Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,987 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,987
Hads: 5,561
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 480
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bell's Expedition Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,987 | Hads: 5,561
Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured in to Duvel snifter. Batch # 9512.

A - Poured a thick silky black colour with a finger of dark chocolate-brown head. Appears to be very lightly carbonated.

S - Dark roasted malts - dark chocolate with some coffee. Some dark fruit and hops are present in the background. Seems to be a slight alcohol nose in the background as well, but that may be the hops.

T - Dark roasted malts with some dark fruit and sweet molasses. Not an overwhelming coffee or chocolate taste but but both are present in a more subdued fashion. Bitter hops are present as well that become more and more prominent as I continue to drink the beer. There is also a nice licorice taste in the background. A little bit hot.

M - Thick & silky. A perfect mouth feel for an imperial stout. Moderate carbonation.

D - A very nice RIS. Somewhat hot, but otherwise near perfect for a RIS. I am very interested to see how the other 5 of these age...

 925 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

 885 characters

Photo of kscaldef
3.92/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle. Pours very dark with minimal carbonation evident. Just a whisp of mocha foam rises. Coffee and chocolate aromas with prune and raisin notes. Tastes of very rich chocolate and finishes with coffee. Mouthfeel is thick, nearly flat. Slight harsh tannins. Quite drinkable for such a strong beer, but a little subdued.

 326 characters

Photo of akorsak
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

 1,104 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz that SAS gave me a while back.. shared with Brenda.. but most went into the New Belgium snifter.. This bottle has been sitting in the cellar for close to a year.. tonight is the night.. Thanks Steven.

Easy 1" dark brown head.. great lace and a beautiful cap.. the brew is black.. obviously.

milk chocolate and dark fruity esters dominate the nose.. there may be some hops left.. but mostly cocoa and prune and dried cherries.. are still around.. waaay more complex than my feeble senses can put on paper.

The flavor has a little bit of unexpected char.. very rich RIS characteristics.. roasty and a bunch of deep brownie chocolate.. but the burnt flavors are there and may be a bit too much.. the hoppy bitterness combined with the burnt grains make for a great brew. but it still needs some more time to meld.. rich yet sorta unbalanced.. smooth and rough.. coffee... and a bit of cream.. the mouthfeel is expected for a brew of this caliber.. great and filling.. the carbonation may be a touch high.

Thanks Steven.. I've been waiting to enjoy this one for way to long.. I've had the Expedition a couple of times before, but never took the time to really sit back and savor...

 1,186 characters

Photo of vfgccp
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Black with mahogany highlights. Dark cocoa head pours 2 fingers high.

S - Raw malt, light bourbon, oak. Light cream. Mild cocoa.

T - Dark toast, burnt prunes. A lace of oak throughout the profile. Dark cocoa / coffee backend.

M - Smooth with a rolling char-bitterness. Medium/full body.

O - Very nice, particularly if you're a fan of dark-roast flavors.

 361 characters

Photo of Tone
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, jet black. 1/4 inch head of a dark tan color. Great retention and Good lacing. Smells strongly of sweet malt, slight hops, alcohol, and some roasted malts. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Thick and smooth mouth feel. Low carbonation level present, and a noticeable bitterness and dryness left on the palate. Tastes of strong malt, roasted malt, slight hop kick noticeable, some chocolate, and an overall sweetness. Strong body along with a slight alcohol flavor. Overall, a good complex beer full of different malt flavors.

 549 characters

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

A: poured a dark as night black with a super thin brown head and left hardly any lacing sticking to the glass.

S: I definitely was greeted by roasted chocolate malts, some oat grains, slight smokey, booze, and some cookie notes as well; very nice nose.

T/M: there was actually some hop bitterness on the backend but upfront the chocolate roasted malts were dominate alongside toffee, slight licorice, coffee, and a touch of bourbon. The brew was full inbody with a low amount of carbonation which had a roasty, sweet, slight astringent, boozy, hoppy bitter, and silky finish.

D: it drank pretty good considering the ABV but I'm not much of a hoppy RIS type of dude I would much rather stick to the ones that aren't as bitter on the finish. Even though it had a quality I didn't like it was still damn tasty.

 811 characters

Photo of Rhettroactive
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 11/15/11
*From notes

-- Vintage 2010 --

A: Dark, brooding black. A generous pour yields a killer 2.25 finger cascading mocha head. The retention is top notch, as is the lacing which rims the glass.

S: Dried and candied dark fruits with just a touch of smoke.

T: Really a massive dose of char up front. Yeah, this is aging beautifully. Though it's rather roasty, there's still a solid hop kick on the mid, even after it's been in the cellar for a year. Black coffee runs from the mid to finish, and it lingers for some time.

M: Just over the top. It's silky, creamy and velvety. It feels like a penthouse suite in mouth.

O: Bell's Expedition Stout is easily one of my favorite non-BA RIS's. It's big, bold and brash, yet deceivingly elegant and easy to drink. This has aging potential unlike many others. Though a bit pricey, it's worth every cent you'll pay.

A hearty recommendation.

 933 characters

Photo of aasher
4.16/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer pours an oily, viscous, syrupy, midnight black with a one finger beautiful dark khaki, soapy looking, head. It smells of rich, dark roasted malts with some bitter chocolate present. I love the flavors the Expedition presents. It's chocolatey, rich, has a good amount of coffee, and has this smokiness that reminds me of smoked wood chips. As far as mouthfeel is concerned, this is about as smooth as you could want for the style. It is very, very smooth and full in body. This is one of Bell's best brews hands down. The sweetness can be a little much the more you drink it but it is definitely a great RIS.

 617 characters

Photo of tobelerone
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This bottle was nearly 14 months old (October 5th, 2010).

What a big, intense, phenomenal stout. I’m kicking myself for not trying this one sooner. A quarter inch of chocolaty brown head sinks quickly down to a thin band, leaving minimal lacing. Visibly thick and viscous, totally black and opaque. The nose is huge, with strong coffee and molasses flavors up front, malty notes, chocolate, and fumy alcohol underneath.

The flavor is on the sweeter side, without much in the way of hops, so the bitterness comes mostly from the roasted malt and dark chocolate taste. Very creamy and thick, full of coffee, molasses, dark fruits, vanilla, booze. Not overwhelmingly alcoholic, fortunately. Coating mouthfeel with low carbonation, sticky and lingering aftertaste.

I split the 12 oz. bottle with the missus and some fudge brownies and that was enough; I suspect it would be pretty tough to finish the whole bottle, particularly if you’d already had a few others (as I had). Big and chewy and memorable. Wish I’d bought a few more to have on hand when the mood strikes.

 1,074 characters

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

A - Almost black pour with a chunky, bubbly, sticky brown head that hangs around.

S - Chocolate covered raisins, dried dark fruit sugars i.e. figs, currants, dates. Once again, a pretty solid raisinette aroma. Some sweet alcohol floating.

T - Very dark, very roasty with a nice touch of hops to balance. A nice amount of dark fruit sweetness and chocolate. Smooth warming alcohol provide a nice facet.

M - Silky smooth creamy mouth. Spiced, warming alcohol finish. Dry and sweet aftermath.

O - A nice imperial stout. The dark fruits gave this one a different twist and was well combined in the flavor profile. Smooth and soft with each sip and finish. Had this paired with black forrest cake at a Bells beer dinner.

 719 characters

Photo of flagmantho
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Packaged 10/2/12, so it has a little over 9 months under its belt at this time.

Appearance: entirely black body with two fingers of extremely rich and creamy tan foam. Wonderful.

Smell: richly malty with lots of roast in the works. Very good indeed, but it lacks the complexity often found in the style.

Taste: now that's more like it; we start off with a rich and bitter roasty character. Some dark fruit flavors are beginning to develop at 9 months: raisin and date especially. Some lighter fruity character from the alcohol is also present, which adds a nice depth. It finishes off with a mild bitterness and a little bit of vegetal hop flavor, but this doesn't detract too much. A nicely complex and very tasty RIS.

Mouthfeel: all the body in the world, this thing is like black oil. Not a huge level of carbonation, necessarily, but the massive body has a wonderful smoothness that I love.

Overall: this is a very delicious beer. Since this was my first Expedition, I couldn't wait to age it any longer; I just had to dive in. In future, if I can get my hot little hands on some more, I will age 2-3 years and see what happens.

 1,180 characters

Photo of ppoitras
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, WOW, some almost nitro action from a CO2 bottle beer, weird, but cool. Formed a thick, frothy 2" chocolate-hued head above a dark, dark brown/black brew. Head lasts more or less forever, and laces like you wouldn't believe. Aroma is is of heavy grains and malts, but not the bitterness that is usually associated with such a constructed brew. Heavy malts dominate the flavor, but their bitter ness seems to hide behind their sweetness, and make for an easy drinking brew, considering the heaviness and alcohol strength that is hiding somewhere in there... Mouthfeel is excellent, and drinkability is dangerously high for such a brew. An amazing phenom of brewing construction, this one is.

 805 characters

Photo of beertunes
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received in a recent trade, but I've forgotten with who, apologies and thanks! Bottle with code # 9554. Poured into 10oz glass. Poured solidly black with just under an inch of light brown head that had decent retention and lacing.

The aroma full and rich, lots of roasted and toasted scents. The flavors were also well executed examples of the style. In addition to the roasted flavors there was a nice little hop tang at the end.

The body was typically full, rich and tongue coating. Drinkability will vary depending on your personal taste for the style, 1 of these at a time is usually enough for me, YMMV.

Overall, a very good example of the style and better than some much more highly hyped versions. Worth trying when you see it.

 738 characters

Photo of tone77
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1 inch head. Smell is of chocolate, coffee, a bit of sweetness. Taste is the same, chocolate, some hops, a bit of coffee, alcohol is well hidden. Feels full bodied in the mouth and overall is a solid beer.

 265 characters

Photo of Derek
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a hint of mohogany. Pours with a nice tan head, and although there's hardly any retention, it does like to lace.

S: Plenty of piney hops and roasted/burnt (almost smokey) aroma.

T: Plenty of hop flavour (resiny pine) and bitterness. Plenty of DARK roasted/burnt malt (with a little caramel & molases). There's a little dark-fruit/wine-like quality. The flavour is predominantly bittersweet, with the balanced tipped to the bitter side. Personally, I think Russian Imperial stouts should have more fruity esters & tertiary alcohols.

M: Full body is syrupy, acidic and a little oily. Carbonation is on the lower side of moderate.

D: Very drinkable, especially considering the strength! Far more drinkable than some of the American Wanna-be Russian Imperial Stouts.

 788 characters

Photo of harpus
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: pours like used motor oil, one of the thickest imperial stouts out there (behind Hunahpus/Mashal Zhukov), with a nice dark head, decent retention and lacing

S: huge notes of dark chocolate and oats up front, compared to the fresh version, this is much more mellow and chocolatey...personally I think this smells better now than before

T: deep rich roasted notes up front with tons of chocolate, a little licorice and molasses, some coffee, everything is big and bold but nicely in balance. The finish is long and leaves a hint of roastieness on the palate. Wow, 2 years have done wonders for this brew.

MF: thick, velvety viscous, low carbonation

D: I have always loved Expo, but have never tried it at this age. I must say that I am amazed by how much chocolate character comes through now. Delicious.

I have tried this beer three times. The second time was in a stout tasting and this was pick #1 out of 13 different stout.

 933 characters

Photo of SadMachine
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'09 bottle acquired in an IP trade w/ Ahappyhiker2, thanks man!

A- Poured into Stone IRS snifter. Pours pitch black, viscous, and with a thick light-brown head that has incredible retention (especially w/ the age), and leaves generous lacing.

S- Surprising start to the nose as it is reminiscent of a bourbon barrel aged stout with lots of booze and a bit of vanilla. Dark bitter chocolate, Belgian candi-sugar, molasses, brown sugar, and dark alcohol soaked fruits are also perceived.

T- There are huge chocolate flavors right off the bat, both dark/bitter and sweet/milk. There is a healthy dose of roasted malt/coffee in the mix, particularly in the finish. There is also a distinct vinous flavor in the finish.

M- The mouthfeel is thick, viscous, and creamy with nearly no perceivable carbonation. It is less boozy than expected from the nose, which is a positive.

O- I have not had this fresh, but this is drinking fantastic with ~3.5 years on it! I would have been happier if some more of the complexity in the nose came through in the flavor, but it still tastes superb!

 1,082 characters

Photo of DrJay
4.87/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Completely opaque, inky black with a rich mocha head. Carbonation was on the low side, resulting in a thin head of small bubbles. Plenty of lacing and good retention. Super malty aroma, licorice, roasted, chocolate, alcohol, dark fruits to the point of being vinous. Flavour starts with some dry roasted and sweet malt, then moves on to cocoa, a moderate bitterness with light hoppiness, and alcohol warmth. Long sweet finish with plenty of roasted malts. Heavy body, chewy and viscous, low carbonation, with the texture of heavy cream. Afterwards, I poured the dregs into my glass. They came out chocolatey brown and super thick, but very chocolatey and tasty. Wow. Lots of complexity and surprisingly drinkable, with the alcohol very well hidden.

 748 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours from 12oz bottle a pitch black with a medium sized head of foam that shrinks rather quickly leaving just a fine ring around the edge of the glass.

The smell is very strong but nice. There's oodles of roasted and sweet malt on the nose and also some fruitiness.

The taste is also hugely malty. Lots of roastiness and sweet caramel malt along with chocolate and hot cocoa that adds some nice bitterness that creates one heck of a complex and pleasing experience to my palate. Wow is this ever a great sipping Imperial Stout! I did have a couple bottles of it a few years back but I think I'm enjoying it more now because of my "evolved" appreciation of quality microbrews.

I'm about halfway through now and though the abv is pretty darned high, I'm not getting any of it in the taste, just some warming as it goes down. What a great brew to have on this very cold Casper winter evening...

Bottom line: A *superb* full bodied, full flavoured Imperial Stout that borders on perfection. I can't recommend this one enough!

Thanks to ColoradoBobs for allowing me to try this beauty again!!!

 1,104 characters

Photo of cjgator3
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- The pour is a thick dark black color reminiscent of motor oil that produces a tan head. There is no light coming through this puppy.

S- The aroma is dark roasted malt, chocolate and alcohol soaked fruits.

T- The taste is dark and roasty and warming from the alcohol with a bitter finish from the hops.

M- The mouthfeel is very thick and chewy with little carbonation. This is one of the thickest beers that I have tried.

D- The high ABV hinders the drinkability of this brew but it is not meant to drink a sixer of these in one sitting. It is a very nice brew to sip on a chilly night.

This is another great stout from Bell's, I look forward to trying this every winter.

 719 characters

Photo of wordemupg
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into tulip sept18 2010, bottle 10 months old according to the bells batch finder

A pours pitch black right out of the bottle with a few little chunks at the bottom, and has a super dark thumbs worth of foam to go with it, falls to a thin film rather quickly but covers the side of my glass with lace

S molasses with some chocolate, prune, booze, and and a little cinnamon of all things

T not far from the smell but a little stronger with some added complexity from a little licorice and coffee, quite enjoyable beer and the booze is quite well concealed compared to the nose

M enters silky and ends thick and creamy, a little sticky on the lips and I'm thinking I'll still be tasting this beer tomorrow the flavors just linger in your mouth

D a little dangerous if you ask me, well rounded and quite easy to drink

a good paring for this chilly "summer" day in Calgary, a solid beer and would do quite well in a cellar but I only have one bottle and I need to thank MasterSki for sending it my way

 1,023 characters

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

Pours a deep black, no light is visible, dark brown head forms and laces. Smell is toasted bread, hops, yeastiness, licorice, coffee and alcohol. Taste is insane coffee, lots of chocolate, nice hoppiness, very roasty and satisfying. This was the thickest beer ever. The bottom is full of sludge and it took a struggle of epic proportions to take that down, but it was well worth the espresso shot. Amazing beer, one I would be proud to drink at any point in time. Thanks DrJay.

 477 characters

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

This beer pours like motor oil. It is midnight black in appearance. Beautiful. With a creamy brown head that has some retention. On the nose, I get deep roasted malt, burnt tones, anise and licorice. Smells great. The sensory overload on the buds with the first taste is incredible. Coffee, cocoa, burnt malt, licorice, dark fruits, bittersweet chocolate and a HUGE bitterness that I love. One thing that I do not note is a significant alcohol taste. (Surprising being that it is 10%.) Saying that this beer has a full body is like saying that Claudia Schiffer is good looking. Both are understatements. This is a brew to behold.

This is the first brew I've rated 5's across the board. (I've reconsidered my stance of not giving all 5's after seeing somebody's opinion that all 5's mean exceptional in every category, but not necessarily the Perfect Beer, which I believe may be impossible to find.)

 916 characters

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