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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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5,288 Ratings
no score

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Ratings: 5,288
Reviews: 1,978
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.61%
Wants: 448
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: 5,288 | Reviews: 1,978 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of zoso1967
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours super dark black. Completely opaque. Probably the darkest beer I have ever seen with a very dark tan head. Nice fluffy head with good retention. Aroma is roasty and rich with coffee, bitter chocolate, some raisin, toffee sweetness and a bit of alcohol. Taste is much sweeter than expected. This beer has a lot going on. While the coffee and roasted malt taste is there, they are not as prevalent as in the aroma. I would say the main flavors are bitter chocolate, malt sweetness and a smokiness that reminds me of burnt marshmallows. I also detect a sort of herbal and fruity taste. Quite alcoholic, I can taste it and feel the warmth. A full bodied beer that is silky smooth and chewy. Definitely one to savor.

Photo of manahansf
3.71/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours thick and dark brown with a light lacy brown head. Vinous malty aromas flow from the glass foreshadowing the brews strength and flavor which is also vinous and has a fig ester flavor. The body is big and heavy with very low carbonation levels making it flow very slow. Likewise, the finish is slow and warms with a vinous end.

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

Pours a thick motor oil black with a 1 finger head that lingers.

The nose is huge. I pick up coffee and chocolate foremost with roasted malts and toffee, along with dark cherry's.

The taste is the same and the alcohol is apparent but with how thick this bad boy is you almost welcome the warmth.

The mouthfeel can only be described as chewy creamy and HEAVY.

As far as drinkablity goes, this is a one and done for me. There are a few other RIS that I've had more than one, but an Expedition is just so damn heavy its either an enjoyable one beer night or an equally enjoyable nightcap.

Can't wait to see how this bad boy ages!

Photo of pmccallum86
3.93/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brownish black color with a massive thick bubbly mocha colored head.

Lots of licorice and hops in the nose. Some chocolate and toffee aromas as well. Roasted malts come through too, but the licorice is the top dog here.

Boom! Flavors galore here; licorice, chocolates, cocoa powder, big roasted malts and hops. Very flavorful beer, as with the smell centered on the licorice. Quite a delicious and original RIS.

Mouthfeel is thick with a medium level of carbonation. Viscous as a mf'er.

Drinkablility is decent, maybe this beers weakest aspect. Still not bad though.

Photo of abrand
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into the snifter. This bottle has been aging in the cellar for about 1 year.

Pours midnight dark black. No visibility is seen through the liquid with even the slowest of pours. After an aggressive pour, there is a very faint tan head that quickly fades away. The nose is quite strong with some sweet raisins, chocolate and malts. Also some hints of vanilla beans and molasses. After enjoying the smell and letting this warm up to room temperature, I finally took my first sip. The taste is hoppy, malty, sweet, all the above. Sweetness is coming through as raisins and caramel while there is the hoppy bitterness as well as a roasted toasted malty finish. I really enjoy the taste of the Expedition. Mouthfeel is quite thick and syrupy. Drinkability is moderate with this being a run of the mill Imperial Stout

Photo of afausser
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: A vigorous pour into a 12 oz snifter results in a thin half finger of burgundy-singed dark tan head. The retention on it is not very good, though to be fair, it is fairly high in ABV so I'm not sure I should have expected too much more. Leaves an uneven ring of bubbles around the top of the glass and little wisps of foam on the top of the brew. The color itself is an opaque dark cherry that lets little to no light in, with tiny, slow moving carbonation bubbles. As you drink, a fine sheet of tiny bubbles of lacing glitter down the edge of the glass and leave a few patchy areas behind.

S: Smells wonderful from the moment you crack the bottle--I can't wait to see how it warms. Heavy milky caramel, vanilla, and slight toffee, as well as rum soaked fruits--raisins, prunes, apricots, and sweet cherries. Also quite a bit of licorice, particularly when agitated, as well as a hint of sweet apple pie as it warms.

T: Quite earthy and smoky, particularly in the aftertaste. Roasted malts and very dry burnt toast. The fruit and candy flavors in the nose definitely take a back seat here, at least while it's still relatively cold. Does get a bit sweeter as it warms--almost syrupy in the flavor, and then evens out and is nicely balanced. The rum soaked fruits also come out quite a bit when warmed. Lesson learned, let it warm--it's almost a totally different beer.

M: Very dry, and the fine carbonation doesn't do this one any favors. Feels like I just ate something on fire--very smoky in addition to how dry my mouth feels after just a couple sips--oh, and it's foamy, too. It's not especially hot, particularly for the style and ABV, yet the aftertaste is almost overwhelming. Does get far better as it warms, but I'm not really impressed with this mouthfeel/style combination.

D: Does go down rather smooth and creamy with little heat for the ABV, but the mouthfeel is pretty frustrating until it warms significantly and the carbonation nearly dies down completely. A great beer overall, but drinkable? One to let warm and sip.

Photo of ocelot2500
3.95/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black with a small tan head that leaves enough lacing on the glass.

Smells of coffee and molasses mostly with a nice chocolate undertone.

Tastes of the roasted malts upront followed by a subtle hop bitterness and ending with a little sweetness. Notes of chocolate, coffee, caramel, and molasses all make their way through. Sweetness supports the chocolate and caramel. Hops are very subtle as they should be. Alcohol is noticeable, but that should be expected.

Mouthfeel is full, but on the lighter side of full. The carbonation is appropriate, but could be a bit creamier.

Photo of civilizedpsycho
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a solid black color that had about a half-inch of a light tan colored head. Looks very nice and appealing.

Smell: Strong roasted coffee smell dominates the aroma. Hidden are hints of chocolate and a bit of alcohol.

Taste: Again, the roasted coffee flavor dominates here. There's a bit of chocolate to create almost a mocha flavor. The alcohol is also nicely masked.

Mouthfeel: While it had a pretty full body, I expected better in this area. It felt almost like I was drinking syrup as the carbonation didn't seem to last after the initial pour.

Drinkability: While I thoroughly enjoyed this beer, the high alcohol brings down the drinkability. Could have one or two from time to time, but not a steady stream.

Photo of madbrewer9
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown/black almost opaque. Some reddish hightlights at edges. Almost non-existent tan head with very fine bubbles. No lacing. Very noticable legs.
Great aroma, molassas and dark fruit.
Taste follows the aroma with mollassas and dark fruits, but also some bitter chocolate and hop bitterness.
Med full to full body, creamy, yet finishes slighty dry.
Very drinkable considering the strength. Beautiful beer.

Photo of natelocc787
3.65/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very surprised to see so many top reviewers rank this beer a 4.6 and above. Unlike others I got a nice towering dark brown head, minimal lace and aroma is burnt chocolate, roasted grains and bitter coffee. Like others I found a slight fruitiness in the taste which added a very mild tartness to the middle. Nothing special in any category, more dark chocolate flavors and roasted barley notes in the taste, mild graham cracker crust and the head did have some gold dust particles that sparkled like glitter when held to the light. Good beer but much better RIS's more readily available.

Photo of tegelaar
2.42/5  rDev -42.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours thick like an oil slick with a small amount of head that took a bit to appear. Clear film of lacing sticks to the glass for just a moment while you drink. Smells of earthy fruit and dirt. Also some badly burned meat. Uh oh at this point I know I am in trouble. The taste also does nothing for me. Like drinking oven cleaner. I can respect that it is very rich and flavorful but can't finish this beast. Drinkability is poor due the taste and extreme alcohol content.

Photo of weatherdog
3.62/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass

Batch 9435

It pours a almost black with ruby highlights. The head is deep cherry wood color that is very apealing. I've had a few different stouts from Bell's and they seems the head color seems to be distinctly darker than other breweries. It's kind of nice to see a deep carmel red color as opposed to the normal tan. there is minimal lacing as I am finishing the drink.

The smell is pretty off-putting. There is a strong medicinal smell like isopropyl alcohol; not pleasant at all. Behind those off smells are the usual roasty coffee type but I can not get past the medicinal character.

The taste thankfully redeems itself with a rich deep roastiness cholocalte with a large helping of residual sweetness. The sweetness is heavy but not cloying as to hamper drinkability. The roasty notes last through out the sip and linger a little bit. just a hint of alcohol hotness on the end but that is to be expected.

I think it is a little to carbonated for me. I prefer my bigger stouts that have a lot of sweetness to be on the low side of carbonation. Drinkability is above average for the style for me. I'm not sipping this as i normally do with big stouts but drinking it rather quickly.

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

A: Pours a thick viscous black color, with some small amounts of red hues. Head is a thick tan head with ample lacing.

S: Alcohol, smoke, coffee, bready/burnt toast, black licorice and some dark chocolate. Lots going on, but the alcohol and smoke dominate.

T: I find the alochol hitting the palate first, followed up by some intense coffee and licorice with some lingering chocolate.

M: Leaves a thick creamy sweet, yet tingling feel on the palate. The tingling from the alcohol.

D: I really enjoy this beer a lot, but it is thick and has a high ABV. This is definitely a sipping dessert beer IMO.

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

A: Pitch black with rocky dark tan head. Leaves heavy lacing down the glass.

S: Big toasted malt aroma. Some molasses, ripe dark fruit and tobacco.

T: Rich flavor with tons of toasted malt character. Molasses and bittersweet chocolate. Hints of fresh brewed coffee and tobacco. Finished with a light touch of hops. Alcohol is masked nicely.

M: Thick, creamy, and viscous. Full bodied and robust.

D: This is an outstanding stout. Rich and bold, yet highly drinkable. Very well crafted.

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

The Expedition is an outstanding Russian Imperial that I always keep on hand. At only $15 a six-pack, I keep about 12 in my basement and rotate them so that I'm always drinking one that has been aged for over a year. It's a great stand-by when craving a heavy stout. Cracked one open today during the football games. Poured into my Russian Imperial Stout tulip glass.

Pours dark as can be with no penetrating light at all. A two-finger heavy brown cap quickly forms on the top before dissipating to a thick ring around the edges. Blotches of tiny bubbled lacing remain long after the beer is gone. Every time I swirl this, a one finger head rises on top of my beer releasing that wonderful aroma!

A strong smell of chocolate dominates each sniff. Even after over a year of chilling out, there is a still a presence of alcohol in there as well. There is also a vinous quality that I get on the end...and I'm sure there is a lot more that I'm missing as well. Although I don't get it in this glass as much as with other Expeditions I've had, there is generally that overripe fruit smell as well. Not so much in this bottle, but common in this beer.

I really do enjoy this beer. The flavors have had a chance to blend together well to produce a very nice balance of chocolate and roasted malts. It starts with a sweet cocoa and then finishes just a tad more bitter than I would prefer, although that is pretty common in the style. The alcohol is well masked although as it warms up, it is a little more obvious.

This is a thick and heavy beer. Very chewy and lingers around in my mouth, exactly like I like Russian Imperials. Very drinkable given the 12 ounce serving size. Too much more than that and I think it would begin to be a bit of a challenge.

Consumed - 1/17/2009

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

Appearance: The brew poured black as night, with an agressive pour I coaxed a 3 finger head the color of cafe-au-lait. The lacing left was heavy.
Aroma: Smells of malt and coffee
Taste: Deeply roasted coffee/espresso flavors, bitter after-bite on the rear of the palate.
Mouthfeel: Smooth and velvety; low carbonation.
Drinkability: A wonderful full bodied beer for cold days, I would love to kick a few back regularly.

Photo of Kelp
3.21/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thank you once again to beerisheaven for this one. The appearance is nice inky with a nice sark tan head. Smells like a traditional RIS to me, chocolate, coffee, and malt. Nothing different there. The taste is unlike any RIS I have ever had. Molasses, malts and a bit of chocolate make up the initial taste. Then Bitter hits my tongue and takes over. All I can taste now is the bitter from some unknown source. I think a little age would do wonders for this beer. The mouthfeel is smooth, velvety and a bit creamy. I could not drink another of these right now. It just is way to bitter for me. I would love to try an aged and brand new one side by side, but for now ugh.

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

On tap at Spinnerstown Hotel for a Bell's event. The pint glass delivered to the table is a deep black-brown with no light coming through. The head is bright tan, about half a finger, and retains longer than expected for many stouts. There is moderate carbonation initially then it slows to a thick stillness.

The aroma is malty, roasted, chocolate and spicy with a little bit of yeast esters. Good...representative, but doesn't really illustrate the intensity of flavor.

Upon taking a sip the flavor is a veritable explosion of deep, dark tastes that also make their way to the nose. There is licorice, chocolate - sweet and bitter, hops, toasted bread, cinnamon, vanilla, and a heady coffee and roast taste. As you drink through the melange becomes more complex and richer. Sweet tastes come through more strongly and any bitterness recedes. The blasts of cinnamon and spice are truly impressive. Through out the glass the alcohol becomes apparent and the beer almost takes on a bitter chocolate liquor quality.

The mouthfeel is satisfying and smooth, and lighter than the flavor density; it is good - but I'd almost like something a little thicker in the mouth to match up to the cake-like quality of the taste.

This beer is very drinkable despite the high alcohol and intensity of the dark flavors. A definite winner on a cold winter night, especially on tap.

Photo of cpetrone84
4.46/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I have previously reviewed this beer in bottle but the cask was something different and I thought it was entitled to a new review.

A-jet black in color that lets no light through. thick creamy dark coffee colored head that has solid retention and leaves nice lacing

S-light roasted malts, hints of milk chocolate and some molasses

T/M-it is extremely smooth and creamy, very robust and full bodied, almost chewy. the taste brings big dark chocolate, a light roasted malt, some molasses, alcohol is slightly present, hints of dark fruit towards the finish.

D-amazing! so creamy, so chocolate, and huge flavors!

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

Poured out of a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a deep chocolate-black, with suspended, flurried sediment throughout, including a thick layer on the bottom of the glass. Thin head dissipates rapidly, leaving in its wake splotchy caramel-brown puddles. Light, transitory lacing. Appearance is extremely warm and inviting, exciting even. Other than gentle bubbling on its surface, no sign of carbonation.

S: Nose is sweet, lightly infused with prunes, and a little buttery. There is also a hint of saltiness, soy sauce even.

T: Complex. The chocolaty appearance is not seconded by the taste--sweet and salty malt burst, followed by a molasses middle, ending in a bitter finish. The taste is not commensurate to its body (see Mouthfeel). The high ABV is masked very well, although the final kick is a delicate alcohol finish on the back of the tongue.

M: Wonderfully dense, viscous, and chewy. Rich and syrupy, a little oily. Thickest stout I've probably ever had. Warm alcohol finish.

D: Delicious, but definitely not a beer that I could drink more than one of in one sitting.

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

Was at Sheffield's in Chicago for the Hopslam release party and they tapped a firkin of Expedition Stout prior to the Hopslam.

A: Dark brown, casading down the glass - it looked almost like Guiness (bad lighting). Great toasty brown head with tremendous staying power and fantastic lacing. Looked like a glass of chocolate!

S: Malt, sugar - Brown sugar, very big coffee.

T: Bourbon - Heavy Coffee - Brown Sugar. A little maple syrup with a very peaty taste. Also a backing of carmelized brown sugar.

M: Wow!!! All I can say.

D: Only one. I could not have had another, Too much to handle, but what an experience!

Photo of Tucquan
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on 2010-01-11 in a bottle from my trading buddy, Steve.

Pours a deep, dark brown with a very short, dark tan head. The head fades quickly.

The smells are of fruit, chocolate, coffee and licorice.

The taste profile follows the aroma very well but with the addition of caramel and molasses complimenting the chocolate, acrid coffee, alcohol, and to a lesser extent the licorice and fruit flavors. It seems most of the bitterness is from the malt roast but I taste a bit of grassy, hops bitterness too. At 10.5% ABV, this brew certainly warms the belly but the alcohol is well-balanced with the other flavors.

The mouthfeel is very creamy. I could've used a bit more carbonation to smooth it out.

All-in-all, a well-crafted and delicious brew that can be drunk now or aged for years.

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

Poured into a pint glass stout black (is stout black not a color? it is now) with a 1/2 finger head that left very little lacing. Smells of... hops? Maybe my nose is off, but I smell a bit of citrus, not something I'm used to from a stout. Some roasted barley, too. Carbonation is there, but it's weak. Cream and alcohol are predominant, smoked barley and hints of mocha and caramel too. Definite hop presence, especially in the aftertaste, which I don't mind. This beer has a kick, as I would expect from an imperial stout, but it isn't that balanced. I don't see myself kicking back and enjoying a couple of these. Still a perfectly enjoyable stout.

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

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours a thick, viscous, motor oil black. A vigorous pour manages to coax out a full finger of tan foam. It leaves sheets of lace as it recedes, this beer has some serious viscosity to it.

Aroma is rich - dominant is a sweet milk chocolate aroma, with some coffee

First flavor is a hot alcohol burn, subsiding quickly into a dark fruity flavor, then finishing with coffee and lingering bitterness. Flavors are intense and there is a lot going on with this beer. The flavors blend together as the beer warms, overall this is pretty damn tasty.

As stated before, this beer is very thick. The carbonation has a hard time poking through. Drinkability is high considering the ABV

Photo of jera1350
4.42/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pretty fresh 2009 edition:

Pours a thick pure black with thin layer of tan suds.

Quite hoppy nose with lots of chocolate and roasty malts. A hint of almost mint/menthol. This may just be the hops though.

Matches up well with the nose. A bit more deep toasted malt and dark chocolate. Kiss of coffee bean. Pretty big grassy hop profile that I'm digging. Toasty finish.

Very smooth and lightly creamy. The body just feels a bit short of what a RIS should have.

Well, that not so huge body allows the drinkability to run very high. Great all around RIS. Bell's has to be one of my favorite breweries. Looking forward to aging a few of these to see how it develops.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,288 ratings.