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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

5,368 Ratings

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Ratings: 5,368
Reviews: 1,996
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.61%
Wants: 447
Gots: 1,329 | FT: 99
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: 5,368 | Reviews: 1,996
Photo of thewalkindude
3.62/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass at the local Mellow Mushroom. I'm usually a huge fan of Russian Imperial Stouts, and while this one was pretty good, there were a few aspects that put me off about it. But I'll save that for a minute, first, let me get to what I liked about this beer. The appearance was a rich, black color, pretty much opaque when held up to the light. The Expedition sported a two-finger thick dark caramel head that faded relatively slowly and left a nice lacing on the glass, although not as much as I'm accustomed to with a stout. This one was heavy in the mouth, with a bit of a bite from the carbonation. As far as the actual taste of the beer is concerned, this one is bitter, even for a stout, with strong espresso, extra dark chocolate, and alcohol flavors throughout, which only grow stronger as it warms up. Left a pleasant bitter malt flavor on my tongue.

Unfortunately, the Expedition's carbonation makes the flavor sharper than I'm usually accustomed to in a stout. Also, it smells like wet play-doh on the beach, which I was forced to endure every time I brought it up to my lips. Besides these complaints, this was a solid beer.

Photo of Cummins9110
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into glass

A - darker than the pit of a black hole, little to no head

S - Smells of toffee and slight dark fruits

T - taste of chocolate/coffee and dark fruits/maybe slight cherry notes endes with high IBU and slight alcohol burn at the end

M - full full bodied and very thick, I'm almost eating the beer (exagerated)

Overall its a good beer and its my first RIS but in reality it doesn't fully live up to the hype

Photo of amidabha
4.76/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

batch: 10105, december 10, 2010 poured into a dogish snifter

S) this poured light-blocking dark espresso with about a half inch tan head with a fairly liberal pour while being careful not to upset any sediment that might be there. there was none after all.

A} don't smell too much after the initial pour except some alcohol and slightly baked toffee although i may have a bit of a stuffed up nose.

T} the baked toffee really comes through with a sweetness that i find pleasing for only ten months aged. the alcohol burn is also a lot less intense than i was expecting as well.

M) incredibly silky smooth rolling over my tongue with just enough carbonation to give it some bite. this is how i imagine an imperial stout should feel in my mouth.

O) i'm happy i picked this for a somewhat cool evening and can't wait to taste this in another year and on since i have a 12-pack downstairs. i am already fighting the urge to drink three or more tonight. i haven't had this stout in at least four years and i think my palette is becoming more discerning.

may try the next bottle with a cigar

Photo of revbdub5446
4.45/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

vintage 02-03

As a longtime skulker I felt it was finally time for my first review...

No batch number, hence, pre-batch 6000....(bottle dating says 02-03)
Poured into Bell's tulip, opened with a Bell's opener, while wearing my Bell's shirt...last part was made up...

Pours nice with quite a bit of carbonation, even a nice little roar at the end...1/4" caramel head on top. Opaque black...no amber,no translucence.

Smells, like a stout alright...Distinctive Bell's malt and hop aroma...mapley, plummy, coffeeeey....big booze upfront...

first taste brought the fruit and roasted coffee...the burn of the booze followed...Bitterness still here at the midpoint of the glass....no hop character...no shit....

mouth feels pretty sticky and coated...don't say it...

Overall, I love this beer, always a staple, and I'm glad I hung on to it for as long as I did! cheers!


Photo of Jimmys
4.29/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: totally pitch black. head is duel-toned light and dark browns. present, but not overwhelming. not as good retention as i expect with a RIS. some lacing.

S: licorice. milk chocolate. a bit of smoke. maybe just a product of the roasted malt, but definitely there. notes of vanilla. varied and complex.

T: molasses-like roast. licorice again. cloys to the palate with sweet flavors and sugar. serious sugar. feels like a little is left sticking my lips together. a real belly warmer. finish is just a tad bit hickory.

M: carbonation is soft and very mellow. very full body.

D: a big bodied RIS. drinks like a rich red wine or glass of port. definitely a winter beer. or dessert. or at least cool weather. or at least dont drink it for breakfast. actually, go for it. and then go back to bed.

Photo of hoplover82
4.53/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First of all... WOW!!! This beer is a thing of beauty indeed! This beer pours THICK AND BLACK with a solid, creamy, 1 1/2 finger espresso crema colored head that has excellent retention and lacing.
S-Right off the bat, chocolate notes along with toffee and warm alcohol fill the nose. After the beer warms a little and a swirl in the glass, sweet burnt caramel notes become quite pungent. Also, way in the back are licorice notes. The nose is quite comples indeed.
T-In the flavor, bittersweet chocolate is the main player here. The burnt caramel comes through as well. After searching for more complexity, I found there is a huge roastiness in the flavor of this beautiful stout. The warming alcohol also translates into the flavor.
M-Of course this beer has a huge, thick, creamy body. The finish is extremely long with bittersweet chocolate burnt caramel lingering on my palate.
O-Overall, I am very thrill to have tried this beer, happy I picked it up when I was in Ohio. I had a couple of beers from Bell's Brewing Company and I am thoroughly impressed with their brewing skills.

Photo of harrymel
3.32/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured to NB globe.
Batch 9971: 09/13/10
First tasting: 08FEB11
Second tasting: 30AUG11

A: Pours dark brown with no head formation. Upon stir, get a temporary dark mocha, loose bubbled head (1/2 finger) which disappears very quickly. Border remains.
A2: Dark brown, under 1/2 finger dark mocha head falls slowly to a broken sheet of the same. Spotty lacing. Clarity irrelevant.

S: Roasted malts, grains, hints of dates, figs, licorice. There's quite a metallic scent here too, a bit off setting. (2.5)
S2: Roasted malts of coffee, dates and prunes. My initial impression upon opening this beer was a healthy dose of molasses, I no longer really smell this. Some cocoa there as well. Licorice is evident, but nicely integrated. (3)

T: Wow, the licorice takes over here. Also quite bitter. Dark, unsweetened cocoa in here. Fairly one dimensional. Finish resonates for what seems forever. It tastes burnt. (3)
T2: Dry cocoa powder, licorice, burnt coffee, molasses now bites back. Hmm, reminds me of burnt toast with a wee bit of cinnamon/sugar over the top (very wee bit). (3.5)

M: Thick, low carbonation, very very sticky. (3)
M2: Thinned out a bit, medium on low carbonation. Leaves a sticky finish with a dry feel. (3)

D: One is more than enough. I can't stand behind this beer. (3)
O2: This beer is too roasted and burnt tasting for me. If it had a bit more molasses flavor, it would remind me of Nightstalker by GI. Although I dislike how sweet NightStalker comes across, this one comes out with too much of the burnt malts and not enough balance with the other flavors. (3)

Photo of eclipse54
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 ounce bottle from inlimbo77 (thanks!). "10105" is printed on the label, translating to a bottled on date of December 10, 2010. Poured into a DFH signature glass...

It pours a solid black with about a centimeter of brown, bubbly head. It dissipates rather quickly, leaving a ring around the edges a patch of bubbles in the center. Small, wet patches of bubbles are left clinging to the walls of the glass. Smells of dark fruits, some hops, chocolate, vanilla, and a bit of caramel. There's certainly a lot here, at it seems quite balanced in the nose. It tastes of chocolate, some fruity hops as well as some darker fruits (plum, date), and a bit of vanilla in the beginning. Towards the end, some roasted malt, more chocolate, and caramel come through. Mouth is rich, thick, and a bit dry on the finish. Overall, a very good stout that I’d love to have again.

Photo of DogfishJoe
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a. this beer had little to no head, although the bottle was about 9 months old. also this is black!

s. pick up a perfect roasted malt smell with slight chocolate note.

t. great big roasted malt followed by little chocolate and leaves you with bitter coffee.

o. good beer wish it was cheaper, way to easy to drink and no alcohol burn.

Photo of mulder1010
3.43/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Mikkeller Tulip

Thanks to Jonno79 for the bottle. 2007 I believe

A-- Dark, thick, sludgy motor oil black. No light penetrating at all. Nice reverse cascading head that was dark leather, want to say black in color. Got to one finger in height and stayed at above film through drinking. Good attractive head. No obvious carbonation on sides of the glass. Just a lot of gurgles in the head.

S-- Dark chocolate, coco powder, coffee, rich thick malt, tobacco, and very strong ABV nose. Very complex and very nice.

T-- Chocolate, malt, coffee and very straightforward but not near as good as the nose was. Thick and sludgy.

M-- Thought Event Horizon without the barrel. Not as complex but quite hearty. Big, thick and chewy but very one dimensional at times. Touches of silk but really somewhat flat in a way.

O-- Good but not that great I thought. Massive, big sipper with a great look and nose but falls a bit flat in the taste and mouth. Good to try and to cellar but not something I would want a whole lot of.

Photo of MrKennedy
3.65/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle thanks to mulder1010 for sharing this! My portion poured into a Tripel Karmeliet tulip style glass.

Pours a thick, sludgy black colour, no light penetration and the mocha/tan coloured head of foam hangs around for most of the part. Turns into craters at times and otherwise has a nice retention.

So much going on with the smell, coffee, tobacco and plenty of malt with some chocolate too.

Taste is so much more muted, very restrained by comparison, some chocolate coming through, some coffee too but not a whole lot more, not anywhere near what you'd imagine.

Mouthfeel is big, thick, sludgy at times. You know this is a 10.5% ABV Imperial Stout.

Overall a touch disappointing, maybe i'd built this up too much in my mind. Still a good beer, but failing to deliver the taste that was expected.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.52/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've reviewed this before from the bottle, but I was interested to see how this beer was on cask. To be honest, I was a little dubious about a beer this big, and with these flavors being able to make the transition nicely, but I was certainly wrong- it was very good indeed. I had this at the Atlanta Cask Ale Festival, and we're not talking a skimpy pour, but a good 1/2 nonic at least. Poured black, and quite bubbly, with good carbonation and quite a decent head, even with no sparkler and gravity poured. Nice aromas of espresso and licorice. Oh my, this tastes good! Beautiful and well integrated notes of espresso, licorice, chocolate, and roasted grains with a firm creaminess underpinning these flavors. The cask lends this beer a wonderful silkiness that puts it over the top. Very nice indeed!

Photo of beerman207
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not sure why I haven't tried this one up until now.

A: dark, black, dark bren head on top that sticks around a while.

S: nose is chocolate, malt, smoke, raisin

T: chocolate mAlt and booze

M: very smooth and easy to drink

O: this is a very drinkable beer. The abv is not really that detectable.

Photo of BeerLover99
3.77/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: deep black body, trace head, little lacing

S: ripe fruit, caramel, nutty, toffee,
heavy boozy scent, dark cocoa

T: dark chocolate, roasted malt, big alcohol flavor,
ripe fruits, light
bitter finish

M: med/heavy body, smooth, chewy

O: I enjoyed this, might have again.
Not a must have. I love RIS, but this
is not one of my favorites.
Big sipping brew.


Photo of auroracrisis
4.4/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz into a Maudite snifter, batch #8864 bottled on 12/8/08. So about 2 years and 8 months old.

The blackest of blacks. This one is seriously like crude oil. Two finger mocha head that dissipates into a collar of foam around the edges of the glass. Bubbles that vary in size floating around the top of the beer. Some legs as the beer rests back in the glass after sipping.

Bakers chocolate up front with anise woven in. A cup of strong espresso up next. Also a bit of very rich fudge and chocolate cake. Then a touch of bourbon like booze. Strange, this isn't barrel aged but it's definitely there.

The brew floods your mouth with chocolate like flavors at first. 80% cocoa bars, fudge brownie batter, and rich chocolate cake. Next we have espresso, then a touch of licorice and earthyness. Rounded out with a hint of whiskey. Time has done wonders here. Every flavor is very well integrated and none of them stand out more than another.

On the palate, it is divine. Silky smooth, oily, and full bodied. Almost no carbonation what so ever and a touch of drying. Fantastic.

Big cocoa and earth aromas accompany a touch of whiskey, with an outstanding melded together complex flavor that follows the subtle nose. A stout that I highly recommend to anyone. Especially aged. Forget all the brewery only releases and just stock up on this stuff.

Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.44/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love Bell’s batch number search engine; from those four little numbers on the back of my label, I was able to learn that this beer was packaged on January 27th, 2010. Good stuff. Now I’m even more excited; I love a stout with some age on it. Cheers!

Brewed over a year-and-a-half before the date of this tasting (“Packaged on January 27th, 2010”).

A: Thick and black, this beer pours an oily crude. The head is sexy, a dark brown micro-bubbled foam that takes some work to create. It’s a thick looking drink, though it doesn't leave any lacing. I’m not seeing any light through this one at all, even at the bottom of the glass.

S: WOW! What a nose! Coffee and hop bitters are still so big after 18+ months of aging; leafy pine and creamy mocha, mostly. The malts are just incredible. Semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla cream, dark fruit syrup – they’re all bold and savory. The alcohol kick on the back end is noticeable without being overbearing; just right. The flavor and balance of this nose could certainly even Founders KBS and Goose Island BCBS a run for their money...

T: Mmmm, very strong. The first thing you notice is the impressive smoothness of the malt flavors, with big chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. Woody, boozy effects transition to this palate’s surprisingly big bitters. The burst of sharp hop resins are so tart that it takes me aback; this must be an absolute monster when it’s fresh. That dry, stinging aftertaste settles in for a long while, giving this stout an unexpectedly intense finish. I love the way this beer comes across – sweet and bitter in a smooth, sexy shell.

M: This is so important when it comes to a well-rounded stout, and these guys nail it. It’s superbly creamy, which adds a certain warmth to the already huge booze buzz that this 10.5% beer produces.

O: Damn. Good. Beer. Nothing more you can really say. This one’s a beer-ager’s dream, with enough malt complexity and hop resins to keep it interesting for up to a decade in the cellar, I’m sure. As a self-described hophead, this is one of the rare stouts that totally succeeds in capturing the essence of those bitter green flowers. I’ll be working through a six-pack as a vertical in the next few years, I’m sure.

Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black, with edges of deep brown when held to light. Head is a solid tan/coffee with a little cream. Touches of lacing on the glass. Thin vestiges of foam on the top of the beer.

Smell: Dark fruit (plums and raisins maybe). Snap of alcohol in the back. Licorice, toasted malts, and sweetness. Almost akin to molasses, but lacks the nuance of the syrup. That same popcorn smell from Kalamazoo Stout is in the back as well. Caramel, coffee.

Taste: Char, smoke, and burnt malts. Deep and roasted with strong notes of caramel, old coffee beans, and cocoa. Booze kick in the back, but it's dominated by the char and dark fruit notes. It's like drinking a grilled plum. Sweet. Definitely sweeter than I like, but carries enough complexity to keep it interesting.

Mouthfeel: Creamy without being smooth. A little rough around the edges. Carbonation is a little low and prevents the beer from really hitting its stride.

Overall: Definitely solid, but it might need a little more time to polish off some of the rougher edges. Booze run a little high and the char flavors can be dominating. Still, it's solid and well worth the investment.

Photo of xhuskr
4.92/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

share a bottle with friends today. Pulled a bottle out I had put away quite some time ago. Turns out...a LOONNGG time...it was a '07 Batch 8145

A...dark and glorious
S...licorice, cocoa, vanilla?
T...same as above, but a hint of bourbon?
M..smooth as silk
O...best beer I"ve had in awhile...wish I had more...

I stopped at that for the day...hard to get better.

I've been thinking of drinking more of what I've saved..great enjoyment and makes room for new beers in the rotation

Photo of Kromes
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into a snifter glass. Jet black with two fingers of dark tan foam of all sizes of bubbles. Good lacing all down the glass. Looks incredible.

S: Smokey, peat aroma with bittersweet chocolate and a touch of hop.

T: More of the smoke and peat flavor that gives way to a bittersweet chocolate and hop flavor. Finish is dry, roasty and smoky.

M: It's medium-heavy bodied and not as creamy as some stouts. Ends up leaving the mouth dry.

O: If you like bitter, smokey stouts then you should definitely try this beer. I really enjoyed it.

Photo of amphion1065
3.47/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into tulip. Batch 10105.

Pour is as close to black as could be. Glugs out of the bottle - it just looks viscous. Dark brown one-finger head that doesn't hang around for long. Minor lacing.

A classic RIS aroma. A lot of dark fruits, I can pick up plums and prunes in abundance. Some molasses, chocolate notes. There's a pronounced roast quality as well. I can detect just a hint of booze in the nose.

It's not hot at all, but man is this unbelievably bitter. Reminiscent of 90% cocoa combined with an astringent hop bite. There's an acrid, roast, burnt taste that reminds me of very dark coffee or, maybe more accurately, coffee grounds. There are some underlying flavors at work here: some chocolate, deep dark fruits. That said, the over-the-top bitterness drowns out many of the subtler qualities of the taste.

Mouthfeel is well done: it's thick, with medium carbonation. Given how big it is, it goes down pretty easily.

This is atypical of many stouts of similar ABV in that, although it really needs some more time to tone down, the alcohol bite is not overpowering. Rather, there are a ton of huge flavors that just need to coalesce and settle. I could see this drinking very well in a few months - or years - and would love to try an older bottle, but from my sample I can't deem this better than a slightly above-average RIS.

Photo of pkeigs
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Expedition has grown to be one of my favorite stouts. I love how accessible it is, and every batch seems to be just as good as the last. Bells kills it!

This one kills me every time I drink, so much complexity packed into a 12 ounce bottle. Smells of dry cocoa, coffee, dark malts. Balanced out with a nice hop bill, but the beer focuses on the malt! Finishes a bit dryer than what I expect, but each sip garners in more complexity. A delicious treat and a beer that I want to have access to all of the time.

Photo of atis
4.72/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

3 years aged, batch 8864.

Pours black with dense dark brown head that soon fades, leaving patchy downsliding lacing. Aroma is intense sweetish dark malt, caramel, alcohol and dark dried fruit, not too complex.

Taste is roasted malts first, followed by bittery coffee, chocolate, burnt sugar and dark dried fruit join in during the long lasting and slowly drying finish. To top it, mouthfeel is silky smooth with faint carbonation and soft warming feeling that slowly sets in.

An excellent Imperial Stout. Amazing. When I get such beers, I always regret I do not live in the US.

Photo of Scotchboy
4.18/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 9971. Bells Expedition poured into a Deschutes snifter. A beer from my first trade (thanks Steve!) I've now collected several, so thanks to Chase and Jason as well.

A: Pours opaque and noticeably viscous, with a chocolate milk colored head and good lace. Alcohol feet are noticable.

S: More diverse than most RIS, still with a lot of dark malt but caramel sweetness and dark fruit are really prominent as well, as is chocolate and hops. Even though this beer is almost a year old I can detect some booze as well.

T: Dark rich malts with an excellent hop profile that hints of spices, cinnamon and even chillies. That tart sweetness of dark fruit lingers, with flavors of dark cherry and prune. There is a little alcohol but it blends nicely and isn't distracting.

MF: Creamy, silk textures sets this medium/heavy bodied beer gliding over your mouth with heavy viscosity and ample hop dryness on the finish.

O: This is a good RIS, with some pretty vinous characters and excellent hopping, all wrapped up in a strong caramel and dark roasted malt body.

Photo of WrathsU
4.64/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - deep black pour like staring into a polished onyx gem.

S - Caramelized sugars up front. Roasted coffee tones and chocolate throughout.

T - So good. Tastes like bittersweet chocolate, fresh ground coffee, and caramel.

M - Smooth, very smooth for its abv. Perfectly carbonated.

D - I could drink this forever, one of the best stouts I've ever had.

Photo of jmich24
4.01/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

8 months aged

A: One finger, very dark tan head. Color is basically black, traces of ruby. Sporadic sticky lacing, cap that never goes away completely.
S: Sweet and Strong! Dark and milk chocolate. Touch of vanilla and burnt malts. Overpowering booziness.
T: Very smooth!! Not what I had expected from the smell at all. Big roasted malts, lots of dark chocolate. Touch of booziness towards the end but not nearly as apparent as the nose. Amazing lingering bitterness to balance this puppy out.
M: Super big mouthfeel. Very chewy.
O: I would say I like this a lot at this age,but I admit it needs more time. Still a bit hot, cant wait to try again with one to two years on her.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,368 ratings.