1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.

4,654 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,654
Reviews: 1,893
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 10.87%
Wants: 402
Gots: 1,010 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,654 | Reviews: 1,893 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Franz4
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch #10068

A-Opaque, 3 finger dark tan foamy head that settles gradually, leaves some thick lace as well, very nice.

S-nicely balanced between chocolate, coffee, and just a touch of abv burn to the nose, very toasty, it has exceeded my expectations in this area.

T-burnt chocolate and coffee flavors sweet on the front of the mouth and slightly bitter/acidic on the back, just a little alcohol burn down the back of the throat

M- wow, silky smooth and creamy. The carbonation is different, but I think it fits this beer very well.

D- I'm going to end up draining this glass a lot more quickly than I was planning. While I probably won't have multiple of these in an evening, this is a very drinkable beer, it's gone down smoothly and it's been fantastic.

Franz4, Feb 22, 2011
Photo of joshrosborne
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This has to be one of the best Stout's I've ever tried. Almost like a dessert in a glass. Good stuff.

A: Pours dark as night with a tan milky head that, after dissipating, leaves a nice tan film over the beer. Same colored lacing on the glass.

S: You get a ton of roasted malt from this. I can't smell the espresso, but the chocolate is evident. You can smell the alcohol a bit, too.

T: Almost tastes like a boozy chocolate milk at first. Finishes with a little bitterness from the roasted malts that were in the smell. A little bit of burn from the ABV.

M: Very creamy and smooth. There is a bit of carbonation, but it does nothing but enhance and deliver the creaminess.

D: You don't want to drink this quickly not just b/c of the high ABV, but b/c it tastes so damn good. I couldn't believe this was 10.5%. You can taste the booze, but I had no idea it was that high. This could be a dangerous one.

joshrosborne, Feb 22, 2011
Photo of gregshead
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another one of the bottles received in my trade with four kicks. Enjoyed this on 2/14/11. Reviewed from notes:

A: A very nice black with a nice half finger of khaki colored head that dissipates quickly.

S: dark and I do mean daaarrrrkk roasted grains with hints of espresso and dark chocolate.

T: Starts out with nice sweet dark chocolate taste. Finishes with a very dry roasted taste. A little dryer than I prefer in this style. However, the quality is very high in this beer.

M: A little carbonation but extremely smooth feel.

D: It's definitely easy to sip/drink just like most of Bell's I've had so far. I tasted/drank in a lot of high quality in this one.

gregshead, Feb 21, 2011
Photo of chcfan
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into snifter. Batch 10105

Beautiful brown head on top of a black as night liquid.

Expedition is one of the more complex stouts out there. There's so much going on in the aroma and taste. You get coffee, roast, dark fruit, chocolate...

This is the most recent batch, yet there's almost no heat at all. It is SO drinkable now. I plan to age one at least a year, but I have a feeling that I will enjoy this fresh one more. Time will tell.

chcfan, Feb 21, 2011
Photo of BigTomZ
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours an oily black with just a bit of head and no real notable lacing.

S: Smells of chocolate, light roasted malts, and coffee.

T: Taste follows the nose. Nice chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, hop bitterness. High ABV is fairly well hidden.

M: Thick and lightly carbonated but goes down pretty well for a thick brew.

D: Drinkability is fairly high for the style. I could drink a few of these before the ABV catches up.

BigTomZ, Feb 20, 2011
Photo of mpcrump
3.15/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

A: Very dark pour. Black with a brown head.

S: Roasted malt, coffee, and a hint of chocolate.

T: Very heavy and bitter. Malts and coffee.

M: Thick with little carbonation.

D: Uh-huh. This must be an acquired taste.

mpcrump, Feb 20, 2011
Photo of WeissbrauMeister
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a 20oz. snifter.

A- Black. With a brownish head.

S- Dark. Licorice. Alcohol.

T- It starts sweet with tones of toffee and alcohol and finishes with a strong alcohol and and hoppy taste.

M- Right on par.

D- I could drink a few of these (limited to 3).

WeissbrauMeister, Feb 19, 2011
Photo of treehouse
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

packaged nov 11, 2010....10.5%..

deeep dark

nose ...tart...roasted malt....cacao...tiny bit of heavy cream....and roasted coffee beans...

mouth....creamy and chocolatey and a decent amount of alcohol taste...hoppy too..but decently balanced....relatively dry..i mean..the cacao and alcohol makes it taste less voluptuous...

a bitter chocolate finish...long one...

some nice bright tang in my mouth....an alive feeling beer!

treehouse, Feb 18, 2011
Photo of Brez07
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this in the Black Booty Vol 4 BIF from normyk. Batch 8944 (hand labeled 1/28/09). 12oz, poured into a snifer

A: Pours thick, jet black with a slight amount of head. After the pour, I only get a thin ring of head. No lacing

S: Rich, dark chocolate mixed with an underlying hint of smokiness and cocoa nibs. Biscuit and toasted cracker. Minor notes of dark fruit. Some roasted malt, almost nut-like. Upon swirling the glass, I am hit with a big whiff of charcoal, but this only lasts a few seconds

T: Starts with lots of roasted malt flavor along with some smokiness. Some dark chocolate comes through in the middle, but is overtaken with smoked malt. The is a brief period of sweetness, similar to chocolate covered dark fruit. The warmer, the better with this beer as smoke fades to a tolerable amount

M: Full bodied, thick and smooth. Smoked malt aftertaste with a dry finish

D: Relatively easy to drink at 10.5%, but the alcohol is still fairly present even 2 years after bottling. At times the smokiness was too much but once it faded a little, the beer was quite enjoyable

Brez07, Feb 16, 2011
Photo of DannyDan
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A. Pours a thick black oily body with a tan head. Not much in carbonation, not much in lacing and little retention. Did get a good size head by giving it an aggressive pour.
S. Chocolate, coffee, molasses, licorice is the most notable smells in this brew.
T. Bitter chocolate, and coffee up front followed by some licorice and sweet molasses in the middle and finishes off with some caramel and some alcohol.
M. This is a nice smooth and creamy feel that leaves a little stickiness on the lips and leaves the mouth dry.
D. For being a strong full bodied beer it goes down nicely. This is one that I'll gladly buy again. Not perfect, but still good.

DannyDan, Feb 16, 2011
Photo of adam42381
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Cigar City snifter. Bottled on September 13, 2010 per batch number 9971 printed on label.

Appearance: Pours a thick motor oil black with a 1/2 finger mocha brown head which dissipates quickly.

Smell: Chocolate, molasses, alcohol and a hops.

Taste: Molasses and dark chocolate up front followed by roasted malt and coffee in the middle before ending with a burst of bitter hops at the finish. The alcohol is obviously there, but it never overpowers the flavor. Aftertaste is a mix of burnt toast and hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and with a decent amount of carbonation. This is a thick beer that still goes down smoothly.

Drinkability: High drinkability. This isn't a beer to be rushed by any means. Drink it slowly and savor the flavors because you're probably going to be done after one.

Overall: Very good beer overall. One of the better Russian Imperial Stouts that is widely available. Another fine offering from Bell's.

adam42381, Feb 14, 2011
Photo of jayhawk73
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a midnight black with a thin chocolate head that disappears fairly quickly. No light coming from this big beer. The smell is not as strong as the taste, but you get chocolate, coffee and a little hops which increase as this one warms up. The taste is great- chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, hops all make their appearance known. Definite alcohol burn on the aftertaste, but it's a 10.5% beer, so I don't hold that against it. Still, I've had beers in this style w/ this ABV that hide their alcohol a little better. Really get a bitter coffee in the aftertaste as well. The mouthfeel is smooth, but there's an edge to it as well.. Drinkibility is good, might be a little better if the alcohol was better masked. All in all though, this is a great beer. I keep thinking I'll age some, but they never make it very long in my fridge.... Cheers!

jayhawk73, Feb 14, 2011
Photo of sisuspeed
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled September 21st, 2009

Poured into a Cigar City snifter. Nice dark tan head on this one that fades to a thin film over a midnight black body.

The nose is filled with anise, coffee, chocolate and a bit of alcohol, though not too hot. The anise is the most dominant note, followed by roasty malts and dark chocolate. Quite sweet.

Thick, sweet, chocolate followed by some oak notes (more like lightly charred barrel), even though I'm pretty sure this beer never sees a barrel or oak chips. Anise notes are still present, but lighter than the nose. Sweet upfront, and then roasty, slightly charred, bitter dark malts on the finish. A decent RIS, but it seems a bit discombobulated at this age. I think I prefer it fresh compared to this roughly 1.5 year old bottle.

Mouthfeel is thick, slick and well carbonated for the style. Still has some heat at this age. The finish/aftertaste is just a bit too char-like for me, which knocks down the mouthfeel a notch.

Drinkability is above average. I'm enjoying the glass in front of me, but there are better RIS's out there. I would probably pick up a pack of Old Rasputin over this any day. However, I've heard from some people that this turns into a gem with some decent age on it, so I'll probably save my other 2009 bottle for another 3-5 years. Worth checking out, but I think Bell's can do better.

sisuspeed, Feb 12, 2011
Photo of FosterJM
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

243rd review on BA
bottle to snifter
No bottle code- Emailed bells said only issue was batch 9424 bottled on 10/29/2009

2009 Vintage

App- A very dark brown pour almost black with a dark tan almost brown head. Quickly receding to a ring of bubbles.

Smell- A lot of booze on this even with a year on it. Big RIS scents fill the nose. Chocolate, coffee, malt.

Taste- A bit stout with some less than balanced flavors that somehow still manage to taste great. The malt is a bit too strong with a underdevloped roast. A bit of a nutty aftertaste.

Mouth- A light/medium body with a low carb slick oily feel to it.

Drink- I was expecting a bit more but still pretty good. I give it high marks.

FosterJM, Feb 11, 2011
Photo of MarkFy
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 10105
poured from bottle into snifter.

A: Black, thin dark brown head around the edges

S: a tiny bit of wood oak, licorice and faint dark fruits

T: sweet dark chocolate mixed with some coffee and licorice, hints of dark fruit.

M: Rich and creamy texture, with a little heat at the end from the alcohal which is nice.

D: Wow, I only wish I could session this as it is enjoyable with each sip, however, I think 1 is just perfect for me.

I've had prior years of this beer that were wonderful, but I must say that this year is drinking OUTSTANDING right now. I wish I had thought of getting a sixer sooner as it is tough to find now!

MarkFy, Feb 11, 2011
Photo of SHODriver
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep black with a dark tan head. Very little in the way of a head and this beer is quite viscous judging by the pour. Daddy likes.
S: A touch of alcohol, a touch of chocolate, some roast malts, a little sweetness with a hint of vanilla. Things are looking good, very good
T: A little bland at the front but it builds slowly with some nice coffee and chocolate flavors. Plenty of roast malt flavor to go around with a lingering slightly aftertaste. It takes awhile for this beer to gain flavor but when it does it's great.
M: A touch watery with light carbonation and although a touch watery at the front it finishes slightly chewy.
D: This is a sipper and due to being a stout it isn't exactly sessionable but finishing off this bottle won't be a problem

O: A solid offering from the folks at Bell's. If it had a bit more flavor at the front end it would be a home run.

SHODriver, Feb 11, 2011
Photo of liquidsunshine
3.18/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass vigorously to help generate head this beer is dark black syrupy in color with a pinky of quickly vanishing tan foam. Dark roasted malt comes through in the nose along with hints of coffee, chocolate and date. The flavor is first of dark malt, with similar notes as the scent. The mouthfeel does not remind me of a stout, as it is claimed on the label. It is clinging and syrupy.

I was a little disappointed in this brew after many excellent beers from Bell's.

liquidsunshine, Feb 10, 2011
Photo of bboelens
1.98/5  rDev -53.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A-Black motor oil in viscosity, an aggressive pour yielded no head at all, and the beer left no lacing.

S-Ok we're getting back on track, roasted malt and coffee are the main presence, a hint of chocolate and alcohol in the background.

T-Woof! This beer is thick and has waaaay too much going on in it, it's an explosion of flavors and not in the good way, yes there's some malt and coffee and a heavy alcohol taste but i can't even explain what the rest is, licorice and a clusterf**k of other things that just didn't come together for me.

M-Thick, no carbonation, medicinal

D-I almost broke my no drain pouring rule with this beer. I wonder if I got a bad bottle or if my taste buds just weren't made for this beer. This is a fresh bottle and a bought another one to age, after reading about it's impressive aging abilities, so I'll give it another chance.

bboelens, Feb 09, 2011
Photo of Hellabeerguzzler
2.48/5  rDev -41.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

I love a good stout. But a stout has to be drinkable. This stout was overly sweet, sickeningly sweet, with little or hardly any carbonation. When poured a small head can be seen and the booze in this pitch black mixture strips the lacing from side of the glass. Smell is a bit overcooked with hints of dark chocolate, some fruits, and some spices but mostly booze. I've had similar and even higher %ABV brews that hid the booze much better than this one. Bells, I love your line, and a few of your beers may be my absolute favorites....

This stout is not one of them.

Hellabeerguzzler, Feb 08, 2011
Photo of dc55110
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to wkcyr4 for including this awesome extra!

2008 Vintage

Like pulling the drain plug on an oil pan, after 10k miles, slow, dark and thick! Half a pinky finger of head, as it dissipates the last bit holds on for dear life (10+ minutes), very nice lacing even after that.

The aroma is molasses and malt with a hint of biter chocolate?!?

Black strap molasses, prune, raisin with a nice malt heft to it.

It hides the 10.5% well, although it has a nice warming effect going down. It imparts a nice coating on your mouth that lasts well beyond the last sip.

Very much a sipper, but since it takes a while to enjoy one of these, having two of these would make for a nice leisurely drinking evening.

dc55110, Feb 07, 2011
Photo of jpmclaug
2.7/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from the bottle into a snifter

A - Black body with a small circle of dark brown head.

S - Dark malts and roast, a big boozy presence lingers in the back as well.

T - dark chocolate, kind of a burnt grain taste that makes it fairly bitter. Boozy as well but in a grainy alcohol kind of way.

M - heavy body, not much carbonation

D - Not what I remember this one tasting like. Kind of a bitter burnt flavor takes this one down a notch with me.

jpmclaug, Feb 06, 2011
Photo of comfortablynumb1
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Ballast Point pint glass...

A - Pours black with a one finger brown head. Head retention is decent and there is lacing to be had, but it is nothing extraordinary considering the style...

S - Chocolate, coffee, licorice and molasses. Also get a good dose of roasted malts in the scent...

T - Dark roasted malts, chocolate, caramel, molasses, and a good dose of coffee. Ends on a smokey note with a little bit of heat. Surprised so many people are saying this one has alot of heat. Don't get that much myself. Aged this one a few months, but I feel like the abv is pretty well hidden...

M - Nice and viscous. Carbonation is on the moderate side...

D - For the price this is a solid RIS. Definitely something i'm looking foward to aging for a year or two...


comfortablynumb1, Feb 06, 2011
Photo of sweett3k
3.28/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thick Thick beer. My daughter asked me for a sip of my rootbeer float because of the thick creamy head it had.Then she smelt it and asked me if it was a chocolate and raisin milk shake. It has a nice thick coats your tongue feel with a choclate and rasin taste so my sweet pea nailed it. I am a hops man so I say it is O.K. I'll drink one of these at a time when I am in the mood for a thick stout. I just enjoy all the best beers in the world that South West Michigan brews and brings to my table. Now I need a Hopslam!

sweett3k, Feb 05, 2011
Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Black and non-see thru. 1/2 finger head and light, spotty, lacing.

Smells nice. An alcoholic version of raisiny dark burnt malts.

Tastes pretty good. A variety of dark fruits, plus molasses and brown sugar, booze, and lovely roasted, almost burnt malts.

Thick and rich mouthfeel. Pretty smooth for the style. Pleasant.

Drinks average. A nice beer but not especially high on my list of have again beers.

AlCaponeJunior, Feb 05, 2011
Photo of cosmicevan
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

got this one (from my wants) as extras on a few trades, so thanks 321jeff & gnemesis for your generosity! let me preface this by saying i'm a huge fan of both bell's beers (so far) and russian imperial stouts...so needless to say, i'm pretty pumped for the taste.

A - Poured from 12oz bottle into darkness snifter. Sludgey black with a head that built from the beer as it was pouring, I'm a big fan of beers that pour this way...just looks bada$$ in my opinion. As the head dissipated it left milkshake like cling on the glass. Pretty nice.

S - Roasted creamy milk hershey bar malts. Touch of camp fire in the background...kind of like a smoked milk stout.

T - Again roasty smokey malts...the nose is way more milk chocolate whereas the flavor is dominated by roastiness. the sweet milk flavor is in the background.

M - Rich, thick, creamy and full. Heavy like a gourmet coffee like dessert drink. Leaves a bit of a dry bitter tingle.

D - Another fine offering from Bells. I am pretty glad that I have another to drink...but I think I'll save it for another time. This is a good beer, but in the world of RIS, there are some mind boggling beers for fans of the style. Definitely worth checking out, but a bit too dry and bitter for me. The nose was the clear highlight.

cosmicevan, Feb 05, 2011
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,654 ratings.