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

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

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5,300 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,300
Reviews: 1,979
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.61%
Wants: 446
Gots: 1,291 | 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: 5,300 | Reviews: 1,979 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of atsprings
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2009 vintage on cask at The Busy Bee served in a standard pint glass a deep opaque black with a thin light tan head that diminishes to a ring and leaves slight lacing on the glass. Aroma is a nice amount of roasted malts, fresh ground coffee and baker's cocoa. The taste is loads of smooth roasted malts, bitter cocoa, molasses, espresso, dried fruits and a hint of oak, incredibly complex! The beer is unbelievably smooth and easy drinking for its strength. I really have to say, this is possibly the best cask beer I've ever had, I certainly want more!

Photo of hophead247
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black pour with a nice, light-weight brown head. Aroma of subtle roast, a little chocolate and some mild, bitter coffee, vanilla, a little alcohol, some figs and other dark fruits and berries. Taste is also well-balanced and rounded, with hints of liqourice, soy, bitter chocolate and a little coffee. A lovely bitter finish, with some faint hop-notes. Very complex and pleasant at the same time.

Photo of Gosox8787
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle poured into my Smuttynose tulip. Batch 9459. Their website lists this as bottled on November 19th, 2009. Served and enjoyed at room temperature.

Appearance: Midnight black and very thick on the pour. One finger dark mocha brown head with decent retention. Recedes to a very thing lacing.

Aroma: Dark cocoa, brownies, coffee and some toffee notes all blend together very nicely. Very balanced. A touch of booze in the nose as well. Very complex and well intergrated.

Taste: A full spectrum of chocolate flavors are the first note that really asserts itself. Dark chocolate, fudge, and brownies all appear at some level. Some nice backing notes of caramel, vanilla, and dark fruit. I'm not getting any hop notes (a sign of its age perhaps), but that is fine as they are not missed. Really complex and well balanced.

Mouthfeel: A very full bodied stout with a nice, creamy mouthfeel. Fits well for the style.

Drinkability: The ABV makes this impossible to drink a ton of, but I find myself wanting more and more.

Overall, definitely among my favorite stouts. With almost a year on this, it is pretty amazing. really decadent and tasty. Highly recommended. I wish it was sold anywhere near where I live.


Photo of optimistictour
4.73/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My profile says my favorite style is Russian Imperial Stout so the first statement in this review should be an admission that I'm *somewhat* partial to the style. That being said, I'm a critical cartographer of this fertile land with a discerning nose (and tongue) for what makes an RIS really stand tall.

First of all, the Expedition Stout looks devastating. It's oubliette dark, conjuring a head not halfway towards normal light froth coloring, both bigger and lacier than I'd expect given the hearty ABV. Basically this is the strongest beer I've witnessed with such visual poetry.

It smells like there's a lot more going on than in your average RIS. It's true. This one hints at a faint licorice and/or candied raisin veneer, framed in a darker than dark chocolate sea. There's a sweet whiff of danger here, too.

Hitting my tongue, it's at once everything an RIS should be and ingratiatingly different. There's more sweetness and less coffee than expected; a thicker body and more buzziness help convey the idiosyncratic blend. This beer lives up to its name with tastes lifted across the globe, and will, with all certainty, leave its distinctive mark on the drinker.

Sure the 10.5% abv reveals itself at times, flickering out like the sun behind some strange delicious clouds... but it's almost always wrapped in the sweetness or dark chocolate bath of the flavor. Even acknowledging the slightly confrontational physical nature of the beer, it's one of the best I've ever had. A true adventure, something to challenge and savor and absolutely relish.

Maybe you won't drink more than 2 of these in any one sitting, but it'll always be worth the trip when you choose to do so.

Photo of domtronzero
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Clear deep dark brown, almost opaque. Average lasting, big mocha head with lots of lacing.

S - Dark fruits, caramel and sweet malts. Chocolate and a little roast. Light alcohol.

F/M - Bitter baker's chocolate with toffee, caramel and sweet bready malts. Medium high bitterness accentuated by the dark malts. Dry finish with a lingering chocolaty roasty aftertaste. Moderate carbonation, light alcoholic warmth.

D - Okay, but this is a pretty big beer. Thick and rich makes it quite challenging to put down more than a bottle of this in a single sitting.

Photo of Naugros
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really dark with one of the darkest heads I've ever seen on a beer...it was almost brown. However, it's one of the thinnest heads I've seen on a stout and the retention is not all that great.

The smell took me aback as it smelled like a Belgian triple at first more than a stout, but the usual cast of characters are hiding in the back. Super malty with raisins in the forefront with coffee bitterness and chocolate behind and a touch of bourbon...okay more than a touch...a bit more.

It tastes more like a stout than a Belgian double though and that makes me smile. The coffee comes to the front and a chalky chocolate follows it, adding to a standard RIP mouthfeel. The alcohol does make an appearance in the finish supplying bourbon-like notes. The raisins detected in the nose are gone. Very yummy!

If you're used to drinking RIPs, you'll love this example once you start to drink it. There's nothing special to make it stand out, but it is a solid effort

Photo of herman77
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Wanted to try this fresh after having it on aged 3 years on tap a few weeks back. This was bottled 9/13/10.

A: Black with a big dark brown, very tight and compact head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Sweet dark fruits, dark cherries, dates and rum soaked raisins. Roasted malt and a little bit of dark chocolate. I think I like the nose on this one slightly better than the aged one I had on tap. Smells more vibrant, but still a little weak for what it is.

T: Roasted malt with dark chocolate covered dark cherries and dates. Rum soaked raisins and bold earthy bitter hops come through as well. Slight acidic char near the finish. Not as chocolaty and a shorter finish when this is fresh. Warming alcohol burn in the finish. A touch on the hot side.

M: Full bodied, thick and smooth. Moderate carbonation, it would feel even smoother and creamy if the carbonation was a tad lower. Great mouthfeel though.

D: A sipper. You can really feel the 10.5% on this one. Its a good cold winter night beer. This really mellows and rounds out with age.

Overall, I gotta say I prefer the aged on tap version.

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

This brew has a very hoppy aroma and an extremely black, as in a black hole, body with no head whatsoever. It had a very strong coffee flavor. It almost burns as it goes down. Somewhat of a bitter initial taste that lingers well after is has gone down.

Serving type: bottle

Photo of MchugN
4.17/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Make sure to put on a clean pair of underwear before drinking this stout. It's definitely a big boy beer.
The aroma is very delighting and ever so present. Very dark, almost black with a brownish head. Upon drinking, it has a very big mouth feel and completely coats the mouth with a roasty malted flavorful explosion of stout-ness. Very nice stout but also on the pricey side.

Photo of mgoblue5743
3.96/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a very drinkable stout. Rivals Stone RIS in flavor, though it's a little thin for my liking.

This is an excellent beer. It is very powerful, you can taste the roasted, malty flavor and is one of the rare, high powered stouts that you can drink a few of without falling off your chair. I wish it came in a bomber.

Photo of bigdonniebrasco
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 edition:
vigorous pour produces HUGE mocha head pure black contents that brings on the burnt motor oil references.

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

Matches up well with the nose. A bit more deep toasted malt and dark chocolate. Kiss of coffee bean. Really huge hop profile. Toasty finish.

Very smooth and lightly creamy. The body just feels spot on for what a RIS should have.

Great all around RIS. Bell's has to be one of my favorite breweries. Looking forward to aging a few of these to see how it develops.

* PS. LET THIS WARM or all you will get is bitterness!

Photo of JackieTH
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black motor oil opaque and thick with a dark mocha head. Very inviting.

Smell: Dark chocolate, coffee and roasted malt.

Taste: Espresso and rich dark chocolate with a welcome bite of hop and the espresso bitterness coming through to balance. A hint of anise makes an appearance. A very foreboding brew and the pleasant warming of the 10.5% alcohol helps lighten the mood a bit.

Mouthfeel: Heavy, luxurious. Layered.

Drinkability: Challenging but delicious.

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

appearance: black beauty like coffee with great head but low head retention. some nice lacing from what it had though.

smell: deep dark malts, lots of chocolate flavor, loaded coffee,

taste: nice hop profile as i thought, lots of deep dark malt flavor. smooth easy drinking high abv impy stout. lots of bitterness from the hops on the back

mouthfeel: full bodied beauty, low carbonation

drinkability: not over rated. it's world class.

4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: oil black with a small head mocha head. Nice and sticky on the sides of the glass.

S: sweet nose, berries, dark fruits, bitter chocolate, raisins, toasty with a light burn of alc., some soy sauce, and maybe a little vanilla.

T: Yum. This is tasty. Full bodied flavorful and bold. All the sweetness up front. Chocolate in the middle and a nice smooth but slightly dry roasty malt finish. This beer sits on your pallet forever. Flavors compare closley to those that I smelled. Really great.

M: pretty solid chewy and oily feel. As it warms it feels a little flat, but still great. Im am enjoying this very much.

D: not bad for a high ABV brew. Its a sipper for sure, but it has decent drinkability for what it is.

Thoughts: I think the bros had a batch much different from this one. This is probably the 09 or 2010 batch and its a really nice beer. I think its a good example of the style.

Photo of FunkyMacGroovin
3.72/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to Plenum for this one. 12 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. pour is a very deep shade of brown with a 1/2 finger coffee-colored head. Lots of lacing on the sides of the glass - this beer looks a bit like something you'd brew in a cauldron. Smells mainly of alcohol and molasses underpinned by hints of coffee and cacao - very nice.

Roasted malt is the primary flavor component on first sip - it's a little overpowering, and tastes somewhat over-roasted to the point of being burnt. Unfortunately this flavor gets more prominent as the beer warms. There's some alcoholic heat here too, but it's less than I expected, and I actually quite like it. Not as sweet as I expected either. The mouthfeel is very full-bodied, viscous, and a bit syrupy. There's moderate carbonation, and it helps keep my mouth feeling refreshed between sips.

A solid beer overall, but the burnt-grain taste definitely hurts this brew.

Photo of montecristo2
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a small snifter.

Wow, oily black-very dark stuff indeed.

Smells of chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit-prunes maybe?

Very small head upon the pour, which dissipates very quickly to a light lacing on the sides of the glass.

Sweet on the front, with a dark chocolate/coffee raisiny flavored finish. This is a good one from Bell's, but one that I will only have once in a while and one at a sitting. Not a beer I want to drink all night, but definitely a beer I want to savor and slowly enjoy. A good cold weather beer, but even though yesterday was the last day of summer, who cares? This stuff tastes great any time of the year!


Photo of irishgurl4
3.65/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Birthday Beer #2! Thanks to Beau (sefus12) for this next beer, Bells Expedition Stout! From batch 9459 poured into a Ballast Point shaker pint glass.

A: Pours black with a one finger chocolate head that quickly dissipates to a thin layer on top.

S: Smell is a light nose of chocolate with a huge roastiness with hints of alcohol lingering in the background.

T: Begins with a mild sweetness that makes a quick stop at chocolate before moving right into the bitter roastiness. Whoa, just saw the abv on this baby, 10.5%! It's like Ninja abv, you don't know it's there till your passed out on the floor. :P

M: Has kind of a thicker mouthfeel with a decent level of carbonation to lift the rich flavors of this beer off the palate. Bitter roast lingers for quite awhile and leaves just a little bit of a coated feeling towards the back of the tongue.

D: Another sippy beer best suited for cool nights. Warning, beware the Ninja abv!

I'd have to say that Bells Expedition Stout gets a tasty noms. :)

Photo of kbutler1
4.31/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle with no batch number but I am pretty sure I got this a year or 2 ago. Pours a dep dark brown/black color with a farily thick 1 finger head. Aromas of some sweet malts with dark fruit, coffee, and bittersweet chocolate. The taste is extremely layered with a nice thick and creamy heavy mouthfeel. Sweet dark chocolate up front followed by roast coffee and leather. Big and chewy.

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

12oz bottle poured into tulip sept18 2010, bottle 10 months old according to the bells batch finder

A pours pitch black right out of the bottle with a few little chunks at the bottom, and has a super dark thumbs worth of foam to go with it, falls to a thin film rather quickly but covers the side of my glass with lace

S molasses with some chocolate, prune, booze, and and a little cinnamon of all things

T not far from the smell but a little stronger with some added complexity from a little licorice and coffee, quite enjoyable beer and the booze is quite well concealed compared to the nose

M enters silky and ends thick and creamy, a little sticky on the lips and I'm thinking I'll still be tasting this beer tomorrow the flavors just linger in your mouth

D a little dangerous if you ask me, well rounded and quite easy to drink

a good paring for this chilly "summer" day in Calgary, a solid beer and would do quite well in a cellar but I only have one bottle and I need to thank MasterSki for sending it my way

Photo of HESSLER500
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a luscious black on the side of the glass, not much carbonation, kind of a thick pour. Does lace slightly so you know your in for much more then a hamms light. This is one stout that I truly love due to its dark chocolate tones infused with a ever so slight alcohol vapor that can be felt on the way down. Not much of a hoppy brew which is a bonus. Brewed with a bit of thickness so that the flavors linger towards the back of the mouth. Overall, this is an excellent stout and will continue to buy it when available.

Photo of davesway10
3.35/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I've drank several of these just trying to develop an honest feel for this beer. It's a beautiful black color with an exceptional deep tan head, and thats where it ends for me. I don't get the chocolates and the coffee flavors others have written of, what i get is molasses and smoke and the smoke doesn't do it for me. Its not that the beer is bad, its just not me.

Photo of hefewisseguy
5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the best RIS I've everhad next to a 2008 darklord. I enjoyed this beer I'm my delirium sniffter. Pours out dark and has an awsome smell. Dark tan head and left a little lacing. Has a nice mouth feel and let's u know their is a 10.5 abv. Then chocalte,coffee, and tasty malts cover your pallet along with a creamy head (if swurled before consumed) I love that is availible in a 6pack so I can enjoy almost one a day!

Photo of bobhits
4.27/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

3 year old bottle served in a stone Russian imperial stout glass

Pitch black, 3 finger head. Pitch black with a milk chocolate colored head. Lots of lacing unlike just about anything I've seen with any kind of age on it. Impressive is an understatement. Sediment showing in the lacing gives it a truly exceptional touch.

Subtle vanillas and chocolate malt in the nose.

Overly creamed coffee mixed with very sweet and bitter chocolate. I recall not being blown away with this fresh. Age or my maturity...who knows but this is good stuff and I wish I had a few more bottles this old to keep watching this aging process.

Creamy, soft, touch of bubbles, just right for this style.

This beer couldn't have alcohol in it...I can't taste it what so ever. I could sip on this all day and night. Wonderful stuff!

Photo of BogleHill
2.26/5  rDev -46.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bottled dated 10-2009. Pours out jet black like used motor oil. Sweet roasty and malty aroma with a presence of alcohol. Good tan head and carbonation. Very heavy mouthfeel. Quite roasty, almost smoky. The sweetness overpowers this one for me though, perhaps the alcohol too. This seems like a well made brew, but sadly, I found myself unable to finish it. Imperials are just not my thing-that I am sure of. -But I am up for trying anything, once. My thanks to awesome trader Birchstick for giving me the opportunity to try this highly rated stout.

Photo of tewaris
4.26/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Note: Taste score raised to 4 and drinkability to 4.5 after a different sampling of a 13 months old bottle that was noticeably smoother. Also, a tart dry fruit character (prunes, cherry) was noted in this tasting.


Bell's Expedition Stout
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Russian Imperial Stout
10.5% ABV
1.11 OG
12 oz bottle, bottled December 18, 2009, poured into a Bell's tulip.

Appearance 5/5
Pours black and opaque with a big, dark brown head that takes its own sweet time to build up. The head recedes to a thin collar eventually and leaves an excellent lacing. On a first glance, it's impossible to comment on clarity but after the head has receded, clear dark brown edges can be seen. Inviting!

Aroma 4/5
This is the smell of a big badass stout. Hard to describe fully because there are a lot of things going on here. Reeks of molasses and malts initially. Then chocolate, and possibly, coffee and vanilla. Booze, especially when it gets warm.

Taste 3.5/5
Big, dark malts surrounded by hoppy bitterness that stays until the long finish. There's booze in finish, noticeable even 9 months after bottling. Then plenty of rich aftertaste which is so roasty, that it seems burnt at times. Everything about this beer is big, but too rough and oddly bitter.

Mouthfeel 5/5
Silky, but not cloying over one bottle, which is the ideal amount to drink for this beer. Low carbonation, which is perfect for this beast. Body is big, as expected.

Drinkability 4/5
I have had the cask conditioned version too, and that was one of the best beer experiences I have had. Noticeably better on cask. Still, the drinkability is alright. However, this beer seems very rough which affects the score.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,300 ratings.