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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.

4,386 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,386
Reviews: 1,871
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 373
Gots: 936 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,386 | Reviews: 1,871 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of seanyfo

United Kingdom (Scotland)

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

355ml bottle poured into my Celebrator chalice

No bottling/freshness dates found on the bottle.

A- Black body with no light perception. Head is 2 fingers and nearly chocolate ice cream in colour. Retention is good considering ABV(reducing to a crown slowly) and lacing is average to good.

S- Rich malt. Toasted malts dominate but are supported by notes of treacle toffee and milk chocolate.

T- Roasted malts with some toffee/milk chocolate sweetness. Roasted malts produce high bitterness in the finish and touch of hop gives a touch of dryness. Touch of alcohol presence.

M- Thick full body with a moderate carbonation.

D- A nice stout. This one is more on the roasted bitterness side in malt character whereas i prefer more support in the form of sweeter toffee/chocolate malts than evident here. However, alcohol is smooth and the feel of the beer is thick and rich, as it should be.

Serving type: bottle

07-09-2011 22:55:31 | More by seanyfo
Photo of Gushue3


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

Thanks to DoctorB2B for hookin me up

A- very dark black and sits completely black in my glass. Nice brown mocha head that has smaller retention with smaller lacing.

S- dark fruits, malt, alcohol, and some smoke. Really nice amd complex scents.

T- sweet alcohol heat and dark fruits dominate with a generous ammount of smoke. Same as the nose.

M- silky smooth with medium carbonation

O- very nice stout with complex scents and flavors

Serving type: bottle

07-09-2011 21:30:26 | More by Gushue3
Photo of BayouBengal1537


4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep dark black color with no head at all, rather disappointing. Smells of dark chocolate, sweet molasses, roasted malts very pronounced. Taste has rich chocolate notes, sweet roasted malts, slight bitterness from the hops, followed by dark fruit sweetness. Mouthfeel is heavy, chewy, creamy, pretty amazing. Full bodied but little carbonation. Overall, a very complex brew, nice and tastey, would like to have tried this aged a little bit longer, but a pretty damn good beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2011 01:39:30 | More by BayouBengal1537
Photo of ptykozoon


3.48/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown, sticky layer remains on top with rampant lacing.

Bitter chocolate, alcohol, nuts, a touch of caramel.

Quite bitter, smoked flavors, coffee, black licorice.

Nice dense mouthfeel, dry yet sticks in the throat.

Good solid stout. This, in my opinion, is missing a certain something however. Vanilla? Cherry? Oak? Not sure but its a bit too bitter, dry and not particularly complex. Good though.

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2011 04:39:28 | More by ptykozoon
Photo of sidetracked


3.58/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a good dark brown head present. Spots and a ring of head linger.

Smell is bitter roasted malts, lots of sweet molasses, a little dark rum soaked fruit, and some alcohol heat.

Roasty malts mix with bittersweet chocolate and sweet molasses and brown sugar upfront. Little dark fruit sweetness. Taste follows through to the finish. Little more roasted bitterness and alcohol heat at the finish.

Full bodied and syrupy with a little chewiness and light carbonation. Little chalky and powdery. Some alcohol heat at the finish.

Fairly sweet overall with lots of molasses and brown sugar. Roasted bitterness helps round the taste out at the finish. Pretty standard. I remember this beer being better than this in the past. Bottle from winter 2010/2011.


Serving type: bottle

07-04-2011 23:21:35 | More by sidetracked
Photo of BeerAmbassador


3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Motor oil black, small head that leaves a bit on the glass as it dissipates. Coffee, roasted grains and dark, dried fruit (prunes?) on the nose. All of the above plus a bit of licorice on the nose. Stong bitterness from both hops and roasted malt. Sweetness that borders on cloying for me, but not quite too much. Very long finish, and low, but creamy, nicely integrated carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2011 09:28:04 | More by BeerAmbassador
Photo of Chriscrundwell12


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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Darkness snifter.

Bottle Date: 9/13/2010

A- Dark motor oil color, nice lacing, ½ finger mocha head dissipates quickly, to a thin ring around the glass, slight carbonation
S- Dark fruits (plums, raisins, cherries) caramel, roasted malts, slight coffee in the background.
T- Sweet and bitter, warming, dark fruits, roasted malts, chocolate and vanilla, slight soy sauce but does not take away from the taste, roasted coffee notes as well.
M- Medium to big mouth feel, sticky, crisp, slight mouthfeel.
O- I’ve heard mixed reviews about this beer, so I was not sure what to expect coming into this. I would have to say that I really enjoyed this brew, very good stout, big warming beer, with complex flavors, really easy drinkability, the abv is well hidden, although the carbonation was not there it did not take away from the beer IMO.

Serving type: bottle

06-28-2011 06:28:43 | More by Chriscrundwell12
Photo of zac16125

South Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass
Number on bottle: 8944, which didn’t mean much to me until I saw it was the exact same number as the last review on here, so apparently this is a 09 batch. I got this as a stand alone from a private liquor store where it was the only one, and the label does look quite worn.

A: Pours an opaque jet black. Poured very aggressively, it gives 1.5 fingers width of light caramel colored head, which appears dense, but dissipates relatively fast to leave a non-uniform film for about half the drink, then absolutely none for the remainder. Leaves effectively no lacing.

S: A nice, strong roasted malt aroma dominates, accompanied by some burnt malts, a smoky character, and some subtle bold-roast coffee aromas. Alcohol is noticeable. Pleasant aroma, but nothing particularly complex.

T: Lots of roasted and burnt malts, accompanied by hints of chocolate, bold-roast coffee, and an oaky character. There is an appreciable sweetness throughout, coming from dark fruits (maybe fig) with hints of bing cherries, plus a subtle hop bitterness on the back-end. It does a great job of balancing sweetness, burnt roasted malts, and bitterness all while making the alcohol presence known, but kept in check. Great flavor to this beer.

M/D: Smooth, creamy, an almost oily mouth feel. I’m not sure what all this talk from others about the no carbonation is all about, my bottle had plenty of carbonation, in fact, just the right amount. Incredibly easy to drink, and does a great job of masking the 10+%ABV.

O: This beer may have restored my faith in the RIS style. I went away from the style for a while, but recently decided to come back, and in the last couple of weeks have tried a handful of RIS’s, some of which are very highly ranked on this website. I was uniformly disappointed with them all, as they were mostly ruined by a dominating alcohol presence that killed the drink. Not this one. Expedition Stout maintains a great, well balanced flavor, good mouth feel and great drinkability. Cheers to Bell’s who never seems to let me down.

Serving type: bottle

06-28-2011 01:55:24 | More by zac16125
Photo of joefuzz

New York

3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

09 vintage batch 8944 poured into snifter

Pours jet black even when held up to light nothing shines through. I poured it very hard and got not much of a tan head.

Smells of fresh roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate with a slight vanilla almost bourbon scent coming through

Tastes strongly of dark chocolate and burnt coffee a good amount of slighty boozie

Mouth is a little light pretty much expected carbonation for a 3 year old stout

Overall okay beer glad I held onto a few but I don't know if I will be buying more

Serving type: bottle

06-27-2011 06:09:54 | More by joefuzz
Photo of FARGO619


4.53/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Glassware: Tulip. 50 degrees temp. stored

A - Dark, dark, dark. No light gets through this glass. No head retendtion. Went down quick. And I like good head, but nope.

S - lots of chocolate and vanilla. Very faint hops. Slight malt and
Coffee in the background.

M - not as full as I would like. Slightly acidic and thin. It was chewy. Sweet as is warmed up. Loved this beer.

O - This was my second review on camera. The carbonation was low, but overall it was a solid drink that I would love to try again.

Serving type: bottle/12oz.

Serving type: bottle

06-24-2011 13:37:06 | More by FARGO619
Photo of Knapp85


4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours out As black as most typical stouts do. The head is brown and pretty thick looking. The smell of the beer has some licorice and lots of roasted malts and a few light aromas of dark fruit. The taste of the beer is deeply roasted, with some burnt flavors in there. Light herbal notes and some dark chocolate in the mix. The mouthfeel is on the thicker side which is pretty nice. Overall I think it's a good brew it's not great but it's worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2011 01:13:35 | More by Knapp85
Photo of dfillius


3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Aggressive pour yields 3/4 fingers of mocha colored head with good retention. Opaque black liquid. Perfect for the style. The label doesn't call to me though.
S: Licorice, black patent malt, port, dark fruit, slight vanilla. Strong esters stand out, which is a negative.
T: Sweet and malty up front with a roasty follow and bitter finish. Quite hoppy actually. Alcohol pervades throughout, which is okay, but not great.
M: Sweet and warm with a dry finish. Breathy alcohol finish. Nice that it's not hot.
D: A good RIS though not my favorite as it is a bit harsh overall for me. I would not buy again or order another.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2011 16:20:28 | More by dfillius
Photo of GoldenVIKE


2.03/5  rDev -52%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Opened a bottle that was only about a month or two old and was stored in the refrigerator for about 2 days prior to opening.

A-nice frothy pour. Very good head if you pour it hard, with a nice, cascading look. Head is milk chocolate color with a copper hue. The head quickly dissipates into a ring and leaves a very sticky lace.

S-subtle chocolate and perhaps some roasted or burnt coffee. not a strong or very complex smell.

T-awful compared to what i was expecting. very roasty, smoky tastes of burnt coffee, burnt toast, and an bad alcohol bite that leaves a mosquito-spray aftertaste. maybe some bitter chocolate in there but that'd be generous.

M-i'm not sure what the BA review was all about saying that this isn't carbonated at all. the carbonation is fine, if underwhelming. it's hard to focus on the mouthfeel when the taste is so bad.

O-i've heard this ages well. it can't get any worse than this for me. i love stouts and this is one of the least enjoyable i've had. i'll probably give it one more try just because other people give it good reviews, and it's possible that i just had a bad bottle.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2011 03:00:30 | More by GoldenVIKE
Photo of crewfan16


4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured straight down into a stella artois glass from a 12 oz bottle.

a-beer is jet black with no light coming through. thin 1/4" head rose up with a brown, sort of chocolate milk colored head. looks frothy as it recedes.

s-dark chocolate, roasted malts and some booze. i smell something sort of creamy as well

t-again with the dark chocolate and deep roasted malts. nice creamy taste. nice bourbon boozy flavor as well, but not quite overpowering.

m-very little to no carbonation, but IMO it doesnt detract. Its got a nice heavy syrupy feel, like I could almost chew on it. Just how I like my RIS. The booze is detectable, but will easily sneak up on you.

overall, I'm a big fan of this beer. I like a huge stout that I want to chew on as it goes down. The lack of carbonation to me isnt a big factor, as this style shouldnt be too carbonated. Nice balance of lots of flavors. Im gonna throw two out of this sixer in the cellar and see how they come out.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2011 00:23:24 | More by crewfan16
Photo of HuskyinPDX


2.88/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Taken from notes taken on 3.31.11
Bottle code 9971 bottled on 9.13.10

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a motor oil black with red edges. A small, slight brown head forms.

S - Scents of coffee, nuts and bourbon are present.

T - Chocolate, and a bad bitter coffee.

D - No carbonation, almost flat.

O - I think this was an oxidized bottle, not good.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2011 03:20:20 | More by HuskyinPDX
Photo of jmeyers78


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

Glassware: Russian river snifter

A - Dark, dark, dark. No light gets through this glass. No head to speak of.

S - lots of chocolate and vanilla. Very faint hops. Slight malt and
Coffee in the background.

M - not as full as I would like. Slightly acidic and thin. The Bros nailed it....creamy but no carbonation.

O - not a great brew but a solid one. My only complaints are the lack of carbonation and the acidic mouth feel.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2011 03:05:39 | More by jmeyers78
Photo of Onenote81

North Carolina

3.5/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Was in GSO for an exam yesterday and decided to stop by the Old Town Draught House for a pint to celebrate. Lo and behold, they had this on tap! Um...yes, please.

I received a full-to-the-brim pint. Just a thin dark tan sheet of lace coated the top. After each sip, a gorgeous ring stuck to the glass edge. The nose was deep and dark. Lot's of roasted malts, ground coffee, chocolate, and wisps of booze.

The mouth was hefty, chewy and just downright splendid. Palate-coating all the way. I dig it. The roasted aspects of the nose carry over to the flavor big time. This beer tastes charred, toasted, burnt -- whatever adjective you want to use. To the point that the sweet chocolate balance and the booze quality is drowned out completely. I hear all the time that this beer is at its best after a few years in a dark cellar, and after this fresh version, I think 'they' might be on to something.

Serving type: on-tap

05-26-2011 18:00:47 | More by Onenote81
Photo of happygnome


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

a: pours a jet black non transparent color with about a half inch of tan head that disappears quickly leaving a lot of sticky lacing around the edge of the glass and middle of the beer. The beer is too dark to see if there is any carbonation rising to the top

s: Rich sweet dark fruits, a hint of a fine whiskey, roasted chocolate. The nose is balanced slightly with a hint of hops

t: roasted coffee and chocolate flavors, alcohol is present in the taste. There is a little hop bitterness to balance. the booze is present in the taste but not as much as the 10+% would lead you to think

m: full bodied beer with little carbonation

overall, i am glad to have tried this

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2011 02:38:25 | More by happygnome
Photo of chugalug06


3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - A nice crust forms on the top of a well poured head... The crust almost looks like a graham cracker. Color is a great taupe color. Head pours soapy on the base and a solid-foamy on top. Very interesting! Lacing is quite weak, but for the ABV, I'm not surprised. Brew is quite black...

S - Oh wow. Super molasses and oak. Tons of chocolate and bittering hops. Very great vanilla scent. No sugary scent. There is a *slight* funk in the back of the nose.

T - Oh my... So fresh and so clean. Super delicious! Very dark and roasty flavored. Definitely one of the better RIS I've had. Tons of dark chocolate. Zero heat to be found.

M - A little bit on the overly bitter side... A very dry and crisp RIS. Drinks well, but not great. Super aggressive with well hidden heat.

O - Very glad I got to finally try this brew! Super complex flavors, flavors are quite difficult to separate... Thank you Another6Pack! A great brew to a great trade!

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2011 23:43:18 | More by chugalug06
Photo of Ehrnstrom


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

appearance: not much more you can expect from a stout. Extremely dark, smooth pour, dark brown head with moderate head and fair amount of lacing.

smell: primarily roasted malt with hints of chocolate and slight coffee aroma.

taste: I've had this beer on probably 10 different occasions and I admit the taste could certainly be improved. The initial taste is quite smooth, with a moderate alcoholic impact. The after-taste is a bit coarser and inexperienced drinkers will certainly be overwhelmed.

mouthfeel: definitely the biggest weak-spot for Expedition. Initially, the taste is smooth and rich, but the after-taste is a bit coarse and can leave the mouth feeling like it endured a fight.

overall: while Expedition could use improvement, there is no reason not to consider this one of Bell's finest achievements.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2011 23:00:15 | More by Ehrnstrom
Photo of notchucknorris


4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Bottle

A: Pours like motor oil. Black and thick and lovely. Slight reddish mocha colored head rises right after the pour, but leaves nothing after about a minute.

S: Pretty nice. Caramelized pears, big roasted malt, coffee, chocolate with a bit of leather and smoke as it warms.

T: Big malt sweetness upfront with chocolate cake, molasses, cocoa powder and a touch of raisin in the mix. Finish is espresso, and dark coffee grounds. Nice bitterness and slight acidity on the finish. Mouthfeel is huge and syrupy. I love it. One of the best I've ever had.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2011 04:16:28 | More by notchucknorris
Photo of mjpolzin


3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

In the interest of fairness, I will probably have to come back and review this beer again as when I had it for the first time, I was in the middle of a long night knocking back a few with some friends so I wasn't taking the time to taste it properly.

The look of this beer was damn impressive. Amongst my friends I am the "Dark Beer" guy and this one for sure helped my reputation as it looked like motor oil going into the glass.

The interesting thing to me was I got more of a smokey, bitter taste with this then I do with most Imperial Stouts. That is why I want to come back and do it again because I wasn't getting the typical fruit, chocolate, liquorice that I get with an IS.

The alcohol was noticeable for sure as I had a nice buzz going after finishing the beer. At the very least, this beer is a nice solid Imperial Stout.

EDIT: I did come back and drink this again and now as I pay more attention, I do get the normal chocolate/fruity/liquorice flavor I do get from an Imperial Stout. I still get a little bit of a bitter taste though. I do notice also that there is very little carbonation. I like it more the second time though so I will upgrade the score.

EDIT #2: I am coming close to drinking a 2 year aged bottle of Expedition Stout so I just picked up a fresh batch for comparison sake. In reading my past reviews, I realize I have come to understand this beer a little better and I am hoping that the aged bottles will have a little more mellow of an alcohol taste and a little less of a hops presence.

EDIT #3: I had a 2 year old (2010) Expedition Stout tonight along side a fresh (2012) one. The 2010 was a much better beer than it's newer counterpart. The hops and roastiness had faded somewhat and what replaced it was a more malty, dark fruit, sweet taste. I personally like this better in an Imperial Stout than what this beer offers when fresh. I have one bottle of 2010 left so I would like to sit on it for about another 2 years before trying it again.

What I need to do soon is do a side by side taste test of Founders and Bell's Imperial Stouts because they both seem similar to me in that they improve with age.

Serving type: bottle

05-23-2011 01:32:00 | More by mjpolzin
Photo of ryantho00


4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This pours into the darkest of night black and leaves a nice 1.5finger foam that is reminicent of an iced mocha coffe drink.

I get deep coffee and cherry whifts from this one, with a bourben-like undertone followed by some chocolate. Very nice indeed.

This beer is fantastic. I get a full chocolate, oatmeal, coffee, caramel, cherry, spice, taste from this great beer. Very full mouthfeel that gives way to a nice smooth swallow, followed by a dark cherry/hop/mocha aftertaste that leaves you wanting more.

This is a great RIS that can creep up on you quickly as it's quite enjoyable to drink all night long.

Great job Bell's, Cheers!!

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2011 21:38:23 | More by ryantho00
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
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,386 ratings.