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: 5,551
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 479
Gots: 1,451 | 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: 5,551
Photo of guityler83
3.73/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: One finger of dense tan head formed in the snifter glass from the bottle and persisted a good long time before leaving a thin layer on top of the beer. Pitch black appearance, no light shines through when held to a light. Mild alcohol legs that dissipate quickly.

S: Moderate strength aroma from roasted malts - Ashy, roast, burnt breat crust and slight smoke. Mild bakers chocolate and toffee sweetness. Subtle spicy hop character and low alcohol / boozy character noticeable.

T: Surprisingly firm bitterness in the beginning - Slightly noble / spicey but emphasized by the roasted malts that follow. Burnt bread, dark cacao chocolate, mild soy sauce and mineraly like finish. Middle malts have a toffee / caramel taste with only a slight sweetness along with rye bread and toast. The finish, slightly sweeter chocolate then smoke.

M: Mild alcohol warming and a nice full body. Carbonation is low and there is a soft creaminess. Astringency is mild and comes off as a slight ashy / mineral after taste /feel.

O: A little too much of the ashy / roast character for my taste but I enjoyed the nice hop character even after the age on the beer.

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Photo of Star80
3.73/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Beer pours out a midnight black with a very dark brown head, some lacing. Smell is of dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, and some stale hops. Yep, might be a great candidate for cellaring, but I wish I could get a fresh hoppy sample, i.e. no date code. Anyway, taste is dark bittersweet chocolate, some hints of coffee/espresso, and some bitter leaf hop. Has a decent carbonation so its, fairly smooth....but I really wish the hops were still present in their fruity/spiceyness doing their thing. The taste still has a nice interplay and balance between the roasted malts and the bittering hop. Sooo, as you can tell I am not a fan of cellaring cause the hops lose their flavor and have that weird faded hops taste, like this beer has. Funny, too the label suggests cellaring, no thanks. I will have to take a few points off because I have no idea the freshness of this or any Bell's beers, so the best category to adjust would have to be drinkability, although if were fresher it would easily rate a "4" or higher, very smooth and quite drinkable for 10.5% abv! I think this beer would pair well with a Thanksgiving dessert or a crisp bar of Lindt 70% dark chocolate, ;-)

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Photo of DwnTwnBwn
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Little to no head appears at first. After a few sips a khaki ring appears around the rim of the glass. The color is jet black with no light escaping through. A touch of lacing occurs around the glass. The beer is very vicious.
S- Quite nice smell. Dark fruits and toffee. Notes of dry dark chocolate. Sweet malt comes through also.
T- A bit more toasty for RIS then sweet. The dark fruits don't seem to come forward as much as they do in the nose. A decent amount of Dark Chocolate. The flavor doesn't have much more than that.
M- Carbonation is a touch low for this beer. Coasts the tongue well. No heat from the alcohol. Thick beer overall. Slight astringency towards the end.
O- This beer after a few sips started to let me down. The complexity falls way short with just roasted barley taste and a touch of dark chocolate. Its decent for an RIS.

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Photo of FunkyMacGroovin
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to Plenum for this one. 12 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. pour is a very deep shade of brown with a 1/2 finger coffee-colored head. Lots of lacing on the sides of the glass - this beer looks a bit like something you'd brew in a cauldron. Smells mainly of alcohol and molasses underpinned by hints of coffee and cacao - very nice.

Roasted malt is the primary flavor component on first sip - it's a little overpowering, and tastes somewhat over-roasted to the point of being burnt. Unfortunately this flavor gets more prominent as the beer warms. There's some alcoholic heat here too, but it's less than I expected, and I actually quite like it. Not as sweet as I expected either. The mouthfeel is very full-bodied, viscous, and a bit syrupy. There's moderate carbonation, and it helps keep my mouth feeling refreshed between sips.

A solid beer overall, but the burnt-grain taste definitely hurts this brew.

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Photo of nlmartin
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer poured almost straight black. The head was a very nice creamy coffee color. The only problem the head was dead on arrival. The beer has a dotting pattern of lacing down the glass.

Smell: Sweet carmelly fruity chocolatey coffee assault my nose. Rum soaked raisons make up the fruity smell.

Taste: The beer comes on with a spicy peppery sweetness. Then waves of chocolate and coffee do there thing.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy with almost no carbonation. I think carbonation would have helped the flavors explode from the glass.

Drinkability: This beer would have been far more drinkable with a little more carbonation.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, dark foreboding black color, impenetrable to the light, with an inch or so of dark brown foam on top. Tons of floaties in this one, quickly settle into a layer of sediment on the bottom. Aromas of rum soaked fruitcake, fig, prunes, plums and dark chocolate. Silky smooth on the palate, with more dark fruit, bitter coffee and cocoa powder. Some alcohol late.

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Photo of ThePeskyDingo
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours an opaque black color with small a dark brown head.

Smells like dark chocolate and coffee beans

Tastes like chocolate and coffee, just like the smell. The alcohol is very apparent in this beer.

Kind of an oily smooth feel, very low carbonation, the flavors linger in my mouth for a while after swallowed.

Drinkability - A very heavy beer, personally I could only drink one or so in a sitting. I enjoyed it in small sips best.

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Photo of PhxHorn
3.71/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance is basically black, like motor oil. Pretty thick, but not sludge-like. Smells of coffee, malt, chocolate, and tastes of all of the above plus some burnt nuts and molasses and other stuff. A very nice blend of flavors. Where it goes wrong is the lack of carbonation. While I don't have as much of a problem with it as the Bros do, it's a definite minus. It was just a bit too flat. If there had been some more fizz, this would have been absolutely first rate. As it was, it was still a pretty darn good beer.

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Photo of manahansf
3.71/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours thick and dark brown with a light lacy brown head. Vinous malty aromas flow from the glass foreshadowing the brews strength and flavor which is also vinous and has a fig ester flavor. The body is big and heavy with very low carbonation levels making it flow very slow. Likewise, the finish is slow and warms with a vinous end.

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Photo of Vdubb86
3.71/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass

This beer pours a deep darkness with a frothy stiff slow dissolving (if at all) tan foam that leaves beautiful lacing. The smell is oddly more hoppy than it is roasted. There is a bit of coffee in the back but not strong in the slightest. It's still a good aroma, but the mixture of hop and rum is a weird. The flavor is has oak, smokey chipotle pepper, with some booze. The booze is really the only off-putting part about the flavor. It could do well with some aging. There is a bitterness from the booze, but it still goes down real nice. If you sip it it drinks real well. Honestly it's good, but disappointing.

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Photo of SilentSabre
3.71/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

I have wanted to try this for *ages*. With the temperature around 24F tonight, I figured this would be an ideal time to crack it open. Poured absolutely black as ink with a medium brown foamy head. I could just look at the behaviour of the liquid as it poured into my goblet and tell it was going to be thick as hell in the mouth. Perfect. This was a terrific looking stout; enough to justify me handing out a 5.0. Smell was full of burnt coffee notes with a healthy dose of chocolate and caramel, and toffee, as suspected. Good, for sure, but no higher than a 4.0. Taste let me down a bit. Sort of a, "'s it, eh?" The flavour profiles one would expect were all there, but I just felt this lacked the deep complexity I was anticipating, and honestly, it wasn't as sweet as the aroma alluded to. Also, I feel that there is no question that this is 10% abv+. The first breath you take after having swallowed has a bit of heat on it. Mouthfeel is right where I was hoping it would be. Thick, chewy, heavy as hell. Great. Drinkability on this one is average at best, I felt. I think this is another classic case of generating hype over a beer and just *knowing* that's it's gowing to be the greatest beer you've sampled in many years, and then the moment arrives, and all you've done is set yourself up for disappointment. A good stout, overall, though. Just not the "be-all end-all" I was thinking it would be. Oh well..
*Note* I don't know how to read their coding system, but my bottle had "8 3 1 1 " ink jetted on the back label.

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Photo of purdueflyguy
3.71/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 vintage poured into pint glass

Poured black but not quite motor oil black. Was expecting it to be a little thicker looking. Descent mocha colored head.

Not quite as much as much going on as I would expect. Dark chocolate and coffee faint but big roasted malt. A little smokey.

Massive espresso flavors followed by a little bit of chocolate. A little boozy in the flavor but don't really feel any warming surprising for this ABV.

A little too thin as far as the mouthfeel.

Overall not a bad beer but it just doesn't take it to the next level would like to age this and see where it is in a couple years.

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Photo of tvv375ia
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass

A-dark brown with almost no head that doesn't need to fade because it didn't appear

S-some dark roast chocolate smells along with alcohol

T-a little sweet coffee and chocolate but the alcohol makes itself known here also

M-medium to full bodied but little carbonation

O-I wasn't overly impressed but I am going to cellar some and give it another shot maybe some of the alcohol will mellow a bit

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Photo of plaid75
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured an oily black hue with a one finger dark tan creamy head. There was decent retention and good sticky lacing.

The smell featured a rich coffee and caramel aroma with hints of dried fruit.

The taste consisted of nice caramel and chocolate malts with elements of raisin and coffee. There was a significant warming alcoholand a bit of an uncomfortable sweetness.

The mouthfeel was full and chewy.

Overall a tasty RIS. Big flavors and big ABV.

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Photo of rmcnealy
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 10/2/2012

Poured a non-translucent, dark brown that didn't appear to have much, if any sediment. The mocha tinted dirty ivory head faded quickly to leave a small but evident ring around the glass. It was a bit colder than ideal when initially poured so it's been sitting for a few. The first smells had a bit of aged funk but as it warms those scents have become less straightforward. Dark java roast, dark chocolate, sweet caramel, and slight funk can best describe the aromas. There is a slight bitterness and the 10.5% abv is masked pretty well. It is very thin and nowhere near the typical syrupyness you come to expect in higher ABV stouts. The tastes fade quickly and leave something to be desired. Overall it's not a bad stout. The consensus seems to be that Expedition stouts get better with time. Perhaps in another 9 months I'll give another go and update. Not my favorite Bell's brew or RIS, but very enjoyable nonetheless.


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Photo of johnwarne
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A beer haiku for you:

"A Russian delight;
Don't drink too late in the night
Big ole' heavy stout".

Quite a tasty treat: do not, however, drink this after consuming two others in an evening--it becomes overwhelming and frankly tough to finish [good as it is].


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Photo of stakem
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Expedition Stout, a brew I've had multiple times over the years and never bothered to review. Time to remedy that. Thanks to pmsawyer for gifting me with this aged bottle. Poured into a snifter, the brew appears black with a brown head that fizzes fast. Just a few bubbles remain atop.

The smell is heavy of roasted grains, raisiny alcohol and a bounty of licorice notes. As it warms up, some smooth semi-sweet chocolate character evolves towards the back but there is a solid inclusion of raisiny alcohol that tingles the nose with almost a solvent touch.

The tastes hits upfront with licorice and roasty bitter chocolate. Some hop inclusion accents a dark fruity alcohol character. More sips reveal more and more solvent alcohol with some raisin, plum and a bit of roast that is earthy and faintly of coffee.

This is quite a bold, warming sipper that really hasn't mellowed with more than a year of aging. It is medium to full bodied with an enjoyably low level of light carbonation. It is a fairly enjoyable brew but I much rather enjoy a stout that focuses more on roast and dryness than big fusel alcohol that is fruity. To each their own but this one doesn't quite do it for me.

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Photo of sisuspeed
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled September 21st, 2009

Poured into a Cigar City snifter. Nice dark tan head on this one that fades to a thin film over a midnight black body.

The nose is filled with anise, coffee, chocolate and a bit of alcohol, though not too hot. The anise is the most dominant note, followed by roasty malts and dark chocolate. Quite sweet.

Thick, sweet, chocolate followed by some oak notes (more like lightly charred barrel), even though I'm pretty sure this beer never sees a barrel or oak chips. Anise notes are still present, but lighter than the nose. Sweet upfront, and then roasty, slightly charred, bitter dark malts on the finish. A decent RIS, but it seems a bit discombobulated at this age. I think I prefer it fresh compared to this roughly 1.5 year old bottle.

Mouthfeel is thick, slick and well carbonated for the style. Still has some heat at this age. The finish/aftertaste is just a bit too char-like for me, which knocks down the mouthfeel a notch.

Drinkability is above average. I'm enjoying the glass in front of me, but there are better RIS's out there. I would probably pick up a pack of Old Rasputin over this any day. However, I've heard from some people that this turns into a gem with some decent age on it, so I'll probably save my other 2009 bottle for another 3-5 years. Worth checking out, but I think Bell's can do better.

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Photo of Birchgrove77
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 Expedition Stout purchased from Binny's.

Appearance - Soot black. No light penetrates the depths of this beer. An amazing two-inch cocoa brown head coaxed from a vigorous pour. Fantastic lacing as the glass emptied.

Smell - Seems almost to have a dark chocolate cake smell interspersed with a slight coffee aroma. Maybe a slight raisiny aroma as the beer warms.

Taste - If you could melt a good dark chocolate into a nicely brewed cup of coffee and top up with a nice bourbon you'd have this pint of Expedition. Definitely, an alcohol burn on the back of the throat. As it warmed more of a vanilla character came through that was nice, and reinforced the alcohol warmth as having a bourbon characteristic. As I finished the glass the alcohol warmth and bitterness almost took on a cough syrup undertone.

Mouthfeel - Flavors stay on the tounge and mouth for a while. Definitely has some viscosity to it, but was what I thought it would have.

Overall - This beer surpasses my expectations based on other's reviews. This beer goes great with a couple of Oreos.

Have the rest of the six pack cellared as I think this is a once a year type of beer. A great offering by Bells, but not something that I would want often.

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Photo of brewtus
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. Pours thick black with a dark tan head that laces well as it slowly fades. Smells oakey, a bit hoppy, and malty. Taste is smokey and a bit bitter. Has a chewy and creamy thickness. Leaves your mouth with a dark chocolate after taste that's pretty enjoyable. The alcohol level is hidden well, if you're looking for a thick solid stout, this is worth trying. Not my favorite but really glad I tried it.

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Photo of lowbrau
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured nearly black with a thick, dark brown head that left a thin but sticky lace on the glass. Smell of sweet, burnt raisins. Very sweet with very little hint of hops. Completely opaque when held up to light.
Taste: Again, very sweet. Almost overpowering, but somewhat balanced by the burnt, malty flavors.
The sweetness wore out my palate toward the end, but still a great beer. Would definitely buy again.

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Photo of oregonskibum
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. Thanks bainard for throwing this in as an extra.

A: dark inky brown, approaching pure black. Pours a really nice, big, cocoa colored head that stays around for a while. Looks great.

S: Strong dark chocolate flavors. Very little roasted coffee bitterness like many RIS. Seems sweet, but smooth. Very little bitterness present on the nose.

T: Deep, rich, creamy. Chocolate flavors dominate with a slightly sweet, syrupy finish. A touch of hop bitterness, but very mellow and only noticed on the long finish. This is all about the rich malts and chocolate flavors. As the beer warmed, I noticed a sligh roasted coffee flavor sneak in, but only slightly. For the ABV, this has almost no heat or boozy sensation.

M: Slightly heavy with moderate carbonation. This is a big RIS, so I guess in character.

D: Reminds me of a baby Chokolat seeking a home. This was enjoyable to drink, don't get me wrong. In fact, I'll likely hunt out a couple more to put in the cellar. But this beer doesn't quite have enough cocoa flavors to be called a chocolate stout, yet carries many of the sweet flavors to fall in that category. Overall, a very nice beer and something I'll enjoy again in the future.

Follow up note: I wrote notes on this beer while consuming it. Unfortunately, the beer got a little tiring to drink as I finished the bottle and I knocked its score down appropriately.

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Photo of FosterJM
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

243rd review on BA
bottle to snifter
No bottle code- Emailed bells said only issue was batch 9424 bottled on 10/29/2009

2009 Vintage

App- A very dark brown pour almost black with a dark tan almost brown head. Quickly receding to a ring of bubbles.

Smell- A lot of booze on this even with a year on it. Big RIS scents fill the nose. Chocolate, coffee, malt.

Taste- A bit stout with some less than balanced flavors that somehow still manage to taste great. The malt is a bit too strong with a underdevloped roast. A bit of a nutty aftertaste.

Mouth- A light/medium body with a low carb slick oily feel to it.

Drink- I was expecting a bit more but still pretty good. I give it high marks.

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Photo of Tolann
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Like thick oil. Completely opaque. Barely a head that faded quickly to none. Foamy is kinda brownish. Nice looking

S - Sweet Syrup. Chocolate and gooey caramel. Something maybe like licorice. Some sweet espresso.

T - Bigger chocolate taste. Some alcohol taste as well, which isn't so surprising. Some bitterness right before the swallow. Something clean and bright about the overall taste.

M - Smooth, with a sharp alcohol bite, but still really nice given the style. Medium mouthfeel, but I kinda wished it was a little thicker.

D - Hard to see myself drinking this all night. This tastes like a nail in the coffin, go to sleep. Still a very good beer even if its on the higher side.

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Photo of Mooseky
3.68/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Deep and dark, with an impatient head.

This beer is rich in flavor with so much potential hiding behind the harsh alcohol taste. At first there are little bits of coffee and tobacco, then the alcohol hits... after the fact, there is a lingering taste of fig/ prune/ raisen that hangs around to coat my mouth.

I have no intention of having another anytime soon, but I look forward to reviewing the rest of the six-pack over an incremental period of time.

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