1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.

4,529 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,529
Reviews: 1,882
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 392
Gots: 969 | FT: 76
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,529 | Reviews: 1,882 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Minimal brown head that shortly became nothing more than a film sits atop an opaque black beer.
Aroma is mesmerizing. The best aroma on a stout I can remember. Chocolate covered fruit (strawberries come to mind) pretty much sums it up.

Taste is big and bold. Sweet chocolate covered fruit (melons come to mind) up front. This gives way to roasty bitterness, alcohol and hops. The two extremes balance this one out nicely between sweet and bitter.

Lots of body and some creaminess to the mouthfeel. Thick? I think your car could get 3000 miles out of this stuff if you used it in place of 10W-30.
Drinkability is the drawback of this one for me. I just don't find it real drinkable.
Overall, this is a big beer and one of the better imperial stouts out there, IMO.
Big thanks to Blatzman for providing me with the bottle and prompting me to give this beer another try! I simply wasn't ready for this beer when I had it a couple years ago.

PhantomVodoo, Nov 20, 2003
Photo of cbill
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

picked this up after work, but didn't see the 15 dollar price tag till i was at the counter so i went ahead and bought it. poured a deep, deep black color, no light penetration, and also no head. no head at all, but still a nice looking beer. smelled like chocolate and coffee and then tasted about the same. huge flavor that sat in my mouth for 5 or 10 seconds after each drink. however, i don't think i could drink more than one of these in a sitting due to the heaviness of the flavor. very good beer, but i don't know that it was worth 15 dollars a sixer. this was my first imperial stout so i don't know if that is the normal price.

cbill, Nov 18, 2003
Photo of grynder33
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark black brown body, small and quickly disappearing head, beautiful, fruity, coffeeish, chocolately aroma, chocolate raisin first taste, thick and yet somewhat smooth mouthfeel. The slight downpoint I noticed on this was the quick builup of alcohol backtaste it was like I was drinking a port wine at the end. If you have the time and can sip it slow its a great winter stout

grynder33, Nov 07, 2003
Photo of pheurton
4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

re-rate 01/16/04. 2003 edition with label on the neck. pours an inky black with a giant cascading milk chocolatey brown head...that's more like it. roasted vinous aromas with hints of dark fruit (plums) with a mellow chocolate undertone. *huge* imperial flavors going on here....deep, 3-dimensional vinous notes, roasted barley, juicy dark fruits. tasting some subtle earthy and salty flavors. carbonation is slightly too prickly, and the body is just a little bit thin. finish is super long, with notes of chocolate, toffe, and earthy hoppiness lending a very pleasant bitterness to balance things out. i'm glad i found one of the 2003 bottles, this is what imperial stouts are all about! i wish they had recalled the flat '02 edition, b/c it is unfairly representing this great brew. as with some other bell's products, great when it's "on". numerical score represents the 2003 edition.

2002 edition. pours thick and black with the most *MINIMAL* head one might imagine. inverting the bottle and letting it splash into the tulip glass violently still produces nothing more than a few bubbles. great burnt chocolate roasty imperial aroma. wonderful roasted, thick, oily dark choclatey, coffe-ish flavors, except, where's the carbonation? slides down the throat too easily. can't escape the feeling like i'm drinking something flat. the flavors are there, just not held together in any coherent way. it's a damn shame. if you can get past the lack of carbonation and put yourself in the frame of mind that this is what the beer is meant to be, it becomes more enjoyable. i must admit though, i'm dissapointed. orignial overall rating of 2.45

pheurton, Nov 06, 2003
Photo of winomark
3.1/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Jet black, like any good stout, but NO carbonation; not a single bubble.

Aroma: Tones of licorice, chocolate and coffee dominate. Alcohol also present.

Taste: Coffee, anise, and roasted malt help tame the noticable alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Without any carbonation, it is quite sweet and sticky. Somewhat unpleasant.

Drinkability: Dissapointing. I hope this was a bad bottle, because I just spent $14.50 on a 6-pack.

winomark, Oct 30, 2003
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.88/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz. amber bottle with no freshness dating (as if it matters). 6 months in my fridge and it has called to me every day.

Appearance: The very essence of black with this beauty. Poured a Grand Canyon-deep black with no even the faintest hint of light making its way through the edges of the glass. A wispy-thin layer of dark tan-colored head paints a new picture on the top of the beer after each sip.

Smell: All sorts of lovliness going here. Bitter baking chocolate, roasted nuts, toffee, roasted coffee beans. Dancing around the edges are hints of daark fruit.

Taste: Holy shnikeys!! This is an incredible beer. The flavor washes all over your palate, soaking it in flavor. Freshly-roasted coffee with about 8 pounds of chocolate syrup added to it. Throw in a Heath bar for good measure. Slow roast this and you have a good idea of just how big this beer is. Finishes with a long-lasting bittersweet chocolate taste on the palate, reminding you of what has just traversed your mouth. Absolutely fantastic.

Mouthfeel: Lovingly coats your palate with thick and syrupy richness. Huge-bodied and the good carbonation really helps make this a bubbly-creamy brew.

Drinkability: Briefly...very. So very well-balanced and easy on the palate. I refuse to believe that this beer is 11.5% ABV. Almost no indication anywhere in the profile do I detect any alcohol. It just got better and better as it warmed. An excellent combination of flavors make for one of the best beers I had to date.

Notes: 11.5%? Are you *sure*?

Notes, part 2: Huge thanks to fellow BA PhantomVoDoo for this one.

OldFrothingSlosh, Oct 21, 2003
Photo of flaminghomer
3.1/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

first, let me say that my rating on this beer will not give it justice. if i was able to rate euphoric qualities, it would get a 5. is this absinthe? is the blue gone gray in the town with the giraffe, kill the stars! hmmm... must be absinthe, i'm losing my mind!

when i poured this beer, took a look, took a sniff, and took a drink; i came to one conclusion-too much of everything. except carbonation! show me the ghost that stole this beers bubbles and i'll cut him! (sorry thats the beer talking)

i was not impressed by the first one i drank. i saved the other five for my day off. after getting over that first impression and knowing what to expect, i very much enjoyed my session with this beer.

flaminghomer, Oct 16, 2003
Photo of alexgash
5/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

100th review time. I've been hanging onto this one for awhile. I drank it's five carton mates last winter, and it was all I could do to not touch this one. This bottle was from the 2001 batch. This beer/batch is also now the number one beer on my short, but growing list. This is also my first (and last?) all "5s" beer. It pours as black as any beer or used motor oil I've ever seen. The head, which is on the smaller side, is a dark brown (probably the darkest head I have seen). Beautiful. The nose is insanely complex: chocolate, rum, raisins, plums, alcohol, oak, soy sauce, ???. I'm getting dizzy. Taste is ahhh. Big, rich dark fruity malts start off, then chocolate caramel takes over, then smoky oakiness, and then, finally, roasted bitterness. Alcohol is there, but it doesn' feel like 11.5%. Mouthfeel is thick, chewy, yet beautifully smooth. I could drink this until detox.

alexgash, Oct 13, 2003
Photo of clvand0
2.7/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

This beer poured a very very dark black color and it seemed quite thick. The head was thick and dark brown. Lots of lacing on the glass as well. The aroma was full of maltiness, chocolate, and coffee. Very powerful aroma. The main part of the flavor is the thick, dark maltiness but it also has some chocolates, coffees, (a small amount of) fruits, and several other things. Quite complex taste. The mouthfeel was interesting because the flavor is so strong. It almost killed my tastebuds at first. As with most imperial stouts, this one was a bit too strong for my tastes - very well made though.

clvand0, Oct 03, 2003
Photo of euskera
4.53/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle..

Pours out like warm molasses, with a thin but delightfully chocolaty head. Smell is classic RIS, murky and sweet with just a touch of hoppiness. Taste is divine, espresso, raisins, malt, chocolate; it's all there. Mouthfeel is warm and inviting with a rich ground coffee finish. Dangerously drinkable; I gave it a 4 because I don't know how much further than one you can go. Absolutely delicious. I'm glad I bought a six pack of this stuff..

euskera, Sep 25, 2003
Photo of Ellbert
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 1 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I think I got a bad bottle, it had very little carbonation in it and it had absolutely no head. However the smell and taste was excellent. It tasted of roasted coffee and raisins. Very bold and robust. The alcohol is very hidden, it's amazing at 11.5% that the alcohol can be hidden. I'm sure this would be much better if it were carbonated. I still enjoy the beer but I hope the next one is better.

Ellbert, Sep 12, 2003
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 fluid ounce, long neck, simple label with the word Bell’s, beneath which there is a strange compass like drawing on the front, with the words Expediton Stout below. 2002 offering.

Appearance: Holy Shit! - that reminds me I need to change the oil in my Car. Jet black viscous pour, I’ve seen lighter colored heavy fractions from the bottom of a tar filled Refinery Distillation column. The massive head is a dark brown, expansive & well aerated at first, after which, it settles to an incredibly smooth offering with shallow ravines & some pock-marks give a lunar landscape look about this Stout. The head eventually breaks, but not after it leaves an amazing lace. Solid inherent carbonation.

Nose: Roasted malts, coffee beans, dark chocolate & some fruit aspects, I actually got a light whiff of fresh Strawberries at first, but mixed with the dark chocolate - I can see why people get Cherries.

Taste: Starts & finishes with a long, deep, massive bitter-roast missives, which makes it a delight to re-taste after each swallow. After a while, I get a cherry fruitiness in the beginning as well as a Cocoa powder dryness in the middle, the ending has some Vanilla aspects. It takes a while & quite a bit of concentration to work this one out.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, but the bitter, roasted flavors coat the mouth like synthetic lubricating oil. It takes a few swallows before the bitter-roast flavors are eroded by the mere act of salivation. Mmmm, nice! Solid.

Drinkability: I simply do not believe that this is 11.5%, is it? – Nah, never! - it can’t be! - can it? Wow, if it is, it hides the alcohol so incredibly well. I will be honest to admit that if I sampled this blind, others could easily fool me into telling me it is between 6-8%, such is the balance. Bloody Hell, my Glass is empty!

Overall: Excellent ! I am so glad I got a good sample of this Expedition Stout from Bell’s, now I know why people are so pissed when they get less than par samples of this quite stupendous Stout – it would be a huge disappointment & a let-down for me also after tasting a good one.

Thanks to BigHuge, you came up trumps yet again!!

TheLongBeachBum, Sep 03, 2003
Photo of far333
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours out dark as motor oil, with a thick dark brown head topped with lumps like oatmeal. The aroma comes right up to my nose - hops followed by raisin and burnt malt with distinct sweet chocolate hints. Taste is pungent. Flavor is bitter cofee and dark chocolate, with a strong alcohol finish and tingle. Chocolate and raisin lingers, as does a sting in the top of the palate, behind the nose. Mouthfeel feels a little thin for this one, and the drinkability is low due to the incredibly strong flavor. I find myself sipping this one to let the flavors come out as small amounts roll around the mouth. Excellent beer that makes its presence known.

far333, Aug 30, 2003
Photo of ngandhi
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5


Goes down exceptionally smooth for an 11.5% (11.5!) beer. I stress beer. Unlike some high abv Belgians that mimic wine or cider to compliment the fire, Expedition Stout brings a full-frontal exhibition of oily malts disrobing by the bedroom window and peeping-Tom hops hanging by the trellise.

Phenols come out on the tongue. Smoke finish. Warmth, not like alcohol, but as a mother's breast to her newborn child. Makes me long for autumn. And my mommy.

Absolutely intoxicating.

Relax, relax.

ngandhi, Aug 29, 2003
Photo of beerguy101
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Midnight black oil. No head. Aroma is roasted malts, chocolate, coffee and cherries. YEOW, JIP JANG JOWIE!! This is a Big full-bodied Imperial Stout. Pours and looks like engine oil. Malts are very pronounced. Roasted malts, chocolate and coffee are the predominate flavors, but there are also hints of cherries, vanilla, raisins, and plums. Some smokiness as well. Hops are bitter and piney. Full, nearly oily body. Definitely a beer to take your time with and enjoy. Very smooth. Slight alcohol bite at 10%. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

beerguy101, Aug 26, 2003
Photo of Doppel07
4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Jet black, opaque and flat as Lubbock, Texas. Sorry but it ain't pretty. Aroma of licorice, soy sauce, alcohol, chocolate, black coffee, and hops. Ultra-thick and full bodied, this beer is jam packed with flavors of figs, coffee, chocolate, licorice, raisins, plums, berries, soy sauce, tobacco, smoke, port, nuts, molasses, hops, and ethanol. Evokes memories of the three-course meal gum from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory that turned Violet into a giant blueberry. The aftertaste is rich and indulgent. Lack of carbonation and ultra-complex flavor make this brew a fantastic slow port-like sipper.

Doppel07, Aug 24, 2003
Photo of ecoboy
4.53/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Inky Black. (Yes, it deserves the capital "B," I stuck a 60 watt bulb right behind my glass and saw NOTHING through it.)

Incredibly appealing malt aroma of chocolate and cake with alcohol apparent in the nose.

A really indescribably big flavor: burnt/sweet/chocolate all spread to the far reaches of the palate. At least three taste bud regions get a workout.

I felt the mouthfeel was a bit too big and round for an imperial stout; fans of Samuel Smith Imperial will find this nicely oily, but too heavy.

An incredible product, but only appealing every once in a while.

ecoboy, Aug 19, 2003
Photo of granger10
4.8/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I dont see how it could get any better than this one! Amazing, a stout lovers wet dream. Very dark, very thick, very heavy to drink. Sweet malt flavors of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and thick fudge come to mind while drinking this however it is balanced out by a big bite of hop bitterness. One of my favorite beers of all time!

edit: This year's batch is well carbonated and has a beautiful head! The flavors are even better, all BA's need to get a sixer of the 03 es.

granger10, Jul 04, 2003
Photo of TheDM
3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This brew has a very hoppy aroma and an extremely black, as in a black hole, body with no head whatsoever. It had a very strong coffee flavor. It almost burns as it goes down. Somewhat of a bitter initial taste that lingers well after is has gone down.

TheDM, Jun 29, 2003
Photo of daledeee
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I read some other reviews. People spoke of a head on this beer. No such thing on the one I drank. The top of this glass of beer is shiny as a mirror. Completely opaque, Smell is much like the taste. Charcoal, dark chocolate, coffee with malt in the background. A little alchohol on the nose also. This beer tasted better after it sat a while. It WILL sit a while this is a definite sipper. Mouthfeel is thick and clean. Good residual chocolate and coffee aftertaste.

I have bought this beer 3 times. There has been absolutely no carbonation. I don't think this is the way it should be. The taste has been good but I like so me carbonation.

daledeee, Jun 27, 2003
Photo of johnrobe
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Acquired through trade. This brew is right up there with other great stouts like Stone IS, not better, just in the same ballpark. It pours a motor oil black...completely opaque, but with absolutely no head. Blackstrap molasses, rich malt, and chocolate dominate the smell. The flavor is intense! This is stout concentrate, professional strength. Tons of dark chocolate, coffee, heavy caramel malt and a touch of roasted barley bitterness. Viscous, syrupy mouthfeel, almost like having a liquer. Bravo!

johnrobe, Jun 21, 2003
Photo of BierReise
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Without question one of the finest stouts I've ever had the privelage to know. Outstanding aroma, sweet roasted malt with coffee overtones that remind me of Kahluha. Also reminds me of the very first Mackeson XXX I had some 10 years ago. Smooth full body and very drinkable. Seems to be at its best after sitting a little while and warms up. This is a Stout lovers wet dream!!

BierReise, Jun 18, 2003
Photo of stegmakk
3.1/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Well...I don't believe the hype...
As I opened it up and poured into my glass, I had to take a sniff to make sure I wasn't pouring old oil into my glass...
Dark almost black, thick, no carb
Aroma sweet raisin molasses
Taste too sweet, and not complex at all...I thought there might be a chocolate flavor there somewhere but the sweet molasses over took everything...not wretched but not great...
I loved the thick mouthfeel on this one, and for drinkability, I couldn't drink more than 1 at a time...

stegmakk, Jun 11, 2003
Photo of Loki
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled for my 100th review from a 12oz bottle via a friend.

Poured a black, like pure oil, black as coal with a dark beige head. The head was small at first then build to a sheer mountainous head full of bubbles, craigs, and peaks. Simply beautiful to watch it build. As the head starts to receed over time it leaves a webbing of lacing on the glass that simple defies gravity and clings to the glass. The head does fade but a quick swirl builds a new 1/8 inch head.

Aromas of cocoa, coffee, espresso, something similar to raisins, and molasses. Simply wonderful and begging to be tasted

The first sip was amazing, perhaps breath taking. Harsh and brash like a true Italian espresso with alcohol behind the bitter coffee. Wonderful, thick, chewy. Tastes of cocoa, coffee, toasted malt sweetness, that finishes with the taste of unsweetened coffee. A truly monsterous brew. A wonderful beer. A true pleasure. I believe I have chosen wisely for my 100th review!

Loki, Jun 06, 2003
Photo of SheepNutz
4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had the Expedition Stout in a 12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It poured a deep black with only about half a finger (if that) of reddish-tan head, which dies to almost nothing quickly. There is only a trace amount of lace left on the glass. The smell is invigorating, roasted coffee with a hint of sweetness, maybe caramel or chocolate. All of these smells are brought forth in the taste. Very heavy coffee taste with a great punch of hops. The taste really wakes you up. The mouthfeel is very strong and smooth. The drinkability is a little low due to the 10% abv. A very tasty brew though!

SheepNutz, May 25, 2003
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,529 ratings.