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

2,083 Reviews
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Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002

User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,083 | Ratings: 5,951
Photo of ljdrinksbeer
4.77/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2013 bottle poured gently into snifter.
no head to speak of just a thin spotting of small dark brown bubbles clinging together, liquid is so dark that you can just tell its brown by looking at the edeges where the light shines through to reveal a reddish tint.
Smell is strong booze soaked fruit and some dark chocolate.
Taste is heavy on the roasted coffee and malt flavors, immensely complex.
body is thick without being being cloying
overall a favorite i keep coming back to, i think its better as it gets a little warmer, the only negative i ever, experience, is a slight soy sauce aroma/ flavor in some older bottles but somehow it still works, almost adds something.

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Photo of oregonduck
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A great stout! Nice bouquet of cocoa and coffee. Thick, creamy and silky texture. Taste is sweet on the front with a slight bitterness on the finish to balance it out. Flavors of cocoa and coffee. This is so smooth it hides the 10.5% abv very well. I found other Imperial Stouts like Old Rasputin and Narwhal to be very harsh. I kind of expected the same from Expedition, but didn't find any harshness at all. It is so smooth and such a high quality beer, very impressive! This is a great go-to, non barrel aged, Imperial Stout.

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Photo of SierraFlight
3.77/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

On tap at World of Beer, Ann Arbor poured into snifter. Midnight black with tall chocolate milk-colored head that leaves rings of lacing on the drink down. Aroma is chocolate, dark fruit, roasted malt, and alcohol. Taste is similar - malty with chocolate, coffee, and roasted flavors. Modest bitterness from hop and espresso supply balance. Full bodied, creamy, chewy, and thick texture, low carbonation, and a bit of burn on the finish.

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Photo of JebBeerFish
3.06/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My first Bell's beer. Had one bottle 2 nights ago, had a second tonight to validate or dispell first impression. Nice coffee flavor but without any chocolate counterpart, and instead a hoppiness in the back of the beer that substantially detracts from the flavor, almost as if a 1/4th of the beer was poured off and an equal amount of a black ipa added. Label states beer ages well. I will cellar this until the Fall when I will try another. A disappointment for me.

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Photo of Cory_Brown
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Drinking this right after Founders Imperial Stout. This is a really good beer. They are both similar, but this beer features more dark fruit. I would love to age this and see how it develops, but If it's in the fridge, I'm drinkin it!
A- the body is pitch black and it poured about a half inch of chocolatey head.
S- dark fruit, chocolate, and some burnt coffee
T- similar to the aroma, with the dark fruits really sticking out. Some alcohol is evident, but it's meant to age so that's expected. A pleasant bitterness lingers.
M- thicker feeling to this one. Full bodied
O- A very good beer from Bells. Might have a Hopslam after, if this one doesn't put me to bed!

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Photo of Beer-Revelry
4.74/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Duvel snifter glass.

A - 5 - Pours an oily jet black color. Poured hard, expecting a low head potential with the high ABV, boy was I wrong! Massive head potential, formed a huge 3 fingers of super dense, thick and creamy, dark tan to medium brown colored head. Formed thick, solid ringed walls of lacing with ever sip.
S - 4.75 - Exactly what you'd expect of the style. Heavy malts, perhaps even lightly smoked. Lots of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, alcohol and a touch of herbal fennel. Lovely.
T - 4.75 - Awesome, sweet malts and medium sweet chocolates upfront, fades into a neutral taste of blackstrap molasses, fennel, star anise and licorice. Ends on a bitter coffee note. The bitter ending perfectly rounds out the initial upfront sweetness.
F - 4.5 - Full bodied, decently thick, creamy and heavy mouthfeel.
O - 4.75 - Ranks up there with the best of the best as far as RIS go! If you're a fan of the style it is worth purchasing and setting a few back to age, comes in a six pack too! What's not to love about this awesome brew?

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thoroughly enjoyed from a growler in a JAFB snifter, this AWESOME legend pours a thick oily black with a monstrous light brown head that dissipates to a nice ring and pooling foam layer with awesome lacing. Nose of dark bakers chocolate, heavily roasted grains, light coffee, sweet toffee, sweet malts, and booze. Flavors are up front chocolate and sweet malts on all sides and a dash of coffee. Very coating. Heavy smokiness on the back with a toffee, heavily roasted grains, and a sherry like quality that shines through. Tons of warmth on the back with a wet coating finish.

A legend in it's own time....truly awesome.


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

Bottle dated 10/24/14. Consumed 2/5/15.

Dark brown opaque pour, visibly thick with short tan head reducing to ring of lacing.

Nose of roasted malt, rich dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, molasses and vanilla. Even a touch of clove and sherry.

Taste of sweet, roasty malty. Ashy to the point of tasting smoky. Rounded out with sweet chocolate and dark, raisiny fruit. Just a hint of sherry. Moderate hop bitterness and some booze on the back end.

Thick, viscous mouthfeel. Decadent. Somewhat cloying. Light, effervescent carbonation.

This is a great stout and more enjoyable than Black Note to my memory. While it tastes a little ashy, I think some age would help in that department. I'd love to taste Expedition with a year or two on it.

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Photo of guityler83
3.73/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: One finger of dense tan head formed in the snifter glass from the bottle and persisted a good long time before leaving a thin layer on top of the beer. Pitch black appearance, no light shines through when held to a light. Mild alcohol legs that dissipate quickly.

S: Moderate strength aroma from roasted malts - Ashy, roast, burnt breat crust and slight smoke. Mild bakers chocolate and toffee sweetness. Subtle spicy hop character and low alcohol / boozy character noticeable.

T: Surprisingly firm bitterness in the beginning - Slightly noble / spicey but emphasized by the roasted malts that follow. Burnt bread, dark cacao chocolate, mild soy sauce and mineraly like finish. Middle malts have a toffee / caramel taste with only a slight sweetness along with rye bread and toast. The finish, slightly sweeter chocolate then smoke.

M: Mild alcohol warming and a nice full body. Carbonation is low and there is a soft creaminess. Astringency is mild and comes off as a slight ashy / mineral after taste /feel.

O: A little too much of the ashy / roast character for my taste but I enjoyed the nice hop character even after the age on the beer.

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Photo of 4lo
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

'14 Bottle

Pour - Bit thicker than your average stout. Dark on the pour with a one finger tan head that forms and eventually yields way to a ring around the glass.

Smell - Bitter chocolate and dark fruits on the nose. Some coffee, but not as much as a ~10 months ago.

Taste - Sugary chocolate up front which turns to a dark chocolate molasses taste as you muddle through it. Bit of dark fruit in between and on the tail end. Coffee isn't overly strong, but a get a bit in there.

Feel - Well put together and fairly smooth mouthfeel. Nice level of carbonation which makes it easy to drink.

Overall - Great seasonal release stout which hits the spot during the winters.

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

Bought a 6-pack of the 2013 vintage; interested in seeing how age affects this beer. I plan on drinking one a year through 2018. Today 1/31/15, about 18 months after bottle date, this beer has an enticing smell with a silky smooth taste mixed with dark fruit; really coats the mouth. Alcohol heat is still slightly there. 4/7/16 ages gracefully. Smooth, less alcohol burn. Delicious fudge flavor that lingers.

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Photo of Norvelljeff
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

L-Thick, black, dark, sand colored head that stays about 1/8" layer on top as your drink.

S-Roasty, liquor-ish, smell. Hints of something sweet.

T-Complex, getting an oak after taste. Drinks well with rings staying around glass.

F-A little slippery coating that lasts a minuet or so after first drink.

O-Very, very good. Will be savoring the rest of the sixer.

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Photo of Jwburns75
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 9/18/14, poured from 12oz bottle into snifter. Huge chocolate and dark fruit taste, very nice sweetness, laces well. Alcohol is well hidden by all the flavor. What a magnificent RIS this is.

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Photo of mattbk
4.01/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Jet black, deep tan, very creamy looking head.
S: Cocoa, caramel, some dark fruit, fig, pretty nice.
T: Some roasty and hop based bitterness, followed by sweet dark fruits, grape coming to mind. More subtle cocoa. Definite booziness in the back. This is a big beer in all ways, shapes and forms. Good beer, slightly rough though. Definitely a sipper.
M: Super full bodied, very creamy. Pretty awesome.
O: I have a lot of respect for this beer. It's sort of like a full bodied Rasputin, although this is far from my favorite style.

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Photo of Bone53
4.81/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: The pour on this bad boy is thick and pitch black; motor oil. Atop sits a one finger mocha brown head. Also the most laced glass from a beer iv seen in a long while. Wish i could post a picture on this review

Smell: dark chocolate, roasted malt, dark fruit, coffee, slight molasses

Taste: The taste is even better! Nothing in particular really hits my palate upfront, rather its a blissful medley of chocolate and roasted malts/coffee with a slight presence of dark fruit mid palate, although i get more dark fruit in the nose. Then the espresso-like coffee character leaves everything else behind and lingers for a bit; But not without molasses finally finishing it off

Mouthfeel: A fairly heavy body; viscous and coats the mouth. Slight alcohol presence but smooth considering the abv. Bitter finish

Overall (4.6): I fell in love with this beer at first sip. From the motor oil pour to the dark and rich aromas and flavors of chocolate, espresso, roasted malts, dark fruit, molasses, and the smooth mouthfeel, this is EVERYTHING you want in a RIS. The only thing that stops me from sipping this everyday is the price, but the taste definitely justifies that. Overall this beer is mindblowing, and i look forward to having it each and every winter.

EDIT 3/2/15: Sippin a 2009 Expedition on draft and this is just spectacular. The aromas and flavors have blended together beyond words. The smell is dark espresso, bitter roasted and sweet caramel malts, dark fruits, and subtle chocolate. The taste is like some of the best espresso youll ever have, dark fruits, subtle chocolate, and a solid roasted and caramel malt backbone. The alcohol from a fresh batch has totally dissipated and the bitterness has mellowed out, although still slightly bitter. This joins an aged oatmeal yeti as the best stout iv ever had. I thought a fresh Expedition was one of the best RIS iv ever had, but this is somethin else. I have just raised my rating a couple tenths. I need to start cellaring bottles in my basement, if only i could forget theyre down there lol

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Photo of humuloner22
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I have had this one in the past. Tonight I decided I would grab another one to see kind of what the base beer was like because I was going to drink and review the Black Note. So here goes...

Appearance: Black as night not a lot of head whatsoever but very viscous and the head that lays on top is a dark caramel color. With a little agitation the head does appear again but otherwise it pretty much settles to nothing.

Aroma: Licorice, dark burned malts and lots of charred flavors.

Taste: Licorice, burned cream flavors. This is not a beer I would drink cold. At first it was too biting for me, however as it warmed it began releasing more pleasant flavors. Still this beer is on the bitter side. Mouthfeel is pretty much spot on. Not to thin not to thick.

Overall: I have drank this beer before years ago. I was not impressed with it the first time I tried it, I know more what to look for now and although in the beginning I had it too cold and did not enjoy the flavors, as it warmed it was definitely better, nevertheless it is still not one of my favorite beers of the style nor from Bell's. With all the options we have out there these days I would probably pass on this one considering the price point, however it does come in a six pack which is a good thing.

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Photo of DaverCS
4.69/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Motor oil black. 2 plus finger head with a moderate to aggressive pour. The head reminds me of a beautiful espresso crema (if it was 2 fingers tall over my coffee). Great lacing up the glass.
Aroma definitely boasts some alcohol. I do get a presence of some dark fruits soaked in rum, some molasses, brown sugar, and coffee.
Taste is rather pleasant. It really doesn’t have much sweetness. The beer is only 3 months old, so it has some bitterness, but I find that the slight bitterness makes it drinkable. I think it has the perfect mouth feel: not overly thick, but not overly carbonated. I get huge burnt coffee and smokiness, molasses in the middle of the palate with a nice malt flavor. Not as much dark fruits as on the nose. You get them primarily near the middle of the mouth. I primarily get a rum soaked date flavor with some raisins thrown in. Almost an oak flavor. I do taste the alcohol a little at the end as the beer warms, but it isn’t as much as the nose would make you think. Definitely coats the palate.
Overall, not a bad stout. This beer is readily available and totally drinkable. I like this beer because it has more substance and thickness than some boasting the same flavors. It isn’t overly thick, but the rights blend. Aging would work well for this beer; it would tame the bitterness down making it beautifully balanced. While I like the bitterness, as it warms, it is a little too much for the beer. I could see something remarkable after a year or so. This would be a good beer with some beignets. I give it 94/100.

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Photo of Goodspeed83
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

As another reviewer stated, this is beer is difficult to rate, as the bottle I had is only a few months old. Based on its reputation, I wanted to like it immediately. The first half of the bottle was a little overwhelming. Very bittersweet smell, along with a sweeter taste that becomes very bitter immediately.

I wasn't too surprised, since that bitterness is described by Bell's themselves, but my desire to try it out won over my original intent to age it. In the end, I liked it, but the rest of the bottles went to the basement, to be enjoyed at a much later time.

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Photo of Bshaw22
4.39/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer is really hard for me to rate. I'm drinking it so fresh, only a couple months old.
Looks beautiful. Sleeps ok. Taste is really goo but really bitter for a stout. I am going to save the rest of the six pack and age it. I'll review again next year.

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Photo of leroybrown10
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 9/18/14 poured into a snifter.

Pours a thick inky black. Head bubbles up slowly but keeps rising and rising till there is a solid finger and a half. Head is a rich khaki color and leaves plenty of lacing as it dissipates.

Aroma is heady and strong. Intense bitter coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malt, and earthy hops clash and blend together.

Heavy malt on the tongue. Coffee notes go beyond roasted into the bitter/burnt range. Rich dark chocolate as well as some smoke and peat. Hops are strong and lingering on the end with some earthy/loamy notes.

Thick mouth feel with an acridness that is mildly unpleasant.

Overall, a very good beer that could be better if some of the flavors were less intense. The coffee notes in particular could use toned down and made less bitter. While this bottle had 3.5 months already, I could see an extended cellaring improving this a good deal.

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Photo of rangerred
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle from October 2014 poured into a snifter.

Pours an inky black with the look and consistency of used motor oil. Leaves a quick glimpse of a tan head that quickly fades away. Some nice splotches on the sides of the glass.

Aroma really jumps with coffee, dark chocolate, and prunes. A bit of a charred character hinting at the roastyness.

The flavor when cold is really bitter with a tartness that surprised me. As the beer warmed, however, this smoothed out considerably and everything just seemed to meld. Coffee, char, and dark fruit just seem to be married perfectly with just enough bitterness to keep the sweetness in check. Incredible mouthfeel that is silky smooth and the alcohol is barely noticeable.

Overall, an incredible RIS and very drinkable. Really hits all the high points of the style and is quite delicious.

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Photo of JohnnyI
4.52/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a rich black, crowned with a coffee colored head that has a custard-like consistency. The foam slowly settles, leaving a solid inch and half thick band around the glass. I don't know if I can call that lacing. It's looks more like a decorative ribbon! There's a slick coating on the surface and an oily film left behind with each swirl. The appearance is sturdy. A hearty looking brew. The smell is quite complex. Pronounced soy sauce and canned mushrooms, with a mild metallic scent. Chocolate baklava with honey sweet figs. The customary coffee, char and dark fruits are there as well, but less so. Subtle booze. The flavors are much more potent. There's an explosion of taste on the first sip. Sweet molasses with roasted black coffee. Burnt malts with black licorice notes. A distinct cocoa toffee finish with charcoal bitterness imparted from the hops and deep roast. Dry and bitter in the end, as the roast simply clings to your palate and refuses to let go. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth with a hearty creaminess that gives the brew an enormous body. Lively, fine pin-prick carbonation helps all of the flavors burst to life. After a few sips, it leaves a sticky feeling in your mouth. Half-way through the glass and there is a nice warming alcohol heat in the chest. I know this is not a spiced beer, but I'd swear that there is some cinnamon in there. Ultimately, this is a man's beer. Something to warm the winter nights in northern Michigan while staying in the snow-covered cabin. A big, bold Russian Imperial Stout with a soothing touch of rustic campfire goodness. Bottled 10/23/14. I've had aged versions that are phenomenal in their own right, but I still prefer the fresher alternative. A+

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Photo of lenbert
4.57/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This was bottled on 10/2012. Pours black with very slight head. The head that it has lingers a good long time!

The aroma is of dark fruits, and malty chocolate. The taste mirrors the aroma, chock filled with malty and chocolaty goodness. The mouth feel is thick and very pleasing.

This is an amazingly delicious Russian Imperial Stout, currently my favorite.

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Photo of Moun10
3.48/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Taste is very heavy on the dark fruit flavor. Reminiscent of eating a small box of raisins in one mouthful or chugging some warm prune juice. Too much.

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Photo of byronic
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a midnight black with minimal head, very little retention. A beautiful dark chocolate and almost bourbon like quality. Dark roasted malts with some chocolate. The abv is quite present but this brew is very smooth and very drinkable despite it. A finish that is sweetness reminiscent of a fine cognac. Had fresh and aged 18 months. Better with age. Treasure this in your cellar.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 2,083 ratings.