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

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

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

5,473 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,473
Reviews: 2,013
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 10.59%
Wants: 465
Gots: 1,403 | FT: 115
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,473 | Reviews: 2,013
Photo of TJSoundguy
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Lives up to the hype. Dark, rich, deep flavor. I can see the appeal of aging this beer, but wow - this is really, really good fresh as well.

Photo of hophead_87
4.25/5  rDev 0%

I like this beer more with age on it, but it's solid nonetheless.

Photo of Nugganooch
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle dated 10/22/1012
Notes from 08/24/14 with my FW snifter glass

Big thanks @brooklynbrews for this long time want!

A: The pour is semi-thick and settles dark as coal-black in the glass with no light seeping through whatsoever. A thick and steady sponge of mocha tan foam comes to rest over top. Never fully subsides leaving some large globules of lace left clinging to the glass.

S: Smells intensely dark and roasty with black strap molasses up front. Has that light soy sauce likeness with charred sugars close behind. Deep roast grains evoke a chocolate espresso note and this is fairly rich. I get some some earthy hop presence and mild alcohol noted in the back. Really nice nose filled with dark roast and mild scent of wet tobacco coming through.

T: Very chocolaty with cocoa nib, more molasses, dark grains, and coffee extract. I get a deep roast malt char with a delicious marshmallow note and amazing balance of brown sugar sweetness. There is a bit of gritty loam like bitterness with some stale pine to this and it kind of drives more of a cocoa powder coarseness but it doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment. Alcohol is nicely tamed and I would say this beer is hitting its stride at 2 years. A little light licorice noted in the finish. Delicious stuff here. Drinks so smooth for such a big brew.

M: Full bodied with a super smooth and creamy mouth feel. Turns a little choppy from a moderate amount of bitterness midway but finishes smoother with some light dryness. Nicely balanced with a sticky coat.

D: Drinking smooth and lush with such a rich and complex roast going on. I have never had this fresh but I can say that at two years this is drinking marvelously. A really well balanced drink considering the size of this bad boy. One should probably take their time with this but I struggled to do so.

Really special guy this brooklynbrews who cellared the bottle properly just for my enjoyment long before even ever making my acquaintance.

Photo of BradenMK
4.65/5  rDev +9.4%

Age. This. Beer. It's begging for it. Sometimes overly harsh with the hop profile when fresh, once this hits the two year mark (and literally, for years and years after), this beer is a magical creature complete with fairy wings and unicorn horns. Always a hop bomb, the roasted, chocolate notes just get deeper and more nuanced and more smooth with time. A superb stout that any fans of the style will already know is delicious.

Photo of JefferyLaGrow
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

It is simply my favorite local stout. Everything that I look for in a RIS... Thank you Bell's.

Photo of beerdedking
4.65/5  rDev +9.4%

Bottled 9/25/13 poured obsidian into snifter with a thick cinnamon head. Just beautiful to behold.
Scents of raspberry truffle and plum brandy. The complexity has really come through after a year of sitting.
The dark fruits have melded perfectly to the dark chocolate and roasted barley. Still a touch of alcohol on the finish
which I prefer. A beer of this nature should have a bit of heat. What an experience. Just think, there are more
of these just sitting there at my bottle shop. Not for long....

Photo of Jdschroepfer
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Delaware

Photo of MonkeyBread
3.1/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Tastes like used motor oil. If I wanted something so acrid, bitter and viscous I'dattach a funnel to the gas tank on my car. Bell's seems to have no clue how to produce a decent stout. Pretty much their entire line is an undrinkable mess. How this gets nationally distributed is unreal. Take your average home brew and it would taste like the second coming of Christ compared to this undrinkable mess.

Photo of seedyone
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

02/11/14 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. A fine, fine brew. First nostril full is of a mild coffee. On the tongue it has a very pleasant bitterness from coffee & a mild chocolate. Steady, steady stuff. Sessionable plus.

Photo of tmm313
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%

When I first bought this two years ago, I read how bitter it was when new, so I aged it for a couple of years. Its a pretty complex stout with big coffee, dark chocolate, some licorice, and caramelized brown sugar. But yes, it is still pretty bitter. The finish reminded me of a bitter hop bomb lightly subdued with dry dark chocolate and light pine mixed in. Overall, it was nice. Super viscous, sweet, bitter, balanced, and not much burn.

Photo of WckdVbz
2.75/5  rDev -35.3%

This is a Black DIPA, not a RIS.

Photo of Roguer
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a big, 3 finger dark brown and creamy head from a strong pour. Brew is a solid nut-black with a hint of brown. Head retention is very good, and lacing is wide and bubbly.

Smells like chocolate booze! Very strong aroma with big notes of cocoa and alcohol; some slightly sweet dark fruit (but not the overripe sourness of some stouts); slightly earthy bitterness; and a creamy and sugary finish.

Flavor is an excellent mix of roasted barley and chocolate (dark cacao, not added chocolate like a dessert stout), dancing and playing on their journey across your palate. The rest of the nose is present as well - cream, a hint of booziness (especially on the finish), and earthy hops, with a slightly grassy finish - but this is a showcase of malts.

Thick and sticky mouthfeel, full (but not chewy), with a long, bitter, clingy finish.

The beer is a little hot (alcohol; not peppers), but other than that, this is a fantastic, traditional RIS. The hype is warranted.

Photo of micromaniac129
3.99/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours thick and deeply brown with a desent size head which to it's credit is thick like a milk shake. The aroma is pretty much roasted malts deeply roasted at that. You get sutle hints of chocolate and coffee but you must dig for them.
Taste is like the nose well roasted or burnt malts with underlying alcohol.
Feels thick on the palette with a corse ashen feel. Finishes dry and bitter.
Lacks in depth of flavor and character.
I really don't think it's worthy of all the hipe and in fact think it's a violation.

Photo of Mikus
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into my tulip from a 12oz bottle. These have about a year on them (purchased at the Andersons in C-Bus, OH). Bit pricey, but well worth it! Pure black (blacker than my heart) with a finger of tan head... didn't last too long. Immediate notes of coffee, molasses, and DEEP dark roasted malt. Yes. The deep roasty flavor emerged with the first swig, also a crisp bitterness. Hints of bitter chocolate and even a bit a caramel as time passed. Smooth, velvety mouthfeel. Glad I invested in a sixer, and excited to age a couple of these for upcoming birthdays (maybe '15 and '16). What a winner. One of my faves is FIS, and in my opinion (though it has some unique characteristics)... Expedition stands right up with FIS. Get some.

Photo of Mongrel
4.49/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 10/22/12.

A - Pours thick but smooth. Basically black with a nice dark khaki head that hangs around for a few minutes.

S - Smell just oozes syrupy, chocolate sweetness as soon as it hits the glass, with a touch of licorice.

T - Smooth and luxurious, with a perfect balance of sweetness and roastiness. There's dark chocolate, espresso, dark fruit and again that subtle hint of black licorice to keep things interesting. The flavors are so well melded. It's also got some over the top X factor, like umami but not really, that really sets this beer apart. Absolutely stunning with two years on it. Almost no suggestion of the big booze.

M - thick, but silky smooth. Fills your mouth to the extent that you can almost feel the bitter-sweet effervescence in your sinuses. Big sweet center that dries out nicely on the finish, leaving some lingering roastiness.

Photo of brewskifan55
4.09/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Thanks, CorgiDad!

A: Black with shades of brown. No head, but a tan ring wraps around the glass. Light lacing.

S: Dark chocolate, light coffee, anise.

T: Rich and robust. Sinful. Chocolate cascades in with lighter coffee notes than I expected. Dark fruits (raisins, dates, plums). Cocoa.

M: Medium to heavy with medium carbonation. A dry finish.

O: Another winner from Bell's. A great sipper. Make sure to go on this Expedition.

Photo of majorbase2
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very very dark brown with a small lighter brown head. Okay retention, with some light lacing.

Aroma of alcohol, dark chocolate, and coffee. Roasted malts and molasses, as well. A little bit of nuttiness. Surprising amount of sweetness.

Roasted malts up front (that really stay on the tongue). More nuts, a little bit more than in the aroma. Good deal of alcohol warmth. Coffee. Not as much chocolate present. Just the slightest hint of dark fruits. Not quite as strong of a taste as I was hoping for, honestly.

Mouthfeel is sensational. Heavy bodied. Smooth and creamy. Very little carbonation. Very easy to drink.

Overall: Doesn't quite match the hype. Still a very good beer. Not quite as heavy as I expected it to be. Surprisingly easy to drink. A very solid Stout.

Photo of SebD
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle

Appearance: It has a nice jet black color to it. It has a nice dark tan head that dies down moderately and leaves nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, dark fruit (mainly raisins) and perhaps a touch of vanilla.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a ton of roasted malts followed by bitter dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, light raisins and some faint vanilla.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a very nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied by great flavors and aromas.

Photo of patre_tim
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Black with perhaps a dark brown hint only when held to the light, two fingers of dark brown head with a rusty tinge.

S: Malt bread, molasses, coffee, chocolate, malt beverages, sweet floral notes, meaty summer sausage umami scent, rubber tire in the sun.

T: Thick malty, rubber tire in the sun, tar, a hint of meaty umami, a fair amount of sweetness, light burnt toast quality on the tongue in the aftertaste.

M: Thick oily body that does not stick to the tongue and is not cloigny, light fine bubbled carbonation.

O: This one was produced on August 29th 2013, drank in Pensacola July 26th, 2014. I got this in Asheville at World Market about a month ago in a sixer. This is the second one I’ve had, and I’m wanting to age the others.

Photo of mabermud
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This early 2013 bottle was a hard pour into a brandy snifter. The pour created a phenomenal, beige, creamy, puffy head. The body is a super dark brown. After a few minutes of sitting the head settles down into a patchy cover of fine froth and a solid halo around the glass.

This stout has the usual stout smells, roasted malt, some coffee, and dark chocolate. What stands out to me is the aroma of sweet lactose. This tells me this thing is going to be creamy, hopefully like a chocolate/coffee milkshake.

The taste is nice. Roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and lactose...milky...like a mocha, only better.

The mouthfeel is so-so. It is fine, but it doesn't shine.

Overall, this is one of the better non-BA stouts. It is nice and creamy, very smooth, and has a complex, well-balanced taste.

Photo of Vixie
3.76/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pitch black. Held up to the light, and the light has no chance. Forms a little of a tan head that is leaving some nice lacing behind.

Not as strong a smell as I expected from the looks of it. Mainly smokey with hints of chocolate and coffee.

Coffee, chocolate, smoke, vanilla. Can't really taste the alcohol at all, and finishes with a bitter coffee aftertaste.

Feel is nice, smooth and full.

This was what a RIS is all about. While not the best example of the style I have had, this is a really good one. Big, in your face, no doubt this is a serious beer. It isn't the best example of the style I have tried, but easily one of the better ones. Worth seeking this one out.

Photo of bowzer4birdie
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this on draft @ Local Option after I had a BORIS. Side-by-Side I favored the BORIS although I realize different styles at play here.

Dark fruity sweet smell with some bitter chocolate. Great head (dark brown) and thick lacing. Complex flavor with roasted malts / dark fruit and it seems that dark fruit influence lingers on the aftertaste for awhile which is a good thing. Nice change from some of the hoppier, heavier roasted brands like Plead the Fifth (which I enjoy as well).

Photo of VRH
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

The 2011 batch from the tap of Beverage World, this brew pours dark reddish brown black with a big tan head. Aromas and flavours of molasses cookies, spicy ginger snaps, cinnamon, bitter chocolate, coffee, hints of wet straw, soy sauce, grass, & vanilla. Full bodied, rich palate combines with dry, crisp, smoky roasted finish. Truly outstanding!

Photo of nodder
4.31/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours black with a one finger light brown head. Fades quickly leaving lots of foamy lacing. Looks great.

S- Strong black coffee, chocolate, roasted malts. A bit of dark fruits (raisins, prunes). A slight alcohol scent is present.

T- Sweet dark chocolate and strong coffee. A bit boozy, but not bad for the 10.5% ABV

M- Full and thick. Coats the mouth. Love it.

O- A great stout that hides the ABV well. I'll have again, no doubt.

Photo of Stevedore
4.06/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 12/27/12 poured into a Bell's tulip and quaffed today, 3/9/13. Review is based primarily on today's bottle but also uses notes from previous bottles from the same vintage which were consumed fresh.

Aroma: I definitely get the dark fruits- raisins, figs, cherry. It's definitely sweet smelling with quite a bit of heat on the nose. Really good smelling imperial stout- the ones I've been drinking are usually roasty and/or hoppy. But this is straight up dark fruit. Really a nice change of pace. (4)

Colour: Pours a dark dark dark jet black, looks great. It comes out with an absolutely beautiful 1cm dark brown head that dissipates within 30 seconds into absolutely nothing, leaving a very thin brown collar over an abyss of black beverage. The lacing is absolutely thick, and swirling agitates the collar and makes it even thicker. You can't do any better than this brew for its appearance! (5)

Flavour: When I first drank it fresh back in December, it tasted rather medicinal with a straight-up overdone cherry tartness- not complex at all and rather hard to drink. I didn't like it at the time but I decided to give it 3 months to see how it changes over time. And it would appear that just a bit of age really develops this beer. The heat has been covered up by a more complex flavor combining hints of the underlying roasty malt character with the dominant dark fruit flavours as described in the nose- raisins, cherry, figs that contribute quite a bit to the aftertaste. It's not boozy at all and has developed nicely in such a short amount of time. (4)

Mouthfeel: On the lighter side of a thick body. Decent carbonation. Goes down smoothly leaving a nice balanced finish that is neither wet or dry. The aftertaste is probably dominantly tart cherry that goes to town on your taste buds for quite a while afterwards. Not the thickest imperial stout but it's a very smooth quaff. (4)

Overall: It makes sense that this beer develops with some age on it as it would seem that Bell's intended it that way. I'm happy that I hung onto the six-pack I bought last December. I'll probably try it at 3-6 month intervals to see how it develops from here on. It's a nice change from the usual roasty and hoppy imperial stouts (e.g. Founders Imperial Stout, Plead the 5th, etc.), as the dark fruits are the strongest contributor to the flavour. (4)

Re-reviewed 5/30/2014. 2013 vintage (7/19/2013) poured into a Bell's goblet. A bit over 10 months old now. Essentially, appearance is the same, and I do get a ton of dark chocolate bitterness with even more dark fruit and some vanilla essence in the nose. Flavour profile is similar, heavier on the dark fruits- dates, raisins- roast malts and dark chocolate mixed in with milk chocolate and caramel, with a bit of vanilla and molasses. Very complex, interesting and decadent beer that has a nice slick mouthfeel that isn't quite too thick or oily but just right. Overall, a great RIS that stacks up with the other Michigan RIS's- Founders RIS and DH Plead the 5th to name a few.

Based on this vintage, I would re-review to a 4.5/4.25/4.5/4/4.25 which comes out to a BA score of 4.35.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 5,473 ratings.