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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.

4,516 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,516
Reviews: 1,880
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 387
Gots: 964 | FT: 76
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: 4,516 | Reviews: 1,880 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of baggio
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%


A: Pitch black with a big, beige, head and lots of lacing.

S: Roasted malts, Chocolate, Cookies, Molasses.

T: Espresso, Chocolate, Roasted malts, Dark sugar.

M: Thick and very heavy. Massive chocolate/espresso up front and ends with a lingering bitterness.

I dig this. Not as complex as some other stouts but thick and kickass like a stout should be.

baggio, Aug 06, 2010
Photo of bundy462
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%

A: Motor oil with a coffee colored huge frothy head.

S: Boozy, molasses, sweet chocolate. On the second sniff, huge booze!

T: No hiding the booze. Very sweet and dark up front. Nice hop bitterness in the finish for balance. Aftertaste has some definite coffee and nut tones. Nice brew.

M: Nice and thick, as expected. Some added carbonation would help the booziness in the smooth department.

O: Good stout, would be huge on a cold PA winter day. I can imagine you'd be pretty smashed up pretty quick drinking these things.

bundy462, Aug 03, 2010
Photo of cavedave
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%

Thanks to Jager68 for this thick wonderful beer. Consumed 7/31/10

Pours an opaque black topped by a brownish beige one finger head that slowly relaxes to a nice topper. Lots of resin and lace on the glass.

Smell is not that strong for a big beer, full of a variety of sweet maltiness, roasted, caramel, molasses, chocolate, rounded off by hints of tart yeast and a slight bitter edge.

Taste is like the nose, not super complex, but the flavors are extremely clean and bright. Alcohol is there but just a background warmth to it. The chocolate isn't as bitter as in some stouts, and the roasted notes aren't over the top char. The bitter in the finish is just right to balance the sweet.

Very thick, very viscous, perhaps a bit too much carb., and perhaps a finish needing a bit more more complexity. Very silky.

Due to the silky nature, and simple deliciousness this baby goes down very easily.

Impression: One of a crop of truly exceptional American RIS that I hope to try again.

cavedave, Aug 01, 2010
Photo of buschbeer
3.8/5  rDev -10.2%

Batch 9512

I poured into my glass to maybe a half inch of brown head. This beer is dark to say the least. The is no light coming through this beast. The aroma is chocolate, molasses, and some alcohol. The taste is black coffee and I get a fairly strong alcohol presence. That's about it. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy. I like that. I think this beer is a little hot yet. I am going to sit on my remaining bottles for at least a year and give this review an update. If the alcohol mellows out this could be a great beer.

revisited 6/13/2012

The alcohol has faded. I get some dark chocolate on the nose and in taste. I get some almost anise taste. Very thick and tons of flavor. Not sure if I like the flavor now.

buschbeer, Jul 31, 2010
Photo of SamuelJackson45
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%

First time I pour this beer. I can't believe how dark it is. I put it by the light and still couldn't see the shine threw the glass.

Aroma is very dark hint of chocolate type. The taste is very malting and rich. This was a pleasant tasting stout. And will drink it again.

SamuelJackson45, Jul 30, 2010
Photo of Khazadum
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

The last of my blind beer series. Thank you so much Prufrock... you've been the best! This was the icing on the cake. Twelve ounce bottle poured into a brandy snifter for immediate enjoyment.

What a fighter! I poured 3/4 of it into the glass like I normally do and NO carbonation appeared. Literally it was a placid lake of ebony swirling about in its vesicle. I had to swirl the contents of the bottle and viciously splash it down into the center to create a chaos of head. Unfortunately the color of raw, fresh clay bubbles disappeared to a speckle of itself ( is it raw umber? Is that the color I've heard before? ).

The carbonation is non-existent, but that is not to say there isn't a skin of promise. . There are no bubbles to be found. The liquid itself is black like many I've had this week. I may sound like a broken record but it is motor oil again. It is darkness.. midnight in the cornfields with storm clouds blocking out anything that could even be remotely mistaken as illumination.

Sweet momma. Oh my goodness with whip cream on top. Do I dare say I detect the overwhelming deliciousness that is bourbon? I can't help myself but keep taking deep breaths over and over again. There also is the faintness of raisins and bitter chocolate ( of course, that means a dark chocolate ;) ).

Layered gently behind all of these scrumptious aromas is the tell tale signs of alcohol. This medicinal spear is wrapped with comforting flavors. I always think of ethanol as an awful smell... something to be abhorred and hidden deep within the dank confines of your brew. It is this beer that helps me realize once again how it can be properly used.

Flavor Profile
I hope I do it honor with my description. The very moments it hits my taste buds I find myself remarkable confused. It is quickly salty while being sweet at the same time. I find myself thinking of childhood candies and random Chinese restaurants performing the same feats. It is by all means welcome from me. That sugary nature reminds me deeply of bourbon barrel aged beers to a T. It is almost like a freshly barrel aged ( <12 month aging ) bourbon stout. The strong sweetness hides many flavors that further sipping slowly unravel.

There is a smokiness that hits milliseconds after the sweetness arrives but lingers momentarily. It can't hold its composition into the finish and finds itself dwindling away as the coolness dissipates from the tip of my tongue. That same smokiness is playing buddy system with the alcohol trident. I can feel it limping along causing pin pricks of recognition as it too flutters away into my gullet.

All of this was beheld upon quick cursory sips and dissection. If I take things further, swish it around my mouth and allow it to linger and roam as it pleases I am slapped with milk chocolate. It isn't just bitter chocolate, but creamy and smooth melted Hershey's. Whats that you say? You want the bitterness that is possible with some chocolate? Look no further! The finish of this beer screams prickly dark chocolate tree( I wish such a thing existed...). I rub the roof of my mouth with my tongue and lap up any residual flavors I can find. Shockingly, it is a raisin, chocolate amalgam of yum. Tasty!

I had to steal this last bit... my tasting partner has put it perfectly. This beer is the trail mix of beers. Salty, sweet, nutty, and above all unique.

Oral Sensations
This creamy beer harbors absolutely little in the world of carbonation. However, it reminds me of chocolate milk shakes without the thickness. It has that smooth nature with big flavors constantly erupting. It never had any lacing to really speak of and this still shocks me. It lingers long after on all my oral surfaces to an extreme point. This beer is the thickest of the six beers to date, and yet I still consider it liquid feathers. I find myself desiring some carbonation here, but that is the only fault I can find.

I'm steaming... the alcohol in this beverage is a skyscraper compared to yesterdays. I got a quarter of the way through it, and my extremities were feeling a bit damp with sweat. I truly enjoy a monster of a beer like the next person, but I'm beginning to think that this may be a problem. Great flavors, amazing body, and top notch nose are only as good as long as they all last.

As soon as that carbonation is mostly gone, all three of these aspects begin to falter and fall down upon one another. Thank goodness I had only a quarter of the beer left ( too much time writing, not enough drinking! ), but I noticed that the alcohol becomes the dominant player above anything else in both flavor and nose. There needs to be more carbonation in this beverage to prolong its life. If I had just gulped down the last bit I would have been more impressed than I am right now. Don't get me wrong, still impressed, but the amazement is beginning to dwindle.

I would drink this beer again in a heartbeat ( and only one for an evening ).

Khazadum, Jul 29, 2010
Photo of oglmcdgl
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%

08 vintage on tap at via marconi's piazza pub.

A- deep dark brown almost completely black in color. No head to be seen.

S- port soaked plums and bakers chocolate, molasses. Hints of wood and booze.

T- huge dark roasted malts and burnt brown sugar. 92 percent dark chocolate and brownie batter. Port soaked dark fruits and berries. Tons of dark roasted coffee and some burt wood.

M- full bodied but by not means to thick with a lite carb. Slick and syrupy on the palate. Heat on the finish big time. And this has two years on it.

D- I like a big boozy stout upon occasion but just that, this is not an every day brew.

oglmcdgl, Jul 26, 2010
Photo of ryno09
3.58/5  rDev -15.4%

Pours pitch black with one of the darker brown heads I have seen. The finger head quickly fades do to the high ABV. Carbonation seems a little on the high side of the style.

On the aroma I get a ton of roasted malts along with dark fruits and molasses. Some alcohol present as well. On the palate I get a ton of chocolate - something I didn't get from the aroma. Up front some of the dark fruits are present before the chocolate takes over leaving a lingering somewhat sweet finish

ryno09, Jul 25, 2010
Photo of ToasterChef
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

Poured from a 1+ year old cellar temperature bottle into a Delerium Tremens snifter. It is an opaque, dark brown liquid with a small head of tan foam and bubbles. I can see bubbles popping on top of the foam. There is no light penetration. Swirling the beer produces a bit of a film and a very good foam coating. The head has now settles to just a skim of foam. It's a pretty beer, but I've seen better looking RISes. I can smell roasted malts, alcohol, caramel and some chocolate. Even with all of these candy scents, it doesn't smell overly sweet. This is a tasty stout. Creamy milk chocolate and a few dark roasted malts greet my tongue as soon as I sip. Some bitterness moves in aa I swallow. It's akin to dark chocolate, but not quite the same. Prehaps the year of aging has made the bitterness harder to identify? Also present in the finish and moreso in the aftertaste is a bit of alcohol burn. It is hot, but not exclusively in an alcoholic sense; it's also ever so slightly peppery. The alcohol flavors aren't too strong, but are certainly present. I imagine that the year of age has mellowed this flavor out as well. After swallowing, I can run my tongue over my mouth and pick up more chocolate and alcohol flavors. The Expedition leaves behind a persistent coat. It has lower levels of carbonation and is full-bodied. For a 10%+ ABV stout, this beer is pretty drinkable. I wouldn't have more than one bottle of this, but each swallow goes down very well. If you can get your hands on some of this, I would highly recommend putting a few bottles in your cellar for a year or more.

ToasterChef, Jul 22, 2010
Photo of djmichaelk
3.53/5  rDev -16.5%

12oz bottle (courtesy of Bucwild, thanks Dave!) into a snifter.

A - Very black, with just a bit of maroon edging when held to the light. Only a rumor of head, with the slightest of rings around the glass. Wisps of what might be considered lacing remain on the glass. If it had legs it'd be great looking.

S - When freshly poured, it definitely reminds me of cheerios, along with some caramelized sugar. Some dark fruits -- figs and raisins -- linger in the background. And a hint of the alcohol to come.

T - Again with that bready, cheerio-ey, oat taste, which is very pleasant to me. Not much in the way of the sweetness that I got in the nose, but there is a lactic cherry flavor lurking somewhere in there (which doesn't bother me in the slightest). I usually expect coffee flavors in this style, but I'm not getting any of that here. The roastiness is very much in the back.

M - Thick and viscous, like motor oil. As it should be. The strong flavors stick around for a while after each sip. The high alcohol gives it a dryness that keeps it from being cloying.

D - Over 10% abv shows in this one. It doesn't burn, but it makes itself known early on. More than one of these and you're probably done for the afternoon (although it's morning for me -- hey, don't judge me!).

O - Nice one from Bell's. In my search for the perfect morning beer, this might not quite fit the bill, but it definitely makes an impression. I'd like to have this available to me regularly.

djmichaelk, Jul 12, 2010
Photo of DovaliHops
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Pours Very thick black with a thick, frothy, espresso colored head that hangs around for a bit. I got about 2 inches of head pouring this thing aggressively. Very nice! The smell is very interesting. I'm getting a lot of chocolate and coffee...but the smell that stand out the most is BREAD. I'm getting a nose full of fresh baked bread when I smell this thing. More than any other bread-smelling beer I've tasted. The taste just blows me away. I don't get any bread in the taste. I get immediate bitterness, followed my such sweet chocolate it's insane. A lot of espresso/coffee in the aftertaste. This beer reminds me a lot of a cafe mocha. No matter how good this beer tastes, I still can't get over how much this smelled like fresh baked bread. The mouthfeel is wonderful. Very thick and full-bodies. Ohhhh...just burped and there's that bread taste. Very interesting. This beer is for sure a sipper. Wouldn't recommend having too much of this in one sitting. This beer sure is Amazing though!

DovaliHops, Jul 11, 2010
Photo of Shakesbeere
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Pours like engine oil -- very deliciously dark appearance. Aroma is of alcohol and black licorice with a hint of soy. Very thick palate. Flavor is initially of smooth black licorice and sweet malt, then transforms into bitter hops and roasted molasses -- though not burnt. Some notes of earthy coffee and chocolate coruscate through to a dry, dark finish. Very thick, very viscous, very creamy, and very complex. A balanced taste between bitter hops and dark characters delivers a spectacular brew with a phenomenal finish. Spectacular! Think Dark City epiphany and dénouement. If "the limits of my language are the limits of my world", this must be near the limits of my beer.

Shakesbeere, Jul 10, 2010
Photo of homebrew311
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Pulled this one out of the cellar, brewed in September of 2008, poured into Delirium snifter

A: pours like used motor oil, one of the thickest imperial stouts out there (behind Hunahpus/Mashal Zhukov), with a nice dark head, decent retention and lacing

S: huge notes of dark chocolate and oats up front, compared to the fresh version, this is much more mellow and chocolatey...personally I think this smells better now than before

T: deep rich roasted notes up front with tons of chocolate, a little licorice and molasses, some coffee, everything is big and bold but nicely in balance. The finish is long and leaves a hint of roastieness on the palate. Wow, 2 years have done wonders for this brew.

MF: thick, velvety viscous, low carbonation

D: I have always loved Expo, but have never tried it at this age. I must say that I am amazed by how much chocolate character comes through now. Delicious.

homebrew311, Jul 08, 2010
Photo of TMoney2591
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Apparently I did have one of these guys hangin' around in my fridge after all. Go figure. Let's review it, shall we? It pours an opaque black-brown topped by a short finger of tan foam that fades fairly quickly. The nose comprises plenty o' roasted malts, dark wheat, chocolate syrup, nutmeg, and a surprising dose of rye bread. A general sweetness pervades. The taste darkens the proceedings, roasting some of the sweet notes and replacing the rye bread with a leather-like character. Some light prune notes gurgle up from th bottom, but don't pool all that much. Something's missing here, but I can't quite put my finger on it. The body is fairly hefty, with a heavy light carbonation and a borderline chewy feel. Overall, a solid RIS, but I've had better, even among regularly available offerings. Something's just off a little, you know what I mean?

TMoney2591, Jul 06, 2010
Photo of drabmuh
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%

Gift from Huhzubendah, thanks Matt. Beer is black and forms a minimal head with some lacing on the glass. Carbonation is low.

Aroma is strong, very strong, a little boozy. Almost liquor like in aroma. Very strong. Pretty sweet. Its a little bit of a turnoff.

Very full bodied stout, finishes brighter than it starts. Pretty roasty, kind of bourbony in the mouthfeel and forward flavors. Its a big big beer. I didn't realize the ABV on this until I started writing this review foolishly. I will pay for my ignorance for sure. Its pretty drinkable especially if I'm grading on a curve. I had the 2005 recently, also a gift from Huhzubendah and it had began to turn. Strong plum flavors and other characteristic oxidized notes in the palate. A good beer but i think the shelf life is around 3 - 4 years max. I enjoyed it.

drabmuh, Jul 06, 2010
Photo of Spica66
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%

12oz bottle - Batch #9384 - Bottled 10/15/09, shared with a friend in 7 oz glasses.

A: Very thick pour. Nearly black in the glass. Dark amber head that dissipates leaving nice lacing. Very nice beer in the glass.

S: Sweet smelling molasses and sorghum. Just a hint of hops in the nose.

T: Sweet like a molasses cookie. Very slight hint of hops on the finish.

M: Full body, thick, creamy. Very, very nice.

D: This is very nice for the style, but I always end with it, because one is really enough.

I have yet to find another RIS with the molasses cookie taste that Expedition Stout has. It always reminds me of home...

Spica66, Jun 28, 2010
Photo of seh410
3.6/5  rDev -14.9%

Thanks to Randy (randjuke) for these awesome beer!

Appearance: One fingers worth of thick, bubbly mocha/caramel colored head that does not dissipate quickly. The actual beer is black as night - there is absolutely no light coming through. This beer is pretty, no one around it.

Aroma: Coffee is right up front, followed by toasted malts, dark chocolate and a definitely perceivable alcohol note

Taste/Mouthfeel: Lots of coffee, maybe some dried fruits and toasted malts on the back side. You can taste the liquor for sure - this is definitely not a low ABV beer and you can taste it right up front. The mouthfeel is chewy and thick - very full in the mouth, which I like in a stout.

Drinkability: This one is definitely a sipper. It's nice and rich and tasty, but there's no way you could - or should - put down more than 1 or 2 12oz bottles of this baby. That said, I think it is nice and balanced and I'd be willing to drink it again. I'd like to see what it tastes like aged, or on tap.

seh410, Jun 22, 2010
Photo of hawks10
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%

12oz bottle - Batch #8729 - Bottled September 17th, 2008, poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint...

Pours thick and nearly black. A very thin and slow rising, creamy, dark tan head forms and dissipates fairly quickly...

Pretty sweet in the nose, chocolaty...bits of ripe dark fruit with molasses and licorice, complex, a bit sweet, but nice...The 2 years of cellaring seems to have improved the nose, much more sweet, subtle and smooth than a fresher Vintage I had a few weeks back...no trace of roast or bitterness/hops in the nose...

Thick and smooth, creamy, tons of sweet chocolate and molasses, a bit roasted and a slight hint of bitter hops (that I did not notice in the nose) add some balance. Even after two years, this brew still packs a punch, strong...alcohol is very noticeable but not overwhelming, blends well with the full flavor and makes this an enjoyable sipper...

Full bodied, thick and chewy...very creamy but well carbonated, a bit too carbonated for the style, but still a good drink overall...

Age has really mellowed this brew in a very good way, but it is still strong and packs a punch of flavor and alcohol...definitely easier and more enjoyable to drink now than it was/is fresh...

hawks10, Jun 19, 2010
Photo of jamiesessions
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%

Dark black colour swirls into my snifter and leaves little, if any room for light. A dark-khaki head appears and leaves some, but not a whole lot of lacing. Smells strongly of coffee, with chocolate also there in the mix. Taste is much like the smell, but I am slightly put off by the intenseness of the alcohol. The high abv is nice sometimes, but it seems to interfere with my enjoyment of the beer. Coffee taste is nice, but it's a bit off here, less of a good coffee, and more of an old stale coffee taste, with a bit of chocolate background. It's very chewy, and most certainly a sipper. I'm glad I purchased this, but it's certainly not something i'll be purchasing agian

jamiesessions, Jun 08, 2010
Photo of sweemzander
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Batch 8728(9-16-08).

(A)- Pours thick and pitch black. Produced a tan head that dissipated to a light layer of film after a few minutes.

(S)- A rich & deep roasted profile. Bits of brown sugar and a coffee/molasses character.

(T)- Pretty much just like the smell. A great roasted profile with cocoa, molasses, raisin, and a touch of coffee ground bitterness.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Rich & malty, but not overly sweet. Still has a good bitterness to it from the roasted profile, but toned down at this point. The age has really smoothed out its edges.

(D)- Truthfully, I am not a big fan of this fresh, but with about a year and a half on this, it is quite tasty. Buy a case of this and drink over the next 4-5 years. A great RIS when aged properly. Even after having this numerous times now, I am convinced this is perhaps the most rewarding stout to age.

sweemzander, Jun 05, 2010
Photo of dbossman
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%

A: Thick and black with a dark brown, bubbly head that has good retention; it has a similar appearance to a dark-chocolate mousse.

S: Coffee, chocolate and dark roasted malts hit you up front; rich with a subtle alcohol burning through the malty goodness; slightly sweet brown sugar/ caramel at the back of the aromas

T: Dark chocolate and coffee bitterness up front; delicious roasted malt presence; alcohol is prevalent making this a sipper; a nice brown sugary sweetness balances out the bitterness

F: Thick with a slightly syrupy viscosity; good even mouth coat eventually--after the beer slowly works its way around

D: Great beer that is wonderful to sip on for any occasion; however, the strength of the roasted malts and the alcohol presence makes this a tad bit difficult to handle for too long. Great beer--just approach slowly and with caution

dbossman, Jun 03, 2010
Photo of DarrinRasberry
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%

Bottle served in a Guinness mug.

A: Thick, oily black body produces an almond-colored head that stays around forever and leaves traces all down the glass. Looking into it taking my first sip gives an exciting feel, like drinking good, creamy hot chocolate in the winter.

S: Dark chocolate, nuts, malts, and alcohol dominate.

T: Very, very rich taste hits with heavy malts and finishes with dry, bitter dark chocolate, with the alcohol almost hitting *too* hard. This is a delicious, remarkable beer.

M: As thick as some milkshakes, this beer will coat your mouth like a candy bar. Just enough carbonation. Quite possibly the best mouthfeel I've ever experienced in any beer.

D: The alcohol wears a bit as time goes on; I can only imagine myself drinking one.

DarrinRasberry, Jun 03, 2010
Photo of haddon
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

found this beauty on tap at The Lodge in Hilton Head.

pours a dark chocolate with a mocha head that dissipates fairly quickly.

aroma is not as strong as expected but some notes do show up as it warms: espresso, chocolate, coffee & hops

super rich & sweet flavors! dark chocolate, black cherry, toffee & caramel. alcohol warms as it goes down.

full body that is very rich and creamy. not much carbonation detected but fairly par for the class

because it is so rich and sweet, don't know if I would order a whole pint again... but couldn't think of a better after dinner drink to finish off a great evening!

haddon, Jun 02, 2010
Photo of GregoryVII
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Dark as night...I've wanted to use that line before, but it fits here, with a medium sized head that starts dark atop the beer and fades to caramel the closer it gets to the rim. The mouth feel is slick, smooth and oh so full. Malt dominates the aroma: roasted malt, dark chocolate, raisin, vanilla and sweet alcohol are all present. There are enough hops in the taste to balance, but they aren't a true player in the beer beyond grounding its more eccentric tendencies. Candied plum, chocolate, vanilla, bitter toast and a bit of rum round out the flavor notes for me. This is Bell's best beer for my money and a contender for any consideration given to Imperial Stouts.

GregoryVII, Jun 01, 2010
Photo of ZorPrime
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

Brought back this gem from my last trip to Kalamazoo.

Very dark black color, its like a black hole. Suck all the light around you! Nice head, brown and creamy. Intense aroma. Licorice and molasses. Very nice aroma that suggest the beer will be complex, full bodied and full of taste. I only miss some hops notes to be perfect. On the taste, it is crazy. I get some many things here its awesome. Intense taste. First its molasses and then it switch to chocolate with coffee. Then, the bitterness comes and lingers in the mouth for a good time. Very good if not exceptional! Each sip is a discovery for me.

Creamy in the mouth and full bodied. Warm. This is truly a sipper and a dessert beer.

ZorPrime, May 31, 2010
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,516 ratings.