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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,016 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,016
Hads: 5,650
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 490
Gots: 1,509 | FT: 125
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bell's Expedition Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,016 | Hads: 5,650
Photo of BeerAmbassador
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Motor oil black, small head that leaves a bit on the glass as it dissipates. Coffee, roasted grains and dark, dried fruit (prunes?) on the nose. All of the above plus a bit of licorice on the nose. Stong bitterness from both hops and roasted malt. Sweetness that borders on cloying for me, but not quite too much. Very long finish, and low, but creamy, nicely integrated carbonation.

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Photo of tone77
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1 inch head. Smell is of chocolate, coffee, a bit of sweetness. Taste is the same, chocolate, some hops, a bit of coffee, alcohol is well hidden. Feels full bodied in the mouth and overall is a solid beer.

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Photo of schusterbauer
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

a -- "none more black." but really, absolutely black, limp dark brown head doesn't last long.

s -- alcohol, charcoal, roasted/burnt malts, chocolate, soy sauce, more alcohol

t -- there's so much going on in this beer that you can find something new with every sip: heavy on the charcoal/smoked/roasted flavors, chocolate ice cream, raisins, licorice, soy sauce, lemon peel(?); flavor coats your mouth and lasts for a long time after each sip

m -- THICK. melted milkshake thick.

d -- i don't think that drinkability is really the word. the beer seems to dare you to sip more, in all of its ruggedness; sometimes the challenge is a pleasure, sometimes it's a chore.


I had previously given this beer across the board 5s, based on a previous sample -- a bottle that was about 18 months old. The above is based on a fresh sample. While I'm sure that the aged sample didn't deserve anywhere near the perfect 5, it was notably better, and I'll be curious to review again, with another aged sample.

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Photo of ChrisPro
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 8944 (vintage 2008?).

12oz bottle pours thick oily black, but very little dark tan head.

Caramel and chocolate in aroma, some hints of pitted fruit (cherries, prune).

Rich, sweet up front, a bit boozy, then a long drawn out chocolate finish. Quite bitter, but balanced.

Pretty well carbonated, quite thick and oily and the alcohol and carb leave a bit of stinging on the tongue. Much better with some warming.

This is a pretty complex imperial stout and its hotness implies that it could benefit from some age to let some of those flavore meld and the heat mellow. Still something I would seek out again.

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Photo of expatsteve
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for sharing this one, Golden2wenty1.

Appearance: Black, with a 1/2 inch cappucino head. Nice thick lacing on the beer and the glass. Medium viscosity.

Aroma: Plum, cane sugar, chocolate and a booze/hops edge.

Taste: Booze over chocolate and molasses. Cream, toffee, raisin developments, along with a sharp boozy bite. Plum sweetness and a few espresso bursts, but definitely the most spicy stout I've ever had.

Mouthfeel: Thick and spicy, with a lot of hops and booze character. Low carbonation focuses attention squarely on the more aggressive characteristics of the beer.

Drinkability: While the flavor is balanced and fairly impressive, the bite in this beer is definitely a challenge. Enjoyable and distinct, but not most drinkable big stout I've had. Will probably please hopheads and strong beer fans who appreciate aggressive flavors.

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Photo of MasonBeerMan
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

App-Looks like motor oil, little to no head, small light tan ring hung around during entire drink

Smell-roasted malt, dark ripe fruit, molasses, alcohol. some slight hops

Taste- Strong coffee, roastiness, alcohol, bittersweet, molasses

Mouth- almost flat, very little carbonation, full body with some alcohol warming

Drink-good winter warmering beer, thick, very different experience than with other imperial stouts, good on occasion, but a bit pricey

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Photo of gyllstromk
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours jet black with thin dark head. Nose is roasted malts and hops. Flavor is a kiss of sweetness with a grassy hop flavor, with a full body and sticky sweet finish with a strong lingering bitterness. The detractors are that the hops are a bit overemphasized for my taste, it's a bit close to motor oil in consistency, and a bit overpriced. Still, a tasty treat.

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Photo of bassmantin
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to iconoklaztor for letting me sample this one. This one is aged about 4-6 months. I had one fresh, and it was a bit too harsh.

Pours a very dark brown/black into a snifter with a thick clumpy tan head. Smell is very sweet and intense. Strong alcohol aroma.

Taste is extremely sweet. Too sweet for me. The flavors are very complex and indulgent, but it leaves a sticky taste in my mouth. The aging has helped quite a bit, though. I would be interested to see what another six months would do to this one.

Overall: Malt-heads will love it. An excellent beer, but a little too sweet for me.

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Photo of Cyrion
3.79/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a nonic pint three months after bottling.

Appearance: Looks like used motor oil, thick, dark and viscous. Dark tan head with tiered lacing on sides.

Smell: Sweet cocoa and some dark fruit. Nice.

Taste: Very chocoately starting out. Tends to overwhelm other flavors. Some chocolate-covered cherries, as well as some smoky wood taste. Some coffee flavor begins to appear in time, but is not prominent. A bit of alcohol heat begins to make its presence known, but the chocolate and other flavors try to hide this, and do pretty well.

Mouthfeel: Very, very thick and heavy. More than just chewy.

Overall: A good chocolatey stout, but a lot of the flavors are buried under the chocolate, and this hides the complexity. Gooey goodness, but this beer retains a good deal of its mystery.

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Photo of far333
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
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.

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Photo of apbarwood
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm drinking this one hot off the presses, just a couple weeks after it arrived on the shelves. It looks black, or at the very least a dark brown-black. Not much head to speak of and just the faintest amount of caramel-colored lace. The aroma isn't exactly weak but it's not strong. I'm definitely picking up some roasted malt and a bit of dark fruit, maybe raisins. There's also a bit of alcohol in the bouquet that carries over in the flavor and while it's not really unpleasant, it doesn't seem to add anything. I hope and assume that will mellow with age. The flavor leads with some bittersweet chocolate and a trace of a sweeter caramel. It's followed quickly and overpowered by a strong, bitter, roasted malt and coffee flavor. The raisin-ish dark fruit flavor is still around and comes through a bit more as the beer warms up and seems more noticeable on the finish. There's definitely a nice complexity to this beer that seems to attach itself to every part of my palate and it has nice mouth-coating and warming qualities. When fresh, it definitely seems to show it's youth and is quite aggressive and biting but I can definitely see this beers potential to age nicely. I'd let this one sit for six months or so at least to let it mellow out a bit and allow some of it's more subtle qualities to step forward.

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Photo of yamar68
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ominous black coffee body topped with a thick pillow of dense medium brown head that slowly fades to a solid cap, laces nicely.

Molasses, dark chocolate, raisin, boozy maple syrup qualities, hot cocoa... evolving with warmth.

Bitter coffee and chocolate, boozy figs or dates, the bitterness fades from sweet earthiness to alcohol, great flavors but a poor finish I think.

I'm excited to have a sixer of these to age, tons of flavor but just a tad hot if you ask me.

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Photo of fropones
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a nice dark reddish brown, nearly black, with a 2.5 finger black cherry mocha head.

S - Chocolate, toffee, coffee, roasted malt.

T - More of that roasted malt, followed out by some toffee and chocolate. Hints of hops in the back, but this bottle has 6-9 months on it. Fairly astringent.

M - Nice carb, rich and creamy. Kind of chewy.

D - Not the best to drink on a hot summer day like today, but that was my choice. Alcohol not very well hidden and the astringency of the roasted malt is sort of bothering me more and more.

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Photo of waldoiverson
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle to us pint

A: motor oil black and creamy but small mahogany head

S: slightly tart and lactic with creamy softness

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

M: smooth and minimal dryness caused by alcohol

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

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Photo of Mudpuppet
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Riedel sniffer. Pours a pitch black with a light tan thin head.

S- Nice nose very fruity. Plums, currants and cherries.

T- Starts off with a very fruity flavor that turns into coffee and chocolate on the aftertaste. A huge amount of flavor from this brew.

M- Low carbonation. Too low maybe.

D- This is a good drinker. Deep and bold beer with lots of malts and fruity notes. This is a much better beer on tap than in a bottle. A decent beer overall though

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Photo of kkipple
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

** 2007 vintage, drunk early 08.

A. What's left to say? Uber-dark, thick brew with a small lingering dark red-brown head, some lacing. Thick and absolutely opaque.

S. Heavy malt, heaps of molasses, cocoa and coffee. Dark bread and burnt sugar, deadening alcohol, a single bitter, angry hop note and a touch of red grape. Very hefty, this one. Could be more complex.

T. Very dense roasted grain in this one, pure darkness! Big big roasty flavor with the usual coffee and dark chocolate, pretty aggressive alcohol, molasses and brown sugar. Viscous and oily, dense and slick. Hints of vanilla and charcoal. Sort of like a mini World Wide Stout. It's all very intense, but wears on you after a while and I must confess, couldn't sustain my interest for the duration.

M. Extremely slick, low carbonation, warming. Massive roast-coffee / malt aftertaste.

D. No. This is pretty solid, but too thick and intense for more than a single bottle. Even then I'd recommend 6 ounces as an optimal pour. This is good, not great, but IS better as it ages. Try if you can.

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Photo of jtd1969
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark Brownish black with brownish head. Lots of lacing

S - Sweet vinegar,sugary malt

T - Roasty,sweet yet bitter tartiness. Unique in stout department.chocolate, some dark fruit

M - full bodied, rather boozy, medium carbonation

O - Imperial Stout no doubt, just not what I tend to lean toward. I recommend trying it as it may be to your liking. To me it is a decent stout, but not great...

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Photo of beertunes
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received in a recent trade, but I've forgotten with who, apologies and thanks! Bottle with code # 9554. Poured into 10oz glass. Poured solidly black with just under an inch of light brown head that had decent retention and lacing.

The aroma full and rich, lots of roasted and toasted scents. The flavors were also well executed examples of the style. In addition to the roasted flavors there was a nice little hop tang at the end.

The body was typically full, rich and tongue coating. Drinkability will vary depending on your personal taste for the style, 1 of these at a time is usually enough for me, YMMV.

Overall, a very good example of the style and better than some much more highly hyped versions. Worth trying when you see it.

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Photo of rbrianforrester
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

All in all, I liked this beer. It's not something I could sit down and drink all night, a bit too sweet for me. My bottle didn't produce as much head as I would like, and I felt the nose was lacking some of the characteristics I'd like to see in a stout.

That said, at 10.5% ABV this is definitely something I'd like to cellar and open next winter. Very probable that the sweetness would mellow and the chocolate and smoke would be more present.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to JeepCop for this bottle.

A: Pours a thick, completely opaque black with about one finger of mocha head. There is just a bit on lacing left on the glass as it drinks.

S: I pick up a lot of roasted malts, some milk chocolate, raisins, and caramel. This beer has a great nose. All of those smells blend nicely together, without any dominate overtones.

T: It starts off a little sweet with a hit of raisin. The flavors quickly change so that the roasted malts begin to shine through. That familiar burnt toast taste peaks, and then blends into a smooth and creamy milk chocolate. It finishes smooth, but a bit boozy.

M: Starts off dry, but finishes smooth. The thickness of this beer coats the palate, and the flavors linger for a bit after it drinks. It's sticky and chewy and the alcohol finish makes it bitter to the end.

O: I think this beer is just alright. Having it fresh, I feel that it is a bit hot. But I've had it before with two years of age on it, and it was too sweet. Perhaps one year of age is the target for this beer. I'll have to save one, and try it again next November.

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Photo of BrownNut
3.77/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Oct 2, 2012 batch, drunk Dec 10, 2012. Bottle to tulip. Served cool.

A - 3.75 - Black. Rusty tan head that dissipates quickly. Want more.

S - 3.5 - The smell is fairly faint. What's there smells delicious, but it's just distant. Gentle chocolate malt, gentle hint of leather. There's a facet that reminds me a little of certain pumpkin ales, surprisingly. Almost some fruit, almost some liquor.

T - 3.75 - Strong burnt char note right out of the gate. Fairly bitter for that reason. Hint of chocolate in the background. It's hard to imagine any kind of delicate fruit taste surviving in this harsh environment but I swear I get a little something - not sure what kind. Pretty hot booze in the throat. I like that but many might see it as too much. Everybody says to cellar this one anyway so that should take care of that. It gets easier drinking farther down in the glass, but still has a fairly bitter char thing going on, more than I think is reasonable. It's over the top with burnt taste while young like this. Looking forward to trying it this time next year and the next.

M - 4.5 - Heavy bodied, viscous, approaching pudding feel. Ends kind of powdery inside the slippery.

O - 3.75

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Photo of Auracom
3.77/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2-3 oz. from the 12 oz. bottle on March 24th, 2011 in my mini snifter - one of 10 beers in my stout tasting; from notes.

A - Not quite a complete black color, really no head/retention from this sample.

S - Underlying toffee and caramel malts, slight mocha, raisins, and some alcohol.

T - Raisins and other dark fruits dominate front and middle of tongue. Bitterness from coffee and chocolate/dark chocolate in back.

M - A lot of carbonation in this one... far more than I was anticipating and more than is generally necessary for the style. Medium-heavy body, no chewyness.

D - More alcohol detection in this one than I'd like. It's not very focused and doesn't find a real balance in the taste. The core dark fruit flavors just don't work very well. Combined with an average nose, and it's an okay example from Bell's.

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Photo of jessecarr
3.77/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I waited until I had a second one of these before reviewing it. I'm glad I did. The first one I had seemed to be tough to finish, as it was not very carbonated and it was overly tart and licorice-tasting.

This one was great! It went into a Corsendonk tulip and left a monstrous three-inch head. The carbonation stayed, and left a nice creamy, bready head.

The appearance is jet black (what does that even mean?) with a thin head that endures through the final half of the glass.

Taste is a bit too licorice for me. The alcohol is here, and the aftertaste leaves a bit of a sharp alcohol taste that fights with the anise to leave something a bit too sticky and sharp for me to want another. BUT, this is a great single-sipper. Make sure you sip it warmed up a bit.

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Photo of dwarbi
3.77/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured with almost no head at all. Very little carbonation present. Completely black. Could not see through it at all. Very good nose. Very complicated. Smells strong, too. Tastes a little tart (!) and very thick, but it leaves a pleasant aftertaste and it very drinkable.

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Photo of BigDaddyWil
3.77/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a snifter glass.
No batch date on bottle.
Purchased a single at Cloverleaf for $2.70.

Slick, dark black, oily liquid pours from the bottle. A minimal tan colored head forms and then quickly disappears. No lacing, low carbonation, but an oily coating clings to my glass. Lots of dark fruit smells, raisins and prunes. Hints of burnt coffee and chocolate and roasted malts. Taste mimics the smell, but heavy on the burnt coffee and chocolate then fades with some hop bitterness. Slight alcohol burn in the belly. Lots of aftertaste. Creamy, smooth, medium bodied feel. Hard to drink more than one, especially with an abv of 11.5%. If your a fan of Russian Imperial Stouts its a must try. I have one in the cellar to try at a later date.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 2,016 ratings.