Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine?

Learn more about beer and save over 53% with a 3-year subscription.

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.

1,986 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,986
Hads: 5,546
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 479
Gots: 1,448 | 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: 1,986 | Hads: 5,546
Photo of PorterLambic
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer doesn't pour out of the bottle, it flows. Velvety smooth, no fuss, it knows where it's going. It arrives pitch black with a medium brown head 1 & 1/2" thick. small to medium sized bubbles. Fabulous retention and massive sheets of lace.
Smell is roasted malts, smoke, soy, peat/earth, nuts, serious dark chocolate, you know, the 70% kind. Nice complexity and great balance.
Taste is very close to the nose. Rich, malty, smoke, peat/earth, soy and noticeable but not overpowering alcohol bloom.
I had no idea this brew was 11.5%. Chewy, creamy, borderline viscous, it just flows across your tongue. Full bodied with light effervescence. Unexpected, but pleasant, memories of Samiclaus without the overwhelming presence of that brew. This beer is what the uninitated think all dark beers are, and in this case, it is as it should be. This is a stout that can easily be the standard-bearer for the style.

 914 characters

Photo of geexploitation
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. This one looks HUGE right out of the bottle. It pours incredibly thick, yet silky smooth, with a great big, ruby brown head that leaves a dusting on top of the beer and lacing on the sides of the glass. No light escapes from this beer. The nose of this stout is full of great burnt smells -- espresso, caramel, molasses -- and some yeasty dark fruits and berries. The aroma reminds me very much of Victory's Storm King Stout, actually.

Tastewise, again, "huge" is the theme here. Tons of sweet dark berry flavors, followed by burnt coffee, dark chocolate, and just a hint of peppery alcohol. Considering this thing is 11.5 percent ABV, it hides its alcohol extremely well. Expedition Stout rolls around the mouth with extreme thickness and creaminess, almost like a melted milkshake. I could swill this stuff all night were it not for the staggering -- literally -- ABV. Oh well. Maybe some things are better in moderation.

 931 characters

Photo of Bumpon10s
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A bottle from batch 6811 that I let warm up a bit before opening.

A - Black with a tan head that dissapates into a bumpy lace. Looks thick before it ever hits your mouth.

S - Coffee and chocolate, sweet but with just enough roast to stop it from being sugar. For sure a bittersweet chocolate resides.

T - Roast at the very front, and very back, otherwise all chocolate. A very sweet RIS, most are a charcoal fire in my mouth. Also, if you know what you are looking for you can still get a nice hop touch out in front.

M - Outside of maybe Dark Lord, and maybe even running with that, the richest and creamiest I've had. Super thick and smooth.

D - Drinkability is outstanding, even at a more than wealthy 11.5%. I've had this a few times, and this is the first time I am reviewing it and for some reason it seems so much better this time around.

 860 characters

Photo of Erdinger2003
3.93/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is very nice, the head is thick and doesn't dissapte very fast and has a good lacing that sticks. Black color is solid.

Smell has coffee, molasses, dark fruit tones and is full in body and flavor.

Taste has flavors of coffee, molasses, and slight flavors of dark fruit like prune.

Mouthfeel is very silky and smooth, very nice.

Drinkable for sure, I would buy this for sure.

 399 characters

Photo of SethB2
4.36/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass. Beer pours heavy. Bell's Expedition is the very definition of the motor oil comparison. Pours black with a deep brown head and a very nice amount of lacing. Smells good as well. Roasted, nutty malts covering a slight alcohol smell. Taste is very good. Chocolaty malts and a sweet bite going down. Very nice. Mouthfeel is as chewy as they come, but also like silk. Drinkablility is only hampered by the high alcohol content.

Very nice beer.

 483 characters

Photo of badbeer
4.78/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown, almost black, pretty thick tan head leaving waves, yes waves of lacing on the glass. Chocolate aroma, only a faint coffee smell and a little bit of alcohol in the nose; a little more coffee roasted flavor and this would have had a five. Chocolate starts you off, leading you into a bit of coffee flavor mixed with some hopiness, then chocolate and coffee paired together with an alcohol warmth at the finish. A complete joyride the taste is. Thick, full bodied, little carbonation and seems to be perfect. Each drink is great and an all out experience of the senses, just a little short of perfect. With reviews varying in quality levels, I'm glad I picked up a good one. Scratch that, great one.

 713 characters

Photo of Fugazme
4.52/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black... just as expected. No head to speak of, but some dark tan lacing. Wonderful stick to the glass goodness.

Huge chocolatey-sweet aroma. Large roasted malt smells... whiff is wonderful... big coffee and nice caramel and bourbon.

Mouthfeel is exceptional... silky smooth palate. Milky. Slight alcohol burn in the throat and stomach. Utterly terrific.

Taste is chocolatey/coffee... large roasted grain leftover on the palate and a great balance of alcohol. A truly great example of this style.

 511 characters

Photo of kdmorse
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Black from top to bottom and edge to edge. Capped with 1/2 inch of beautiful khaki head. Gorgeous smoke, coffee, and dark chocolate aromas with whisps of bitter hops. Some sweet fruity (prunes) alcohol in the nose. Hits the tongue with a wave of coffee perfection. Sweet prune and chocolately flavors as well. Low but appropriate carbonation levels. Thick, but not creamy, mouthfeel. Drinks well for alcohol content, but because of alcohol aroma/taste, it would be hard to do too many.

 485 characters

Photo of waughbrew
4.94/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thick black with a slow-to-rise, not-too-tall, very dark, not-long-lasting-but-laces-some head. Smells like a salted chocolate bagel - very doughy like that. Tastes like deep cocoa fudge with mellow raspberry. Oily and strong herbage. Very nice, though I could like a little more bite. The alcohol is at a perfect level. Thick feel, but not slick and not fluffy: quite amazing really. Finish is balanced and lovely, and welcomes another sip. This is godly.

 456 characters

Photo of skizziks
3.83/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. Pour gives about an inch of dark cocoa foam, thick, leaves thick sheets on the side as it settles. A thin layer sticks around for a long time. The beer is a deep mahogany, not quite opaque.

Aroma is immediately vinous, roasty, with raisins and figs. Deep and complex.

Flavor starts out with some sharp acid, vinous with a wash of malt syrup. Figs follow with coffee beans and cocoa leading to a long lingering finish of burnt coffee. A little astringent, but not overpoweringly so. A nice counterpoint to the syrupy sweetness and roasted bitter.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and thick. Coats the tongue with a lasting impression of powdered cocoa. I don't mean to give the idea that this is some sort of cocoa flavored beer, but there is definitely an element of unsweetened cocoa down in there with all of the other flavors. This is a wonderful, rich, complex beer. I have been sipping on this one for about an hour and a half and enjoying the hell out of it. Drinkability is rated low because the burnt flavors really slow me down (in a good way) where others of the style are relatively easy to sip continuously. Overall, this is a very very good beer.

 1,192 characters

Photo of Shovelbum
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours…like motor oil. Dark brown, almost like the foam on chocolate milk but darker, finger and half head over a solid black body. Head recedes but leaves a delicate web of chocolate lace. Rich aromas of chocolate, a bit of espresso and a light nuttiness. A trace of earthy hops as well. Upfront, the flavor is the embodiment of richness. Smooth, sweet milk chocolate flavor provides the base joined by a bit of burnt espresso. The scene changes however when a spicy, earthy character makes itself known half-way through the sip. Also a nice vinous fruit character throughout and delectable sweetness that is there in quite a substantial way, but is never demands center stage. Full bodied—no doubt about that. Low to moderate carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel with a clean finish.

Praise the heavens this fine ale. Waves of complexity unfold in your mouth in nearly perfect succession. Depth too. To do this one justice most certainly requires more research. That and a larger vocabulary.

 990 characters

Photo of Graham21
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

BLACK BLACK BLACK! This beer is dark, looks like motor oil. Head was only about a mm thick and left nice lacing in the glass.

In the nose I picked up on chocolate, cherries, roasted malts, hops, light coffee and maple undertones.
I tasted chocolate covered cherries, sweet and roasted malts, raisins, along with maple and coffee undertones, coffee becoming very stong in the aftertaste.
Carbonation is lacking to say the least, and the alcohol isnt hidden, it burns my throat slightly, but the beer seems to be fairly creamy and oil like on the palate. I enjoyed this imperial stout but would have enjoyed it more if the finish would have been smoother and the carbonation would have been there.

 704 characters

Photo of ybnorml
4.27/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A black beer, pours like ink. Has a small deep brown head. The aroma starts with hints of cherries. With a deep chocolaty malt coming in stronly behind it. There is a quick rush of cherry like sweetness that runs over your tongue. Followed rich strong dark chocolate/bittersweet chocolate character. Sort of the beer equivilent of biting into an expensive chocolate covered cherry liquor.
Thanks skyhand

 404 characters

Photo of woodychandler
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

My first reaction was "WTF, did they fill my bottle with motor oil by mistake?!?" I tried an aggressive pour and still only managed wisps of head in the glass. The beer was viscous, black (even the white bits was black), oily, with the only head a thin coating on the top of the liquid. The nose was huge with alcohol and chocolate. The mouthfeel was both slick and thick. After my first swallow, I realized that Larry ain't playin' around here. This is lights out action in a bottle. Nitey nite. My notes remind me to sic Carolyn Blowers on this one, since she has proven capable of drinking Russian Imperial Stouts first thing in the morning. I got an interesting mix of bittersweet chocolate, charcoal, and smoke floating across my tongue. The finish was smoky and chocolaty, just beautiful. My notes ended because of a sudden urge to lie down.

 847 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dirty motor oil color with a huge tan head that sheets lacing

Smell: Roasted notes with dark fruit, coffee, dark chocolate and some hops in the back

Taste: Opens with rich chocolate flavors; after the swallow, the hops kick in for a second, followed by a myriad of dark fruit flavors; bitterness and coffee tones engulf the tongue through to a long lasting finish

Mouthfeel: Thick and syrupy with modest carbonation; a lot of warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: Marvelous flavor; just a bit too boozy; clearly improves with a few years of age though the hops do fade

 589 characters

Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.85/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this paired with FFF Dark Lord in a tasting with Crosling. (PROPS TO CROSLING!!!!) Talk about sensory overload!

Vigorous pour into a tulip glass produces a black opaque body under a decent light brown reverse-cascading head.

Smell of dark chocolate covered raisins, prunes, malty malt on malted malt.

Taste of intense sweet malt, chocolate malt, raisins, figs, charred apples(?), espresso, rye bread and pepper. Ridiculously intense.

Mouthfeel is thick and rich, like a melted chocolate malt. It's round, dense, full, smooth and chewy, with a gluteny, bread-like quality.

Very drinkable for 11.5%. Wowow. Dangerous.

Overall, this is the most incredible beer for the money I've ever had: at $2.33 for a 12-ounce bottle (= 19.43 cents per ounce), it is nearly as good as Dark Lord, which is $15 for 22 ounces (=68.2 cents per ounce).
So . . . for those 364 days a year when you can't lay your hands on a Dark Lord, this is a great and very affordable next best.

 971 characters

Photo of shroompod
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz poured cold into goblet
Thin tan head retreats quickly . Very dark.

Smell is a faint grassyness. Not a lot their for me.

Taste is a nice balance of hoppiness , bitter chocolate. The maltiness and hops seem to fight for dominant profile. I like a good fight.

Mouthfeel is thick , slightly carbonated.

Drinkabitly is great for high ABV Imperial stout. I'd take this on a journey North , east , or hell, I'd drink it on the beach.

 445 characters

Photo of bennetj17
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of the thickest black pours I've seen, with a thin burnt amber foam crust that dissipates fast. The smell has light toasted milk chocolate notes, with a hint of raspberry and cherry. Slight alcoholic nose also. The taste begins with sweet chocolate and mild hops, the finish turns dry with a roasty bitterness that I enjoy immensely, though it is fairly subdued. Alcohol is not that noticible, but does burn a bit as it goes down. Thick and chewy mouthfeel, rich with subtle carbonation.

This stout nearly achieves a delicate balance, except the smoky finish is slightly overpowered by the fruity chocolate malt that is perhaps overly sweet. It's a strong brew also, making it hard to drink more that one or two. It is one of the best Imperial Stouts I've tried, yet it still could be better...

 802 characters

Photo of bahumutx
4.37/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Poured pitch black with a small brown head.

Smell: Coffee, roasted malt, chocolate, and a slight cherry.

Taste: Starts sweet and then moves to a roasted malt and coffee. There is also a hint of chocolate and a slight hint of hops. Sweet but not overpowering and the 11.5% ABV is hidden well.

Mouthfeel: Thick Mouthfeel with hardly any carbonation.

Drinkability: Due to the alcohol and richness of the beer I only could have 1 in a sitting.

A great example of the style. I will definitely be looking for this when the colder weather starts to come back.

 626 characters

Photo of trep
4.9/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewing this live from my computer desk.

Pours from the 12 oz'r as viscous and black as motor oil. 1" chocolate colored head that fades into a thin layer of brown bubbles. Oh, if only all beers looked this mouth-watering.

Smells like chocolate chip cookies dipped in alcohol. A warm cookiedough smell to it with subtle hints of dark, rich fruits.

The first sip coats your mouth with melted dark german chocolate as a plethora of flavors make themselves known. Chocolate chip cookie taste as stated before, plenty of alcohol but isn't over-bearing. Has a rich winey taste of a red wine with some prune and dark cherries to round it out. Finishes very smoothly for a stout with this kind of power. Wow.

What a great beer. I would've given it solid 5's except for the drinkability gets a little rough as it warms. The alcohol becomes more present however, still not overpowering. A perfect example of an Imperial Stout.

 933 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
3.86/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this beer sit peacefully in the fridge for 6 months after purchasing.

Appearance- Pours a dark, spent motor oil color. This is a good thing. To quote the great Garrett Oliver on his opinion of this beer,
"...seems to absorb light, mopping it up like a black hole in space." I couldn't agree more. A film of foam is leftover after the pour and gradually thins to a ring around the beer.

Smell- Reminds me of 7-eleven coffee that has been sitting on the burner too long. With some smokey and burnt malts mixed with a little mocha.

Taste- When the beer is a bit chilled, the flavor of mocha and smoked malts ndominates with a little grassy hops jumping in. Once it warms to almost rom temperature, the flavors take on a slightly milky and dark roast 7-Eleven coffee taste.

Mouthfeel- Oily, heavy, syrupy, but not bad.

 835 characters

Photo of macster
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Just a huge, classy, but muscular Imperial Stout. Pours inky black and as thick and viscous as year old motor oil. Develops a thin slick of a deep tan head. Luscious, rich aromas of roasted espresso beans, dark semi-sweet chocolate, molasses and a faint smokiness waft up from the snifter. The palate is near perfection; syrupy thick and oily with a restrained minimal level of carbonation. This is the mouthfeel all big Imperial style beers should attain. The first sip is a life changing experience. Intense flavors of melted dark chocolate and espresso are initially noted followed by a pleasing molasses/maple syrup/dark fruit sweetness. The finish shows off a subtle presence of the alcohol to warm things up with a late palate appearance of a hefty hop bitterness to cut down the sweetness of the immense malt profile. An amazing, close to perfection beer. One that shouldn’t be missed.

 893 characters

Photo of virtualshock
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - The pour is dark and a little thick, not overly thick. It had a little carbonation with a half-finger very dark brown head.

S - The charred malt smell coincides with the smell of portobella mushrooms. As it warms a slight alcohol smell comes out. The smell is opposite of the taste.

T - The taste is very sweet with a burnt character. Then lots of hops kicks in at the end to balance out the sweetness of the dark malts. After it warmed I finally was able to grab a chocolate note at the end of the swallow.

M - The mouthfeel is kind of syrupy especially as the beer warms. It is nice.

D - This beer is quality. Do I want more than one at a sitting? No. For my first venture into imperial stouts, I am happy.

It was pretty cold out of the fridge but as it warmed it developed so much more.
Just to let other newbs know, let those beer warm a little. Most good beers don't need to be ice cold.

 912 characters

Photo of weeare138
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a pitch black with a thick tan head that slowly fades into a small oily, tan film and thick tan collar. Lots of spotty lacing and webs left around the glass.
Smell is of intense roasty nuts, chocolate cake, caramel, molasses, espresso, along with minty and piney hops.
Taste is of rich, chocolate cake, laden with rum drenched espresso beans. Lots of hops in here.
Mouthfeel is thick,smooth, velvetty, richly of chocolate, bitter cocoa, a potent punch of hops and mild, mild carbonation that makes this almost like syrup.
ABV is present and I'm still on the fence with this. It started off great but ended up very syrupy with a mild soy sauce taste lingering. I guess I'll split the verdict and call it good.

 720 characters

Photo of Boto
4.66/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle: This one pours an inky, very dark brown color. There was almost no head on the pour, but a moderate tan one came up through the darkness to the surface. It subsides quickly. The nose is fairly potent. Chocolate and a roastiness are the most noticeable. Some coffee and alcohol come through also. A bit of a sweetness to it also. The mouthfeel is a bit thick and silky: definitely a full bodied beer. The taste seems to be more complex than the aroma. The chocolate is there, but not as strong as I thought it would be. Hints of dark fruits, roastiness are in the taste profile also. Almost no sweetness, and a touch of bitterness in the aftertaste. This is an extremely good beer.

 693 characters

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 1,986 ratings.