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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,338 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,338
Reviews: 1,868
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 367
Gots: 930 | FT: 76
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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002)
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Ratings: 4,338 | Reviews: 1,868 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of damndirtyape


4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle (batch 10105) poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a dark tan head. Strands and islands of lacing all over the glass. Head poured 1/4" thick, but died down to a thin film across the top and a good ring.

Smell: With a swirl, definite alcohol and solvent. After that subsides, quite faint roasted malt - maybe a hint of something grassy and hoppy.

Taste: Bitter coffee with a wonderful malty sweetness to counter the bitterness. Bitter coffee up front moving into the sweetness in the middle and then another bitter finish. Sweetness has hints of vanilla to it. A very tasty brew.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy and smooth with a some mild spicy carbonation on the back of the tongue. Very nice.

Overall / Drinkability: A beer for sipping and savoring. I had it with burger and fries and it went wonderfully, but I could see having it alone and with dessert as well in place of coffee. The bitterness is a bit rough when the beer is cold, but it mellows out as the beer warms up, and indeed, I think the beer is better warmed up a bit. One a night with this impressive brew, but it will get purchased again - outstanding!

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2011 22:21:24 | More by damndirtyape
Photo of OldIronLungs


4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to omgshesaboy for this one!

Split into two pint glasses - dark darkness and about a finger of off-white/tan head that settles to a film quickly.

Nose is predominately a sweet roast, burnt caramel with a touch of ground coffee, raisins and alcohol.

A sip has a great smooth viscosity - big roasty, caramel malts slowly shifts to a nice coffee and herbal hop bitterness and tang that sticks to the end. Low carbonation doesn't really offend me based on the great flavor profile.

This is just a very solid stout - it's got a great mouth feel but a bitter and tanginess that inhibits the drinkability - it works for the style. Much better than I remembered it.

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2011 20:03:27 | More by OldIronLungs
Photo of pmarlowe

District of Columbia

4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 10068. Sprecher pint glass.

Pours... black. Three fingers of dark khaki foam after an ambitious pour, with nice head retention and some lacing. Aroma is a big malty one, with some creaminess and dry fruitiness, spice and cinnamon thing going in the secondary. Taste is huge, mouthwatering roasted malts, bittersweet cocoa, with a lingering, bitter finish. I think the acidity supports the beer well, but the bitterness on the finish is a little much. Medium carbonation and medium-full body are appropriate for the style, although the heat is noticeable. Overall, this is a well crafted, malt bomb of a stout, whose latter feature limits somewhat its drinkability.

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2011 04:43:14 | More by pmarlowe
Photo of ballz50401


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch #9554 Bottled 1/27/10. Served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Pours a thick black oblique color with a very, very dark brown head.

Smell: Burnt caramel and chocolate. Dark fruits and alcohol. Very nice aroma.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Nice maltly sweetness. Some sweet dark roasted caramel followed by dark chocolate. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Full bodied.

Overall: A very nice Imperial Stout that ages very well.

Serving type: bottle

05-19-2011 03:23:32 | More by ballz50401
Photo of mjw1200


3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a really good beer but not great. From everything I had read before I tried it I expected it to be in Old Rasputin, Plead the 5th, and Speedway Stouts class, but it was a clear step down for me. It was a good beer, its not one I will pass on, but if its sitting next to some of those other RIS’s I am going with those which I liked better.

Serving type: bottle

05-15-2011 19:13:52 | More by mjw1200
Photo of mizzouguy


4.78/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a small tan head that disappeared quickly leaving some good lacing. The smell is chocolate, dark fruit, coffee, some warm alcohol and it just screams, drink me. The taste is very sweet in the best way possible. It is sweet while still being so well balnced and drinkable. The beer is one of the thickest I've ever drank. Just coats your whole mouth with it's deliciousness. Overall, one of ypmy favorite beers.

Serving type: bottle

05-15-2011 04:52:11 | More by mizzouguy
Photo of mdaschaf


4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch 9554, bottled Jan/2010.

A: Poured into my DFH signature glass. Pours a an oily black, completely opaque. A one finger mocha colored head formed upon pouring and reduced to a ring of foam around the top. Very little lacing.

S: Dark fruits, licorice, chocolate and some coffee. There is a little bit of roasted malt and the slightest hint of alcohol.

T: Coffee and roasted malts are the dominant flavors with some chocolate, licorice, and a little bit of molasses.

M: Medium to full bodied. Smooth and creamy, with a slickness. Nice carbonation, more than expected, but not in a bad way.

O: Quite nice. Form reading other reviews, I think that some of the coffee flavor subsided a little bit. No sign that the beer is 10.5%, even though its fuller body makes drinking more than 1-2 difficult.

Serving type: bottle

05-15-2011 01:44:38 | More by mdaschaf
Photo of airmike


4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured bottle to snifter

A: Pitch Black, little light brown head that disipates quickly.

S: Not much in the nose, I get slight coffee, chocolate, but mostly boozy smelling alcohol.

T: Well balanced, coffee, dark chocolate, nice complex flavor, well balanced (did I already say that?). Little to no alcohol presence, well done!

M: Thick, full bodied. Coats the palate.

Overall, I think this is a very well done stout. I wouldn't say no if someone offered this to me for breakfast!


Serving type: bottle

05-14-2011 15:12:08 | More by airmike
Photo of xnicknj


4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into snifter

Pours a deep black color with a thick crop of browned head. Soft filmy retention with clouds, plenty of spotty lacing on the glass.

Strong scents of caramel, bittersweet dark chocolate, roasted malt, raisin and candied fruit, alcohol warmth.

Plenty of richness in the profile with dark chocolate and stiff breaded malts. Roasted dark flavor with rich sweetness. Raisins, cherries, and burnt brown sugar all swirl together. Finishes with alcohol heat and silky smooth chocolate body.

Full body, lighter carbonation, velvet smoothness and easy on the tongue. Drinks really nice, great feel, solid profile, and something I want again.

Serving type: bottle

05-14-2011 03:32:44 | More by xnicknj
Photo of SolomonGrundy


3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to GraniteSkunk for the fine extra. Cheers!!

The basics: no idea on price and a hefty and hearty 10.5% ABV (YEEESSS, my precious!!)

Pours a super-uber dense black, like the darkness of the Mines of Moria. A creamy head about a finger thick. Spotty lacing. Above average...

Aromas are intense and robust. Lot's of semi-sweet chocolate, some vanilla, roasted chocolate malt. Also some rounder notes like pancakes with syrup and butter. Luscious....

OMFG - the flavor is...INSANITY!!! It's robust to the power of 100. I almost can't believe this. Super tangy and a nuclear blast of malt right upfront. This smooths out a touch into a massive roasted chocolate espresso flavor in the early middle. This lengthy middle eventually gives way to a tangy and complicated finish - I get some bitter hops and some char, and also some boozy notes. This has to be tried to be believed...It will be too much for even some seasoned Imperial Stout fans, as this makes even Old Raspy look smooth and creamy by comparison...But this beer is very smooth in its own right, I only mean that Old Rasputin is a robust and tangy RIS in its own right, but is nothing as crazy as this...It's like coffee concentrate mixed with chocolate chip extract and poured into a glass of Imperial Stout...And that doesn't even do it justice. As it warms, I even get some nice barrel aging notes. Fantastic but definitely a sipper and not a "drink with your buddies at the river in summer" beer...

What I like most: The insanely robust and complex flavor profile.

What I like least: The almost overwhelming nature of the beer as a whole.

Verdict: Not for the faint of palate, this needs to be tried (price be damned) to be believed...

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2011 04:27:23 | More by SolomonGrundy
Photo of bnes09


4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ink black and completely opaque. Ample amount of auburn colored foam. Exceptional retention for a beer of this strength, thanks to the hops, in part. Lots of sticky lines on the glass.

Highly complex, deep roasted aromas. Coffee and licorice. Assertive alcohol spice reminisent of a dark merlot. Smoked maple, molasses and prunes come through as well.

Spectacular flavors of dark coffee, baking chocolate, licorice, molasses, prunes, raisins, and sweet maple syrup. Hops are assertive, pungent, almost biting with a piney, soap-like bitterness that lasts into the aftertaste. Alcohol spice of bourbon rounds it out nicely. Highly complex and delicious from beginning to end.

Full-bodied, thick and chewy mouthfeel, just like a meal. Low level of carbonation is fitting.

Simply an excellent brew and a great example of the Russian imperial stout. Bell's has done it again!

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2011 04:28:27 | More by bnes09
Photo of Transatlantic


4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - You crawl your way under a 1989 Dodge Shadow, use a torque wrench to break loose the screw. Out pours the liquid that has been lubing the engine parts for five years without a change. That is what you see when you pour Bell's Expedition Stout. Old old burnt motor oil, black as black can be. No light on this planet can pierce through this beer with it's one finger dark mocha chocolate head.

S - As an RIS should be, it's loaded with the smell of dark dark bitter chocolate with a hint of roasted coffee. Dark dark malty goodness.

T - The first initial kick you get is just how sweet this beer is. Mixed with that taste of dark bitter chocolate, this is almost like drinking chocolate syrup...only appetizing.

M - The mouthfeel is as you'd guess judging by the way it pours. Full solid bodied beer, leaving no part of the mouth uncoated. This beer keeps it's flavor lingering around for a long while.

O - You can NOT give this beer a bad review. For it's style, it's a winner. Great appearance, great flavor, great thickness. The only thing it's missing is something new....but it's still great!

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2011 00:09:26 | More by Transatlantic
Photo of brewemstrong


4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pretty much black but with just a hint of brown. 1 finger dark mocha head that settles slowly. Good lace

S: Sweet molasses and alcohol dominate, but at 10.5% I was expecting it. Also present are vanilla, espresso and spicy, dark fruit.

T: Very sweet plum, date and/or apricot flavor up front. Heavy coffee ground and espresso middle with an alcoholic, slightly minty finish. Every other sip I sense almond.

M: There's almost a viscosity to this beer but that doesn't make it difficult to drink. It's fairly carbonated and creamy with only a fair stickiness at the end.

O: My first Bell's and it didn't dissapoint. Looking forward to another selection with as much flavor

Serving type: bottle

05-09-2011 23:36:42 | More by brewemstrong
Photo of ribsfate


4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this as my fifth overall selection from Bell's. Not in the same sitting. :)

Poured into a pint glass from bottle bought at Thirsty's Quik Six in York, PA. About 20 mins at room temp.

Pours very dark black, somewhat thick with a nice two finger, foamy, dark caramel colored head. (poured a little fast and sipped the head; instant chocolate blast) Head laced the glass until it was rinsed out. Very pretty beer.

Nose is roasty malts and chocolate with a hint of hops on the back end. Tiny amount of alcohol scent for the strength.

Taste is a bit like the head but much more subdued chocolate notes, leading into bunches of smokey, roasted barley, bitter coffee, just a touch of hop bitters. Very nicely balanced flavors which sorta play back and forth as you drink.

A very smooth (imho) feel from start to finish. Not as thick or heavy as i was expecting but not in the least disappointing. Doesn't leave a residual flavor for very long.

I enjoyed this brew very much and am currently in the search for one or two more singles, warm, to store and try at a later date.

Serving type: bottle

05-08-2011 04:14:35 | More by ribsfate
Photo of Roke87

Ontario (Canada)

4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Duvel tulip at cellar temperature.
Bell’s Batch Number: 9971 Bottled on: Sept.13/2010

Appearance- Pours a pitch black colour like dirty old motor oil with a two finger of nice fluffy brown mocha coloured head that resides at an average pace to a thick ring around the glass leaving lots of sticky lacing throughout till finish.

Smell- Is very similar on the nose to a Founders imp stout, except I smell a hint of hops thrown in there. Lots of roasted malts, a mild coffee smell, with a sweet caramel/toffee nose with a hint of chocolate in there, I could definitely get a hint of alcohol out of this one.

Taste- Comes through just like the smell, although I didn’t get too much hops in the taste as I could smell. Lots of roasted malt flavours and dark fruity flavours as well that are almost sweet on the palate, not too much caramel/toffee on the taste either but it does finish with a bitter coffee flavour balanced again by the roasted malts. Also finishes with a little bit of an alcohol taste but not overly intense.

Mouthfeel- I would say this is a full bodied imperial stout that finishes smooth a creamy, They do a very good job of hiding the high ABV but it does comes through a bit in the finish. Not overly carbonated but not many stouts are anyways so I would say it’s just right in those terms.

Overall- To be honest I kind of expected more from this one; it is very similar to a number of other imperial stouts and not as good as a few others although it does come through in many respects. The Smells are well balanced which translates to an equally balanced, smooth, and almost easy drinking taste. I would say this is Bell’s flagship beer but you could pick up a number of other Bell’s offerings and be just as satisfied but none the less a very solid offering. For the high price point I think I’ll just pick up the similar stouts and pass on this one in the future.

Serving type: bottle

05-06-2011 02:49:59 | More by Roke87
Photo of hopslamds


4.95/5  rDev +17%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a pitch black, thick, with a small tan head. Aroma of roasted malt, dark chocolate, and a suttle hops. Fresh is a bit hot, which tends to mellow over time and become dangerously smooth. Definitely a wonderful beer that is readily available (when in season) and well priced. Buy and age this beer every year. This truly gets better every year.

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2011 21:48:28 | More by hopslamds
Photo of armock

New York

4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a black color with a brown head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of roasted malt with chocolate scents and a hint of alcohol

T - Follows the nose with roasted malt with chocolate and some alcohol in the finish

M - This beer has a full body with lighter carbonation to it

O - this is a very enjoyable beer it taste great making it way to easy to drink this one is worth seeking out to try sometime

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2011 01:13:17 | More by armock
Photo of BeerForMuscle

New Jersey

4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Almost black pour with a chunky, bubbly, sticky brown head that hangs around.

S - Chocolate covered raisins, dried dark fruit sugars i.e. figs, currants, dates. Once again, a pretty solid raisinette aroma. Some sweet alcohol floating.

T - Very dark, very roasty with a nice touch of hops to balance. A nice amount of dark fruit sweetness and chocolate. Smooth warming alcohol provide a nice facet.

M - Silky smooth creamy mouth. Spiced, warming alcohol finish. Dry and sweet aftermath.

O - A nice imperial stout. The dark fruits gave this one a different twist and was well combined in the flavor profile. Smooth and soft with each sip and finish. Had this paired with black forrest cake at a Bells beer dinner.

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2011 04:33:01 | More by BeerForMuscle
Photo of OakedCanuck


3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into cervoise

A - Nice deep black with a mocha brown head. Minor head retention and some lacing

S - Nice dark chocolate and roast coffee, vanilla and nuttiness

T - Much the same as the nose but with a slightly astringent underlying flavour. Some dark fruits of raisins and plums.

M - Heavy, slight astringent, somewhat creamy

O - A decent beer that was heavy in the mouth but not a true sipper. A very good RIS for being a shelf beer. Would have again.

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2011 20:13:54 | More by OakedCanuck
Photo of EricCioe


4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 10105, 10 December 2010, just under six months old.

This pours pitch black with no highlights, floating a big two finger dark tan head on top that leaves great, chunky lace on the way down. A really pretty brew. On the nose there is a really high level dark chocolate and espresso, with a deep, pungent pine combining with a massive presence of roast malt underneath. In the mouth the pieces of the nose come through: bitter chocolate, nicely bitter coffee, bitter hops, and bitter roasted malt. It's not overwhelmingly bitter, just very pleasantly so. There is a dash of heat to go with the hugely rich taste. The body is huge, gigantic, full, with a huge finish that has slightly charred malt and espresso bitterness hanging out forever.

Overall, this beer is amazing. I was expecting to like it but not this much. This is right up, and probably just a cut above, the two other great MI RIS, Dark Horse Plead the 5th and FIS. This is an absolutely amazing brew and proof that there are great, great stouts sitting on shelves.

EDIT - Had a mini two year vertical last night, 20 January 2012. We had bottles from late 2010, same batch as the original review, and late 2011. After a year, this is a totally different beer. The nose is unreal as it develops this wonderful molasses note that is buried in the fresher ones. One of the true outstanding Russian imperials I've ever had. Being able to buy six of these at will is one of the biggest beer-related things I miss about living in the Midwest.

Fresh, this beer is pretty hot. After a year, it's totally transformed. I've never had a beer change more in a year than this one.

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2011 01:19:54 | More by EricCioe
Photo of Agold


4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Expedition has a nice high dark brown head which recedes and leaves some nice lacing. Good rich roasty aroma with a hint of chocolate and a bit of fruityness. The fruityness is not the most appealing, but not a big detractor. Taste is big and roasty as well with a bit of chocolate flavor. The fruity character receded leaving a nice smooth rich beer. Mouthfeel was good and creamy and smooth, and not too heavy.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2011 06:06:21 | More by Agold
Photo of MikieV


4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark, almost black with a thick, rolling rich rust colored head. Thick rust colored lacing stuck to the glass as I drank.

First, I have to admit, this was my first ever Imperial Stout.
I was in love from the first sip!

This is a bold, robust beer. It has very intense flavors. Dark bitter chocolate, booze, roasted malts all come through. Some slight fruitiness as well. A fairly thick beer, leaving some solids in the bottom of the glass. Very smooth mouth feel despite it's thickness.

At 10.5%, one of these is just right for me!

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2011 02:50:19 | More by MikieV
Photo of jdense


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Six pack of bottles carried back from Washington, DC last November, has a September 2010 bottling date, thought I'd pull something special out for review # 700, enjoyed with beer homeboy in PIB/SIB tasting glasses, 4.28.11.

Dark brown almost black opaque body, one finger light brown head, medium dissipation with some lacing. Divine nose, a combination of dark chocolate and cocoa nibs, a wee bit of coffee, and surprisingly a pretty robust hop aroma, citrus and pine resin, was able to shine through. The taste mirrors the nose, chocolatey goodness, leading to a fairly bitter resiny finish, nicely in balance. The mouthfeel is fairly astringent and sticky, which surprised the hell out of me. This is a really tasty beer, lthough the alcohol is still a bit hot at this juncture. ooking forward to trying later on once the hops have been tamed a bit on the remaining bottles aging down in The Hole. For fans of the style, a must. Outstanding.

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2011 15:26:18 | More by jdense
Photo of SAxDRC5


2.63/5  rDev -37.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Dark black with a very small brown head. pretty much what I'd expect for the style

S: sweet milk chocolate, a bit of coffee, some burnt charcoal.

T: starts with sweet chocolate and some dark fruits, raisins perhaps. ends with darker bitter chocolate and some alcohol. I'm not too impressed, it is a bit boring for a RIS.

M: thick and creamy. very low carbonation. alcohol more present than I would expect.

O: pretty average imperial stout. I probably won't buy it again, but wouldn't turn it down if given to me.

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2011 02:10:10 | More by SAxDRC5
Photo of SeaOfShells


4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. into Duvel tulip

A: Pours jet black with about 2 fingers of dark brown head which quickly receded to a thin layer on top.

S: Deep dark chocolate, and even some sweet milk chocolate. Deeper down there was a good amount of coffee, and roasted malts. Alcohol is present in the nose.

T: Wow. This one is extremely hot. Very, very boozy. Dark chocolate, dark fruits, roasted malts. Starts with a smoky roastiness up front, sweetness in the middle, and finishes hot with some espresso/dark chocolate bitterness.

M: Thick and creamy. Just the way an Imperial Stout should feel.

O: This was my very first Expedition Stout. It was a little too boozy for my taste, which is why I'm going to hold on to the other 5 I have for about a year or so. Other than that, it was well above average. I'm anxiously awaiting the next bottle.

Serving type: bottle

04-27-2011 18:16:53 | More by SeaOfShells
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,338 ratings.