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 gimmehead
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a thin chocolate milk head. Looks like dessert. Big aroma consisting of bittersweet chocolate roasted malts with a slightly burnt or acrid ( but not offensive) note. Also a nice black licorice, raisiny alcohol mix. I swirled the last few ounces around in my snifter for what seemed like hours, and almost couldn't bear to end the aromatic romance by drinking it. Outstanding. The flavor outdoes the nose! Roasted caramel malts, a rich smokiness and bitter coffee hit you up front with with a sweet raisiny alcohol warmth bringing up the rear. Mouthfeel is very thick, I almost needed silverware. The perfect after dinner drink.

Photo of isubsmith
3.6/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours like beer syrup. Extra dark. Large thick brown head.

Smell: Wow. Very very strong aroma. Lots of chocolate and strong espresso coffee tastes. Faint hints of the high alcohol. Lots of roasty smells.

Taste: Bitter chocolate and bitter espresso. Lots of hops. Rather creamy mouthfeel. Bitter roasty flavors linger on the tongue.

Drinkability: Not the most drinkable imperial stout. Too bitter for me. It's hard to drink anything after this beer. I've certainly had other imperial stouts that don't leave such a lingering taste.

Photo of RonfromJersey
4.58/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Secret Santa 2004 # 11

Total black hole body, topped by a extremely dark tan head which rose about the rim of the glass before leveling at a solid two fingers in the pint glass. Excellent lacing. Note: I don't deduct for bad labels, which is a good thing. Awful bland package considering the contents.

Deep roasty nose of dark chocolate, expresso, and licorice.

Each taste explodes across the tongue, a deep roasted surge of darkness: chocolate and coffee, dark fruits, with a sharp hop snap, and a small burst of alcoholic warming. Roasty aftertaste lingers on.

Full? hell yeah, and slicky oily.

Drinkability: this is actually a challenge to sip, so intense is each taste.

An expedition into the heart of darkness, well worth the journey.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.9/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ahhh...another Russian Imperial Stout that I have been longing after....pours from the bottle amazingly thick and syrupy, like I just let the old oil flow while I was doing an oil change on my car. A nice creamy dark tan head develops and then slowly fades to a ring with spotty lacing on the glass. I think this brew actually absorbs light. Awesome. First smell brings intensly rich, dark chocolate, molasses, roasted/toasted malts, hints of coffee with a heaping helping of dark fruits..a bit vinous. Fucking decadent...a punch in the nose...the aromas coming off this brew are big and in your face....killer.

First sip brings a tidal wave of roasted, slightly burnt maltiness upfront along with a nice helping of chocolate, dark molasses, and dark, vinous fruits. I'm getting some good pine hoppy bitterness on the way down along with hints of coffee. Incredibly well put together and a joy to drink. Alcohol is nearly non existant in the taste. Simply an amazing imperial stout.

Mouthfeel is big, thick and creamy. Give this to people who say Guinness is a meal in a glass and watch them shit their pants in astonishment. As for me....this is how I like my Russian Imperial Stout...huge. Obviously...this is not a session brew by any means..but it is an incredibly tasty treat that no one should miss out on. Cheers to Bell's for producing one of the best brews I've had the chance to sample!!

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

Deep inky black pour into a tulip with a very thing very brown head that quickly dissipated. Smell is of chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, and I thought maybe some nutmeg or vanilla. Taste has lots of the same coffee and chocolate flavors with roasted malt backed up by a huge thick mouthfeel. Surprisingly smooth and drinkable for such a thick, high ABV brew; one of the better stouts I've had this winter.

Photo of BeerFink
4.78/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Once liberated from the bottle, this stout sits black as a moonless night with a very thin brown head. Aroma has good strength, with smells of coffee, chocolate and malt. I also catch a whiff of raisins and caramel. Delightfully thick mouthfeel coats your mouth like cough syrup, and low carbonation does not offer much relief. Quite the big stout feeling - you almost have to chew it. The blend of malts is wonderful - slighty smokey roasted malts are huge in the beginning. Then you notice the dark fruits, I'm thinking cherry and raisin. Then come the glorious hops. Delightfully bitter citrous taste finishes as the stout coats your throat. The aftertaste is a damn near perfect blend of roasted malt and citrous hops, heightened by a warming alcohol taste. Possibly my favorite RIS now. Highly recommended for lovers of this style, but beware, this is one huge stout.

Photo of GreenWBush
4.68/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

In a chalice, this beer provided me a glimpse of visual beer nirvana. A vigorous pour kicked up a more than healthy stack of satanically dark head and storm-cloud drapery. It meringued a full 2" above the rim of the glass. Surface tension, meet Larry Bell. Outrageously gorgeous.

The nose of this beer is a car-crash of ridiculously gooey sweetness and a tanker truck of roastiness. Baker's chocolate soaked in boozy fudge.

The taste of this beer is less explosive, and while amazingly viscous it still has a remarkably un-fat mouth cloaking capacity to it. Thin or watery isn't it, but not necessarily what you expect for something so filled (and filling). It has to be experienced.

Bitterness and sweetness have never existed in such harmony on these taste buds before. This beer is everything, oily, gooey, roasty, stupidly sweet, mouth-meltingly stark and chocolately. I can't believe the lack of booze. Best of both overblown worlds? I think so.

Photo of Gaisgeil
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ever wonder what motor oil tastes like? Me either, but that's what this looks like coming from the bottle. Incredibly thick and dark dark black in color with a dark brown head to compliment.

Nose is really expansive, chocolate, coffee, heaps of roast, molasses, grain, a bit of vanilla? The taste is very powerful, the roast flavors are really very prominent, with the coffee and molasses not far behind. The mouthfeel is so very thick and chewy that the taste lingers for quite a while, almost syrup like, I love it!

This is one heavy-duty no playing around sort of stout. It's definatly not for the meek.

Photo of sweethome
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
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.

Photo of silenius
4.83/5  rDev +13.6%
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!

Photo of ypsifly
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

Photo of profzoom
3.56/5  rDev -16.2%
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.

Photo of Fish113d
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
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!

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!

Photo of assurbanipaul
3.96/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

Photo of vladtheimpaler
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
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!

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
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!

Photo of ahking
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

Photo of skybluewater
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
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 seemed....off 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!

Photo of kmpitz2
4.16/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

Photo of carln26
3.73/5  rDev -12.2%
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).

Photo of Starchild
4.08/5  rDev -4%
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.

Photo of mntlover
4.78/5  rDev +12.5%
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.

Photo of swamiswamu
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

Photo of sulldaddy
4.42/5  rDev +4%
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!

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