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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 gonzo46and2
2.2/5  rDev -48%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a very dark black as to be expected. Very dark head formed.

Smell wasn't all that bad. Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Licorice, Spice, etc.

Taste was a stinging burnt grain with heavy alchohol fumes. Not pleasant.

Carbonation was too low.

Just not a very good RIS in my opinion. I wonder if I got a bad bottle. I will try this stout again. Just not any time soon.

gonzo46and2, Feb 11, 2009
Photo of cnjohn19
3.58/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Now, granted I do not know much about russian imperial stouts beyond the high alcohol range, but overall i was just a tad let down by this one...poured dark brown, almost black with a nonexistent head...almost looked flat...the alcohol characteristics dominated the smell with a faint hint of dark, bold chocolate...did enjoy the taste, which left a nice coffee aftertaste...very smooth, bold...strong roasted flavor...

not sure i would rush out to buy this one again...would be interested to find it on tap to compare...could imagine this stout being more enjoyable out of the tap....

cnjohn19, Feb 10, 2009
Photo of Reagan1984
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to gregc for providing this in a trade.

Well, it certainly acts like an Imp Stout out of the bottle. 2-3 finger head, cocoa in color with incredible retention... black motor oil. Sometimes, I think I need another way to describe this, then I realize I don't... That's what it is. Looks a bit like a milkshake.
I think the entire inside of the glass is covered in thick lacing.

Aroma was a bit more muted than I had anticipated. Light cocoa.

My god is this smooth and lovely. Where to begin? Is this a chocolate milkshake or a great beer? Is there an intersection between the two? OK, I can't pretend not to know the rating of this beer which is why I traded for it. I also saw that "the bros" rated this a "C" I know sometimes I'm in a bad beer mood. I'm going to have to say that Jason must have been in that same type of mood that day. Just my opinion.
Roasted, chocolate... Roasted chocolate. Slightly nutty. Some spices Love it.

Man, this is creamy and smooth.. Big and thick mouth feel...

I could drink this all day long if not for the ABV. Just wonderful. I actually like this more than I thought I might.

Just a wonderful Imp Stout

Reagan1984, Feb 08, 2009
Photo of VaTechHopHead
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Typical stout dark brown with a light brown, thick head.

S - It smells quite sweet to me, like malt sweetness. It has background notes of roasted flavors. Quite a complex aroma but very nice...cant' really compare it to anything else.

T - Very complex, difficult taste to me. The sweetness from the malt is present initially but the aftertaste is all chocolate, hazelnut, and slight espresso. Very nice transition with a hop bite right at the end as well.

M/D - Very thick and velvety on the palate. Doesn't have a lot of carbonation, which is typical of stouts. Drinkability is limited to the heaviness of this beer but overall very nice.

After many recommendations I gave in and bought a bottle. I have to admit it has a very interesting/enjoyable taste. I particularly like the blend of sweetness, bitterness, and roasted flavors rolled all in one.

VaTechHopHead, Feb 08, 2009
Photo of turamarth
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a new belguim goblet.

Appearance: Poured a Cm thick tan head. Dissipated quickly. Body is pitch black.

Nose: Chocolate milk. Lots of chocolate milk. Malts, malts, malts! Has almost all chocolate malts in the nose. A little spice as it warms.

Taste: Again, very very chocolaty. There is a nice spiciness on the back of the tongue. Some nice toasty notes. Maybe the tiniest hint of booze. Some dark berry note too.

Mouth: Feels silky smooth, despite the thickness. Also, leaves the mouth pretty thick.

Drink: Pretty drinkable, sweet and tasty. The higher abv is hidden quite well in my opinion.

turamarth, Feb 07, 2009
Photo of StrangeBrewer76
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass at colder than ideal temp in the low 40s. It just looks thick, viscus. The bubbles were slow to rise but formed a nice light brown creamy-looking head that faded relatively quickly to a thin skin and very solid lacing.

I smell bittersweet chocolate, coffee, alcohol and burnt caramel or chocolate malt which is remarkably similar to the taste. The alcohol seems to become more pronounced as it warms which could be good if that's what you're in to.

It has a body like syrup or 2-cycle oil with a bite of bitter. It's like what people who have never tried Guinness think it probably tastes like.

It drinks like a meal and at 10.5% that meal ought to be dinner.

StrangeBrewer76, Feb 07, 2009
Photo of ABOWMan
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One has to work to get a good head out of this beer, but that is the oly negative comment I have to make about this exceptional beer.

The meager head was reddish in color and the stout poured with the consistency of SAE 30 only darker. The ale was opague in appearance and had the color of dark mahogany.

The aroma was of roasted dried fruit, cherries, plums and maple and was pleasantly smokey. The flavors exploded in your mouth. Dried cherries, maple syrup, caramel, roasted nuts and a backgroung note of alcohol. A combination that I never tired of during my tasting.

The mouthfeel of this stout was viscous as one might expect from a beer of this color, flavor intensity and ABV. It was pleasant to sip and a pleasure to drink. Keep up the good work Bell's!

ABOWMan, Feb 05, 2009
Photo of optiontwo
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz. poured into snifter

Appearance: Pours black with a mahogany head that disappeared quickly.

Smell: Dark fruits, tart cherry, rich dark chocolate, oak, brown sugar, and alcohol.

Taste: Like a dark chocolate covered cherry right away with subtle coffee bean and more bitter than you would expect, due to the assertive hopping I assume. Hops don't make much of a flavor appearance but when they do peek through it's more orange than anything. There's also and iron-y flavor that hits at the end, not bad, just interesting.

Mouthfeel: Thick, viscous, appropriate carbonation, very smooth.

Drinkability: Be careful with this one. I've been known to want one after I'm done with the first but your entering tipsy town.

Overall: This remains one of my favorite imperial stouts and is a must try. So go get it!

optiontwo, Feb 05, 2009
Photo of CHSLBrew
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter.

A-Deep brown head, small but substantial and dense, but it receded quickly. The beer is black, and it looked akin to diesel fuel as it flowed out of the bottle. Opaque and dark as a moonless sky.

S-The snifter overflowed with roasted malts, alongside chocolate and dark dried fruits.

T-Heavy roasted malts with a huge chocolate flavor. Hop bitterness is moderate with some dcefinite hop character. Alcohol is present, but quite smooth. Finished is roasty, choco-coffee and lip-smacking.

M-Full, full body. As I said earier, akin to diesel. Chewey to the fullest extent. Alcohol is evident and the warming property is big, with a slight boozy feel in my mouth.

D-GOOD BEER! I really enjoy this brew. It's exceedingly easy to drink, while its flavor profile demands the drinker's respect. Approach with caution: you will fall for this beer. Good thing it comes in six-packs.

CHSLBrew, Feb 04, 2009
Photo of hellomcfly
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From batch 8311 - Brewed Feb 7 2008

Pours pitch black into a snifter. Thin deep brown head dissipates very quickly.

Smells of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, slightly woody perhaps.

T - Roasty, bitter chocolate, coffee all come to mind. It again has a slightly woody character to me. There's a hop bitterness in the end that keep this in check.

M - Velvety smooth. Low level of carbonation.

D - Obviously not high drinkability but very good for the style and abv.

Definitely plan to hang on to some of these to age for a while. I split a bottle from the same 6 pack with my dad in December and I feel like it has already mellowed a bit in the past few months.

hellomcfly, Feb 03, 2009
Photo of mikereaser
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 8728

A - pours a dark black that let no light through with a 1/4 inch of tan foam that disappeared quickly and left only a layer of fine bubbles on the surface

S - roasted malts, coffee and cocoa

T - roasted malts, with cocoa & coffee flavors

M/D - really smooth, easy drinking for a 10.5%, I could get into alot of trouble. This is my favorite so far of this style.

mikereaser, Feb 03, 2009
Photo of Tone
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, jet black. 1/4 inch head of a dark tan color. Great retention and Good lacing. Smells strongly of sweet malt, slight hops, alcohol, and some roasted malts. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Thick and smooth mouth feel. Low carbonation level present, and a noticeable bitterness and dryness left on the palate. Tastes of strong malt, roasted malt, slight hop kick noticeable, some chocolate, and an overall sweetness. Strong body along with a slight alcohol flavor. Overall, a good complex beer full of different malt flavors.

Tone, Feb 03, 2009
Photo of taylorhamrick
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a pitch black color with a massive foamy brown head. Very beautiful. Some decent retention and lacing. Looks like a beer you want to drink. The smell is the least exiting aspect. Really I only get a smell of alcohol and carbonation. You might be able to detect some sweetness and roasted coffee type smells if you try hard. The taste is really great though. There's a caramel sweetness, almost like cola, but its backed with a deep roasted flavor. There is a sort of barbequed soy sauce taste which is a bit harsh but nice and interesting. The taste is accompanied with a nice pleasant burn. The mouthfeel is amazing. There's a wonderful creaminess and a ton of complexity. The carbonation is not overly done, which makes the alcohol burn not too harsh. And I found it to be a great drinker. You want to reach back into it and taste more. Recommended to anyone interested in stouts.

taylorhamrick, Feb 02, 2009
Photo of ironlung
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch #8728
Thanks mfielden for the bitchin' extra!!!

Pours motor-oil thick&black with a tiny tan head that hangs around 'till about half-way through. Smells like alot of roasted malts and mabye a touch of coffee or hops(something bitter). Taste is not as smooth as say, an Old Rasputin...still enough going on here to hide the alcohol(wich isn't noticeable at all). In all, a great IRS that came into my hands from afar. I woulden't miss a chance to try it again

ironlung, Jan 31, 2009
Photo of aggiearcher13
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had it last night, it was pretty tasty. Batch 8729.

A: Dark dark dark, with about a half inch of very brown head that hung around for a few minutes before dissipating, leaving a ring of foam around the edges. Looks like some nice, low-level carbonation and pours pretty thick.

S: Maybe my nose was a little off, but not as much going on here as I remember. But what I do smell is dark toasty malts, hops, and alcohol.

T: Roasted malts, some chocolate and coffee-like notes, a little sweet. Pretty solid.

M: Creamy, low carbonation but lively.

D: I had to resist the urge to have another.

aggiearcher13, Jan 31, 2009
Photo of Azumel
4.8/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is my favorite beer, hands down, the stout by which all others are judged and fall short. Follow me if you will, but imagine that chocolate and espresso decided to make sweet, sweet love...and they invited over their friend roasted malt, that's what it's like (perhaps a graphic comparison, but I love this beer). It is heavy, hold it up to your eye and watch an eclipse with no fear...not that you'd see a thing. The alcohol content is heafty, I'd avoid (next time) having...oh...say 8 in 3 hours and attempting to stand up straight, but this is an exceptional beer in my opinion, and better enjoyed in moderation.

Azumel, Jan 31, 2009
Photo of Fatduck
3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Here's a beer I should have tried earlier. I'm a big fan of the RIS, and a big fan of Bell's. High time this one gets reviewed. I just finished my taxes and this is my reward.

This thing is black, nothing gets through, even on the edges. Smells of deep roasted/burnt coffee/chocolate with some raisins.

Taste is good, big full body, nothing like a good RIS to ruin your review, right?

Very drinkable

Fatduck, Jan 31, 2009
Photo of barleywinefiend
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow. This is how a RIS should taste! Thanks Drunkmonk!
Where do I begin? Perhaps the best RIS I have had. Poured a deep thick black with a nice deep brown head. Carbonation was good. Nose is sticky, sweet with cocoa, espresso, roasted malts. Taste is very smooth. Lots of cocoa, coffee, roasted malts and maybe even some vanilla. Mouthfeel was great. Drinkability was awesome. So good and the 10.5 ABV was well disguised. Awesome brew.

barleywinefiend, Jan 30, 2009
Photo of Biggness
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours very dark with a 1/2 fingered dark tan head with some lacing. The smell is of molasses. The flavor has hints or dark chocolate, some molasses as well as some burnt sugar flavors. The mouthfeel is nice and creamy but the low carbonation holding it back. There is alot of roasted malts in this brew you can majorly taste them in the aftertaste. A decently drinkable brew, I will look for it next time I am @ Bell's.

Biggness, Jan 29, 2009
Photo of br3wmeister
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- One inch medium brown head that looks almost like oatmeal. Tiny frothy bubbles with some lumpy texture. Good head retention with some lacing. This beer is jet black, it does not let any light through.

S- I really enjoyed the smell of this beer, it really has a lot going on. Lots of coffee dark chocolate and even some burnt toast. On the sweeter side some caramel, dark fruits and molasses. There were also some hints of ginger bread, alcohol.

T- Complex layers of sweet and roasty bitterness. Sweet caramel and molasses hits the tongue first then some dark chocolate, roasted barley and hints of dark fruit, maybe cherries. Some alcohol warmth in the end.

M- Thick. This is a full bodied beer that takes control of your mouth. Not much carbonation but some hoppy bite helps to balance things out.

Overall- This is a pretty big beer, 12 ounces of this RIS is all you really need. Small bottle.. big beer.

br3wmeister, Jan 28, 2009
Photo of cvfish
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - This beer poured an oily black that let no light show, it produced a brown fluffy head that retained well and left a great lace around the side of glass

S - The aromas of this beer were burnt, charred malts, bitter chocolate and a good deal of booze

T - The beer starts with a great deal of burnt malts, has some chocolaty bitterness with coffee notes, and finishes with a good kick of booze at the end

M - This mouth was everything I expected from an Imperial Stout, smooth and creamy, thick body, and light carbonation

D - This was a good Imperial Stout, a little more booze on the taste than I like, except in the case of Bourbon Cask aged, of course

cvfish, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of ThirdLap
2.9/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Got this through a great trade with aforbes10. Thanks Andrew!

Split this one with BA member 'macktbone' in two standard pint glasses. The minimal amount of dark brown head dissipates quickly, leaving only thirty-weight motor oil. Swirling the glass coats it with a translucent brown coating that is slow to disappear.

Lots of soy on the nose, with molasses, dark roasted malt, along with some sweet alcoholic beverage that I can't put my finger on. Some have said sherry, but I'm not sure that's it.

As promised, I'll be honest about what left my lips upon taking my first taste of this beer. I think the exact words were something along the lines of "holy shit".

It's not bad, just not well-balanced. I get way too much soy here. Very tangy and astringent with lots of burnt flavors... I get some coffee and caramel. The alcohol is very in-your-face.

Mouthfeel is much how it looks to be, thick and viscous. This beer really coats the mouth. Carbonation is minimal, and I really think a bit more would perk this beer up a bit.

Getting through my half was a bit of a challenge. I will probably return to it someday, hopefully on tap. Right now it just reminds me a bit too much of a SA Triple Bock. Hopefully the HopSlam arriving tomorrow will provide a better example of what Bell's is capable of.

[EDIT: I'm really thinking my bottle had gone bad. I will seek out and re-review this beer as soon as I can.]

ThirdLap, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of abfraser
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, viscous black with a dense mocha smallish head.

S: Sweet molasses, roasted malt, some dark raisin-like fruit. A nicely complex beer.

T/M: Awesome stuff. Very well balanced, with a good creamy mouthfeel. Not a ton of carbonation but enough that it's not syrupy or cloying. The smells are all there in the mouth, with a nice lingering sweetness that is never overpowering. Very complex.

D: Despite the 10%+ abv I could drink several of these. Not something you'd normally say about a RIS, which is a testament to how well this one is balanced.

abfraser, Jan 23, 2009
Photo of jkendrick
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours dark and viscous. A moderately aggressive pour yields a half inch brown head. There is no light shining through and little carbonation visible rising up in the glass. The head recedes relatively quickly, but leaves some foam stuck to the side of the glass. After a few sips, nice lacing is left in its wake.

Aroma: The aroma isn't as strong as many Imperial Stouts but what is there is malt. and some alcohol. I smell dark and sweet fruit. I don't smell coffee and chocolate as was expected. Maybe just a touch of molasses.

Mouthfeel: Not a ton of carbonation, but it is oily and full-bodied.

Taste: The taste is where the chocolate - dry, powdery cocoa to be exact - that was absent in the nose makes itself known. The fruit, so dominant in the aroma, is relegated to the back. The alcohol is definitely present, but for a 10% abv, it isn't bad. I think the alcohol could have been hidden a bit better. The molasses flavors are most dominant in the middle and there is bitterness in the finish. The alcohol is somewhat warming, but is mostly noticeable in the mouth.

Overall Impressions: This is good imperial stout. It has a very interesting difference from aroma to taste. While the aroma screams fruit and had me excited for something a bit different than the typical coffee/chocolate/molasses dominated impy stouts, ultimately it is the cocoa and molasses that rule the flavor. I'd definitely buy this one again and it's the best offering I've had from Bell's, but it has some flaws.

jkendrick, Jan 23, 2009
Photo of waldoiverson
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle to us pint

A: motor oil black and creamy but small mahogany head

S: slightly tart and lactic with creamy softness

T: Smooth, cherry, and toasted caramel, a nice hit of alcohol

M: smooth and minimal dryness caused by alcohol

D: one per session please, it's best to let it warm over an hour and get all the flavor changes

waldoiverson, Jan 20, 2009
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,555 ratings.