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

Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,115 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4115
Reviews: 1856
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%

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)
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Ratings: 4,115 | Reviews: 1,856 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of BeerFink


4.8/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Once liberated from the bottle, this stout sits black as a moonless night with a very thin brown head. Aroma has good strength, with smells of coffee, chocolate and malt. I also catch a whiff of raisins and caramel. Delightfully thick mouthfeel coats your mouth like cough syrup, and low carbonation does not offer much relief. Quite the big stout feeling - you almost have to chew it. The blend of malts is wonderful - slighty smokey roasted malts are huge in the beginning. Then you notice the dark fruits, I'm thinking cherry and raisin. Then come the glorious hops. Delightfully bitter citrous taste finishes as the stout coats your throat. The aftertaste is a damn near perfect blend of roasted malt and citrous hops, heightened by a warming alcohol taste. Possibly my favorite RIS now. Highly recommended for lovers of this style, but beware, this is one huge stout.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2005 22:26:41 | More by BeerFink
Photo of GreenWBush


4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

In a chalice, this beer provided me a glimpse of visual beer nirvana. A vigorous pour kicked up a more than healthy stack of satanically dark head and storm-cloud drapery. It meringued a full 2" above the rim of the glass. Surface tension, meet Larry Bell. Outrageously gorgeous.

The nose of this beer is a car-crash of ridiculously gooey sweetness and a tanker truck of roastiness. Baker's chocolate soaked in boozy fudge.

The taste of this beer is less explosive, and while amazingly viscous it still has a remarkably un-fat mouth cloaking capacity to it. Thin or watery isn't it, but not necessarily what you expect for something so filled (and filling). It has to be experienced.

Bitterness and sweetness have never existed in such harmony on these taste buds before. This beer is everything, oily, gooey, roasty, stupidly sweet, mouth-meltingly stark and chocolately. I can't believe the lack of booze. Best of both overblown worlds? I think so.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2005 19:46:14 | More by GreenWBush
Photo of Gaisgeil


4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ever wonder what motor oil tastes like? Me either, but that's what this looks like coming from the bottle. Incredibly thick and dark dark black in color with a dark brown head to compliment.

Nose is really expansive, chocolate, coffee, heaps of roast, molasses, grain, a bit of vanilla? The taste is very powerful, the roast flavors are really very prominent, with the coffee and molasses not far behind. The mouthfeel is so very thick and chewy that the taste lingers for quite a while, almost syrup like, I love it!

This is one heavy-duty no playing around sort of stout. It's definatly not for the meek.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2005 12:19:40 | More by Gaisgeil
Photo of sweethome


4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I've been drinking this for many years now. I've found the quality to be up and down the last few years. This years model:

Black, opaque as ever. So thick. Actually developed a head, which in some years it does not. Big bubbles in the head leave rocky, surface of the moon apperance.

Huge chocolate nose with some roast, and signature hops fighting through.

The thickest mouthfeel I've ever had - always has been and I still wait for the day something thicker comes along. The heft of this beer is amazing. Somewhat overwhelming, even after having it every winter it shocks me with it's depth.

Chocolate off the tip, but hops present right away too. Mid mouth it delivers a bit of a soy sauce flavor - something I noticed in the 2002 version. That really detracts. But hold on, this comes back for so much more. It fills out with lush chocolate and roast. How the hops fight through the huge amount of malt is beyond me. A liquid chocolate bar - decadent. Pour it over vanilla ice cream - it'll hold up.

Over the top and one of a kind.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2005 03:47:35 | More by sweethome
Photo of silenius


4.85/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Holy Moley!

I really wasn't expecting much from this beer since some other Bell's offerings I find too common.

Appearance: The black hole of beers! I shined a 300W halogen light up to it and could not see a bit of light through the glass! Dark tan espresso crema head that after one year of ageing is still very thick, lively and coats the glass with substantial lacing.

Smell: OHHH! My mom's gingerbread cookies, molasses, dark chocolate and espresso. I could tell this would be good!

Taste: Magnificent dark chocolate, molassess, and espresso. The dark chocolate and espresso linger forever.

Mouthfeel: Thick and creamy. As a beer like this should be.

Drinkability: I can't keep myself from continually taking sip after sip. I think this is my first 5 in drinkability. Excellent, excellent, excellent!!

I will be buying more and more!

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2005 23:53:58 | More by silenius
Photo of ypsifly


4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2005 06:59:40 | More by ypsifly
Photo of profzoom


3.55/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a bold stout with a thick black color and a gorgeous chocolate milk head. Its high alcohol content is not hidden by its aroma. The sweet malt smell is accompanied by the distinct scent of alcohol. The taste is similar; robust, almost tangy malts which are unable to mask the taste of the alcohol. This is a beer one must definitely sit down and experience. It's not for relaxing or shooting the breeze. Like many of Bell's beers, it is of high quality but doesn't stand out as something exceptional.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2005 14:30:11 | More by profzoom
Photo of jlervine


4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured used diesel oil black and about as thick. Copper head tried really hard to stay put, but succumbed very quickly. Wonderful coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt flavors swirl in a mist of earthy medicinal hop bitterness. Sure does smell delicious! The first taste just totally sucker punches your mouth. Numbing alcohol and tingling carbonation (hey, guess there WAS some in there after all!) set the stage for a toffee and mocha orgy on the tongue. Lots of chocolate and roasted barley in there. Hop bitterness is present but is more or less chaperoning this dance, making sure that the malts and alcohol don't get too close during the slow songs. The mouthfeel is much less thick than I was anticipating. Kinda disappointing, but it's by no means thin. The strong roasted character gives a very noticeable astringency to the finish that makes this beer not very thirst-quenching at all. That's no problem, though, as the mere thought of another sip is mouth-watering enough in its own right. A surprisingly drinkable impy!

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2005 02:48:13 | More by jlervine
Photo of assurbanipaul


3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours motor-oil black with ruby highlights, including the darkest, thickest meaty head I've seen. Looks like oatmeal floating on top, settles to a thin ring after a while. Aroma is dark malts, pungent but with a fruity, smokey element.

This is a story of two beers in the same glass: At first, the taste is dark burnt malts, almost charcoal, like the crust on a grilled chicken. Has a vinous element, like a merlot spilled into the batch. Very bitter, almost no sweetness, a little salty. Drinks hot with alcohol, like a barleywine.

But after being interrupted by a phone call and returning to the remainder of the glass, this beer awakens: Traces of coffee, raisins, licorice, baker's cocoa. Still with a prominent alcohol presence but silky smooth on the palate, heavy with no apparent carbonation.

Mouthfeel is thick like flannel, fuzzy and sticky. Initially, I was rather nonplussed by this one but the taste and my impressions and ratings improved greatly as the beer warmed. This is one where the rhetoric is true: you *must* let it warm up to just cool before drinking it. I'd like to try this one again after aging it a bit. Thanks to trbeer for sharing this one.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2005 03:09:03 | More by assurbanipaul
Photo of vladtheimpaler

New Jersey

4.47/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle aged 1 year. Deep dark brown with a lasting dark tan head. Real nice aroma of coffee, chocolate (dark), carmel, vanilla, and a touch of alcohol carrying the fragrances up the snifter. Flavor is roasty and smooth, with big chocolate malts and roasted barley bitterness. Big thick palate. Bitterness lingers. This is an ager, for to age gets rid of the hot alcohol burn that is present when young. Should be present en every BA's cellar!

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2005 19:57:28 | More by vladtheimpaler
Photo of NeroFiddled


4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Two bottles of Expedition were tasted side by side for this review. One was roughly 6 months to a year old, while the other was around 2 years old. Neither bottle showed any defect, but the 2 year old was remarkably smoother and far more caramelish as some of the roastiness and hop character had softened. Both were quite similar, but the aged bottle was stellar. This scoring for this review is based on the aged bottle, but even if the newer sample had been rated it would have scored almost as high.

A completely opaque black body is capped by a good-sized head of frothy dark tan foam with a slightly reddish tint to it. The alcohol cuts the head a bit, and it dies a slow death; but, surprisingly, it maintains a solid surface covering and the spotty and splashy lacing it leaves is very nice!

The nose is rich and bold, loaded with bittersweet chocolate, some simple, straight-forward graininess, and a whiff of citrusy hops (a little quirky - but it works!); and accentuated by a thin thread of dark fruitiness and background whiffs of espresso, dark caramel, nutty toffee, and alcohol. And although it's not overtly complex, simply based on its richness, this is a beer that could be enjoyed based on just the nose alone - although the temptation to partake of its flavors would be too great for any man to resist!

In the mouth it's exceptionally creamy and rich with a very full body and exceptionally fine-bubbled, restrained carbonation that leaves it overtly creamy and velvety smooth! WOW!

The flavor, however, is more full-throttle than that! It's almost too much to comprehend - and yet again, it never goes too far out on a limb in it's complexity. It's succulently rich, but not confusingly diverse. Upfront, rich caramel lathers the palate; followed by a mild slap of fruitiness (apple, very soft prune, figs) and notes of toffee and mocha. It's always slightly awash in alcohol (although it's never agressive); and as it crosses the palate a smear of leafy and grassy hops appears (far more so in the younger version than the 2 year old), ushering in a drying bitterness and some mild licorice flavors. It lingers in the mouth, seemingly forever, not unlike the smoke from a good cigar; an amazing cup of cappuchino; or some caramel-chocolate-coffee-and-liquor-drenched dessert. Again, this is STUNNING! This is an amazing beer to cellar, believe me!!!! Go get some now for next year or the year after!

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2005 23:04:02 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of ahking


4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was very impressed by the flavor and complexity of this brew. Kalamazoo/Bell's has so many stouts out there right now that I usually just throw up my hands and pick something else. But I ordered this in a bar in Detroit and was glad I did. High alcohol is evident at first sip and this can be a good thing after a snow storm. Pour thick as motor oil. Hints of coffee and chocolate in the nose. Flavor is rich with molasses and brown sugar goodness. Low on carbonation, but this is to be expected for this style. Highly recommeded.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2005 03:22:21 | More by ahking
Photo of skybluewater


4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a coal-black color. Smells of coffee beans and maybe a bit of chocolate, as well as some prune. Taste is actually very good. Bitter like espresso, with some chocolate and some fruitiness (rather like chocolate-covered cherries). Mouthfeel is milkshake thick, with almost no alcohol burn.

To be honest, I haven't liked any of the previous Bell's beers I've tried. They just seemed....off to me. As such, I was very reluctant to drop even $2.50 on this bottle. But, with the bitter cold upon us, I was in the mood for an impy, and I had (obviously) never tried this one. I'm glad I did. This is a very good brew. While I like Storm King, Old Raspy, and Yeti a bit more, I'm glad to know that there's one more great imperial available to me!

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2005 07:24:04 | More by skybluewater
Photo of kmpitz2


4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2005 06:45:01 | More by kmpitz2
Photo of carln26


3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

From a bottle (thanks Zac!). It poured a deep black color with virtually no head, and a thin brown lace. Deep roasted malt smell with a backing of caramel and chocolate. The taste is a rosy malt explosion.
More chocolate, and a mild alcohol bite. More caramel and a mild hop backing on the finish. That velvet mouth feel I now expect with Bell's. Reasonable drinkability (especially considering the alcohol content).

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2004 00:10:00 | More by carln26
Photo of Starchild

New York

4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured the beer into my Rapscallion and got a huge fluffy head that took some time to settle...just like HOTD Adam. Wow. Mostly malt in the nose with some hints of alcohol, cocoa, and prunes. After my first taste, all I can think is chewy. The weight of this beer makes me feel like I'm drinking brownie mix. As the beer warms alcohol makes its apearance, along with figs, burnt malt, semi-sweet chocolate, and piney hops. As the beer warms it goes from being sweet to sour and then maybe even to malty (feels like a jam band song). Anyway, quite an interesting RIS and well worth the price.

Gripe: Not knowing the age of this beer blows.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2004 22:51:10 | More by Starchild
Photo of mntlover


4.8/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a black on black with a dark tan head that falls to a ring with clumps of foam floating in the middle, some light spotty lace not bad for 11.5% brew.
Aroma is lots roasted malt nutty chocolate mixed with nice expresso and citrus grassy mix of hops brought forth by light alcohol presence.
Taste is creamy and dreamy chocolate mixed with some nuts that lasts for a while, Then some bitter coffee like flavors appear and hops pick up on them and add there own bitterness to the coffee and intensify then drop off. Finish is lightly hoppy and sweet at the same time, chocolate flavors reappear at the end. This is a very complex very nice Impy Stout. No real alcohol in the taste, except for hints in the finish, but it does warm the body.
Mouthfeel is very full, creamy very nice, almost think you could cut out chunks with a knife.
Drinkability is great goes down quick for a big beer finished by the time it took to type down my thoughts. This will be on my list of beers to pick up when I make to a store up north. Very grateful to merlin48 for the chance to sample this masterpiece, one of many great brews he has provided me with.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2004 17:52:15 | More by mntlover
Photo of swamiswamu


4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a huge beer, the sears tower of beer. It looks like spent motor oil with a brown head. The taste reminds me of the "hungry, hungry homer" Simpsons episode when Duff has a chemical to add to Duff's malty goodness. It was what an imperial should be, a much bigger version. I can't drink more than one because it is just that big.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2004 04:13:47 | More by swamiswamu
Photo of sulldaddy


4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am drinking this brew courtesy of Mentor and Secret Santa. Thanks man!
THe beer pours incredibly dark black with ZERO light escaping. A dark brown creamy head of .5 cm foams up and fades to an edge layer rather quickly. Aroma is nice and balanced with a mix of roasted malt, coffee and chocolate and a bit of earthy and grassy hops. First sip reveals a rather thick body and small yet prickly carbonation. Flavor is coffee bitter up front with a hint of grassy hops in the middle and a smooth chocolate finish. A very well balanced beer and quite tasty. Very nice brew, well worth it if you see it!

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2004 02:44:40 | More by sulldaddy
Photo of fdrich29


3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Feloniousmonk thank you for this brew.

Poured BLACK. Thick chocolate milk head that reduced to a quarter inch.

Smells like chocoate fudge and nuts.

Tastes like chocolate fudge and nuts.

Mouthfell is weird. Coats the roof of your mouth. Strange sensation.
It's like your drinking something that isn't supposed to be liquid.

Great smell and taste, but the mouthfeel is, well, odd. Worth a try, I'm on the fence with this one. Maybe another sample would help.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2004 23:30:26 | More by fdrich29
Photo of santoslhalper


4.97/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearence: Pours a midnight black with a dark, chocolaty head. Leaves decent lacing. A near-perfect looking stout.

Smell: Smells of roasted nuts and chocolate with a little bit of hops shining through. Stout heaven. The sniff of all sniffs.

Taste and Mouthfeel: This tastes like a steak!! Its a steak in a bottle! Fabulously complex and perfectly balanced. There's no alcohol there what-so-ever. A huge, grand tasting beer that has to be sipped to be understood. Rich, malty goodness with a great amount of hops finishing off this well-rounded beer. I can't say enough, the best tasting stout I've had to date. Feels nice and chewy in the mouth with a rich, creamy texture that just doesn't quit.

Drinkability and Overall: I didn't think my long-time favorite Storm King could be topped, but goddammit this did it. Bell's totally suprised me with this. If this were more readily available this might be one of the few beers I drink. This is my new desert island beer. As close to perfection in a stout as you can get. Unbelievable.

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2004 03:48:33 | More by santoslhalper
Photo of CSquared

North Carolina

4.53/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle donated by Ninjaworm

appearance: can't get any better than this for a stout. midnight black with a huge dark brown head. the head is dimpled and looks like it could suspend small objects.

aroma: bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted coffee, roasted malt, and slightly burnt notes.

taste: the taste is huge on this beer, with flavors of chocolate and coffee reflected in the aroma. mild notes of alcohol, amazingly few for such a big beer.

mouthfeel/drinkability: thick and chewy, this beer has loads of body. a wonderful wintertime beer. for the style, this a moderately drinkable stout

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2004 00:49:05 | More by CSquared
Photo of rajendra82


4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Arriving as a part of a trade from clvand0, this beer was in an ordinary looking brown 12 oz. bottle. Once the cap was popped the word ordinary left my vocabulary immediately.

Very thick and viscous with a dark brown body and little to no head to speak of, this was one robust looking drink. The lack of head is understandable given the strength of the beer.

The aroma was roasty and vinous with chocolate, coffee, smoke, raisins, and roasted grains abounding. The taste was mellow and smooth, with flavors of dark chocolate, creamed coffee, toffee, and raisins soaked in brandy. With all the sweet and roasty flavors, the hop bitterness had taken a back seat.

Mouthfeel was thick and tongue numbingly rich. The aftertaste was a bit peppery and alcoholic.

Very nice example of an Imperial Stout.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2004 04:56:18 | More by rajendra82
Photo of Dithyramb


4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just received via BIF 14. This is my second beer of the eight received. Mad props to Signor CRJMellor for his excellent trade opinions. Presentation was a bottle matching the photo. No freshness or bottling date was evident.

This is the deepest, darkest blackness that I’ve seen for some time. Appears to have an oily, thick goodness and it is completely opaque. Only loses points for the lack of carbonation. Initial pour was tepid, with no head. I held back, since my last few stouts were the “Love Stout,” with its heavy fizziness. Dumped the rest in, the forceful pour left a quarter inched, small bubbled, dark brown head that left quickly. No carbonation or lacing to speak of.

Slightly burnt caramel and roasted coffee aromas.
A very diverse mixture of flavors is available. There are some darker roasted malts, with both chocolate and espresso evident. Hops dance around on the finish.
ABV warmness creeps in after a nice creamy bodied beverage. Leaves your mouth warm, dry, and slightly acidic. Has the same slight flatness that I recently experienced with the Czar.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2004 13:56:36 | More by Dithyramb
Photo of BrewMaster


4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz bottle with no freshness markings on it. It pours an impervious black and brown color with no true head on it, just a ring of bubbles around the top.

Smell: Toffee, coffee, soy sauce, uncooked semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Taste: Very rich and roasty from the start with notes of chocolate, roasty coffee, caramel, and burnt oak. The beginning is very sweet and it yields to a bit of hop bitterness towards the middle and the end. As the beer warms there is a sour sweetness that develops. An alcohol warmth sits in the mouth and warms the whole body.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth in the mouth. The bold flavors are delivered well with the smooth texture.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2004 04:54:02 | More by BrewMaster
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,115 ratings.