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

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Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

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1,979 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,979
Hads: 5,500
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 11.46%
Wants: 465
Gots: 1,424 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,979 | Hads: 5,500
Photo of sweethome
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I've been drinking this for many years now. I've found the quality to be up and down the last few years. This years model:

Black, opaque as ever. So thick. Actually developed a head, which in some years it does not. Big bubbles in the head leave rocky, surface of the moon apperance.

Huge chocolate nose with some roast, and signature hops fighting through.

The thickest mouthfeel I've ever had - always has been and I still wait for the day something thicker comes along. The heft of this beer is amazing. Somewhat overwhelming, even after having it every winter it shocks me with it's depth.

Chocolate off the tip, but hops present right away too. Mid mouth it delivers a bit of a soy sauce flavor - something I noticed in the 2002 version. That really detracts. But hold on, this comes back for so much more. It fills out with lush chocolate and roast. How the hops fight through the huge amount of malt is beyond me. A liquid chocolate bar - decadent. Pour it over vanilla ice cream - it'll hold up.

Over the top and one of a kind. (1,053 characters)

Photo of silenius
4.83/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Holy Moley!

I really wasn't expecting much from this beer since some other Bell's offerings I find too common.

Appearance: The black hole of beers! I shined a 300W halogen light up to it and could not see a bit of light through the glass! Dark tan espresso crema head that after one year of ageing is still very thick, lively and coats the glass with substantial lacing.

Smell: OHHH! My mom's gingerbread cookies, molasses, dark chocolate and espresso. I could tell this would be good!

Taste: Magnificent dark chocolate, molassess, and espresso. The dark chocolate and espresso linger forever.

Mouthfeel: Thick and creamy. As a beer like this should be.

Drinkability: I can't keep myself from continually taking sip after sip. I think this is my first 5 in drinkability. Excellent, excellent, excellent!!

I will be buying more and more! (859 characters)

Photo of ypsifly
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle with no dates.

Yep, pours like you read about: used motor oil at about 160F. I should know, I changed the oil on my truck this morning. I have the used oil in a pan out in the garage. I'm really tempted to go outside and compare the two in a goblet. Small tan head that disappeared quickly, this was after a rather forced pour.

Smells of alcohol, bread, almonds, cocoa, and a hint of hop. There's some roasted aroma, but its rather slight for the style.

Tastes of mollases, roasted malts, chocolate, and a nice mix of alcohol and hops in the finish. The alcohol comes on with a nice warming affect. The full mouthfeel is what one would expect for the style. Feels like a meal in a bottle, without any carbonation.

This beer suffers only in its drinkability. The high abv alone makes it too much for a session beer. I have a few more bottles cellaring and am anticipating this one after a couple years. Once the alc mellows this will be one kick ass impy. (978 characters)

Photo of profzoom
3.56/5  rDev -15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a bold stout with a thick black color and a gorgeous chocolate milk head. Its high alcohol content is not hidden by its aroma. The sweet malt smell is accompanied by the distinct scent of alcohol. The taste is similar; robust, almost tangy malts which are unable to mask the taste of the alcohol. This is a beer one must definitely sit down and experience. It's not for relaxing or shooting the breeze. Like many of Bell's beers, it is of high quality but doesn't stand out as something exceptional. (507 characters)

Photo of Fish113d
4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a bottle into a pint, this poured a very dark "black" color with some ruby tints when held into the light at the surface, but not much light got through the glass. No head at all on a rather gentle pour. Aromas are of some roasted malts with hints of chocolate and some earthy hops in there. Nicely balanced aromas and nothing stood out more than the other. Taking a sip, the roasted malts I tasted right away, but this soon gives way to coffee and chocolate flavors by the swallow w/ a nice sweet caramel finish; pretty darn complex. Little carbonation let the flavors burst onto my palete, and the smoothness was incredible! Overall, I would drink this all day if I could, or until I fell over in a drunken stooper! Great brew! (741 characters)

Photo of jlervine
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured used diesel oil black and about as thick. Copper head tried really hard to stay put, but succumbed very quickly. Wonderful coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt flavors swirl in a mist of earthy medicinal hop bitterness. Sure does smell delicious! The first taste just totally sucker punches your mouth. Numbing alcohol and tingling carbonation (hey, guess there WAS some in there after all!) set the stage for a toffee and mocha orgy on the tongue. Lots of chocolate and roasted barley in there. Hop bitterness is present but is more or less chaperoning this dance, making sure that the malts and alcohol don't get too close during the slow songs. The mouthfeel is much less thick than I was anticipating. Kinda disappointing, but it's by no means thin. The strong roasted character gives a very noticeable astringency to the finish that makes this beer not very thirst-quenching at all. That's no problem, though, as the mere thought of another sip is mouth-watering enough in its own right. A surprisingly drinkable impy! (1,029 characters)

Photo of assurbanipaul
3.96/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours motor-oil black with ruby highlights, including the darkest, thickest meaty head I've seen. Looks like oatmeal floating on top, settles to a thin ring after a while. Aroma is dark malts, pungent but with a fruity, smokey element.

This is a story of two beers in the same glass: At first, the taste is dark burnt malts, almost charcoal, like the crust on a grilled chicken. Has a vinous element, like a merlot spilled into the batch. Very bitter, almost no sweetness, a little salty. Drinks hot with alcohol, like a barleywine.

But after being interrupted by a phone call and returning to the remainder of the glass, this beer awakens: Traces of coffee, raisins, licorice, baker's cocoa. Still with a prominent alcohol presence but silky smooth on the palate, heavy with no apparent carbonation.

Mouthfeel is thick like flannel, fuzzy and sticky. Initially, I was rather nonplussed by this one but the taste and my impressions and ratings improved greatly as the beer warmed. This is one where the rhetoric is true: you *must* let it warm up to just cool before drinking it. I'd like to try this one again after aging it a bit. Thanks to trbeer for sharing this one. (1,180 characters)

Photo of vladtheimpaler
4.48/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle aged 1 year. Deep dark brown with a lasting dark tan head. Real nice aroma of coffee, chocolate (dark), carmel, vanilla, and a touch of alcohol carrying the fragrances up the snifter. Flavor is roasty and smooth, with big chocolate malts and roasted barley bitterness. Big thick palate. Bitterness lingers. This is an ager, for to age gets rid of the hot alcohol burn that is present when young. Should be present en every BA's cellar! (448 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.77/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Two bottles of Expedition were tasted side by side for this review. One was roughly 6 months to a year old, while the other was around 2 years old. Neither bottle showed any defect, but the 2 year old was remarkably smoother and far more caramelish as some of the roastiness and hop character had softened. Both were quite similar, but the aged bottle was stellar. This scoring for this review is based on the aged bottle, but even if the newer sample had been rated it would have scored almost as high.

A completely opaque black body is capped by a good-sized head of frothy dark tan foam with a slightly reddish tint to it. The alcohol cuts the head a bit, and it dies a slow death; but, surprisingly, it maintains a solid surface covering and the spotty and splashy lacing it leaves is very nice!

The nose is rich and bold, loaded with bittersweet chocolate, some simple, straight-forward graininess, and a whiff of citrusy hops (a little quirky - but it works!); and accentuated by a thin thread of dark fruitiness and background whiffs of espresso, dark caramel, nutty toffee, and alcohol. And although it's not overtly complex, simply based on its richness, this is a beer that could be enjoyed based on just the nose alone - although the temptation to partake of its flavors would be too great for any man to resist!

In the mouth it's exceptionally creamy and rich with a very full body and exceptionally fine-bubbled, restrained carbonation that leaves it overtly creamy and velvety smooth! WOW!

The flavor, however, is more full-throttle than that! It's almost too much to comprehend - and yet again, it never goes too far out on a limb in it's complexity. It's succulently rich, but not confusingly diverse. Upfront, rich caramel lathers the palate; followed by a mild slap of fruitiness (apple, very soft prune, figs) and notes of toffee and mocha. It's always slightly awash in alcohol (although it's never agressive); and as it crosses the palate a smear of leafy and grassy hops appears (far more so in the younger version than the 2 year old), ushering in a drying bitterness and some mild licorice flavors. It lingers in the mouth, seemingly forever, not unlike the smoke from a good cigar; an amazing cup of cappuchino; or some caramel-chocolate-coffee-and-liquor-drenched dessert. Again, this is STUNNING! This is an amazing beer to cellar, believe me!!!! Go get some now for next year or the year after! (2,436 characters)

Photo of ahking
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was very impressed by the flavor and complexity of this brew. Kalamazoo/Bell's has so many stouts out there right now that I usually just throw up my hands and pick something else. But I ordered this in a bar in Detroit and was glad I did. High alcohol is evident at first sip and this can be a good thing after a snow storm. Pour thick as motor oil. Hints of coffee and chocolate in the nose. Flavor is rich with molasses and brown sugar goodness. Low on carbonation, but this is to be expected for this style. Highly recommeded. (532 characters)

Photo of skybluewater
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a coal-black color. Smells of coffee beans and maybe a bit of chocolate, as well as some prune. Taste is actually very good. Bitter like espresso, with some chocolate and some fruitiness (rather like chocolate-covered cherries). Mouthfeel is milkshake thick, with almost no alcohol burn.

To be honest, I haven't liked any of the previous Bell's beers I've tried. They just to me. As such, I was very reluctant to drop even $2.50 on this bottle. But, with the bitter cold upon us, I was in the mood for an impy, and I had (obviously) never tried this one. I'm glad I did. This is a very good brew. While I like Storm King, Old Raspy, and Yeti a bit more, I'm glad to know that there's one more great imperial available to me! (748 characters)

Photo of kmpitz2
4.16/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a jet black color with a quarter inch of brown head that falls to ring the beer. The nose is full of dark fruits, more like a belgian quad to me than an impy stout. The flavor is more roated than the nose would say. There is a bit of dark fruit but a ton of chocolate and big coffee on the finish. The beer is just as thick as could ever be. Maybe even more than the breakfast stout. Drinkability is nice. The thickness and the flavor keep it from being a 5 on drinkability, but this is a damn nice stout. (521 characters)

Photo of carln26
3.73/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

From a bottle (thanks Zac!). It poured a deep black color with virtually no head, and a thin brown lace. Deep roasted malt smell with a backing of caramel and chocolate. The taste is a rosy malt explosion.
More chocolate, and a mild alcohol bite. More caramel and a mild hop backing on the finish. That velvet mouth feel I now expect with Bell's. Reasonable drinkability (especially considering the alcohol content). (417 characters)

Photo of Starchild
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured the beer into my Rapscallion and got a huge fluffy head that took some time to settle...just like HOTD Adam. Wow. Mostly malt in the nose with some hints of alcohol, cocoa, and prunes. After my first taste, all I can think is chewy. The weight of this beer makes me feel like I'm drinking brownie mix. As the beer warms alcohol makes its apearance, along with figs, burnt malt, semi-sweet chocolate, and piney hops. As the beer warms it goes from being sweet to sour and then maybe even to malty (feels like a jam band song). Anyway, quite an interesting RIS and well worth the price.

Gripe: Not knowing the age of this beer blows. (644 characters)

Photo of mntlover
4.78/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a black on black with a dark tan head that falls to a ring with clumps of foam floating in the middle, some light spotty lace not bad for 11.5% brew.
Aroma is lots roasted malt nutty chocolate mixed with nice expresso and citrus grassy mix of hops brought forth by light alcohol presence.
Taste is creamy and dreamy chocolate mixed with some nuts that lasts for a while, Then some bitter coffee like flavors appear and hops pick up on them and add there own bitterness to the coffee and intensify then drop off. Finish is lightly hoppy and sweet at the same time, chocolate flavors reappear at the end. This is a very complex very nice Impy Stout. No real alcohol in the taste, except for hints in the finish, but it does warm the body.
Mouthfeel is very full, creamy very nice, almost think you could cut out chunks with a knife.
Drinkability is great goes down quick for a big beer finished by the time it took to type down my thoughts. This will be on my list of beers to pick up when I make to a store up north. Very grateful to merlin48 for the chance to sample this masterpiece, one of many great brews he has provided me with. (1,148 characters)

Photo of swamiswamu
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a huge beer, the sears tower of beer. It looks like spent motor oil with a brown head. The taste reminds me of the "hungry, hungry homer" Simpsons episode when Duff has a chemical to add to Duff's malty goodness. It was what an imperial should be, a much bigger version. I can't drink more than one because it is just that big. (335 characters)

Photo of sulldaddy
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am drinking this brew courtesy of Mentor and Secret Santa. Thanks man!
THe beer pours incredibly dark black with ZERO light escaping. A dark brown creamy head of .5 cm foams up and fades to an edge layer rather quickly. Aroma is nice and balanced with a mix of roasted malt, coffee and chocolate and a bit of earthy and grassy hops. First sip reveals a rather thick body and small yet prickly carbonation. Flavor is coffee bitter up front with a hint of grassy hops in the middle and a smooth chocolate finish. A very well balanced beer and quite tasty. Very nice brew, well worth it if you see it! (601 characters)

Photo of fdrich29
3.67/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Feloniousmonk thank you for this brew.

Poured BLACK. Thick chocolate milk head that reduced to a quarter inch.

Smells like chocoate fudge and nuts.

Tastes like chocolate fudge and nuts.

Mouthfell is weird. Coats the roof of your mouth. Strange sensation.
It's like your drinking something that isn't supposed to be liquid.

Great smell and taste, but the mouthfeel is, well, odd. Worth a try, I'm on the fence with this one. Maybe another sample would help. (474 characters)

Photo of santoslhalper
4.97/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearence: Pours a midnight black with a dark, chocolaty head. Leaves decent lacing. A near-perfect looking stout.

Smell: Smells of roasted nuts and chocolate with a little bit of hops shining through. Stout heaven. The sniff of all sniffs.

Taste and Mouthfeel: This tastes like a steak!! Its a steak in a bottle! Fabulously complex and perfectly balanced. There's no alcohol there what-so-ever. A huge, grand tasting beer that has to be sipped to be understood. Rich, malty goodness with a great amount of hops finishing off this well-rounded beer. I can't say enough, the best tasting stout I've had to date. Feels nice and chewy in the mouth with a rich, creamy texture that just doesn't quit.

Drinkability and Overall: I didn't think my long-time favorite Storm King could be topped, but goddammit this did it. Bell's totally suprised me with this. If this were more readily available this might be one of the few beers I drink. This is my new desert island beer. As close to perfection in a stout as you can get. Unbelievable. (1,041 characters)

Photo of CSquared
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle donated by Ninjaworm

appearance: can't get any better than this for a stout. midnight black with a huge dark brown head. the head is dimpled and looks like it could suspend small objects.

aroma: bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted coffee, roasted malt, and slightly burnt notes.

taste: the taste is huge on this beer, with flavors of chocolate and coffee reflected in the aroma. mild notes of alcohol, amazingly few for such a big beer.

mouthfeel/drinkability: thick and chewy, this beer has loads of body. a wonderful wintertime beer. for the style, this a moderately drinkable stout (611 characters)

Photo of rajendra82
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Arriving as a part of a trade from clvand0, this beer was in an ordinary looking brown 12 oz. bottle. Once the cap was popped the word ordinary left my vocabulary immediately.

Very thick and viscous with a dark brown body and little to no head to speak of, this was one robust looking drink. The lack of head is understandable given the strength of the beer.

The aroma was roasty and vinous with chocolate, coffee, smoke, raisins, and roasted grains abounding. The taste was mellow and smooth, with flavors of dark chocolate, creamed coffee, toffee, and raisins soaked in brandy. With all the sweet and roasty flavors, the hop bitterness had taken a back seat.

Mouthfeel was thick and tongue numbingly rich. The aftertaste was a bit peppery and alcoholic.

Very nice example of an Imperial Stout. (807 characters)

Photo of Dithyramb
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just received via BIF 14. This is my second beer of the eight received. Mad props to Signor CRJMellor for his excellent trade opinions. Presentation was a bottle matching the photo. No freshness or bottling date was evident.

This is the deepest, darkest blackness that I’ve seen for some time. Appears to have an oily, thick goodness and it is completely opaque. Only loses points for the lack of carbonation. Initial pour was tepid, with no head. I held back, since my last few stouts were the “Love Stout,” with its heavy fizziness. Dumped the rest in, the forceful pour left a quarter inched, small bubbled, dark brown head that left quickly. No carbonation or lacing to speak of.

Slightly burnt caramel and roasted coffee aromas.
A very diverse mixture of flavors is available. There are some darker roasted malts, with both chocolate and espresso evident. Hops dance around on the finish.
ABV warmness creeps in after a nice creamy bodied beverage. Leaves your mouth warm, dry, and slightly acidic. Has the same slight flatness that I recently experienced with the Czar. (1,087 characters)

Photo of BrewMaster
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz bottle with no freshness markings on it. It pours an impervious black and brown color with no true head on it, just a ring of bubbles around the top.

Smell: Toffee, coffee, soy sauce, uncooked semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Taste: Very rich and roasty from the start with notes of chocolate, roasty coffee, caramel, and burnt oak. The beginning is very sweet and it yields to a bit of hop bitterness towards the middle and the end. As the beer warms there is a sour sweetness that develops. An alcohol warmth sits in the mouth and warms the whole body.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth in the mouth. The bold flavors are delivered well with the smooth texture. (688 characters)

Photo of trumick
4.07/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black very little light penetrates if at all. There is very little head that hangs around for a bit with nice lacing all around.

Smell is of sweet molasses, burnt coffee, dark fruits and chocolate.

Taste is right on with the nose burnt coffee, sweet dark malts chocolate and hops. It finishes dry and with a nice burnt coffee dark bitter chocolate that goes on froever. There is an alcohol taste. I can tell it is there, almost overwhelming, it's also warming.

Mouthfeel is smooth and full bodied, robust with just the right amount of carbination, I would even call it creamy.

Drinkability would be great but for the abv. The abv. is too noticeable. It stands out and that puts it lower on the drinkability scale. (731 characters)

Photo of bashiba
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours completely black with a a thin dark tan head.

Smells of Burnt Coffee, Dark Chocolate, and heavy toffee flavors.

Taste is great, dark expresso flavor with heavy amounts of chocolate with a sweet toffee maltyness breaking through and finishing with a suprisingly strong amount of hops that really balance this beer out very well.

Mouthfeel is a thick motor oil like consistancy, seems to run down your throat with the speed of lava, I had to stop and chew a couple times. Plus the ABV lends to a nice fuzzy tongue tingling. Fantastic.

Drinkability is very good for a beer on this scale of big and bold. Highly recommended. (638 characters)

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
93 out of 100 based on 1,979 ratings.