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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: 5,550
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 479
Gots: 1,450 | 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
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Reviews: 1,987 | Hads: 5,550
Photo of pants678
4.34/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Black with a brown head, recedes quick.

Smells of roasted malt and alcohol. Could be stronger.

Chocolate's there, nuts are prominent, licorice. The alcohol's not masked but works in the beer's favor. Still wouldn't have figured 10%. Tiny note of coffee and tobacco but more so fruit, though, not Belgian or citric. I need some superlatives for this one.

Coplex profile but body's not all that heavy.

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Photo of Mightykingmalard
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: completely opaque. Beautiful caramel head that burns down fast. Super black. 4.25

S: milk chocolate. A hint of booze. 4.25

T: very characteristic imperial stout taste: smooth taste with a bitter finish. 4.0

M: very smooth. Hard to say much more, but it has a great feel. 4.25

O: a very, very nice imperial stout. Probably one of the best straight up imperial stouts I've had. If it was distributed to ca, I would definitely frequent it. 4.25

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Photo of barhoc11
5/5  rDev +18.8%

A: Thick and black with a dark tan head, looks amazing

S: Dark, fruity with some smokiness

T: Roasted malt is upfront with hints of dark fruit and smoke. Taste improves and the beer warms

M: Thick and sweet, but not too sweet.

O: I have had this beer with some age on it and it definitely improves over time. This is probably my favorite RIS and for good reason

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Photo of 57md
4.1/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is a deep, dark brown with more than a finger of fluffy tan head. The head seems to linger forever and leaves thin lace rings on the glass. The nose is surprisingly muted for a beer as big as this one – a whiff of alcohol is the most noticeable thing.

This offering is certainly rich and creamy, but the roast profile is just not quiet up to other top shelf RISs. The best part of the drinking experience is the finish when the coffee notes come on relatively strong.

This is a bit of a mixed bag, but certainly a tasty RIS.

Update on 11/21/2014:
Sampled a 15 month old bottle from the 2013 vintage today.

It was definitely superior. The nose was more potent and the flavors were deeper and better defined – except, as expected, the coffee notes were non-existent. I edited my rating for this offering upward as a result of this sample.

Next up: I want to try a 2 year old + sample of this fine RIS.

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Photo of toppoop
4.63/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - aggressive pour yielded a solid inch thick head which reduced down to bit lingering on the top. A little bit of lacing too.
S - booze and chocolate hit the noise with a bit of dark wine and wood.
T - half a year has done this great. The booze is a lot smoother now and chocolate notes dominate up front with a touch of vanilla. The bit of booze hits at the end with nice dark fruit.
M - great mouth feel here. The beer completely coats the mouth with a nice touch of carbonation.
O - one of my favorites. Never fails. Tremendous stout.

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Photo of magictacosinus
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to c64person for sending me two of these, both bottled on "9/19/11." Thanks! I've never had this fresh (I really want to), but this apparently only gets better with time so I felt around now was a good time to crack one open. Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a teku glass.

Pours not totally opaque (black with brownish tones), yet in the glass, I can barely get any light to pass through this. Looks almost solid, like hardened chocolate syrup when left alone. The mocha colored head adds to the effect, with tons of lacing sticking around with each swirl in a shrapnel coated manner. I'm impressed that carbonation is this good this late in the game - it's very elegant yet powerful in presentation. Really delightful looking and fresh I'd only imagine it looks better.

Ahhh, yes, haven't had a imperial stout that smelled like this in a while - the last one being Marshal Zhukov - it's an effect that I'd like to call the "truffle" condition that the best of these imperial stouts hold. At first, there's a chocolate truffle roasted richness (think 85% cacao), with lingering notes of peanut brittle, cashews, as well as lightly burnt toffee, molasses, cinnamon, and coffee. Underneath, there's a plethora of dried dark fruit and herbal qualities that are often found in high quality aged tannic red wines - raisins, figs, prunes, and dark cherry pits. Bright mint, peppercorns, licorice, and light spicy notes from the alcohol finish it up. Everything is wonderfully balanced, and the alcohol is hidden gracefully. Quite extraordinarily opulent, bright stuff.

Wow! This is amazingly rich, yet unlike Zhukov, not nearly as mouth coating or hedonistic - this is far more approachable, with an easy drinking texture and loads of layers of flavors that open up over time. At first, the palate is coated with a dense, dark chocolate flavor, with a powdery, melting sensation akin to eating fudge, alongside toffee, caramel, and burnt brown sugar notes. Then, the fruit flavors explode, to which my friend and I agreed it tasted like a chocolate covered raisin filled with molasses, or a coffee chocolate covered raisin or fig of sorts. Finishes spicy, with light chili powder notes, some mint, light black licorice, kirsch, and light cocoa butter at the finish. The aftertaste is powerful - goes on for a while and rewards the senses with a rich chocolate chili flavored sensation alongside the fruit. This is surprisingly medium body given the style, and it's definitely less carbonated than one would expect, but it somehow works perfectly, driving up the drinkable qualities and yet simultaneously makes this a sipper due to its rich roasted qualities, rather than the sweet qualities that your everyday RIS provides. Creamy, rich, yet very approachable. World class stuff.

This is one of the greats, and with its tremendously high aging qualities, this is perhaps one of the most unique stouts brewed in the country that is available quite often. I'd love to get a case of this and age it, but location is seriously screwing me up here. Simply phenomenally complex and easy-drinking stuff. Rewards you in the long run and sticks it to the hyped beers as any old school craft recipe should. Highly recommended.

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Photo of zhanson88
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 8/28/12.

Appearance: Pours out pretty near pitch black and fairly viscous looking. About 1" of dark tan head forms, which has good retention and lacing. Good looking stout.

Smell: Bitter roasted malts and dark chocolate sweetness are the primary scents I get off of this beer. I might get a light hint of vanilla sweetness as well. Good; not overly complex, but good. A classic stout smell.

Taste: Roasted malts, sweet dark chocolate, hints of black licorice and vanilla. A bit more complex than the nose but about at the same overall quality.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Medium to full bodied with appropriate, low carbonation. Very good. Overall, a very solid stout. Nice flavors and good balance of bitter and sweet.

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

Aged one year:

Look: DARK. Reddish brown head which fades to nearly nothing. No light is getting through this beer. It looks about as good as any beer I've ever seen. Served in a snifter.

Smell: Sweet fruits, chocolate, coffee, and malts.

Taste: Easily one of the best beers I've had. A LOT of dark chocolate and coffee mixed with sweet fruit flavors. A finish of coffee and malts.

Feel: Thick, full bodied, creamy. Like dessert.

Overall: This has to be one of my all time favorite beers I've ever had. Amazed by it's price and availability.

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Photo of itsscience
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with 2 fingers of tan head which retains nicely. The nose is boozy with sweet and roasty malts, dark fruits, raisins, and some dark chocolate. It tastes sweet and chocolaty at the front of the tongue with a bite of bitterness coming later, bringing herbal hop, coffee, and roasted grain flavors. There's a bourbon barrel quality to it and it leaves an aftertaste of chocolate-covered raisins. It's full bodied, alcoholic, and skirts the edge of doing too much, but doesn't quite go over that edge.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Growler filled at Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

Pours a deep dark black, with a sizable 2 inch head. Sticky spider-web like lacing.

Aromas include roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, and a bit of something that smells like bourbon, even though it's not barrel aged.

Huge roasted malt taste here, lots of bitterness. Some chocolate covered espresso beans as well. There is a bit of an alcohol burn and sweetness, but it is integrated well and doesn't detract. Some mild tastes of earthy dark fruits. There is a richness and depth of flavor here that suggests extended barrel treatment, but it didn't get any. Awesome.

Full viscous and creamy mouthfeel. Low carbonation.

One of the best non-BA stouts I've ever had, this one is knock your socks off good.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From the 12 ounce bottle into a snifter.

I like the way this beer pours, thick, creamy and viscous. For a moment I thought I was putting oil in my car. This beer is pitch-black with a finger-thick, dark khaki-colored head.

As soon as I popped the top off, I was getting a big whiff of booziness, almost bourbon-like. Once in the glass though, it's apparent this beer is just big and may not have gotten the bourbon-barrel treatment. There's a lot of dark chocolate on the nose, vanilla and caramel, sweet malt, and some oakiness.

There's plenty of flavor in this bad boy. Initially chocolatey, oaken and dry, the beer transitions to a sweet, creamy middle of vanilla before finishing with a baker's chocolate finish. The beer feels very big, but the heat is mostly buried, and in its place is a good viscosity, allowing this beer to go down pretty easily.

I like this beer for a lot of reasons, but I think the best thing about it is that a single 12 ounce bottle didn't cost more than $2.50. That's a steal for such a monster of a beer. I shoulda stocked up on about 15 more.

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Photo of larryarms847
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black, oily and viscous with a thin khaki head of foam.

Rich roasted coffee, caramel, dark chocolate, and sweet toffee.

Tons of roasted malt approaching burnt notes, toffee, earthy bitterness, and chocolate.

Heavy bodied, light carbonation, roasty, bitter, dry finish.

Overall, I love the HUGE roasted malt character and thick body, but the bitterness is left on the palate a little too long. Drank 1 year 3 months after bottled date (9/25/2013) and this could definitely use more time. Balanced out a tad after a year, but more time could certainly help.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.96/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darker than night with a wisp of quickly dissipating dark brown foam. The nose is an obscene amount of dark malt along with some roasted barley. The mouth is thick and sticky. The front of the palate is heavy with dark malt and roasted barley. The back of the palate is plums and fig mixed with dark malt.

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Photo of hops202
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a Stone Imperial Russian Stout Snifter. Bottled 8/22/13.

Very dark pour. Not too much carbonation present and seems like there is used motor oil in my snifter. Smell has Incredible amounts of roastiness, molasses, and some dark candied fruit and syrup. Maybe even some hickory smoke and burnt char. Taste is similar with some bitterness to add. I believe this is still "young", needs to age some, and plan to drink a 2012 side by side with a 2013 in the near future and re-review. Stay tuned!!

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Photo of confer
4.09/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours as black as motor oil with a half-finger tan head that never leaves.
The really isn't much aroma, which is a little surprising.
This bottle I had must have been a young one. It was very bitter and the start but ended with a deep coffee taste that hung around for a long time.
Thick and creamy which i did expect.
The other bottle is going into the basement for at least a year.

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Photo of drdiesel9483
4.34/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Drank this dark stout out of a sniffer. I was suprised with the thickness of the taste itself. Not to strong of an alcohol taste even though it 10+ abv. The beer has a dark chocolate smell with a hint of fruit. Pretty good beer. About what I expected after seeing over reviews.

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Photo of Jmitchell3
4.51/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter from a 12oz bottle. Bottled 10/22/12.

A: Poured thick and black. Dark brown head. medium retention.
S: Thick roasty and chocolate notes, some hints of plum, even a slight pear.
T: Wow. Roasted chocolate, high bitterness for a stout. Slight sweetness on the tip, lingering bitter finish.
M: Thick feel in the mouth. Very full and luxurious.
O: Fantastic, it has aged very well. Better than fresh.

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Photo of chinchill
4.14/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle date stamped with a fill date of 2 Oct. 2012. Served in a Belgian snifter.

Pours opaque and nearly black, but with red-brown highlights at the edges. Small dark tan head soon recedes.

Aroma: semi-sweet and appealing but relatively subtle.

Flavor: Rich and strong, with dark fruits, dark chocolate, dark roasted grains, and a hint of coffee. Approaches 4.5

Creamy smooth, excluding the impact of high ABV,

O: Excellent, but room for improvement as demonstrated by Bell's Black Note Stout.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.31/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on date 7/26/13

A - Pours a motor oil black with a one-finger tan head.

S - Dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, and a hint of dark fruit.

T - Starts off with sweet roasted malts. Dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, and a slight amount of dark fruits follow. Alcohol produces a nice warming.

M - Full bodied with medium carbonation. Sticky syrupy mouthfeel.

O - This a big bold RIS. Delicious.

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Photo of ChrisL24481
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured a pitch dark black color with a thin brown ring of a head which quickly dissipated. Smell and taste was delicious. Consisted of dark chocolates; roasted malts; slight espresso; a touch of breadiness/nutiness. Full bodied beer. Sticky on the mouth and smooth across the tongue. No hint of alcohol on this 10.5% beast. Excellent, enjoyed thoroughly!

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Photo of FLima
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black not allowing any light to go through with a brown thin head.
Interesting aroma with notes of smoke, dark fruits and chocolate.
Bold fruity flavor with notes of Khalua liquor, dark fruits, resin, pine, dark chocolate brownies, light coffee, vanilla and charred wood. Dry aftertaste with strong roasted and smoky notes.
Full body with low carbonation. Alcohol of 10.5% abv is really not there.
Bold, malty and hoppy imperial Stout. A bit too sweet decreasing its potential drinkability.

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

This is the best stout on the planet, IMO. I dont understand how 10 Fidy and Dark Lord are so high up on the top 250 and this isnt even on it! Should be the other way around, IMO!!! I love this beer. Its hands down my favorite Stout.
A- When you pour it, the head is alive. Theres no nitro in this beer, but its the only stout thats ever come close to the "aliveness" that Guinness has. The heads got that brown and almost deep red color to it. Very sticky, very long lasting. Wonderful lacing. PITCH black. You have to turn on an extra light in whatever room it is in because it makes it darker. You can see how well crafted it is.
S- Heres where it really catches my attention.(not that it didnt already have it!) The alcohol is VERY well hidden- a sign of great craftsmanship. I could say things like dark fruit and complex, but I dont dig words like that to describe beer. Its got huge malt character. Chocolate, maybe a little coffee. Definite roastiness.(Is that even a word? It should be) I believe I can smell the yeast, and it is good. Another great thing about it is the hop spice I get, you can almost smell the bitterness. If that makes sense. Balance. Harmony. Beauty. These are words that float through my mind as I smell this.
T- Where to begin... There is a lot happening. If I try, I can taste the alcohol, but its not a distinct flavor, like other certain high ABV stouts Ive had recently(10Fidy). Theres gotta be a ton of hops in this thing because my tongue is dancing. Bitter and floral hops are running around. Theres alot of depth to this beer, deep malt, huge roasted flavor. Not smoke, roast. Dark chocolate, coffee- just a touch. Theres that yeast again, I think... With so much happening, its like each flavor is begging to be noticed. I want to say I taste raisins or figs or something, but at the same time I want to stay far away from words like that. Its something else. It has some kind of woody appearance, like it was in an oak barrel, not a bourbon barrel, just a regular old wooden barrel. I pick that up in the aftertaste. I just love it. Its the epitome of an Imperial Stout. Or at least, IMO, its everything one should be. Its really just excellent.
M- This is a thick stout. Oil comes to mind, but just as Im pouring it, not when actually drinking it. It is so smooth, and just the perfect amount of chewy. Makes me wonder if oatmeal is used to give it that mouth feel. Once again, this is exactly what I look for in an Imperial Stout. Bells really nailed it with this one. This beer will probably always be in my top 5. I love it so much that I really would be sad if I ever found something better, but as that is damn near impossible, Ill be just fine.
Overall, rarely will I give a beer anywhere near a 4.5, because I dont feel most meet those expectations. I dont believe there IS a perfect 5/5. If there was, then you could stop drinking anything else and stop reviewing. Its all about the chase, man. While I think the price could come down about a buck or 2, this is one of the only 6 packs that I feel is actually worth 16-17 bucks. It probly costs alot more for the amount of grains that go into making this big, big brew. The quality is worth the extra dollar. Thank you Bells!

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

Bottle dated 8/22/13.

Appearance: Pours jet black, as expected with a small khaki head that collars quickly.

Smell: Cocoa, graham cracker, roasted malt, dark fruit and some booze heat. Kind of reminds me of Marshal Zhukov's aroma, in that the aroma is nice, but not overwhelming.

Taste: Begins with rich dark chocolate paired with an element of soft cocoa. Middle of the mouth is hop bitterness with nice roast. Finishes pretty bitter with detectable but not by any means overwhelming heat.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, velvety, silky. Very full feel, though not in the realm of Hunahpu viscosity.

Overall: I can see the influence this has on Black Note and am glad I finally got to try it. Can definitely see this getting amazing with age as the bitterness subsides, but it's still not bad at all in its current state.

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Photo of Suds
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark, almost black, this stout is a creamy and thick liquid. It has a brown head, a solid complexion, and a dense, black color. The smell is of grain, burnt sugar, and alcohol. It has a lot of character...warmth, bitterness, and velvety heft. The beer is very full flavored, intense....some malt. Balanced...neither sweet nor dry. Full body. Lengthy and smooth finish.

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Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled in October 2012.

A - Beautiful black, completely opaque with a small, tan head, which fades quickly but maintains mild lacing.

S - Dark fruit and malt and roast, with a strong booze note.

T - Bitterness is the spine, but it is paired with a sweet undercurrent, made up of raisin and plum, chocolate and malts. The addition of a strong liquor element makes this much like biting into a liquor-filled chocolate. But as the sweetness fades, the bitterness remains. It is not a hop bitterness, but more a roasted malt bitterness, of burnt toast and the charred edge of a beef roast.

M - This is complex. Very mild carbonation, but still some acidity. Some warmth from the alcohol, but surprisingly minimal, given the ABV. The beer coats, but not aggressively so.

O - I like certain aspects quite well. The beer holds its ABV well, and with 1-1/2 years, it is not a big, hot mess that it could have been. This is a sipper, and not on drinker. I like my stouts with strong coffee notes, and that is not the game here. Nevertheless, the balance achieved as this ages is a impressive.

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