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

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

Not Rated.
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

4,924 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,924
Reviews: 1,916
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 419
Gots: 1,103 | FT: 77
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,924 | Reviews: 1,916 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JMD
4.45/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pitch black with rocky dark tan head. Leaves heavy lacing down the glass.

S: Big toasted malt aroma. Some molasses, ripe dark fruit and tobacco.

T: Rich flavor with tons of toasted malt character. Molasses and bittersweet chocolate. Hints of fresh brewed coffee and tobacco. Finished with a light touch of hops. Alcohol is masked nicely.

M: Thick, creamy, and viscous. Full bodied and robust.

D: This is an outstanding stout. Rich and bold, yet highly drinkable. Very well crafted.

JMD, Jan 19, 2010
Photo of hayesez
4.55/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The Expedition is an outstanding Russian Imperial that I always keep on hand. At only $15 a six-pack, I keep about 12 in my basement and rotate them so that I'm always drinking one that has been aged for over a year. It's a great stand-by when craving a heavy stout. Cracked one open today during the football games. Poured into my Russian Imperial Stout tulip glass.

Pours dark as can be with no penetrating light at all. A two-finger heavy brown cap quickly forms on the top before dissipating to a thick ring around the edges. Blotches of tiny bubbled lacing remain long after the beer is gone. Every time I swirl this, a one finger head rises on top of my beer releasing that wonderful aroma!

A strong smell of chocolate dominates each sniff. Even after over a year of chilling out, there is a still a presence of alcohol in there as well. There is also a vinous quality that I get on the end...and I'm sure there is a lot more that I'm missing as well. Although I don't get it in this glass as much as with other Expeditions I've had, there is generally that overripe fruit smell as well. Not so much in this bottle, but common in this beer.

I really do enjoy this beer. The flavors have had a chance to blend together well to produce a very nice balance of chocolate and roasted malts. It starts with a sweet cocoa and then finishes just a tad more bitter than I would prefer, although that is pretty common in the style. The alcohol is well masked although as it warms up, it is a little more obvious.

This is a thick and heavy beer. Very chewy and lingers around in my mouth, exactly like I like Russian Imperials. Very drinkable given the 12 ounce serving size. Too much more than that and I think it would begin to be a bit of a challenge.

Consumed - 1/17/2009

hayesez, Jan 18, 2010
Photo of Kurioser
3.93/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: The brew poured black as night, with an agressive pour I coaxed a 3 finger head the color of cafe-au-lait. The lacing left was heavy.
Aroma: Smells of malt and coffee
Taste: Deeply roasted coffee/espresso flavors, bitter after-bite on the rear of the palate.
Mouthfeel: Smooth and velvety; low carbonation.
Drinkability: A wonderful full bodied beer for cold days, I would love to kick a few back regularly.

Kurioser, Jan 17, 2010
Photo of Kelp
3.18/5  rDev -25%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thank you once again to beerisheaven for this one. The appearance is nice inky with a nice sark tan head. Smells like a traditional RIS to me, chocolate, coffee, and malt. Nothing different there. The taste is unlike any RIS I have ever had. Molasses, malts and a bit of chocolate make up the initial taste. Then Bitter hits my tongue and takes over. All I can taste now is the bitter from some unknown source. I think a little age would do wonders for this beer. The mouthfeel is smooth, velvety and a bit creamy. I could not drink another of these right now. It just is way to bitter for me. I would love to try an aged and brand new one side by side, but for now ugh.

Kelp, Jan 16, 2010
Photo of Minotaur
4.45/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Spinnerstown Hotel for a Bell's event. The pint glass delivered to the table is a deep black-brown with no light coming through. The head is bright tan, about half a finger, and retains longer than expected for many stouts. There is moderate carbonation initially then it slows to a thick stillness.

The aroma is malty, roasted, chocolate and spicy with a little bit of yeast esters. Good...representative, but doesn't really illustrate the intensity of flavor.

Upon taking a sip the flavor is a veritable explosion of deep, dark tastes that also make their way to the nose. There is licorice, chocolate - sweet and bitter, hops, toasted bread, cinnamon, vanilla, and a heady coffee and roast taste. As you drink through the melange becomes more complex and richer. Sweet tastes come through more strongly and any bitterness recedes. The blasts of cinnamon and spice are truly impressive. Through out the glass the alcohol becomes apparent and the beer almost takes on a bitter chocolate liquor quality.

The mouthfeel is satisfying and smooth, and lighter than the flavor density; it is good - but I'd almost like something a little thicker in the mouth to match up to the cake-like quality of the taste.

This beer is very drinkable despite the high alcohol and intensity of the dark flavors. A definite winner on a cold winter night, especially on tap.

Minotaur, Jan 16, 2010
Photo of cpetrone84
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I have previously reviewed this beer in bottle but the cask was something different and I thought it was entitled to a new review.

A-jet black in color that lets no light through. thick creamy dark coffee colored head that has solid retention and leaves nice lacing

S-light roasted malts, hints of milk chocolate and some molasses

T/M-it is extremely smooth and creamy, very robust and full bodied, almost chewy. the taste brings big dark chocolate, a light roasted malt, some molasses, alcohol is slightly present, hints of dark fruit towards the finish.

D-amazing! so creamy, so chocolate, and huge flavors!

cpetrone84, Jan 15, 2010
Photo of Heavenisbeer
3.98/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a deep chocolate-black, with suspended, flurried sediment throughout, including a thick layer on the bottom of the glass. Thin head dissipates rapidly, leaving in its wake splotchy caramel-brown puddles. Light, transitory lacing. Appearance is extremely warm and inviting, exciting even. Other than gentle bubbling on its surface, no sign of carbonation.

S: Nose is sweet, lightly infused with prunes, and a little buttery. There is also a hint of saltiness, soy sauce even.

T: Complex. The chocolaty appearance is not seconded by the taste--sweet and salty malt burst, followed by a molasses middle, ending in a bitter finish. The taste is not commensurate to its body (see Mouthfeel). The high ABV is masked very well, although the final kick is a delicate alcohol finish on the back of the tongue.

M: Wonderfully dense, viscous, and chewy. Rich and syrupy, a little oily. Thickest stout I've probably ever had. Warm alcohol finish.

D: Delicious, but definitely not a beer that I could drink more than one of in one sitting.

Heavenisbeer, Jan 13, 2010
Photo of BigBigPickle
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Was at Sheffield's in Chicago for the Hopslam release party and they tapped a firkin of Expedition Stout prior to the Hopslam.

A: Dark brown, casading down the glass - it looked almost like Guiness (bad lighting). Great toasty brown head with tremendous staying power and fantastic lacing. Looked like a glass of chocolate!

S: Malt, sugar - Brown sugar, very big coffee.

T: Bourbon - Heavy Coffee - Brown Sugar. A little maple syrup with a very peaty taste. Also a backing of carmelized brown sugar.

M: Wow!!! All I can say.

D: Only one. I could not have had another, Too much to handle, but what an experience!

BigBigPickle, Jan 12, 2010
Photo of Tucquan
4.18/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on 2010-01-11 in a bottle from my trading buddy, Steve.

Pours a deep, dark brown with a very short, dark tan head. The head fades quickly.

The smells are of fruit, chocolate, coffee and licorice.

The taste profile follows the aroma very well but with the addition of caramel and molasses complimenting the chocolate, acrid coffee, alcohol, and to a lesser extent the licorice and fruit flavors. It seems most of the bitterness is from the malt roast but I taste a bit of grassy, hops bitterness too. At 10.5% ABV, this brew certainly warms the belly but the alcohol is well-balanced with the other flavors.

The mouthfeel is very creamy. I could've used a bit more carbonation to smooth it out.

All-in-all, a well-crafted and delicious brew that can be drunk now or aged for years.

Tucquan, Jan 12, 2010
Photo of diybrun
3.95/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass stout black (is stout black not a color? it is now) with a 1/2 finger head that left very little lacing. Smells of... hops? Maybe my nose is off, but I smell a bit of citrus, not something I'm used to from a stout. Some roasted barley, too. Carbonation is there, but it's weak. Cream and alcohol are predominant, smoked barley and hints of mocha and caramel too. Definite hop presence, especially in the aftertaste, which I don't mind. This beer has a kick, as I would expect from an imperial stout, but it isn't that balanced. I don't see myself kicking back and enjoying a couple of these. Still a perfectly enjoyable stout.

diybrun, Jan 10, 2010
Photo of FickleBeast
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours a thick, viscous, motor oil black. A vigorous pour manages to coax out a full finger of tan foam. It leaves sheets of lace as it recedes, this beer has some serious viscosity to it.

Aroma is rich - dominant is a sweet milk chocolate aroma, with some coffee

First flavor is a hot alcohol burn, subsiding quickly into a dark fruity flavor, then finishing with coffee and lingering bitterness. Flavors are intense and there is a lot going on with this beer. The flavors blend together as the beer warms, overall this is pretty damn tasty.

As stated before, this beer is very thick. The carbonation has a hard time poking through. Drinkability is high considering the ABV

FickleBeast, Jan 10, 2010
Photo of jera1350
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pretty fresh 2009 edition:

Pours a thick pure black with thin layer of tan suds.

Quite hoppy nose with lots of chocolate and roasty malts. A hint of almost mint/menthol. This may just be the hops though.

Matches up well with the nose. A bit more deep toasted malt and dark chocolate. Kiss of coffee bean. Pretty big grassy hop profile that I'm digging. Toasty finish.

Very smooth and lightly creamy. The body just feels a bit short of what a RIS should have.

Well, that not so huge body allows the drinkability to run very high. Great all around RIS. Bell's has to be one of my favorite breweries. Looking forward to aging a few of these to see how it develops.

jera1350, Jan 09, 2010
Photo of NYCWheatFanSC
2.75/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a thick dark black with a small, cherry mocha head that recedes quickly to a microfilm on top with a sturdy collar that leaves alot of lacing as the beer goes down.

S - Licorice, alcohol, and burnt brown sugar dominate.

T - The estery alcohols impart an almost robitussin-eque flavor that is rather off-putting from the start. Smoke, and caramelized molasses are also big players here, but not strong enough to mask the cough syrup flavors.

M - Nice and chewy, with a bit more carbonation than I would expect which unfortunately brings out alot of the more acrid flavors.

D - Would not seek this one out again over many, many others I have readily available.

NYCWheatFanSC, Jan 09, 2010
Photo of crossovert
3.58/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle purchased from the Bell's General Store.

Pours into my pint a dark black with slight ruby edges when held to light. The head is thick and creamy and large. It is brown/tan and leaves thick lacing behind.

SMell is very carmally, also some molasses, nuts, maple, brown sugar, coffee, and cocoa.

Mouthfeel is extra thick but the alcohola nd slight carbonation do bite the lips. It tastes chocolatey and fruity, with a definite alcohol bite. It is pretty sweet and bittersweet but it doesn't reach cloying levels. This is one of those big ass beers that you drink to warm up. They could have bumped it up to 12% though considering the strength of the alcohol already on the palate.

This is a big and bold Russian imperial stout, but for a true Michigan jewel I recommend the Dark Horse Plead the 5th.

crossovert, Jan 08, 2010
Photo of BeerInReview
3.7/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's a typical dark black stout color, but I manage to get some decent head, two fingers worth. The dark tan head gradually dissipated into a collar around the beer and provided nice lacing. I could smell a lot of malt and a twinge of alcohol.
The taste was sweet at first but quickly transitioned to heavy roasted malt. The finish left my mouth dry with chocolate notes. The beer was thin, but full bodied with an appropriate amount of carbonation.
The 10.5% ABV is making my mouth very dry and I don't think I could drink another. One is enough. Overall, the beer was good, as I would not turn this one down if offered, but I've had better stouts.

BeerInReview, Jan 08, 2010
Photo of techfed87
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a strong, mocha colored head. Smells strongly of caramels and heavy malts. Head is very slow to dissipate.

First taste comes off almost salty for a second, quickly turning to a bitter, coffee-like taste and consistency. H'oh my, this beer is a thick one. In terms of flavor, it's much tightly packed together than many other Imp stouts out on the market. At the same time saying that, it's much easier to drink than many imperial stouts are. Carbonation on this batch is just right. It picks up where the natural bitterness ends off, giving it a real kick in flavor just as the after-taste is beginning to show its head.

Several minutes into drinking this one, and the head is still present. This puts it in a category of beer that you usually don't see.

At 10.5%, the beer is one of the stronger ones. However, it keeps itself within reason. A definite treat for a winter night. This is one of Bell's best brews hands down. Try it sometime!

techfed87, Jan 06, 2010
Photo of ShadesOfGray
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Ommegang tall snifter. Pours a dark, thick black with little initial head. As the pour taps off, the head grows big, light brown with great sticky frothy lacing.

Aroma is fairly light with lots of bitter notes. Roasted coffee...but a slight ash-tray smell...weird.

Very thick creamy taste. Pleasant flavor...bitter-sweet chocolates, dark roasted coffee. Great warming sensation down the throat. Wow, after smelling this beer, I espected a bad stout. Flavor is actually very good! Full body. Drinkability down due to thickness...but a must try!

ShadesOfGray, Jan 06, 2010
Photo of ThatWineGuy
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A half finger charcoal mocha head diminished and retreated revealing a tar black, oily brew with minor ribbon lace. The beer is perfectly opaque - a deep dark black hole to look at. Heady smell of burnt toast and dark chocolate, coffee beans, tree bark, smoke, very complex.

Make no mistake, this is a huge RIS and very strong and assertive. Black licorice dominates, charcoal, flashes of sour that initially made me pucker - must be the hop presence. Overpoweringly rich, boozy, like a high ABV barley wine made with anise. Very creamy in the mouth, dense, heavy with hops, dark toasted malt, burnt and smokey. This beer literally blew me away, savoured and sipped, it took on subtler aspects with air and warming but demanded respect. It took me a long time to finish it. Next time I find a bottle of this, it will stay considerably longer in my cellar.

ThatWineGuy, Jan 03, 2010
Photo of ImusBeer
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance was very black with a fine bubbled tan head. Good retention and heavy lacing.

Smelled of coffee and chocolate. Taste of chocolate coffee and vanilla.

Mouthfeel was thick rich and creamy . Warm buttery texture also a bit syrupy. A heavy beer but good, a nice beer for winter.

ImusBeer, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of Lunch
4.55/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 12oz. bottle purchased at Shangy's in Emmaus, PA into my Bell's tulip at the appropriate temperature (01/01/10).

A: Pours a deep oily jet black with a two finger cap of a cappuccino foam that dissolves slowly leaving some patchy lace.

S: Excellent bouquet of fresh espresso and dark chocolate along with a roasted malt. Some tones of milk chocolate and cocoa are present as well.

T: Beautiful flavor containing notes of fresh coffee, espresso, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, chocolate malt, and some bittering hops. The bitterness seems to linger on the tougne for some time and continues into the finish.

M: Thick and full-bodied with smooth and creamy carbonation. None of the 10.5% abv is present at all.

D: Incredibly drinkable as the flavors are well balanced and rich. The 10.5% abv. is hidden expertly never showing itself at in the slightest.

Overall this was a truly a wonderful Imperial Stout that certainly lives up to the hype. Another quality product from Bell's and certainly one that has to tried by all Imperial Stout fans. Highly Recommended.

Lunch, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of babaracas
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque very dark brown with thin light brown head, fast fading, no lacing. Smell: roasty, dark brown sugar, a little wood smoke, dark fruit, touch of soy sauce. Taste: molasses, not quite burnt, dates, milk chocolate aftertaste, rich roasty coffee, leafy and spicy hop in the background, quite sweet. Mouthfeel: syrupy but low on carbonation. Expedition was enjoyable but not elite. The alcohol was well hidden, though this one had almost a year on it, bottled on Jan 28, 2009 (Bell's batch finder is awesome).

babaracas, Jan 01, 2010
Photo of Mora2000
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up in a trade from Exiled.

2007 vintage. Pours pitch black with basically no head. What little head is present is is a brown color. Aroma is strong coffee with some roasted malt and dark fruit. the flavor is heavy on the roasted malt with some smokiness. Some dark fruit and bitter chocolate as well. There is also a slight soy sauce character to the beer. The alcohol has a nice alcohol warming affect. Very thick body and low carbonation. Slightly creamy mouthfeel. This one might have improved with more carbonation.

Mora2000, Jan 01, 2010
Photo of notlob
3.38/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma: Deep licorice, plums, and fruity-sweet alcohol.

Appearance: Pours jet-black with dark tan head that dissipates quickly.

Flavor: Very roasty with a slight alcohol burn. Some dark fruit character and I think I get some roasty-dark-chocolate notes in the finish. Good balance between the residual sweetness and bitter roasted malt, but just not the right balance for me.

Mouthfeel: Medium-low carbonation. Somewhat of a mouth-coating oil-slick.

Overall impression: Better around 55-60F than right out of the fridge. Slight alcohol warmth. Definitely a sipper.

notlob, Dec 30, 2009
Photo of ktrillionaire
3.65/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer was properly cellared over two years.

A – Amazing. Viscous, onyx with a tan-garnet head, very sticky.

S – Boozy and dark-bready with a sprucey hop. Less roasty than I would expect, more salty and malty. Small bitter chocolate and black licorice.

T – Shockingly, vividly flavorful. Smoky and slightly estery and tanned leather with a bitter piney hop. So complex and potent, as compared to a year ago. Still not astounding.

M – Extremely thick and, dare I say, slimy.

D – Not so much. It took a 50 degree-weather day in Florida to get me crackn this one, aka once in a blue moon.

ktrillionaire, Dec 30, 2009
Photo of Pedro07
4.88/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Great beer and the first one of the winter for me.

A- Awsome dark richness. Thick old motor oil in my glass. A dark brown creamy head rises to a 3/4 inch height and slooowly falls. Good lacing down the glass.

S- Again, awsome richness. This is a favorite for me. All the molasses, cocoa and roasted goodness one can expect from an RIS.

T- Where do I begin? How can I do it jutice? Roasted malts galore, coffee, espresso, black barley, bourbon-soaked raisins, and on and on. Wonderfully balanced.

M- Velvety, smooth, and exquisitely mouth-coating. Dessert in a glass.

D- Wonderful sipper on a cold winters night. Bell's got this one right.

Not my all-time, but close!

Bro's, you guys got a bad one. Give it another try, you'll love it!

Pedro07, Dec 30, 2009
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 4,924 ratings.