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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.

4,343 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,343
Reviews: 1,868
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 367
Gots: 935 | FT: 77
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: 4,343 | Reviews: 1,868 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of hosehead83


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

Poured from 12oz. bottle into a wine goblet.
Inky-black in color, with a short, thick head of tan foam.
Aroma-Roasted malt, dark chocolate
Taste-Dark roasted coffee, baker's chocolate, charred steak, nice hop bite. Big, bold character, complex and flavorful. Have one now and cellar one for later. Top-notch Russian Imperial.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2010 17:36:34 | More by hosehead83
Photo of adrock7309


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

Poured a bottle into a Chimay goblet. Poured a 2009 into the bottle agressively and almost no head was present.

Smell is strong on the licorice, molasses, and dark dark chocolate. It all mixes so well. Carbonation is a bit subtle but present and perfect for the style.

Taste is out of this world. Tons of complexity where the uber roasted molasses and licorice flavors up front mix with slight bit of hops. The alcohol is always present to me on the finish and the licorice comes back again after you take your fisrt breath after a sip.

Mouthfeel is heavy which i love and sticky.


Serving type: bottle

11-08-2010 14:27:33 | More by adrock7309
Photo of PDXHops

South Carolina

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

On tap in a shaker pint, an unfortunate vessel for such a great beer (should have gone with the 10 oz pour so I could get it in a tulip). A modest but dense tan head sits atop the oily body. Good retention and lacing.

The crappy glass victimizes the nose as well, blunting a pleasing blend of roast, chocolate and tangy fruit. A bit of booze in the background.

Great tasting beer with a helluva lot of well-integrated flavors. Even better than the bottled version. Chocolate chips, cocoa powder, big roasted and burnt malts, tangy dark fruits. Hints of tobacoo and molasses. Pleasing notes of blackberry liqueur. Pleasantly warming booziness. There's nothing at all subtle about it- the flavors are practically explosive- yet there are no overpowering flavors. Excellent mouthfeel as well; fluffy and filling, yet creamy.

Overall impression: If, like me, you are surprised to find this on tap, don't hesitate to take advantage of your good fortune.

Serving type: on-tap

11-07-2010 16:54:31 | More by PDXHops
Photo of CooperEllis

New York

3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz into dfh snifter. from notes.

I can certainly understand why this brew gets such high marks across the board, however I also think that a lot of brews within this style are comperable in look and aroma.

The look and aroma are as expected with the style, dark, minimal head, good full malt roast aroma.

The taste is malt and cocoa nib notes in the background. The carbonation is spot on and helps bring the subtle notes of roast to the front. This also makes this beer one of the best feeling brews I've ever had. Considering I had this out of a 12oz bottle shipped 1/2 way across the US, I would love to get to try this on draft sometime. Full, slightly coats but the carbonation keeps the weighy brew from sticking on the tounge or roof of the mouth.

The drinkability is very good. I have a hard time w/ this for this brew. I would certainly drink more of it. For the style it is quite drinkable. I do think I've had stouts I would reach for ahead of this, which is why I've rated it 4 instead of higher.


Serving type: bottle

11-05-2010 18:41:09 | More by CooperEllis
Photo of heythere


4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

a: Very dark, thick pouring out of the bottle with a medium brown head.

n: a little bit smoky, rich

t: smokiness more prevalent, can taste the alcohol, bitter

m: carbonation is subtle due to thickness of the beer, very smooth

o: very tasty, I think I am going to have to start saving a bottle or two of this every season.

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2010 03:18:14 | More by heythere
Photo of FanofHefe


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

Batch 9435, bottled in Nov 2009 so this is one year old. Poured into tulip glass with a nice dark brown one finger head. Some light lacing on the glass.

Aroma is not overpowering at all, just light notes of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee and dark fruit like prunes/raisins. Slightly noticed the alcohol in the aroma.

Taste mirrors the aroma, but no real obvious alcohol present. Very well masked. Mouthfeel is of a smooth and produces an easy to drink brew.

I had this same batch earlier this year and it has aged very well. The flavors come together very well with age.

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2010 01:00:27 | More by FanofHefe
Photo of marcobrau


4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled February 7, 2008.

Pours pitch black with light carbonation. What foam there is settles quickly and after while this looks like espresso in my snifter. Intense aroma of cocoa and burnt grains. Taste is aggressive; dark molasses mixes with bitter hops and cocoa. Gets a touch before an intensely bitter finish. Feels thick. Awesome stuff. this world needs more Imperial Stouts and fewer Imperial IPAs. That said, this needs needs to sit for at LEAST a year. Don't attempt to drink this stuff fresh, it'll scar your tastebuds.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2010 03:29:06 | More by marcobrau
Photo of Augustiner719

New York

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into an ommegang flute.

Pours a jet black, extremely viscous color with a tiny, almost non existent deep mocha head. Pitch black and syrupy. Really nice dark chocolate, some roasted espresso and a tinge of vanilla on the nose. Really complex. I get some booze on the nose. The flavors are huge roasted malts, dark chocolate and a touch of espresso. Some shaved coconut also and a finish that lasts very long. Boozy dryness on the backend. The mouthfeel is near perfect. Viscous and thick but easy to swirl around the palate. There is a big rich brownie like mouthfeel and a great dry finish. Drinkability also is good, but too thick and rich for an every day drinker. It's a great stout and really worth looking for.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2010 03:14:53 | More by Augustiner719
Photo of readbaron


3.1/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Inky black with very little carbonation

Smell's good - molassesy with some dark fruit, caramel, maybe a hint of coffee.

Taste is bitter - more hops than I expected. Can also taste molasses, alcohol, coffee and a hint of chocolate. Rougher than I expected - it would probably be better with age to mellow it out a bit. Definite bitter aftertaste.

M - thick, but missing carbonation gives it a flat feel

D - again, lack of carbonation and bitter taste made it hard to finish the bottle

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2010 00:23:01 | More by readbaron
Photo of cwguy5

North Carolina

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

Enjoyed on-tap at Duckworth's in Charlotte, NC in a 8.5oz chalice.

- poured pitch black with tan thin, tan head; not much retension but pretty heavy lacing

- aromas of chocolate, leather, roasted malt, some booze, and faint cherry or some other dark fruit maybe

- smooth taste throughout with some mild dark chocolate, leather, stone?/mineral?, and some distant dark fruit flavors

- thick and fairly viscous body with med/low carbonation of fine, foamy bubbles; some alcohol is in there for sure, but never overpowering; fades to semi-dark semi-bitter linger

- this was a fairly easy down for a single glass but im not sure i would want to drink this all night, but that is also just my preference in beer. very tasty, if a bit unwieldy. will drink again. not sure if i can differentiate between good stouts and the great stouts yet at my level but i would say pretty good.

Serving type: on-tap

11-01-2010 02:10:39 | More by cwguy5
Photo of dubinsky


4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch 9384 bottled October 15th, 2009...consumed October 31st, 2010.

A - Pours pitch black right out of the bottle with a heavy, viscous consistency. A gentle pour left a thin 1/2 finger caramel head that quickly receded leaving a nice thin film on the sides of the snifter.

S - Chocolate, prunes, dark cherries and molasses round of the smell with a light boozy aroma.

T - This is a great tasting RIS. Its not very hot and is extremely thick and creamy. Extremely complex flavors here. I am getting the obvious chocolate, molasses and espresso i have come to find consistent in almost all RIS's, however im also tasting licorice and a slight hop bitterness on the tail end. The alcohol is consumed rather well, but still has a warming effect.

M - Thick, creamy and smooth. Excellent, almost flat mouth feel that i love of this style of beer. Very chewy and sticky. It really lingers in the mouth as i type this up.

D - This is a really dangerous beer for me to have. Unfortunately its not one i can easily obtain on the west coast. Its very well rounded, and not boozy making it extremely quaffable.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2010 22:31:37 | More by dubinsky
Photo of Ryan011235


4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter on 10/27/10

Batch 9384

Drizzling an inky, dark brown color, Expedition Stout congers a rolling, tightly-bubbled head that hits the two finger mark. The head rose in similar fashion to the settling of foam from a nitro beer. The toasted brown cap of foam sits atop the near-black beer for several minutes; slowly thinning to a smooth skim. While it's impressive for the abv, even more so is the webbed lace that remains.

The aroma is mighty powerful. Situated amid a slight booziness are notes of burnt dark malts (first & foremost), molasses, prune, notions of cocoa, wisps of smoke & a few stray hints of hops. Warmth brings a musty smell; bread & yeast, though it becomes less apparent with more time.

The tastes starts out with a smooth, almost syrupy, chocolate presence that is tempered by bitterness courtesy of dark cocoa & roasted coffee. Some hop bite remains & is there for the assist. Enter the strong burnt flavors, which are prevalent till the end. Nips of tobacco & dark sugars. Hints of toasted dark bread toward the finish, though it's obscured by the more potent aspects.

For all the more inky Expedition Stout looked while being poured, the feel is so compounded exponentially. Obviously full bodied, it's chewy & monstrously viscous. Carbonation is spot-on for the heft of the beer, which keeps the carbonation from being over-ambitious. Alcohol is warming but very well-hidden. Somewhat dry finish with lots of lingering burnt flavors & some bitterness.

Considering my preferences for such a stout, everything about Expedition screams, "hell yeah, drinkability." It's all the more impressive how well hidden is the alcohol. I've enjoyed the six pack over many months & am slightly bummed they're now gone. I'll be getting more next release.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2010 02:35:40 | More by Ryan011235
Photo of GabrielM

New Mexico

3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.

A - looks great except for some mysterious sediment, which is a little off-putting.

S - coffee, roasted malts, molasses, burnt brown sugar.

T - same as nose but with some definite alcohol heat. The coffee flavors are intense as is the molasses.

M - the alcohol heat and bitter espresso flavors are a little much on the palate right now. Carbonation is good.

D - I drink one or two now, but would much rather let them sit for a year or two.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2010 22:46:26 | More by GabrielM
Photo of Gobzilla


4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: poured a dark as night black with a super thin brown head and left hardly any lacing sticking to the glass.

S: I definitely was greeted by roasted chocolate malts, some oat grains, slight smokey, booze, and some cookie notes as well; very nice nose.

T/M: there was actually some hop bitterness on the backend but upfront the chocolate roasted malts were dominate alongside toffee, slight licorice, coffee, and a touch of bourbon. The brew was full inbody with a low amount of carbonation which had a roasty, sweet, slight astringent, boozy, hoppy bitter, and silky finish.

D: it drank pretty good considering the ABV but I'm not much of a hoppy RIS type of dude I would much rather stick to the ones that aren't as bitter on the finish. Even though it had a quality I didn't like it was still damn tasty.

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2010 06:27:34 | More by Gobzilla
Photo of Dunkle


4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Chimay goblet. The batch number is 9971, meaning it was bottled on September 13, 2010. Only a month old!

A: Fantastic. A hard pour yielded a nice tan head, sitting atop a viscous, black concoction. Decent lacing.

S: I smell a lot of chocolate, some dark fruit, and alcohol.

T: The chocolate is the most noticeable aspect of this beer, but it brings a lot of complex flavors with it, including plum and raisin. Comes through with a warming kick at the end. Delicious.

M: Medium-full bodied with an ideal amount of carbonation. Smooth and coats the mouth.

D: The 10.50% ABV is not hidden here. I can't imagine drinking more than one of these in a sitting. This isn't untypical for the style though.

Overall, a good stout. I look forward to drinking a bottle a year from now to see how it compares!

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2010 22:29:22 | More by Dunkle
Photo of tr4nc3d


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

12fl oz bottle poured into my snifter

Pitch black with no light passing through. Brownish one inch head that fades a little quickly and leaves a bit of lacing clinging to my glass.

Good aroma of roasted malts with dried fruit. Good amount of dark chocolate, cocoa, and roasted coffee. Dried fruits of prunes, dates, cherries. A bit of the alcohol is detected as well.

Good taste of dark chocolate and milk chocolate, espresso, a bit of roasted malts midway with a sweet chocolate brownie taste. A bit of bitterness along with a touch of coffee is in the finish.

Full bodied and smooth with a silky mouthfeel

Good RIS that I would recommend for people to try.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2010 19:27:06 | More by tr4nc3d
Photo of wedge

North Carolina

4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cask @ Busy Bee

Pitch black under a thin, creamy tan head. Aromas of lightly boozy fruit (apples and berries) esters and chocolate. Big, rich chocolatey malt flavor...sweet berry, espresso, molasses...loads of big, rich malty goodness. Thick, smooth, lightly bitter mouthfeel. Drinkable, but dangerous. Good stuff for sure...

Serving type: cask

10-24-2010 01:11:43 | More by wedge
Photo of atsprings

North Carolina

4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2009 vintage on cask at The Busy Bee served in a standard pint glass a deep opaque black with a thin light tan head that diminishes to a ring and leaves slight lacing on the glass. Aroma is a nice amount of roasted malts, fresh ground coffee and baker's cocoa. The taste is loads of smooth roasted malts, bitter cocoa, molasses, espresso, dried fruits and a hint of oak, incredibly complex! The beer is unbelievably smooth and easy drinking for its strength. I really have to say, this is possibly the best cask beer I've ever had, I certainly want more!

Serving type: cask

10-24-2010 00:31:18 | More by atsprings
Photo of hophead247


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

Black pour with a nice, light-weight brown head. Aroma of subtle roast, a little chocolate and some mild, bitter coffee, vanilla, a little alcohol, some figs and other dark fruits and berries. Taste is also well-balanced and rounded, with hints of liqourice, soy, bitter chocolate and a little coffee. A lovely bitter finish, with some faint hop-notes. Very complex and pleasant at the same time.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2010 03:02:27 | More by hophead247
Photo of Gosox8787

New Hampshire

4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle poured into my Smuttynose tulip. Batch 9459. Their website lists this as bottled on November 19th, 2009. Served and enjoyed at room temperature.

Appearance: Midnight black and very thick on the pour. One finger dark mocha brown head with decent retention. Recedes to a very thing lacing.

Aroma: Dark cocoa, brownies, coffee and some toffee notes all blend together very nicely. Very balanced. A touch of booze in the nose as well. Very complex and well intergrated.

Taste: A full spectrum of chocolate flavors are the first note that really asserts itself. Dark chocolate, fudge, and brownies all appear at some level. Some nice backing notes of caramel, vanilla, and dark fruit. I'm not getting any hop notes (a sign of its age perhaps), but that is fine as they are not missed. Really complex and well balanced.

Mouthfeel: A very full bodied stout with a nice, creamy mouthfeel. Fits well for the style.

Drinkability: The ABV makes this impossible to drink a ton of, but I find myself wanting more and more.

Overall, definitely among my favorite stouts. With almost a year on this, it is pretty amazing. really decadent and tasty. Highly recommended. I wish it was sold anywhere near where I live.


Serving type: bottle

10-20-2010 01:57:46 | More by Gosox8787
Photo of optimistictour


4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My profile says my favorite style is Russian Imperial Stout so the first statement in this review should be an admission that I'm *somewhat* partial to the style. That being said, I'm a critical cartographer of this fertile land with a discerning nose (and tongue) for what makes an RIS really stand tall.

First of all, the Expedition Stout looks devastating. It's oubliette dark, conjuring a head not halfway towards normal light froth coloring, both bigger and lacier than I'd expect given the hearty ABV. Basically this is the strongest beer I've witnessed with such visual poetry.

It smells like there's a lot more going on than in your average RIS. It's true. This one hints at a faint licorice and/or candied raisin veneer, framed in a darker than dark chocolate sea. There's a sweet whiff of danger here, too.

Hitting my tongue, it's at once everything an RIS should be and ingratiatingly different. There's more sweetness and less coffee than expected; a thicker body and more buzziness help convey the idiosyncratic blend. This beer lives up to its name with tastes lifted across the globe, and will, with all certainty, leave its distinctive mark on the drinker.

Sure the 10.5% abv reveals itself at times, flickering out like the sun behind some strange delicious clouds... but it's almost always wrapped in the sweetness or dark chocolate bath of the flavor. Even acknowledging the slightly confrontational physical nature of the beer, it's one of the best I've ever had. A true adventure, something to challenge and savor and absolutely relish.

Maybe you won't drink more than 2 of these in any one sitting, but it'll always be worth the trip when you choose to do so.

Serving type: bottle

10-19-2010 06:34:46 | More by optimistictour
Photo of domtronzero


3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Clear deep dark brown, almost opaque. Average lasting, big mocha head with lots of lacing.

S - Dark fruits, caramel and sweet malts. Chocolate and a little roast. Light alcohol.

F/M - Bitter baker's chocolate with toffee, caramel and sweet bready malts. Medium high bitterness accentuated by the dark malts. Dry finish with a lingering chocolaty roasty aftertaste. Moderate carbonation, light alcoholic warmth.

D - Okay, but this is a pretty big beer. Thick and rich makes it quite challenging to put down more than a bottle of this in a single sitting.

Serving type: bottle

10-19-2010 05:23:14 | More by domtronzero
Photo of Naugros

New Jersey

4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really dark with one of the darkest heads I've ever seen on a beer...it was almost brown. However, it's one of the thinnest heads I've seen on a stout and the retention is not all that great.

The smell took me aback as it smelled like a Belgian triple at first more than a stout, but the usual cast of characters are hiding in the back. Super malty with raisins in the forefront with coffee bitterness and chocolate behind and a touch of bourbon...okay more than a touch...a bit more.

It tastes more like a stout than a Belgian double though and that makes me smile. The coffee comes to the front and a chalky chocolate follows it, adding to a standard RIP mouthfeel. The alcohol does make an appearance in the finish supplying bourbon-like notes. The raisins detected in the nose are gone. Very yummy!

If you're used to drinking RIPs, you'll love this example once you start to drink it. There's nothing special to make it stand out, but it is a solid effort

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2010 23:39:58 | More by Naugros
Photo of herman77


3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Wanted to try this fresh after having it on aged 3 years on tap a few weeks back. This was bottled 9/13/10.

A: Black with a big dark brown, very tight and compact head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Sweet dark fruits, dark cherries, dates and rum soaked raisins. Roasted malt and a little bit of dark chocolate. I think I like the nose on this one slightly better than the aged one I had on tap. Smells more vibrant, but still a little weak for what it is.

T: Roasted malt with dark chocolate covered dark cherries and dates. Rum soaked raisins and bold earthy bitter hops come through as well. Slight acidic char near the finish. Not as chocolaty and a shorter finish when this is fresh. Warming alcohol burn in the finish. A touch on the hot side.

M: Full bodied, thick and smooth. Moderate carbonation, it would feel even smoother and creamy if the carbonation was a tad lower. Great mouthfeel though.

D: A sipper. You can really feel the 10.5% on this one. Its a good cold winter night beer. This really mellows and rounds out with age.

Overall, I gotta say I prefer the aged on tap version.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2010 23:49:47 | More by herman77
Photo of kreeper


4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This brew has a very hoppy aroma and an extremely black, as in a black hole, body with no head whatsoever. It had a very strong coffee flavor. It almost burns as it goes down. Somewhat of a bitter initial taste that lingers well after is has gone down.

Serving type: bottle

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2010 02:30:55 | More by kreeper
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,343 ratings.