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Bell's Expedition Stout - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

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5,178 Ratings
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Ratings: 5,178
Reviews: 1,952
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 435
Gots: 1,226 | FT: 83
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,178 | Reviews: 1,952 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of miketyree24
3.28/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Very dark beer. Has a medium dark brown foamy head. Kind of has the color of engine oil and it is very thick and sticky.

Strong smell of malts and caramel. Coffee smell hits you next.

Beer is very thick to the taste and alcohol is present from first sip. Heavy malt flavor but not overwhelming.

Overall drinkable beer. Could drink 1 or 2 pints no problem.

Photo of Jadjunk
3.89/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

"Here's a beer that thirsts for travel, holding up impressively under the rigors of any journey. At the same time, it's perfectly content to sit quietly in your cellar, aging and improving while you wait for the moment that seems perfectly appropriate for its consumption." Brewed in the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Available in 12 oz. 6 packs and on draft as a fall imperial series seasonal release. I will be reviewing this immensely popular stout alongside two other vintages, 1 year aged (2013) and 2 years aged (2012).

Poured from a 12oz. bottle to a snifter. Served above 54º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Expedition pours a crisp foamy chocolate brown head over a nearly solid black body, moderately viscous. Retention is above average, lacing is light and streaked. 3.75

(Smell) Aromas of moderate roasted malt, chocolate malt and spicy licorice with a moderate sweetness. The potency is modest. 3.75

(Taste) Earthy roasted barley malt finishing with a strong driving roast with chocolate undertones. 4

(Mouthfeel) The texture is moderately viscous, sticky and slightly dry. The carbonation generates a soft frothiness for a smooth mouthfeel. The body is medium/heavy for the style, heavy overall. Balance is earthy bitter over sweet. Alcohol presence is moderate, and off characters are few to none. 4

(Overall) As a fresh stout, Expedition is quite enjoyable, roasty, sweet and viscous with a solid mouthfeel and simple yet deep flavor profile. There are other Russian Imperial Stouts out there that will very likely pump up the flavor variety, but Expedition will likely get the job done for most. 3.75

Bell's Brewery, Inc.'s
Expedition Stout

Vintage Notes:

2013 (1 Year Aged): Pours a frothy creamy head of a similar head and body tone. The aroma shares similarities with the fresh batch with a mild creeping fruitiness. Lesser striking roast with a more solid balance with chocolate and finishing with a stronger spicy licorice. The texture is slightly smoother, slicker and oilier. Overall it's at least as enjoyable as the fresh batch if not better.

2012 (2 Years Aged): 2012 forms a creamy frothed head of a slightly darker tone over a jet black body. The nose continues the transition from heavy roast and sweetness to a more gradual balance with tart fruit subtleties coming in strong. The flavor is just as complex and balanced out as the 2013 batch, with a further reduced roast and chocolate balanced out with a mild acidic fruitiness. The texture continues the trend of smooth, slick and oily with a tame low carbonation for a very subtle soft frothiness. Another fine vintage, although I slightly prefer the 1 year over this vintage.

Recommended vintage: Fresh-2 years or older. Bells doesn't give a best by as per their website, so your patience is the limit as far as this beer is concerned.

Photo of THECPJ
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes 1/9/2011

A: coffee, mocha, and malts, very sweet smelling, although a slight coffee bitterness peaks through

Ap: black with a mocha-brown 1 fingerhead, little to no lacing

B/T: mild carbonation, thick, leaves an oily feeling on the tongue

Af: coffee, mocha, sweet, followed by bitterness

O: definitely drinkable, but in moderation


Photo of PeprSprYoFace
3.53/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is an aged bottle. About 2 years old. I've had it before but never reviewed it. Pulled from my cellar.

Appearance isn't much. Had to force a head as it was pouring out flat and like motor oil. A film stayed though after I poured it hard. Minimal lacing.

Aroma is weird. Lots of roastyness like a stout should be but there is a hint of either soy sauce or BBQ sauce. Not a ton of aroma either.

Taste is very roasty. Like a double roasty Old Rasputen. A little too roasty. A little bit of rasen and toasted sugar.

Mouthfeel is low on carb. Makes the beer too viscus.

Overall it's a little heavy and it's an ok beer. I would have it again but I don't think it's top 100 worthy

Photo of ncaudle
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

batch 9971 bottle poured into Dogfish signature snifter.

pours pitch black with a huge, pillowy mocha head. after a few minutes the head had mostly died down, though never completely dissipated, leaving gorgeous lacing around the glass, top to bottom.
I don't think I have ever seen a more gorgeous pour.

this nose is all sweet, but never too much. sweet chocolate, roasted malts and, maybe, maple syrup and molasses. some slight hop aromas round off the back end. taste brings out some vanilla, dark chocolate bitterness and a light touch touch of coffee. this is almost masterful the balance of flavors!

imo, this is what practically every stout should feel like. medium to thick and viscous. I love the almost chewy nature!
neither syrupy nor hot, surprising due to high abv.

I'm probably ranking drinkability lower than I normally would. this isnt really a stout I would drink in the summertime like I normally would with some other stouts.

this is probably my go to, everyday, big stout in the cold months.

Photo of BB1313
4.34/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. This is probably the best looking stout I've come across! Viscous black w/ big fluffy brown head and nice lacing. Lots of roasted chocolate, vanilla, not picking up any coffee. The taste is hardcore! Tastes very burnt and hot. Still tastes good, but the flavors need time to mellow. Pretty hoppy for a stout as well. Mouthfeel is very rich and creamy, thick and chewy; full-bodied. The drinkability is its' downfall. High abv, plus the chewiness and bold flavors make this a sipper for sure. Balance isn't Expedition's strong suit.

No doubt this is one of the better Imperial Stouts out there. I've always enjoyed it, it's a fun beer to drink.

Photo of Bmoyer0301
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

**2006 Vintage**


Upon pulling off the cap there was just a ever so faint hiss coming from the aged bottle. Poured into my DFH snifter glass, comes out very thick and syrupy like old used motor oil. Very spotty thin tan head that was paper thin at best. No real carbonation bubbles going on here. As I give my glass a swirl the viscosity is very thick and creeps slowly down the walls of my glass.


Like opening a jar of molasses and maple syrup. There are loads of licorice, chocolate, slight ash, jagermeister, with absolutely no hop presence. In the back end I am pulling out black cherries, brownie mix, and some heat alcohol.


Huge robust flavors, dark smoky chocolate, charred meat, raisins and burnt caramel. As I let my glass warm up a little bit more and more espresso flavors are coming out with faint earthy hops that have faded greatly. Very thick on the mouthfeel, mouse, creamy and very thick and long lasting finish that coasts your throat like cough syrup.

Photo of Elendinn
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a half-pint pilsner glass.  Thanks hellomisterp!

A - pitch black with a very miniscule amount of caramely, milk chocolate head. No lacing.

S - lots of dark chocolate up front, a bit of coffee, with some hoppy bitterness and bourbon in the backend.

T - chocolate, coffee, alcohol, bruleed sugar, spice, a bit of char-- finishes with a hoppy dryness and a lingering coffee flavor.

M - pretty carbonated, full-bodied, not syrupy -- not quite as smooth as I'd like.

D - a little too dry in the finish to be easily drinkable, but still very good. One bottle's plenty as the alcohol is rather noticeable. Pairs extremely well with pumpkin pie creme brulee. Could've used another year or two of age on it.

Photo of bmohead
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From a bottle, poured into a pint glass. A hard pour produced a slow building, 2 finger mocha head. Heavy lacing follows this one down the side of the glass. Appears a deep black, with no light penetrating. Smell up front is of raisin and plum, then a deeper coffee and slightly chocolate aroma follows. Taste follows smell, with a roasty bitterness that is not at all overwhelming. Mouthfeel is quite thick and creamy, but finishes rather dry. Nice. Overall this is a fairly drinkable RIS, and one I will have again

Photo of orangesol
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of rbrianforrester
3.8/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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

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

Photo of mckeowbc
3.38/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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

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

Photo of masonjer
5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

Photo of elgiacomo
4.83/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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

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

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

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

Mouthfeel is full, creamy, medium carbonation.

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

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

Photo of AllFineThings
3.68/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

Is a medium to heavy mouthfeel.

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

Photo of scottfrie
3.9/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

Photo of Adouble
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

S- Sweet roasty aroma, Vanilla?

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

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

Photo of wvsabbath
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving Type - Bottle

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of Eldalonde
5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

Photo of BBP
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of afksports
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

Photo of dmfrench
4.58/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A huge, syrupy, fruity/chocolate/coffee milkshake


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

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

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

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

D: Outstanding for such a huge beer.

Photo of TheQuietMan22
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

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

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

Photo of kk73
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of Rifugium
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at Eulogy, Philly, PA

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

S: Roasty and chocolaty, some subtle spicy notes.

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

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

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

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,178 ratings.