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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.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

5,205 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,205
Reviews: 1,959
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 435
Gots: 1,235 | FT: 85
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: 5,205 | Reviews: 1,959 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of divineaudio
4.08/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a pint glass. batch 9554 - bottled on jan 27 2010.

color is an opaque dark brown, like used motor oil. forms a thin cap worth of dark brown head that gives me almost no lacing.

smells strongly of raisin and molasses. a little roasted malt comes through as does a slightly medicinal alcohol presence. taste follows with big burnt malt character, tobacco espresso, a little vanilla and a noticeable alcohol presence. bitterness hangs on the back of the tongue for quite a while. flavor wise this is much darker and more bitter than many of other ris i have tried.

mouthfeel is on the heavier side with a pleasing co2 profile.

pretty drinkable for being so strong and rich, but i doubt anyone could have more than 2 of these in a sitting. not my favorite ris, but it fits the style and i would certainly buy it again.

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

Lightly chilled bottle into a glass (2009 vintage).

A: Pours a pitch black in the snifter, totally impenetrable. The head is an attractive inch of fluffy mocha-colored foam, with impressive retention for the ABV. Minutes later, it has collapsed onto thick clumps of scattered bubbles on top of the brew, with a heavy collar that deposits some lace.

S: Smoke, earth, and roasted grain jumps out at me; it reminds me of a cigar in some respects. Plenty of bittersweet chocolate and roasted coffee, with some anise, caramel, and toffee lurking beneath.

T: The taste progression is interesting. Where I usually find the malts jump out first, this one leads the way with smoke, earth, roasted grain, and some small citrus hop character. It remains smoky and earthy even as bittersweet chocolate develops in the flavor. I find anise throughout. One of my favorite non-barrel aged imperial stouts; the combination of smoke, roasted grain, and anise just does something for me.

M: Creamy, full-bodied. Very fine bubbles that pepper the tongue slightly and assist in the slight warming effect from the alcohol.

D: It's hard to criticize this imperial stout. I find the smoke unusual, but it works somehow. I'm really impressed by this beer.

---

I also had a 2008 vintage. I'd give that a 4.5 / 4.5 / 5.0 / 4.5 / 4.5 (overall 4.7 / A+). I definitely prefer this with some age.

Photo of DwnTwnBwn
3.72/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Little to no head appears at first. After a few sips a khaki ring appears around the rim of the glass. The color is jet black with no light escaping through. A touch of lacing occurs around the glass. The beer is very vicious.
S- Quite nice smell. Dark fruits and toffee. Notes of dry dark chocolate. Sweet malt comes through also.
T- A bit more toasty for RIS then sweet. The dark fruits don't seem to come forward as much as they do in the nose. A decent amount of Dark Chocolate. The flavor doesn't have much more than that.
M- Carbonation is a touch low for this beer. Coasts the tongue well. No heat from the alcohol. Thick beer overall. Slight astringency towards the end.
O- This beer after a few sips started to let me down. The complexity falls way short with just roasted barley taste and a touch of dark chocolate. Its decent for an RIS.

Photo of arizcards
4.62/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked up a couple of singles in late February from AJ's in Scottsdale for $3.19. From batch 9512 which was bottled on 12-18-09.

Beer poured black as night with a nice tan head that is leaving lacing behind. Nose is mocha, roasted malts, floral hops. Taste is a wonderful combination of roasted malts, mocha, chocolate, and bittering hops. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, perfectly smooth, creamy with good viscosity. Drinkability is amazingly great, even at a young age. The abv is very well hidden. I think I will save the other bottle for awhile to see how well it ages! Awesome beer, glad to see Bell's in Arizona!

Photo of Spiekerbox
4.48/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Pours jet black, with a brown, mocha looking head that is a little larger than i expected and slowly goes down, leaving brown lacing on the glass.

S- smell is of toasty malts, with a slight hop presence and a bit of a chocolate scent, not as strong as i was expecting, but still a good smelling beer

T- really a lot going on here, lots of roasted malt with a chocolate, coffee bitterness. Also has some of the taste of dark fruits, with hops making an appearance. Also taste brewers licorice.

M- Low carbonation with a big beer body, creamy texture that makes the flavors linger in your mouth long after taking a drink.

D- for the ABV it is way too easy to drink, the alcohol presence never really makes itself know, still a big beer that takes a while to drink but it sure is enjoyable for the entire time you are drinking it

Photo of AdamMY
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The color is nice and dark, and poured a half centemeter of dirty head which has been fading very slowly.

Smells a bit hoppy, and bitter like a really strong coffee, and bitter chocolate.

The taste is strong, lots of roasted malt. The taste is borderline burnt but oh so strong, and there are actually slight hints of a grapefruit note hidden in there.

The finish is great, lots of caramelized sugars, but again borderline burnt.

But the mouth feel is impeccable, so smooth and creamy.

The drink ability is way to good for a beer with this High of an ABV. Perhaps I need to have more Russian Imperial Stouts.

Photo of Mooseky
3.68/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Deep and dark, with an impatient head.

This beer is rich in flavor with so much potential hiding behind the harsh alcohol taste. At first there are little bits of coffee and tobacco, then the alcohol hits... after the fact, there is a lingering taste of fig/ prune/ raisen that hangs around to coat my mouth.

I have no intention of having another anytime soon, but I look forward to reviewing the rest of the six-pack over an incremental period of time.

Photo of Jeffo
3.2/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Found this at the Cracked Kettle in Amsterdam.

From a bottle into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours a small medium-looking mocha colored head that quickly recedes to a ring and a really faint wisp. Not as thick as expected coming out of the bottle. Jet black body in the glass with no carbonation evident. A ring remains but leaves no lacing down the glass. Average at best here.

SMELL: Mild nose of roasted malts, milk chocolate and smoked meat. I pick up some smoked salami even. Very different and interesting, but not bold enough to stand out.

TASTE: Much bigger than the nose. Roasted malts, smoked malts, and licorice. Strong flavors of smoked and salted salami. Finish is bitter-sweet, with caramel and bitter coffee notes, along side some hints of smoked meat again. Aftertaste is bolder and lingers nicely on the palate. An odd flavor that I'm not quite sure about, but an intrigued enough to continue

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Starts out a little airy, but as it sits, it thickens up a bit. Eventually turns relative creamy smooth on the palate, and goes down fine finishing slightly dry. Fine for the style.

OVERALL: Not sure what to think about this one. The appearance and nose were average for the style, but the addition of some kind of smoked salami was odd yet enticing at the same time. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but I enjoyed it enough that I'd buy it again if I came across it again. Definitely not a standard Imperial Stout offering.

Photo of markskar
4.64/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

There isn't much of a head to this brew, but it pours pitch black--no light escapes. It'd be nice if it were a bit more carbonated, both visually and in the nose, but it's quite fine the way it is.

The aroma is dark roasted coffee, with a dark, dried fruit aroma (I always found the "dark fruit" descriptor to be vague--but I'm thinking of how raisins would smell if they smelled the way the taste). Nice chocolate notes in the nose too.

Flavor is much the same as the aroma--coffee, chocolate, and dark fruits. I am absolutely floored by the flavor. I would rate the taste up there with any world class RIS I've ever had.

Mouthfeel is mostly smooth and creamy, but just a bit sticky. The mild stickiness allows the wonderful flavors to linger on the tongue though--in a very pleasant way.

Extremely drinkable for a brew over 10% abv. Goes down nice and easy, with a flavor that just begs for more. Like a delicious chocolate desert, you know you probably shouldn't...but what the hell...

Photo of Thur123
3.36/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer is black, very dark and cannot be seen through. Little to no head of a toffee color. A mellow blended malt is the smell. Not overpowering in any way. Chocolate, earthiness and a surprising lack of smoke or char smell.

Glug glug glug

The flavor is big. Bitter chocolate with roasted bread. The backend of the flavor is heavy with herbal hop bitterness and the aforementioned char. Heavy viscous mouth feel. Good but actually kind of messy to me, and sitting on one of these would most likely make this better. A sipper for sure.

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

12oz bottle in Duvel tulip (batch 8728 bottled 9/16/2008)
(no change to the numbers)

A: Motor oil color and viscosity with a thin 1/2 finger dark tan/caramel colored head that drops very fast leaving no lace.
S: Lots of roasted malts along with some bitter dark chocolate, a little bit of dried dark fruit and a hint of hops. As it warms, there is a small bit of smoke and ash.
T: Black patent and roasted malt combined with what appears to be chocolate malt lead to a burnt sugar flavor. Hints of dark caramel and dried fruits along with a definite hops presence in the background. A spot of alcohol heat as well. This ends up being more "charred" than I remember, but I still love it.
M: Oily, astrigent, very low carbonation, makes for a creamy, rich mouthfeel.
D: A definite sipping beer, very good for desert. I don't want to drink one of these often, but I am always happy when I do. This is an excellent example of the style

12oz bottle in Sam Adam's glass (thanks SA) reviewed 9/28/07
bottle # 7817 (bottled 2/1/07)

A: Pours a completely black color, no light comes though. Not much of a head, what there is looks like caramel, very dark brown.
S: As it is poured, a wave of sweetness hits the nose. Smells like dried fruit, maybe cherries.
T: Bitter sweetness, like dried cherries dipped in a very dark chocolate. There is a hint of alcohol warmth in the back, just the right amount.
M: Does not come across as thick or cloying. It is clearly a big beer but it goes down very smoothly
D: WOW, this is a great dessert beer. Just the right amount of alcohol heat combined with a nicely balanced sweet/bitter. Makes me think of a great chocolate cheesecake dusted with cocoa powder. I could drink a 6 pack of these if it was not for the alcohol. Highly recommended.

Photo of ksimons
4.4/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A-dark dark brown, almost black with two fingers worth of dark tan head

S-bitter, roasted malts and coffee and some chocolate

T-starts out sweet, mid taste is a rich roasted malt flavor, and ends with a dry roasted flavor

M-almost full body with light to moderate carbonation, very creamy, roasted mouthfeel

Overall the first time I did not like this beer, and I have no idea why. Great full body, very creamy.

Photo of steve8robin
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this one on a trip to Kalamazoo...

A: Super dark with slight ruby highlights. 1/2 inch mocha colored head that fades at a decent pace. Good.

S: Earthy dark fruit upfront blended with hints of booziness. Chocolate bitterness in the middle with grapefruit and pumpkin blended into the backend.

T: Earthy grapefruit boozy hop upfront with malty sugars in the middle and hints of grapefruit and dark fruit on the backend.

M: good balance of carbonation with a very nice smoothness. Very good.

D: Goes down a easy after you get past the bitter hops. Good.

All in all, this is a decent brew to try at least once if you likes stouts and IPA's.

Photo of Soilworker
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a 12oz bottle, fresh no aging, into a standard stout/pint glass. Bottle has a batch number on it...this is batch number: 9554.

A: Pitch black with zero light shining through even with a strong flashlight put up to the glass. Nice caramel colored head that is slow to dissipate and the bubbles are very fine. The liquid seems to almost stain the glass.

S: Dominated by an intense and strong blast of fig, plum, and raisin. Bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted malts, and perhaps a hint of roasted coffee provided the backboard for the dark fruit character. There are also small hints of alcohol and vanilla that hit the nose from time to time. Very rich, savory, and bold.

T: Starts off with pretty much an explosion of burnt and roasted malts. I was expecting a start with some wateriness to it but that is definitely not the case. After the blast of malt this settles down to a pleasant bittersweet chocolate flavor with vanilla and espresso notes playing along with it. Somewhat sweet at the beginning. This then fades towards the end to a flavor characterized by burnt coffee and roasted malts and some oaky wood notes that seem to be somewhat charred. The finish holds on the burnt and roasted malt character and there is plenty of bitterness here which seem to be primarily hoppy in nature but have an interesting bitter burnt malt aspect. As you drink it, especially when you start there is a lovely warming feeling in both your mouth but primary in the throat all the way down the stomach. A very impressive taste profile!!!

M: Amazing!!! As you swirl it through your mouth it is smooth and creamy and very bold with a little bit a zing on the tongue from the carbonation. As oily and creamy as the beer is at first, the finish definitely feels dry.

D: Did I mention this was a bold beer? The flavor profile is huge and definitely takes the right palate to enjoy this one. I would love to drink this all night and I would, but this is a beer for sipping if I ever tasted one. The ABV is pretty aggressive but not terribly noticeable during the taste but I'm sure if you managed to get a few of these down it would start to catch up to you.

Overall I loved this beer. I especially liked the rich, bold taste and creamy mouthfeel. This was my first Expedition ever and I can definitely see how aging this one would be a smart move since this would most likely tone down the bitterness a bit. I definitely plan on buying a second or third six pack just for aging past 2yrs. If you like stouts, you must try this beer.

Photo of kingcrowing
3.58/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a chalice.

Pours a thick oily back with bascally no head or bubbles at all. Nose is very roasted and burnt. It's slightly boozy but very well covered given the high abv.

Taste is a bit harsh but mellowing as it warms. Burnt coffee dominates and leaves a bit of an unplesant aftertaste is slightly bitter and harsh.

Photo of beerwolf77
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my pint glass the beer is a thick black syrup. The mocha hued head rises to about two fingers and just keeps going over the top of my glass. Thankfully I was next to the sink when I poured it. After settling a thick curtain of lace is left around the rim.

The aroma is sweet for sure. Much sweeter then I had expected. Plenty of chocolate and coffee but neither of the bitter variety. Light hints of smoked malt can be picked up as it warms.

The flavor is rich roast malt with intense black coffee. Light chocolate tones come through as well. The hops are very present in every sip. Some molasses and moderate smokiness is present as well.

Full thick body. Little to no carbonation.

Overall a fine RIS. Easily drinkable. Nothing really seperates it from the pack but still enjoyable.

Photo of Flashsp2
4.63/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bell's Expedition Stout into snifter (roughly 1yr old)

Pours from the bottle a deep brown, but in the glass it sits a depth of black that can only be described as moonless midnight. On top of this sits a medium tan head that looks more reminiscent of a whole wheat pancake, dense with tiny bubbles. Spots of lace stick after a few drink. The head leaves lots of bubbles and patching on top, never letting the surface break through.

Nose is powerful and balanced. Lots of roasted black malt, dark roasted coffee, earth, dark cocoa, booze, raw/oily hops. Doesn't jump from the glass, but sits and lets you enjoy it fully. I sniffed this for a good 5 minutes before pulling back a drink.

The palette isn't as roasty and raw as the nose leads on. Lots of roasted malt, espresso, dark cooking cocoa powder, high cocoa chocolate, hop biting bitterness that is subdued and balanced. This is not a cloyingly sweet imperial stout, it is balanced and rich. The hops are surprisingly oily and flavorful at this age, I want to hold one for another year or two and see what it's like. Right not the espresso/chocolate/hop dance is beautiful. Such an immensely long finish.

The mouthfeel is heavy, thick, lightly carbonated with an oily finish. It moves around in the mouth and penetrates every taste bud with a velvet vengeance.

Now this is a proper drinking imperial stout. Big and bold, in your face attitude with a graceful refinement. I could easily kill half a sixer of these, but that would be some bad juju. This is so much better than many of the other in the style, I think this is my new favorite imperial (non-adjust/barrel aged) stout, right up there with Nogne O and Old Rasputin.

Photo of slimstout
4.34/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black and very thick -- reminds me of syrup. Almost no head.

Smell: I can smell the alcohol (10.5% abv). It also smells malty.

Taste: Rich and malty. The alcohol taste is largely masked by its richness, I would have expected to taste the alcohol more. Chocolate (but not so much as to be a chocolate stout), vanilla. It has loads of malty sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Very, very little carbonation. It seems thick and smooth. Slight alcohol burn.

Drinkability: It's definitely a sipper. If you're a something of a lightweight (like me), you'll definitely notice the alcohol in your system through the second half of the beer even when sipping it slowly and drinking water and eating.

This beer brought a big smile to my face as I poured it, watching its thick viscous blackness, and seeing the last bits of it drizzling like a syrup over the thin head that slowly developed. Its flavors are complex but not overwhelmingly so. I think it's taken me over an hour to drink but I've enjoyed every sip.

Photo of vivalanation734
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is an epic RIS.

Pours a thick motor oil color with a thin cappuccino head. First aromas are of dark chocolate and roasted espresso. Flavor is very similar. Very little alcohol burn. Much better as it warms up.

This is a winner RIS in my opinion and is up there with Old Rasputin for sure!

Photo of BeckyFreesTibet
4.78/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A real classic of a beer. It pours thickly, coating the glass like port or cough syrup. The body is almost completely black with a thin, caramel-colored head. Strong presence of vanilla, bourbon and molasses in the aroma with a hint of port and raisins.

The taste is heavy on chocolate, vanilla and bourbon with a slight woody smokiness. Very sweet up front with raisin-y notes and a mellow aftertaste with only a very light bitterness from the hops.

Mouthfeel is thick and smooth. It is sweet, syrupy and completely coats the mouth. Even though this beer tastes and smells a bit boozey, I love the punchy, unapologetic bourbon-iness of it and I find it completely appropriate for a russian imperial stout.

Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.85/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: pitch black, minimal brown head and lacing.
S: dark dried rum soaked fruit, dark caramel, molasses, vanilla, coffee, chocolate.
T: big sweet dark malts, roastiness and some hop bitterness vainly attempt to bring balance, lingering sweet finish. a bit boozy.
M: thick, viscous, lightly carbonated.
D: definitely a sipper and might improve with some cellaring time.

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

Second Bell's I have tried. 12 oz. pour from bottle. Black, deep rich black. Thick dark brown foamy head that lingers for a short time before ending up in a thin skin of bubbles. Nice chocolate with roasted coffee notes. Slightly sweet, with a lingering taste without over powering me. Fairly high abv but really doesn't taste it. Like it but can rarely find it in Dallas.

Photo of kjyost
2.9/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Batch 9512

Poured quite oddly, with a moderate pour no head was appearing,so poured aggressively and after the pour the head built up nicely leaving a mocha head of a finger atop an inky opaque body. Moderate lacing. The aromas coming off were initially very strongly of molasses with a slight coffee undertone, evolving to a more balanced nose of molasses and malt.

Burns lightly of alcohol on the palate. Feels too cold initially,so I need to let it warm up. A strong bitterness that is upfront and lingers. Molasses, with maybe a bit of roasted malt underneath. As the drink built a cloying sweetness that seemed wrong for this beer built and built until it became difficult to drink and the bitterness lingers too strongly.

Prickly in the mouth and covers it initially but doesn't feel like its there after save the bitterness stuck on your tongue.

Photo of BeerGodz
3.46/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Look: Black color, medium tan head with decent retention & good lacing

Smell: Raw chocolate, some dark fruit, and not much else. Strangely devoid of roasted malt and coffee notes

Taste: Up Front: Dark fruit, chocolate. Finish: Chocolate, coffee, roasted malt. licorice, lingering sweetness. A lot more going on then that smell led me to believe

Mouthfeel: Full body, low/medium carbonation, slightly cloying

Drinkability: Ok, but the sweetness gets in the way a bit

Overall Impression: This beer is all over the place: Great look, funky lackluster smell, complex & powerful flavor, with a sweet sticky feel. Somehow it managed to come out as "good", but just barely

Photo of BearsOnAcid
2.66/5  rDev -37.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

2008 vintage batch #8311

Poured out dark with a khaki head. Moderate carbonation for a stout. The aroma was eerily similar to Dark Lord. Dark, thick and chewy malt. Very sweet and syrupy.

Taste was like the smell. I was putt off by how sweet it was. Mouthfeel was waxy and thick. I just didn't think it was a very good beer.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,205 ratings.