Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,987 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,987
Hads: 5,559
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 480
Gots: 1,453 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bell's Expedition Stout Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,987 | Hads: 5,559
Photo of phishgator
4.69/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2002
This pours into and Imperial pint glass with large clunks and chugs. A thick brownish black (liquid?) with a decent head for such a big brew. Thought the head does receed in just a short time. The aroma is of perfection for an Imp. Stout, roasted coffee and dark bitter choclate. The taste is every bit the same as the aroma but with a bit of heat from the alcohol! There is also a strong bitter presence. The mouthfeel is thick and coating, as it should be. The drinkability is out of this world. I always want more after I finish the first one; although I'm not too sure that I should have another?!

 614 characters

Photo of yankeeheel
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My, my, my, what have we here. Pours like a big fat cup of adult dark cocoa. Nice two finger espresso head.

Lots of chocolate and malt coming up through the vapors. Smells heavenly to this stout lover.

Tastes almost like someone tried a little homemade concoction of melted chocolate and then added some really good colombian coffee. Malts just busting out from every direction. Smoky, charcoal, ash, oak. This one has it all. A huge beer in every sense of the word. Finishes dry.

Mouthfeel strikes a balance between being super fat and creamy but due to the goods winds up being fat. Not oily, just big.

Drinkability is very good for such a big beer. I could see having three of these and then calling a cab. Get you some.

JahNoth is the man with the big Bell's hookup.

 785 characters

Photo of kenito799
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Brought back from the midwest.

Pours an opaque chocolate brown/black, hard pour raises a slowly forming, relentlessly growing chestnut brown head, which slowly recedes...beautiful lacing pattern from the start. One look and you know this is a serious beer.

Dark roasted aroma,chocolate, coffee, and interesing fresh vegetal notes, I guess it's hops. Good dark stout aromas.

This is one amazingly rich and complex brew. Roasted coffee and dark chocolate is the first impression, with some fruity (raspberries!) sweetness, and then spicy allspice-gingerbread underneath. Fantastically drinkable for such a big rich beer. The most impressive aspect for me is the long, evolving finish...a lasting bitterness from the dark roast...then floral grapefruity hoppy bitterness comes in...then your tongue continues to pulsate with flavor and bitterness for a full two minutes, the flavor keeps coming back in waves, perhaps because the rich creaminess of the brew has coated your palate and taken full command...really amazing.

A wonderful after dinner beer to savor and contemplate. This beer definitely passes the "I am so sad the glass is finished" test. The folks at Bell's have done it again...they continue to impress.

 1,267 characters

Photo of DonDirkA
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first Expedition in about 2 years and I remember it being one of the best stouts I've had so I'm excited. Pours pitch black with a rich, chocolate head that settles down to a cm or so and leaves a lot of lacing. The nose is so rich its crazy. Dark chocolate, coffee, booze, roast, slight char, a bit more chocolate, some prunes and a hint of raisins. The taste isn't as hot as I was expecting, though it does light a bit of a flame deep down in your gut. Booze, raw cocoa, coffee, prunes, dark fruit, brown sugar, molasses, chocolate, roasted malts and maybe some figs in the back. Its full bodied with a thick, chewy mouthfeel. This is exactly what the body and mouth of a stout should be. I am super excited to try one every year for the next 5 years. At least I know I'll have one cellared away for a cold night every winter until 2017.

 850 characters

Photo of heebes
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a thin layer of tan head. Nose is dark roasted malts, coffee beans & molasses. Taste is heavily coffee malt base, dark cocoa, roasted chocolate. Well rounded and smooth with no abv presence. Highly enjoyable Russian Imperial Stout. Will definitely pick up more when I see this beer on the shelves.

 314 characters

Photo of joshrosborne
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This has to be one of the best Stout's I've ever tried. Almost like a dessert in a glass. Good stuff.

A: Pours dark as night with a tan milky head that, after dissipating, leaves a nice tan film over the beer. Same colored lacing on the glass.

S: You get a ton of roasted malt from this. I can't smell the espresso, but the chocolate is evident. You can smell the alcohol a bit, too.

T: Almost tastes like a boozy chocolate milk at first. Finishes with a little bitterness from the roasted malts that were in the smell. A little bit of burn from the ABV.

M: Very creamy and smooth. There is a bit of carbonation, but it does nothing but enhance and deliver the creaminess.

D: You don't want to drink this quickly not just b/c of the high ABV, but b/c it tastes so damn good. I couldn't believe this was 10.5%. You can taste the booze, but I had no idea it was that high. This could be a dangerous one.

 906 characters

Photo of techdiver
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dense black with a modest head that dissipates quickly.

Chocolate, coffee, and anise to the nose.

Taste of coffee and roasted malt. So smooth and decadent, with a hint of alcohol in the finish.

Coats the mouth as one of the densest brews I've tried. The taste just lingers.

Quite drinkable concidering the ABV, which is really well hidden.

 359 characters

Photo of ProfessionalJ
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Wish this one was year round, like to drink it as a dessert after a few ipas. knocked Old Rasputin to my second favorite imperial stout. Wish i had the willpower to age a few!

 175 characters

Photo of NewGeneric
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to paulieatworld for hooking it up.
Poured into my Delirium tremens tulip.

A: Pours an all-around opaque black with just the tiniest sliver of brown on the bottom edge. A full 2 fingers of foam dissipates quite slowly leaving tons of beautifully patterned lacing all over the glass. A semi-large mound of head lingers on top. Looks incredible.

S: Smells of luscious dark chocolate and perfectly roasted coffee beans. Traces of vanilla and molasses tease my olfactory senses as I continue to inhale the wonderful bounty of smooth satisfaction awaiting me.

T: Again, luscious dark chocolate and perfectly roasted coffee beans splatter all over my tongue and then melt into huge molasses and mild vanilla flavors. Missing just a little something to give it that 5, but still...wow.

M: Perfect. Well carbonated, but not overly so, and creamy and delightful and smooth and...and...and...oh...oh...oh...

D: I've had this before and don't remember it being this good. Well done Bell's! I will have to get some more and age at least one to see if it could possibly get better than it already is. Magnifico!!!

 1,112 characters

Photo of cerevisiaephilus
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Good lord. I'm sad I hadn't rediscovered Imperial stouts sooner. This one is fantastic. Really nice pillowy head that rises when summoned, but otherwise doesn't. I like having this control.

Big nose. Fruity and chocolaty...very rich. Definately some hops in there too. Also get some nice wine maybe port notes too. Just a little 'sour' like that is quite nice.

Big flavor. Very rich. Very very nice. Like a big hunk of dark dank chocolate cake that makes ethanol run through your nose after you eat a bite...nice. Get a touch of wineyness too...just right for such a big beer. This is hoppy but just enough (which is still a ton!) to balance this beer out.

A very nice mouthfeel. Not as nice as Rogue's Imperial, just a touch on the thick side here, but still really nice...and I suppose it wouldn't be nearly as rich without it.

Actually quite drinkable. Not too bitter to wear your palette out, and just enough roasted toasty to dry out the sweetness.

A beautiful beer to say the least.

 1,006 characters

Photo of Norvelljeff
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

L-Thick, black, dark, sand colored head that stays about 1/8" layer on top as your drink.

S-Roasty, liquor-ish, smell. Hints of something sweet.

T-Complex, getting an oak after taste. Drinks well with rings staying around glass.

F-A little slippery coating that lasts a minuet or so after first drink.

O-Very, very good. Will be savoring the rest of the sixer.

 364 characters

Photo of brock146
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Thick pour with thinner than average "stout" head

S - Big time sweet raisins, a hint chocolate and coffee tones.

T - Malty sweet raisins, followed by a tad of chocolate with a hint of bitter coffee flavor and booze on the end note.

M - Big bodied with perfect (minimal) carbonation.

O - I had purchased a six pack of this stout (not aged) and was decently impressed. However, I must say that I was lucky to be able to pick up a year aged bottle of this at my favorite liquor store here in Minneapolis. In all honesty I have to say that after a year of aging this beer improves exponentially. I am a big fan of stouts, this one really takes the cake. Perfect balance of flavor that really packs one hell of a punch. This beer should, in my opinion, most definitely be aged before it is released. FANTASTIC. Sad that I didn't buy another one... or 7.

Serving type: bottle

 879 characters

Photo of Arbitrator
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lightly chilled bottle into a glass (2009 vintage).

A: Pours a pitch black in the snifter, totally impenetrable. The head is an attractive inch of fluffy mocha-colored foam, with impressive retention for the ABV. Minutes later, it has collapsed onto thick clumps of scattered bubbles on top of the brew, with a heavy collar that deposits some lace.

S: Smoke, earth, and roasted grain jumps out at me; it reminds me of a cigar in some respects. Plenty of bittersweet chocolate and roasted coffee, with some anise, caramel, and toffee lurking beneath.

T: The taste progression is interesting. Where I usually find the malts jump out first, this one leads the way with smoke, earth, roasted grain, and some small citrus hop character. It remains smoky and earthy even as bittersweet chocolate develops in the flavor. I find anise throughout. One of my favorite non-barrel aged imperial stouts; the combination of smoke, roasted grain, and anise just does something for me.

M: Creamy, full-bodied. Very fine bubbles that pepper the tongue slightly and assist in the slight warming effect from the alcohol.

D: It's hard to criticize this imperial stout. I find the smoke unusual, but it works somehow. I'm really impressed by this beer.


I also had a 2008 vintage. I'd give that a 4.5 / 4.5 / 5.0 / 4.5 / 4.5 (overall 4.7 / A+). I definitely prefer this with some age.

 1,378 characters

Photo of Carloco
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A --> Beer poured darker than chocolate brown. Very caramel looking, with a very small head.

S --> Aroma is that of chocolate, syrupy, MAJOR coffee, vanilla?, and get almost a tad cinnamon

T --> Taste is coffee, chocolate vanilla, slightly bitter, very malty

M --> the mouthfeel is THICK with not much carbonation. Wonderful flavors, stay in your mouth for a while due to the thickness.

O --> Overall VERY complex beer. many different flavors and great aroma. I should have aged it a little because I hear it is even better, but regardless was awesome. Only criticism I have is that you definitely taste and smell the 10% alcohol.

 651 characters

Photo of dubinsky
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch 9384 bottled October 15th, 2009...consumed October 31st, 2010.

A - Pours pitch black right out of the bottle with a heavy, viscous consistency. A gentle pour left a thin 1/2 finger caramel head that quickly receded leaving a nice thin film on the sides of the snifter.

S - Chocolate, prunes, dark cherries and molasses round of the smell with a light boozy aroma.

T - This is a great tasting RIS. Its not very hot and is extremely thick and creamy. Extremely complex flavors here. I am getting the obvious chocolate, molasses and espresso i have come to find consistent in almost all RIS's, however im also tasting licorice and a slight hop bitterness on the tail end. The alcohol is consumed rather well, but still has a warming effect.

M - Thick, creamy and smooth. Excellent, almost flat mouth feel that i love of this style of beer. Very chewy and sticky. It really lingers in the mouth as i type this up.

D - This is a really dangerous beer for me to have. Unfortunately its not one i can easily obtain on the west coast. Its very well rounded, and not boozy making it extremely quaffable.

 1,108 characters

Photo of pkeigs
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Expedition has grown to be one of my favorite stouts. I love how accessible it is, and every batch seems to be just as good as the last. Bells kills it!

This one kills me every time I drink, so much complexity packed into a 12 ounce bottle. Smells of dry cocoa, coffee, dark malts. Balanced out with a nice hop bill, but the beer focuses on the malt! Finishes a bit dryer than what I expect, but each sip garners in more complexity. A delicious treat and a beer that I want to have access to all of the time.

 510 characters

Photo of beergeek279
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color is oil black, with a nice bit of head for such a high ABV brew. The smell is sweet malt. The taste is very dark chocolatey, with hints of anise and coffee, and the alcohol is present if not necessarily overwhelming. Mouthfeel is oil-thick. Drinkability-wise, I'd want to drink more of these than I actually could!

A wonderful and rich imperial stout. Not quite as good as some of my personal favorites, it's still up there as a damn good beer nonetheless. Definitely one I'd have in the future!

 536 characters

Photo of Retail1LO
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a sixer of this at Whole Foods yesterday. What a fabulous stout. Worth every penny. Opaque would be a good word for how this looks in a glass, only because there isn't a word that describes something that's darker, and permits less light to travel through it. There was absolutely zero head on this as I poured it, and lacing is nonexistent. This is about as smooth as a stout gets. Subtle bourbon hints, chocolate, and coffee comprise the bulk of the flavor profile. Does NOT taste like it's 10.5% ABV. Did I mention it was smooth? What an awesome offering by Bell's. I'm so grateful I have 5 more bottles in the fridge. This is a beer I have every intention of returning to early and often.

 702 characters

Photo of markaberrant
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - jet black, big and creamy dark tan head. Sticking lacing. Head does not hold up that great, but readily comes back with a swirl of the glass.

S - HUGE figgy/raisin notes, some cocoa undertones, not exactly what I think of when it comes to stout aroma, but it is awesome.

T - big dark fruit sweetness to start, it just washes over your mouth like a tidal wave on a beach, but then as it recedes, a smooth chocolately finish slowly reveals itself. Hop character and bitterness are both low, although I don't see how they could possibly compete with the malt anyways.

M - Chewy, creamy, sticky, soft; just a lucious mouthfeel. Huge alcohol, but oh so refined.

D - Amazing.

I am totally blown away by this beer. I don't know if my brain and tastebuds could handle anything much bigger or complex. The best beer I have had to date.

Thanks to Demcorhip for the bottle!

 872 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours from 12oz bottle a pitch black with a medium sized head of foam that shrinks rather quickly leaving just a fine ring around the edge of the glass.

The smell is very strong but nice. There's oodles of roasted and sweet malt on the nose and also some fruitiness.

The taste is also hugely malty. Lots of roastiness and sweet caramel malt along with chocolate and hot cocoa that adds some nice bitterness that creates one heck of a complex and pleasing experience to my palate. Wow is this ever a great sipping Imperial Stout! I did have a couple bottles of it a few years back but I think I'm enjoying it more now because of my "evolved" appreciation of quality microbrews.

I'm about halfway through now and though the abv is pretty darned high, I'm not getting any of it in the taste, just some warming as it goes down. What a great brew to have on this very cold Casper winter evening...

Bottom line: A *superb* full bodied, full flavoured Imperial Stout that borders on perfection. I can't recommend this one enough!

Thanks to ColoradoBobs for allowing me to try this beauty again!!!

 1,104 characters

Photo of letsgopens
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had the pleasure of sampling this RIS on-tap at Bell's Brewery. It poured all black with a thick, creamy, tan head that leaves some nice wall of lace. Very formidable looking poured in to a tulip glass.

Amazing aroma; primarily heavily roasted malt and spent coffee grounds. Earthy and robust. Lots of bitter cocoa. Fills the nostrils. Exactly what I look for in a RIS.

Again the flavor is primarily of heavily roasted; dark malty goodness. Rich and decadent. Black coffee and bitter dark cocoa. Some toffee sweetness. Deep caramelization. A bit of milk chocolate comes through in the finish. As does a good amount of warmth. Some booze and dark fruit are there too. Earthy and complex with just a hint of smoke. All the fundamental characteristics that make this style great.

Thick and creamy on the palate with low carbonation and a somewhat syrupy texture. Again there is some nice warmth in the finish that rounds out this amazing beer. One of the best examples of a RIS I can think of. Such a great selection. If you ever have the opportunity to sample it on tap, take it.

 1,083 characters

Photo of jucifer1818
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A:deep, deep, deep black. I can see my refection in this beer is so perfectly dark and black, and it looks amazingly inviting.
light head, tho I cant complain for a beer this strong (which usual has low head retention)

smell: smells beautiful of chocolate...like chocolaty, light toffee, light fudge malt goodness
its beautiful

Taste: very forward with the hops, starting strong for a bit before being overtaken by the malt. Smoked malt, very dark caramel, black patent, roasted barley, and dark chocolate malt are all present with a slight hint of coffee malt as well)
no taste of the 10.5% ABV
aftertaste is of freshly grounded coffee and dark bakers chocolate

mouth-feel: slick, grainy, malty, and slight syrupness, yet still easy to drink

overall: its a fine example of a heavenly stout that goes as black and flavorful as possible.. Could had been a bit lighter on the hops to allow the malt to shine even more, but that's just my own prefrances, this brew balances both aspects of brewing flavors, and finds a beautiful balance for a beer of this heavy level of hoppyness and matlyness

A well earned 5/5

 1,132 characters

Photo of loren01
4.71/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Poured a syrupy dark black color. Not really much head at all. No lacing down the glass.
S: Smells sweet, good roasted malty scent also smell slightly of coffee
T: Tastes very sweet up front, good hop bitterness toward the end. Also slight smokey, coffee flavor
M: Heavy bodied, thick and syrupy, goes down smooth though
D: Awesome beer, I wish I had more of this one. Would taste very good on a cold winter day, very warming beer.

 439 characters

Photo of Roman5150
4.71/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

bottle into tulip, 6 months on age

appearance: Jet black, dark thick beer. Tan foamy head 1 finger thick, lots of lacing.

smell: dark chocolate, roasted coffee, espresso, chocolate syrup, earthy hops, dark fruit

taste: chocolate syrup, roasted malt, coffee, espresso, some dark chocolate, dark fruits, figs, alcohol is so well ridden this is a dangerously drinkable beer. some minor hop presence but it is very chocolate and coffee dominant... Amazing.

mouthfeel: full bodied and well balanced

overall: One of my favorite stouts, or beers of all time for that matter. I have one aging along with a Stone IRS to see who the ultimate champion is. This is one damn good beer, i'm still trying to find Bell's Blacknote Stout, but I don't know how it could even top this.

 771 characters

Photo of Budinetz
4.71/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Re-visiting this one aged over a year. Date on the label reads packaged on 09/25/13. So this brew is roughly 14 months old.

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a goblet
Pours an onyx black color with a dark tan, half inch head. Good head retention for vintage ale. Very little lacing around the glass. 4.5

Smells of rich caramel, toffee, coffee beans, and bitter chocolate, figs. Phenomenal nose on this brew. 4.75

Initial sip tastes sweet with a roasty flavor up front that dissipates ever so slowly. Minutes later the palate has a pleasant bitterness. Very well balanced. 4.75

Feels slick on the tongue and very viscous. Old engine oil has nothing on this viscosity. Very chewy, but pleasant to the mouth. 4.5

Overall a rock solid Russian Imperial Stout that has improved with age. I would definitely try to get a vertical of this with two bottles to drink
One and age one. 4.75


 891 characters

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