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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.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

4,668 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,668
Reviews: 1,894
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 10.87%
Wants: 402
Gots: 1,016 | FT: 77
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
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Ratings: 4,668 | Reviews: 1,894 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BlastTyrant
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dead black with a one finger brown head. Aroma is sweet, with coffee, molasses, and brown sugar, along with alcohol notes. Flavor starts sweet with vanilla and coffee, which quickly gives over to a grassy, hoppy finish. For an 11%+ ABV brew, I think the alcohol is well masked - it's detectable, but not overly so. Hardly any carbonation in the body - smooth, slippery mouthfeel.

BlastTyrant, Sep 09, 2005
Photo of Oktoberfest
2.88/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

My wife said “motor oil” as I poured a bottle into our newest pilsner. Her father, an avowed Busch Light drinker, calls all the craft beers we drink “motor oil.” At last, though, the name is accurate.

It’s dark. REAL dark. A searchlight wouldn’t cut through it. The text printed on the back of the pilsner is completely illegible.

The smell is mostly coffee, layered with alcohol. I don’t detect much chocolate from the odor, or it’s overcome by the alcohol smell.

My wife tried a sip after saying she wouldn’t like it. She did like it, it turned out, but she added that she couldn’t drink much more. She also said it needed to warm up.

It’s a RIS so it’s a big beer and goes down very warm. I’m guessing it’s last year’s stock since we bought a single bottle just last week. Virtually no head save a few stings of bubbles clinging to the glass. Bitter, coffee tasting with touches of raisin and very light hints of chocolate. Unlike some other Russian Stouts I’ve had, the prevailing taste seems to be the alcohol itself. It tends to crowd out the other tastes, leaving the usual complexities of a stout left to muddle around with one another until none of them come to the fore.

They were speaking of this beer in hushed tones at the Dayton Alefest last week but I wonder if that’s for the $14.99 sticker shock than the actual taste. It’s not bad at all. But for Bell’s and for fifteen bucks I expected better.

Oktoberfest, Sep 02, 2005
Photo of mynie
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Completely opaque blackness with an incedibly small brown head and little lacing. Par for the course, so far as micro stouts are concerned.

Smells like a mix between soy sauce and worcestershire. Meaty with nodes of cheese and roated malt. This beer is going to be a meal.

Tastes like a good smoked porter, only without the smoke and with a tart alchol zip. Meat and potatoes upfron, salt and bread in the back. Yummy.

mynie, Aug 26, 2005
Photo of egajdzis
4.53/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured an opaque black color with no head at all, and no lacing to boot. Had an aroma of chocolate, NUTS, and slightly roasted malts. This brew tasted like chocolate covered nuts, Very sweet, with a slight tinge of alcohol. It had a creamy, oily mouthfeel. The biggest of the night!

egajdzis, Aug 24, 2005
Photo of AdamB84
5/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I tried this beer from my boss who had a few bottles. One of the best stouts ever tasted. Such good aroma and mouthfeel. Pretty much no head, just like motor oil and just how I like it. Rich, Coffe, and chocaltes. Definently top 5 on my favorite beers.--

AdamB84, Aug 21, 2005
Photo of therica
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

We happened to be in Kalamazoo for a few days, and Bell's was recommended, so we tracked down the brew-pup and brewery-store - WHAT A HASSLE! After an hour of driving in circles, stopping and asking people on the streets (EVERYONE seemed to know where it was but were useless in giving helpful directions), we finally succeeded. There wasn't enough time to stay for the pub, but we hit the store and bought a few cases-- including a case of Expedition Stout.

We'd been told that "it's supposed to be the best stout ever made," by our referrer. Well, it's a lot like Guinness, in my own personal experience and of others as well-- but better, that's our consensus.

The clerk at the store said that the Expedition Stout is 12%, versus their Kalamazoo Stout at 6% or so.

Most of the Bell's that we tried are far too hop-ish for any of us-- except the Expedition Stout. Drink some and enjoy.

===
11 months later update-- I found a neglected bottle buried in the refrigerator. I poured it-- and it was like thin chocolate-syrup coming out of the bottle. The taste was okay for a while, although a lot more liquor-tasting than when it was fresher. The mug sat for a while and when I went to take another sip, it was like paint-thinner with plenty of paint-residue mixed through it. If this were the first try of this stout, I'd rate it far lower-- but given the circumstances, I simply thought I'd add my 11-month followup on what happens with this, after some aging.

therica, Aug 20, 2005
Photo of goodbyeohio
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

thanks orbitalr0x for the chance to try this brew

first off, let me talk about the label. perfect. very pleasingly simple in a way that i can appreciate as an (ex) graphic artist. speaks volumes without saying a word. bell's has the brewing expertise to feel confident with simplicity, and i can't blame them.

this beer is dark, boy.. dark lord dark. oily. not much head, once settled absolutely none. smell is rather abrasive.. raisiny liquor with thrice-roasted malt and cough-syrup sweetness. the 11+% on this beer makes no attempt to hide itself. if chocolate exists here, it is in a boiled-and-reduced hershey's syrup kind of way.. and if coffee exists here, it's in a grounds-left-in-the-machine-for-two-days sort of style. taste is milder than i would expect with such a big nose.. smooth with a hint of cream and surprisingly hoppy in the finish. everything else is malt and dark, dark chocolate. not too deep, but burnt and layered. can't do any more than sip this puppy, and foamy burps tasting like nestle's barleywine emerge from my pie hole.

a daunting beer, a valiant effort. for the style, not my favorite.. nevertheless i am in awe of this magnificent creation. few people get the RIS right, and bell's does so with NO FRILLS.

goodbyeohio, Aug 19, 2005
Photo of jakester
4.88/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I got this as a single from Union Jack's on the Manatawny. No date on the label, but it won't matter with this.

This looks like used motor oil when you pour it. Black and thick and opaque. A one finger head of brown foam forms on top, eventually dropping to a ring and a few islands. Lacing throughout.

This just smells so fantastic. Deep, dark chocolate, mocha coffee, dried prunes and dates, very fruity and aromatic. Herbal/grassy hops, and just a hint of alcohol. Wonderful!

OMG, my mouth is so full of flavors...Super rich mocha, ultra dark chocolate cake, like a coffee milkshake. The huge malt presence is expertly balanced by a perfect amount of bittering. Chocolate covered dates, molasses, with a touch of alcohol at the end. Hard to believe this is 11.5%. Roasted barley flavor is cleverly muted by everything else. WOW! Aftertaste is a very long warm molasses flavor.

Mouthfeel is unbelieveably rich, creamy and smooth. This must age for a long time. Big sweetness, but not even slightly cloying. Lips stick together from sugars. Nice little tug at the back of your throat from bitterness. Finish is long, dark, and sweet.

I don't remember having an RIS this good. This has to be one of the best out there. At 11.5%, however, this wil knock your dick in the dirt real quick, like.

jakester, Aug 17, 2005
Photo of battlekow
3.6/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewing Bell's Java Stout and Expedition Stout together, brother vs. brother. May the manliest man win.

Expedition pours a deep, dark, inscrutable black, impenetrable as a nun, with almsot no head. I think Bell's has solved the oil crisis.

Smells sweet, like vanilla and prunes. There may be some coffee there, but next to the Java Stout, who could ever tell?

Tastes sweet and syrupy, anise and prunes and some nice bitterness at the end. It's good, but I just prefer the Java Stout and its intense coffee flavor to the sweet/sour dark fruit characteristics of this Russian imperial stout. Does have a nice mouthfeel, chewy and juicy.

The Expedition Stout is good, but is Stephen Baldwin to the Java Stout's Alec.

battlekow, Aug 12, 2005
Photo of rxmaster
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Dark, almost black body with very large and thick dark tan or cappucino colored head. The head reminds me of what you get when you wash oily hands with pumice soap at a garage. A nice lacing was left all the way down the glass after the drink was consumed.

Smell - Burnt coffee and bitter chocolate mix with a light smell of alcohol, hinting at the treat to come.

Taste - Slightly sweet beginning with roasted malts and grains predominating, followed by hops, burnt coffee and alcohol flavor at the end

Mouthfeel - Thick, much the same as it's appearance. Slight tingling and bitterness from the hops.

Drinkability - I wouldn't go to the bar and drink a few of these in a row, but these would be perfect for the occasional treat to a truly world class brew or with steaks on the grill.

rxmaster, Aug 05, 2005
Photo of BEERchitect
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Do large stouts get any more classy than this? Bell's makes it look easy as they layer the taste of roast, chocolate, alcohol, and fruit onto a succulent and savory base that seduces the palate at every turn.

The onyx-black ale arrives at the bar with a stern, disciplined, and masculine appearance. It's depth of clarity gives the beer a mirror-like sheen although it's black color makes it opaque. A mocha-stained head caps the beer with a blanket of foam that easily retains the session and laces the glass with confidence. Even a gentle swirl of the glass leaves brandy-like shiny legs clinging to the glass.

High roast, light smoke, and cocoa-rich chocolates overwhelm the nose with a backing of rum and bourbon booze that reveal notes of toffee and molasses. Underlying fruit aromas of red grape, cherry, and blackberry seem to carry a charred character and create a mouthwatering effect heading into the first sip.

Notions of chocolate wrapped espresso beans come to mind as the sweeter malts coat the front of the tongue and palate with its malty richness. Slightly scorched molasses allows for a rich and savory taste to rise at middle palate. This is the point where espresso roast, bittersweet chocolate, and charred dark fruit weave together for a complex but pleasantly rounded taste. Bold however, the taste is further complemented by piney and citrusy hops that assist the roast bitterness to finish. Cherry flavored alcohols and walnut oils all integrate into taste and continue the varying tastes that unveil themselves as the beer warms.

And with its marshmallowy texture, the enormous malt complexes provide a nearly chewy body to start. This silky and succulent texture keeps the beer's flavor squarely focused on the taste buds. But a patient transition to semi-dry maltiness is rewarded in finish as the beer's alcohols act like port wine and fine cognac to signal closure. It's extended roasty bitterness melds seamlessly with the next sip.

Bell's Expedition is a world-class stout, by which all others could be measured. I'm not sure if it is perfect at any one attribute, but it's near that on all. Plus there's several complexities that go above and beyond what the style prescribes. It pairs well with rich foods like honey-dripped dates, smoky bacon, and well aged gruyere.

BEERchitect, Aug 04, 2005
Photo of Morris729
4.88/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I’ve been aging this one for some time but can’t bring myself to wait any longer. Pours a thick-as-motor-oil deep black ruby color with a very creamy brown head that continues to grow taller as the beer sits for quite some time before it eventually reverses direction and starts to recede. The nose is quite rich with notes of estery alcohol, dark cherries, roasted coffee beans, and unsweetened chocolate. The aromas continue to grow stronger and develop more complexity as the beer warms. Full-bodied, thick, and creamy in texture. Taste begins with sweet roasted malts, dark toffee, and molasses followed by some rather intense notes of burnt coffee that balance out the initial sweetness. Next up are some spicy bitter hops and a bit of smoky charcoal towards the finish. The smokiness remains in a lasting aftertaste on the back of the throat. Wow, every bit as good as I was hoping—a tremendous stout.

Morris729, Aug 01, 2005
Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours like motor oil with a very dark brown 1/2 inch head. Not much lace. Smells of rich dark malt, bitter dark chocolate, coffee with a touch of cream.

Tastess is rich and bitter dark malt. Bitter dark chocolate. Decadent roasted malt. Coffee. Bitter coffee finish. Big thick beer, bitter aftertaste that lingers long. This stuff is yummy. I love a good imperial stout and this one is a great one. Superb.

ViveLaChouffe, Aug 01, 2005
Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

( Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a thick black molasses with a dark tan cocoa head and no sign of light or bubbles in the body.

S- This beer as complex dark roasted malt aromas with some dark coffee and dark cocoa powder with faint smokiness. There is a nice barley-wine aroma under the dark roasted flavors.

T- This beer has very complex flavor complexity with roasted and burnt malt with some caramel and dark toasted grains aswell. Notes of cocoa or bitter chocolate and some dried fruit like dates or prunes in the background. This beer finishes with a nice semi-sweet finish and some alcohol warmth to smooth out the sweetness.

M- Full mouthfeel with nice faint alcohol warmth.

D- This is truly the black barleywine that make up a RIS. Very nice complexity and good bold flavors. Great to drink now and I bet it would stand up great to age.

rhoadsrage, Jul 30, 2005
Photo of Viggo
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep black, no light is visible, dark brown head forms and laces. Smell is toasted bread, hops, yeastiness, licorice, coffee and alcohol. Taste is insane coffee, lots of chocolate, nice hoppiness, very roasty and satisfying. This was the thickest beer ever. The bottom is full of sludge and it took a struggle of epic proportions to take that down, but it was well worth the espresso shot. Amazing beer, one I would be proud to drink at any point in time. Thanks DrJay.

Viggo, Jul 20, 2005
Photo of Sephiroth
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The first time I met this beer, I was utterly defeated. Now, I am the master. It goes into a tulip with an inch of coffee like foam. This quickly dissipates to a thin ring which stays around the edge of the beer. It appears to be black, but when held in the light at the proper angle, one can see that it is dark ruby in color.

The nose is very complex. It is roasty and has a vinous quality. I detect just a slight licorice aroma. The nose is very well blended. The taste does not disappoint either. There is coffee, licorice, port wine, and others I am sure. Beneath all of this, I detect me some hops. There is absolutely no hint at the 11.5% ABV. The mouthfeel is great. It is thick and chewy, but is not syrupy. As I am writing this review, the quality of this beer is starting to sink in. The drinkability is high, especially with the way the alcohol is masked. I will consider myself lucky to have this beer available in IN.

Sephiroth, Jul 18, 2005
Photo of fisherman34
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The word "huge" doesn’t do justice to this beer. It’s jet back with minimal carbonation. Powerful aromas of hops, licorice, rasins, alcohol, roasted malt, and terriaki sauce. It has a remarkable flavor evolution too, moving from hops, to dark fruit, to alcohol, and finally to the dark-roasted coffee, nut, and dark chocolate. It’s also insanely heavy in the mouth. I could see this beer maturing into a work of art in a few years, but the sample I had was just a bit too much for me at this point.

fisherman34, Jul 13, 2005
Photo of lackenhauser
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solid,deep black color. A picture of perfect blackness. Nice tan head on top. Great aroma-big chocolate and roasted aroma. Burnt raisens and licorice. Extremely slight alcohol comes thru. Huge,huge roasted malt flavor. Very espresso like-chocolatey and almost buttery fudge. A very smooth graininess. Huge body-its like a liquid piece of cake-just big in every way. I could consume this all night. A freakin damn fine beer. Doesnt exhibit the harshness as some imperials. This is what a dessert beer should be. Careful-it could be a session one if you put your mind to it. Get some-get a lot!!!

lackenhauser, Jul 11, 2005
Photo of DrJay
4.88/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Completely opaque, inky black with a rich mocha head. Carbonation was on the low side, resulting in a thin head of small bubbles. Plenty of lacing and good retention. Super malty aroma, licorice, roasted, chocolate, alcohol, dark fruits to the point of being vinous. Flavour starts with some dry roasted and sweet malt, then moves on to cocoa, a moderate bitterness with light hoppiness, and alcohol warmth. Long sweet finish with plenty of roasted malts. Heavy body, chewy and viscous, low carbonation, with the texture of heavy cream. Afterwards, I poured the dregs into my glass. They came out chocolatey brown and super thick, but very chocolatey and tasty. Wow. Lots of complexity and surprisingly drinkable, with the alcohol very well hidden.

DrJay, Jul 04, 2005
Photo of silver0rlead
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black color with no light shining through, and a good size tan colored head that leaves nice lacing. Smell is rich dark chocolate, gourmet coffee, cream and alcohol. This beer is extremely rich and viscous. Taste is dark belgian chocolate, coffee, blackstrap molasses, and an earthy hops flavor at the end. The beer finishes with a dry, roasted bitterness that perfectly compliments the sweetness in the middle of the beer. Alcohol becomes more apparent as it warms and is strong but not overwhelming. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth which increases the drinkability of such a strong beer. A really tasty and excellent stout from Bell's, lives up to the hype in my opinion.

silver0rlead, May 18, 2005
Photo of RedDiamond
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A seriously dark beer with a thin brown head. The flavor is a muscular mix of dense roasty elements, bitter chocolate, a welcome sweetness, and a formidable measure of alcohol. The smell touches upon mocha at first, then dry roasted goodness, alcohol, and coffee. CO2 is minimal, lace is absent.

An ambitious recipe with plenty of kick. Special thanks to cmaruschak.

RedDiamond, May 17, 2005
Photo of pentathlete
3.43/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to babydoc who sent me this as part of BIF18. What a variety of big brews in that box. Gotta love BAs.

12 oz bottle pours an oil slick black into the imperial. Hard pour produced a small quickly dissipating dark beige head. Smell is burnt coffee, caramel, and raisins. Taste is where the wheels leave the tracks a bit. Starts creamy with sweet molasses and then the mishmash of hops and cough cyrup kicks in. Finish is somewhat thin, bitter without either a bite or pleasant hoppiness. Mouth is coated in Vicks (the cough syrup, not Ron Mexico.) Unless this matches your palate, this beer is not highly drinkable. Maybe I'll get an opportunity to have one that has aged a bit more to see if the flavors blend and mellow a bit.

pentathlete, May 17, 2005
Photo of Higravity
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Well I received 3 new bottles of this beer and after my last experience I am glad to have another try with this beauty. It is a dense black with a chocolate milk colored head that doesn't peter out for a while. Smell of roasted burnt malt, small hints of alcohol and hops. The taste is powerful dark roasted flavors slowly yeild to a bittering creamy swallow, alcohol is present but not overwhelming. I would have liked a little more hops to be present in here though. You could eat this beer with a spoon it has body for days and has a very creamy feel that coats your mouth. This is a great beer and well worth many more visits.

Higravity, May 09, 2005
Photo of karst
4.9/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The vintage port of American stout. Suited for November storms on Lake Michigan when your shipload of Edmund Fitzgerald goes down and trips across Indianna only to find Dark Lord missing.

I stare at an empty pint glass with lace on the far side and a gelatinous mucus on the near side and a bottom covering of crankcase drippings. This "sleeper" is packaged with little fanfare (no red wax or other B.S.) I pull one of the 6 bottles that were refrigeratered at Brown Derby # 24 AKA "Party Central" and pour its coal lumpy contents out of its 12 oz bottle.

A vigorous pour yields an excellent Stout head of one finger that is foamy and chocolate brown. Aromas of bittersweet chocolate dark roasted coffee and nearly burnt molasses arise as the head slowly becomes a covering of thinner frouth. Flaovrs abound and offer up more bittersweet choc. coffee molasses along with burnt wood and roasted malt and dark fruits. Knowing I will adjust to its huge flavors, I settle in to enjoy a super heavy weight body with a true chewy Mouthfeel. The drying bitterness of the finish and all those dark roasted flavors clinging as an aftertaste are outstanding.

Viscosity finally drops back into the liquid state as the CO2 drops with about a third of the pour remaining. Thick, gellatious material stays near the bottom.

Best stop here - what ever happen to this year's Dark Lord?

Who cares take the Expedition!

karst, May 02, 2005
Photo of ejquin
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ridiculously black with dark brown head. Smelled wonderfully of coffee, chocolate and malt. Mouthfeel was extremely smooth, very thick and oily. Perfect mouthfeel for an Imperial Stout. Tasted of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and had a hop bitterness on the aftertaste. Very slight alcohol perception, much less than the 11% abv. Delicious. Due to the smoothness and lack of alcohol sting drinkibility is great for an 11% IRS.

Overall in my top 3 Stouts of all time.

ejquin, May 01, 2005
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,668 ratings.