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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.

5,048 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,048
Reviews: 1,928
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 425
Gots: 1,148 | 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: 5,048 | Reviews: 1,928 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TequilaSauer
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 2007. Aged 2 years.

Pours thinner than expected but with very light head that quickly dissipates.

Smells of chocolate liquer, alcohol, dark fruits (fig) and maybe brandy. The nose reminded me a lot of Old Rasputin.

The taste is out of this world. Attacks HUGE with equal parts of extreme bitterness and heavy dark chocolate. Very balanced, VERY balanced, much more than the unaged Expedition. Finishes with more bitterness and a woody flavor.

Very thick mouthfeel, like molasses, but very smooth with little carbonation.

The aging did this beer a lot of justice. Expedition is a phenomenal stout, but the aging adds a lot more to the balance and attack. It's not a beer of which you could probably enjoy more than one at a time and I still don't think it stacks up with some of the other heavy hitters in that style, but it's got it where it counts.

Photo of bfields4
4.4/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a Dark chocolate black with a foamy mocha head. So dark I can see my reflection in it.

Lots of sweet dark fruit smells. Sweet malty backing. Coffee and chocolate become more present, but the biggest factor is still with the dark fruit.

Velvety chocolate flavor. Not what I expected from the nose. Very nice hints of caramel. Big taste on this one. Seems to be almost the reverse of the nose with dark fruits becoming more present with time.

So creamy wow, one of the creamiest beers I've ever had. Very low carbonation.

The dark fruit nose's juxtaposition to the velvety chocolate mouthfeel really complement each other nicely.

Photo of FarmHouseJam
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very black, think tan brown head, great lacing on the glass. Chocolate comes out, abv, and carbonation in the glass is very detectable.

For its ABV its pretty balanced, a year in the cellar would really help. Very complex beer. Very ready to age for sure!

On tap it was a bit less aggressive carbonation wise.

Photo of biegaman
4.38/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Beyond just inky or oily, this is a total solar eclipse. It is utter darkness. Needless to say, no highlighting or transparency is afforded. The surface is, unlikely considering its strength, crusted in a spring mud-like substance. A beer that's simply black doesn't require much inspection, it can simply sit and be admired for what it is.

And it smells big enough to block out the sun as well! Tremendous (frankly intimating) notes of bitter espresso, port soaked berries, black licorice, charred oak barrel and artisan dark chocolate truffles resonate through the senses. With a long list like that you ask: is there any stone left unturned? Nope. It seems they've thought of everything.

A rich and heavyset flavour profile offers decadent notes of dark chocolate and espresso. While still young, a backdrop of green, lightly zesty hops is easily discerned. These seem to grow a tad more piquant with warmth. Ironically, so too does the beer's sweetness which is now starting to resemble such flavours as double-double coffee and creme brulee.

At only 6 months of age this has plenty of potential yet to blend and develop flavours. From experience I know it will. The beer won't only sustain a little time on the cellar shelf, it'll most likely benefit from it, too. The alcohol's a bit forward (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that) and the flavours could stand to meld a little more.

I don't care if it takes an expedition to find this beer, it's worth searching out! Bell's Brewing should be conferred the highest possible accolade of beer for their lineup of stouts, of which the Expedition is arguably the most impressive. This Michigan brewery allows you to have your cake and (literally) drink it too!

Photo of pjohnston007
4.78/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the Kings of brew. I must vehemently disagree with the brothers on this one.

A: Tar Black, "Abysmal Void" liquid with beautiful caramel head and lacing. Good lacing that retains well.

S: Oaked molassas, honey, coffee, vanilla, peat. Bourbon-esque.

T: Deep and complex: Creamy, thick, sweet, balanced acidity (neutral), oaky.

M: Creamy, velvety, clean finish. Luscious and not at all dry. Carbonation (indeed!) that livens up the head (nearly over-poured due to explosion of carbonation).

D: Special occasion--great one-at-a-time, but not something I would keep on-tap (although I would love to try this on-tap!).

Great brew. This evaluation is based on a bottle that I have kept "cellared" for well over a year--perhaps two years. As dark and "strong" as this beer is, it is an absolute pleasure (ease) to drink. Very enjoyable beverage, whether after dinner or after mowing the lawn. The peak of experience would be to take a six-pack of these to either polar cap (or Everest) and enjoy one or two under true expedition conditions!

WOO WOO--I see that I am the 1,000th reviewer!

Photo of jim102864
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured thick with nary a head into my nonic. Interesting cherry hue to its mahoganey color.  10.5 abv. Nice. Wow...a lovely and up front nose. Butter, vanilla, maybe cherries and raisens. Wow again. Soy sauce, chocolate, slight alcohol bite in the finish. Spectacularly complex taste and full body. Heavy and special. A special St Patricks day treat but equally enjoyable with a fire in the hearth and after a fine meal.

Photo of ryrust5301
4.58/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - At first it looks as if it's a pretty good russian stout. It has the molasses black oil look, with a faint bit of dark brown bubbles that shoot up and form a tiny ring right after the pour. It settled down too quickly though and appeared somewhat lifeless. Should have a bit more life to it.

Smell - Real BIG! Heavy burnt espresso notes, and a noticeable alcohol personality behind it. Also has that cherry oak scent to it that is present in some stouts. Hops also play their part too, backed by a bittersweet chocolate.

Taste & Mouthfeel - Smooth as silk with a sticky oily mouthfeel. I really frickin love this beer. Coffee and sweet chocolate are the biggest part of this beer, and hit you the whole way through the front half of the taste. The second half is a hoppy licorice taste with a oak and wood flavor. Maybe some vanilla dropped into to smooth things out as well. Hardly taste any alcohol at all, and it's a sledgehammer of a sipper.

Drinkability - This turned out to be a bad ass mofo of a beer, especially since I put some age on it. I can tell it did it well, as it prolly smoothed out some of the original harshness and allowed it to settle down into a smooth well rounded beauty. I expect nothing but the best from bells.

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

A - Jet black with a tan thin halo. A tad bit of lacing but not much else to it.

S - Dark roasted malts and coffee. Some nice bitter chocolate and some dark fruit. Maybe prune and plum? A bit of an alcohol burn on the nostrils.

T - Sweet chocolate and Some roasted malt, earthy hop taste. Its semi sweet at first then bitter hop into bitter coffee and smooth semi sweet chocolate at the end.

M - Thick and creamy. Its got a bit of carbonation but its very chewy in the mouth.

D - I thought this was an enjoyable stout. It has everything you would want in a good stout. Great balance, nothing fancy, just a nice sipping stout. Maybe a tad much sweetness but not too bad. Something different. Defintely worth a go.

Photo of iuhoosier336
3.93/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a normal pint glass. It didn't have much head and poured very very dark. The alcohol is the first thing I smelled follow by a chocolate sweetness.

While there was alcohol in the nose the taste hid it well. The chocolate and malt hit you right away. Followed by an smokey oak flavor and hints of coffee.

This stout is think and a mouthful. A great winter beverage.

Photo of MPLS
3.25/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tasting this one after the big ole burnt dirt Storm King.

A: Unintelligible blackness, with the light brown coffee bean head that foams to 3 cm in height only to sink. Moderate tan leather lacing.

S: Sweet cocoa, pleasant alcohol, molasses? + a thin veil of roast.

T: A dark roasted espresso beer, with not a lot of sweetness to it, caught some dirt/earth in this guy, alcohol was hidden well for 10.5%. Too earthy.

M: Thought there would ample carbonation with the head that came from the poor, but it's lacking some carbonation. Medium and somewhat creamy.

D: This beer makes me realize I like a little sweetness and interested hop profile to my stouts. A good sipping beer, but won't get me excited anytime soon. Would be curious how an aged Expidition would taste, but probably even lower carbonation than when it's relatively fresh.

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

Obtained via trade

A- Death black with a dark tan head look very close to the Abyss,BCS, or DL, looks very thick during the pour

S- Sweet & some roasty, I tend to prefe rthe sweet side so i am very interested here, raisan and dark chocolate.

T- Very good to be expected, sweet up front with a very strong roasty dry almost bitter aftertaste. That aftertaste is the only thing that i don't completly love here.

M- I think only DL or BCS can top this VISCOUS!!! Coats you mouth.

D- Great, I just love thick and viscous stouts and this fits the bill perfectly.

Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: dark brown with a decent 1/4 inch head

Smell: chocolate and roasted sweet malt

Taste: chocolate, cream molasses, earth, and coffee

Mouthfeel: sweet/almost syrupy/ with a rougher slightly alcoholic finish

Drinkability: I thought this was very tasty. I could drink several of these if it were not for the high ABV. I think this is a nice and complex RIS.

Photo of Oxymoron
4.58/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enter SUV joke here. Pours a midnight black color with just a feint brown hue around the edge. Good clinging to the side of the glass when swirled. A very thick tan colored head with great retention and lacing through the tasting.

The nose is malty but somewhat limited. A very nice chocolate and molasses smell, but without the coiny/metallic notes. Some kettle melanodian aromas with a hint of chocolate. Very rich. Some minor hop notes with more of a earthy and slight herbal aroma. Mostly clean yeast but some alcohol notes, but ok. There is a black licorice and white pepper but light. Overall very nice but would like more.

The taste is similar but comes out more versus the nose. The malt is rich with a lot of depth. Malty undertones with chocolate and roast notes. Some coffee and a bit of harshness that lingers into the finish. Some minor oat/milky notes but a bit soft. The molasses backs off a bit. The yeast is surprisingly clean. Some minor alcohol notes with very nice esters. A nice plum and fig flavor with a light raisin and anise finish. Very clean and rich.

The body is big. A lot of sweetness but balanced nicely with the roast and astringency. For me a bit too astringent but really nit picky here. Overall a fantastic RIS.

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

Very dark in color, and pour resembles motor oil as many good stouts do. Hard pour created about 3 fingers worth of head in standard pint glass. Lacing is strong with every sip noticeable on my glass. Smell immediately reminds me of roasted coffee, with hints of raisins and chocolate. Taste is not a let down, as my nose is spot on with my tongue with a good amount of sweetness, and a wee bit of smokeyness that makes this stout an even easier drinker. As a hop-head I find myself more and more attracted to stouts as a night-cap as my palate continues to evolve, but my brain does not, as this beer has a shocking 10.5% ABV.

Photo of marvin213
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I think this beer looks purty darned good. WAY black like a big-time stout should be. A thin layer of dark foam tops her off. As I look at this here stout sitting in my Smoke on the Water (Greenville, SC) pint glass, I must say it appears mouth-watering appealing to me.

The smell, quite frankly, is good. I don't know what exactly it is that gives Russian Imperials their distinctive smell (I know, I'm sure it's explained on BA somewhere), but this one's got it. And I like it. Nothing else though--no chocolate, no coffee, etc. It's a good-smellin' Russian Imperial Stout.

Interestingly, I seem to taste some coffee. The taste is suprisingly light, which is good, I suppose, for a 10.5% RIS. Is there a such thing as a Stout Light? I like it, but it lacks character. Unless, as I discover with each sip, it is that it's a Stout Light (w/ a big ABV). Yep, that's my conclusion: this beverage is a basic RIS with the maximum amount of water allowed by the style. That would explain why it travels so well and ages so gracefully. It's like a Bud Russian Imperial Stout Light. I think that's purty cool, but it helps with drinkability more than taste.

The mouthfeel is good, but light. How is this signature Bell's Stout so like water to me? I'm simply not that tough. The more I analyze this beer, the more I'm convinced that it is indeed a Stout Light. The mouthfeel is a malty good with a surprisingly watery residue. Since I enjoy it, it's good.

Drinkability is better than good. If I were to enjoy a Russian Imperial Stout while throwing frisbee on a sandy Hawaiian beach, this'd be the one. I marvel at the 10.5%. As I try to make sense of the discrepancy b/w BA and the bros on this one, I figure that the Expedition is quaffable enough for us Plebians to appreciate it, but not quite distinctive and unique enough for the bros (i.e. Patricians) to outright endorse it with an "A" or a "B".

Photo of Gyle41386
4.38/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Randomly decided to grab a bottle of Expedition Stout from the cellar...probably because I wanted to make brownies with it. Regardless, this bottle is from batch 8728 (Sept. 08) and has been poured into a snifter.

This beer is black. Like, Kueth Duany black. Or Charlie Murphy Darkness black...you get the point. So black, you think it could possibly be a really dark blue. About a finger of rich, chocolate mousse foam absolutely will not go away, and the walls of the glass are completely coated. Hard to imagine a better-looking stout.

Big, rich chocolate nose. Dark and milk chocolates, with plenty of roasted barley. It's got a great balance between bitter/sweet chocolate and bitter, smoky, coffee-like roast. I can't decide if I'm actually smelling licorice, or if I've just associated it with this beer via Kalamazoo Stout. The nose is big, it's robust, it's not really alcoholic at all (BIG bonus, can't wait to see what more time does)...It's definitely mellowed down and has become a bit sweeter, and more subtle/complex.

Bell's Expedition Stout is pretty much everything I want my imperial stouts to taste like. Big chocolate sweetness, balancing roast and bitter hops in the finish...just a HUGE flavor.

The only thing bigger than the flavor is the texture. This beer may have the absolute best texture of any beer I've had. Deliciously rich and very, very chewy. And, again, after a little over a year and a half, the alcohol isn't nearly at noticeable as, say, Stone IRS. Perfect carbonation. Never-ending finish. Unbeatable.

I thought Expedition Stout was actually pretty drinkable fresh. With 21 months on it, it's hard to keep it in the glass. Really, really tasty stuff. Can't wait to put some more years on my remaining bottles.

Photo of numinorian
4.18/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 1.5

A Opaque black with a thick dark brown head. The lace sticks like paint on the glass that leaves thick swaths of tiny sticky bubbles

S Strong thick smell that has a sugary sweetness, aside from the malty coco and coffee flavors that you would expect from the style. A slight nutty scant as well.

T Coco taste is prevalant, with a strong hoppy kick. Strong alchahol taste.

MF Has the concistancy of motor oil. Thick and increadibly rich and brash, this one is not for the faint of heart.

DA not very easy to drink. Definitly a sipper.

Overall this is a magnificent beer. This doesn't try to be an easy going beer and it doesn't try to make everybody happy. When bells set out to make a powerfull stout they pulled out all the stops. I'm a huge fan.

Photo of dsa7783
3.95/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Bottle presented at the Eulogy Cafe in Philadelphia...
Deep,dark opaque hue with a creamy, tan, reddish head...
Deep, roasted malts on the nose, heavy on the alcohol both in the nose and on the tongue...
Taste: Ultra-rich, thick, viscous, and creamy... A great sample and depiction of an RIS...
Thick malts, deep, dark, espresso, mocha, cappuccino nuances...
A heavy, full-bodied, thick stout...
Good stuff if you're a fan of the style...

Photo of RockerD
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at 3 Floyds brew pub.

An amazing looking beer. Has the coolest looking thick dark brown head I'd ever seen!!!! In the light it's as close as you can get to Black and still be Brown.

Smells of a roasted coffee and molasses in January.

Tastes of cocoa in smokey-coffee and rum...? Really good. Smooth and delicious. I love this beer.

Feel's great going in... nothing too special. It's a strong beer but after one you can easily drink another... and you'll want to!

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

12oz bottle poured into a goblet. Batch 8864, packaged on December 4, 2008.

A: Blacker than black with a smaller-than-expected head that quickly dissipates. Lots of lacing.

S: Alcohol, roastiness, a bit of chocolate, something between licorice and soy sauce.

T: Roasted malts with hints of licorice. As the beer warms up, chocolate notes start to show up. Finishes with huge hop bitterness. Pretty big alcohol burn.

M: Thick, almost viscous. The hops dry the mouth out in a hurry.

D: A solid sipping RIS.

Photo of barnzy78
4.78/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a thick black with a brown head that slowly settles. Overall rich aromas of chocolate and coffee with hints of fruity alcohol esters; smooth mouth-feel. Alcohol stands out, but is well balanced by the bold flavors. For being an Imperial Stout guy, this is my favorite.

Photo of webmanspidey
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%

Pitch black with a thick molasses/syrup like pour. Very light carbonation. Sweet smells like maple syrup, brown sugar, dates, and oatmeal. Very sweet initial flavor, followed by a rush of burning alcohol, followed by a very bitter finish. Unfortunately the alcohol probably lasts the longest. Very thick and syrupy mouthfeel. Not an easy drinker in any terms.. a slow sipper.

Photo of dotsonjamesg
4.97/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Special thanks to jcdgoad for recommending this brew to me....

I purchased this brew from liquorama.net. Not that bad of a price either but shipping costs made it a little pricey, but hopefully worth it. I would really like to point out that Russian Imperial Stout is my favorite style, so you can imagine that I tend to have somewhat of a bias concerning them. In my defense, I would like to let those who read this know that I also grade them very harsh. If this one is truly as good as I have heard, it must be truly impressive; though I have noticed the wide-array views so I am very skeptical and curious.

Served in a chilled 14oz snifter

Appearance: Whoa...probably one of the thickest, darkest ales I have ever poured. The brew had a thin, ½ finger head that quickly dissipated. I have heard some complaints stating the brew is over-carbonated. Since my head was so weak, maybe my pour wasn't aggressive enough. Still looks good to me.

Smell: Probably one of the most aromatic stouts I have ever experienced. I poured the brew and set it aside, as not to be hindered by the heat of my "super-laptop." The brew is sitting about 18 inches away from my nose and I can still smell it...not very common, even with the most aggressive of stouts. The nose is full of chocolate, fig, currants, dark roasted malts, a tinge of hops, and alcohol.

Taste: Much like its intense nose, the brew is rich with dark roasted malts, chocolate syrup, and alcohol. Starts with a smooth and intense chocolate flavor and moves in to brutal bitter, dark roasted coffee-like flavor. The bitterness is harsh and lasts for quite some time. I can see why some people have given this brew some varying reviews. It stays true to its legacy in being a Russian Stout, but it might be a little too bitter. Russian Stouts should be strong, and extremely sugary. This brew is absent of the EXTREME levels of caramelized sugars, commonly found in many Russian Stouts. The enormous, backed-up bitterness may be too intense for most people.

Mouthfeel: Thick, velvety, and very smooth. Carbonation was also pretty nice and matched well.

Drinkability: It is a definite sipper. If you can stand the extreme bitterness, it is heavenly, but you have to possess the ability to drink some of the heaviest of ales ever brewed; and this most certainly qualifies. This brew is extreme, and that's being nice. Don't let the simplistic label or bad reviews fool you...this epic-brew is anything but simplistic. Its character is tremendous and unfathomable by most, and enjoyed by even fewer.

Excuses for the bad reviews? Russian Stouts are definately an aquired taste. This one is pretty intense and not as balanced as others and will probably drive away most people who aren't use to the extreme levels of burnt-bitterness, flavor of alcohol, and syrup-like viscosity.

I would recommend this only to a seasoned Russian Imperial Stout drinker. I would also recommend a very nice cigar with this lovely brew, it would match perfectly.

Enjoy this as much as I did.



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

A: Pours almost jet black with a large brown head holding good retention and minimal lacing.

S: Strong roasted malts with lots of alcohol, chocolate and a decent amount of hops.

T: Very similar the the scent. Strong chocolate and roasted malts with a very good hop balance adding just the right amount of bitterness all with an alcohol overtone. Very big and very good.

M: Very heavy with little carbonation and extremely silky. I've heard many complaints about the carbonation level, but it's just where I like it for a big stout like this one. It's also fairly drinkable for the style and how big it is. Could easily do a couple bottles.

Photo of macktbone
3.33/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

As part of a trade with Aforbes and hoped to be enjoyed with ThirdLap. I was told this would be one of my top stouts...not so much

This beer is jet black with a dark brown head that quickly dissappears in an alcoholic haze. It stains the glass an oily brown.

The smell is super soy with figs.

Taste & mouthfeel leave a lot to be desired

So little carbonation that it is hard to get down. Hold your breath prior to contact, the soy is overpowering. Bitter end with a sweet aftertaste that grows on you a little.

Extremely thin for a "good" stout. When I pour a beer and it glubs, I expect it to be thick, or at least feel thick on the toungue.

I was glad this was split two ways. I have had other boutbon type stouts but without the subtle compexities and joyous notes this maybe my first and last time "ringing the bell".

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 5,048 ratings.