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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.

4,523 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,523
Reviews: 1,880
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 390
Gots: 967 | 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: 4,523 | Reviews: 1,880 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Elendinn
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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.

Elendinn, Jan 07, 2011
Photo of bmohead
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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

bmohead, Jan 04, 2011
Photo of orangesol
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden into a nonic pint.

A - Pours dark as can be with a thick, pillowy, one finger head, dissipating down to a thick film of head, leaving thick rings of lacing down the glass.

S - Rich, chocolatey, nose with a bit of lightly roasted dark malt. Chocolate is quite bitter but not to the point of being overpowering. A bit on the sweeter side compared to others in the style. More and more roast comes thru as it begins to warm.

T - Lots of dark, roasty, flavors in this one. Plenty of bitter chocolate up front giving way slowly to a mix of sweetness and rich roasty malt. Finish is very roasty that lingers long after consumption. Alcohol is ever present, unable to hide in the shadows for long, offering a warming sensation on finish. Not the best I have had but still very nice.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Fairly creamy feel with a very nice balance of flavors.

D - Fairly high. I really like this one a lot but it can become overpowering after the first glass. I could have one or two of these but that would be about all.

orangesol, Jan 02, 2011
Photo of rbrianforrester
3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

All in all, I liked this beer. It's not something I could sit down and drink all night, a bit too sweet for me. My bottle didn't produce as much head as I would like, and I felt the nose was lacking some of the characteristics I'd like to see in a stout.

That said, at 10.5% ABV this is definitely something I'd like to cellar and open next winter. Very probable that the sweetness would mellow and the chocolate and smoke would be more present.

rbrianforrester, Jan 02, 2011
Photo of mckeowbc
3.38/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours like used motor oil. Dark and think for a beer. Almost no head, what little there is is caramel colored. Beer leaves no lacing on the glass.
S - Smell is sweet, hints of alcohol, caramel, coffee.
T - I'm not wowed by the taste. It's sweet and the high alcohol was apparent and it leaves a sweet lingering taste on your tongue but it seems somewhat out of balance. Maybe too much alcohol.
M - Mouthfeel is somewhat heavy, but the lack of carbonation hurts this beer. It isn't creamy and it doesn't have the body of something like Great Divide's Yeti.
D - The sweetness in this beer is out of balance and it's kind of cloying. After one I don't really want a second right away. It's an okay beer, but not a great beer.

I'm kinda disappointed by this beer. I'm a big fan of Bell's Two Hearted and this fell short for me. It's an okay stout, but it's lacking something. I'll finish off the 6-pack but I can't see buying another, especially at what it cost me. Also the 10.5% ABV makes this prohibitive for me to drink on a regular basis. It's not a session beer or weeknight with dinner beer and when I want something for a special occasion I want something more impressive than this.

mckeowbc, Jan 01, 2011
Photo of masonjer
5/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Expedition stout! I have had this beer out of the bottle, on tap, on handpull, fresh, slightly aged, 10 years old and enjoyed it each time. This might be my favorite beer of all time. Pours pitch black, huge aroma of roast and bitter hops, chocolate and even a touch of bitter licorice. Taste is much the same, fills the mouth and coats the tongue. A great sipper that is complex and full of flavor. Good stuff.

masonjer, Dec 30, 2010
Photo of elgiacomo
4.83/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle, batch 9459, bottled Nov 19, 2009. Over a year old. Served cellar temp in a New Belgium globe/snifter. I've enjoyed this a few times in its youth but wanted to wait to review til it was over a year old.

Pours black with a two finger brown head that leaves some pretty lacing and holds a small cap.

Aroma is rich roasted malts, chocolate, anise, coffee, vanilla, dark fruits of plums, figs, cherries, and raisins, some alcohol. Great strength.

Flavor is also very rich much like the aroma with chocolate, coffee, dark roasted malts, cherries, plums, figs, raisins, vanilla, there is still a noticeable alcohol bite/burn which is to be expected for the ABV but I thought it would have diminished more over a year's time. Still, can't really fault a big Imperial Stout for being a touch hot.

Mouthfeel is full, creamy, medium carbonation.

A world-class Imperial Stout for sure, so very rich and decadent. Can't wait to try some of the 2010 batch.

EDIT: By FAR my favorite non-barrel aged Imperial Stout. Just can't get enough of this magical brew. Numerous batches, numerous years at a variety of ages and they're all fantastic in their own way. Age certainly benefits this one as well and I can't wait to try some extended aging well beyond 2 years on this one.

elgiacomo, Dec 28, 2010
Photo of AllFineThings
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pretty dark, and has a half inch head which settles down to a wisp which lingers throughout.

Smells like a dark heavy licorice and chocolate, nutty malt.

Is a medium to heavy mouthfeel.

Is a decent drinker and I could buy another single, but nothing mind blowing, just a decent stout from a good brewery.

AllFineThings, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of AwYeh
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours dark brown, opaque with less than a finger of dark brown head which dissipates quickly.

S: Smells most clearly of chocolate initially, more coffee comes through as it warms.

T: Chocolate and coffee stand out in taste; both are balanced well. A bit of a caramel flavor, and easily noticeable bitterness from hops; pleasant bittersweet finish. Only complaint is that it may be a bit too sweet for my tastes.

M: Soft carbonation; thick, oily body.

D: Moderately drinkable; the sweetness begins to overwhelm me near the end of the glass. Though I enjoyed it, it was best early on and I don't think I would have a second immediately.

AwYeh, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of scottfrie
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into snifter. Bottled November 11, 2009. I forget which generous BA traded me this, but thank you.

A: A hard pour into my glass yielded about a finger of dense dark brown head under near-black liquid. A ton of small, soapy looking dots and strings of lacing were left down the glass.
S: Reminds me of a chocolate malt, or a chocolate-vanilla milkshake. Strong creamy chocolate smell, different from the normal dark chocolate smell found in a lot of stouts.
T: Follows the nose with a big creamy milk chocolate taste. The backside is sweet, and the finish has notes of dark fruits, molasses, and raisins. Aftertaste has notes blueberries and other berries. Aftertaste is actually pretty bitter as well.
M: Very soft and smooth mouthfeel over a medium-full body with delicate carbonation. Finish is chewy and lingering. Alcohol is noticeable in the aftertaste, but it doesn't even warm my throat.
D: Wonderful RIS. A bit rough in the finish, but I'm loving the mouthfeel. I could see this being even better if it were aged longer than 13 months.

scottfrie, Dec 24, 2010
Photo of Adouble
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle sampled from a case I found at Plaza Beverage in Pittston, PA. Bottled 12/09 found and tasted 12/10, what a find! Poured into a coffee mug on a cold snowy morning.

A- Pitch black with a thin tan head that left some fuzzy lacing around the side. Carbonation seems low and that is how I like it. Seems a fairly thick body, again, how I like it.

S- Sweet roasty aroma, Vanilla?

T- Like it smells, sweet roasty flavor gives way to a even bitter roastiness in the finish. Very smooth with a wonderful chocolate flavor Thick mouthfeel. Warms the belly!

D- Pretty high. I love this style and I could drink these all day. Very smooth at a year old with an even sweet-bitter balance.

Adouble, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of wvsabbath
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Black as oil, large thick chocolate colored 3 inch foamy head

Smell - Could smell malts, coffee, barley and alcohol as i was pouring it. After sniffing got some chocolate, nuts, some spices and smoke

Taste - Shocked at how smooth and mild this was, but as i swallowed, it got stronger and the warm sensation on tounge was nice. Rich coffee, carmael, barley and choclate, with some spices really make this tastey. I really enjoy the long lasting kick this beer has.

Mouthfeel - Starts out pretty mild, then it kicks in with warmth on tounge, and a bold thick covering of the palette. Its rich and sweeth, bold and strong, a real rollercoaster for mouth. Very stout and bold, forget about tasting anything else until you eat or drink some water.

Drinkabilty - Its so strong, and at 10.5%, no more then 1-2 and done. But, you will love each drink espcially as this beer warms up, it really comes alive. Fantasic, made my top 10 RIS list for sure.

wvsabbath, Dec 22, 2010
Photo of Eldalonde
5/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours pitch black with a dark brown full head. The smell just fills the room once the cap has been cracked...phenomenal. Rich aromas of bourbon, tobacco, sweet and bitter dark chocolate, copious amounts of coffee. There is also a bit of a hoppy bite in the aroma. The flavor is just spot on. Rich oily mouthfeel gives flavors that are close to the nose. Bitter roasted coffee and dark chocolate are the most accessible flavors with those heavily roasted malts coming across with such brilliance. Tobacco and toffee combine with molasses to give an incredible complexity. This beer also has that 'raw' edge that I love in stouts so much. The finish is long, dry, and lingering. This beer provides everything I look for in a RIS and leaves nothing undone. This is just wonderful

Eldalonde, Dec 22, 2010
Photo of BBP
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a little less dark than the average RIS with a very good creamy full head, which holds decently, and superb lacing.

S- A very all around aroma. Hints of bitterness from the hops as well as coffee, chocolate, roasted malts, and dark malts.

T- Everything you'd expect from an RIS. Begins with a semi-sweet chocolate taste and works it's way towards the roasted malt and hop bitterness quickly. After they play their parts the chocolate really comes into play. The aftertaste is loaded with it. It does a great job at bringing all of the flavors up to the front and making them big. There's a little bit of alcohol noticed in this one, but it's easy to look by with all of the other good flavor.

M- Very nice and full. Creamy feel and just a little dry and sticky in the finish. I've heard chewy being used for a mouthfeel description several times, and I think that this is the first one that is getting there.

D- Too drinkable. I only bought one of these which makes me a little sad, as I really have to drink this slower than I want to. It's good for very easy drinking without being watered down or having weak flavor. The 10.5% is there and easy to notice, but not overbearing and it didn't take away from the experience at all for me. I'll get a 6pk of this next time for sure rather than the single.

BBP, Dec 21, 2010
Photo of afksports
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a solid RIS! Thanks Emily for the bottle from Michigan, and thanks John for this in my Secret Santa box.

It pours rich and dark brown near black. Thick. There's nice carbonation that helps with lacing and actually stis on top which is nice for a Russian Imperial Stout. Smells a bit boozy, but the coffee and chocolate poke through. It tastes thick, rich, and sweet - like you want an RIS to. But it's well-composed and not overly watery or boozy. You only taste the good parts.

Drinking it is smooth through the palate from start to finish, and it's very easy to forget about the 10.5% alcohol by volume.

Now if only the Eagles would come back and beat the Giants in this game, life would be perfect (mostly).

afksports, Dec 19, 2010
Photo of dmfrench
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A huge, syrupy, fruity/chocolate/coffee milkshake


A: Absolute black with no highlights, even when held to a light. Crowned with a huge three finger khaki head that just stares at you, crawling all over the glass A beautiful cascade effect is the icing on the cake.

S: Dark fruit, molasses, cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, a bit of burnt malt, and perhaps a hit of piney hops, in that order. A good nose, but not overly potent.

T: Huge, sweet roasted chocolate body greets you up front, with dark fruit in the middle, ending on burnt cocoa and a slight embittering hops. The finish is so long that drinking one of these usually takes me the better part of two hours.

M: Perfection... can be chewed if desired. Creamy as can be.

D: Outstanding for such a huge beer.

dmfrench, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of TheQuietMan22
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Straight pour into a becker glass. I do not think I have ever seen a beer look so sexy on its way out of the bottle. The color is a completely opaque black; no light passed through when I held it to my lamp. Three fingers of a thick, chocolate-tan head developed and dissipated slowly to leave trails along the glass, a spotted lacing, and a ring around the edge.

Smell: My first whiff was a mélange of roasted coffee, chocolate, and caramel; dark fruit (mostly plum, cherry, and raisins); molasses; black licorice; and brown sugar. Tinged with a spiced rum-like edge and slight hint of Belgian yeast (really?), the general aroma reminds me of dubbel.

Taste: The mouthfeel is incredibly thick and creamy, which perfectly exemplifies the flavor experience that follows. Though subtle, the complexity is there: roasted coffee, chocolate, and a little caramel; brown sugar; molasses; the dark fruit plum, cherry, and raisin from the smell; and the spiced rum-like tingle of alcohol. Though it sounds crazy, I seriously think I taste a little bready, Belgian yeast. The roasted coffee leaves a nice, bitter aftertaste, which sometimes pushed my bitterness threshold as the pint warmed.

TheQuietMan22, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of kk73
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into my glass. Batch #9512.

A - Pours out midnight black with a slightly reddish tinge around the edge of the glass. A dark mocha one finger head that doesnt hang around leaves some lacing.

S - A big roasty and smokey profile with touches of molasses and some brown sugar.

T - Rich dark chocolate and roasted malt. Slight coffee like bitterness on the finish. Very little alcohol detection.

M - Full bodied, rich, thick, and chewy. Light carbonation which to me is perfect for an imperial stout.

D - A nice Russian Imperial Stout. Really drinkable as I do not detect as much alcohol as others do in the reviews Ive read. Although that being said one maybe two of these and thats it. Its so rich, thick, and chewy which makes it a nice slow sipper.

kk73, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of Rifugium
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at Eulogy, Philly, PA

A: Dark brown and opaque, with a healthy head. Served in a tulip glass.

S: Roasty and chocolaty, some subtle spicy notes.

T: Smooth and chocolaty, some coffee, wonderful malts, moderate alcohol.

M: VERY smooth, creamy, thick body, minimal carbonation.

D: Highly drinkable, and good to the very last drop.

Rifugium, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of Blanco
2.73/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

black with a darker head than most stouts big lacing from the head with a slight film on the side of the glass reminiscent of wine lacing. big dark fruit and alcohol in the nose right up front. sweetness as well. wow, the flavor is strong and out of control. first strong bitterness and then roasted coffee, which was not present in the smell. definitely makes you pull back and sip on her and unfortunately it's not as good as I expected. Though it has some potential, seems a little too fresh for me.

Blanco, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of portia99
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle (batch 10068) received as a great extra in my latest trade with jpmclaug. Thanks - this one is long overdue...poured into a Bruery tulip.

A - Pours thick and oily/syrupy looking coming out of the bottle. Pitch black without a hint of light allowed to pass thru it, even when held up to a light. A low dark mocha colored head fades quickly and leaves only a thin collar and a vague attempt at lacing on the glass.

S - Dark and roasty in the nose. Heavily scented with licorice that blends into coffee, bakers chocolate and a hint of burnt malt. Faint touches of caramel and vanilla round things out nicely.

T - Very bitter with a good dose of heavily kilned malt. They is a heavy char that lingers throughout the beer - burnt toast, charcoal, espresso beans and some accompanying acidity. The licorice in the aroma makes an equally strong showing in the flavor too. Dark fruits - prunes and a bit of raisin-like flavors creep into the mix. I really don't get much for hops - I think the scorched malt contributes plenty of bitterness and overwhelms whatever hops are here. Alcohol is practically non-existant in the flavor which is pretty impressive being a 10.5% beer.

M - A strong point for this beer. Body is full with a thick and viscous but oily slick feel. Carbonation is on the lower side giving barely a tingle, but works really well with the big body. Incredibly smooth...very nice.

D - Incredibly smooth...the intensely burnt character is a bit on the intense side and limits the drinkability a bit. Perhaps it just serves to slow me down a little bit in emptying this glass, which is probably a good thing considering the strength of this beer. I'd definitely be up for another one right now if it was available.

portia99, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of bonkers
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a SA perfect pint glass. Jet black pour, slight white head, minimal lacing. The aroma has a ton of molases, dark fruit, and alchohol. It taste like it smells, sweet molases, and dates. It does have a lingering alcohol burn, along with a sweet finish. Definitely a full bodied sipper. It has a nice creamy mouth feel, the carbonation is fair. A very good RIS.

bonkers, Dec 08, 2010
Photo of CBlack85
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Duckworths in Charlotte. Served in a small chalice

The beer pours black as midnight, with no highlights at all. There is about one and a half fingers worth of dense dark tan head that slowly recedes leaving behind spotty lacing.

The aroma is big and roasty with lots of chocolate and coffee, and to a lesser degree dark fruits and even a bit of citrusy hops. The alcohol is present in the nose, but not as much as you would think at 10.5% ABV.

The flavor is much bigger than the aroma would lead you to believe. Loaded with caramel and chocolate, and accented by roasty grains and coffee, this beer screams desert. The dark fruitiness is just barely noticable. The hops are noticable, but not enough to get in the way of the sweet, desert like qualities of the beer. Full bodied and creamy with a very restrained carbonation. Finishes sweet with just a slight alcohol burn. Remarkably drinkable for the style and ABV.

Just an amazing beer, I will definately be picking some up to cellar, I am interested to see how this beer tastes with a couple of years on it.

CBlack85, Dec 07, 2010
Photo of winegourmet76
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great beer karma to Nick who bestowed this to me. Three years old. I have heard great things and love the style, was elated to try this one.

Appearance: black as night, aggressive pour, brown head, good lacing

Nose: remarkable, and I have had some amazing wines in my time, but this is irresistible to a great nose. Dark rich chocolate, like 80% cacao, followed by rich, rum and brandy macerated raisins. Very few beers warrant savoring the nose for so long as this one. So rich, so indulgent, can the flavor measure up?

Taste: brandy, chocolate-covered raisins, smoke, this one is definitely in its prime. Mostly I get the rich brandy/rum flavors, which is a nice change from the usual roasted coffee IRS flavors. Only the Bell's Batch 7000 that I was fortunate enough to try bests this one in complexity.

Mouthfeel: A little thin, expected it to be more creamy.

This is a beer that ranks in my top five, hands down. So rich, so complex, I wish I had some to share with my friends. This beer is exactly why I love this style so much.

winegourmet76, Dec 06, 2010
Photo of BeerDawgs
3.63/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

A - A dark, chocolatey dark stout. Average head. Low carbonation.

S - Many spices prevalent. There are a lot of moving parts here

T - Smooth for a strong stout, but at the end there are multiple flavors popping up. Fruits, chocolate, malts, spices, etc. Too many to be able to pick out individual items.

M - An explosion of flavours. Low carbonation.

D - I rank it low in drinkability because the high alcohol content is not masked at all. It is too overwhelming. You are done after 1, even though the taste is excellent.

BeerDawgs, Dec 05, 2010
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,523 ratings.