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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

5,295 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,295
Reviews: 1,979
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: 5,295 | Reviews: 1,979 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of hellomcfly
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From batch 8311 - Brewed Feb 7 2008

Pours pitch black into a snifter. Thin deep brown head dissipates very quickly.

Smells of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, slightly woody perhaps.

T - Roasty, bitter chocolate, coffee all come to mind. It again has a slightly woody character to me. There's a hop bitterness in the end that keep this in check.

M - Velvety smooth. Low level of carbonation.

D - Obviously not high drinkability but very good for the style and abv.

Definitely plan to hang on to some of these to age for a while. I split a bottle from the same 6 pack with my dad in December and I feel like it has already mellowed a bit in the past few months.

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

Batch 8728

A - pours a dark black that let no light through with a 1/4 inch of tan foam that disappeared quickly and left only a layer of fine bubbles on the surface

S - roasted malts, coffee and cocoa

T - roasted malts, with cocoa & coffee flavors

M/D - really smooth, easy drinking for a 10.5%, I could get into alot of trouble. This is my favorite so far of this style.

Photo of Tone
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, jet black. 1/4 inch head of a dark tan color. Great retention and Good lacing. Smells strongly of sweet malt, slight hops, alcohol, and some roasted malts. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Thick and smooth mouth feel. Low carbonation level present, and a noticeable bitterness and dryness left on the palate. Tastes of strong malt, roasted malt, slight hop kick noticeable, some chocolate, and an overall sweetness. Strong body along with a slight alcohol flavor. Overall, a good complex beer full of different malt flavors.

Photo of taylorhamrick
4.31/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a pitch black color with a massive foamy brown head. Very beautiful. Some decent retention and lacing. Looks like a beer you want to drink. The smell is the least exiting aspect. Really I only get a smell of alcohol and carbonation. You might be able to detect some sweetness and roasted coffee type smells if you try hard. The taste is really great though. There's a caramel sweetness, almost like cola, but its backed with a deep roasted flavor. There is a sort of barbequed soy sauce taste which is a bit harsh but nice and interesting. The taste is accompanied with a nice pleasant burn. The mouthfeel is amazing. There's a wonderful creaminess and a ton of complexity. The carbonation is not overly done, which makes the alcohol burn not too harsh. And I found it to be a great drinker. You want to reach back into it and taste more. Recommended to anyone interested in stouts.

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

Batch #8728
Thanks mfielden for the bitchin' extra!!!

Pours motor-oil thick&black with a tiny tan head that hangs around 'till about half-way through. Smells like alot of roasted malts and mabye a touch of coffee or hops(something bitter). Taste is not as smooth as say, an Old Rasputin...still enough going on here to hide the alcohol(wich isn't noticeable at all). In all, a great IRS that came into my hands from afar. I woulden't miss a chance to try it again

Photo of aggiearcher13
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had it last night, it was pretty tasty. Batch 8729.

A: Dark dark dark, with about a half inch of very brown head that hung around for a few minutes before dissipating, leaving a ring of foam around the edges. Looks like some nice, low-level carbonation and pours pretty thick.

S: Maybe my nose was a little off, but not as much going on here as I remember. But what I do smell is dark toasty malts, hops, and alcohol.

T: Roasted malts, some chocolate and coffee-like notes, a little sweet. Pretty solid.

M: Creamy, low carbonation but lively.

D: I had to resist the urge to have another.

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

This is my favorite beer, hands down, the stout by which all others are judged and fall short. Follow me if you will, but imagine that chocolate and espresso decided to make sweet, sweet love...and they invited over their friend roasted malt, that's what it's like (perhaps a graphic comparison, but I love this beer). It is heavy, hold it up to your eye and watch an eclipse with no fear...not that you'd see a thing. The alcohol content is heafty, I'd avoid (next time) having...oh...say 8 in 3 hours and attempting to stand up straight, but this is an exceptional beer in my opinion, and better enjoyed in moderation.

Photo of Fatduck
3.87/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Here's a beer I should have tried earlier. I'm a big fan of the RIS, and a big fan of Bell's. High time this one gets reviewed. I just finished my taxes and this is my reward.

This thing is black, nothing gets through, even on the edges. Smells of deep roasted/burnt coffee/chocolate with some raisins.

Taste is good, big full body, nothing like a good RIS to ruin your review, right?

Very drinkable

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow. This is how a RIS should taste! Thanks Drunkmonk!
Where do I begin? Perhaps the best RIS I have had. Poured a deep thick black with a nice deep brown head. Carbonation was good. Nose is sticky, sweet with cocoa, espresso, roasted malts. Taste is very smooth. Lots of cocoa, coffee, roasted malts and maybe even some vanilla. Mouthfeel was great. Drinkability was awesome. So good and the 10.5 ABV was well disguised. Awesome brew.

Photo of Biggness
3.97/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours very dark with a 1/2 fingered dark tan head with some lacing. The smell is of molasses. The flavor has hints or dark chocolate, some molasses as well as some burnt sugar flavors. The mouthfeel is nice and creamy but the low carbonation holding it back. There is alot of roasted malts in this brew you can majorly taste them in the aftertaste. A decently drinkable brew, I will look for it next time I am @ Bell's.

Photo of br3wmeister
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- One inch medium brown head that looks almost like oatmeal. Tiny frothy bubbles with some lumpy texture. Good head retention with some lacing. This beer is jet black, it does not let any light through.

S- I really enjoyed the smell of this beer, it really has a lot going on. Lots of coffee dark chocolate and even some burnt toast. On the sweeter side some caramel, dark fruits and molasses. There were also some hints of ginger bread, alcohol.

T- Complex layers of sweet and roasty bitterness. Sweet caramel and molasses hits the tongue first then some dark chocolate, roasted barley and hints of dark fruit, maybe cherries. Some alcohol warmth in the end.

M- Thick. This is a full bodied beer that takes control of your mouth. Not much carbonation but some hoppy bite helps to balance things out.

Overall- This is a pretty big beer, 12 ounces of this RIS is all you really need. Small bottle.. big beer.

Photo of cvfish
4.18/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - This beer poured an oily black that let no light show, it produced a brown fluffy head that retained well and left a great lace around the side of glass

S - The aromas of this beer were burnt, charred malts, bitter chocolate and a good deal of booze

T - The beer starts with a great deal of burnt malts, has some chocolaty bitterness with coffee notes, and finishes with a good kick of booze at the end

M - This mouth was everything I expected from an Imperial Stout, smooth and creamy, thick body, and light carbonation

D - This was a good Imperial Stout, a little more booze on the taste than I like, except in the case of Bourbon Cask aged, of course

Photo of ThirdLap
2.89/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Got this through a great trade with aforbes10. Thanks Andrew!

Split this one with BA member 'macktbone' in two standard pint glasses. The minimal amount of dark brown head dissipates quickly, leaving only thirty-weight motor oil. Swirling the glass coats it with a translucent brown coating that is slow to disappear.

Lots of soy on the nose, with molasses, dark roasted malt, along with some sweet alcoholic beverage that I can't put my finger on. Some have said sherry, but I'm not sure that's it.

As promised, I'll be honest about what left my lips upon taking my first taste of this beer. I think the exact words were something along the lines of "holy shit".

It's not bad, just not well-balanced. I get way too much soy here. Very tangy and astringent with lots of burnt flavors... I get some coffee and caramel. The alcohol is very in-your-face.

Mouthfeel is much how it looks to be, thick and viscous. This beer really coats the mouth. Carbonation is minimal, and I really think a bit more would perk this beer up a bit.

Getting through my half was a bit of a challenge. I will probably return to it someday, hopefully on tap. Right now it just reminds me a bit too much of a SA Triple Bock. Hopefully the HopSlam arriving tomorrow will provide a better example of what Bell's is capable of.

[EDIT: I'm really thinking my bottle had gone bad. I will seek out and re-review this beer as soon as I can.]

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

A: Dark, viscous black with a dense mocha smallish head.

S: Sweet molasses, roasted malt, some dark raisin-like fruit. A nicely complex beer.

T/M: Awesome stuff. Very well balanced, with a good creamy mouthfeel. Not a ton of carbonation but enough that it's not syrupy or cloying. The smells are all there in the mouth, with a nice lingering sweetness that is never overpowering. Very complex.

D: Despite the 10%+ abv I could drink several of these. Not something you'd normally say about a RIS, which is a testament to how well this one is balanced.

Photo of jkendrick
3.82/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours dark and viscous. A moderately aggressive pour yields a half inch brown head. There is no light shining through and little carbonation visible rising up in the glass. The head recedes relatively quickly, but leaves some foam stuck to the side of the glass. After a few sips, nice lacing is left in its wake.

Aroma: The aroma isn't as strong as many Imperial Stouts but what is there is malt. and some alcohol. I smell dark and sweet fruit. I don't smell coffee and chocolate as was expected. Maybe just a touch of molasses.

Mouthfeel: Not a ton of carbonation, but it is oily and full-bodied.

Taste: The taste is where the chocolate - dry, powdery cocoa to be exact - that was absent in the nose makes itself known. The fruit, so dominant in the aroma, is relegated to the back. The alcohol is definitely present, but for a 10% abv, it isn't bad. I think the alcohol could have been hidden a bit better. The molasses flavors are most dominant in the middle and there is bitterness in the finish. The alcohol is somewhat warming, but is mostly noticeable in the mouth.

Overall Impressions: This is good imperial stout. It has a very interesting difference from aroma to taste. While the aroma screams fruit and had me excited for something a bit different than the typical coffee/chocolate/molasses dominated impy stouts, ultimately it is the cocoa and molasses that rule the flavor. I'd definitely buy this one again and it's the best offering I've had from Bell's, but it has some flaws.

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

12 oz bottle to us pint

A: motor oil black and creamy but small mahogany head

S: slightly tart and lactic with creamy softness

T: Smooth, cherry, and toasted caramel, a nice hit of alcohol

M: smooth and minimal dryness caused by alcohol

D: one per session please, it's best to let it warm over an hour and get all the flavor changes

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

Appearance: Opaque black, big brown colored head.

Smell: Dark chocolate, booze.

Taste: Bitter coffee, sweetened dark chocolate, some alcohol heat, roasted flavor.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thick stuff.

Drinkability: If it hid the alcohol a little better this would be a little higher.

I haven't had this beer for probably 4 years so I picked up a single to re-try. I enjoyed it more than years ago as I am more used to the big stouts these days. It was good but probably could use a little age to mellow out the alcohol a bit.

Photo of koopa
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've received a few of these bottles in trades over the past 6 months. I believe the one I am drinking at the moment came courtesy of JohnTravolta21. Thanks for the opportunity!

Appearance: Very dark black with a nice 2 finger foam cap. Some retention and great lacing. So far I'm impressed!

Smell: Roasted malt that gives off a hint of coffee, some vanillia, and a wood note stand out. The notes are there but are not the most pronounced. You have to dig for them a bit.

Taste: I get bread pudding, roasted malt, some dark chocolate (but nothing like Choklat from Southern Tier), and a hint of anise. Better than the nose!

Mouthfeel: A full bodied brew that is a touch thick and a little flat. I think more carbonation would help in this category and this is the least impressive category for ES so far.

UPDATE 11/29/09: I've since had this brew several more times and have found more recent samplings to have better carbonation so I'm changing my score from a 3.5 to 4.0

Drinkability: Tastes great and is fairly drinkable for a full bodied low carbonation brew.

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz that SAS gave me a while back.. shared with Brenda.. but most went into the New Belgium snifter.. This bottle has been sitting in the cellar for close to a year.. tonight is the night.. Thanks Steven.

Easy 1" dark brown head.. great lace and a beautiful cap.. the brew is black.. obviously.

milk chocolate and dark fruity esters dominate the nose.. there may be some hops left.. but mostly cocoa and prune and dried cherries.. are still around.. waaay more complex than my feeble senses can put on paper.

The flavor has a little bit of unexpected char.. very rich RIS characteristics.. roasty and a bunch of deep brownie chocolate.. but the burnt flavors are there and may be a bit too much.. the hoppy bitterness combined with the burnt grains make for a great brew. but it still needs some more time to meld.. rich yet sorta unbalanced.. smooth and rough.. coffee... and a bit of cream.. the mouthfeel is expected for a brew of this caliber.. great and filling.. the carbonation may be a touch high.

Thanks Steven.. I've been waiting to enjoy this one for way to long.. I've had the Expedition a couple of times before, but never took the time to really sit back and savor...

Photo of Jekster
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: This beer pours a thick oily opaque umbral black with a dark chocolately brown head which quickly fades to a light lacing.

Smell: This beer smells of salt cured smoked bacon. There is a hint of vanilla ice cream and a dark coffee roastyness. The smell is deep and inhaling feels full and enjoyable like taking a deep breath of fresh cut flowers. There is actually a slight grassy or spicy hop character along with a wood bark character.

Taste: This beer taste of bitter dark chocolate and dark espresso. There is a definite sweetness of bread pudding and a well reduced caramel sauce or brown sugar. There is the flavor of bitter dark cherry, bourbon and licorice. The beer has a definite alcohol warmth like sipping fine bourbon. There is a linger roast bitter ashyness after swallowing.

Mouthfeel: This is a full bodied thick, chewy, and pleasant mouth feel. When swallowed the slickness dissipates quickly into a dry pallet.

Drinkability: This beer is a sipper in the best way. I think it would be a waste to do anything but sip one possibly two of these in an evening.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: I really enjoy sipping on this beer during a cold winter evening. It has a nice complexity while balancing the sweetness with a deep rich bitterness. This beer is a bit expensive, but definitely worth indulging in about November and sipping one from time to time through January.

Photo of Klgkenny
4.51/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a cellar temp bottle into a room temp pint glass.

A dense one-finger head, of the darkest shade of mocha, floats atop the black hole mass of a body, and like a black hole, no light penetrates.

Roasted malts and aromas of alcohol waft into the nostrils, and these strong scents almost drown the lesser supporting olfactory hints of chocolate, raisins, vanilla, and licorice. The flavors are slightly more balanced, but the roasted malt and alcohol are still at the forefront. Very, very sweet, which is balanced by a strong presence of alcohol. The big sweet combined with the alcohol make for a not unpleasant drinking experience! This is borderline, but it is just on this side of wonderful! The taste is mighty fine.

I wish that this beer were just a bit thicker, fuller. It has a creamy feel, and I would say it has a medium-thick body. As sweet as this beer is, it should pour like molasses.

Drinks like a session beer. If not for the $16 price for a 6 pack, this would be a session beer, regardless of the abv. Love this beer,hate the price, and that is why it doesn't get a perfect in drinkability.

Photo of phreak1983
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured into a pint glass, it is pitch black with a slight brown foam that I wouldn't really call a head.

S- Smells of sweet roasted malt.

T- Roasted malt and not as sweet as I thought it would be. Finishes with a noticable alcohol warmth but not burn.

M-Good mouthfeel, maybe a little thin and ending slightly dry.

D- Fairly easy to drink although it would be more drinkable if it hid it's alcohol a little better.

Photo of drgonzo3705
5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2006 bottle. Batch #7205 (Jan 12, 2006)

A: Very beautiful dark black with some slight mocha around the edge.

S: Buttery Milk Chocolate. Bit of raisin and a soft touch of vanilla.

T: Like a roasted Hershey bar. A bit smokey tasting that remains on your tongue.

M: Thick and full bodied. slightly creamy with little signs of carbonation.

D: The ABV will catch up with you after a while but until it does I'm going to drink the shit out of this stout!

This being a vintage review I will say I have had fresh Expedition Stout. Definitely worth holding on to and cellaring for a few years. Like a nice Port wine or a sherry. I split this bottle with a friend and I just want to slowly sip on this alll night long.

Photo of sonicdescent
3.68/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed from notes, original drink 1/10.

Pours a beautiful black with a thick and creamy two fingered head. Excellent retention and lacing throughout the drink.

Smell is strong chocolate and to a lesser extent roasted malt.

Taste is heavy licorice and roasted coffee way out front. Boozy.

Mouth is thick and low carbonation but has a chalky feeling. This gets better as the drink warms, and oh yeah, the drink will warm you.

I probably would pass on buying this again as it is somewhat difficult to put down due to the chalky and boozy feeling.

Photo of SLeffler27
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Otter Creek Pint Glass turns to a rich, dark, black with no visible light passing under a velvety, dense, dark, mocha head. If only the head were a little taller, this would be outstanding.

Strong, sweet molasses greets the nose from the pour and is joined by toasted wheat bread, espresso and some spruce. Raisins, vanilla, and perhaps a touch of smoke fill out the profile.

An impressive combination of bitter chocolate and black coffee is immediately followed by a punch of alcohol. Sweet cereals in the middle lead to a seemingly endless bitter finish. Yum.

A full-bodied, just shy of syrupy, elixir with biting carbonation and strong alcohol awaits all.

One must select this for the proper occasion and make an appointment for exploration. I am presently reading "Beer Philosophy" while sipping and may invite a cigar to elevate the experience. This would also be a fine companion with vanilla ice cream.

date consumed: 7 Dec 2008

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,295 ratings.