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

5,470 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,470
Reviews: 2,012
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 10.59%
Wants: 465
Gots: 1,402 | FT: 113
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: 5,470 | Reviews: 2,012
Photo of bort11
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into an Imperial pint glass. Mild tan head that recedes to a thin ring. Color is pure black, no light can penetrate the glass.
Smell is a roasted espresso. Very bold, I can smell it without putting my nose in the glass. Taste follows smell. Very bold espresso flavor. Mouthfeel is full bodied, with a little more carbonation than what I would expect.
Very good RIS, and I would love to have more

Photo of dedrinker
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Mmm. Used motor oil. Chocolate with booze filling. Brazil nuts dusted in cocoa powder. Monstrous, full bodied, lingering, viscous. If your stomach experiences high viscosity break-down, then a bottle of this ought to lube your chassis. If you don't try it fresh enough (as I did my first time) it might just seem dense, heavy, oily - a lot of malty heft without much complexity or depth, but this time around I got in peak condidtion and the layers revealed themselves.

Photo of ClockworkOrange
4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a shaker glass. Appears an opaque black with two fingers of dark tan creamy head. Smells of dark chocolate and coffee. Tastes of fresh roasted espresso beans, and sharp hops. Very rich and full bodied. The hop bite lingers in the finish. Alcohol is well hidden. Delicious and satisfying. Highly recommended. Cheers.

Photo of treedoctor5002
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

First of all this is by far the thickest and darkest beer I've ever had.
Pours more like a quart of used motor oil than a beer and has a thin dark tan head to it.
At first it's like drinking liquid dark chocolate. I detected some maple, molasses, rum raison and coffee flavors. Finish is full of roasted malt flavors. I could only sip this beer at first but as it warmed up it got smoother and smoother. Kind of odd in a way. You really have to let this one warm up to get the full effect. Slightly high on the alcohol level so I had to mark it down just a notch for drinkability. Not for the faint of heart! The most complex stout I've ever tried. If your buddy says he's a beer guy, test him with this one.

Photo of Jessefive
3.88/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Bells, and my first Imperial Stout. As I expected, the color was the darkest black. A creamy thick body. The flavor was dark chocolate with a soft fruity sweetness hidden in there. There was a little roasted malt flavor, but it wasn't nearly as prominent as I would have imagined. It had a bitter finish. As it warmed a bit, the bitterness of the alcohol and hops became more prominent. Overall, a very tasty and interesting beer.

Photo of Dubbercody
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 7205

Thick and dark and viscous in that freaking awesome imperial way. Good warming, a bit of a ABV burn that I would foresee mellowing out with a bit more age on it. I would love to try a few year old bottle of this.

I have to say I love this style of beer, gotta enjoy it when you can, cause I won't be cold forever...damn global warming.

Photo of asabreed
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into a Thomas Hardy's snifter.

Appearance: With the ABV and the style you know the darkness will be present, and surely it is. Wish there was more lacing and more retention, but still, this sucker lives up mostly to its wishes of pure oblivion.

Smell: I've been drinking this for a long time in the snifter, and I wanted to wait until it warmed to close to room temperature say some words. The initial aroma's all chalky burnt and roasted malts with some sourness, along with some bitter chocolate, and of course as I said previously, any malt character is heavily roasted and charcoaled to the ends of the earth. Still a good thing, but I think with the high ABV, that's the thing that's possibly bringing it to a lower level.

Taste: What's dominating here is the sourness, the burnt malt, the roasted chocolate, and the slight citrus from the hops. Lots of complexity without a lot of balance and depth, or at least as much as I had hoped for. Granted, this is still young, and yes, its tasty and warming, but I feel like the aging process may have to be a part of this brew for it to do good things in the future.

Mouthfeel: Thick yet almost powdery, which somehow works for this. More carbonation could make it worse, yet it could do some great things for it.

Drinkability: I'd liken this to Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout or possible Thirsty Dog's Siberian Night, but what's missing here is the visceral, creamy, heady, and ultimately thick and malty delicious nature of those brews. I was a bit taken aback with the hype of this brew, and now that makes sense, as I don't personally think the ratings are giving it the experience I'd hoped. Still, I enjoyed it, and I can certainly see years bringing good things to this. Not sure I'd spring for a sixer in its green nature, but the one bottle I purchased certainly was anything but a bad decision.

Photo of russpowell
4.66/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Props to zrrbrrt for this one.

Pours a deep mahogany with a rocky 2 fingers deep dirt/mocha colored head. Great lacing ( small dark flecks are glued to the glass almost like tiny grains of glass or obsidian) & very good head retention

S: Rich chocolate, plums & toast

T: Huge roasted malt & bitter chocolate up front. Iron, burnt coffee dark choclate follow as this warms up. This made me think of a choclate malted milk with booze pulsing through its body. Finishes with a flourish of choclate, hint of booze, a kiss of iron & roasted grain bitterness.

MF: Rich & chewy, makes me thik Christmas pudding! Very low carbonation.

The chewyness kind of detracts form the drinkability, but a lovely fireside sipper that demands respect & adoration. A great Russian IMP stout

Photo of beermanbrian
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oil black in color with a a thin tan head that foams up to only 1/4 inch with a heavy pour. The head is the foamy fine bubbled consistancy and has a slightly reddish tint to it. Smell hits you with a huge wash of flavors. Dark fruits are the most prominant followed by coffee, chocolate and the other typical stout flavors. Also, as it warms you get a real wiff of the high ABV. The taste is just as enjoyable as the smell. I think beer might have the most prominant dark fruit flavors of any stout i've ever tasted. Finishes with some nice bitterness and some alchohol burn. Overall a wonderful beer. Hurt a little on drinkability due to the high ABV. I couldn't see having more than 2 in a night and really 1 is just about perfect.

Photo of oakbluff
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I thought this beverage would be appropriate considering it is -35 degrees celsius out tonight.

Pours out like ten month old motor oil from my car. I had to run upstairs to get the knife and fork for this baby. Wow that is a thick stout. Hops are quite pronounced even though there is obviously an avalanche of malt here. Chocolate, plum, raisins, hops are main tastes. As thick as it is at the beginning, it actually finishes lightly and dry. carbonation is medium to low, but is at an appropriate level for this style.

A slow sipper for sure, but a perfect match for a soul sucking cold ass night. I'm looking forward to aging a couple of these to see how it/if it mellows out.

Photo of Atlas1
3.99/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a generic pint glass. This beer is deep pitch black. I hold it up to the light and nothing gets through. A seriously dark stout. Very nice. Pours a fat, heavy two-finger head which is a burnt orange color. It is thick and sticky, and cakes along the side of the glass as the beer recedes, leaving a very nice lace. It's strange, but I just don't get much out of the aroma here. I would have expected more, but the aroma is thin, with some slight coffee notes and hints of hoppiness. But otherwise, there's just not much in the way of aroma here. However, what it lacks in smell is made up for in flavor. This beer is delicious. Creamy, dark chocolate sweetnees mixed with a bitter coffee taste. It is nutty as well. Finishes with a noticeable amount of heat; you can really taste the alcohol in the aftertaste. Still, it's not a huge distraction, but it's just too hard to hide all of that 11.5% ABV. A wonderful winter brew, this stout will definitely keep you warm on a cold February night.

Photo of oelergud
4.53/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Completely opaque black body with a silken brown head. Great lace and good retention.
Strong sweet malts, roasted burnt expresso beans. Vanilla and powerful nutskin bitterness.
Taste has all the elements of the smell but expands into a rough smoked hop experience mingled with bitter roasted chocolate beans and expresso. Almond bitter aftertaste and smoke undulating along hoppy notes.
Full thick body, lots of residual sugars and decent coating.
Very high drinkability but watch the abv, it'll kick your ass.

-Oelergud

Photo of dfried
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black as night, thick and oily, dark tan head like creme brule almost. The aroma was of rich molasses, black licorice, chocolate and coco powder, and some tropical fruity notes. Some alcohol lingered but I wont knock you off your seat. A lot of coco powder in the taste as well, fruity flavors, pears, a lot of black cherry. Quite sweet and tart. Some black licorice and coffee in the background. Very rich and creamy mouthfeel, silky.

Verdict: one of the better RISs out there in my opinion. The flavors come together very well, and while it is a sipping beer, it is easy to get lost, look down, and see that it is gone and want another.

Photo of crwills
4.54/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The highlight of a pre-Christmas trade with CBA out in Alberta; thanks Chris, this was awesome!

Poured an opaque, jet black into my Sinha glass. A slightly pinkish, relatively small chocolate-milk head fades fast but leaves a ton of brown lacing.

Aroma is very dark and planty. Licorice and anise, damp roots, milk chocolate, and good Caribbean rum. Just fantastic.

Taste was very bitter (moreso than I expected). Damp earth and plants right up front, which evolved into dry coffee or espresso and cocoa beans in the middle. Some warming alcohol and toffee as well. Finish is oaky vanilla, with a little bit of those grapefruit/pine citrus hops coming through in the aftertaste. Complex as hell, all the way through.

Mouthfeel is extremely smooth and milk- or cream-like, with almost no carbonation. Only dropped marks for drinkability due to the ABV and the fact that I couldn't finish more than one.

One of my top beers of all time.

Photo of Bitterbill
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
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!!!

Photo of arguemaniac
4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a viscous, opaque black with a long-lasting, creamy brown head. Chocolately, roasted aroma. Big chocolate and bitter coffee in the rich, burnt palate. Dark fruit and a fairly intense malt sweetness make their way through as well. Intense coffee and burnt grain in the robust finish.

I’ve heard good things about this one and I would say it lives up to the hype. It’s rich and complex with a nice balance between the rich malt sweetness and bitter, burnt flavors. Highly recommended.

Photo of beerphan
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle
batch# 7740
packaged 12/19/2006 according to http://www.bellsbeer.com/

Pours black with a full 2inch dark tan head that calmly settles to a thick blanket, then a small film. Lacing is minimal.

Nose: Roasted chocolate malts, some mild dark fruit, a tad bit of sour apple, and some piney hops. Alcohol becomes present with some time.

Taste: Roasted dark malts gives chocolate, plum, and coffee. Finishes with a stiff drying bitterness that balances the complex roasted flavors well. Flavors seem a little more sharp, than the mellow balance i got from the tap this afternoon at Vintage Beer and Wine in Boardman, OH.

Mouth is thick and chewy.

An imperial stout that could be sipped delicately during long winter sessions. The 11.5% is well hidden and packs a wallop.

Photo of techdiver
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dense black with a modest head that dissipates quickly.

Chocolate, coffee, and anise to the nose.

Taste of coffee and roasted malt. So smooth and decadent, with a hint of alcohol in the finish.

Coats the mouth as one of the densest brews I've tried. The taste just lingers.

Quite drinkable concidering the ABV, which is really well hidden.

Photo of Chaz
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in a logoed Bell's tulip. Looks black as pitch! Head is dark tan / mahoganny, about half a finger with very good duration and excellent lacing, and served in this glassware it looks better than ever! Nose is everything I've come to expect in this brew, a near perfect blend of espresso, roasted and dark malts, and yeast. I let the glass warm a bit out of custom, but on first sip it is tangy, bittersweet, and roasty all at once. The lingering bitterness and roasted malt / espresso notes really stick in yer craw. Rather full mouthfeel and rather complex, with broad strokes of green apple, licorice, and molasses. Boozy? Yes and no: there's no arguing with 11.5%, but it's so well hidden here that it would be somewhat easy to drink this all night, and more than one of these in a sitting can be downright dangerous! As it warms the notes of bitter chocolate and light, dusty cocoa emerge and begin a nuanced and masterful interplay with the bigger, broader flavors mentioned above. Hop use is just about perfect: this isn't a style or a rendition that will suit everyone, but Bell's have thankfully resisted the 'bigger is better' approach to bittering hops that resulted in the Imperial IPA style. Carbonation is great here, and apart from one rather infamous batch has always been so. Full-bodied but not heavy, and warming rather than hot. Well balanced but not-quite sessionable . . . this is the epitome of a sipping beer.

Photo of GPHarris
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a - poured a three fingers thick dark brown head into a pint glass. the head clings to the glass as it dissipates. the body is black as night and leaves a thick ring of lace throughout. this is an amazing looking brew.
s - light hints of chocolate and coffee. it is the definition of light done right. there's just enough to awaken the senses but not so much that it is overwhelmingly strong.
t - chocolate, oats, malt and cherry, a very complex beer.
m - medium body, smooth and it really coats the tongue.
d - gives a nice warming sensation and the alcohol begins to mellow towards the finish. this beer will be spectacular after one year plus of cellaring.

Photo of ChazMania
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - this is one thick beer. It looks like pouring Penzoil into the pint glass.Not much of a head and very very dark.

S- molasses and brown sugar with hints of cocoa and mocha.

T- this is very complex. It is strong, full and over the top in a good way. I taste everything that I smell and this beer engulfs the full flavor palate. One of the best stouts I have been honored to have.

M- really does feel thick and syrup like. not carbonated nor fizzy.

D- man, I can only hope to sample this beer again. It's not easy to find here and I paid big for this bottle, but it was worth it!

Photo of Tyrawlings
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Edition: 12oz. Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Brew pours like black sludge. Very little if any cinnamon brown head. Virtually no lacing.

S: Smells of roasted coffee. Dark chocolate. Sweet molasses and earth. Oak barrel and alcohol.

T: Rich roasted coffee is followed by dark bitter cocoa. Dark fruit and sweet molasses meld together well with burnt malts. The beer finishes a smooth bourbon oak barrel flavor and warming alcohol with vanilla undertones.

M: Extremely thick. Creamy and chewy. No carbination and very dry due to the alcohol bite.

D: A magical elixir! The perfect brew to warm the soul on the most bitter cold winter evenings. A special treat that is to be sipped and savored over time. I highly recommend aging this beer for at least one year before trying. Must try!

Photo of budgood1
5/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

expedition stout pours out an opaque pitch black, ruby hued, motor oil like colour. a rather impressive dark tan head dies down slowly to tight rings of lace. looks beautiful. the first aroma to hit the nostrils is all fusel driven hops, followed by sturdy doses of alcohol laced fruiten maltiness. upon tasting...my first impression is one of raw, varnish like alcohol...laquered fruitcake...wooden, oaky, smoken notes...black malted barely roasted on an open fire. all sorts of layered chocolate and caramel flavours...just delicious in it's evil decadence. "oh yeah....i think so!" very yeasty in the bell's sort of way (very fruity) but absolutely not sour or tart. brandy, red wine notes, and a bitter but tasty hop balance of some citric zest. silky smooth, rich, creamy mouthfeel. much too easy to drink for such a high ABV brew. finishes with a fire in my belly and a smile on my face. bell's brewing brilliance at it's finest. amazing!! this is almost perfect. a superb sipper for a northern minnesota winter. the quintessential fireside brew.

a massive thank you to feloniousmonk for sending out my first sample fall of '03.

the re-review is from batch 7251 bought fall of '06.

Photo of doubleshovels
4.08/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Great pour. Its well oiled and lacy head sticks to the glass and stays there. Great depth and reflective blackness in the colour with only a hint of maghony around the bottom rim, while under the "beer review" halogen light.

For such a strong and bold appearance, this RIS has more then a hint of fruit and flowers in its bouquet. I never would have guessed, but I like it there.

Real clean on the mouthfeel and drinkability. Its alcohol is not hiden,but at the same time it lets all the flavors through, even if its one by one. Dark-n-sour fruit, molasses, dark chocolate, aged tobacco, and licorice.

Photo of msubulldog25
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to melbatoast93 for this 12 oz. bottle, poured to a Millevertus sampling glass. From Batch 7251.

A: Viscous and deep dark brown, a shade shy of black. Traces of auburn around the edges. Not much head, just a few wisps of mocha-colored film with random splotches of lace.

S: Dark fruit, charred malt, heavy on the molasses with vanilla. A cocoa chocolate covered coffee bean at the core. Sugary caramel is a surprise from the depths of this darkness.

T: Dark bittersweet chocolate, syrupy molasses, ripe raisins and ground coffee. Oak-y vanilla with some warm alcoholic flair in the finish. Flavors intensify as the beer warms...a rich & decadent treat.

M: Thick oily mouthfeel, full of flavor that clings to all surfaces in the mouth. Bitter coffee finish that lingers for several minutes. Creamy texture and remarkable smoothness.

D: A satisfyingly rich pour. Well-balanced between its sweetness and bitterness, this is one I would gladly enjoy again and again. An excellent sipping beer that I heartily recommend.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 5,470 ratings.