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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.

5,043 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,043
Reviews: 1,928
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 427
Gots: 1,143 | FT: 77
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
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Ratings: 5,043 | Reviews: 1,928 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of pmarlowe
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 10068. Sprecher pint glass.

Pours... black. Three fingers of dark khaki foam after an ambitious pour, with nice head retention and some lacing. Aroma is a big malty one, with some creaminess and dry fruitiness, spice and cinnamon thing going in the secondary. Taste is huge, mouthwatering roasted malts, bittersweet cocoa, with a lingering, bitter finish. I think the acidity supports the beer well, but the bitterness on the finish is a little much. Medium carbonation and medium-full body are appropriate for the style, although the heat is noticeable. Overall, this is a well crafted, malt bomb of a stout, whose latter feature limits somewhat its drinkability.

Photo of PlaywrightSam
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Like motor oil. A surprising and enticing dark chocolate head. S: Coffee, hops almost completely subsumed under the heavy pull of cocoa and roasted malt. T: Hops now making a bold appearance, nice bitter finish. M: Milky, not much carbonation. Drinkability: Very, very nice, though with the heavy body and staggering alcohol content, this is definitely a sipping beer.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Midnight black with no highlights to speak of. The head is a massive milk chocolate brown monster, one of the darkest I've ever seen. The foam is melting slowly and is depositing thick, shredded sheets of lace on the glass.

The aroma doesn't exactly jump out of the glass, but it does become bolder with warming. Each sniff delivers chocolate, coffee and hops, in order from most prominent to least. The flavor is strong, rich and dark, with boatloads of roasted malt. Specifics include generous helpings of black licorice/anise, molasses and bitter espresso.

Expedition tastes rougher, more bitter and more alcoholic than Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout. It'd be a better beer if the alcohol were masked more completely and the edges were smoothed off a little. The mouthfeel is some kind of amazing. This brew is thick, chewy, ultra creamy smooth and goes down like heavy cream.

This is a Big Beer, one that should be sipped and savored. If you like your Imperial stouts with an unapologetically brash, bold, slightly raw taste, but with a refined, well-mannered mouthfeel, then you'll enjoy Expedition Stout immensely. I think I'll age the next bottle.

Photo of nickfl
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Small, brownish-orange head that dissipates quickly. Virtually opaque black body with just a hint of ruby showing through.

S - Roasty malt aroma with subtle notes of both chocolate and coffee. A velvety hop note lurks in the background as a nice complimnet to the roasted malt.

T - Sweet and malty up front with some deep, dark chocolate flavors. Hop flavor kicks in early with a resiny, velvety smooth note and a round bitterness that compliments rather than cuts the sweetness. The finish is strongly bitter with competing bitter components from the malt and the hops and lingering notes of coffee, tobacco, and smoke.

M - Very thick, oily body with low carbonation and a sweet, slightly alcoholic finish.

D - Reasonably drinkable considering how huge this beer is. The flavors are profoundly dark and quite complex, and the only flaw I can find is the mildly hot alcohol in the finish.

Photo of mwrecording
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Worked hard to trade for a sixer of this.

A: Poured a bottle into my Duvel tulip, a 'typical' black, stout look. Very little to no head and what would seem to be low, but average carbonation.

S: Whew, my least favorite part of this and while I still don't think its 'bad', its an overly boozy smell and mixed with the roasted malts and bitter expresso smell, it isn't a real 'treat'

T: This is what matters most and it is a hit for me. Sweet, bitter chocolate notes with just a tad of a delicious coffee taste at the end, with a tiny bit of alcohol coming through right before the swallow. very tasty.

M: More carbonation than I would've guessed from looking at the pour but maybe since I poured this around 45-50 degrees the refrigeration helped that out. Chewy and a little thick but not anywhere near as much as some stouts this size.

Overal, this was a treat. The Bro's outdated 2003 score made me a little nervous but thankfully the BA scores have been mostly consistent. I'd understand if the sweetness of this stout ruined it for a few people but I enjoy my RIS's with some sweetness, Plus the coffee and bitterness really balances it out.

This is a 2011 bottle so its still relatively young, I'll explore it again in November(month it was bottled in) and I imagine some of the bite will be gone.

I'd go 4/5 on this, really good stuff. Points for the 12oz bottles as well.

Photo of Bowers-Brew
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - One of the darkest pours I've seen. Nice dark brown head, about 2 inches worth, and lingers nicely.

S - More complex smelling than a lot of the Russian / Imperial stouts. Alcohol, raisin, caramel, toffee, and vanilla notes.

T - Sweet vanilla, bitterness, toffee, bourbon, and slight malty flavor.

O - It's big, complex, and full of new and interesting flavors with each gulp. I can't wait to see how this beer changes with age. I'll be sure to cellar a few for later. It's not an every day beer, but I would certainly get this one again. Great for cold winter nights. Prost!

Photo of tr4nc3d
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12fl oz bottle poured into my snifter

Pitch black with no light passing through. Brownish one inch head that fades a little quickly and leaves a bit of lacing clinging to my glass.

Good aroma of roasted malts with dried fruit. Good amount of dark chocolate, cocoa, and roasted coffee. Dried fruits of prunes, dates, cherries. A bit of the alcohol is detected as well.

Good taste of dark chocolate and milk chocolate, espresso, a bit of roasted malts midway with a sweet chocolate brownie taste. A bit of bitterness along with a touch of coffee is in the finish.

Full bodied and smooth with a silky mouthfeel

Good RIS that I would recommend for people to try.

Photo of Mightykingmalard
4.14/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: completely opaque. Beautiful caramel head that burns down fast. Super black. 4.25

S: milk chocolate. A hint of booze. 4.25

T: very characteristic imperial stout taste: smooth taste with a bitter finish. 4.0

M: very smooth. Hard to say much more, but it has a great feel. 4.25

O: a very, very nice imperial stout. Probably one of the best straight up imperial stouts I've had. If it was distributed to ca, I would definitely frequent it. 4.25

Photo of dorianmarley
4.14/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is an intense black, like it came from an oil well. The head is light brown that hangs around with a light film. Terrific lacing.

Nose is a densely sweet malt, with raspberry dark chocolate. Toffee and brown sugar. Light alcohol smell too.

Taste is simultaneously very sweet and bitter. Chocolate, roasted cashews, vanilla, and caramel are all there, but not overwhelming. The flavors are dry and balanced.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied while not overly thick. Carbonation is low, and the high alcohol brings a tingle at the finish.

Overall, this is a hardy but drinkable stout that would pair greatly with a robust meal or a cold evening.

Photo of bifrost17
4.14/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a Bells tulip (October 2012 vintage) 9 months old.

A: Couldn't ask for anything better. I wish I could post a picture in this review of how perfect it looks. Jet black, but not menacing...beautiful...? Awesome mocha colored 2 1/2 finger head with a vigorous pour into the tulip. Head subsides pretty quickly but leaves some awesome lacing behind.

S: So much going on in the nose. Booze, bitter espresso, roasted malts, chocolate, floral hops, and dark fruits are the prevailing scents that I pick up.

T: The taste is a little strange up front. Sourness initially, but after that it's damn near perfection. Dark chocolate notes on the middle of the tongue, and then the beer finishes with an intense espresso like bitterness from the blend of hops and roasted malts. Leaves a lingering flavor of dark chocolate and espresso in my mouth. Amazing.

M: Not too much to say about the mouthfeel, other than it's ideal. Smooth soft creamy silky goodness. Moderate (perfect) carbonation.

O: The first time I ever had this beer was a fresh bottle about 9 months ago. I enjoyed it, but thought it was a little bit of a mess, kind of all over the place, but now, after only 9 months of aging I see the potential that this beer possesses. When Bells states that this beer was designed with aging in mind they weren't kidding. I can only imagine this beer getting better and better with age. What a beautiful beer. I almost wish I lived somewhere in the Midwest so I could load up on this stuff when its in season, but at least my trading buddy in Chicago can send me it during the winter months. Anyways, final thoughts on Expedition...AGE THIS BEER! Can't wait to see what a few years does to this masterpiece.

Photo of bsp77
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

200th review!

This was bottled in Sept 08 and consumed Nov 09. Saved it a year, as I heard it improves the beer tremendously.

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch motor oil black with chocolate covered head that leaves some very spotty lacing behind.

Smell: Huge roasted aroma of burnt molasses, semi-sweet chocolate, licorice root, dark fruit and noticeable alcohol.

Taste: The roasted malt taste also drifts toward burnt molasses, with some notes of sweet chocolate, anise and coffee. Ends somewhat bitter and with an alcohol kick. Even after aging a year, still seems a trifle raw.

Feel: Very thick and chewy. Low carbonation, quite smooth and extremely warming.

Drinkability: Overall, a luxurious (if somewhat raw) late evening sipper. While not my favorite RIS, it is still quite delectable.

Photo of chinchill
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle date stamped with a fill date of 2 Oct. 2012. Served in a Belgian snifter.

Pours opaque and nearly black, but with red-brown highlights at the edges. Small dark tan head soon recedes.

Aroma: semi-sweet and appealing but relatively subtle.

Flavor: Rich and strong, with dark fruits, dark chocolate, dark roasted grains, and a hint of coffee. Approaches 4.5

Creamy smooth, excluding the impact of high ABV,

O: Excellent, but room for improvement as demonstrated by Bell's Black Note Stout.

Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Been sitting on a few bottles left over from a six pack for a few months. Broke them out for the Madison Big Stout Session, already known as one of the most epic tastings ever to be attempted.

Pour: crude oil thick and black, glug, glug, glugs into a taster under soapy capuccino head with a bit of chunky lacing.

Nose: espresso, vanilla cream, gasoline booze/hops, oatmeal malt, dark fruit and oatmeal malt.

Taste: appleskin tart, espresso bitterness, creamy vanilla sweet, unleaded booze-spicy, chocolate booze, black cherry and currant booze and a bit of nuttiness in the finish.

Feel: chocolate syrup thick, oily slick, uber-fine carbonation.

Drinkability/Overall: J.H.C., this is a potent beast of a beer - kudos for that - but a bit of a chore to drink, even 6 ounces worth. Yeesh. I'm spent, but must trudge on...

Photo of andrewm190
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer came highly recommended by a knowledgeable friend; he did not lead me astray. This is a great beer. It pours a thick and aromatic head, dark in color, as is the liquid itself. Impenetrable by light. Very deep, rich chocolaty taste that lingers. Minor detraction is that it is a bit heavy on the alchohol, but then, it is a Russian Imperial Stout, and that comes with the territory. Highly recommend the beer, another winner from Bell's.

Photo of dvmin98
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of heythere
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

a: Very dark, thick pouring out of the bottle with a medium brown head.

n: a little bit smoky, rich

t: smokiness more prevalent, can taste the alcohol, bitter

m: carbonation is subtle due to thickness of the beer, very smooth

o: very tasty, I think I am going to have to start saving a bottle or two of this every season.

Photo of afrokaze
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to hmmm for this one! Love my Stone IRS Snifter for big stouts. Enjoying this along with True Grit.

Deep ruby brown but not quite black with a finger of tan head with decent retention and some lacing.

Layers of deep roast coffee, earthy malt sweetness, dark chocolate, plus a bit of rum/bourbon barrel-ish character that I know isn't really there.

Tons of roasted chocolate malt, earthy grains, toffee, hints of vanilla and toasted marshmallow, plus a noticeable amount of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is nearly perfect, lots of body and appropriately low carbonation. A bit chewy and sticky but not overdone. A nice bit of burn but maybe a bit too much.

Really amazing for a regular release RIS. Reminds me of Ten Fidy in body and ABV (obviously), pleasantly hot but I can imagine it being an A+ beer in a year or two. Wish I could get this on the regs out here on the best coast.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to tpd975 for the chance to try.

Wow, this beer pours out wicked black with lots of thick brown head, as well as, lots of lacing.

This is a strong smelling beer, roasted malt and coffee, other hints of chocolate, caramel and possibly some molasses, a rather bitter aroma overall though.

Taste is initially sweet from the roasted malt and ends with a strong bitter aftertaste, most likely from the coffee character. The roasted elements really take hold of your mouth with this one. Expedition is fairly smooth and creamy, not too much carbonation though, and this beer is quite sticky, it just coats my mouth. Can make out some of the alcohol though and I can feel the warming sensation in my stomach.

A rather excellent brew although the sweetness makes it difficult to enjoy more than one at a time, but it certainly is a treat. Might be good to cellar one for 5 years and see if it mellows out.

Photo of cwguy5
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed on-tap at Duckworth's in Charlotte, NC in a 8.5oz chalice.

- poured pitch black with tan thin, tan head; not much retension but pretty heavy lacing

- aromas of chocolate, leather, roasted malt, some booze, and faint cherry or some other dark fruit maybe

- smooth taste throughout with some mild dark chocolate, leather, stone?/mineral?, and some distant dark fruit flavors

- thick and fairly viscous body with med/low carbonation of fine, foamy bubbles; some alcohol is in there for sure, but never overpowering; fades to semi-dark semi-bitter linger

- this was a fairly easy down for a single glass but im not sure i would want to drink this all night, but that is also just my preference in beer. very tasty, if a bit unwieldy. will drink again. not sure if i can differentiate between good stouts and the great stouts yet at my level but i would say pretty good.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to Peanut at the Dilly Deli for hooking me up with this great, rare treat!
The weather is breaking, my favorite beer on cask, how can it get any better.
Pours black with a mocha head that is about an inch and a half and never goes away. There is plenty of lacing "caked" to the side of the glass. This is what a beer should look like.
The smell is not up to par with the bottled version. Hard to pick out a lot of anything in the nose besides loads of roasted malt.
Taste is the most surprising of all. This is hot! The alcohol is so present in this beer that I was taken back by it. An immediate warming sensation engulfs my mouth/nose. Lots of roasted malt and cocoa are present in the taste. But for the most part the taste is dominated by this hot, alcohol taste. It lacks the complexity of the bottled version.
Mouthfeel is incredible. It's an alcoholic chocolate malt. Thick, creamy, smooth. The mouthfeel adds to the drinkability. It makes it very easy to get through. A little too easy.
Expedition never ceases to please. A truly world class beer and one of my favorites.

Photo of mdm46410
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass . Pours a deep black with a nice thick brown head that slightly lasts. Nice heavy lacing. Aromas of sweet malts with a good amount of hops and chocolate. Undertones of coffee and alcohol. Flavor is dry malts, coffee, chocolate, dark fruits and some wine. You can feel the alcohol warm your tounge when it hits your mouth. Very well balanced with all flavors weaving together and hiding the alcohol. Full bodied, but a bit more carbonation than I would prefer. Still, a superb imperial stout!

Photo of aasher
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer pours an oily, viscous, syrupy, midnight black with a one finger beautiful dark khaki, soapy looking, head. It smells of rich, dark roasted malts with some bitter chocolate present. I love the flavors the Expedition presents. It's chocolatey, rich, has a good amount of coffee, and has this smokiness that reminds me of smoked wood chips. As far as mouthfeel is concerned, this is about as smooth as you could want for the style. It is very, very smooth and full in body. This is one of Bell's best brews hands down. The sweetness can be a little much the more you drink it but it is definitely a great RIS.

Photo of TheHoppiest
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a deep, dark brown/black, with a creamy tan head with excellent staying power.

Smells delicious; coffee, dark chocolate, hops, alcohol, a bit of burnt caramel, and dark candied fruit.

Rich, full, and complex in taste. Rum, espresso, and raisins/figs hit first. A resiny hops follows, squeezing the tongue as you swallow it down. The alcohol taste is almost overwhelming.

With a very full mouthfeel, you need to take your time with this one.

Drinkability is slow; sip, rest, sip, rest. And, at 10.5% ABV, you'll need to put this one down easy. After one, you'll be full, but also looking forward to the next time you have one.

Photo of JohnofUpton
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of zookerman182
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is pitch black with a half finger tan head,
Aroma is roasted malts, coffee, molasses.
Flavor is the same. Tons of roasty flavor. Malty and warming.
Lots of hops coming through even after a year of age in this.
Mouthfeel a year ago was slightly more thin.
Mouthfeel is full and thick now with pretty creamy with a tingling carbonated finish.
Overall it's a solid sipper n a cold night.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 5,043 ratings.