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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

4,347 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,347
Reviews: 1,871
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 367
Gots: 935 | FT: 77
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)
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Ratings: 4,347 | Reviews: 1,871 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jwc215
jwc215

Wisconsin

2.7/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2006 02:10:41 | More by jwc215
Photo of Rochefort10nh
Rochefort10nh

New Hampshire

5/5  rDev +18.2%

11-30-2011 23:49:06 | More by Rochefort10nh
Photo of Halcyondays
Halcyondays

California

4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

05-06-2009 18:01:46 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of smcolw
smcolw

Massachusetts

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

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2011 22:09:53 | More by smcolw
Photo of Gavage
Gavage

New Jersey

4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2004 00:56:34 | More by Gavage
Photo of mendvicdog
mendvicdog

Maryland

3.75/5  rDev -11.3%

12-13-2012 16:28:47 | More by mendvicdog
Photo of GClarkage
GClarkage

California

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

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.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2007 17:06:15 | More by GClarkage
Photo of kojevergas
kojevergas

Texas

3.08/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

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+

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2012 02:28:15 | More by kojevergas
Photo of beernads
beernads

Florida

4/5  rDev -5.4%

04-05-2013 09:36:42 | More by beernads
Photo of corby112
corby112

Pennsylvania

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

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!

Serving type: on-tap

12-02-2008 05:51:57 | More by corby112
Photo of imperialking
imperialking

Illinois

5/5  rDev +18.2%

12-19-2011 05:16:38 | More by imperialking
Photo of weeare138
weeare138

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2006 02:37:58 | More by weeare138
Photo of MarkyMOD
MarkyMOD

Colorado

4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

06-13-2013 02:45:44 | More by MarkyMOD
Photo of yourefragile
yourefragile

District of Columbia

2.73/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2008 03:00:17 | More by yourefragile
Photo of barleywinefiend
barleywinefiend

Washington

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

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2009 04:45:10 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of tempest
tempest

Pennsylvania

3.6/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2007 22:01:58 | More by tempest
Photo of akorsak
akorsak

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A snifter glass served at Capone's during both Founders/Bell's nights.

A: The stout is pitch black, no other words adequately describe the dark depths of this stout. Unfortunately there was no head atop this black beauty, besmirching the nice appearance.

S: The nose is roasted malts, dark thick grains that have bready and vinous characteristics. Some sweeter grains punch up the strong burnt aromas.

T: The taste is right in line with the big aromas from the nose. There is a thick roasted burnt malt flavor, bitter and strong that remains throughout the drink. That burnt flavor is nicely matched up against a graham sweetness. The alcohol underlying this beer is huge, completely unable to hide itself even amongst the abundance of flavor here. The finish is burnt and bitter, leaving a long full taste in the mouth.

M: The stout is huge, easily overwhelming the tastebuds with dark roasted flavors and big alcohol. This is not a stout for the faint of heart.

D: A snifter is great, more than one and you'll be seein' double. This is a complex beer that is best enjoyed slowly with good company.

Serving type: on-tap

08-31-2007 01:56:06 | More by akorsak
Photo of Billolick
Billolick

New York

3.43/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2004 05:43:44 | More by Billolick
Photo of rhoadsrage
rhoadsrage

Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

( Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a thick black molasses with a dark tan cocoa head and no sign of light or bubbles in the body.

S- This beer as complex dark roasted malt aromas with some dark coffee and dark cocoa powder with faint smokiness. There is a nice barley-wine aroma under the dark roasted flavors.

T- This beer has very complex flavor complexity with roasted and burnt malt with some caramel and dark toasted grains aswell. Notes of cocoa or bitter chocolate and some dried fruit like dates or prunes in the background. This beer finishes with a nice semi-sweet finish and some alcohol warmth to smooth out the sweetness.

M- Full mouthfeel with nice faint alcohol warmth.

D- This is truly the black barleywine that make up a RIS. Very nice complexity and good bold flavors. Great to drink now and I bet it would stand up great to age.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2005 03:28:53 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of oriolesfan4
oriolesfan4

Maryland

4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

09-22-2013 03:12:58 | More by oriolesfan4
Photo of stakem
stakem

Pennsylvania

3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2012 19:25:20 | More by stakem
Photo of InspectorBob
InspectorBob

New Jersey

4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

11-28-2012 13:14:14 | More by InspectorBob
Photo of XmnwildX12
XmnwildX12

Minnesota

4/5  rDev -5.4%

11-22-2013 03:04:30 | More by XmnwildX12
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler

Pennsylvania

4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2006 18:31:39 | More by woodychandler
Photo of orangesol
orangesol

Pennsylvania

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

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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-02-2011 21:50:53 | More by orangesol
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,347 ratings.