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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.

5,367 Ratings

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Ratings: 5,367
Reviews: 1,996
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.61%
Wants: 447
Gots: 1,328 | FT: 99
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: 5,367 | Reviews: 1,996
Photo of bigfnjoe
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Batch 9971.

A- pours jet black with a one finger brown head. Would like to have seen more of a head with how vigorous this pour was...I've heard things about the carbonation of this, and now I'm a little worried.

S- roasted malts, licorice, brown sugar...odd that I'm getting no coffee or chocolate out of this. It is what it is...a departure from the normal stouty aroma. Interesting

T- very bitter chocolate and coffee, with a slightly sweet finish...the booziness is coming through a little bit as well. Really strong flavors...might need some time to mellow out a little

M- really, really chewy. Super thick. About what you'd expect from a RIS

D- I've got a couple of bottles aging, I wonder what that would to do the flavors in this one...I think I'd like it a little better with the age on it

Photo of nhindian
3.86/5  rDev -9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

Batch 9971, bottled on September 13, 2010.

A - Pours a viscous, black motor oil black that culminates in a visually impressive, 3-fingered, dark mocha head. Retention is fantastic, and if it weren't for how slowly this beer drinks, it would last for more than half of the life of the beer. Body is pitch black, with only the slightest bit of chocolate highlights appearing at the bottom of the snifter, where it's at its thinnest. Lots of beautiful lacing as it drinks.

S - The nose is very sweet, full of malts and chocolate goodness. Also some appearances of thick molasses, raisins, and licorice. Throughout the whole nose there is a lot of alcohol presence. Overall a thick and heavy smell that is a bit intimidating.

T - First impression and all I can think of is that this is thick, chewy, and comes with wave after wave of flavor. The malts have a sweet, burnt flavor that contributes a nice, robust coffee flavor. Next comes some bittersweet chocolate and the dark fruits. These fruits help give a nice sugar characteristics that complements the high alcohol heat that this beer currently exhibits. A nice touch of hops at the end to complement the alcohol.

M - Mouthfeel is thick thick thick. And syrupy. Even after a few minutes between sips, all of the flavors still dance on the palate and there's a noticeable coating on the mouth. A long lasting bitterness in the finish resembling that of bittersweet baker's chocolate.

D - Drinkability is moderate. Even though this beer screams complexity, it's just a bit too much in terms of mouthfeel and alcohol. Being a little over 2 months old, it's still a bit hot for a RIS, so I can only assume the heat will dissipate after a few more months.

Overall, this beer seems like a more robust, thicker, more alcoholic version of Storm King, which lasts with me throughout the experience. I'm hoping some of the bitterness will round out more as it ages.

Photo of jrsully77
4.52/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This didn't strike me as better than other RIS

Dark richness, coffee, chocolate

Excellent, the perfect blend for an imperial stout. The heavy ABV is masked completely. Heavy coffee and roasted malts. I picked up milk and dark chocolate.

Thick and satisfying

For a RIS this might be the smoothest I have ever had.

Photo of mweso2000
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours black with a tan head that quickly goes down. There is not much head to speak of. Aroma is malty with hints of chocolate, toffee and caramel. The alcohol slightly stings my nose. Paired with Thanksgiving dessert of apple pie and pumpkin pie. Tastes go well together. Slightly bitter with a taste of bittersweet dark chocolate. Coffee tones work into the mouth. I expected this to be a little tougher to drink with a 10% abv, but the alcohol is not overwhelming and drinks quite easily. Probably not a beer I would have more than two of though.

Photo of chalsk
4.6/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark black color with a caramel colored head. Has an aroma of toffee, caramel, and hints of dark fruit. Yeah, this is a good stout. You have the sweet hitting the front of the tongue, the bitters on the back with hints of smoke. You can also taste sweet caramel and some coffee/toffee flavor. Ultra complex, but everything is work so well. A rich beer. Love it.

Photo of liamt07
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle courtesy of TMoney2591, via the Support Your Team BIF. Thanks for this one, dude. Batch 9435, 341ml bottle into a snifter. Almost a year on this one at this point.

Pours a heavy and thick black with a short milk chocolate brown head, both thick and creamy. Tons of beautiful lace. So much in the nose in terms of dark fruits (figs, plums), licorice, molasses and a touch of milk chocolate. Molasses and dark fruits lead the charge on the tongue, and flows effortlessly into some bitter dark chocolate and dry coffee beans. Finishes slightly dry as a result, full and syrupy with a ton of body. Excellent mouthfeel and outstanding drinkability for the alcohol content. One of the best I've had, easily.

Photo of TheFightfan1
3.38/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter. Opague black with an extremely thick coca-cola colored heading. Stays around for a little white. Great lacing at first then turns flat.

Smell is more or so very ordinary. Heavy roasted aroma with a decent backing of chocolate. No heavy alcohol detected.

Taste is insanely hoppy. Something that caught me off guard for a stout. Black licorice and a heavy warming booziness that burns the tummy.Alcohol is not very well hidden.

Mouth is rough. A bit chewy and thick like molasses. Full bodied for sure but not too smooth.

A decent RIS. A bit overhyped IMO.

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

S - bottle

A - really really black. About the darkest car oil possible.

S - 30 minutes in....smells like a hoppy fig! Love it.

T - like motor oil, which isn't a bad thing for a beer that's going to only (in my opinion) get better as mellowed out a few yrs from now. The taste is really easy, but not easy to do a lot of. In my opinion at the point, I do want some more though. I really dig Expedition Stout...its more of me not being able to completely understand this beer with the great complexity it has at this time.

M - thick mouthfeel, even on sips...Good Carbonation for this beer. Tastes GREAT overall for sure this season!!

D - not more than 1 in a sitting, but can't wait to taste some with 3-4 yrs on them.

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

Over the years, as my tastes evolved, I think this is one of the beers that's seen the greatest falloff in palatability to me. The first time I reviewed this, I gave it a 4.8 or 4.85. Batch 8728 from Sept 2008.

Jet black with a dense, very dark brown (almost Hunahpu's-like) that falls off to a ring, leaving a little lace. As always, very motor oil-like. The nose is intense. Licorice and soy are most noticeable, and there's dark chocolate, plenty of roasted malt with a firm, grainy bitterness on the back end. Molasses is also quite noticeable. Alcohol is *very* well hidden here.
The palate is quite gargantuan. Massive waves of flavors roll through, with licorice and molasses being most noticeable. This is closer to the British interpretation, with the only sweetness present being roasty, bitter and grainy without much caramel or brown sugar, both which seem to be embraced by more brewers because they make for more drinkable beers. Thankfully, the soy that I picked up on the nose isn't as intense on the palate. Fresh, I remember this being pretty hoppy, but 2+years has given this time to mellow out and the hops have pretty much disappeared. Quite sweet without being cloying (in no small part, thanks to the lower levels of crystal malt?) A little ashy as well. Again, a touch of soy appears on the finish with some licorice. Full in body with soft carbonation, this beast is a treat on the palate, but ultimately, too intense to be drinkable in large quantities. Still, this is an intense sipper and a rewarding one.

**Original review dated 01-23-2008 03:11:43**
12oz bottle (Batch # 8145) poured into my Duvel tulip. Poured like motor oil

A: Jet black with a dense 1 1/2 finger head. Good retention and lacing

S: Roasted malts, dark chocolate and some hops right up front. Definite vanilla presence. Hints of alcohol. Excellent! As it warms up, a bitterness reminiscent of licorice is apparent.

T: Damn, this is one tasty beer. Massive chocolate, espresso up front with a wave of creamy vanilla. A smorgasbord of all flavors dark - roasted malt, molasses, licorice. The finish is mildly bitter, with a touch of hops and some licorice.

M: Soft, creamy and viscous. Perfect

D: This goes down easier than it should and i will pay for it if i have more than a couple. In any case, this one's near perfect.

Get it. This is a new favorite of mine

Photo of Chaney
3.9/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This brew was a tough one to review, because I consider it one of the "I just saw the light" beers that turned me onto craft beers years ago. I still remember where I was the first time I tried this brew.

I had this on tap (and on tap for the first time!) at the new Pizza Paradiso in Old Town Alexandria.

A: Poured the blackest black of any black you will ever see! The almost two finger head (yikes!) was roughly the same color as black coffee, with about a tablespoon of milk. I didn't have any night vision goggles handy, so I couldn't see if there were any bubbles lurking or not.

S: Bitter, dark chocolate, roasted (almost charred) barley, and a hint of licorice.

T: Did I mention bitter chocolate? Jeez, this was one bitter mutha! As a matter of fact, this brew needed more sweetness to help balance some of that "pure grain coffee ground" quality that I found a bit offensive. Still, the thick body on this sucker should be studied by every novice craft brewer on the planet.

M: Thick, but not syrupy. The lacing was fairly subdued, considering the brew's octane level. The carbonation was good here, and I didn't find the booze offensive in the slightest (although others on BA definetely have).

D: It really pains me to no end to state this, but I feel there are at least five other Imperial Stouts in the immediate area that blow this out of the water. Still, I totally respect this beer.

Photo of 05Harley
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch # 9435 which was bottled on 11/11/09

Purchased through West Lakeview Liquors, Chicago

Price - $17.49/6-pack

Appearance: Pours pitch black like motor oil with a light brown creamy head. A decent amount of lacing stays behind just to remind you of where you began your experience.

Smell: A heavy blast of dark chocolate, holy sh_t! Need I say more, chocolate..

Taste: Big dark chocolate taste with some roastiness. A touch of molasses and coffee grounds.

Mouthfeel: Chewy with a heavy body and an oily feel. Alcohol warms things up in the middle which is not a surprise @ 10.5%. Not very smooth due to the heat. Could use a little more carbonation. Finishes bitter and dry.

Drinkability: This one's drinking damn good this time of year and with some age on it. Pretty good balance. Definitely worth putting some cellar time on it. It's just too hot for me when it's fresh.

**Update 12/15/11
I've been drinking some 08's right now and it's drinking like an A+ beer. The heat has settled down and it's just fantastic with a couple of years on it.

Photo of Meerkey
4.54/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Extremely dark. Almost black. Raw umber? Completely opaque, even when held up to the light.

S: Dark chocolate and coffee. Bitter. Malt. Very strong. Smells quite good.

T: Whoa. Creamy and sweet. A lot of the chocolate and coffee, the alcohol is present as well. Really complex.

M: Creamy and smooth, with carbonation and alcohol to kick in to keep it interesting. Bitter aftertaste.

D: This is wonderful. I recommend it.

Photo of thagr81us
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from tap into an imperial pint. Poured pitch black with a minimal amount of tan head. Maintains excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of roasted malt, chocolate, alcohol, and molasses. The flavor ws of roasted malt, chocolate, oatmeal, and alcohol. It had a heavy feel on the palate with low carbonation. Overall this was a very nice brew. The alcohol on it was very warming to say the least. Had a nice flavor and aroma to it. However, the aroma was very weak to start out but upon warming it was dominated by alcohol. This brew is a must try for any stout or boozy beer lover out there for sure.

Photo of Spider889
4.27/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Bodega. Probably the best offering there in recent memory.

This beer has about the best head retention I've seen outside of a Guinness Draught. Arrived with a solid 1 1/2 finger of head that receded to a 1/2 finger and remained that way the duration of the entire glass. When I finished my last sip, there was still a dollop of foam at the bottom of my glass. Left an extremely thick blanketing of lace wrapped around all sides of my glass. Black and heavy looking, the foam is the color of a dark coffee meringue, and has about the same consistency.

The smell didn't come through as much as the flavor and appearance did, but there's plenty of roasted malt aroma and faint hop bitterness in the nose.

This is a heavy and complex beer! You begin with loads of typical imperial stout flavors - roasted barley and bitter coffee. This leads into a creamy sweetness, reminiscent of their Double Cream Stout. This is followed by a nice spiciness lent by the hops, and it finishes very dry and bitter with earthy notes outlasting all else.

One of the chewiest beers I can remember, this is dry and sticky on the palate. A little hot but perfectly manageable. If the abv were any lower the ingredients would simply call the beer a pussy until it manned up and became stronger anyway. Drinkability is good, and is bumped up a notch because I will order this beer anytime it is available. Possibly my favorite Bell's offering at this point!

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

A - This one pours black with a thin brown head. There is no light able to pass through its body. The head left a bit of lacing as it fell.

S - It smells of roasted malts. There are also notes of coffee, chocolate, licorice, dark fruits, brown sugar, and a touch of alcohol. Smells great.

T - The chocolate and roasted malts come out first. Then, the flavors of molasses, licorice, dark fruits, and coffee come into play. There is also some hop and alcohol presence at the finish, which also has a bitterness to it.

M - This has a full body and low carbonation. It goes down nice and smooth, and also has a silky quality to it. There is also a warming sensation at the end of each drink.

D - I would say this is a pretty drinkable beer considering the ABV. It goes down nice and easy. This is a perfect beer for the colder months. This is a great RIS and I would recommend it to anyone. Great job Bells. Cheers.

Photo of EwaldEichstaett
3.27/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Wow, it looks like most love this one. I didn't think it was all that great. (review from some old notes, I would love to try it again and see if the opinion sticks):

Looks pretty standard, dark brown, crappy head. Smell and taste wise,I thought that it was simply dominated by roasted dark malts and it lacked the depth (for an RIS). There were some sweet fig or date like flavors in there which (strangely) reminded me of a dopplebock. However, it also had a strong alcohol presence overall... more than it should have.

The mouth-feel was too thick and coupled with the ABV, it did not go down very smoothly. The beer was also really syrupy. It proved to be much harder to drink that I would have liked.

Photo of devilben02
3.85/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle, I could tell that this one was a shade of dark brown, but it was as dark as can be, with a medium-dark brown head that clung tenaciously to the side of the glass. The aroma is interestingly different from many other imperial stouts, with an up-front alcohol character that seems like a licorice liqueur along with some underlying sweetness. The flavor is roasy, sweet, and almost tangy, featuring the same licorice character found in the aroma, with complementing characteristics of charred firewood and bitter chocolate. Texturally, it is mouth-filling and resinous, but not to the point of being syrupy.

Overall, although it is not potently boozy, the flavors are dense (but I wouldn't characterize them as "rich"), making it readily apparent that this beer is a force. I sipped it slowly and enjoyed it, but I don't know how often I would go back for more.

Photo of BigB415
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good stout. Poured black with dark brown head, good lacing. Had a little burn on the end that didn't make it 100% smooth but still good. I can oversee that since I'm used to it. Going to get another one soon and I'm going to age that one and see how it tastes.

Photo of Vdubb86
3.71/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass

This beer pours a deep darkness with a frothy stiff slow dissolving (if at all) tan foam that leaves beautiful lacing. The smell is oddly more hoppy than it is roasted. There is a bit of coffee in the back but not strong in the slightest. It's still a good aroma, but the mixture of hop and rum is a weird. The flavor is has oak, smokey chipotle pepper, with some booze. The booze is really the only off-putting part about the flavor. It could do well with some aging. There is a bitterness from the booze, but it still goes down real nice. If you sip it it drinks real well. Honestly it's good, but disappointing.

Photo of HitokiriNate85
3.51/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 9384, bottled in October, 2009.

A - Pitch black with a nice mocha cap that is surprisingly sticking around and giving off some nice lace as it sits for a couple minutes.

S - Lots of a sort of dry roastiness upfront. Some dark chocolate, but not nearly enough to provide any sort of backbone to the roast. There's something that's kinda leafy to it. It doesn't really come across as hoppy, but more earthy.

T - Now things are starting to pull together a bit. The smell wasn't too impressive, but this is helping. Huge roastiness upfront, with some dark chocolate behind it. Slightly sharp, but not nearly as much as when fresh. There are some fruit flavors as well, but the roastiness just carries over and tinges everything. Alcohol is nicely hidden at this point, and probably the best aspect of aging. It could really use some sweetness to provide some backing to all the roast and bitterness(which is moderate).

MF - Easily the best aspect of the beer. Thick, chewy, and coating, with a slight burst of carbonation.

D - At 10.5%, Expedition carries itself really well, which is definitely a benefit of aging for one year. However, it's kind of disappointing because it doesn't coalesce into a total package. This is the only bottle I put away last year, but I think I'll grab some this year with some to age for 2-3 years.

Photo of DrDemento456
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Looks like a hefty stout. Pitch black in color with a nice bubbly head.

S - Smells of Alcohol, slight coffee and chocolate. Man it smells good.

T - Really? Wow the ABV burn is high on this one! Taste of slight chocolate with a mild bitterness of coffee maybe a slight dark fruit which is covered by the Alcohol.

M - Very heavy. A sipper for sure.

D - Well the price is similar to Founders which seems a bit smoother but I did like it as an imperial stout. Heavy but good beer.

Photo of Star80
3.73/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Beer pours out a midnight black with a very dark brown head, some lacing. Smell is of dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, and some stale hops. Yep, might be a great candidate for cellaring, but I wish I could get a fresh hoppy sample, i.e. no date code. Anyway, taste is dark bittersweet chocolate, some hints of coffee/espresso, and some bitter leaf hop. Has a decent carbonation so its, fairly smooth....but I really wish the hops were still present in their fruity/spiceyness doing their thing. The taste still has a nice interplay and balance between the roasted malts and the bittering hop. Sooo, as you can tell I am not a fan of cellaring cause the hops lose their flavor and have that weird faded hops taste, like this beer has. Funny, too the label suggests cellaring, no thanks. I will have to take a few points off because I have no idea the freshness of this or any Bell's beers, so the best category to adjust would have to be drinkability, although if were fresher it would easily rate a "4" or higher, very smooth and quite drinkable for 10.5% abv! I think this beer would pair well with a Thanksgiving dessert or a crisp bar of Lindt 70% dark chocolate, ;-)

Photo of rka758
4.18/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Brewing (lot 9971) poured into SA perfect pint
Purchased for about $3 per

A: Pours a deep black with thin tan head.
S: Dark chocolate
T: Getting tastes of roated coffee and burnt chocolate.
M: This is THICK. Instantly coats your interior of your mouth.
D: This is good, very good, but a def. sipper. I want to drink this all night, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be a good idea for tomorrow me.

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

A - Pours a jet black color with a dark mocha, one finger head that has above average retention. There is very minimal lacing.

S = There are some semi-sweet chocolate smells along with some burnt malts. Very pungent and good.

T - There are burnt malts upfront with some dark fruits such as plum and fig. The aftertaste consists of burnt chocolate and coffee. Very nice.

M - Thick and creamy. Right along the lines for this style.

D - This is a sipper for sure but it's enjoyable all the way.

Photo of ne0m00re
4.37/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

10/13/10- Had a 12 oz bottle of this (Batch 9971).
A: Jet black with a nice caramel one-finger slow head that dies to a collar.
S: Caramel mocha, oatmeal barrel, whiskey alcohol.
T: Caramel, roast, chocolate, banana, raspberries, lingering burnt character.
M: Thicker, but nicely frothy.
D: Really good. I'd have a pint or two.

I'd recommend it.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,367 ratings.