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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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5,200 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,200
Reviews: 1,958
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 437
Gots: 1,230 | FT: 85
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: 5,200 | Reviews: 1,958 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of daliandragon
3.73/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

With the temperature dropping the way it has, the first RIS of the season seemed to be in order. Expedition pours a pure jet black with a tight bubbled, chocolate milk colored head and features a thick malted nose with tones of coffee and dark fruit and a wicked alcohol lace on the side.

This is stunningly thick and powerful. The taste and texture remind me of molasses. Plum and fig notes are present but are almost swept away by an enormous swath of alcohol which rules the taste and finish. The texture is remarkably smooth considering the extreme bulk this one is carrying.

This is a terrific and well crafted brew but a little too muscular for me most of the time. I can see having one as a nightcap on a cold winters night but otherwise drinkability isn't real high.

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

Poured into my trusty Delirium Tremens snifter, explodes with a reverse-cascading, creamy mocha-colored head that settles down just before eclipsing the rim of the glass. The head very slowly fades to a 1 cm cap atop this impenetrably black brew, leaving beautiful, copious lacing everywhere. Perfection in appearance. Notes of bittersweet chocolate and roasty coffee in the nose. Taste follows smell, with the chocolate and coffee flavors mingling; a nice hint of hops is detectable on the finish as well. Mouthfeel was very nice, with a thick richness characteristic of the style. It didn't have the viscosity of Dark Lord, but then, exceedingly few do. Drinkability was exceptional; I found myself finishing the glass rather quickly and wanting more. Had to wake up early the next morning, so I refrained. At 10.5%, I can see how this one could get dangerous, as the flavor does not make the ABV apparent at all. A wonderful beer, and definitely one of my favorite stouts thus far.

Photo of Donnie2112
4.37/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

it's black, light doesn't make it through there is no head there was a little bit of carbonation going up the side of the glass, doesn't look bad, but also nothing special

smells slightly nutty, a bit of vanilla, some chocolate

lots of roasty bitterness, a bit of chocolate and some dark coffee flavors as well, vanilla a bit of dark chocolate there is also a bit of black pepper and a bit of whisky like flavors coming from the alcohol

I found none of the problems with the mouthfeel that other reviewers did, I found it delightfully warm with the right ammount of carbonation and a nice heavy body. Seems about right for an imperial stout to me.

This is a nice beer, I might just have to pick up a sixer the next time I see this stuff. If they made this in uber limited quantities, people might just pilgramage for it.

Photo of danielharper
4.72/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Black. Really black. No, even blacker than that. No light gets through even when held up to a light bulb. The only thing knocking this down is the very minimal head -- it leaves no appreciable head in this snifter, although I believe in a pint glass it's a bit more aggressive.

Smell: Sweet bitter chocolate malts, a slight astringency from the alcohol, the barest hints of raisin and other tarty sweet dark fruits. Very slight notes of grapes. Incredibly complex, very invigorating.

Taste: Highly alcoholic, strongly malty, very dry in the aftertaste. Thick with grains and barley in the middle, Strong notes of coffee and chocolate, of course, but with a sort of dry roastiness underneath that's less expected.

Mouthfeel: Thick, coats the tongue amazingly. Very low carbonation, pretty much nonexistent, beer goes down smooth as anything you can imagine at this alcohol level.

Drinkability: One of the best beers I've ever tasted. Amazingly drinkable, worth every penny. Having just moved to Kalamazoo, I'm going to be drinking a <i>lot</i> of this over the next few years....

Photo of allergictomacros
4.53/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours an opaque brown with a huge head of brown foam. Oddly, the head starts out looking weak, but build and builds as the bubbles trickle up through the viscous liquid. Anyway, foam is thick, solid, and pretty much crawls out of the glass of its own accord.

S - Ripe fruit, coffee and molasses. Raisins/prunes, sharp alcohol and chocolate cake.

T - Toasty, coffee etc etc. The real flavour is in the fruit though - ripe, juicy, sweet, fruit with a hint of tartness. Finishes with a big bitterness.

M - Heavy, creamy, chewy.

D - Very tasty, very big. Not something I would session but certainly delicious

Photo of GJ40
3.13/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Sampled from a 12oz bottle in a pint glass.

A - A deep, dark black beer with no light able to fight through it. A thick, creamy tan head.

S - Strong roasted aroma with chocolate and coffee notes.

T - Sweet, malty and syrupy. This one really caught me by surprise. I guess I've been focusing on hops and IPAs too much these days. I just couldn't enjoy this but I attribute that more to the style than the beer.

M - Very thick and chewy. A bit like cough syrup. Good moderate carbonation with lots of tiny bubbles.

D - I found this way too rich and malty to enjoy.

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

12oz bottle poured into an imperial pint glass.

A: Pours a bloody black, that is to say, black with dark, almost rusty highlights. The beer supports a thick and creamy one and a half inch head that cascades wonderfully until reaching its final height.

S: Big powerful hits of roasted barly, chocolate and big earthy hops. There is also a slight milkiness in here as well which adds some interesting character to this beer.

T/MF: Quite hot, bits of bourbon and vanilla but then quickly moves into sweet, dark chocolate with touches of coffee bean. This beer is super sticky, not quite like Dark Lord, which left a sticky beer film on the glass, but still pretty oily nonetheless. I think the carbonation level is right where it needs to be for a beer this full in body and leaves the pallate rather clean compared to some other impy stouts out there. I think though this beer is just the slightest bit too fresh and would probably benifit from some aging to coax out even more character from this massive beer.

D: A big, hot, heavy drinking experience. This beer is a great sipper but still remains quite quaffable (in my opinion, i like my beers a bit hot), but again, this beer may be a bit too hot for its own good and risks overshadowing more subtle flavors that might be lurking beneath the surface.

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

This was bottled in February 2008.

A: It's a deep jet black with a really creamy chocolate colored head. The head looks like melted down milk chocolate and recedes slowly, leaving some nice sheets and lattices of lace as it goes. More lacing than one might expect for a beer with such a high ABV--I'm pleased. You really can kick the head back up nicely with a good swirl, too. The delicate, fine carbonation is visible in the head development.

S: Smell isn't as intense and robust as I would expect, but it's still really complex. Loads of cocoa and bittersweet chocolate, buttery rum aroma, some bitter, pungent espresso aromas. Upon each return to the glass my nose seems to find something new. Dark fruits now begin to make their entrance almost 10 minutes after the initial pour. The complexity is pleasing, but it's just not robust or chocolaty enough for me to bump it up.

T&M: The mouthfeel on this is absolutely perfect. Unreal silkiness and smoothness. It's got JUST enough carbonation to get by, and that's the brilliance of it. This is a huge beer that demands all your attention. Tons of flavors--sweet fudge (interplay of chocolate with a buttery/caramel flavor), figs/raisins, tempered with some bitter espresso and a kiss of earthy hops. The finish is long, but not abrasively bitter or roasty. No one flavor dominates, but the totality of the experience is overbearing.

D: So big it's not that easy to drink. Can't hamper it THAT much though, because its to style. I'm laying down a couple of bottles of this to see how it ages. I would only hope that some of the more intricate fruit and chocolate flavors continue to emerge at the expense of the hops (not a big fan of psycho-hopped RIS's). Anyway, get yourself a bottle and sip it on down--this one's a great.

Photo of association330
4.52/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Outstanding stout here. Makes a perfect dessert beer.

A - Pours like motor oil, a thick, inky blackness with zero light penetration. Creamy, one-finger head slowly fades to a thick cap of dense foam. A ring of lacing coats the glass well.

S - The richness of rum, freshly ground coffee, dark fruit such as raisins, caramelized burnt sugar/molasses, and a noticeable, but not overpowering, alcoholic astringency.

T - Initially sweet and fronted by caramel, with raisins, roasted coffee, and dark chocolate coming through mid-palate. A notable alcoholic presence throughout. Finishes with an interesting contrast between sweet and bitter, with a swallow of roasted coffee, chocolate, and just the right touch of alcoholic prickliness. Mild to moderate bitterness lingers on the tongue, demanding another sip to bring back the sweet burnt sugar/molasses flavors.

M - Pretty close to perfect. Thick, oily, slick, and moderately carbonated. Finishes creamy and sinks right to the pit of your stomach.

D - Dangerously drinkable at 10.5%. I'd have zero problem making a slow, steady evening of enjoying a few of these, but at $15 for a six pack, my wallet knows better.

I'm going to try cellaring four bottles, but it'll be awfully tough waiting to taste them. ;)

Photo of OlieIPA
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Black, small and tan head, and poured really thick.

S: A lot of coffee and aging qualities.

T: Alchohol is definitely easy to spot out...not overwhelming though. Coffee, maybe some chocolate, and aging qualities once again.

M: I love the mouthfeel on this beer. Perfect!!! Full-body, easy and even carbonation, and last on the palate.

D: Good. Some alcohol is present in taste...but not too much.

Overall: Great beer!!!

Photo of eberkman
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a thick, oily, oozy dark brown, almost black, with few carbonation bubbles and a thin but rich chestnut-brown head that dissipates to a ring almost instantly.

Creamy but pungent aromas of dark chocolate, milk chocolate and caramel.

Big, rich palate here. Tastes of dark chocolate, bitter dark-roasted coffee, overripe figs, and caramel, caramel and more caramel. Long, bitter finish with a big malty sweetness on the intake. A seriously hefty presence.

Feels thick and slick in the mouth with a deceptively sharp carbonation.

Very enjoyable -- one of the best of its kind. A little too big to session.

thanks, ghscash, for bringing this one back from EL this weekend. It survived the plane trip well.

Photo of srandycarter
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours dark, very, very dark. Nice 1.5 inch mocha head dissipates slowly. Thick soapy lacing.

S - Dark roasted malt, coffee, prunes and other dark cooked fruit, slight chocolate note. Very pungent.

T - Wonderful creamy dark malt and coffee, dryish, bitter finish.

M - Medium to heavy, creamy, good coating, great carb.

D - I love this stuff. It's just not very drinkable after one or two...

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

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a tumbler glass. The bottle was labeled batch 8728.

Appearance: Expedition Stout has a black body with a head the color of chocolate milk.

Smell: Lots of roasted coffee and alcohol aroma.

Taste: Little bit of an alcohol burn. Bitter dark chocolate and roasted coffee.

Mouthfeel: No carbonation kinda hurts the mouthfeel. Also was kinda thin.

Drinkability: Surprisingly good drinkability even with the stronger presence of alcohol.

Photo of almychristopher
4.6/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

this beer pours out blacker than used engine oil with a thick perfectly even creamy brown head. that's right brown. quite a pretty stout especially for one of the russian imperial variety which is exactly what it smells like with a chocolatey roasty nose that is out of this world. the taste is also wonderful, full of all the burnt to a crisp malt that the nose promised and even a bit of the hops that were largely hidden in the nose. the mouthfeel is lovely, the thick velvety richness makes it a great stout and plenty palatable for an imperial.

Photo of beachbum1975
4.46/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

So here I am, ready to engage in my latest expedition - what's more fitting then an Expedition Stout! I had my 3rd child yesterday (10/9/08) and I can't stop reviewing beer because of a new baby! ;) After sneaking in a beer from the newest batch, I'm sitting in the recovery room of the hospital typing up this review...

Today I bought a six-pack of the uber-fresh 2008 edition - Batch # 8728.

A: A dead ringer for its' style, this one pours like black, thick motor oil into my fine Styrofoam cup (Sorry, no fancy beer glasses at the hospital). A large, creamy, dark mocha head sits during the entire session- amazing... Lacing runs all the way up the walls.

S: I whiffed a big pounding of freshly roasted coffee trailed by some heavily roasted malts and floral hops.

T/M: WOW! This one is thick, complex and full flavored. My mouth exploded with a wave of dry and complex flavors each sip. Starts with a bitter smashing of thick, oily heavily roasted malts, black expresso shots, molasses and booze. The middleis chocked with more dry flavors including oats and burnt brown sugar. Finishes with a cherry like flavor and unsweetened dark chocolate. Very bitter overall, possibly due to the hops being blended in there so quietly. Age will certainly do this beer well, as it seemed very sharp and bitey at times - but great today, nonetheless.

This is a serious beer. I'd give it a 9.5 out of 10 on the imaginary flavor scale.

This one's for you, Zachary!

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

During the past few weeks, I have several vintages of this beer including one from 1995 that I took to our BA gathering on Saturday, 1999, 2003, 2005, and more recently a 2007 bottle which the review is mostly based on, poured into my New Belgium snifter

A-Completely black, no highlights here, big 1 1/2 inch tan head that was pretty soapy, stayed around a while, some retention, nice lacing
S-Dark malts, roastiness, cream, light coffee, milk and dark chocolate, prunes, other dark fruits, smokiness, burned accents, and cocoa nibs
T-Fresher version of this has more reliance on coffee and dryness, starts off with some dark cocoa, some coffee beans in the middle, roasty accents make up the finish, sweet chocolate comes out as it warms, some prunes in the finish as well, flavors really mold together nicely, chocolate is inviting and not overly sweet, enjoyed the balance in this one
M-Full thick body, nice level of carbonation, mouthfeel is roasty, slightly warming, sweet at times, and fairly dry, taste lingers for a long time and leaves a thick texture in your mouth
D-Can easily drink a bottle of this myself, but cannot see going much beyond that, pretty heavy on the stomach, alcohol content is high but hidden very well, extremely smooth, especially the aged bottles

This beer gets better with age, the older the better was my experience with these, cannot believe how thick the body still was thirteen years later, thanks to hoppymeal for that really old bottle, you are the man Derek, still have a few fresh ones in my closet, I will try to age them as long as possible now, looking forward to drinking again, certainly recommended

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

12oz bottle

Damn this thing wins the 'black of the black' award, no light penetration. The head on this thing is frickin enormous, real sticky and brown, the thing looks like a sponge soaked in coffee atop the brew. Sweet burnt malts in the nose, its an all out marshmallow roasting campfire in a glass. Sweet toasty grain, and lots of it, come through initially, definitely some quality malt used here. A bit of boozy heat while tasting but its warming, rather than unpleasant, very nice. Coffee and cream come through as well as the usual suspects of chocolate, molasses and brown sugar notes. This is a big beer, packed with flavor, but god damn what a drinkable body, perfectly creamy, slightly coating and leaves a long sweet malty finish. Yea, i recommend it. I recommend Bells should come into NJ and wreak havoc upon my wallet!!

Photo of deereless
4.73/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Not an smidgeon of light passes through, brown head rings the glass, a brief swirl of the glass quickly raises the foamy head - 4.5, S: Espresso and chocolate malt, possibly some vanilla, something burnt - 4.0, T: Like eating a meal, chocolate & coffee, wonderful hop bite typical of a Russian Imperial Stout, extreme beer - 5.0, M: Extremely heavy, serious viscosity - 5.0, D: An exceptional beer, one of my favorite styles and hands down one of the best examples - 5.0

Photo of TheodorHerzl
4.77/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aged for two years.

This beer pours an opaque black with no highlights around the edges capped off by a dark mocha head that has surprising staying power on it. The smell is a rich and decadent combination of roasted coffee beans, dark chocolate, roasted grain, and anise. A top notch and superb nose on this imperial stout. The flavor profile starts with roasted grain and bitter chocolate upfront followed by a myriad of dark fruits, a bit of caramel, cocoa, and only a touch of alcohol in the flavor profile. This is full bodied with low carbonation with the alcohol present on the mouthfeel. The drinkability for this beer is as a sipper at the higher ABV, but I could have had another one of these quite easily.

I've had this beer fresh, with one year of age on it, and now with two years of age on it, and this bottles was the two year old version and was by far the best I've had.

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

A_As I initially poured this, there appeared to be no head coming through. Seeing this I gave the beer a hard pour midway through. This produced a huge cocoa coloured head that overflowed my imperial sized mug. The retention is outstanding as the head just sort of sits there. As it does subside through drinking it leves a foam clinging to the sides of the glass akin to drinking a chocolate milkshake. The liquid itself is jet black.

S_Sweet roasted malt intermingles with coffee, licorice, and a bit of alcohol. Intense.

T_Intensely sweet at first with the licorice and coffee coming through the forefront. The middle leaves a bit of alcohol astringency on the palatte in a warming sort of way. The finish comes back with a slightly more restrained sweetness. As this subsides the aftertaste is a deep roasted grain flavour, almost bordering on burnt.

M_Viscous but not overly so. The rich head adds to the experience and the carbonation is medium for the style.

D_I have had this on tap before as a clandestine offering in a NYC beer bar but was slightly buzzed when it happened. This bottled version is simply outstanding. Warming and perfect for a cool fall evening.

Photo of EllaLythe
3.57/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a Sam's Pint glass

Looks good pouring from a height of six inches to get some kind of head. Not much luck in that department. Plenty of lacing through out.

Smells like a wonderful rich toasted malt filled tongue pleaser

Taste is black malt and viscous coffee and alcohol. Slightly cloying aftertaste. The thickness is the real downside for me. A little lighter would have been great.

I liked it overall but this maybe my last six pack. Just didn't compare to some other Imperial Stouts I've had.

Photo of dogfishlove120
4.8/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours black with a burnt sugar caramel colored head. Smells raisin and plum mixed with alcohol. Taste is bitter chocolate, burnt sugar,alcohol and cofee, hints of raisin also apparent. The alcohol in this imp undoubtedly wishes to make its presence noted. A fine Imperial stout and a new top 10 for me.

Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- This beer poured very very thick, almost like motor oil. The black liquid awaits below a half a finger tan head. The head is fluffy and dense.

S- Dark chocolate, vanilla, roasted malts, and coffee are smells that seem to emanate from the glass.

T- There is a great sweet chocolate taste, very smooth and creamy. This beer is very dry and has the taste of being wood aged. Its almost like sucking this through a wooden straw. The roasted flavor accents the chocolate and vanilla flavors. Hops are there, but they aren't the star of the show.

M- This is a thick beer, and I like that a lot.

D- Easy to drink, nice and smooth with great complexity.

Photo of philbe311
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Thick dark brown head... Onyx black color... Strong head retention... Coats glass well...

S - Caramel... Malts... Brownie mix... Soy Sauce... Coffee... Rum... Mainly sweet with subtle complexities throughout...

T - Raisins at first sip... Followed by roasted grains, hints of maple syrup, and a slight hoppiness... Finishes with alcohol... Complex and very aggressive in nature...

M - Heavy... Thick... Syrupy... Chewy... Bitter finish... Menacing... Will catch you off guard if you're not ready...

D - Extreme beer in both taste and ABV... BOLD... A sipper with major attitude... An intense beer experience... I'm happy to have tried and conquered, but not one I'll readily seek out for future enjoyment...

Bottle / Artwork - Understated in the Bell's tradition... Marbled label with feminine compass / key symbol...

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Motor oil viscosity pouring out of the bottle! Brown head dissipates quickly to a nice collar.

Smells like chocolate malts, raspberries, blackberries, red apples and a bit of grassy hops. Quite complex.

Mouthfeel is uber thick and creamy. Would have liked to have aged this a while, but phuket...didnt feel like packing it in my luggage. Tastes like alcohol, dark berries, raisins, hay and espresso. This is a big beer and it lets you know it. The high hop content would allow for some good aging and let all the flavors melt together. I could see this being an A+ with a year or so under it's belt.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 5,200 ratings.