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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.

4,555 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,555
Reviews: 1,884
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 397
Gots: 978 | FT: 75
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: 4,555 | Reviews: 1,884 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JizackFH
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - This one pours black with a thin brown head. There is no light able to pass through its body. The head left a bit of lacing as it fell.

S - It smells of roasted malts. There are also notes of coffee, chocolate, licorice, dark fruits, brown sugar, and a touch of alcohol. Smells great.

T - The chocolate and roasted malts come out first. Then, the flavors of molasses, licorice, dark fruits, and coffee come into play. There is also some hop and alcohol presence at the finish, which also has a bitterness to it.

M - This has a full body and low carbonation. It goes down nice and smooth, and also has a silky quality to it. There is also a warming sensation at the end of each drink.

D - I would say this is a pretty drinkable beer considering the ABV. It goes down nice and easy. This is a perfect beer for the colder months. This is a great RIS and I would recommend it to anyone. Great job Bells. Cheers.

JizackFH, Nov 17, 2010
Photo of EwaldEichstaett
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Wow, it looks like most love this one. I didn't think it was all that great. (review from some old notes, I would love to try it again and see if the opinion sticks):

Looks pretty standard, dark brown, crappy head. Smell and taste wise,I thought that it was simply dominated by roasted dark malts and it lacked the depth (for an RIS). There were some sweet fig or date like flavors in there which (strangely) reminded me of a dopplebock. However, it also had a strong alcohol presence overall... more than it should have.

The mouth-feel was too thick and coupled with the ABV, it did not go down very smoothly. The beer was also really syrupy. It proved to be much harder to drink that I would have liked.

EwaldEichstaett, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of devilben02
3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle, I could tell that this one was a shade of dark brown, but it was as dark as can be, with a medium-dark brown head that clung tenaciously to the side of the glass. The aroma is interestingly different from many other imperial stouts, with an up-front alcohol character that seems like a licorice liqueur along with some underlying sweetness. The flavor is roasy, sweet, and almost tangy, featuring the same licorice character found in the aroma, with complementing characteristics of charred firewood and bitter chocolate. Texturally, it is mouth-filling and resinous, but not to the point of being syrupy.

Overall, although it is not potently boozy, the flavors are dense (but I wouldn't characterize them as "rich"), making it readily apparent that this beer is a force. I sipped it slowly and enjoyed it, but I don't know how often I would go back for more.

devilben02, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of BigB415
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good stout. Poured black with dark brown head, good lacing. Had a little burn on the end that didn't make it 100% smooth but still good. I can oversee that since I'm used to it. Going to get another one soon and I'm going to age that one and see how it tastes.

BigB415, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of Vdubb86
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass

This beer pours a deep darkness with a frothy stiff slow dissolving (if at all) tan foam that leaves beautiful lacing. The smell is oddly more hoppy than it is roasted. There is a bit of coffee in the back but not strong in the slightest. It's still a good aroma, but the mixture of hop and rum is a weird. The flavor is has oak, smokey chipotle pepper, with some booze. The booze is really the only off-putting part about the flavor. It could do well with some aging. There is a bitterness from the booze, but it still goes down real nice. If you sip it it drinks real well. Honestly it's good, but disappointing.

Vdubb86, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of HitokiriNate85
3.53/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 9384, bottled in October, 2009.

A - Pitch black with a nice mocha cap that is surprisingly sticking around and giving off some nice lace as it sits for a couple minutes.

S - Lots of a sort of dry roastiness upfront. Some dark chocolate, but not nearly enough to provide any sort of backbone to the roast. There's something that's kinda leafy to it. It doesn't really come across as hoppy, but more earthy.

T - Now things are starting to pull together a bit. The smell wasn't too impressive, but this is helping. Huge roastiness upfront, with some dark chocolate behind it. Slightly sharp, but not nearly as much as when fresh. There are some fruit flavors as well, but the roastiness just carries over and tinges everything. Alcohol is nicely hidden at this point, and probably the best aspect of aging. It could really use some sweetness to provide some backing to all the roast and bitterness(which is moderate).

MF - Easily the best aspect of the beer. Thick, chewy, and coating, with a slight burst of carbonation.

D - At 10.5%, Expedition carries itself really well, which is definitely a benefit of aging for one year. However, it's kind of disappointing because it doesn't coalesce into a total package. This is the only bottle I put away last year, but I think I'll grab some this year with some to age for 2-3 years.

HitokiriNate85, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of DrDemento456
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Looks like a hefty stout. Pitch black in color with a nice bubbly head.

S - Smells of Alcohol, slight coffee and chocolate. Man it smells good.

T - Really? Wow the ABV burn is high on this one! Taste of slight chocolate with a mild bitterness of coffee maybe a slight dark fruit which is covered by the Alcohol.

M - Very heavy. A sipper for sure.

D - Well the price is similar to Founders which seems a bit smoother but I did like it as an imperial stout. Heavy but good beer.

DrDemento456, Nov 14, 2010
Photo of Star80
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Beer pours out a midnight black with a very dark brown head, some lacing. Smell is of dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, and some stale hops. Yep, might be a great candidate for cellaring, but I wish I could get a fresh hoppy sample, i.e. no date code. Anyway, taste is dark bittersweet chocolate, some hints of coffee/espresso, and some bitter leaf hop. Has a decent carbonation so its, fairly smooth....but I really wish the hops were still present in their fruity/spiceyness doing their thing. The taste still has a nice interplay and balance between the roasted malts and the bittering hop. Sooo, as you can tell I am not a fan of cellaring cause the hops lose their flavor and have that weird faded hops taste, like this beer has. Funny, too the label suggests cellaring, no thanks. I will have to take a few points off because I have no idea the freshness of this or any Bell's beers, so the best category to adjust would have to be drinkability, although if were fresher it would easily rate a "4" or higher, very smooth and quite drinkable for 10.5% abv! I think this beer would pair well with a Thanksgiving dessert or a crisp bar of Lindt 70% dark chocolate, ;-)

Star80, Nov 13, 2010
Photo of rka758
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Brewing (lot 9971) poured into SA perfect pint
Purchased for about $3 per

A: Pours a deep black with thin tan head.
S: Dark chocolate
T: Getting tastes of roated coffee and burnt chocolate.
M: This is THICK. Instantly coats your interior of your mouth.
D: This is good, very good, but a def. sipper. I want to drink this all night, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be a good idea for tomorrow me.

rka758, Nov 13, 2010
Photo of LairdChisholm
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a jet black color with a dark mocha, one finger head that has above average retention. There is very minimal lacing.

S = There are some semi-sweet chocolate smells along with some burnt malts. Very pungent and good.

T - There are burnt malts upfront with some dark fruits such as plum and fig. The aftertaste consists of burnt chocolate and coffee. Very nice.

M - Thick and creamy. Right along the lines for this style.

D - This is a sipper for sure but it's enjoyable all the way.

LairdChisholm, Nov 12, 2010
Photo of ne0m00re
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

10/13/10- Had a 12 oz bottle of this (Batch 9971).
A: Jet black with a nice caramel one-finger slow head that dies to a collar.
S: Caramel mocha, oatmeal barrel, whiskey alcohol.
T: Caramel, roast, chocolate, banana, raspberries, lingering burnt character.
M: Thicker, but nicely frothy.
D: Really good. I'd have a pint or two.

I'd recommend it.

ne0m00re, Nov 08, 2010
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.

hosehead83, Nov 08, 2010
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.


adrock7309, Nov 08, 2010
Photo of PDXHops
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.

PDXHops, Nov 07, 2010
Photo of CooperEllis
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.


CooperEllis, Nov 05, 2010
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.

heythere, Nov 05, 2010
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.

FanofHefe, Nov 04, 2010
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.

marcobrau, Nov 03, 2010
Photo of Augustiner719
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.

Augustiner719, Nov 02, 2010
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

readbaron, Nov 02, 2010
Photo of cwguy5
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.

cwguy5, Nov 01, 2010
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.

dubinsky, Oct 31, 2010
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.

Ryan011235, Oct 30, 2010
Photo of GabrielM
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.

GabrielM, Oct 28, 2010
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.

Gobzilla, Oct 27, 2010
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,555 ratings.