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

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Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

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1,987 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,987
Hads: 5,550
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 479
Gots: 1,450 | FT: 121
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,987 | Hads: 5,550
Photo of barhoc11
5/5  rDev +18.8%

A: Thick and black with a dark tan head, looks amazing

S: Dark, fruity with some smokiness

T: Roasted malt is upfront with hints of dark fruit and smoke. Taste improves and the beer warms

M: Thick and sweet, but not too sweet.

O: I have had this beer with some age on it and it definitely improves over time. This is probably my favorite RIS and for good reason

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Photo of OStrungT
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours an oily black color. It boasts a thick, creamy brown head that fades slowly, leaving a massive lacing that coats the entire glass. This beer is so thick, it looks like tar.

This beer has so many aromas that it is hard to describe it all. I smell figs, and raisins. Also some chocolate covered cherries. Some chocolate and coffee are also present. It has some licorice aroma also. Molasses and caramel are also present. The beer smells very sweet.

As with the aroma, this beer has a multitude of flavors. Dark fruits mostly. It has a bittersweet chocolate flavor. The caramel sweet malt flavor is quite nice. The alcohol content is well hidden in the flavor. A slight coffee flavor is also present.

This beer is very full bodied. It goes down smooth, but very thick, leaving a sweet malty aftertaste. This beer is very aggressive. It is low in carbonation, adding to the style.

This beer is not a session beer. It is very aggressive, and with the high alcohol content, it might prove to be hard to put down many. However, just one is easy to put down.

Overall: Wow. Thank you Himerman for this trade. I think this is one of the best beers I have ever had. I owe you one man. Cheers

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Photo of Backer2004
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beer heaven, I have finally found you. Six years ago, a camp counselor friend in Michigan told how great Expedition Stout was and since then, I've been looking forward to trying it. I was not disappointed one bit.

It was poured in a nice snifter. No carbonation with lots lacing, thick and murky. Wonderful mix of chocolate, raisins, caramel, and malts. I loved every bit of it more than i've ever loved another beer.

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Photo of johng
5/5  rDev +18.8%

Just had it for the first tap on tap, bought a growler in North Bellmore, L.I. Even better than the couple of times I drank it from bottles in Kentucky. Incredible mouthfeel. Totally smooth. Hints of chocolate, molasses and a slight taste of coffee. Beautiful jet black color with a great creamy head. A top-three stout for sure. Must get another growler soon.

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Photo of CortexBomb
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The Black Hole of Beers.

Expedition pours out jet black into a pint glass with little carbonation evident, just enough to form a thin head which hangs around. The beer clings to the sides of the glass much like motor oil upon shifting and has an intense roasted and molasses scent which invites you to partake.

Strong and varied flavour on this one with coffee and chocolate being dominant but not overwhelming and an exceptional roasty bitter finale. Feels incredibly 'thick' in the mouth with a strong taste that lingers on your taste buds seemingly forever.

The drinkability rating represents my overall feelings about this beer relative to other imperial stouts. I've had a lot of them at this point, as it's one of my favourite styles, and though it might be hometown pride talking, I still think Expy is the best, plain jane Russian Imperial out there. It's affordable given its style, and I'm always in the mood for it.

Hard to find a more flavourful or tasty imperial stout, my current favourite, and the crown jewel of Bell's impressive line of stouts.

(Also worth noting that Expy ages wonderfully, like many of the more powerful beers, letting this stuff sit for a year or two only deepends the flavour, and takes the edge off the hops, an interesting juxtaposition with the fresh product, and just as tasty, simply in a different way)

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Photo of Louski
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Not sure I've had a more perfect Russian imperial stout. Pours a deep black with barely a finger of dark tan head- excellent lacing though. Very complex in taste. Obvious I chocolate malts, backed by coffee notes and nutty, smokey goodness. Coats the mouth just right with a slightly boozy finish that just lets you know it's there. I'm in love.

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Photo of oxmasterscream
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured an opaque dark brown, nearly black, with a small, thick brown head. The aromas this beer gave off were nothing short of mouthwatering... all very desert-like, predominantly raisins and chocolate, with some sweet spices thrown in, but some deeper whiffs revealed smells of a dark raisin cake, oatmeal raisin cookies, even maraschino cherries. Taste was just as huge... obviously, a big malty flavor right off the bat with some cascade hoppiness. The tastes of all things present in the aroma coat your tongue – burnt malts, raisins, chocolate, dark and sour fruits like cherries, baking spices and a slight alcohol burn on the tongue and throat, then a bitter coffee-like finish that is unbelievable. The mouthfeel is thick and syrupy like it should be. This is a top-notch Imperial Stout.

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Photo of k75
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Damn - just incredible

this stout pours inky black hole black with a big tawny brown head

nose is of complex chocolates and licorice mixed with black strap molasses

taste is big and rich - dark chocolates, black licorice, molasses

the ABV is hidden very well ( at first anyway ) nightcap luxury stout !

finish is long and satisfying - all things dark and luscious

a true masterwork of brewing.


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Photo of RichieS2
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a 12 oz bottle into a Trappist Goblet.

Appearance - Opaque black even when held up to a light source. Had a mocha brown froth with a good amount of lacing. Textbook appearance of I-stout.

Smell - Strong hints of coffee with some detectable undertones of chocolate. Overall very pleasing almost like being in a coffee shop. Again textbook for an I-stout.

Taste - Heavenly to say the least. The beer starts with strong malt sweetness that fills the palate. Then the malt transitions to the more bittersweet taste of roasted malt, which again brings the coffee analogy to mind. The bitter sweetness ends with bitterness equal to that of pale ale. In case you were not keeping track that is 3 tastes in the beer's flavor, each and everyone one of them is not just good but great.

Mouth feel - Satisfyingly thick and warm in the mouth.

Overall - I do not hand out a perfect score easily. This beer has earned it.

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Photo of BAbaracus
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My scores are going to be largely out of line with everyone elses, but my only explanation for this is that the Expedition may be a hit-and-miss beer. This is my first time experiencing it so it’s possible I stumbled across one of their better batches aged for just long enough to blend the flavors perfectly. Anyway, disclaimer out of the way, here we go: Pours pitch black with a gorgeous (almost edible) milk chocolate head, with dense packs of carb bubbles clinging seductively to the sides of the glass. Smells of brown sugar, molasses, a touch of black licorice, and dark malt, all of which blends into a bouquet far more inviting and less intrusive than other beers of this abv magnitude. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous, very milkshake like, leaving a sticky coating on the lips and tongue. Cholocate and sugars predominant up front followed by dark roasted malt on finish. Superb flavoring - all other ingredients whiffed before drinking blend so well into the chocolate and malt as to be almost individually imperceptible. Alcohol is unbelievably well hidden, probably the best that I’ve ever seen for this strong of a brew. Although the alcohol does eventually make its presence known, it’s more in the "gullet burn" than in the taste. You really have to be looking for it on the tongue to even realize it’s there. No perceptible way to improve this beer at all in my eyes, so perfect 5.0’s all around. I do believe this one has slipped into my top 5. I plan on having more very soon so we’ll see if the honeymoon period lasts.

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Photo of gshak
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've had this a number of times, and rated it around 4.75-5. Decided this time, to chime in and write a review. Poured from a year-old (Jan '12) bottle into a Meukow snifter at refrigerator temperature. I had the desire but not the discipline to let this one sit for long and warm up. Here we go:
A - With an aggressive pour, the liquid still went flat into the snifter, only for the bubbles to gradually rise up towards the end, generate a thin mocha-colored head, and fade back into a tiny, persistent, ring. Viscous, and pitch-black; upon swirling leaves noticeable signs of alcohol legs. The mocha-tint lets you know where the beer's been through in your glass. Impressive.
S - Chocolatey, very, very chocolatey with hints of molasses. Now, this may not be much to rate the stout on, but there is that almost zen-like statement from this stout (hyperbolic, I know) the subdued appearance, the subdued aromas that portend of awesome things to come. And for that feeling alone, this gets a 5.
T - Yes, yes, yes. A big hit of dark chocolate and sweet molasses coats the mouth. Transitions into a slightly vinous sensation on the palate most likely the alcohol. I want to keep this in my mouth for as along as I possibly can - ah, the sweet, sweet delight of sipping on this beauty. As it goes down, it dries the palate - possibly a combination of hops and alcohol coming into play. I never felt the alcohol at any time, and the hops are only there to balance out the sweetness of the beer. Even so...this is a malt-lover's dream!
M - Thick, viscous, silky, smooth....the ultimate sipper.

As far as non-barrel aged imperial stouts go, this is the one to beat. I do not see how anyone could possibly out do this one. And even among the barrel-aged ones, I can only pick a few that could, possibly, go toe-to-toe with the Bells Expedition.

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Photo of hefewisseguy
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the best RIS I've everhad next to a 2008 darklord. I enjoyed this beer I'm my delirium sniffter. Pours out dark and has an awsome smell. Dark tan head and left a little lacing. Has a nice mouth feel and let's u know their is a 10.5 abv. Then chocalte,coffee, and tasty malts cover your pallet along with a creamy head (if swurled before consumed) I love that is availible in a 6pack so I can enjoy almost one a day!

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Photo of EvoRich
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Aged one year:

Look: DARK. Reddish brown head which fades to nearly nothing. No light is getting through this beer. It looks about as good as any beer I've ever seen. Served in a snifter.

Smell: Sweet fruits, chocolate, coffee, and malts.

Taste: Easily one of the best beers I've had. A LOT of dark chocolate and coffee mixed with sweet fruit flavors. A finish of coffee and malts.

Feel: Thick, full bodied, creamy. Like dessert.

Overall: This has to be one of my all time favorite beers I've ever had. Amazed by it's price and availability.

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Photo of jopezu
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

pours opaque oil black, with a small violet-tan head that poofs into bubbly lacing almost instantly. nose; dark bread rind, cocoa and light hops. taste; dark roasted malt, coffee bean, semi-sweet chocolate, toffee, raisin, vanilla and a strong bitter earthy hop presence. aftertaste is baker's chocolate, light plum, roasted coffee and some woodsy notes. as rich as this brew is with all the darkness, the hops are not overrun here true to russian imperial stout style; amazing balance. strong carbonation, heavy/creamy mouthfeel, and a touch of warming booze as well at 10.5% abv. absolutely top shelf!

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Photo of WesWes
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy brown head that slowly fades to lacing. This is a thing of beauty. The aroma is great! It has a warm black, chocolate, and roasted malt scent. It's rich and creamy with a stiff non malted roasted barley aroma. The taste is great. It is rich with malt complexity. It starts out smooth and creamy with a chocolate malt taste. Then it quickly warms with a roasted malt feel and finishes with a bold black malt blast. This is a damn tastey beer. The mouthfeel is great. It's a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is the perfect RIS. It's bold and challenging with loads of flavor and malt complexity. It's warm and inviting. A damn fine beer!!

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Photo of Hesscabob
5/5  rDev +18.8%

Before I review this, I must disclose my favoritism towards this specific Stout over Bells "Preferred" Black Note Stout.

A - Dark as night, mocha, dark bown, head. Tight bubbly carbonation that sits on top without disapating too fast.
S - Like roasting marshmallows on a cold night which chocolate. A smore with booze involved.
M - Perfect. This is how a stout should feel... creamy, thick, coats the tongue/throat/ mind.
T - Way better than Black Note in that... this is perfection. No under/over doing the carbonation. Tastes like it smells.
O - If i go to the bottle store and dont see anything worth drinking or anything that can beat Expedition... I walk out with this, which is why I have many saved for verticals.

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Photo of drgonzo3705
5/5  rDev +18.8%
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.

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Photo of Wildman
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer poured as black as oil and almost the same texture. The head was huge, bubbly and a very dark brown color, leaving some nice lace. The aroma was amazing and had many things going on. I detected chocolate, coffee, anise and other smells. The flavor was of chocolate and burnt coffee. The finish included some of the burnt aspect. This is an amazing stout and another fine addition to the Bell's line. I am just sorry that living in Ohio(next door)it took me and the state this long to get it. This one is not for the weak and definately a sipping style of beer best done in a snifter. The amazing impact it does on all sensory levels still amazes me, even the off year with no carbonation.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I hate molasses.

Pours pitch black with a large dark tan head. Nose is dusty with strong molasses tones. Flavor is oh so smooth. Strong molasses flavors prevail, but stay perfectly balanced. Feel is thick in the liquid and thin on the carbonation. This is a beautiful stout that is a hard one to surpass. Amazingly crafted and worth seeking all costs.

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Photo of artusory
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours motor oil black with small, tan head. Aroma is roasted and burnt malts, coffee and sweet chocolates. Flavor is enormous. Chocolate, coffee, citrus hops and burnt molases. Very bitter. Very dry. Flavor opens up and mellows as it warms. Coats the mouth for a finish that lasts for weeks. Texture is very smooth and creamy.

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Photo of FormatKid
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I received this beer as a part of BIF XII and have to admit this was the one I was most excited about. I’m glad it made it all the way to me.

The packaging is a standard 12oz bottle and I poured this into my La Trappe goblet. The body of this beer is blacker than blackity-black y’all, nothing more can be said. A dense and rather creamy head rolls up impressively especially for a beer of this girth and alcohol content. The head is the color of creamed coffee.

The nose is surprisingly sweet, and inviting. Alongside the standard stout aromas of burnt caramel, dark roasted coffee, and charred malt, I pick up sweeter scents of vanilla, ripe dark fruits, and berry, tons of berry is in the nose on this brew. Further inspection also reveals a sophisticated woody aroma.

First of all this is the thickest beer on the palate I have ever experienced. From the first sip it coats your mouth and just hangs around lovingly not letting you forget the sweet flavor for a second. If you let it sit in your mouth it brings on a milkshake like mouthfeel, you’ll be spitting black malt residue like you’ve been chewing tobacco. That being said the flavor is even more elegant and assertive than I would have ever imagined. I taste so many things as I drink it and ponder. Chocolate covered cherries, tons of berries again, bitter baker’s chocolate, espresso, and vanilla. The finish of this is a duel between charred malt flavors and stunning hop bitterness so arrogant you almost feel inferior. The alcohol only registers with a slight vinous flavor note and small burn in the back of my throat.

This beer is amazing and has absolutely bowled me over like no beer has yet. I cannot fathom taking points away for anything so here it is…my first perfect score.

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Photo of Eldalonde
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours pitch black with a dark brown full head. The smell just fills the room once the cap has been cracked...phenomenal. Rich aromas of bourbon, tobacco, sweet and bitter dark chocolate, copious amounts of coffee. There is also a bit of a hoppy bite in the aroma. The flavor is just spot on. Rich oily mouthfeel gives flavors that are close to the nose. Bitter roasted coffee and dark chocolate are the most accessible flavors with those heavily roasted malts coming across with such brilliance. Tobacco and toffee combine with molasses to give an incredible complexity. This beer also has that 'raw' edge that I love in stouts so much. The finish is long, dry, and lingering. This beer provides everything I look for in a RIS and leaves nothing undone. This is just wonderful

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Photo of roadhouse
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a snifter. This is a re-review. My last tasting was 6/18/08. There is no batch number on the bottle but at it's youngest it must only be 6-7 months or so, my last tasting was bottled 2/8/08.
Edit: I contacted Bell's and it was probably batch 8270 bottled 1/3/08 when their ink system failed.

Pours an opague charcoal black with very dark tan one inch tall head. There was a big pop when I opened it, these reviews about it having no carbonation must have gotten bad bottles. The head sinks down to a skim and leaves a small amount of lacing on the glass.

Aroma of molasses, rum, chocolate, raisins, vanilla, a very faint smokiness, coffee in the back, and some alcohol. When I last reviewed this the alcohol smell was very prominent and almost overbearing, but it seems to have faded away.

The taste starts out very sweet, but not cloying, kind of like brown sugar and molasses. After the initial burst of sweetness I am tasting rum-soaked candied fruits and chocolate covered raisins. On the finish we finanlly get some bitterness in the form of roasted coffee beans and as it lingers on I am getting some piney hops, but overall the sweet flavors keep them under control and the aftertaste ends up more like coffee.

This is a very thick beer, almost the consistency of maple syrup. It goes down oh so smooth and creamy, some might say velvety. Flavors just glide through the mouth.

An exquisite beer. I never really found any flavor trying to dominate here; they all blended together quite nicely. For the alcohol content it goes down really smooth. Very drinkable for what it is, definitely a sipper though. Some aging really seems to help this one out. I'm heading to the liquor store right now to get the other 5 bottles that were left so I can cellar them, that is if I can control myself from drinking them.

1/06/09 Tasting:
The aroma and taste are very similar only blended together better than before. This is basically the perfect RIS and I see no way that it can possibly be topped. If I wouldn't die from it I could drink a keg of this. Age this one for a year and you will taste heaven.

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Photo of Chris_the_Tartar
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Looks bitch black, one finger of mocha head. Smells strongly of chocolate and malts. Taste is malts, chocolate, bourbon, wood, ethanol, toffee. Alcohol flavor shines through a little more strongly than I was anticipating but it was awesome. Also a little sweeter than I was expecting. Feel is thick but not not as robust as some other high ABV stouts, complimented the taste perfectly. Overall an awesome beer, really blew me off my feet. Need to acquire more ASAP.

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Photo of philberinghele
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bolsheviks took these
the emperor's private stock
redistribute wealth

Imperial is the only way to describe this beer. I'd give you a faberge egg for a six pack and a portrait of Lenin. The workers at Bell's have created a monument to the excesses of the Czars and offered it to the revolution. There is a specter rising over Michigan, the specter of me drinking this beer and savoring every last fucking drop.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 1,987 ratings.