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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.

4,520 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,520
Reviews: 1,880
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 388
Gots: 965 | FT: 77
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: 4,520 | Reviews: 1,880 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Melchizedek
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Oh goodness. Black, black, black - pours like motor oil, builds a solid brown head, and sucks light out of its surroundings.

Aroma is BOLD, full of powdered chocolate, a touch of hop, alcohol, caramel, spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove maybe?), dark fruit, bread... in the mouth, rich, full, creamy, with intense roasted, toasted grains pushing aggressively to the fore. Survive the onslaught and you can start to catch the flavors of the aroma, especially the caramel/chocolate, while alcohol makes itself known and warms things up. A bit of sweetness moderates the bitter and almost harsh flavor profile (alcohol helps with this). Some nutty and maybe yeasty notes round out the finish.

I can't say much bad about this beer, except that you don't want to try to taste anything afterwards. I'm in love. I wish I could get this locally - I'd certainly try cellaring it if I had the means, as I think the mellowing effects of a bit of aging would enhance the subtler notes that are for now a bit hard to pick out from the flavor onslaught.

Melchizedek, Dec 03, 2006
Photo of EvilKeith
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Expedition Stout poured thick and utterly black in color. Light does not pass through this one. It may actually bend light like a black hole, for all I know. The head was creamy and camel in color. The glass was coated with a heavy sheet of thick and sticky lace. It was a real treat for the eyes.
The bouquet was incredible! There was everything you could ask from a Russian Imperial Stout. There was rich dark chocolate notes, dark roasted coffee beans, hints of prune, a deeply roasted character with subtle traces of hardwood smoke and a light grassiness from the hops.
The taste was pretty much dead on with the scent with the dark chocolate coming across more as bitter sweet cocoa. The hops added a pleasant light bitterness and exquisite balancing. The alcohol makes it self known, spicy and a warming on the swallow.
The body was full with a fine tight carbonation and the mouthfeel was Oh So creamy!

I do not often give out 5’s in my reviews. The bouquet left me little choice, the smell was truly exceptional.
If the alcohol had been a touch less overt my numbers for taste and drinkability would have been a little higher.

A year or two of cellaring might make this my first 5 across the board. I will have to revisit this one and re-review in a year. I hope I can wait that long.

EvilKeith, Dec 02, 2006
Photo of IntriqKen
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%

Feloniousmonk said, "this pours dark as sin".
Yep...the poet writes and the blind man sees.
Pours motor oil black but not as thick with a tan half finger that melts to a ring of sticky lacing.
Aromas are coffee, dark chocolate and a hint of dark raisins.
Taste is far more complex.
Dark fruits...mostly dark raisins and prunes,....coffee...not quite espresso but very, very dark and rich...bittersweet chocolate...a touch of vanilla....then you swallow and it's all alcohol warmth without the nasty taste going down. Aftertaste is chocolate covered raisins with a touch of bitter hops drying your mouth.
Someone PLEASE get the brothers another bottle or two to taste and hopefully enjoy this time.
This is wonderful and I can only think they had bad bottles.

IntriqKen, Nov 26, 2006
Photo of JohnnyM2002
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%

Sampled from a 12 oz bottle, poured into a snifter at exactly 52 degrees.

A - Beautiful milk chocolate head sits atop a black-licorice body. Extremely thick pour that led to the creamy head almost escaping my snifter. Wonderful colors.

S - Sweet and fruity dark chocolate wallops the nose. A side of smoke on the side...

T - A lot of flavors working very well together. Immediately, the smoked aspect comes out in the taste as it blends very well with burnt chocolate and toffee. At first, the alcohol didn't really make itself known, but it could only hide for so long. Joining the alcohol sensation is a combination of dry and sweet fruits.

M - Very thick, but goes down very easily. The complex flavors make for a little tough finish - by that I mean you don't really know what to think. I smelled one thing, tasted another at first, then got a completely different flavor on the way down. This isn't a bad thing though - the beer is very well put together by all means.

D - I'm very glad I was finally able to get my hands on a few of these, but I can honestly say it was worth the wait. Instantly became one of my favorites from Bell's. How do they keep producing top-quality stouts? Keep them coming!

JohnnyM2002, Nov 26, 2006
Photo of Vancer
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%

Well, here we go: what a start – pours like used motor oil, black as nite, yum! Just a thin ring of tan lace around the edge of my paper cup. This brew has a viscosity level not normally seen!

TONS of chocolate malt, coffee, anise, plums, raisons – a fruit blender of aromas. Bold coffee, burnt charcoal/toast start in the quaff, but a bit too sugary sweet in the finish. Also pops with an alcohol medicine finish.

Dry, powdery and gritty brew, full bodied rich and thick. Just too darn syrupy for a real long drinker. It really needed more hops to balance this bad boy out.

Vancer, Nov 21, 2006
Photo of doppelmeup
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%

Many thanks to shbobdb for this fine brew.

Pours like thick motor oil into a wine glass. (That's all I have, as I'm reviewing this from a hotel room). Daark cocoa head slowly builds, but doesn't remain for long. Black as night. One of the darkest beers I've ever seen. Winey legs slowly slide down the glass, with specks of foam dotting the outside of the glass.

Not a real strong smelling RIS. Definite roasted malts, slightly sweet. Slightly musty. Maybe some chicory?

Taste is strong on dark roasted coffee. Quite a bit of hop bitterness, and the alcohol is quite well hidden. Roasted malts prevail.

Definite bitter aftertaste, which sticks around just long enough to make sure know you've had really big beer. Chewy mouthfeel, with a surprisingly clean finish.

Overall, this is a really big, really solid RIS. It would be hard to drink more than one at a time, but IMO this rivals, if not surpasses, Stone RIS and the other big stouts for the top of the list.

doppelmeup, Nov 17, 2006
Photo of schusterbauer
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%

a -- "none more black." but really, absolutely black, limp dark brown head doesn't last long.

s -- alcohol, charcoal, roasted/burnt malts, chocolate, soy sauce, more alcohol

t -- there's so much going on in this beer that you can find something new with every sip: heavy on the charcoal/smoked/roasted flavors, chocolate ice cream, raisins, licorice, soy sauce, lemon peel(?); flavor coats your mouth and lasts for a long time after each sip

m -- THICK. melted milkshake thick.

d -- i don't think that drinkability is really the word. the beer seems to dare you to sip more, in all of its ruggedness; sometimes the challenge is a pleasure, sometimes it's a chore.


I had previously given this beer across the board 5s, based on a previous sample -- a bottle that was about 18 months old. The above is based on a fresh sample. While I'm sure that the aged sample didn't deserve anywhere near the perfect 5, it was notably better, and I'll be curious to review again, with another aged sample.

schusterbauer, Nov 16, 2006
Photo of HopsHops
5/5  rDev +18.2%




F@ckin Expidition STOUT YES!!!! IN YOUR FACE!!!

5... all around....dark chocolate love...sweet dark blackness

in your FAce!!! LOL this is how it is f@ck the rest i hope this review doesnt get revoked because it is truely passionate...

as far as drinkability i can obviously drink alot of it F@ck it...lol this is some awesome imperial stout...ffsITS STRONG u are missing out if u ignore the fuckin price....i was blind but now i see...Again, in your face...this one is unbelievable i will be buying it if itys in the store again...icant wait

HopsHops, Nov 14, 2006
Photo of k75
5/5  rDev +18.2%

Damn - just incredible

this stout pours inky black hole black with a big tawny brown head

nose is of complex chocolates and licorice mixed with black strap molasses

taste is big and rich - dark chocolates, black licorice, molasses

the ABV is hidden very well ( at first anyway ) nightcap luxury stout !

finish is long and satisfying - all things dark and luscious

a true masterwork of brewing.


k75, Nov 14, 2006
Photo of Matthew
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%

12 oz bottle, 2006 vintage.
Pours an incredibly viscous dirty motor oil black that seems to slowly slide down the side of my glass. Very dark dirt colored airy and bubbly head that settles to only leave a slight ring around the outer edges of the top of the beer. When I give the beer a swirl the beer coats my glass with a dirty/yellowy coating that slowly seeps back down into the rest of the beer.
Bitter sweet chocolate is the first aroma I notice, warm and sticky dark chocolate brownies, rich espresso, slight hint of grassy hops right before the boozy alcohol reaches my nostrils.
Big bitter warming hop/alcohol bite at first, followed by dark roasted coffee, that slowly fades as I swallow to leave me with sweet chocolate and brown sugar. The hoppiness that is percievable in a beer this big and this rich is surprising. The alcohol is certainly there but blends nicely with the sweetness that is present.
The mouthfeel on this beer is incredibly rich, thick, and slick on the palate. Minimal carbonation, just leaves a silky smoothness that is packed with rich flavors as it goes down.
This is a great sipping beer, really packs a punch of flavor (and alcohol) but is pretty drinkable.

Matthew, Nov 14, 2006
Photo of terrabyte
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%

Pours an extremely inky black with a medium brown head.

Smells sweet like brownies and cherries.

Flavor is quite strong. Licorice, cherry, liquor, sherry, prunes, dates, cream, and a hint of chocolate. Breathing out trhough the nose, , you can feel a slight alcoholic burn. There is some chocolate bitterness, also.

Mouthful is certainly thick and syrupy. Oily and slick.

Drinkability could be a pain for some. High alcoholic content, sweetness, and thickness.

I really enjoyed this beer. A little sweet for me, but very enjoyable. I'm quite surprised by some of the reviews stating this beer's high ABV being a turnoff, yet enjoying certain Quads that I found higher in alcoholic flavor. I'm guessing that what the real deal here is that they enjoyed the flavor of those beers more, and I enjoy this beer's combination of flavors instead. What gets you through a big beer? For me, it was this beer's fun flavors.

terrabyte, Nov 05, 2006
Photo of jhammerly
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%

I purchased this in the summer of 2005. It was too much for me during the warmer months at the time. Thanks to BA, I learned a bit about being able to let beers sit for awhile. Otherwise this beer might not have been truly appreciated.

This pours like motor oil with a nice tan head about an inch or so thick. The head disappeared within minutes, leaving a thin ring around the glass that left some lacing with each sip. Burnt, roasted, and alcohol aromas hit the nose equally. Espresso-like flavor balanced with a touch of alcohol that warms the soul on a chilly evening. Despite the strength of this stout, it handles very smoothly. Excellent.

jhammerly, Oct 25, 2006
Photo of cafemondegar
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%

This is a take it or leave it beer. You can either love it or hate it. That is because is a strong, in your face, it-is-what-it-is beer. Poured with minimal rich caramel head, not too high. Has the sweet smell of burnt caramel. It tastes delicious with a hint of sweetness and has a thick, dry mouthfeel that lasts a while. It is rather expensive, but I don't regret having spent the money. Although American style IPAs are my usual choices, I can see my wife & me spending quite a few evenings with this Russian Imperial Stout this winter.

cafemondegar, Oct 25, 2006
Photo of scott
4.8/5  rDev +13.5%

12 oz vintage 2005
I originally had this a year ago from a different package and thought it was much too big, even though I liked it. At the time, I had enough beers in me that I didn't respect it.
Silky black motor oil, without an aggresive head.I let it sit and witnessed a very lovely tannish three finger head grow like a chia-pet.
Monster burnt chocolate espresso flavor that goes lovely with my braised chicken dinner. The smell is inviting, and the taste completely delivers. Alcohol is masked nicely, but I'm warmed on the first snow of the season quite pleasantly.
I appreciate the silky smooth deliverance of a uniquely bold drink that finishes almost dry. Good job on this one.
Buy this knowing you own one of the best stouts available, and it keeps on giving.

scott, Oct 23, 2006
Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%

The pour alone supports the hype on this brew. This was poured from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass and acquired from Shbobdb via trade. The liquid is a thick syrup like opaque black that sticks to the sides of the glass. The head in a finger or two depending on the pour, it is also dark chocolate colored and quite sudsy.

The smell is burnt coffee, dark and robust. A slight sweet tone to the malt and light alcohol lifting through.

The taste is of burnt toast and extra dark concentrated espresso. As it warms alcohol, chocolate and fruit flavors are released. By far this beer is best served warmer then cooler. I would say it is near perfect at 60+ deg.
The mouthfeel is full, thick, coating and penetrating, the carbonation is good, nothing out of order here.

Drinkability is top notch, this is by far a leeding example of the style. Sure have another. I wish I had more, thanks Shbobdb, Prosit und Zum Wohl, MK

MuenchenerKindl, Oct 22, 2006
Photo of bwyker
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%

Pours a massively chunky pitch black, with a mud tinted light head speckled with red bubbles. Foam settles immediately to a ring of dirty lacing and pockets of bubbles in the center of the glass. Huge punches of chocolatey roasted malts and alcohol. Taste, well I took a bite and chewed on it…like an alcohol soaked piece of dark chocolate cake with molasses icing. It feels like it was brewed with roofing tar. Immensely chunky mouthfeel. Drinkabilty was not so high, as the alcohol is a bit too noticeable. However, a great after-dinner treat.

bwyker, Oct 20, 2006
Photo of Osiris9588
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%

Based on a 3oz from a tasting at Spagio Cellars in Columbus. The color is pure motor oil, with a weak chocolate milk head. The nose is comprised of sweet aromas--chocolate, molassass, licorice, and something alcoholic that resembles bug spray.

The state consists of chcolate, licorice, vanilla, cream sherry, coffee in the finish, and maybe just a whisper of hops.

The mouth is complex, sweet and creamy in the middle, and features a drier sherry finish--very lively on the palate, despite a lack of carbonation. Probably wouldn't want to drink a six pack in a sitting, but is an unique example of the style.

Osiris9588, Oct 20, 2006
Photo of phisig137
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Thanks to TheManiacalOne for the trade.

Undated bottle pours an incredibly dark black, that lets no light through whatsoever, even around the edges. One finger head falls quickly, leaving nothing behind at all.

Aroma filled with chocolate, coffee, and booze. Rum soaked raisons, kaluha liquor, and dark bakers chocolate aromas are huge. Smells pretty good to me.

Flavor here is massive. Big time chocolate flavors, backed by good amount of espresso. Fairly roasty, but not astringent at all. Bit of alcohol burn. Mouthfeel is very heavy and smooth, due to light carbonation. Drinkability is decent, but alcohol shows through a bit much.

I really enjoyed this beer, and thanks again to TheManiacalOne for sending it to me. I think it could use a bit of age, and wish I had another for the cellar. Overall a great imperial stout, that can hang with some of the best of them.

phisig137, Oct 17, 2006
Photo of PeatReek
4.68/5  rDev +10.6%

Reviewing a bottle from batch ___, packaged in April 2005. Sweet. Pours deep, opaque black as always, oily thick with a thin rim of deep brown head. Smell is dried-fruity, like raisins and figs and a leathery savoriness. Distinct aroma of home-baked bread crust... hm. The first thing to strike me on taking a sip is how incredibly THICK this beer is. It's like drinking syrup, but not cloyingly sweet. An interesting effect. The sip starts with the same prune / raisin elements as in the nose, followed by a round, Port-style alcohol warmth. Finishes with a prominent sweetness, well balanced by the mellow carbonation. Aftertaste is a profoundly dry, dark chocolate flavor with a roasty-charcoal aspect.

Wow. Just... wow. A tremendously complex, deeply delicious beer. Makes Wordwide Stout taste like a pile of puke! Though to be fair, I don't think I've ever aged a bottle of World Wide Stout for 18 months.

PeatReek, Oct 16, 2006
Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.53/5  rDev +7.1%

Pours a syrupy black with just a thin layer of espresso crema-brown head. The aroma of roasted malts, alcohol, and rich coffee fills the nose, preparing the mouth for a dark flavor explosion. Rich and smooth, this beer is filled with dark roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, and the sweet, slick bite of alcohol.

This is the perfect snow day beer -- even if I'm tasting it a couple months early. I'm going to have to stock up for the cold winter...

RockyTopHeel, Oct 09, 2006
Photo of jcdiflorio
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%

This beer was cellared for 3 yrs. When I first drank this beer,it seemed like it needed to age. Every couple mounths I drank one, thet got better and better and better.

I poured this beer into a large tulip glass,it was black,opaque,there was a mocha ring around the glass.The head didn't even cover the top of the beer.
The aroma was sweet,molassas, raisney,chocolatety,diacetyl,very complex.
The taste was of smoke,bitter chockolate,dates,raisney,very fruity,bitternote tones.A very complex taste,also.
the mouthfeel was medium to thick,chewey,felt velvety on the tounge.The warming effect of the alcohol in the mouth at the finish.
A dessert beer,can only be sipped.A port-like beer with lots of aromas and exploisons of flavor in the mouth. A very interesting beer that seems to better with age.

jcdiflorio, Oct 07, 2006
Photo of ElGordo
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Thought I'd break this out for review #500. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Consistency while pouring goes from a thick stout consistency to motor oil to chocoloate pudding by the end of the bottle. Body is pitch black and very thick, topped by a huge, sturdy, creamy brown head that likely could support the weight of the bottle cap.
Huge aroma of roasted dark and chocolate malts is evident as soon as the cap is popped and just continues to build. A whiff or two of sweet molasses and funky, salty peat are mixed in with the malt.
Palate is huge - rich, roasted, chocolatey malt, with notes of molasses, chestnut, and maple. I think I noted some scotch whisky in there, too, but that may have just been the high alcohol level coming through. Beautifully creamy body is like a beer milkshake. The creaminess strangely subsides to become more like a dry stout right before the swallow, then reappears in the throat.
Contrary to what others have said, I think this is remarkably drinkable for how big a beer it is. Sure, I wouldn't want more than one bottle, but that's not the point. I savor every drop of the 12 oz bottle and end up very satisfied. An all-around amazing beer.

ElGordo, Oct 05, 2006
Photo of orfeu
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%

Knowing that I've got six more of these scheduled for delivery tomorrow (along with several other awesome MI brews, courtesy of BA hoppymeal), I decided to crack open this bottle I received in a trade from BA nflmvp last summer. Poured into a 17-ounce snifter, Expedition Stout is viscous and tar-black. The ghost of a coffee-colored foam cap appears for a brief moment, then is gone, leaving only a nascent tan ring around the glass. Deep chocolate aromas emerge at first sniff; then scents of dark Bing cherries soaked in anejo rum along with a slight coffee aroma as well as a heady cabernet character. The taste starts off with bitter Belgian chocolate bar flavors -- at least 75% cocoa -- and dark fruits (plums, cherries, blackberries) all drunkenly swimming in a bourbon bath. Then -- and this is my favorite part -- there is the most wonderful roasted coffee finish, thick and damn near burnt it's roasted so dark. Lovely vinous aftertaste. Appropriately heavy on the palate, but incredibly silky overall. Low carbonation, dryness from alcohol content, but the booze has melded nicely (I think this bottle may be a little over a year old). This is the first Russian Imperial Stout I've had in a few months, and I certainly feel welcomed back home. Bell's brewed the hell out of this one. Easily one of the finest representations of the style in the world. Exceptional.

orfeu, Oct 05, 2006
Photo of Ego
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%

muchos gracias to my main pimp biggie E-pseja for this little treat smuggled on over from the midwest during his latest sojourn to see the family (aka an excuse to by beer and go to 3floyds...).

an expeditiously designed bottle to be sure but alas this beer will only have one more expedition, right into my eager mouth and stomach. parting is such sweet sorrow but a beer left unopened is pure tragedy (this means you dan, you better start drinking some of your damn beers already!) ahem, where was I?
this is bee-atch #7251 (2/25/6)
wow, what a 'fro' on this beer (and I left my hair pick at the office...)! deep chocolate head of about 1/4 a finger, the head dissapates rather quickly into an Oring and this thing stares at you... like one big, bad ass black eye... this has the legs you would expect from someting packing 11 in the ABV pants. the color? tar? oil? asphalt at midnight during the 6 months in alaska where there is no sun... yeah, something like that. a good looking RIS, I'm psyched.

chocolate rum raisins soaked in alcohol, coffee notes with a deep cocoa mystique drawing you in like the pizza guy in porno movies, this is deep and dark like nel carter's... never mind, it's deep and dark with hints of dark fruits but the domination is laid down by the cocoa powder mixed in with the alcohol. perhaps to some the alcohol might be a detriment but I think it works here, kind of like goose island's bourbon county stout, granted it is not as boozy as that one in the nose imo.

taste et al...
thick and oily on the mouth, it leaves behind a slick syrup snail trail across the toungue, this is a touch hot alcohol wise, it is a hint out of balance in that regard and takes some acclimation to move past that detriment and enjoy the darker riches offerred here on this journey through 12 ounces. when held in the mouth there is an absolutely lovely smoke flavor (well, burnt really, as in burnt beyond recognition, you know like a great white concert). Once you get over the alcohol this is one to savor (a definite sipper... of course). The flavors are assertive as they are in the nose. The mouthfeel is nearly perfect for me, nice and thick, total viscosity (like velvet soaked in rum). The more I sip this the more I like it, definitely give it a go at cellar temp.

I would probably have this on hand if it were local/available. Definitely needs to mellow out a bit in the cellar but alas I was awarded only one bottle. I would love to age this for a couple of years and lay it up against Stone/Raspy/Rogue etc. I think it can hang with those boys. thanks again eric, next time you are in illinois I have a request...

Ego, Oct 05, 2006
Photo of TheBungyo
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%

Props to Faro for trading this to me.

This is darker than a pit! Very little head, but what there is looks like the froth on top of a chocolate shake. Nose is full of cocoa and espresso ... maybe a little molasses and chocolate syrup as well.

Bruce Campbell might say the taste is groovey! Very big on chocolate, like dark fudge flavored with espresso. There's also some nice hop bitterness going on.

Whoa, talk about slick mouthfeel. Carbonation is low and and makes quite a minimal appearance. This is thick, rich and creamy ... I LOVE it!

If I could buy this again and again I definitely would. This is extremely delicious. I hope every stout lover out there gets a chance to try this.

TheBungyo, Oct 01, 2006
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,520 ratings.