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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

5,049 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,049
Reviews: 1,928
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 425
Gots: 1,152 | FT: 78
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

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

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,049 | Reviews: 1,928 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of champ103
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours an opaque, viscous, ink black. A small tan head of less then a finger forms, but sticks around as a cap. Not much lace.
S: The aroma is of roasted malt. Milk chocolate and some liquorish. Smoke, dry wood/oak aromas as well. A huge nose.
T: Roasted malt and chocolate again. The malt seems sticky and chewy. Sweet toffee and some liquorish. A little one dimensional, but good.
M/D: A full and thick body that is low on the carbonation. Creamy and velvety smooth. This is a good beer to sip on, but one is more than enough for a night.

This is a good RIS. One of the thickest I can remember trying. Something I would recommend for the stout lover.

Photo of divecj5
4.85/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a nice molten black with a minimal amount of tan head. Very little lacing as a result. Great aroma with great roasted and smokey tones. Incredibly smooth on the palate. Complex character that has hints of chocolate, very little bitterness, and doesn't leave your mouth feeling dry as saw dust like a lot of other heavy, imperial stouts. Definitely a beer to sit back and savor.

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

On tap @ the Capital Ale House (Richmond, VA) on 12/13/09. Served in a cervoise.

Pours a deep flat black in the glass, with a finger of smooth looking dark & burnt mocha head. Retains with some huge frothy bunching around the edges, that leaves a huge cascade of drenching foam in its wake. The aroma is very floral and hoppy up front, with thickish sweet notes of chocolate and toffee mixing in with sharp coffee and roasted bitterness. Alcohol gives this some heft and punch in the nose.

The taste is even more sweetness, milk chocolate and toffee, with some extra sticky notes of brown sugar and molasses. Even a bit of dark fruit towards the back of the profile. Hops, coffee, and roast surround this, with a deeply burnt and bitter feel that really sticks hard in the finish. The mouthfeel is as full as can be, with a massively creamy feel up front that coats the back of the palate. Thick, sweet, and gooey, this is the rare feel here that's up there some of the best Imperial Stouts. There is some warmth on the tale end of the swallow but the alcohol is so entrenched in the rich flavors, it's not really detectable at all.

Man, I had forgot how hoppy this is fresh and it's no wonder that this is a great candidate for aging. The flavors are just so robust on this and the feel is one of my favorites on a Stout. Probably my favorite go-to Imperial Stout, this always puts a smile on my face.

Photo of nhopkin
4.88/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured like crude oil into my oversize wine goblet. Small, brownish tan head arose atop the sea of viscous blackness below...

Smell: raisin, booze, charcoal, a decadent melange of aromas waft from this brew

Taste: Starts with a rich, malty, almost fruity sweetness with lots of dark fruit and chocolate, followed by a dry roasted flavor with hints of coffee. Wait long enough and a little lingering bitterness from the hops comes in. A little detectable booziness, but it hides it's strength remarkably well. mmm. Everything and more I'd expect from a giant of a stout.

Mouthfeel: smooth and scrumptious. Like drinking a milkshake...with a lot of booze

Overall: a superlative brew. A phenom. Wicked. Words don't do it justice. And I'm not even that "in" to Russian Imperials.

Photo of inhoc00
3.63/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Living in Chicago for almost 6 years now and this is my first bells expedition...

a- as expected, black with almost no head. in the light gives off a purple hue near the top.

s- light chocolate, bit of roasted malts. nothing over the top.

t- similar to the smell with a bit of sherry and a lot of booze. the booze then becomes an after taste that sits on the roof of your mouth. not sure if these are better with a couple years on them but perhaps.

m- has a bit of carbonation to it. not as smooth/creamy as I thought it might be.

d- the past two weeks i've had a ten fidy, founder imperial stout and a young gi bcs. this has the least drinkability. it just really boozy now and doesn't seem to hide it the way the other imp stouts do.
in the constant michigan battle of bells vs. founders in the category of imperial stouts, i must give it to founders.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a thick, ruby-tinted black, opaque, with a dense and frothy medium tan head.

Aromas of earthy dark chocolate, smoke, and roasted grain leap from the glass. The smoke, which hints at peppery country ham, really sets this beer apart. Then comes a (dried) leafy hoppiness in the background to add further complexity. A strong base of sweet caramel ties everything together.

Loads of chocolate on the palate, with sweet and bitter notes pulsating back and forth. There's an unexpectedly strong resinous hop character underneath, providing contrast but contributing to the whole. Very smooth, especially for an imperial stout. This beer lacks any roasty bite found in many similar beers, and is really quite light on the roast on the whole.

Thick and rich and dense, but not unnecessarily chewy. Low level of carbonation, which works with this beer. Finishes bitter--a combination of hops and roast (about the only place the roast shows itself, really)--but fades as the beer lingers on the palate.


Photo of billab914
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Down to my last one out of the 12 I bought so I figured I better review this one before I'm out. Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Stone RIS glass.

Pours nearly black with a half inch tan head that settled to a thin covering that sticks to the sides. Nice lacing on the glass as well.

Aroma has coffee and bitter chocolate with some slightly sweet roastyness to it.

Taste has some dark chocolate, coffee and roastedness followed by a nice long bitterness that lingers in the mouth.

Mouthfeel is heavy bodied and slightly slick and carbonation is moderate.

Drinkability is good for a RIS, I really enjoyed these and will be buying them every winter for sure.

Photo of PeterLemonjello
3.08/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Nice think black color with a small head of foam that fades quickly. Not a lot of lacing. Lots of yeast sediment in the bottom of the pour.

S - Roasted malts and chocolate at first sniff. As beer warms starts to smell like playdough, very odd.

T - Dark malts, slight rum flavor, chocolate, not a lot of dark fruit flavors. A sharp bitterness on the finish from the amount of yeast in the pour.

M - Nice thick/slick mouthfeel. Not too carbonated (how I like my big stouts).

D - Given the sharp bitterness, this one is not real pleasant to drink. Certainly not meant to be a sessionable beer, but the sharp bitter flavor really takes away from the overall experience and is hard for the beer to show any complexity with such a dominating force to compete with.

Photo of cassanoj
2.68/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a stange glass. Thick, black and syrupy. Brownish head, but not much of it.

Smells like chocolate and licorice. Other flavors - molasses, coffee, nice roasted maltiness. Some dark fruits - plums, raisins.

Tastes like... beef. Not a fan. I like how thick it is, it's a nice sipper. Kind of weird that there's virtually no carbonation. I can't get over that beef taste. Behind the beef lies some sweet chocolate, dried fruit, caramel, malty.

The mouthfeel is okay. I like the thickness but I wish it was balanced out with some nice carbonation. Not a very complex beer, or if it is, I think it's rather unbalanced on the thick, chocolate side.

Overall, I think I would have liked this beer more if it didn't feel like I just hunt it down and shot it. I definitely understand the name though. It is what it tries to be and I can certainly appreciate that. Just... not my cup o' tea.

Photo of rfgetz
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark as night black, very minimal khaki colored head, but leaves some light lacing. Smell is of rum, molasses, raisin, hints of chocolate and coffee. Taste is dark malt forward with dark chocolate and coffee taking center stage. Backed up by lighter notes of molasses, rasisin, plum. Faint earthy and smoky qualities. Full bodied, dry, earthy, slightly chalky. Good RIS, true to style, big bold flavors and nice balance with a well hidden ABV (in the taste anyway). Only downer was the overly alcohol scent.

Photo of gyllstromk
3.78/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours jet black with thin dark head. Nose is roasted malts and hops. Flavor is a kiss of sweetness with a grassy hop flavor, with a full body and sticky sweet finish with a strong lingering bitterness. The detractors are that the hops are a bit overemphasized for my taste, it's a bit close to motor oil in consistency, and a bit overpriced. Still, a tasty treat.

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

Finally, a Bells beer I am really excited about after just the pour!

Poured a dark chocolate brown with a monstrous head, dark brown bubbles which hung out for a long time with long spiderlegs after settling.

Smell of dark roasty malt, with a lot of sweetness, raisins, rum, caramel

Taste hit it off the first sip. A deep dark sweet stout with great body, caramel, lots of chocolate, raisin, tons of plum flavor, and a finish that has that similar chalk/ dry finish - only in expedition stout, I dont mind it at all because of the lingering chocolate flavor. Some RIS have a finishing afterbite that tastes of charcoal, this one seems to be a lot lighter on that end. Nice body, not too thick, and in no ways near being watery.

Very drinkable, I wish I had the ability to get more of this in the New England area. a great RIS

Photo of Plonk
4.55/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 edition 12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A - Moderately vigorous pour produces a huge mocha-colored, dense, sponge-like 3" head that recedes to a broken 1/8" head that remains to end leaving heavy lace. Midnight black color in the glass with no light shining through. Noticed during pouring, the stream coming from the bottle has dark crimson highlights.

S - Aroma seems a bit muted a first but after warming I get roasted malts, toffee, some baking spices and hops.

T - Hoochie momma, whadda mouthful of beer! Sweet caramel, toffee, roasted malt bitterness, l-o-n-g espresso, hops, finish, and bit of alcohol glow. Wow!

M - Big, big mouth filling dextrin, velvety smooth with hardly any carbonation bite.

D - Very drinkable, and @ +10% ABV dangerously so.

Overall impression - a big, very complex outstanding imperial stout.

Photo of cope0021
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow. This is an awesome beer.

Pours a deep, dark black with a tan head. Head starts out about an inch thick and quickly thins out, but sligh tan heads remains the entire time.

Smells slightly sweet with a pleasant aroma.

First taste is heaven. Great balance of alcohol heat and darker grains (bitter coffee and chocolate notes). Mouthfeel is just right; not too thick, not too thin.

Alcohol creeps up on you towards the end of the glass. The alcohol is not overpoweing in the flavor, but by the end of the glass you can feel it.

Great beer. Highly reccomend.

Photo of gmcfarre
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch #7251 - Packaged on February 25, 2006
12 oz bottle poured into St. Bernardus Chalice

A - Pours a thick, pitch black sludge that closely resembles oil (in a delicious, inviting way). Very little head appears, but its a rich tan color when it does. Lacing is mild, given the tiny bits of carbonation around the edges of the glass.

S - Rich espresso & dark, bitter chocolate immediately leap out of the chalice, along with a strong slightly sweet roasted malt flavor. Some dark caramel & fruit flavors emerge as it warms.

T - Starts with a rich, dark chocolate sweetness that is quickly accompanied by a nice bitterness that lasts well through the finish of this fine stout. Espresso is not as dominant as chocolate, but well represented. Some fig & raisin flavor comes to mind, and it pairs well with the strong roasted malt. Alcohol is present, but complementary in a minor fashion.

M - Smooth and very rich with a thick oily mouthfeel. There is some bitterness, but it seems directly related to the chocolate flavor and not to any hops. Finish is full of residual sweetness with a mild drying effect.

D - Haven't had an Expedition without the aging, but it seems to have held up in fine form over the past 3+ years. Alcohol is fairly high, but thats to be expected. Certainly worth seeking out, as this is a fine example of a hearty American stout.

Photo of jrallen34
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I drank this on tap into a tasting glass.

The beer is black with a medium tan head that has lots of retention and great lacing.

The aroma is very malty, lots of sweet chocolate with vanilla and hops right at the end.

The taste is off from the aroma with lots of coffee on the front and big hoppy finish.

The feel is very heavy and viscous with a decent drinkability.

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

Pours a total jet black. Head is a surprisingly dark brown - one of the darker brown heads I've encountered, especially the crown. Decent head retention - even after sitting for 15+ minutes, there's still an all-enveloping film over the top with a generous dark brown crown. Thin, stringy pretty lacing...a bit more would probably notch a perfect 5.

Nose is extremely rich - roasty, chocolatey, surprising notes of hops. Taste is similarly bold and impressive. The roasted malts hit first with chocolate, coffee and hops. Dark-chocolate bitter aftertaste. Notes of prune start to develop in both the nose and taste as it warms. The alcohol is a bit more noticeable than I would like, but it's not a significant problem. Very full bodied - chewy and creamy with medium carbonation.

Really enjoyed this. Top-notch - bold, rich and impressive stout. There's no subtlety here.

Photo of chickenflea
4.08/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Coffee, soy sauce, prune aroma. Black color with dark, one-finger head that dissipated quickly. Sweet and heavy but dark chocolate finishing notes keep the sweetness at bay. Thick and chewy on the palate. Good carbonation keeps the beer alive in your mouth despite its heaviness. Long finish. A very big beer.

Photo of d0ggnate
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After a less than careful pour, my glass is filled with this appearingly viscous beer and topped with a single-finger deep tan head.

The aroma abounds from my glass, rising up as chocolate/cocoa powder. As I get closer, I find cold bitter coffee notes with more chocolate (syrup-like).

Deliciously bitter with flavors of dark, bitter chocolate. Subtle dark roasted coffee lives here, too. The end notes are slightly sweet and lip-smacking.

I found this offering from Bell's to have a solid body, while being both rich and creamy. Drinks very well and I would love to have this available to me more often. Might make a great dessert beer or even pour well into a dessert recipe.

Photo of Anthony1
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a pitch black with a thick tan head that slowly fades into a small oily, tan film and thick tan collar. Lots of spotty lacing and webs left around the glass. Smell is of intense roasty nuts, chocolate cake, caramel, molasses, espresso, along with minty and piney hops. Taste is of rich, chocolate cake, laden with rum drenched espresso beans. Lots of hops in here.
Mouthfeel is thick,smooth, velvetty, richly of chocolate, bitter cocoa, a potent punch of hops and mild, mild carbonation that makes this almost like syrup. ABV is present and I'm still on the fence with this

Photo of darklordlager
3.28/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bell's Expedition Stout (2009)

Pours like motor oil. Viscous, syrupy. Black, and dark brown on the edges when held up to the light. Brown head that recedes after a couple of minutes.

S-Mix of sweet milk and dark chocolate, roasted malt, dark fruit-raisons, figs. Light coffee. Molasses. Alcohol meshes well with the dark fruit, mellowing it out. Sweet.

Sweet chocolate upfront, a little alcohol heat right away. Dark fruit, roasted malt. Sloppy finish--The bitterness from the dark malt and hops mesh with the dark fruit and alcohol, making it somewhat unpleasant.

Syrupy, and very mildly carbonated. Somewhat creamy as well, but the syrupy element is definitely at the forefront.

D-This could definitely use some time to mellow--quite a few months at the least. Hopefully the flavours will develop to work together, rather than being somewhat disagreeable as it is now.

Photo of davey
3.55/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought this beer at the wine and cheese place in St. Louis on 10/19/09.
Appearance is black with a whispy dark brown head, that is gone as soon as I put the beer down.
Smells of burnt coffee, alcohol, and malts. A little bit of cocoa powder.
Tastes of burnt coffee, dark roasted malts, some smoke, and the alcohol is definitely noticeable. Also some unsweetened chocolate. I did catch some bitter hops on the finish.
The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy rich. Not very much carbonation though.
Overall I was not disappointed with Expedition Stout. I have heard that it's a little rough fresh, and I couldn't agree more. With some age, it could be impressive.

Photo of Genghis22
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a thick deep dark black. Huge coffee colored head that lasts for days. Fair amount of lacing afterwards. Pitch black, no light comes through at all.

S - Licorice, dry wood, burnt coffee and roasted malt in the nose. Slight tinge of alcohol. None of the usual suspects here, but very interesting, can't wait to sip it.

T - That is a RIS for sure. Big hit in the mouth from the alcohol. Smokey, with touches of oak. Hops come in the back door and take over your tongue with a harsh bitterness that is only fueled by the alcohol. The aftertaste reveals the usual tastes associated with this style: cofee, dark chocolate, smokey roasted malts. There is a sweetness that washes over the tongue, finishing an epic journey.

M - Nice, thick, full bodied, slightly oily. Moderate carbonation, very fine bubbles.

D - Hard to say. I liked it. I appreciated it. I think it would improve with age. This is a HUGE beer, with lots of room to grow, currently though, I'd say one and done. There is just too much alcohol to drink more than one in a sitting. Really curious to see how this would hold up over the next few years.

Big thanks to Stephen for hooking be up with a couple bottles of this.

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

A- Black as hell. Milk-chocolate colored foam with thick lacing

S- Sharp and sweet, not overwhelming

T- Coffee on top of dark malt. Back of the mouth bitterness.

M- Thick, almost too syrupy and quite heavy.

D- I'd have another, but not much more than that in an evening.

Photo of kiddynamite920
3.78/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black with very, very minimal head. Seems very low on carbonation. Smell is strong of soy sauce and coffee, I don't remember smelling the soy so strong last time I had this beer. Has a raisin type smell on the end. Taste is not very reminiscent of the aroma of the beer. Very roasty and toasty. I get a coffee grind and dry cocoa taste. A large bitter hop profile as well. The beer fills the mouth and sticks around, with a nice syrupy finish. Not too drinkable IMO, halfway between a sipper and a standard Imp stout.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 5,049 ratings.