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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.

5,064 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,064
Reviews: 1,933
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 423
Gots: 1,156 | 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: 5,064 | Reviews: 1,933 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tai4ji2x
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

both bottles reviewed were obtained in trades. not 100% sure who. maybe vwcraig for the older bottle, and jnn4v for the newer one. please feel free to correct me.

tasted side-by-side in late may 2009.

batch# 7251 (2006)

opaque black. some red-brown tints under the light. 1-finger, brown, foamy, creamy head. fades to wisps and ring. most lacing never sticks, although a splotch here and there and a single thin ring manage to linger.

aroma: malty dark caramel, scorched sugar and chocolatey roast w coffee notes and acidity, blending w gentle fruit esters (dried cherry?) and hint of vanilla. this in turn is met by an unexpected woody, almost cedar or spruce character. blends w the damp earth tones (from hops?) and damp autumn leaves.

taste: malty and fruity characters, plus some molasses and charred sugar, meeting bitter roast and leafy-yet-still-resinous hops, giving bold bitterness. underlying faint coffee-like acidity. that unusual "woody" character again too. resinous finish, w lots of cocoa and coffee lingering into the aftertaste.

quite thick and viscous. syrupy. some smoothness, met by acidic tones and tannic astringency. mild to moderate carbonation is tingly, and helps with creamy feel.


batch# 8864 (2008)

creamier, larger head, less reddish brown in tone and more coffee-like. persists longer as well - a thin but constant creamy layer. much better lacing too.

aroma is much mellower and balanced, with none of that "wood" character from before.

flavors are similar. just more balanced overall. still hoppy and moderately roasty, with bold bitterness. just less "weird" notes, helping to give a smoother perception. less coffee in the finish but still there and pleasant.

feel is not as viscous, but still very smooth, with more balanced resins and tannins.


overall i feel that the age seems to bring out complexities, although not necessarily for the better. then again, it could've just been that particular batch. either way, i still think this is a great RIS.

Photo of nickd717
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this bottle of oily goodness after Thanksgiving dinner 2008 and it was still awesome, although the BudMillerCoors-guzzling family members were not ready for it. Never had a Bells beer until then, and let me tell you, this made sure that it wouldn't be the last time I had one.

A - Black and viscous with a small tan head and decent lacing.

S - Coffee, chocolate, roast, and dark fruits.

T - Very intense and somewhat sweet with roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, black cherries, anise, and vanilla. Complex and very tasty.

M - Thick and oily. Carbonation is a little low, but not terribly so.

D - Medium and not bad for the style. Good in small servings. At least this comes in 12oz bottles so you'll never feel like you have to finish a whole bomber of this stuff.

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

12 oz bottle poured into an Imperial Pint. Batch #8728 - Packaged Sept. 16th, 2008. 10.5% ABV.
Thanks to Sweemzander for this one!

A - Poured with the color and near consistency of molasses it was a visible clear dark brown while hitting the glass until it was full. The result was a pitch black beer with a loose-bubbled, one-finger, milk chocolate colored head. It stayed around for a good amount of time considering the alcohol percent which left visible legs on the glass. A thin layer was left while little lacing adorned the glass.

S - Huge roasted malts pour out with out any regard for overwhelming your senses. Carried with them are a toffee and caramel with brown sugar sweetness along side a sharp, unmistakable molasses aroma. Drifting in the background is a coffee bean burnt-ness and what seems like a light hop aroma. Up front with the malts is a slightly warm boozy spice scent too. Full of brute strength yet complex.

T - You may call this a malt punch in the mouth. One of the most robust beers I've ever encountered in my beer expedition, it's heavily bitter from the roastiness with a caramel sweetness that takes the back seat to the molasses kick, coffee roast, and alcoholic boozy spice. A touch of toffee can be sampled here and there but is pretty scarce amidst the malty onslaught. Woody notes are also present as well.

M - Full-bodied in every sense of the word, it features almost no carbonation detection and coats the mouth and throat like syrup. The roasted malts give off a hefty bitterness that balances well with the sweetness and finishes with a very warm alcohol spice. The lingering alcohol kick is a bit much to finish out with in conjunction with the cocoa powder dryness.

D - While I love and respect this beer for what it is, it is not drinkable. It's thick as molasses and twice as strong but don't get me wrong; it's a great sipper for a cold winter day. Otherwise the alcohol is a bit too present for my tastes. This big beer demands all of your attention and would substitute well for a cup of coffee and breakfast in the morning, however; one is plenty. Sip slowly and enjoy for a while.

Photo of jsh420
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

batch #8729 sept 17, 2008

pours jet black with a 1 finger tan head that left lacing all down the glass

smells of chocolate coffee and dark fruit

taste is still pretty boozy @ almost 1 year

strong sweet/bitter chocolate with the dark fruit - this one is a sipper

mouthfeel is almost perfect - good carbonation upfront that along with the alchol heat gives it a little bit - but then silky smooth

drinkability - while i would not drink more then a 12oz bottle i immensely enjoyed every sip

Photo of erz316
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

bottle 8944 for what its worth. Poured into Maudite snifter

A - another perfect pour from this guy: pitch black body, big two finger dark tan head. the head, if one forces a pour, makes this great cascading effect. The only thing I can possibly find wrong with the appearance is that perhaps the head does not retain as long as it could, but the retention is normal and it leaves a juicy half a fingers worth of foam on top, so its good enough to be perfect for me!

S - espresso, bakers chocolate, and some boozed up raisins with molasses are the most identifiable. the front of the nose is the chocolate and coffee, concentrating on the bitterness of both; there is also a slight nuttiness evident in with these ntoes. the middle is slightly sweet, showing some slight frutiness and alcohol. the background nose is a fresh, grassy hop note that is pretty easy to key in on once it is recognized. the nose isn't readily accessible as I would like it, it doesnt pop out from the glass.

T - quite a phenomenal beer for such a low price; they even come in six packs! the first thing one notices with the beer is the definitive presence of alcohol and those coffee flavours. initial taste is bitter, boozy, and slightly coffee like; perhaps a cinnamon like burn from. the finish is very much flavoured with choco-coffee and a slight alcohol burn. the aftertaste is like I just had a big espresso; bitter, and a distinctive lemon peel citrus bitterness from the hops. all in all quite a good beer, but the flavour profile could be more of a whallop

MF&D - the feel is perfect, no doubt about it; just thick and viscous enough, not less, and not going into american double territory. the amount of booze and the presence of it will eventually wear one down, however.

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

A Poured into a Duck Rabbit snifter. Opaque black and thick with a tan head which subsides into a collar and leaves lacing on the glass.
S Caramel, dark chocolate and some alcohol on the nose.
T Big, bitter, boozy chocolate flavors are the order of the day as the malts and hops meld together. As it warms the chocolate becomes sweeter. The bitter chocolate flavors persist and expand into the finish.
M Mouthfeel is like a big dark chocolate milkshake, Syrupy and viscous.
D Drinkability is limited by the strength of the beer and by a bit of an alcohol burn. I know I won't be able to manage more than one of these. I'm not halfway through this thing and it is kicking my ass already.
A huge beer with huge flavors. One hell of an imperial stout.

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

I had a bottle of Expedition right after a bottle of Old Rasputin and the difference in mouthfeel was very apparent. It is thick and coats the tongue. Tastes of roasted malts, chocolate and coffee. A very good RIS. The only bad thing about it is the price here in Alabama. (17.50/6-pack)

Photo of thegodfather2701
4.53/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch # 8729 bottled on September 17, 2008.

A-Pours like motor oil. Its dark and rich, nearly pitch black. It has a small tan head with dissipates almost immediately only leaving a small ring around the edges.

S-The nose is nothing less than phenomenal. This beer emitted an aroma as I poured it. It smells of chocolate, dark fruits, brown sugar, molasses, and alcohol all blended together. It smells like it could be an epic beer.

T-Dark chocolate, coffee, a touch of brown sugar, and some alcohol in the finish. It was not as complex as I thought.

M-Rich and creamy.

D-This is a very drinkable RIS, its not too overpowering or filling. Even with the high alcohol content I think I could easily drink 2 of these in one sitting.

Overall, I was slightly disappointed with this RIS. For me the nose was much more complex than the actual flavors of the beer. For being aged for nearly a year I expected this beer to be much more complex. I have had a year old Stone RIS that was much more complex. However, I enjoyed this RIS and will consider purchasing a six pack the next time it is released.

Photo of bonsreeb85
3.95/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Aquired this 12 ouncer through a trade w/ pochman. thanks Ed!

A - black as tar, this stuff looks like jet fuel! Modest brown head doesn't stay for too long.

S - strong scents of coffee, roasted nearly burnt malts,and black licorice

T - plenty of burnt malts on the tongue. the alcohol gives it a hot feeling, in a pleasant manner though(at least I thought so) very bitter, like a good strong black coffee. wonderful earthy hop presence adds only good things to the mix.

MF - massive body, but tiny bubbles and moderate carbonation help the drinkability factor.

D - great flavor, but a definate sipper/night cap. when people talk about Guinness being a "meal" i have to wonder what these folks would say about a beer like this! hahaha. I hate to dock points for drinkability, but seriously, at greater than 10 % how drinkable can a beer be.

overall a damn fine and tasty brew.

Photo of TK5150
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours black with brown head.

S- Chocolate, coffee, cherry, fig, other fruits.

T- Chocolate..almost like chocolate cake, cherry, coffee, fig, char, milky lactose flavor that ends sweet. Very flavorful.

M- Thick and full.

D- So tasty that it gets high marks even though its such a burly beer. Definitely a sipper though.

Photo of Kolsch
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle at Headkeepers, Greensburg PA.

Appearance: Dark to mostly pitch black. Nice head that retained throughout drink. Impressive for a RIS.

Smell: Unbelievable dark, bitter chocolate and cocoa.

Taste: Same as the smell. Extremely bitter chocolate that made you want to have another sip. Also detect some very slight raison and fig. Not as sweet as the smell would indicate. Alcohol does not appear until beer warms up. Even then it is not "HOT" but there to remind this is 10.5%.

Overall: an excellent RIS and one that I am glad was only 12oz. A bomber would have been too much.

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

REALLY REALLY dark brown, not black, with a little head and lightER edges. smells sweet, like brandy and chocolate, maybe some sweet fruits mixed in (strawberry, blueberry).

lots of alcohol in the nose. ROASTY malts. not as sweet as the smell would suggest, but sweet enough. a bitter, almost coffee bitterness to the finish and aftertaste. dark fruits. plum, blueberry. lots of alcohol all the way through. not as much chocolate as expected from the smell. a very good imperial stout.

mouthfeel is great. thick and chewy. drinkability is hindered by the alcohol sting and the thickness, though it is still very good.

Photo of Jmoore50
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is KICK ASS.

The appearance is what I would expect. It has a great dark dark brown body, no light comes through. A great little chocolate brown head and no lacing, 10 percent ABV is why.

The smell is good, not outstanding. There are very strong hints of cocoa. Alcohol smell is present but not overwhelming.

The taste is great. Cocoa, just a brownie taste with alcohol that is just amazing. Really blown away with this one. There is a little alcohol taste that brings out the flavors so well. Malt is another characteristic. I believe, just from taste, that they used chocolate and burnt malts. These you can taste, along with a bready thick mouthfeel that is throwing me off a little. An alcoholic burn can also be detected.

The drinkability is dangerous. Just keep sipping and sipping tasting different flavors.

Very good.

Photo of stoutfiend27
4.08/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle batch 8729 9/17/08 so this one has a little age on it lets see what happened....slightly chilled into my brooklyn tulip

a-thick,black, and chewey looking....small khaki head with very nice lacing....

s-boozy and smells like maple syrup to an extent, roasty not as much coffee as i remember from previous rounds with this brew

t-maple sweetness up front, some alcohol but not as much as i would expect judging from the nose and the caramel and toffee in the end

m-thick and oily coats the mouth very well..little if any carbonation but im not complaining..

d-suffers a bit from the abv but i could have a couple in a sitting

overall one of the best ris out there why is this not in the top 100??? oh well i digress

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

From the bottle to a pint glass. Pours pitch black whit a one finger dark tan head that pretty quickly reduces to almost nothing. The head that is left leaves almost nothing as lacing down the glass. The smell is typical of the style, coffee and chocolate mainly stand out. There is also the typical roasted smell found in stouts. As far as taste goes it starts off kind of boozey with chocolate following shortly after. The chocolate stands out more right after the booze and especially when it warms up. There is some coffee in the taste that is in there but it's not jumping out or anything. Mouthfeel is typical of the style, kind of thick but not to thick to become chewy and not to thin just right in there to be perfect. Drinkability wise this one is right in there. Once this warms up a bit it's very very good. I could easily do a few of these in a sitting (which I have). Overall a very good RIS. The alcohol may be more apparent than other RIS' but this one is still very solid. At the bar I tired this at I will be getting it as long as they have it in and I will be picking up some when I can find it in a store. A good RIS and worth trying if you have the chance.

Photo of KI9A
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Motor oil black. Decent head, somewhat lasting. Some lace. Just plain looks the part of a big beer!

S: Coffee, roasted/burnt malts. Dark Chocolate.

T: Above, plus a ton. Add in green apple, pear, figs. Very complex.

M: Heavy. Plays the part here also. Very bitter on the back of the tounge, but, not long lasting.

D: Well, this is one I can't wait to see what others thought. I look at the average to gauge if i want to try it, but NEVER look at individual ratings prior to tasting. 10.5% ABV. Well, thats pretty big. Not an 'everyday' beer, but, a nice beer-in-a-snifter offering. I've never been a big fan of RIS, but, this one seems to agree with me--alot.

Photo of bum732
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as all black, nice creamy tan head leaving amazing lacing. Smells of anise, roasted coffee, dark fruits, touch of metal, molasses, chocolate. Tastes of sweet roasty malt followed by a low bitterness of coffee. Hints of dark fruits and sweetness of chocolate. Finishes nice and roasty, very roasty with just a touch of chocolate sweetness. Nice creamy mouthfeel, no alcohol present, which is hard to believe. Carbonation just right.

Just an amazing beer, so well balanced for a RIS. Tons of complexity, dark fruits, coffee roastiness and chocolate sweetness. I love the roastiness in this beer, it keeps the dark fruitiness and alcohol in check. Unbelievable.

Photo of Plenum
4.45/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bell's just makes good beer. Their Expedition Stout is an excellent example of the style. Probably the best stout for the money...eventually they're going to figure out that the public will pay more than $2/bottle for this exceptional brew...but for now...hat's off to them.

Color was very dark. 10+% came through on this one. Not by much, but you could tell this was not a small beer.

Taste was excellent. Not too thick. Little bit of lacing on the glass.

This is a go-to-brew for those of you seeking an everyday stout.

Photo of projectflam86
4.55/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a deep black color that doesn't allow any light through. Completely opaque with a creamy mocha colored head that leaves lots of sticky lacing.

S- Huge aroma of chocolate, espresso, and roasted scents. Alcohol is noticeable.

T- Bitter cocoa and coffee flavors initially that give way to some sweet malt in the finish. Big roasted flavor that develops into espresso, molasses, dark malts and bittersweet chocolate. Strong and robust flavor with plenty of alcohol coming through.

M- Big and chewy with nice carbonation. Very full body with a creamy feel. Incredibly smooth.

D- This is one killer RIS! Big and bold with a menacing amount of roasted flavor. The only thing that hurts its drinkability is the very noticeable alcohol level. One of these with a year or two on it would be fantastic!

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

Picked up a 6 in St. Joe's while camping in Michigan. I'd been wanting to try it for quite some time.

A: Dark brown almost black. Looks thick and viscousy on the pour. Has some brown/red in it and shows mahogany highlights against the light. The head is a golden copper brown - almost metallic looking. It took a pretty aggressive pour to coax it into providing a finger head. The head dissipated almost immediately. As the drink was sipped, it provided some spotty lacing and left oily brown coffee residue on the glass that slowly slid back to join the liquid.

S: Nice bold smell. Bitter cocoa, coffee. A hint of booze and bready maltiness.

T: The dark chocolate and coffee milk shake is what hit me first. The burn from booze comes in and there is a distinct strong burnt bitterness in the finish and aftertaste. The aftertaste becomes dry and the bite becomes an almost metallic coffee. A touch much at times but it is certainly makes you want to go in for more.

M: Full bodied and velvety smooth. There is enough carb there to liven this thick brew up a bit.

D: Love this RIS. It's pretty smooth. Booze sneaks in here and there but overall it is pretty well hidden. The pronounced bitterness was a touch much for my personal tastes at times but it didn't stop me from pounding this back quicker than I intended to. Another great Bells beer and I'm sad it can't be found in Chicago.

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

Presentation: 12oz brown pop top...freshness code (looked it up online and it said that this was bottled in January 09).

Appearance: Ultra dark brown/black beer, opaque; a hard pour produces a huge dark mocha head with great retention...damn, this beer is thick and viscous

Smell: Big roasted character, with lots of dark roasted coffee and a touch of vanilla cream

Taste: This is just awesome; there are tons of big roasty flavors, vanilla, coffee, some burnt grains, dark cocoa powder, and some alcohol BURN on the finish...it's sweet and mild until the finish and then the alcohol comes through like a punch to the face

Mouthfeel: Creamy and full

Drinkability: 1-2 and done, but nice for what it is

Conclusion: Great RIS...the alcohol is a bit hot, but this is fresh; I'd really like to see what a year or so in the cellar would do to this beer.

Photo of mdwalsh
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had this at Indulge first, never really wanted to until then, I've been dieing to get this. Batch no. 8944

A: Blackity black black black. Poured like motor oil with legs. This thing almost got up and crawled away. There's not real head, and no active carb, and thus no lacing. Holding this up to the SUN and I'm not getting any light. I just wish it had a bit more head.

S: Dark sweet fruit and mildly roasted malt. Burnt sugar and caramel is great. It isn't a too strong of a scent, but it's there. Not overly complex nor simple, just right. No hops, of course.

T: The burnt sugar really takes over and the fruit takes a backseat. The caramel-toffee chocolate -I almost say fudge, is great. There isn't coffee, which is awesome. Usually, I don't like RIS right right off the bat. This one, I would.

M: Like drinking chocolate syrup. That's about it. Flat and smooth.

D: One is fine, wouldn't want too many more than that and it wouldn't be great in all situations.

Photo of mikedashg
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a little watery black with a very thing dark tan head that disapears pretty quickly

S- Nice dark chocolate and coffee and roasted malt flavor

T- Pretty much same as nose. Hot alcohal content is not hidden. Very warming. Fairly prominent in your face bittersweet/dark/chocolate/coffee/roasted malt flavor. Pretty aggressive beer as far as hotness and bitterness goes. Bitter finish that stays on your pallet longer after you have had your sip.

M- Low to moderate carbonation. OK body. Gets creamier as it warms up.

D- Fairly good example of style. A pretty good beer. Nothing oustanding though.

Me thinks I'd rather have a Stone IRS or a Ten Fidy though.

Photo of thekanna
3.95/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pitch dark with a very thin head and a somewhat oily texture.

S: Roasted coffee beans, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla extract, complementing a dark roasted malt character.

T: Strong roasted malts, coffee and chocolate. The roasted flavor really shines through, although it is lacking a (somewhat expected) smokiness. Faint sweetness counters a bitter note at the end.

M: Big and smooth; heavy as anything.

D: Nice to sip, but it's so heavy that I found myself taking a long time to finish the bottle.

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

12 ounce bottle poured into a Piraat glass.

Nice and dark with a fine, two finger head cascading down the sides of the glass. The head is slowly diminishing, but still sticking around pretty well...and clinging to the sides of the glass.

Smells of vanilla, chocolate, dates, dark-roasted coffee (on the sweeter side), licorice (anise), cake batter. The alcohol is fairly present in the nose, but seems to be mixing well with the other flavors coming out here. It smells like a big stout...

Taste is bitter-sweet, with serious chocolate and coffee notes. Roasted malts, roasting coffee...tastes like a super sweet espresso. The alcohol really comes through here as it goes down...but it really isn't overpowering. Not sure I could handle another one of these right away, but it is drinkable.

Overall, this seems like a typical imperial stout style...and I think it's a pretty good representation of the style. Not too outlandish, but not bad by any means. It's just good. Check it out.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 5,064 ratings.