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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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5,283 Ratings
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Ratings: 5,283
Reviews: 1,978
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.61%
Wants: 448
Gots: 1,288 | 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: 5,283 | Reviews: 1,978 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of pmcadamis
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Pitch black, very little head, and a small amount of lace. This looks evil, thick , viscous, and vile. As an RIS should. Oh yeah. This still-life in black has me anticipating what's to come.

S - Black licorice (a trace of Kalamazoo stout perhaps?), coffee with French vanilla cream, and a hint of black gooey candy. I can't think of what it's called, but there is a gelatinous black candy that is sort of like black licorice, only more gooey. Damn. Anyhow, this smells like that.

T - Again, coffee with vanilla creamer. Black licorice, sunflower seeds, and top shelf maple syrup... sans the maple if that makes any sense (molasses?)

M - Thick, creamy, solid, and smooth. This has only a touch of alcohol warmth despite the elevated ABV. The finish is surprisingly smooth and not as bitter as most RIS's or even regular stouts for that matter. Its almost as if this is an Imperial Oatmeal Stout (IOS?).

D - A damn fine brew! I tend to like milk stouts and oatmeal stouts for their smoothness and lack of sharp bitterness that can often be found in "regular" stouts, since although I am a caffeine addict, I am a person who puts tons of creamer and Splenda in my coffee. This is a top-tier selection in a style filled with top -tier selections. Good stuff!

Photo of mjl21
4.45/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Acquired bottles via trade from both rallison and alleykatking...not sure who gave me this specific bottle, so thanks to both Ryan and Josh. 12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. This is part of batch 7251 and was packaged on 2/25/06. No abv info is given.

A-Pours black with a very dark brown 3/4 finger head that dissolves quickly into a small dark ring that hovers for the duration that it is in the glass. A lone island of foam also sticks around.

S-When I first cracked this open, it smells exactly like a chocolate malt that I would get at an old fashioned soda stand. Once it is in the snifter, it smells like a big imperial stout. Vanilla notes and alcohol are noticeable and as it warms, roasted malt and smoky notes are quite evident.

T-Sweet chocolate malt hits the tongue first and the initial sweetness stays for awhile. Alcohol is picked up as it goes down and it gives this beer a nice warming feel. I found the level to be perfect and did not find it to be abrasive. The roasted malt flavor is generally not super dry on the tongue and it gives off great notes of coffee.

M-Not as heavy as expected. I would put it in the medium spectrum. It is very smooth and does not have very much carbonation.

D-What a great nightcap. After 3 years this one is a great sipper that I would love to have more access to in California.

This was a great beer. Curious to see how a fresh version would compare to this one. Also would like to try the BA version.

Photo of beer2day
3.83/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaquely black with a thin 1/2 finger deep tan head. No observable carbonatio. Nice lacing.

Chocolate with notes of cinnamon dominate the nose. A slight sugariness is there as well. Alcohol comes in also.

Very nice hit on the tongue. Slightly thinner than expected, though. Lots of roasted malt here with bittersweet chocolate finish.

Not as good as I remember when living in Northern Indiana, but still a pretty good RIS.

Photo of twelvsies
3.83/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got this as part of a "beer stimulus" package from jfunkk79. Haven't had this beer in years... yum. Real black and dense looking, with a healthy brown head. This beer has a very full roasted malt aroma. Deep and a bit smoky. Carries over to the taste as well. Deeply roasty, nice and bitter, a touch of burnt char and leather. Big flavors. This is definitely a sipper. Maybe a little bit hot, but plenty of character to cover it up. Thick, viscous mouthfeel. Would love to age this so it's a bit softer, but as is it's a totally worth stout.

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

The smell of this beer is roasty with a light barbeque flavor. The pour is very dark like motor oil. As the beer settles in the pint glass, the look is very thick with a flat head. The taste is definitely stouty with a strong alcohol feel on the backend. A good stout that is worth another try.

Photo of colts9016
3.4/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got is from mday, thank you.

Poured into a pint glass at 51 degrees.

Appearance: A deep dark black color with a solid one finger head. The head is a dark tan color, that is foamy and creamy. The clarity of the beer is opaque. There is lacing on the glass.

Nose: A nice roasted barley, with chocolate, toffee, fruity esters, espresso, and molasses. A very rich alcohol aroma and a hint of phenols. There is some caramel, burnt character, anise, and a port like aroma hidden in the background.

Nose: A nice roasted malt with espresso, molasses, dark chocolate, toffee, and caramel. There are some of the burnt character, anise, raisins, and fruity esters.

Overall: The mouth feel is creamy and carbonated. The body of the beer is thick and the finish linger for a few moments. I do have a few issues with this beer. The beer to me is a bit sweet. I feel that there is really no bitterness that makes a great RIS. Don't get me wrong it is an okay beer, but nonetheless it is not a great RIS. After a 5 minutes the beer went flat.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.58/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap in Bloomington, IN earlier this year. Served in a snifter.

A: Very, very dark with a massive brown head.

S: Quite good, but a little muted compared with the taste. Hops, chocolate, coffee, cherries, slightly-burnt espresso.

T: Same as the smell, and utterly fantastic. I taste the most from the espresso with a little bit of the cherry.

M: Very thick. Chewy and creamy.

D: Highly, highly drinkable. Grab two of these and sip 'em for the rest of the night.

Photo of jfunkk79
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on my most recent visit home to Ohio. Pours a deep black with fine bubbles that retreat, no lacing.
Aroma of chocolate, slightly boozy sweet, not necessarily in a bad way.

Nice creamy mouthfeel, malty sweetness and a nice hop tart in the back of the mouth. Bit of a heavy finish but I'm not minding too much. This would probably age well. Highly Recommended.

Photo of Buschyfor3
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz single into a Hoegaarden pint glass.

A: Pours a thick, viscous deep brown that sloshes into the bottom of the glass; this beer looks like motor oil. This stout is absolutely opaque when held up to the light; no lighter hues around the edges of the glass, just a deep, rich brown. A thin, creamy tan head forms on top but is quickly pulled back down into the beer.

S: Roasted coffee, burnt toast, dark chocolate, caramel, dark fruits (cherries, dates).

T: First note is bold, roasted coffee/espresso followed by mellowing melted chocolate and dark fruit, like chocolate dipped cherries; malty sweetness upfront lingers through the body; finishes dry, like roasted oats or burnt toast.

M: Thick and chewy with little carbonation; this beer has a creamy consistency on the palate that is quite pleasing.

D: Decent for a high ABV stout (10.5%). The alcohol is hidden fairly well at the start, but it does begin to assert itself with a peppery flash and a noticeable warming sensation once you delve deeper into the bottle. A sipper, but I imagine that some cellaring would really round off the alcohol and push some of the complexities to the next level. Still, what Bell's has created is a pleasant RIS. A bevy of roasted flavors blend into a creamy, delicious body that IMO lives up to the hype. My friend's told me to check this stout out, and after having a good first impression with Bell's via their Kalamazoo Stout, I must say I am quite pleased with their bigger, badder Expedition Stout. The cost is a bit steep ($15.50 for a 6er) but a local place sells single bottles for $2.50 a pop, so I may very well purchase a couple more bottles just to see how this beer ages.

Photo of bamadog
3.83/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Very thick on the pour and very viscous - like motor oil, probably the thickest I've seen since I first poured a FBS; A good size two finger head is present at first and it's dark tan, possibly the darkest tan I've seen; solid retention as it's just about done fading into a pretty thick and chewy looking skim on the sruface; a thick spongey looking lacing is coating the glass where the head once was.

Smell: Alcohol is actually the first scent I picked up on and with an ABV of 10.5%, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Behind that is dark, very roasty and burnt coffee-esque malts.

Taste: Again like the smell, the first thing that I pick up on is the alcohol, but it's not especially overpowering, just the most present flavor; behind that is a slightly subdued burnt roast; I would almost swear there is a very faint hint of some kind of a dark fruit, but if it is, it is buried very well amidst the strong roastiness.

Mouthfeel: Almost a little gritty, there's definitely some sediment floating in the darkness that is this beer; the alchol causes some burn in the mouth and definitely in the chest as it goes down and adds a slightly drying affect to the mouthfeel, but beyond that it's got a decent coating that again feels a little gritty.

Drinkability: It's a very good beer, but definitely sits heavy like most RISs are apt to do, so I don't feel like I would want to sit through too many of these because I would start to feel like a bit of a load.

Photo of TequilaSauer
4.64/5  rDev +9.4%
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
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
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
3.99/5  rDev -5.9%
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
4.4/5  rDev +3.8%
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
4.8/5  rDev +13.2%
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
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
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
4.57/5  rDev +7.8%
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
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
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
3.89/5  rDev -8.3%
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
3.3/5  rDev -22.2%
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
4.46/5  rDev +5.2%
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
4.53/5  rDev +6.8%
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
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
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".

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,283 ratings.