Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,015 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,015
Hads: 5,646
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 490
Gots: 1,508 | FT: 125
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: 2,015 | Hads: 5,646
Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.14/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to Peanut at the Dilly Deli for hooking me up with this great, rare treat!
The weather is breaking, my favorite beer on cask, how can it get any better.
Pours black with a mocha head that is about an inch and a half and never goes away. There is plenty of lacing "caked" to the side of the glass. This is what a beer should look like.
The smell is not up to par with the bottled version. Hard to pick out a lot of anything in the nose besides loads of roasted malt.
Taste is the most surprising of all. This is hot! The alcohol is so present in this beer that I was taken back by it. An immediate warming sensation engulfs my mouth/nose. Lots of roasted malt and cocoa are present in the taste. But for the most part the taste is dominated by this hot, alcohol taste. It lacks the complexity of the bottled version.
Mouthfeel is incredible. It's an alcoholic chocolate malt. Thick, creamy, smooth. The mouthfeel adds to the drinkability. It makes it very easy to get through. A little too easy.
Expedition never ceases to please. A truly world class beer and one of my favorites.

 1,098 characters

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

12 oz. bottle, batch 7740 - packaged 12/19/06. This fresh, young, yet immense imperial stout pours into my chalice a viscous inky black, and is topped with a thin, dark cappucino head that reduces to a collar. After an hour there is no head, but swirling the beer seems to revive it some. The bouquet is strong and aromatic, yet soft, consisting of roasted, coffee, and chocolate malts, licorice, raisins, plums?, green hops, and hints of red and green apples. Although the aroma is big, it still doesn't prepare you for the amount of flavor and body that this beer throws at you. It tastes of strong, black coffee, bitter charred/roasted malts, tobacco, anise, dark chocolate, leather, green/piney hops, port wine, green apple?, caramel?, and just a touch of alcohol - massive and incredibly tasty. The body is full, coating, drying, and silky smooth, with low/medium carbonation, and a long, roasted/coffee finish. This is an awesome, huge stout that demands respect; consuming it is a truly memorable beer experience that just makes you crave more. I can only imagine how it would improve with age. Mmmm...

 1,109 characters

Photo of DGryger
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black. Opaque black. Seriously, I poured this into a pint glass, held it up to the light and there was not light transmittance through the body. Very impressive. Poured with about a 0.75” viscous coffee/caramel colored head. Would have liked to see more lacing and retention.

Heavy scent of raisins and dried fruits with a malty cocoa scent. Smells sweet.

Bittersweet chocolate and toffee with dried fruit hints, mostly raisin with a little bit of prune. No hop taste detected, but plenty of malt at first but a bit of hoppy bitterness become noticeable as the beer warms.. The perceived imbalance is acceptable because at least malts won’t destroy your tongue. Although as the beer warms the alcohol starts to overpower the other tastes.

Thick and syrupy with a very suitable amount of carbonation. This is a very creamy brew. I wouldn’t consider this a very dry beer, and that is refreshing. Alcohol warming in the finish at first and moves forward with increasing temperature.

For the style I would consider it very drinkable given its sweet smoothness and overall tastiness. However halfway through a bottle the alcohol will start to catch up with you. A little too much alcohol in the beer and I think I could only drink one of these at a time. This is a great beer for a nightcap thought.

 1,365 characters

Photo of bort11
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
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

 417 characters

Photo of dedrinker
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

 469 characters

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.

 347 characters

Photo of treedoctor5002
4.77/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

 711 characters

Photo of Jessefive
3.88/5  rDev -7.8%
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.

 439 characters

Photo of Dubbercody
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

 353 characters

Photo of asabreed
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

 1,887 characters

Photo of russpowell
4.66/5  rDev +10.7%
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

 775 characters

Photo of beermanbrian
4.52/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

 733 characters

Photo of oakbluff
4.25/5  rDev +1%
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.

 685 characters

Photo of Atlas1
3.99/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

 1,020 characters

Photo of oelergud
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
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.


 528 characters

Photo of dfried
4.38/5  rDev +4%
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.

 641 characters

Photo of crwills
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

 950 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 arguemaniac
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

 493 characters

Photo of beerphan
4.25/5  rDev +1%
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.

 794 characters

Photo of techdiver
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

 359 characters

Photo of Chaz
4.77/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

 1,438 characters

Photo of GPHarris
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

 664 characters

Photo of ChazMania
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
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!

 596 characters

Photo of Tyrawlings
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
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!

 807 characters

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 2,015 ratings.