1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.

4,677 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,677
Reviews: 1,894
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 405
Gots: 1,019 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,677 | Reviews: 1,894 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of yourefragile
2.73/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle

I had been looking forward to trying this one for a long time and unfortunately the beer was not able to live up to my expectations or appearance. I'm hoping I had a bad bottle and will try this again in the future and hope for better....

A: Ok, lots good so far, pours a very thick, sludgy black and from hard pour has a nice sized tan head that has nice retention and leaves incredible lacing. Looks like a great RIS.
S: Not as strong as expected or mentioned in other reviews, but it has a sweet, rich aroma with chocolate, molasses, roasted flavors, etc.
T: Sweeter than expected, alcohol is well hidden, but something just seems...off. Everything just seems flat, overly sweet and not balancing bitterness. I mean, the flavors are there from the aroma and tastes like it should be a good RIS, but I don't know, I don't feel like thinking any harder about this.
M: Thick, creamy, flat, no carbonation, just....not good. Too sweet, no bitterness or hops detectable...
D: Ok, I'm being redundant, I only bump up the drinkability for the 10.5% alcohol being well hidden, otherwise it was very difficult for me to finish this bottle as I just didn't enjoy and would rather just have Kalamazoo, Double Cream, Java or basically any of their other stouts (for much cheaper). I'll update this review in future when I try again.

yourefragile, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of david131
4.9/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

One amazing beer. This bottle was two years old and I decided to open it for my birthday.

A- Absolutely pitch black with only the slightest hints of light making it through the edges. The head that forms is brown and very thick looking. It settles down to some beautiful caramel swirls and a ring around the top. It doesn't get any better than this.

S- Extremely complex with lots of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, some vanilla, cherries, and a good amount of sweetness. It has a wonderful aged quality to it. Delicious.

T- Very complex with a lot of the same features as the aroma. Very smooth and the alcohol is incredibly well hidden. This beer gets way better with some age on it.

M- Silky smooth and very full-bodied. You cannot ask for anything better.

D- Dangerously drinkable. This beer is incredible with some time to mellow and blend. This is how American style Russian Imperial Stouts should be.

david131, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of tgbljb
3.05/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a very deep broen color witn minute tannish coating.
Smell is very significant for alcohol, with some bittersweet chcolate in the background.
Taste is too sweet and syrupy. The alcohol is definitely present, with an almost syrupy sweetness. There are some hops present but they are too astringent.
Left a not pleasant taste in the mouth.
Just drinkable at best. Not worth the money.

tgbljb, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of morimech
3.3/5  rDev -22%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a chalice. It has a very deep, dark black color with a large chocolate milk colored head. Good head retention with plenty of lacing. A thick cap lingers long after the pour.

The smell is a bit lacking. Dark fruit and roasted malt dominate with alcohol barely coming through. Smells more sweet than bitter.

The malt and alcohol dominate the taste. It is not well balanced. A little of the flavor complexity that other reviewers noticed is there but very faint in my sample. It finishes bitter with the alcohol combining making it difficult to finish. The body is thick and creamy but maybe has a bit too much carbonation. This beer seems a bit "raw" and would benefit from some aging. I will stow a few bottles away to sample years from now.

morimech, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to tpd975 for the chance to try.

Wow, this beer pours out wicked black with lots of thick brown head, as well as, lots of lacing.

This is a strong smelling beer, roasted malt and coffee, other hints of chocolate, caramel and possibly some molasses, a rather bitter aroma overall though.

Taste is initially sweet from the roasted malt and ends with a strong bitter aftertaste, most likely from the coffee character. The roasted elements really take hold of your mouth with this one. Expedition is fairly smooth and creamy, not too much carbonation though, and this beer is quite sticky, it just coats my mouth. Can make out some of the alcohol though and I can feel the warming sensation in my stomach.

A rather excellent brew although the sweetness makes it difficult to enjoy more than one at a time, but it certainly is a treat. Might be good to cellar one for 5 years and see if it mellows out.

deltatauhobbit, Jan 12, 2008
Photo of adams82
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black, opaque, with a big dark brown head.

Smells of dried fruit, intensely roasty, deep black coffee/espresso, slightly sweet. Tastes slightly sweet, bitter sweet chocolate, heavy caramel flavours, finishes with a nice hoppy bite. Very intense flavours, deep dark and roasty, balanced with a nice hop finish.

Full bodied, creamy and smooth... Excellent.

adams82, Jan 12, 2008
Photo of elmore
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter. Thick, viscous, and pitch black. Thick, fluffy, brown-tan two finger head with excellent retention. Thick sticky lace coats the sides as you drink. This is a serious beer. Beautiful!!!

Smells of burnt malt, espresso, dark chocolate, some dark fruits. I detect some vague citrusy smell, which may be related to hops.

Taste is similar to the smell, very complex. Nice hoppy bite in the aftertaste, which I like, but often is overpowered by malts in most RIS's. A little smokiness in the after taste that I didn't really detect in the nose.

Chewy, creamy, big mouthfeel. High carbonation for the style, but pleasant. Has a big enough body and malt prescence to mask the 10.5%. The alcohol does produce a nice warming effect in the throat and chest.

Wow!!! Excellent RIS, one of the best I have had so far. Very complex. There is so much going on with this one. I'll definetly have to try this again to fully appreciate it.

elmore, Jan 08, 2008
Photo of NCSUdo
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle, batch 8183

A: Pours a thick black under a small, brown head. You know you are getting a big beer here. Ok retention, no lace.

S: Get some chocolate, roasted malt and slight fruitiness on first sniff. A cream-like sweetness underneath, hints of alcohol.

T: Woah. Was not prepared for the intense flavor profile that first hit me. Vanilla and a sweet cream up front that just explodes into a chocolate and huge roasted bitterness on the back of the tongue that will not go away. Was not expecting this level of bitterness. Even some grassy hop hints and some dark fruits thrown in as well. There is a huge spicy hotness as well, but doesn't have the characteristics of alcohol.

M/D: Carbonation is high, too high, but does lend in small part a creamy texture. Body is extremely full, a little slick, sticks to the lips a little, no hints of the alcohol, nice. Drinkability is lowered due to 10.50% and just how aggresive this beer is. A sipper for sure. Can't wait to sample some of this batch a few years from now.

NCSUdo, Jan 08, 2008
Photo of Scoobydank
3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L:SLight chocolate milk head that disapears quickly. Black as night color with no light visible when looking through.
S:Burtn black coffee beans. I also pick up a little chocolate muffin?
T:Coffee lingers on the back for ever with a touch of hops. Super sweet through out. Like sweet sweet chocolate.
M:Warm fat bubbles.
D:The sweetness of this beer is a bit to much for me, could stand to be cellared for awhile. Was not bad, just had better.

Scoobydank, Jan 07, 2008
Photo of jasonjlewis
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to MuenchnerKindl for the sample.

Pours a nice big head with great retention. Nice dark brown color.

Smell is of mint and chocolate and caramel with some coffee beans. Raisiny smell comes out as the beer warms.

Toffee sweetness upfront. Taste is sweet with chocolate malts. Roasted malts are not dominant at all. It finished wit a nice dry hop bitterness. Mint comes through as an undertone and coffee flavor helps to add a bit of complexity. Not boozy at all for a 10.5% abv beer.

Smooth and creamy mouthfeel adds to the enjoyability of this beer.

A very easy RIS to drink. I wish there was a little bit more complexity to it, but it is still very nice.

Very easy to drink. Not a lot of complexity for the style, but not hard to drink at all.

jasonjlewis, Jan 07, 2008
Photo of OWSLEY069
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours jet black, with a tan/ light brown head. In the aroma, a roasty malt and grapefruity hops. In the taste, hoppy, coffee, and a sweet roasty malt. A small bitter, big body mouthfeel and a sweet roasty malt and a small grapefruity hop aftertaste. Big malt, nice hops, hides alcohol and quite easy to drink.

OWSLEY069, Jan 06, 2008
Photo of Overlord
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Grynder33 for the generosity.

Gorgeous looking black pour with a dark brown half an inch head. Carbonation and head died down fairly quickly. Nice chewy mouthfeel.

Taste is rich and flavorful. Chocolate, coffee (more dark roasted than espresso; I approve) and dark rum (people keep saying molasses, but it tastes more like flavorful, sweet dark rum to me ... I think there may be a hole in my palate).

To be honest, not the most drinkable stout, but oz. for oz. one of my favorites.

Overlord, Jan 05, 2008
Photo of timbro81
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours out like used motor oil. <goosebumps> Massive fluffy dark tan head that clinges to the glass as it travels down the glass. Smells of deep dark chocolate followed by a good does of bitter hops for balance. Feels super silky in the mouth, like a melted chocolate bar, wow! Starts out chocolatey that turns into deep roasted malt flavors which then magically transition to a nice hop bitterness. A slight smokiness to it mixed in there too. Aftertaste is slightly boozey. I want to drink this beer till my ears bleed.

timbro81, Jan 05, 2008
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to xmarcnolanx for this trade.

Pours jet black with a thin brown head. The nose is of chocolate cake and java beans. Incredibly tasty with lots of dark malt. Coffee bean and dark chocolate come to mind. Big big flavor with great hop bitterness at the end. Mouthfeel is chewy and creamy as hell and rides slick down the throat. Hop and coffee bean flavors dominate the finish and there is a strong alcohol presence in the aftertaste. Very warming and quite drinkable for 10%. This is a great offering from Bells. i would love some of their double cream. This expedition will have a nice home in my cellar for a few years.

AKBelgianBeast, Jan 05, 2008
Photo of Slynger
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an inky black with the barest glints of ruby highlights in the lower portions of the glass. A small but creamy mocha colored head with a touch of redness rises slowly from the depths of the glass then rescinds at the same pace.
The nose is deep and distinct without being overly complex. Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and cherries with some citrus hops in the background.
Whew doggies! One sip is all it takes to get excited about this one. It is so full, smooth, and creamy but with enough carbonation to liken it perfectly to a milkshake. Tastes of creamy caramel, smooth dark chocolate, sweet cherries, and a lightly bitter mocha / roasted espresso finish that lingers along with some citric hops.
This one is really good. And ranks up close to Old Rasputin and Blackout Stout for me. I hear this one ages well, but I may have trouble waiting on the other five.

Slynger, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of RblWthACoz
5/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I hate molasses.

Pours pitch black with a large dark tan head. Nose is dusty with strong molasses tones. Flavor is oh so smooth. Strong molasses flavors prevail, but stay perfectly balanced. Feel is thick in the liquid and thin on the carbonation. This is a beautiful stout that is a hard one to surpass. Amazingly crafted and worth seeking out...at all costs.

RblWthACoz, Dec 31, 2007
Photo of GRPunk
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A- It poured a jet black with a 1 finger deep red-brown head that turned into a nice lace that left sticky rings on the glass.

S- It had mostly roasty chocolate tones. More coffee aroma came through as the beer warmed.

T- It had more roasty chocolate character in the flavor. The alcohol was pretty well masked. There were hints of coffee and a sweet bourbon-like flavor (similar to what I think of as a smoke flavor in the sour mash). The hop flavors were fairly light.

M- It was thick and creamy with medium-light carbonation.

D- The alcohol was nicely hidden in the rich flavor. It was an easy sipper that I most recently enjoyed while watching the snow fall down.

Overall- A great example in my opinion. It had robust flavor and was easily sippable.

GRPunk, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of brewcrew76
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Solid black with a good 2 fingers of creamy dark brown head. Brown sticky lacing everywhere

S - Roasted malt, chocolate, leather, smoke and dark fruits.

T - Roasted malt, cocolate, bitter coffee, molasses, dark fruits, sweet candy and a touch of boozyness that actually goes well with the other flavors.

M - Thick and chewy but more creamy than syrupy. Bitter finish that lingers.

D - A very strong beer for how little you can taste the alcohol. One of the better RIS I have tasted.

brewcrew76, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of lowbrau
3.7/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured nearly black with a thick, dark brown head that left a thin but sticky lace on the glass. Smell of sweet, burnt raisins. Very sweet with very little hint of hops. Completely opaque when held up to light.
Taste: Again, very sweet. Almost overpowering, but somewhat balanced by the burnt, malty flavors.
The sweetness wore out my palate toward the end, but still a great beer. Would definitely buy again.

lowbrau, Dec 29, 2007
Photo of potownbill
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Popped open the top,, took the first sniff, and knew this one was going to be good. The beer pours a very thick black, with a thin dark brown head. The smell was of roasted malt, coffee, molassas, rum, etc. Early on, there was some strong alcohol, but the beer smoothed out with some warming. There was a bit of carbonation, and I thought it was well balanced. Overall, I was very satisfied with this beer. I will gladly invest in a few more bottles.

potownbill, Dec 29, 2007
Photo of Monsone
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Standard RIS. Dark as night with a slight brown head that quickly diasapears.

S - Sweet malt and dark fruits with some choco. Alcohol is present.

T - Bitter malt sweetness, with dark choco. Dark fruits there too. There is some alcohol warmth in there too.

M - Thick and coating.

D - Good for the style.

Overall I recommend this beer, but there are others I like more.

Monsone, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of MrBen
3.85/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A good beer, but not great enough to be a regular buy for me. The pour is lovely, scent is tasty, color is great, and so on. Bell's quality, upfront as always. Taste was good overall, but too hop-forward for my liking. Raw alcohol was fairly prominent throughout. I'll stick with Kalamazoo Stout and Java Stout.

MrBen, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of Tilley4
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is what a stout is all about here. Nice and dark and roasty with plenty of kick and it's still smooth.

Jet, jet black here. Pretty big head on a stout too. Beautiful beer.

Smells wonderful with a combo of chocolate and fruit and malt. Very dark rich aroma.

Tastes wonderful. Absolutely wonderful here. Dark rich flavor, lots of dark bitter chocolate. I actually drank this at dead room temp., about 65 degrees or so and it was delicious. Very rich and creamy.

I have a few more bottle of this and I'm glad because this stuff is delicious.

Tilley4, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of Traquairlover
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12-oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A = Looks like old motor oil in the glass, no light goes through it at all.ll, as close to black as a beer could get. Small head formed that was a cross between cherry and oak brown.

S = Coffee, burnt oak bark, cherries.

T = Coffee, dark chocolate, sweet molasses, bitters.

M = Thick and luscious, coats the mouth, could use more carbonation.

D = Pretty good for an occasional beer, but I find this is too strong (both in taste and alcohol) when fresh to have it too often. Does age well though.

Traquairlover, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of rudylaw
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Being a Chicagoan, I've really missed this beer. On a recent trip to Kenosha, I picked up two sixers at $12/ea and immediately rushed back to have one. It's as good as I remember. Since this beer has been reviewed a million times, I'll keep it brief.

It pours oil black into my glass with a brown head that dissipates almost immediately.

It has a very chocolately/coffee-like aroma to it and is very pleasant to the senses. It made me want to find an afghan or a quilt, I was so comfortable.

It's a very thick, chewy concoction... which is right up my alley when looking for a stout. The experience did not wane as I made my way through the glass. It coated my mouth and throat in a way sore throat medicines only dream of! I enjoyed it until the last drop.

Overall, it's a great stout. Not as good as DarkLord, Darkness or perhaps even Storm King, but it should be mentioned in the same breath. Can't wait to finish off the other 11!

rudylaw, Dec 27, 2007
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,677 ratings.