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

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

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5,294 Ratings
no score

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Ratings: 5,294
Reviews: 1,979
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.61%
Wants: 447
Gots: 1,291 | FT: 93
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002

Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,294 | Reviews: 1,979 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of haddon
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

found this beauty on tap at The Lodge in Hilton Head.

pours a dark chocolate with a mocha head that dissipates fairly quickly.

aroma is not as strong as expected but some notes do show up as it warms: espresso, chocolate, coffee & hops

super rich & sweet flavors! dark chocolate, black cherry, toffee & caramel. alcohol warms as it goes down.

full body that is very rich and creamy. not much carbonation detected but fairly par for the class

because it is so rich and sweet, don't know if I would order a whole pint again... but couldn't think of a better after dinner drink to finish off a great evening!

Photo of GregoryVII
4.59/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Dark as night...I've wanted to use that line before, but it fits here, with a medium sized head that starts dark atop the beer and fades to caramel the closer it gets to the rim. The mouth feel is slick, smooth and oh so full. Malt dominates the aroma: roasted malt, dark chocolate, raisin, vanilla and sweet alcohol are all present. There are enough hops in the taste to balance, but they aren't a true player in the beer beyond grounding its more eccentric tendencies. Candied plum, chocolate, vanilla, bitter toast and a bit of rum round out the flavor notes for me. This is Bell's best beer for my money and a contender for any consideration given to Imperial Stouts.

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

Brought back this gem from my last trip to Kalamazoo.

Very dark black color, its like a black hole. Suck all the light around you! Nice head, brown and creamy. Intense aroma. Licorice and molasses. Very nice aroma that suggest the beer will be complex, full bodied and full of taste. I only miss some hops notes to be perfect. On the taste, it is crazy. I get some many things here its awesome. Intense taste. First its molasses and then it switch to chocolate with coffee. Then, the bitterness comes and lingers in the mouth for a good time. Very good if not exceptional! Each sip is a discovery for me.

Creamy in the mouth and full bodied. Warm. This is truly a sipper and a dessert beer.

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

Bottled in 1/08 thanks to Flandersned for letting me try this gem.

Dark dark look with some nice looking legs to it.

Heat, barleywine kinda smell to it, dark fruits, figs, carmalized dark fruits,

Sweet balanced taste, some chocolate, some toasty roastyness and cocoa. Excellent.

Good beer with some age on it, probably really good fresh too.

Photo of WeedKing4
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pours a dark black with a little bit of foam in the glass. Tastes of roasted dark chocolate and coffee with some dark fruits lingering in the background. For this being 10.5%, it goes down very damn smooth. This didn't blow me away, but it was pretty solid overall. I'm aging two more bottles until next winter. So i'm curious to how that tastes.

Photo of emmasdad
3.72/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, dark foreboding black color, impenetrable to the light, with an inch or so of dark brown foam on top. Tons of floaties in this one, quickly settle into a layer of sediment on the bottom. Aromas of rum soaked fruitcake, fig, prunes, plums and dark chocolate. Silky smooth on the palate, with more dark fruit, bitter coffee and cocoa powder. Some alcohol late.

Photo of aepb1
3.73/5  rDev -12%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Opaque black with a brown head

S- Chocolate and coffee! Very full and maybe some molasses in the end a bit

T- Chocolate and coffee show up in spades here too! A bit of hoppiness in the end

M- Creamyy and full, just something in the end that I hang up on... a bit of an alcohol feel

D- Very full! Can't have more than one with the acohol taste too... I can revisit it in another sitting though so it's got a decent drinkability

Photo of NewGeneric
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to paulieatworld for hooking it up.
Poured into my Delirium tremens tulip.

A: Pours an all-around opaque black with just the tiniest sliver of brown on the bottom edge. A full 2 fingers of foam dissipates quite slowly leaving tons of beautifully patterned lacing all over the glass. A semi-large mound of head lingers on top. Looks incredible.

S: Smells of luscious dark chocolate and perfectly roasted coffee beans. Traces of vanilla and molasses tease my olfactory senses as I continue to inhale the wonderful bounty of smooth satisfaction awaiting me.

T: Again, luscious dark chocolate and perfectly roasted coffee beans splatter all over my tongue and then melt into huge molasses and mild vanilla flavors. Missing just a little something to give it that 5, but still...wow.

M: Perfect. Well carbonated, but not overly so, and creamy and delightful and smooth and...and...and...oh...oh...oh...

D: I've had this before and don't remember it being this good. Well done Bell's! I will have to get some more and age at least one to see if it could possibly get better than it already is. Magnifico!!!

Photo of fropones
3.78/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a nice dark reddish brown, nearly black, with a 2.5 finger black cherry mocha head.

S - Chocolate, toffee, coffee, roasted malt.

T - More of that roasted malt, followed out by some toffee and chocolate. Hints of hops in the back, but this bottle has 6-9 months on it. Fairly astringent.

M - Nice carb, rich and creamy. Kind of chewy.

D - Not the best to drink on a hot summer day like today, but that was my choice. Alcohol not very well hidden and the astringency of the roasted malt is sort of bothering me more and more.

Photo of bevdaddy
4.08/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured in to a TK Tulip from batch 9512. picked up on a recent trip to Philly.

A - Pours out nice and black. In contrast to other reviews, I got a good almost two finger head on this beer which was a nice brown cocoa color.

S - Big whiff of roasted malts. Im getting equal parts chocolate and coffee. there may be a bit of caramel in there too. and i'm also getting some alcohol.

T - the first thing that comes to mind is the balance. all the bigger flavors (coffee, chocolate, some sweetness, roasted malt in general) are all even. nothing stands out too much. and i mean that in a good way. not detecting the hops until i concentrate - so a bit less than other reviews. definite "hotness" present but in a comforting way (less alcohol than i expected after smelling it).

M - medium to low carbonation. but not an issue. feels full and creamy - i really like the mouthfeel on this beer for this style.

D - i like the beer alot, but don't see myself having more than one. for the 10.5 ABV, they did a great job on smoothness, but it is a very rich beer.

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

This thing is uber dark brown with a dark tan head. There is absolutely no light getting through this one. Just pouring this gives a sense of its thickness. Alcohol is immediately apparent in the nose. It's also got some fig, prune, dates, and cherry rounding things out with vanilla and coffee. Dark fruits at first, which I really like. The finish is strong with espresso and leaves a taste somewhat akin to burnt toast. I also get bitter chocolate in the taste that was missing in the smell. Sure, the alcohol is present, but not as noticeable as in the scent. I love the rich, silky smooth feel. The level of carbonation matches up quite well.

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

Poured in to Duvel snifter. Batch # 9512.

A - Poured a thick silky black colour with a finger of dark chocolate-brown head. Appears to be very lightly carbonated.

S - Dark roasted malts - dark chocolate with some coffee. Some dark fruit and hops are present in the background. Seems to be a slight alcohol nose in the background as well, but that may be the hops.

T - Dark roasted malts with some dark fruit and sweet molasses. Not an overwhelming coffee or chocolate taste but but both are present in a more subdued fashion. Bitter hops are present as well that become more and more prominent as I continue to drink the beer. There is also a nice licorice taste in the background. A little bit hot.

M - Thick & silky. A perfect mouth feel for an imperial stout. Moderate carbonation.

D - A very nice RIS. Somewhat hot, but otherwise near perfect for a RIS. I am very interested to see how the other 5 of these age...

Photo of beertunes
3.78/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received in a recent trade, but I've forgotten with who, apologies and thanks! Bottle with code # 9554. Poured into 10oz glass. Poured solidly black with just under an inch of light brown head that had decent retention and lacing.

The aroma full and rich, lots of roasted and toasted scents. The flavors were also well executed examples of the style. In addition to the roasted flavors there was a nice little hop tang at the end.

The body was typically full, rich and tongue coating. Drinkability will vary depending on your personal taste for the style, 1 of these at a time is usually enough for me, YMMV.

Overall, a very good example of the style and better than some much more highly hyped versions. Worth trying when you see it.

Photo of Buebie
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into a small a snifter at the Muddy Pig this evening. Set me back only $5 for the 10 ounce pour. About an inch of brown head and great big clingy lace rings all the way down, with decent retention. Inky creamy texture, very smooth with little carbonation disturbance.
Pitch black with no light penetration.

Smell is very malty in a bakers chocolate and coffee, with a hint of swetness and creamy milk. Aromas though are a bit subdued as compared to the bottle.

Taste is filled with large amounts of chocolate and a little coffee as well as bitter grains and plenty of malt. This here is amlt bomb indeed. Through the finish a dry sweeping of earthy hops.

Awsome brew to have on cask.

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

12 oz bottle into a pint glass. batch 9554 - bottled on jan 27 2010.

color is an opaque dark brown, like used motor oil. forms a thin cap worth of dark brown head that gives me almost no lacing.

smells strongly of raisin and molasses. a little roasted malt comes through as does a slightly medicinal alcohol presence. taste follows with big burnt malt character, tobacco espresso, a little vanilla and a noticeable alcohol presence. bitterness hangs on the back of the tongue for quite a while. flavor wise this is much darker and more bitter than many of other ris i have tried.

mouthfeel is on the heavier side with a pleasing co2 profile.

pretty drinkable for being so strong and rich, but i doubt anyone could have more than 2 of these in a sitting. not my favorite ris, but it fits the style and i would certainly buy it again.

Photo of Arbitrator
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lightly chilled bottle into a glass (2009 vintage).

A: Pours a pitch black in the snifter, totally impenetrable. The head is an attractive inch of fluffy mocha-colored foam, with impressive retention for the ABV. Minutes later, it has collapsed onto thick clumps of scattered bubbles on top of the brew, with a heavy collar that deposits some lace.

S: Smoke, earth, and roasted grain jumps out at me; it reminds me of a cigar in some respects. Plenty of bittersweet chocolate and roasted coffee, with some anise, caramel, and toffee lurking beneath.

T: The taste progression is interesting. Where I usually find the malts jump out first, this one leads the way with smoke, earth, roasted grain, and some small citrus hop character. It remains smoky and earthy even as bittersweet chocolate develops in the flavor. I find anise throughout. One of my favorite non-barrel aged imperial stouts; the combination of smoke, roasted grain, and anise just does something for me.

M: Creamy, full-bodied. Very fine bubbles that pepper the tongue slightly and assist in the slight warming effect from the alcohol.

D: It's hard to criticize this imperial stout. I find the smoke unusual, but it works somehow. I'm really impressed by this beer.


I also had a 2008 vintage. I'd give that a 4.5 / 4.5 / 5.0 / 4.5 / 4.5 (overall 4.7 / A+). I definitely prefer this with some age.

Photo of DwnTwnBwn
3.72/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Little to no head appears at first. After a few sips a khaki ring appears around the rim of the glass. The color is jet black with no light escaping through. A touch of lacing occurs around the glass. The beer is very vicious.
S- Quite nice smell. Dark fruits and toffee. Notes of dry dark chocolate. Sweet malt comes through also.
T- A bit more toasty for RIS then sweet. The dark fruits don't seem to come forward as much as they do in the nose. A decent amount of Dark Chocolate. The flavor doesn't have much more than that.
M- Carbonation is a touch low for this beer. Coasts the tongue well. No heat from the alcohol. Thick beer overall. Slight astringency towards the end.
O- This beer after a few sips started to let me down. The complexity falls way short with just roasted barley taste and a touch of dark chocolate. Its decent for an RIS.

Photo of arizcards
4.62/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked up a couple of singles in late February from AJ's in Scottsdale for $3.19. From batch 9512 which was bottled on 12-18-09.

Beer poured black as night with a nice tan head that is leaving lacing behind. Nose is mocha, roasted malts, floral hops. Taste is a wonderful combination of roasted malts, mocha, chocolate, and bittering hops. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, perfectly smooth, creamy with good viscosity. Drinkability is amazingly great, even at a young age. The abv is very well hidden. I think I will save the other bottle for awhile to see how well it ages! Awesome beer, glad to see Bell's in Arizona!

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

A- Pours jet black, with a brown, mocha looking head that is a little larger than i expected and slowly goes down, leaving brown lacing on the glass.

S- smell is of toasty malts, with a slight hop presence and a bit of a chocolate scent, not as strong as i was expecting, but still a good smelling beer

T- really a lot going on here, lots of roasted malt with a chocolate, coffee bitterness. Also has some of the taste of dark fruits, with hops making an appearance. Also taste brewers licorice.

M- Low carbonation with a big beer body, creamy texture that makes the flavors linger in your mouth long after taking a drink.

D- for the ABV it is way too easy to drink, the alcohol presence never really makes itself know, still a big beer that takes a while to drink but it sure is enjoyable for the entire time you are drinking it

Photo of AdamMY
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The color is nice and dark, and poured a half centemeter of dirty head which has been fading very slowly.

Smells a bit hoppy, and bitter like a really strong coffee, and bitter chocolate.

The taste is strong, lots of roasted malt. The taste is borderline burnt but oh so strong, and there are actually slight hints of a grapefruit note hidden in there.

The finish is great, lots of caramelized sugars, but again borderline burnt.

But the mouth feel is impeccable, so smooth and creamy.

The drink ability is way to good for a beer with this High of an ABV. Perhaps I need to have more Russian Imperial Stouts.

Photo of Mooseky
3.68/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Deep and dark, with an impatient head.

This beer is rich in flavor with so much potential hiding behind the harsh alcohol taste. At first there are little bits of coffee and tobacco, then the alcohol hits... after the fact, there is a lingering taste of fig/ prune/ raisen that hangs around to coat my mouth.

I have no intention of having another anytime soon, but I look forward to reviewing the rest of the six-pack over an incremental period of time.

Photo of Jeffo
3.2/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Found this at the Cracked Kettle in Amsterdam.

From a bottle into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours a small medium-looking mocha colored head that quickly recedes to a ring and a really faint wisp. Not as thick as expected coming out of the bottle. Jet black body in the glass with no carbonation evident. A ring remains but leaves no lacing down the glass. Average at best here.

SMELL: Mild nose of roasted malts, milk chocolate and smoked meat. I pick up some smoked salami even. Very different and interesting, but not bold enough to stand out.

TASTE: Much bigger than the nose. Roasted malts, smoked malts, and licorice. Strong flavors of smoked and salted salami. Finish is bitter-sweet, with caramel and bitter coffee notes, along side some hints of smoked meat again. Aftertaste is bolder and lingers nicely on the palate. An odd flavor that I'm not quite sure about, but an intrigued enough to continue

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Starts out a little airy, but as it sits, it thickens up a bit. Eventually turns relative creamy smooth on the palate, and goes down fine finishing slightly dry. Fine for the style.

OVERALL: Not sure what to think about this one. The appearance and nose were average for the style, but the addition of some kind of smoked salami was odd yet enticing at the same time. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but I enjoyed it enough that I'd buy it again if I came across it again. Definitely not a standard Imperial Stout offering.

Photo of markskar
4.64/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

There isn't much of a head to this brew, but it pours pitch black--no light escapes. It'd be nice if it were a bit more carbonated, both visually and in the nose, but it's quite fine the way it is.

The aroma is dark roasted coffee, with a dark, dried fruit aroma (I always found the "dark fruit" descriptor to be vague--but I'm thinking of how raisins would smell if they smelled the way the taste). Nice chocolate notes in the nose too.

Flavor is much the same as the aroma--coffee, chocolate, and dark fruits. I am absolutely floored by the flavor. I would rate the taste up there with any world class RIS I've ever had.

Mouthfeel is mostly smooth and creamy, but just a bit sticky. The mild stickiness allows the wonderful flavors to linger on the tongue though--in a very pleasant way.

Extremely drinkable for a brew over 10% abv. Goes down nice and easy, with a flavor that just begs for more. Like a delicious chocolate desert, you know you probably shouldn't...but what the hell...

Photo of Thur123
3.36/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer is black, very dark and cannot be seen through. Little to no head of a toffee color. A mellow blended malt is the smell. Not overpowering in any way. Chocolate, earthiness and a surprising lack of smoke or char smell.

Glug glug glug

The flavor is big. Bitter chocolate with roasted bread. The backend of the flavor is heavy with herbal hop bitterness and the aforementioned char. Heavy viscous mouth feel. Good but actually kind of messy to me, and sitting on one of these would most likely make this better. A sipper for sure.

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

12oz bottle in Duvel tulip (batch 8728 bottled 9/16/2008)
(no change to the numbers)

A: Motor oil color and viscosity with a thin 1/2 finger dark tan/caramel colored head that drops very fast leaving no lace.
S: Lots of roasted malts along with some bitter dark chocolate, a little bit of dried dark fruit and a hint of hops. As it warms, there is a small bit of smoke and ash.
T: Black patent and roasted malt combined with what appears to be chocolate malt lead to a burnt sugar flavor. Hints of dark caramel and dried fruits along with a definite hops presence in the background. A spot of alcohol heat as well. This ends up being more "charred" than I remember, but I still love it.
M: Oily, astrigent, very low carbonation, makes for a creamy, rich mouthfeel.
D: A definite sipping beer, very good for desert. I don't want to drink one of these often, but I am always happy when I do. This is an excellent example of the style

12oz bottle in Sam Adam's glass (thanks SA) reviewed 9/28/07
bottle # 7817 (bottled 2/1/07)

A: Pours a completely black color, no light comes though. Not much of a head, what there is looks like caramel, very dark brown.
S: As it is poured, a wave of sweetness hits the nose. Smells like dried fruit, maybe cherries.
T: Bitter sweetness, like dried cherries dipped in a very dark chocolate. There is a hint of alcohol warmth in the back, just the right amount.
M: Does not come across as thick or cloying. It is clearly a big beer but it goes down very smoothly
D: WOW, this is a great dessert beer. Just the right amount of alcohol heat combined with a nicely balanced sweet/bitter. Makes me think of a great chocolate cheesecake dusted with cocoa powder. I could drink a 6 pack of these if it was not for the alcohol. Highly recommended.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,294 ratings.