.9%

12 ounce bottle, with no freshness dating.
Think and goey, rich and chewy.
This is as dark, rich, flavorful and robust as any beer I've had. To my tastes its over the top and not all that pleasant, and I like stouts and rich, strong beer in general. HEAVY roasted, burnt, chocolate, coffee flavors. Mega sweet malt in the finish with a bit of bittering. Extreme after dinner beer. not for women and children or the feint of heart.

Billolick, Apr 06, 2004
Photo of stakem
3.68/5  rDev -13%

Expedition Stout, a brew I've had multiple times over the years and never bothered to review. Time to remedy that. Thanks to pmsawyer for gifting me with this aged bottle. Poured into a snifter, the brew appears black with a brown head that fizzes fast. Just a few bubbles remain atop.

The smell is heavy of roasted grains, raisiny alcohol and a bounty of licorice notes. As it warms up, some smooth semi-sweet chocolate character evolves towards the back but there is a solid inclusion of raisiny alcohol that tingles the nose with almost a solvent touch.

The tastes hits upfront with licorice and roasty bitter chocolate. Some hop inclusion accents a dark fruity alcohol character. More sips reveal more and more solvent alcohol with some raisin, plum and a bit of roast that is earthy and faintly of coffee.

This is quite a bold, warming sipper that really hasn't mellowed with more than a year of aging. It is medium to full bodied with an enjoyably low level of light carbonation. It is a fairly enjoyable brew but I much rather enjoy a stout that focuses more on roast and dryness than big fusel alcohol that is fruity. To each their own but this one doesn't quite do it for me.

stakem, Feb 21, 2012
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,515 ratings.