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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.

4,471 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,471
Reviews: 1,875
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 383
Gots: 951 | 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)
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Ratings: 4,471 | Reviews: 1,875 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of gtn80


4.13/5  rDev -2.4%

Poured from the bottle into a snifter.

Appearance has a distinct lack of carbonation. Small half finger head, mocha colored. Beer is jet black, no light getting through.

Aroma is rum raisin, roasted malts, chocolate, a bit of alcohol.

Taste is incredibly complex. Smooth combination of dark chocolate, booze. Not super roasty, bit astringent on the tongue in the finish.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy.

Drinkability is hurt by alcohol and flavor density, meant for a snifter, not a liter mug

02-02-2011 00:25:21 | More by gtn80
Photo of TCgoalie


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Pours black with a half finger mocha head. A residual foam remains across the beer adding nice affect. Lacing is decent, but I bet it is amazing on tap.

The smell is great featuring coffee, dark chocolate, dark fruits, bourbon, and a wonderful smoky essence. The smell is a meal in itself and is very good.

The taste is on par with the smell in that it is intriguing and dark. The smokiness is a welcome addition and really sets expedition stout apart from other RIS's. Coffee, chocolate, bourbon, and smoke combine to exhibit the majority of the taste. Very nice.

The feel in the mouth is full with a soft effect. There is not much carbonation, so I believe this helps with the smooth texture.

I think the Bros. are a little off with the grade on this one. An excellent RIS.

01-30-2011 03:23:16 | More by TCgoalie
Photo of JayS2629


3.35/5  rDev -20.8%

A- Pitch black with creamy tan head, great retention and creamy rings of lace.

S- Chocolate, hints of coffee and licorice. Toffee undernotes. Hint of vanilla. Booze.

T- Toffee undertones, caramel notes, dark chocolate, hints of bold roasted coffee and a touch of licorice. Hints of vanilla. Hops on the finish is very bitter. Mecicinal aspirin taste in the back of throat. Booze is present as well.

M- Rich and creamy, thick, bitter finish

D- Complex flavors get destroyed with bitter medicinal finish. Booze burn isn't well hidden either.

01-30-2011 00:07:00 | More by JayS2629


4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

12oz bottle (Batch 9971) - into Bruges tulip: from notes.
A: The appearance is a motor oil black body, with moderate viscosity on the pour. No light making its way through the glass. The two finger, fluffy texture. The vibrant tan sticks to the glass and becomes very sticky.

S: Nice balanced medium to high intensity, the caramelized candy note is found and a smooth toffee off.

T/M: An explosion of sweet malts and a good amount of bitterness on the beer as a whole. Rich body, notes of toffee and candy, with a nice roasted finish. Good full mouthfeel with a nice glossy off.

D: Rich flavors and a well rounded stout, that comes in a six pack, yes. . super drinkable. This stout takes the cake over the rest of Bell's additions.

01-27-2011 14:12:25 | More by GDBEERMAN
Photo of PhageLab


3.28/5  rDev -22.5%

Poured into a snifter.

A - Opaque brownish-black colour, almost no head at all, small ring of froth, some spotted lace.

S - Fresh raisins, sweet molasses.

T - Extremely rich, almost to the point of cloying. Rather boozy as well, 10.5% is quite obvious here. Some nice roasted flavors are present, but they are masked by the overbearing sweetness.

M - Full bodied, low carbonation, dry finish, about what I expected.

D - Nice characteristics, but far too sweet for my tongue. Not a bad brew, but not one I'd wish to revisit.

01-27-2011 05:27:05 | More by PhageLab
Photo of KickInTheChalice


4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Batch 9435 (Nov. 11, 2009). Part of a side by side with Great Lakes Blackout Stout and Storm King.

Appearance: This pours a thick mahogany color all the way through, with a surprisingly ruby and brown head that is creamy and huge. Solid retention, and lace splatters all over the glass.

Smell: Actually sort of a subdued aroma. Raisins, espresso, roasted malt, cocoa, and a bit of spicy hops.

Taste: The taste flows so well together it confounds me. It starts with light chocolate and espresso flavors, which slowly build over the sip, but they encounter anise, sweet molasses, and roasted malt, before finally encountering some spicy and lightly earthy hops. The ABV sneaks through toward the end, impressive consider it is 10.5%. The finish has more espresso and a bit of molasses. The lingering aftertaste is a coffee bitterness.

Mouthfeel: There is a syrupy quality to this, but damn is it silky smooth. I cannot remember ever having a beer with this kind of silky feel. Syrupy, chewy, and very full bodied.

Drinkability: With how insanely silky smooth this stout is, the taste could be bottle sludge and I would love it. Ok, maybe that's a little bit much, but the taste is damn solid. This beer definitely deserves its accolades.

01-26-2011 07:08:51 | More by KickInTheChalice
Photo of womencantsail


4.08/5  rDev -3.5%

Bottle from Batch 7740 (Dec. 2006!) thanks to Derek.

A: The pour is viscous and lightly carbonated with a thin layer of mocha colored head.

S: Even after a little more than 4 years, this beer is still a little bit boozy. Alcohol notes come through immediately with lots of dark fruits and licorice. Dark chocolate and burnt sugar fill in the back end along with a strong roast.

T: Surprisingly bitter with lots of roast and coffee notes, particularly on the back end. Dark chocolate, licorice, burnt sugar, and dark fruits make up the bulk of the flavor profile. The booze is a bit more subdued than I was expecting.

M: The body is medium to full with a low but ample carbonation.

D: I think one bottle is enough, but this is a fine beer indeed. One that can certainly hold up to (and in some cases, benefit from) again.

01-25-2011 05:12:00 | More by womencantsail
Photo of MamaMeier


3.98/5  rDev -5.9%

A - Very dark and thick - looks good - anxious to try! Caramel color.

S - sort of a bitter smell, caramel smell.

T - Surprisingly sweet taste - a little bitter, sweet but bitter finish.

M - Not too much for carbonation - makes it smooth, but a little bit lacking in flavor.

D - Goes down smooth, but the lack of carbonation makes it a bit too bitter.

01-22-2011 02:53:47 | More by MamaMeier
Photo of birderbeerer


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Pours black but smoothly (not syrupy). Thin tan (almost brown) head. Given the minimal head, it laces pretty well.

Aroma is big malt sweetness with roast notes. Molasses, oats, chocolate, and the alcohol. Sweet and rich scents.

Taste is a balance of big roast and big sweet flavors. Carbonation rests well on the rich body of the beer. Dry flavor, oaty and a dry, coffee and licorice finish. Roast enhances as it warms. Rich and complex sweetness to offset it, though.

Easy to drink and so rich that it completely hides its high abv. Drinks slowly from the richness, not from heaviness or alcohol.

01-21-2011 02:48:38 | More by birderbeerer
Photo of chilly460


3.38/5  rDev -20.1%

A - Pours black with ruby tint, with a very thick mocha head, great lacing.

S - Not too much here for me, actually picked up hop aroma, maybe some biscuit malts.

T - Good burn from the alcohol but not overpowering, get roasted malts and plenty of hops profile. Didn't get much in the way of dark fruits or chocolate as I expected. Overwhelming taste after initial alcohol burn is espresso.

M - Above average, thick as I'd expect for the style, very nice.

D - Fine for the style, the booze hits a little harder then I'd prefer with a definite bite in every sip.

01-20-2011 21:21:50 | More by chilly460
Photo of Corndork2


3.68/5  rDev -13%

2x 12 oz bottle poured into snifter. One bottle poured and drank at a time. Both bottles finished within an hour.

A - Pitch black...Completely black... No other way to say it.

S: Mocha and coffee aromas, with the smell of alcohol pinching the sinuses.

T: Coffee, chocolate, heavy malts, and a strong taste of alcohol, which I think really clouds some of the depth. Heat sits right on the tip of the tongue, and in the back of the throat.

M - Thick and smooth.

D: The strong alcohol taste hits the drinkability for me. The tastes, smells, and feel is great, but the heat seems to muddy things up.

I bought a six pack of these bottles to try. After trying the first two I am definitely cellaring the other four. I'll try one three months from now and review again. I think a little more time will lessen the taste of alcohol, and really allow the other flavors to shine.

01-17-2011 04:20:57 | More by Corndork2
Photo of airheadmtrcycle


4.3/5  rDev +1.7%

Beautiful pour in a Sierra Nevada pint glass. Thick, brown head that recedes and leaves thick lacing. This stout is black as coal and kept an espresso-like crema on top throughout the duration.

Aromas of roasted malts and espresso. Not as overpowering as I would have expected. The taste more than makes up for it. The first thing I pick up on is a bitterness followed by rich coffee then sweet chocolate. The alcohol is not discernible in the aroma, but comes through in a delicious way by balancing the sweetness on the palate. It's a perfect combination between bitter and sweetness, with the bitterness winning the battle. I can feel my ears and belly warming. This is a sipping beer that coats the mouth with creamy goodness and moderate carbonation that tickles the tongue. Very drinkable for a Russian imperial stout.

I really like this beer. Surely one of the best stouts I've ever had.

01-16-2011 03:38:02 | More by airheadmtrcycle
Photo of mjsheehan08


3.83/5  rDev -9.5%

Bell's expedition stout

Turns my snifter into a black-hole. Head is dense with a mocha tan one finger head that clings to the glass for safety. Lace paints the side of the glass, and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon. 

Nose is really fragrant. Rum, raisin, figs and other dark fruits start out the nose, and then some booze kicks in. There's also a sugarery sweetness that comes through from the malt, and I'm expecting a great malty brew. 

Alot if dark fruit in the front, but the kind of dark fruit that is wrapped up in a big ball of molasses. Really a great blend of malts here. As it continues on, a shot of expresso comes through and lingers with you after you set your glass down. As I am about halfway through the 12 oz bottle, a little heat builds up at the top of my mouth and throat from the alcohol. 

Feel is eh. For as full flavored as this beer is, I was expecting a little more body in it. It was kind of thin with little to no carbonation. 

I can feel the booze after 1, but I could probably drink 2 of these. 

01-16-2011 00:19:18 | More by mjsheehan08
Photo of smcolw


3.7/5  rDev -12.5%

Pours like motor oil: thick liquid with no initial head. After the bottle is emptied, a quarter inch head shows up. This settles to a single bubble layer, but leaves a decent blanket of lace on the glass.

Not like a typical stout (much less a RIS): No coffee or dark chocolate smells. This comes across as a creamy brown ale to the nose. Not bad, just not what I expected.

Potent alcohol bite with a chewy, patent malt bitterness. The flavor is closest to espresso. There's a decent dollop of hop bitterness in the swallow. The brew is very thick, like half and half cream. This is enhanced by a lower level of carbonation. I think this would go very nicely with a tart dessert.

01-15-2011 22:09:53 | More by smcolw
Photo of DoubleSimcoe

New York

4.03/5  rDev -4.7%

Bell's Expedition Stout on tap at ChurchKey in Washington, DC.

Appearance: Served in a small brandy snifter, comes with a toasty foamy head like a macchiato coffee in a piazza in Rome. Almost two fingers of head, brown and thick. Remarkable lacing.

Smell: Smells like men cologne, intense but dry. Also like a barn, pigs gamboling in their muddy, hay-covered pens. Horse poop, very earthy. A bit of bourbon-y booze at the end. Wet grass, rain.

Taste: Mud, coffee, roastiness. Some hard-to-pin flavors, uncommon for an Imperial stout. Sugar, chocolate shake, expensive chocolates. Espresso beans, smoke. A tad of vanilla. Good, but strange.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation, full body, finishes dry and roasty and bitter. Smooth and creamy feel.

Drinkability: Pleasant to drink, alcohol is not too evident, although it creeps up on you sooner than later.

A nice, unique (for good and bad) Imperial Stout. Not my favorite, but very good nonetheless.

01-14-2011 19:13:49 | More by DoubleSimcoe
Photo of CuriousMonk


4.08/5  rDev -3.5%

Poured from bottle into dimple glass. Was pleasantly surprised with this one! Pours a deep, oily opaque, still black. No signs of carbonation, thin tan head. Aroma is fairly complex, black pepper corn, smoke, roasted malts, coffee, licorice, chocolate and caramel. Flavor is sweet and sugary, molasses, caramelized sugar, toast, coffee grounds, dark chocolate and wood. Very thick on the tongue, heavy in the mouth, a bit of fire from the alcohol and some lasting coffee bitterness at the end which was welcoming for me.

01-14-2011 17:59:28 | More by CuriousMonk
Photo of miketyree24


3.28/5  rDev -22.5%

Very dark beer. Has a medium dark brown foamy head. Kind of has the color of engine oil and it is very thick and sticky.

Strong smell of malts and caramel. Coffee smell hits you next.

Beer is very thick to the taste and alcohol is present from first sip. Heavy malt flavor but not overwhelming.

Overall drinkable beer. Could drink 1 or 2 pints no problem.

01-13-2011 02:03:52 | More by miketyree24
Photo of Jadjunk


3.58/5  rDev -15.4%

#54. Another of Bell's Stouts. While I don't plan to hold their Java Stout in high regard as I make comparisons to this stout, I will keep in mind the level of quality and the intensity that I expect an excellent stout to possess. I let this warm to close to 50 degrees before popping open. I also want to mention the texture and consistency of this brew, which left my glass incredibly sticky. It's a thick one at that, so watch your pour so that you don't necessarily "feel" the beer with your fingers!

Poured from a 12oz. bottle to a pint glass at room temp.

(Appearance) Pours a nice two finger depth very bold brown foamy head. Almost looks like the consistency and color of oil. Head retention is pretty nice, gradually dying down to a prominent mass of thick foam. Thin veils of lacing drape the sides of the glass. Color is very dark brown, possibly even black. Next to no light gets through this beer and I can hardly see anything going on inside this glass. It's very dark, and looks quite thick and full. From what I can effectively evaluate, this looks like a nice stout. 4

(Smell) Malt heavy. There's a good deal of roasted sweets and burning caramel in this stout, mostly the caramel, which is very heavy in the nose and outright from the beginning. A less dominant coffee bean arrangement lingers further down but is also easy to tell. Finally, some faint earthy hoppy tones are the last scent to catch my attention. The mixture has a medium potency; an evident and pleasurable aroma without being overly governing on the nose. 4

(Taste) Immediately I get a truckload of toasted caramel balanced evenly with some coffee beans. Lacks the java component that made Java Stout so heavy on the coffee aspect, but rather blends them a little more evenly this time around. Slightly less evident are some bread-like qualities and a tart roasted flavor overlapping everything. The hidden level of earthy hops are most obvious in the later moments, drawing forth a sharp bitter and tart finish that lingers for a long time. It becomes even more intense as the beer warms. Doesn't work as well as I would hope. The bitter end obscures the better qualities of this beer, making it a slow and laborious drink. This is probably too strong for the average beer drinker, but does a good job at bringing forth dominant and bold flavors. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Very, very syrupy and thick. An interesting drawback is the unavoidable stickiness and syrupy texture of this brew, that I can certainly feel in my mouth with each sip. It has a very big body and an enormously bitter, medium dry mouthfeel. Alcohol also peeks its nose in several times during the drink; it's not very well concealed. There's not as much carbonation as I was hoping for in keeping this beer on the lighter crisper side. Largely deterring unless smooth and creamy without a bit of carbonated edge is your forte. 3

(Drinkability) Filling and a slow drinker. I can't go for more than a single in at least this sitting, which is good news, for it's all I've got. This beer takes intense flavors seriously, bringing some roasted flavors that could be a serious appetite filler. The earthy thick sticky texture may work for a select few, but is more likely to turn away. If it isn't the texture, it might just be the colossal 10.5% ABV that will do you in. It's really a hit-or-miss beer, but finishing a single glass isn't an impossibility. If ever in the mood, I might go for another. 3.5

Verdict: I could draw a lot of positive things that also leads to this beer's downfall. The really bold flavor lets its guard down in lieu of a really heavy, sticky and syrupy mouthfeel that isn't really pleasing. The bitter finish drags on forever and nearly dominates the taste on a sip-by-sip basis. All negativities aside, this isn't a terrible stout, but needs to be lightened up slightly in terms of mouthfeel and taste; in that I don't feel I'm drinking from a syrup spigot. An interesting attempt, but don't be surprised if you find some notable flaws in this stout. I'll be ordering the Java Stout more frequently than this one. B (3.65)

01-11-2011 03:19:00 | More by Jadjunk
Photo of THECPJ


4.3/5  rDev +1.7%

Reviewed from notes 1/9/2011

A: coffee, mocha, and malts, very sweet smelling, although a slight coffee bitterness peaks through

Ap: black with a mocha-brown 1 fingerhead, little to no lacing

B/T: mild carbonation, thick, leaves an oily feeling on the tongue

Af: coffee, mocha, sweet, followed by bitterness

O: definitely drinkable, but in moderation


01-10-2011 03:45:19 | More by THECPJ
Photo of PeprSprYoFace


3.53/5  rDev -16.5%

This is an aged bottle. About 2 years old. I've had it before but never reviewed it. Pulled from my cellar.

Appearance isn't much. Had to force a head as it was pouring out flat and like motor oil. A film stayed though after I poured it hard. Minimal lacing.

Aroma is weird. Lots of roastyness like a stout should be but there is a hint of either soy sauce or BBQ sauce. Not a ton of aroma either.

Taste is very roasty. Like a double roasty Old Rasputen. A little too roasty. A little bit of rasen and toasted sugar.

Mouthfeel is low on carb. Makes the beer too viscus.

Overall it's a little heavy and it's an ok beer. I would have it again but I don't think it's top 100 worthy

01-10-2011 02:47:42 | More by PeprSprYoFace
Photo of ncaudle


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

batch 9971 bottle poured into Dogfish signature snifter.

pours pitch black with a huge, pillowy mocha head. after a few minutes the head had mostly died down, though never completely dissipated, leaving gorgeous lacing around the glass, top to bottom.
I don't think I have ever seen a more gorgeous pour.

this nose is all sweet, but never too much. sweet chocolate, roasted malts and, maybe, maple syrup and molasses. some slight hop aromas round off the back end. taste brings out some vanilla, dark chocolate bitterness and a light touch touch of coffee. this is almost masterful the balance of flavors!

imo, this is what practically every stout should feel like. medium to thick and viscous. I love the almost chewy nature!
neither syrupy nor hot, surprising due to high abv.

I'm probably ranking drinkability lower than I normally would. this isnt really a stout I would drink in the summertime like I normally would with some other stouts.

this is probably my go to, everyday, big stout in the cold months.

01-09-2011 18:41:09 | More by ncaudle
Photo of BB1313


4.3/5  rDev +1.7%

12oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. This is probably the best looking stout I've come across! Viscous black w/ big fluffy brown head and nice lacing. Lots of roasted chocolate, vanilla, not picking up any coffee. The taste is hardcore! Tastes very burnt and hot. Still tastes good, but the flavors need time to mellow. Pretty hoppy for a stout as well. Mouthfeel is very rich and creamy, thick and chewy; full-bodied. The drinkability is its' downfall. High abv, plus the chewiness and bold flavors make this a sipper for sure. Balance isn't Expedition's strong suit.

No doubt this is one of the better Imperial Stouts out there. I've always enjoyed it, it's a fun beer to drink.

01-08-2011 20:01:37 | More by BB1313
Photo of Bmoyer0301


4.22/5  rDev -0.2%

**2006 Vintage**


Upon pulling off the cap there was just a ever so faint hiss coming from the aged bottle. Poured into my DFH snifter glass, comes out very thick and syrupy like old used motor oil. Very spotty thin tan head that was paper thin at best. No real carbonation bubbles going on here. As I give my glass a swirl the viscosity is very thick and creeps slowly down the walls of my glass.


Like opening a jar of molasses and maple syrup. There are loads of licorice, chocolate, slight ash, jagermeister, with absolutely no hop presence. In the back end I am pulling out black cherries, brownie mix, and some heat alcohol.


Huge robust flavors, dark smoky chocolate, charred meat, raisins and burnt caramel. As I let my glass warm up a little bit more and more espresso flavors are coming out with faint earthy hops that have faded greatly. Very thick on the mouthfeel, mouse, creamy and very thick and long lasting finish that coasts your throat like cough syrup.

01-08-2011 16:38:59 | More by Bmoyer0301
Photo of Elendinn


4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

Poured into a half-pint pilsner glass.  Thanks hellomisterp!

A - pitch black with a very miniscule amount of caramely, milk chocolate head. No lacing.

S - lots of dark chocolate up front, a bit of coffee, with some hoppy bitterness and bourbon in the backend.

T - chocolate, coffee, alcohol, bruleed sugar, spice, a bit of char-- finishes with a hoppy dryness and a lingering coffee flavor.

M - pretty carbonated, full-bodied, not syrupy -- not quite as smooth as I'd like.

D - a little too dry in the finish to be easily drinkable, but still very good. One bottle's plenty as the alcohol is rather noticeable. Pairs extremely well with pumpkin pie creme brulee. Could've used another year or two of age on it.

01-07-2011 02:00:06 | More by Elendinn
Photo of bmohead


4.2/5  rDev -0.7%

From a bottle, poured into a pint glass. A hard pour produced a slow building, 2 finger mocha head. Heavy lacing follows this one down the side of the glass. Appears a deep black, with no light penetrating. Smell up front is of raisin and plum, then a deeper coffee and slightly chocolate aroma follows. Taste follows smell, with a roasty bitterness that is not at all overwhelming. Mouthfeel is quite thick and creamy, but finishes rather dry. Nice. Overall this is a fairly drinkable RIS, and one I will have again

01-04-2011 07:30:51 | More by bmohead
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,471 ratings.