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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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5,301 Ratings
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Ratings: 5,301
Reviews: 1,979
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.61%
Wants: 446
Gots: 1,289 | FT: 93
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: 5,301 | Reviews: 1,979 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to GraniteSkunk for the fine extra. Cheers!!

The basics: no idea on price and a hefty and hearty 10.5% ABV (YEEESSS, my precious!!)

Pours a super-uber dense black, like the darkness of the Mines of Moria. A creamy head about a finger thick. Spotty lacing. Above average...

Aromas are intense and robust. Lot's of semi-sweet chocolate, some vanilla, roasted chocolate malt. Also some rounder notes like pancakes with syrup and butter. Luscious....

OMFG - the flavor is...INSANITY!!! It's robust to the power of 100. I almost can't believe this. Super tangy and a nuclear blast of malt right upfront. This smooths out a touch into a massive roasted chocolate espresso flavor in the early middle. This lengthy middle eventually gives way to a tangy and complicated finish - I get some bitter hops and some char, and also some boozy notes. This has to be tried to be believed...It will be too much for even some seasoned Imperial Stout fans, as this makes even Old Raspy look smooth and creamy by comparison...But this beer is very smooth in its own right, I only mean that Old Rasputin is a robust and tangy RIS in its own right, but is nothing as crazy as this...It's like coffee concentrate mixed with chocolate chip extract and poured into a glass of Imperial Stout...And that doesn't even do it justice. As it warms, I even get some nice barrel aging notes. Fantastic but definitely a sipper and not a "drink with your buddies at the river in summer" beer...

What I like most: The insanely robust and complex flavor profile.

What I like least: The almost overwhelming nature of the beer as a whole.

Verdict: Not for the faint of palate, this needs to be tried (price be damned) to be believed...

Photo of bnes09
4.57/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ink black and completely opaque. Ample amount of auburn colored foam. Exceptional retention for a beer of this strength, thanks to the hops, in part. Lots of sticky lines on the glass.

Highly complex, deep roasted aromas. Coffee and licorice. Assertive alcohol spice reminisent of a dark merlot. Smoked maple, molasses and prunes come through as well.

Spectacular flavors of dark coffee, baking chocolate, licorice, molasses, prunes, raisins, and sweet maple syrup. Hops are assertive, pungent, almost biting with a piney, soap-like bitterness that lasts into the aftertaste. Alcohol spice of bourbon rounds it out nicely. Highly complex and delicious from beginning to end.

Full-bodied, thick and chewy mouthfeel, just like a meal. Low level of carbonation is fitting.

Simply an excellent brew and a great example of the Russian imperial stout. Bell's has done it again!

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

A - You crawl your way under a 1989 Dodge Shadow, use a torque wrench to break loose the screw. Out pours the liquid that has been lubing the engine parts for five years without a change. That is what you see when you pour Bell's Expedition Stout. Old old burnt motor oil, black as black can be. No light on this planet can pierce through this beer with it's one finger dark mocha chocolate head.

S - As an RIS should be, it's loaded with the smell of dark dark bitter chocolate with a hint of roasted coffee. Dark dark malty goodness.

T - The first initial kick you get is just how sweet this beer is. Mixed with that taste of dark bitter chocolate, this is almost like drinking chocolate syrup...only appetizing.

M - The mouthfeel is as you'd guess judging by the way it pours. Full solid bodied beer, leaving no part of the mouth uncoated. This beer keeps it's flavor lingering around for a long while.

O - You can NOT give this beer a bad review. For it's style, it's a winner. Great appearance, great flavor, great thickness. The only thing it's missing is something new....but it's still great!

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

A: Pretty much black but with just a hint of brown. 1 finger dark mocha head that settles slowly. Good lace

S: Sweet molasses and alcohol dominate, but at 10.5% I was expecting it. Also present are vanilla, espresso and spicy, dark fruit.

T: Very sweet plum, date and/or apricot flavor up front. Heavy coffee ground and espresso middle with an alcoholic, slightly minty finish. Every other sip I sense almond.

M: There's almost a viscosity to this beer but that doesn't make it difficult to drink. It's fairly carbonated and creamy with only a fair stickiness at the end.

O: My first Bell's and it didn't dissapoint. Looking forward to another selection with as much flavor

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

Had this as my fifth overall selection from Bell's. Not in the same sitting. :)

Poured into a pint glass from bottle bought at Thirsty's Quik Six in York, PA. About 20 mins at room temp.

Pours very dark black, somewhat thick with a nice two finger, foamy, dark caramel colored head. (poured a little fast and sipped the head; instant chocolate blast) Head laced the glass until it was rinsed out. Very pretty beer.

Nose is roasty malts and chocolate with a hint of hops on the back end. Tiny amount of alcohol scent for the strength.

Taste is a bit like the head but much more subdued chocolate notes, leading into bunches of smokey, roasted barley, bitter coffee, just a touch of hop bitters. Very nicely balanced flavors which sorta play back and forth as you drink.

A very smooth (imho) feel from start to finish. Not as thick or heavy as i was expecting but not in the least disappointing. Doesn't leave a residual flavor for very long.

I enjoyed this brew very much and am currently in the search for one or two more singles, warm, to store and try at a later date.

Photo of Roke87
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Duvel tulip at cellar temperature.
Bell’s Batch Number: 9971 Bottled on: Sept.13/2010

Appearance- Pours a pitch black colour like dirty old motor oil with a two finger of nice fluffy brown mocha coloured head that resides at an average pace to a thick ring around the glass leaving lots of sticky lacing throughout till finish.

Smell- Is very similar on the nose to a Founders imp stout, except I smell a hint of hops thrown in there. Lots of roasted malts, a mild coffee smell, with a sweet caramel/toffee nose with a hint of chocolate in there, I could definitely get a hint of alcohol out of this one.

Taste- Comes through just like the smell, although I didn’t get too much hops in the taste as I could smell. Lots of roasted malt flavours and dark fruity flavours as well that are almost sweet on the palate, not too much caramel/toffee on the taste either but it does finish with a bitter coffee flavour balanced again by the roasted malts. Also finishes with a little bit of an alcohol taste but not overly intense.

Mouthfeel- I would say this is a full bodied imperial stout that finishes smooth a creamy, They do a very good job of hiding the high ABV but it does comes through a bit in the finish. Not overly carbonated but not many stouts are anyways so I would say it’s just right in those terms.

Overall- To be honest I kind of expected more from this one; it is very similar to a number of other imperial stouts and not as good as a few others although it does come through in many respects. The Smells are well balanced which translates to an equally balanced, smooth, and almost easy drinking taste. I would say this is Bell’s flagship beer but you could pick up a number of other Bell’s offerings and be just as satisfied but none the less a very solid offering. For the high price point I think I’ll just pick up the similar stouts and pass on this one in the future.

Photo of hopslamds
4.95/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a pitch black, thick, with a small tan head. Aroma of roasted malt, dark chocolate, and a suttle hops. Fresh is a bit hot, which tends to mellow over time and become dangerously smooth. Definitely a wonderful beer that is readily available (when in season) and well priced. Buy and age this beer every year. This truly gets better every year.

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

A - Poured a black color with a brown head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of roasted malt with chocolate scents and a hint of alcohol

T - Follows the nose with roasted malt with chocolate and some alcohol in the finish

M - This beer has a full body with lighter carbonation to it

O - this is a very enjoyable beer it taste great making it way to easy to drink this one is worth seeking out to try sometime

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

A - Almost black pour with a chunky, bubbly, sticky brown head that hangs around.

S - Chocolate covered raisins, dried dark fruit sugars i.e. figs, currants, dates. Once again, a pretty solid raisinette aroma. Some sweet alcohol floating.

T - Very dark, very roasty with a nice touch of hops to balance. A nice amount of dark fruit sweetness and chocolate. Smooth warming alcohol provide a nice facet.

M - Silky smooth creamy mouth. Spiced, warming alcohol finish. Dry and sweet aftermath.

O - A nice imperial stout. The dark fruits gave this one a different twist and was well combined in the flavor profile. Smooth and soft with each sip and finish. Had this paired with black forrest cake at a Bells beer dinner.

Photo of OakedCanuck
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into cervoise

A - Nice deep black with a mocha brown head. Minor head retention and some lacing

S - Nice dark chocolate and roast coffee, vanilla and nuttiness

T - Much the same as the nose but with a slightly astringent underlying flavour. Some dark fruits of raisins and plums.

M - Heavy, slight astringent, somewhat creamy

O - A decent beer that was heavy in the mouth but not a true sipper. A very good RIS for being a shelf beer. Would have again.

Photo of EricCioe
4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 10105, 10 December 2010, just under six months old.

This pours pitch black with no highlights, floating a big two finger dark tan head on top that leaves great, chunky lace on the way down. A really pretty brew. On the nose there is a really high level dark chocolate and espresso, with a deep, pungent pine combining with a massive presence of roast malt underneath. In the mouth the pieces of the nose come through: bitter chocolate, nicely bitter coffee, bitter hops, and bitter roasted malt. It's not overwhelmingly bitter, just very pleasantly so. There is a dash of heat to go with the hugely rich taste. The body is huge, gigantic, full, with a huge finish that has slightly charred malt and espresso bitterness hanging out forever.

Overall, this beer is amazing. I was expecting to like it but not this much. This is right up, and probably just a cut above, the two other great MI RIS, Dark Horse Plead the 5th and FIS. This is an absolutely amazing brew and proof that there are great, great stouts sitting on shelves.

EDIT - Had a mini two year vertical last night, 20 January 2012. We had bottles from late 2010, same batch as the original review, and late 2011. After a year, this is a totally different beer. The nose is unreal as it develops this wonderful molasses note that is buried in the fresher ones. One of the true outstanding Russian imperials I've ever had. Being able to buy six of these at will is one of the biggest beer-related things I miss about living in the Midwest.

Fresh, this beer is pretty hot. After a year, it's totally transformed. I've never had a beer change more in a year than this one.

Photo of Agold
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Expedition has a nice high dark brown head which recedes and leaves some nice lacing. Good rich roasty aroma with a hint of chocolate and a bit of fruityness. The fruityness is not the most appealing, but not a big detractor. Taste is big and roasty as well with a bit of chocolate flavor. The fruity character receded leaving a nice smooth rich beer. Mouthfeel was good and creamy and smooth, and not too heavy.

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

Pours very dark, almost black with a thick, rolling rich rust colored head. Thick rust colored lacing stuck to the glass as I drank.

First, I have to admit, this was my first ever Imperial Stout.
I was in love from the first sip!

This is a bold, robust beer. It has very intense flavors. Dark bitter chocolate, booze, roasted malts all come through. Some slight fruitiness as well. A fairly thick beer, leaving some solids in the bottom of the glass. Very smooth mouth feel despite it's thickness.

At 10.5%, one of these is just right for me!

Photo of jdense
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Six pack of bottles carried back from Washington, DC last November, has a September 2010 bottling date, thought I'd pull something special out for review # 700, enjoyed with beer homeboy in PIB/SIB tasting glasses, 4.28.11.

Dark brown almost black opaque body, one finger light brown head, medium dissipation with some lacing. Divine nose, a combination of dark chocolate and cocoa nibs, a wee bit of coffee, and surprisingly a pretty robust hop aroma, citrus and pine resin, was able to shine through. The taste mirrors the nose, chocolatey goodness, leading to a fairly bitter resiny finish, nicely in balance. The mouthfeel is fairly astringent and sticky, which surprised the hell out of me. This is a really tasty beer, lthough the alcohol is still a bit hot at this juncture. ooking forward to trying later on once the hops have been tamed a bit on the remaining bottles aging down in The Hole. For fans of the style, a must. Outstanding.

Photo of SAxDRC5
2.65/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Dark black with a very small brown head. pretty much what I'd expect for the style

S: sweet milk chocolate, a bit of coffee, some burnt charcoal.

T: starts with sweet chocolate and some dark fruits, raisins perhaps. ends with darker bitter chocolate and some alcohol. I'm not too impressed, it is a bit boring for a RIS.

M: thick and creamy. very low carbonation. alcohol more present than I would expect.

O: pretty average imperial stout. I probably won't buy it again, but wouldn't turn it down if given to me.

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

12 oz. into Duvel tulip

A: Pours jet black with about 2 fingers of dark brown head which quickly receded to a thin layer on top.

S: Deep dark chocolate, and even some sweet milk chocolate. Deeper down there was a good amount of coffee, and roasted malts. Alcohol is present in the nose.

T: Wow. This one is extremely hot. Very, very boozy. Dark chocolate, dark fruits, roasted malts. Starts with a smoky roastiness up front, sweetness in the middle, and finishes hot with some espresso/dark chocolate bitterness.

M: Thick and creamy. Just the way an Imperial Stout should feel.

O: This was my very first Expedition Stout. It was a little too boozy for my taste, which is why I'm going to hold on to the other 5 I have for about a year or so. Other than that, it was well above average. I'm anxiously awaiting the next bottle.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.98/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Kelly88 and Knownfactor for each sending me a bottle of this.

Pours a thick motor oil black with a huge 3 inch dark chocolate colored head that fades to a puffy island in the middle of the glass. Nice rings of lace around the glass on the drink down. Smells of dark chocolate, roasted malts, chocolate covered dark fruits, and whiffs of alcohol. Tastes of chocolate covered dark fruits (raisins), sweet chocolate caramel, and slight roasted coffee beans. This beer is super thick with low carbonation. It coats the mouth with each sip and is slightly cloying. There is a slight alcohol burn and cocoa powder bitterness on the palate with each sip. Overall, this is a good RIS but I was expecting something more from this one.

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

My bottle of Bell's Expedition Stout was still pretty fresh, so there was still some hops fighting through the roasty malt. The taste is like toasty malt with a hint of charcoal.

A: Black colour and an impressive 4 mm brown head that fades to good lacing in a couple of minutes. 4

S: It smells of roasty malt with some hops trying to fight their way through too. 4

T: It's roasty and malty up front with some hoppiness fighting through too. The aftertaste is a mixture of charcoal, chocolate and caramel. 4

M: Thick and foamy. 4.5

O: Nice and roasty. 4.

Photo of zrab11
3.52/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-Pours a pitch black color with small 1 finger head

S- Smells of chocolate and strong booze with some rosted or burnt coffee grounds

T- Has a bitter chocolate taste to it with some other dark fruit flavors and finish's with a boozy burt flavor

M-Medium body with ok carbonation

D-Overall i didn't really like this beer.It just didn't taste balanced and tasted alittle harsh and burnt. It has good smell but not taste. wont be reaching for this one again.

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

poured into a tulip


Beer pours a nice dark brown to black color, with no light coming through at all. pretty much your typical RIS. A nice thick light brown head (a little over a fingers worth).


Big dark roasted malts in this. Aromas of bittersweet cocoa, roasted coffee as well as molasses and dark fruits. Some subtle alcohol, which was expected but not too strong.


Taste just as big as the aroma. Chocolate covered dark fruits, sweet caramel/molasses and roasted coffee are the dominant flavors. A pretty decent hop profile gives it a nice little bitterness that works well with all the dark malts. Booziness is definitely more prevalent in the taste compared to the aroma, but nothing overwhelming. A pretty solid tasting beer that only gets better with a little age.


full bodied with great carbonation. A very creamy consistency that goes down silky smooth, leaving you with just a touch of alcohol warmth.


A pretty solid RIS. I consider this a bigger and more flavorful Old Raspy. This beer is available at pretty much any store in the area that carries craft beer. True it's around 17-18 bucks a sixer, but definitely worth it if you're craving a big Russian Imperial. One of Bell's top beers IMO. I'd put this ahead of Founder Imperial.

Photo of output01x
3.98/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle (Batch #9971) into a pint glass.

A vigorous pour yields a slow-forming 2-finger light mocha-colored head. The body is pitch black with no traces of color even when held to light. The sides of the glass get coated nicely with lacing throughout consumption.

Heavy malt aromas of dark chocolate and burnt coffee beans. The smell is creamy and rich, but not very sweet.

Just like the smell, dark chocolate and coffee are enveloped in a milky creaminess. A slight alcohol warmth creeps in at the end of each sip, but it is not as strong as the 10.5% ABV could be.

Thick and creamy, this beer coats your mouth and is only slightly sticky. A little stronger carbonation would have helped the drinkability, but it would not have improved it from being anything more than a sipper.

Photo of Fluke828
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a cervoise-style glass
Batch # 9971
Bell's Batch Finder reveals this was bottled in September 2010.
Got this in a trade with tjohn2401 from his cellar to mine. Put in fridge last night.

A-> Poured cold and had to be aggressive to get barely a 3/4-finger head of mocha colored foam. Receeds rather quickly but leafves some nice lacing. Dark as night in color.

S-> Smells of coffee immediately and also get a bit of alcohol in the nose. Some burnt toffee, very dark chocolate, also getting quite a bit of smoke in the nose in the early going.

T-> Get hit with a big dose of bitterness up front initially, get some faint molasses (become more apparent once this brew warmed) Really getting a lot of bitter chocolate and coffee here. Got a healthy touch of alcohol at first, particularly when this beer was cold, but as it warmed it seemed to mellow out and get real smooth.

M-> Big, dare I say full bodied? Carbonation is present but probably lessened a bit after 6 months in the bottle but the bitterness hasn't lost a step at all and really gives the illusion that there is more carbonation than there likley actually is. Somewhat creamy as this warms up too.

O-> Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. Really curious what a year or more would do for this big delcious brew. Would also love to try with some coffee heath ice cream or something along those lines. Would seek this out again for sure.

Photo of mactrail
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Really big black ale.

Great big stout, a little touch of brown-amber in the glass. Huge malt. Very strong, alcohol flavors, like a brandy. Spicy and full of the spectrum of roasted malt. Butterscotch and cocoa. Nice nose full of burnt cereal and chocolate. Long burning aftertaste with coffee flavors.

Had a glass at Barley's in Greenville, SC.

Photo of Brunite
4.38/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: As black as nice. Opaque. A super dark tan head that settles but leaves some amazing lace and a dark tan cap throughout.

Smell: Wow. Molasses...dark chocolate...dark rum...coffee....some pine notes.

Taste: Matches the smell. The alcohol is apparent but the taste is dominated by chocolate & coffee notes. Also some toffee....licorice....dark fruits...complex. This is a fresh bottle and the bitterness is readily apparent. I will likely age a few. Lingering flavors of coffee bitterness and lactose sweetness. Nice.

Mouthfeel: This is the thickest and chewiest beer I've had. Yet....low carbonation leaves a very smooth sipper.

Overall: One of the best RIS I've had. This is complex but balanced. The alcohol is readily apparent but managed. Nice job here.

Photo of robwestcott
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured cold and near pitch black to a portsmouth brewery balloon glass with a full finger, big bubbled and long lasting thick dark mocha head

aroma of dark chocolate, hints of coffee and dark fruit.

bitter bakers chocolate and dark fruit forward, licorice, coffee, toffees, and a little bit of tobacco and smoke.

medium bodied, medium carbonation, subtle bitter fading to sweet.

drinkable - probably a pint or two

overall - nice beer, big and toothy.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,301 ratings.