1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

4,902 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,902
Reviews: 1,915
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 416
Gots: 1,094 | FT: 75
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,902 | Reviews: 1,915 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Derek
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a hint of mohogany. Pours with a nice tan head, and although there's hardly any retention, it does like to lace.

S: Plenty of piney hops and roasted/burnt (almost smokey) aroma.

T: Plenty of hop flavour (resiny pine) and bitterness. Plenty of DARK roasted/burnt malt (with a little caramel & molases). There's a little dark-fruit/wine-like quality. The flavour is predominantly bittersweet, with the balanced tipped to the bitter side. Personally, I think Russian Imperial stouts should have more fruity esters & tertiary alcohols.

M: Full body is syrupy, acidic and a little oily. Carbonation is on the lower side of moderate.

D: Very drinkable, especially considering the strength! Far more drinkable than some of the American Wanna-be Russian Imperial Stouts.

Derek, Feb 28, 2006
Photo of seanyfo
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

355ml bottle poured into my Celebrator chalice

No bottling/freshness dates found on the bottle.

A- Black body with no light perception. Head is 2 fingers and nearly chocolate ice cream in colour. Retention is good considering ABV(reducing to a crown slowly) and lacing is average to good.

S- Rich malt. Toasted malts dominate but are supported by notes of treacle toffee and milk chocolate.

T- Roasted malts with some toffee/milk chocolate sweetness. Roasted malts produce high bitterness in the finish and touch of hop gives a touch of dryness. Touch of alcohol presence.

M- Thick full body with a moderate carbonation.

D- A nice stout. This one is more on the roasted bitterness side in malt character whereas i prefer more support in the form of sweeter toffee/chocolate malts than evident here. However, alcohol is smooth and the feel of the beer is thick and rich, as it should be.

seanyfo, Jul 09, 2011
Photo of terrabyte
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an extremely inky black with a medium brown head.

Smells sweet like brownies and cherries.

Flavor is quite strong. Licorice, cherry, liquor, sherry, prunes, dates, cream, and a hint of chocolate. Breathing out trhough the nose, , you can feel a slight alcoholic burn. There is some chocolate bitterness, also.

Mouthful is certainly thick and syrupy. Oily and slick.

Drinkability could be a pain for some. High alcoholic content, sweetness, and thickness.

I really enjoyed this beer. A little sweet for me, but very enjoyable. I'm quite surprised by some of the reviews stating this beer's high ABV being a turnoff, yet enjoying certain Quads that I found higher in alcoholic flavor. I'm guessing that what the real deal here is that they enjoyed the flavor of those beers more, and I enjoy this beer's combination of flavors instead. What gets you through a big beer? For me, it was this beer's fun flavors.

terrabyte, Nov 05, 2006
Photo of BlackBelt5112203
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass at cellar temperature.

L – Deep black color with a big 4-finger bubbly brown head. Amazing retention and great lacing.

S – Typical RIS aromas of chocolate, vanilla, molasses, and dark fruits like plums and figs.

T – Starts off sweet with dark fruits, chocolate, vanilla, and molasses. Bitterness begins to build mid-taste and comes to a crescendo at the finish with lots of roasted barley. Alcohol is apparent.

F – Full-bodied with good carbonation for the style, a creamy and velvety-smooth mouthfeel, and a bittersweet and dry finish. Dark fruit sweetness lingers. Alcohol warmth is definitely apparent.

O – This is a very tasty RIS. The alcohol is certainly apparent here, but the beer is not hot by any means. It would probably smooth out nicely with some age. If I get my hands on another one, I’ll hold onto it for a year and see how it does. Still, for a young imperial stout at 10.5% ABV, it is very drinkable. Bell’s strikes again.

BlackBelt5112203, Nov 27, 2012
Photo of ypsifly
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle with no dates.

Yep, pours like you read about: used motor oil at about 160F. I should know, I changed the oil on my truck this morning. I have the used oil in a pan out in the garage. I'm really tempted to go outside and compare the two in a goblet. Small tan head that disappeared quickly, this was after a rather forced pour.

Smells of alcohol, bread, almonds, cocoa, and a hint of hop. There's some roasted aroma, but its rather slight for the style.

Tastes of mollases, roasted malts, chocolate, and a nice mix of alcohol and hops in the finish. The alcohol comes on with a nice warming affect. The full mouthfeel is what one would expect for the style. Feels like a meal in a bottle, without any carbonation.

This beer suffers only in its drinkability. The high abv alone makes it too much for a session beer. I have a few more bottles cellaring and am anticipating this one after a couple years. Once the alc mellows this will be one kick ass impy.

ypsifly, Feb 14, 2005
Photo of WeedKing4
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pours a dark black with a little bit of foam in the glass. Tastes of roasted dark chocolate and coffee with some dark fruits lingering in the background. For this being 10.5%, it goes down very damn smooth. This didn't blow me away, but it was pretty solid overall. I'm aging two more bottles until next winter. So i'm curious to how that tastes.

WeedKing4, May 29, 2010
Photo of MchugN
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Make sure to put on a clean pair of underwear before drinking this stout. It's definitely a big boy beer.
The aroma is very delighting and ever so present. Very dark, almost black with a brownish head. Upon drinking, it has a very big mouth feel and completely coats the mouth with a roasty malted flavorful explosion of stout-ness. Very nice stout but also on the pricey side.

MchugN, Oct 15, 2010
Photo of mikereaser
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 8728

A - pours a dark black that let no light through with a 1/4 inch of tan foam that disappeared quickly and left only a layer of fine bubbles on the surface

S - roasted malts, coffee and cocoa

T - roasted malts, with cocoa & coffee flavors

M/D - really smooth, easy drinking for a 10.5%, I could get into alot of trouble. This is my favorite so far of this style.

mikereaser, Feb 03, 2009
Photo of Vancer
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Well, here we go: what a start – pours like used motor oil, black as nite, yum! Just a thin ring of tan lace around the edge of my paper cup. This brew has a viscosity level not normally seen!

TONS of chocolate malt, coffee, anise, plums, raisons – a fruit blender of aromas. Bold coffee, burnt charcoal/toast start in the quaff, but a bit too sugary sweet in the finish. Also pops with an alcohol medicine finish.

Dry, powdery and gritty brew, full bodied rich and thick. Just too darn syrupy for a real long drinker. It really needed more hops to balance this bad boy out.

Vancer, Nov 21, 2006
Photo of maek228
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Appearance: the first thing you notice about this stout is how it pours. its thick like oil or syrup. there is a noticeable lack of carbonation, but that is somehow sexy when you factor in the thick pour.

Smell: Rich smell....cooking chocolate, dark chocolate, expresso....extremely "stoutish"

Taste: Thick as a buh-dunk-ah-dunk. upfront is the bitter strength and taste expresso, with hints of chocolate and bitter burnt malts. dark fruits round this flavor out. the hops at the end of this beer are strong and they linger...the linger of the hops and expresso mesh so nice.

Mouthfeel: Uniquely thick

Drinkability: Something strong isnt very drinkable. Something that tastes special at first would get taxing after more than 2

maek228, Sep 30, 2006
Photo of kmpitz2
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a jet black color with a quarter inch of brown head that falls to ring the beer. The nose is full of dark fruits, more like a belgian quad to me than an impy stout. The flavor is more roated than the nose would say. There is a bit of dark fruit but a ton of chocolate and big coffee on the finish. The beer is just as thick as could ever be. Maybe even more than the breakfast stout. Drinkability is nice. The thickness and the flavor keep it from being a 5 on drinkability, but this is a damn nice stout.

kmpitz2, Jan 01, 2005
Photo of gabemasiulis
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.
A) Dark black coffee look, very opaque, with a medium brown head, peaking and good retention with a little lacing.
S) Heavy caramel smell, with dark almost unsweetend chocolate, and maybe a touch of coffee. Some underlying hops are present in the nose.
T) Starts high and lilting with an acidic bite, quickly settling into thick caramel maltiness, darck chocolate, a very toasted feel is present. Definitely some alcohol present in the taste.
M) Very thick heavy wet and lingering, kind of an oily feel, but still quite nice. It does not do a very good job of leaving the palate clean, but that is not the intention of this beer, it sticks with you, to enjoy it for some time.
D) A good sipper, but one is definitely enough.

gabemasiulis, Jun 02, 2008
Photo of malcontent
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The black body that doesn't allow an iota of light in is mounted by an unmovable flinger of khaki-colored head. Simply beautiful.

Layers of aromas stack up as following; chocolate, leather, smoke, cinnamon, and butter. Dark fruit surfaces upon further inspection. Nice.

Roasted malt jumps out right away accompanied by a bittersweet chocolate that never relents. Much less dark fruit here instead hints of juniper and earth are the supporting flavors. A strong coffee taste finishes as part of a dual bitterness along with a shocking (and welcome) hop kick. Falls a bit short of greatness due to the aforementioned hop character; the aggressive nature makes me think they went with Chinook or Challenger or another freakish varietal.

Creamy and rich without ever feeling sticky or oily. Carbonation is certainly there preventing the listlessness the style sometimes suffers from.

It's obviously a dastardly strong beer but the alcohol is scarcely detectable. I have had a few substandard bottles of this in years past. However, it appears as though Bells' has worked out the kinks with Expedition and they now have a beverage firing on all cylinders.

Thanks to kryptic for the trade.

malcontent, Nov 26, 2007
Photo of Agold
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Expedition has a nice high dark brown head which recedes and leaves some nice lacing. Good rich roasty aroma with a hint of chocolate and a bit of fruityness. The fruityness is not the most appealing, but not a big detractor. Taste is big and roasty as well with a bit of chocolate flavor. The fruity character receded leaving a nice smooth rich beer. Mouthfeel was good and creamy and smooth, and not too heavy.

Agold, May 02, 2011
Photo of CHSLBrew
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter.

A-Deep brown head, small but substantial and dense, but it receded quickly. The beer is black, and it looked akin to diesel fuel as it flowed out of the bottle. Opaque and dark as a moonless sky.

S-The snifter overflowed with roasted malts, alongside chocolate and dark dried fruits.

T-Heavy roasted malts with a huge chocolate flavor. Hop bitterness is moderate with some dcefinite hop character. Alcohol is present, but quite smooth. Finished is roasty, choco-coffee and lip-smacking.

M-Full, full body. As I said earier, akin to diesel. Chewey to the fullest extent. Alcohol is evident and the warming property is big, with a slight boozy feel in my mouth.

D-GOOD BEER! I really enjoy this brew. It's exceedingly easy to drink, while its flavor profile demands the drinker's respect. Approach with caution: you will fall for this beer. Good thing it comes in six-packs.

CHSLBrew, Feb 04, 2009
Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: This beer pours like black oil and there are some weird chunks in the bottom of the glass which I'm not sure what it is. A brown, creamy head, about 2 fingers thick, is mostly lasting with a lot of sticky lace left on the glass.

S: A strong aroma of roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, and licorice are evident in this beer. There are some notes of booze and brown sugar, maybe dark fruits, but one thing for sure, not a lot of hops.

T: A very rich roasted malt flavor with notes of bitter coffee and dark chocolate. A somewhat complex taste with hints of some booze. Also, a long lasting and bitterness aftertaste that is on the pleasant side of things. Exactly how I imagine a stout to taste.

M: A silky, full bodied beer with very little carbonation. A dry after taste, but on the good spectrum.

D: Would love to drink this in the summer. Maybe 3 or 4 at a time.

BrewCrew2010, Aug 20, 2010
Photo of Kevinpitts
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%

Kevinpitts, Today at 09:35 AM
Photo of optiontwo
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz. poured into snifter

Appearance: Pours black with a mahogany head that disappeared quickly.

Smell: Dark fruits, tart cherry, rich dark chocolate, oak, brown sugar, and alcohol.

Taste: Like a dark chocolate covered cherry right away with subtle coffee bean and more bitter than you would expect, due to the assertive hopping I assume. Hops don't make much of a flavor appearance but when they do peek through it's more orange than anything. There's also and iron-y flavor that hits at the end, not bad, just interesting.

Mouthfeel: Thick, viscous, appropriate carbonation, very smooth.

Drinkability: Be careful with this one. I've been known to want one after I'm done with the first but your entering tipsy town.

Overall: This remains one of my favorite imperial stouts and is a must try. So go get it!

optiontwo, Feb 05, 2009
Photo of thecheapies
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bell's Expedition Stout. Battle of the Vintages. 2011 vs. 2012.

2012:

Pours a soft black with a half-inch of mocha head. Not much of the foam wants to stick to the glass. Very gluggy out of the bottle, like spent oil. 4.0

Smells like bitter mocha, unsweetened chocolate, giant roast, pine hops, earthy aromas, espresso, and dried red raspberry. Punchy nose with an enormous malt bill. You don't need to point your nose too close to get that delectable stout essence. 4.5

Heavily-charred with dusty mocha powder, burnt notes, alcohol, blackberry, caramelized sugars, pine from the hops, licorice root, and hefty bitterness. Just a beast of a stout, flavors fitting for the coldest and darkest nights. The booze makes it near-spicy deep into the finish with hot breaths from the strength making your mid-section warm and wooly. Quite yummy fresh. I'm excited for the year-old. 4.0

Full body with some gumminess and smacking-lip stick. Big and warm without being hot and undesirable. Carbonation is a staunch-medium. 4.5

Overall - 4.0

2011:

Poured a less uniform black with some browning hue taper along the edges as the liquid filled the glass. Head formed at a similar height as the fresh vintage, but looked a half-shade darker brown. Leaves the glass almost entirely clean, but a firm ring remains. 4.0

Syrupy chocolate nose punctuates a melty-rich malt nose. Sweet coffee-and-cream notes swell in and out around the fudgy dark chocolate and booze. Peatier and sweeter dark malts offer more raisin and prune and dark caramel. Truly, Expedition Stout has decomposed beautifully. 4.5

Chocolate-y and syrupy with milk caramel and loud fermentables. The roast is much softer and the beer is sweeter and less bitter. Less coffee, more decadent. Dark and milk chocolate, CowTails caramel creme, roasted grain, raisin, alcohol, fruit rot, soft pungent cheese, rotted berries, torched sugar, and light minty pine. 4.0

Thick body with a medium-to-light carbonation and warmly-reminding strength. Smooth and coercing. 4.0

Overall - 4.0

thecheapies, Nov 30, 2012
Photo of Ego
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

muchos gracias to my main pimp biggie E-pseja for this little treat smuggled on over from the midwest during his latest sojourn to see the family (aka an excuse to by beer and go to 3floyds...).

eyes...
an expeditiously designed bottle to be sure but alas this beer will only have one more expedition, right into my eager mouth and stomach. parting is such sweet sorrow but a beer left unopened is pure tragedy (this means you dan, you better start drinking some of your damn beers already!) ahem, where was I?
this is bee-atch #7251 (2/25/6)
wow, what a 'fro' on this beer (and I left my hair pick at the office...)! deep chocolate head of about 1/4 a finger, the head dissapates rather quickly into an Oring and this thing stares at you... like one big, bad ass black eye... this has the legs you would expect from someting packing 11 in the ABV pants. the color? tar? oil? asphalt at midnight during the 6 months in alaska where there is no sun... yeah, something like that. a good looking RIS, I'm psyched.

nose...
chocolate rum raisins soaked in alcohol, coffee notes with a deep cocoa mystique drawing you in like the pizza guy in porno movies, this is deep and dark like nel carter's... never mind, it's deep and dark with hints of dark fruits but the domination is laid down by the cocoa powder mixed in with the alcohol. perhaps to some the alcohol might be a detriment but I think it works here, kind of like goose island's bourbon county stout, granted it is not as boozy as that one in the nose imo.

taste et al...
thick and oily on the mouth, it leaves behind a slick syrup snail trail across the toungue, this is a touch hot alcohol wise, it is a hint out of balance in that regard and takes some acclimation to move past that detriment and enjoy the darker riches offerred here on this journey through 12 ounces. when held in the mouth there is an absolutely lovely smoke flavor (well, burnt really, as in burnt beyond recognition, you know like a great white concert). Once you get over the alcohol this is one to savor (a definite sipper... of course). The flavors are assertive as they are in the nose. The mouthfeel is nearly perfect for me, nice and thick, total viscosity (like velvet soaked in rum). The more I sip this the more I like it, definitely give it a go at cellar temp.

verdict?
I would probably have this on hand if it were local/available. Definitely needs to mellow out a bit in the cellar but alas I was awarded only one bottle. I would love to age this for a couple of years and lay it up against Stone/Raspy/Rogue etc. I think it can hang with those boys. thanks again eric, next time you are in illinois I have a request...

Ego, Oct 05, 2006
Photo of greenmonstah
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle into pint glass. Bottled December 10 2010

A - Pours a deep black with half a finger of intense brown head with minuscule bubbles. Good retention for the ABV. excellent lacing.

S - Bitter chocolate, roasted malt and caramel. Very clean backround. Dark malt and some sweetness. Dark fruits come to light as it warms.

T - Robust is definitely a fitting word. Lots of intense malt flavor going on. Sweet caramel/toffee and a good roasted characteristic. A bit of a dark fruity sweetness is also present. Some hints of booze, but overall it is well hidden. Not much in the way of hop that I can pick out. Finish is bitter and almost sour.

M - Full body with a surprising amount of carbonation and a very dry finish. Thick and sticky. Smooths out considerably as it warms. Drink it at 50-55 degrees.

O - It's not world class, but it is damn drinkable. Very tasty and pleasant, and the feel is intense. Very very full bodied, almost chewy. Michigan-area residents, color me jealous. To have access to this and FBS (nor to mention all the other great area beers) is like a dream come true. I've been on a bit of a tear lately with Saisons, Hefes, and other lighter beers, so this RIS hit me like a ton of bricks, and I loved every minute of it.

greenmonstah, Mar 27, 2011
Photo of Hova
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%

Hova, Oct 26, 2014
Photo of JizackFH
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - This one pours black with a thin brown head. There is no light able to pass through its body. The head left a bit of lacing as it fell.

S - It smells of roasted malts. There are also notes of coffee, chocolate, licorice, dark fruits, brown sugar, and a touch of alcohol. Smells great.

T - The chocolate and roasted malts come out first. Then, the flavors of molasses, licorice, dark fruits, and coffee come into play. There is also some hop and alcohol presence at the finish, which also has a bitterness to it.

M - This has a full body and low carbonation. It goes down nice and smooth, and also has a silky quality to it. There is also a warming sensation at the end of each drink.

D - I would say this is a pretty drinkable beer considering the ABV. It goes down nice and easy. This is a perfect beer for the colder months. This is a great RIS and I would recommend it to anyone. Great job Bells. Cheers.

JizackFH, Nov 17, 2010
Photo of DLSheidy
4.16/5  rDev -1.9%

DLSheidy, Saturday at 11:54 PM
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 4,902 ratings.