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: 1,452 | 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 winomark
3.12/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Jet black, like any good stout, but NO carbonation; not a single bubble.

Aroma: Tones of licorice, chocolate and coffee dominate. Alcohol also present.

Taste: Coffee, anise, and roasted malt help tame the noticable alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Without any carbonation, it is quite sweet and sticky. Somewhat unpleasant.

Drinkability: Dissapointing. I hope this was a bad bottle, because I just spent $14.50 on a 6-pack.

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Photo of GJ40
3.13/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Sampled from a 12oz bottle in a pint glass.

A - A deep, dark black beer with no light able to fight through it. A thick, creamy tan head.

S - Strong roasted aroma with chocolate and coffee notes.

T - Sweet, malty and syrupy. This one really caught me by surprise. I guess I've been focusing on hops and IPAs too much these days. I just couldn't enjoy this but I attribute that more to the style than the beer.

M - Very thick and chewy. A bit like cough syrup. Good moderate carbonation with lots of tiny bubbles.

D - I found this way too rich and malty to enjoy.

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Photo of Cpmitchno1
3.14/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Taste the alcohol too much for my taste. I had one fresh and had one after a year and a half of cellaring, both were too hot for me. I also didn't care for what I consider a string black licorice taste.

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Photo of readbaron
3.14/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Inky black with very little carbonation

Smell's good - molassesy with some dark fruit, caramel, maybe a hint of coffee.

Taste is bitter - more hops than I expected. Can also taste molasses, alcohol, coffee and a hint of chocolate. Rougher than I expected - it would probably be better with age to mellow it out a bit. Definite bitter aftertaste.

M - thick, but missing carbonation gives it a flat feel

D - again, lack of carbonation and bitter taste made it hard to finish the bottle

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Photo of flaminghomer
3.16/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

first, let me say that my rating on this beer will not give it justice. if i was able to rate euphoric qualities, it would get a 5. is this absinthe? is the blue gone gray in the town with the giraffe, kill the stars! hmmm... must be absinthe, i'm losing my mind!

when i poured this beer, took a look, took a sniff, and took a drink; i came to one conclusion-too much of everything. except carbonation! show me the ghost that stole this beers bubbles and i'll cut him! (sorry thats the beer talking)

i was not impressed by the first one i drank. i saved the other five for my day off. after getting over that first impression and knowing what to expect, i very much enjoyed my session with this beer.

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Photo of liquidsunshine
3.16/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass vigorously to help generate head this beer is dark black syrupy in color with a pinky of quickly vanishing tan foam. Dark roasted malt comes through in the nose along with hints of coffee, chocolate and date. The flavor is first of dark malt, with similar notes as the scent. The mouthfeel does not remind me of a stout, as it is claimed on the label. It is clinging and syrupy.

I was a little disappointed in this brew after many excellent beers from Bell's.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.16/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Knownfactor for this bottle, and two more.

Pours black, perhaps some brown edging, but overall this thing is dark. That's the good part. No head at all. I could be persuaded to say it has a collar...

Aroma is boozy up front. This takes away from the nice prune and black plum, dark chocolate and molasses aromas. Too bad.

Again, booze really hinders the flavors. I know they are there. The cocoa is thinned out and the dark, soft fruits are too soaked. It has some sharp agents, too. Anise and quick roasted malt give it a bit of a kick. This one *needs* age on it. Ok with me.

Overall a nice beer. Too boozy right now to warrant higher ratings, but it has great potential.

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
3.16/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2007 Version

Poured from a 12oz bottle, Pitch Black with ¼ inch dark tan/light brown head. Smell of carmel/toffee malts, coffee with hops in the background. Totally black with no light able to show thru. Heavy, heavy lacing. Strong coffee taste of espresso along with a lot of hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is creamy.

Not my favorite of this style. The hop bitterness does not balance well with the rich malts and coffee. It's a clash, like an unhappy marriage. Why can't they get along? This beer is also not as complex as others in this style.

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Photo of mpcrump
3.18/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

A: Very dark pour. Black with a brown head.

S: Roasted malt, coffee, and a hint of chocolate.

T: Very heavy and bitter. Malts and coffee.

M: Thick with little carbonation.

D: Uh-huh. This must be an acquired taste.

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Photo of iabeerbaron
3.18/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked this beer up at Dirty Johns in Iowa City, IA. Beer pours a dark black color with a thick dark brown head. Smell is of roasted malts and caramel. Flavor of chocolate, malts, coffee, and carmel. Very intense flavor and very intense beer. Not sure if I was ready for this one yet.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.2/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Found this at the Cracked Kettle in Amsterdam.

From a bottle into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours a small medium-looking mocha colored head that quickly recedes to a ring and a really faint wisp. Not as thick as expected coming out of the bottle. Jet black body in the glass with no carbonation evident. A ring remains but leaves no lacing down the glass. Average at best here.

SMELL: Mild nose of roasted malts, milk chocolate and smoked meat. I pick up some smoked salami even. Very different and interesting, but not bold enough to stand out.

TASTE: Much bigger than the nose. Roasted malts, smoked malts, and licorice. Strong flavors of smoked and salted salami. Finish is bitter-sweet, with caramel and bitter coffee notes, along side some hints of smoked meat again. Aftertaste is bolder and lingers nicely on the palate. An odd flavor that I'm not quite sure about, but an intrigued enough to continue

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Starts out a little airy, but as it sits, it thickens up a bit. Eventually turns relative creamy smooth on the palate, and goes down fine finishing slightly dry. Fine for the style.

OVERALL: Not sure what to think about this one. The appearance and nose were average for the style, but the addition of some kind of smoked salami was odd yet enticing at the same time. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but I enjoyed it enough that I'd buy it again if I came across it again. Definitely not a standard Imperial Stout offering.

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Photo of ginemesis
3.2/5  rDev -24%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- It appears to be a stout. Very little head, but even the head is dark

S- Chocolate and coffee with an oatmeal taste

T- No oatmeal in the taste. Chocolate and coffee are both obvious. The coffee flavor is a main part of the aftertaste, but is "burnt"

M- buttery and heavy

O- It tastes like someone burned popcorn and then tried to brew coffee, but burned that, and then put it in a beer.

(this is a 2 year old sample, from 2010)

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Photo of theghost3
3.21/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours an extreme dark brown, almost black. No head to speak of, just a light brown ring that disappears quickly. No lacing.

The smell is rather sweet from lots of chocolate along with some dark fruits (cherry, plums) & molasses. The taste is nothing like the smell--bitter citrus-like hop flavor with burnt coffee & some booziness. The lack of sweetness is a negative. Mouthfeel is kind of carbonated at first, but then ends up flat at the end; weird.

This should probably be aged to cut down on the bitter flavor. Not the most drinkable at this moment. An RIS should have some trace of sweetness. My concern is that if the carbonation goes away this quickly, it will be nonexistent with age.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.21/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Black beer that browns on the edges with a couple fingers of mocha-colored head.

S - Sweet, and slightly hot, typical RIS with chocolate and coffee notes, bit of roasted malt, caramel, and molasses.

T - Sweet, molasses and chocolate are definitely there, and it drinks a little bit boozy as well. Some roast, but it is a bit heavy on the molasses and taste a little burnt as well. It's okay, but nothing special.

M - Slightly overcarbed, but full bodied.

O - It's not a bad beer, but I've had a lot better and wouldn't really seek this out.

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Photo of Kelp
3.21/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thank you once again to beerisheaven for this one. The appearance is nice inky with a nice sark tan head. Smells like a traditional RIS to me, chocolate, coffee, and malt. Nothing different there. The taste is unlike any RIS I have ever had. Molasses, malts and a bit of chocolate make up the initial taste. Then Bitter hits my tongue and takes over. All I can taste now is the bitter from some unknown source. I think a little age would do wonders for this beer. The mouthfeel is smooth, velvety and a bit creamy. I could not drink another of these right now. It just is way to bitter for me. I would love to try an aged and brand new one side by side, but for now ugh.

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Photo of axeman9182
3.21/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle (cheers to IdrinkGas), warmed slightly from fridge temperature and poured into my Chimay goblet.

The beer pours absolute black, with a two finger dark coffee head. It quickly dissipates halfway and just sits at a finger in height for a long time. A little bit more lacing would have garnered Expedition Stout a five. The smell is of dark chocolate (good) and some black licorice (not as much). As long as the flavor pulls more from the former than the latter I think I'll still dig it. Well, I got my wish, but this beer is *very* rough around the edges. The dark chocolate overpowers the licorice, after an opening dollop of caramel, but there's a harsh graininess and a bitterness that I want to say comes from hops, but there's no accompanying hop flavor. I was ready to score the flavor lower, but it did smooth out some as the beer hit room temperatureIt's a shame too, because the mouthfeel on this beer is great, a chewy and luxurious body and carbonation that's just a tiny bit too high for my taste. The poor taste really hurts drinkability, but the beer gets some credit for effectively masking any alcohol. I'd never had Bell's beer that was less than top notch until Expedition Stout, but I'm glad I got to try and I'd like to try this beer with a few years on it to see if it smooths out.

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Photo of marburg
3.22/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The last time I drank this beer, it was called Robitussin. Seriously.

Poured a deep, purple-black with zero head. It's Valvoline in a bottle, baby -- viscous doesn't even begin to describe this. In fact, there's no carbonation in this beer at all. Low carbonation seems normal enough for a stout, sure. But this is just flat.

Anyhow, the aroma is mostly derived from the high alcohol content -- rubbing alcohol, pine needles, raisins (or grapes?). The taste is the lone redeeming factor of this beer but even then, I rate it highly only because of its complexity. I think this beer is actually kind of poorly balanced, and the alcohol flavor is way too overpowering. I generally dig high-abv beers -- trappists, barleywines, even Sam Adams Triple Bock. But this just didn't do it for me. If you don't drink this nearly ice cold, the flavor -- like many overdone American microbrews -- just overpowers any semblence of balance. And having so little carbonation in this really hurts the texture and feel.

Naturally, I couldn't see myself having more than (n)one of these -- at most. I have a pretty wide range of tastes for beer, but this one just didn't fit into it.

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Photo of boogles
3.24/5  rDev -23%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is an overrated beer, a real let down for me.

The *amount* of flavor is the only thing it has going for it. Poured into glass from 12 oz. bottle, with no head until dumped very hard at the end, and it quickly dissipated, although with some lingering lace--very light tan, not at all dark for an imperial stout.

The scent was on par for a regular stout, but with more alcohol, burnt raisins, and roastiness, characteristic of Russian imperial stouts. The taste was very strong and full, about the only thing that distinguishes this beer. Way too sweet, though.

The mouthfeel was no good--far too creamy and very low carbonation, and this begets low drinkability. In all, a decent beer--I'd be impressed to find a beer this good at any unknown microbrewery--but this is in no way deserving of the honor of a top 100 beer, nor is it on par with other offerings from Bell's, such as its simple, well-crafted Two-hearted Ale.

Most egregious, however, is the price at $15/6 pack. There are way better options for as low as $9-$11 in this category alone (especially Victory and Thirsty Dog). This is one Expedition I probably won't be making again.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.25/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

A- just black, thats all. not really anything for head.

S- cardboard or paper, dark chocolate, not much else.

T- just about how it smells, with a coffee aftertaste and a bit of booze mixed in.

M- very thick and chewy. just how it should be. basicly nothing as far as carbonation goes.

D- i really dont see the appeal to this one and think that bells is capable of much more. i wouldnt want to attempt more than one in a sitting, and probably wouldnt reach for this one again. ill retry it when i know that its fresh because the cardboard taste might be oxidation? oh well, glad i got the chance to try this one finally.

edit: it grew on me as the beer warmed. maybe i just had it too cold? regardless, i need to give this one another chance.

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Photo of kimcgolf
3.26/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Timing is, again, everything. I was really looking forward to this beer, as it is one of the top-rated in the world. However, I found that it is NOT the beer for a hot summer’s night. Great aroma of very sweet malty chocolate and carmel. The taste follows suit, and at first was enjoyable. However, by mid glass, the beer seemed to get thicker and sweeter, and by the end, the alcohol was leaving a very warming sensation and it was like drinking a sweet thick syrup. I intend to pick up another bottle of this when I’m in the midwest, and next time drink it on a cold winter’s night, maybe as an after-dinner drink.

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Photo of alysmith4
3.26/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Was expecting so much from this beer, considering it's high ranking and glowing review (and gift!) from my neighbors. Perhaps I just don't care for this style, but I found it way to syrupy. The malt profile doesn't seem to balance out the beer at all, and I found myself making terrible faces every time I took a sip. It's a cross between coffee and cough syrup, in my opinion. Not my favorite. The appearance however, is lovely!

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Photo of SierraGS
3.26/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is a polarizing beverage. It pours beautiful, dark and syrupy - sort of like motor oil or molasses - and the alcohol aroma that came from the pour convinced me to stick to a small glass. The head was thin, but lacing remained from rim to bottom of my small snifter glass.

Roasted malt dominates, caving to flavors of espresso, chocolate, carmel and tobacco. The burn of alcohol is ever-present. This is a hot beverage, which keeps pulling me back for more.

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Photo of miketyree24
3.27/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Very dark beer. Has a medium dark brown foamy head. Kind of has the color of engine oil and it is very thick and sticky.

Strong smell of malts and caramel. Coffee smell hits you next.

Beer is very thick to the taste and alcohol is present from first sip. Heavy malt flavor but not overwhelming.

Overall drinkable beer. Could drink 1 or 2 pints no problem.

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Photo of csrbv
3.27/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

A--Black with a nice tan head. Looks great!

S--All I get is a ton of smoke--not a fan of the smell.

T--Like burnt bitter chocolate and maybe burnt sugar--very bitter with other bold tastes, but not in a good way.

MF--OK full bodied.

O--I don't get this beer. Maybe I just had a bad 4 pack, but I would have to power though each one until the bitter, and I mean BITTER end. Each time I opened a new one, I would think maybe this time it would be better, but it was a disappointment each time. I'm sure that all the other people who have reviewed this as a 94 are right and I'm wrong.

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Photo of EwaldEichstaett
3.27/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Wow, it looks like most love this one. I didn't think it was all that great. (review from some old notes, I would love to try it again and see if the opinion sticks):

Looks pretty standard, dark brown, crappy head. Smell and taste wise,I thought that it was simply dominated by roasted dark malts and it lacked the depth (for an RIS). There were some sweet fig or date like flavors in there which (strangely) reminded me of a dopplebock. However, it also had a strong alcohol presence overall... more than it should have.

The mouth-feel was too thick and coupled with the ABV, it did not go down very smoothly. The beer was also really syrupy. It proved to be much harder to drink that I would have liked.

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