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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,011 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,011
Hads: 5,641
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 490
Gots: 1,506 | FT: 125
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: 2,011 | Hads: 5,641
Photo of acostuhhh
4.72/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened a 2011 and it smelled amazing, and tasted almost as good as it smelled. This beer ages really well. Dangerously well, as you can no longer taste the big boozy flavor thats there when its fresh.

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Photo of 94Sip
4.68/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a BIG stout (as expected). The bottle said it was brewed Oct 2014 and I had it March '15, poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

The label said this stout was meant to be aged and I would highly agree with that sentiment. There is a significant booze presence and the flavors were overall "tight". It reminded me of the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, in that I think that beer is amazing after sitting in the cellar for a year or two. This beer will probably be incredible with a little age on it.

It is not too hoppy like some of the west coast stouts, but does have just the right amount of bitter to it. The booze hit me initially with each sip, then followed with some of the dark fruits/prunes/raisins. Then the finish gives you some good chocolate/toffee flavors which is my definition of a perfect stout.

With a little age I expect the booze to subside and those middle flavors to come forward and the chocolate/toffee to stay with it and be perhaps a bit more pronounced.

Overall, just a really great imperial stout and ranks up there with the others that I really like.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.41/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #74 (Mar 2013):

Why Expedition Stout isn’t ranked in our Top Beers or talked about at the same level as overly hyped Imperial Stouts is beyond us. Nothing short of amazing here, and a truly rich experience. Bell’s touts that its shelf life is “unlimited,” which explains why the brewery sent us 2011 samples for review. From what we heard, a bit of age does this beer right, but of course do what suits you. This could also answer our question, but who cares. This is one badass beer.

STYLE: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5%

LOOK: Black liquid, dense brown head

SMELL: Roasty, prunes, faint sherry, dark chocolate, juicy, charred raisins, boozy

TASTE: Intense roasted graininess, creamy, full bodied, warming alcohol, very smooth, slight oxidation, sherry, baker’s chocolate, bitter, black berries, raisins, molasses, bittersweet finish

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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 PostRockandCats
4.46/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L; Dark. Like, absorbs surrounding light, dark. No head or lace. Dark tan foam at the edges.

A; Smells like chocolate and coffee, as one would expect. However there's a surprising fruitiness to it that's oddly fitting and welcoming.

T; Berry notes to start with followed by dark chocolate and cacao nibs. Ends with a very dark, smokiness that seems to settle in your soul.

F; heavy enough to know it's a stout. Peferct.

O; I was not emotionally ready for this.

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4.19/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Best part about this beer is the mouth feel. So creamy and chewy. This beer is like a jacuzzi filled with frothy cappuccino and you dunk your head under and My Bloody Valentine is flowing out of underwater speakers like milk, sending warm fuzzy vibrations deep into your brain.

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Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2007 bottle opened in 2015. Aging recommended by brewer. Should be interesting!

Appearance – Pours an oily dark black but somewhat translucent color, with a medium dark brown head, and very little lacing.

Smell – A powerful malty aroma, with chocolate, molasses, licorice, and roasted marshmallows.

Taste – Roasted malts and bitter chocolate. Didn't quite live up to the smell.

Mouthfeel – Creamy, very lightly carbonated, and smooth. Leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste. Nice, but I think stouts are best at or above 12%abv.

Drinkability – A very nice stout, went down easy.

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Photo of ljdrinksbeer
4.77/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2013 bottle poured gently into snifter.
no head to speak of just a thin spotting of small dark brown bubbles clinging together, liquid is so dark that you can just tell its brown by looking at the edeges where the light shines through to reveal a reddish tint.
Smell is strong booze soaked fruit and some dark chocolate.
Taste is heavy on the roasted coffee and malt flavors, immensely complex.
body is thick without being being cloying
overall a favorite i keep coming back to, i think its better as it gets a little warmer, the only negative i ever, experience, is a slight soy sauce aroma/ flavor in some older bottles but somehow it still works, almost adds something.

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Photo of oregonduck
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A great stout! Nice bouquet of cocoa and coffee. Thick, creamy and silky texture. Taste is sweet on the front with a slight bitterness on the finish to balance it out. Flavors of cocoa and coffee. This is so smooth it hides the 10.5% abv very well. I found other Imperial Stouts like Old Rasputin and Narwhal to be very harsh. I kind of expected the same from Expedition, but didn't find any harshness at all. It is so smooth and such a high quality beer, very impressive! This is a great go-to, non barrel aged, Imperial Stout.

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Photo of SierraFlight
3.77/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

On tap at World of Beer, Ann Arbor poured into snifter. Midnight black with tall chocolate milk-colored head that leaves rings of lacing on the drink down. Aroma is chocolate, dark fruit, roasted malt, and alcohol. Taste is similar - malty with chocolate, coffee, and roasted flavors. Modest bitterness from hop and espresso supply balance. Full bodied, creamy, chewy, and thick texture, low carbonation, and a bit of burn on the finish.

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Photo of JebBeerFish
3.06/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My first Bell's beer. Had one bottle 2 nights ago, had a second tonight to validate or dispell first impression. Nice coffee flavor but without any chocolate counterpart, and instead a hoppiness in the back of the beer that substantially detracts from the flavor, almost as if a 1/4th of the beer was poured off and an equal amount of a black ipa added. Label states beer ages well. I will cellar this until the Fall when I will try another. A disappointment for me.

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Photo of Cory_Brown
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Drinking this right after Founders Imperial Stout. This is a really good beer. They are both similar, but this beer features more dark fruit. I would love to age this and see how it develops, but If it's in the fridge, I'm drinkin it!
A- the body is pitch black and it poured about a half inch of chocolatey head.
S- dark fruit, chocolate, and some burnt coffee
T- similar to the aroma, with the dark fruits really sticking out. Some alcohol is evident, but it's meant to age so that's expected. A pleasant bitterness lingers.
M- thicker feeling to this one. Full bodied
O- A very good beer from Bells. Might have a Hopslam after, if this one doesn't put me to bed!

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Photo of Beer-Revelry
4.74/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Duvel snifter glass.

A - 5 - Pours an oily jet black color. Poured hard, expecting a low head potential with the high ABV, boy was I wrong! Massive head potential, formed a huge 3 fingers of super dense, thick and creamy, dark tan to medium brown colored head. Formed thick, solid ringed walls of lacing with ever sip.
S - 4.75 - Exactly what you'd expect of the style. Heavy malts, perhaps even lightly smoked. Lots of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, alcohol and a touch of herbal fennel. Lovely.
T - 4.75 - Awesome, sweet malts and medium sweet chocolates upfront, fades into a neutral taste of blackstrap molasses, fennel, star anise and licorice. Ends on a bitter coffee note. The bitter ending perfectly rounds out the initial upfront sweetness.
F - 4.5 - Full bodied, decently thick, creamy and heavy mouthfeel.
O - 4.75 - Ranks up there with the best of the best as far as RIS go! If you're a fan of the style it is worth purchasing and setting a few back to age, comes in a six pack too! What's not to love about this awesome brew?

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thoroughly enjoyed from a growler in a JAFB snifter, this AWESOME legend pours a thick oily black with a monstrous light brown head that dissipates to a nice ring and pooling foam layer with awesome lacing. Nose of dark bakers chocolate, heavily roasted grains, light coffee, sweet toffee, sweet malts, and booze. Flavors are up front chocolate and sweet malts on all sides and a dash of coffee. Very coating. Heavy smokiness on the back with a toffee, heavily roasted grains, and a sherry like quality that shines through. Tons of warmth on the back with a wet coating finish.

A legend in it's own time....truly awesome.


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Photo of brianmandell
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated 10/24/14. Consumed 2/5/15.

Dark brown opaque pour, visibly thick with short tan head reducing to ring of lacing.

Nose of roasted malt, rich dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, molasses and vanilla. Even a touch of clove and sherry.

Taste of sweet, roasty malty. Ashy to the point of tasting smoky. Rounded out with sweet chocolate and dark, raisiny fruit. Just a hint of sherry. Moderate hop bitterness and some booze on the back end.

Thick, viscous mouthfeel. Decadent. Somewhat cloying. Light, effervescent carbonation.

This is a great stout and more enjoyable than Black Note to my memory. While it tastes a little ashy, I think some age would help in that department. I'd love to taste Expedition with a year or two on it.

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Photo of guityler83
3.73/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: One finger of dense tan head formed in the snifter glass from the bottle and persisted a good long time before leaving a thin layer on top of the beer. Pitch black appearance, no light shines through when held to a light. Mild alcohol legs that dissipate quickly.

S: Moderate strength aroma from roasted malts - Ashy, roast, burnt breat crust and slight smoke. Mild bakers chocolate and toffee sweetness. Subtle spicy hop character and low alcohol / boozy character noticeable.

T: Surprisingly firm bitterness in the beginning - Slightly noble / spicey but emphasized by the roasted malts that follow. Burnt bread, dark cacao chocolate, mild soy sauce and mineraly like finish. Middle malts have a toffee / caramel taste with only a slight sweetness along with rye bread and toast. The finish, slightly sweeter chocolate then smoke.

M: Mild alcohol warming and a nice full body. Carbonation is low and there is a soft creaminess. Astringency is mild and comes off as a slight ashy / mineral after taste /feel.

O: A little too much of the ashy / roast character for my taste but I enjoyed the nice hop character even after the age on the beer.

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Photo of 4lo
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

'14 Bottle

Pour - Bit thicker than your average stout. Dark on the pour with a one finger tan head that forms and eventually yields way to a ring around the glass.

Smell - Bitter chocolate and dark fruits on the nose. Some coffee, but not as much as a ~10 months ago.

Taste - Sugary chocolate up front which turns to a dark chocolate molasses taste as you muddle through it. Bit of dark fruit in between and on the tail end. Coffee isn't overly strong, but a get a bit in there.

Feel - Well put together and fairly smooth mouthfeel. Nice level of carbonation which makes it easy to drink.

Overall - Great seasonal release stout which hits the spot during the winters.

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Photo of Swettenham_Shire
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bought a 6-pack of the 2013 vintage; interested in seeing how age affects this beer. I plan on drinking one a year until 2018. Today 1/31/15, about 18 months after bottle date, this beer has an enticing smell with a silky smooth taste mixed with dark fruit; really coats the mouth. Alcohol heat is still slightly there.

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Photo of Norvelljeff
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

L-Thick, black, dark, sand colored head that stays about 1/8" layer on top as your drink.

S-Roasty, liquor-ish, smell. Hints of something sweet.

T-Complex, getting an oak after taste. Drinks well with rings staying around glass.

F-A little slippery coating that lasts a minuet or so after first drink.

O-Very, very good. Will be savoring the rest of the sixer.

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Photo of Jwburns75
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 9/18/14, poured from 12oz bottle into snifter. Huge chocolate and dark fruit taste, very nice sweetness, laces well. Alcohol is well hidden by all the flavor. What a magnificent RIS this is.

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Photo of mattbk
4.01/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Jet black, deep tan, very creamy looking head.
S: Cocoa, caramel, some dark fruit, fig, pretty nice.
T: Some roasty and hop based bitterness, followed by sweet dark fruits, grape coming to mind. More subtle cocoa. Definite booziness in the back. This is a big beer in all ways, shapes and forms. Good beer, slightly rough though. Definitely a sipper.
M: Super full bodied, very creamy. Pretty awesome.
O: I have a lot of respect for this beer. It's sort of like a full bodied Rasputin, although this is far from my favorite style.

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Photo of Bone53
4.81/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: The pour on this bad boy is thick and pitch black; motor oil. Atop sits a one finger mocha brown head. Also the most laced glass from a beer iv seen in a long while. Wish i could post a picture on this review

Smell: dark chocolate, roasted malt, dark fruit, coffee, slight molasses

Taste: The taste is even better! Nothing in particular really hits my palate upfront, rather its a blissful medley of chocolate and roasted malts/coffee with a slight presence of dark fruit mid palate, although i get more dark fruit in the nose. Then the espresso-like coffee character leaves everything else behind and lingers for a bit; But not without molasses finally finishing it off

Mouthfeel: A fairly heavy body; viscous and coats the mouth. Slight alcohol presence but smooth considering the abv. Bitter finish

Overall (4.6): I fell in love with this beer at first sip. From the motor oil pour to the dark and rich aromas and flavors of chocolate, espresso, roasted malts, dark fruit, molasses, and the smooth mouthfeel, this is EVERYTHING you want in a RIS. The only thing that stops me from sipping this everyday is the price, but the taste definitely justifies that. Overall this beer is mindblowing, and i look forward to having it each and every winter.

EDIT 3/2/15: Sippin a 2009 Expedition on draft and this is just spectacular. The aromas and flavors have blended together beyond words. The smell is dark espresso, bitter roasted and sweet caramel malts, dark fruits, and subtle chocolate. The taste is like some of the best espresso youll ever have, dark fruits, subtle chocolate, and a solid roasted and caramel malt backbone. The alcohol from a fresh batch has totally dissipated and the bitterness has mellowed out, although still slightly bitter. This joins an aged oatmeal yeti as the best stout iv ever had. I thought a fresh Expedition was one of the best RIS iv ever had, but this is somethin else. I have just raised my rating a couple tenths. I need to start cellaring bottles in my basement, if only i could forget theyre down there lol

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Photo of humuloner22
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I have had this one in the past. Tonight I decided I would grab another one to see kind of what the base beer was like because I was going to drink and review the Black Note. So here goes...

Appearance: Black as night not a lot of head whatsoever but very viscous and the head that lays on top is a dark caramel color. With a little agitation the head does appear again but otherwise it pretty much settles to nothing.

Aroma: Licorice, dark burned malts and lots of charred flavors.

Taste: Licorice, burned cream flavors. This is not a beer I would drink cold. At first it was too biting for me, however as it warmed it began releasing more pleasant flavors. Still this beer is on the bitter side. Mouthfeel is pretty much spot on. Not to thin not to thick.

Overall: I have drank this beer before years ago. I was not impressed with it the first time I tried it, I know more what to look for now and although in the beginning I had it too cold and did not enjoy the flavors, as it warmed it was definitely better, nevertheless it is still not one of my favorite beers of the style nor from Bell's. With all the options we have out there these days I would probably pass on this one considering the price point, however it does come in a six pack which is a good thing.

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Photo of DaverCS
4.69/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Motor oil black. 2 plus finger head with a moderate to aggressive pour. The head reminds me of a beautiful espresso crema (if it was 2 fingers tall over my coffee). Great lacing up the glass.
Aroma definitely boasts some alcohol. I do get a presence of some dark fruits soaked in rum, some molasses, brown sugar, and coffee.
Taste is rather pleasant. It really doesn’t have much sweetness. The beer is only 3 months old, so it has some bitterness, but I find that the slight bitterness makes it drinkable. I think it has the perfect mouth feel: not overly thick, but not overly carbonated. I get huge burnt coffee and smokiness, molasses in the middle of the palate with a nice malt flavor. Not as much dark fruits as on the nose. You get them primarily near the middle of the mouth. I primarily get a rum soaked date flavor with some raisins thrown in. Almost an oak flavor. I do taste the alcohol a little at the end as the beer warms, but it isn’t as much as the nose would make you think. Definitely coats the palate.
Overall, not a bad stout. This beer is readily available and totally drinkable. I like this beer because it has more substance and thickness than some boasting the same flavors. It isn’t overly thick, but the rights blend. Aging would work well for this beer; it would tame the bitterness down making it beautifully balanced. While I like the bitterness, as it warms, it is a little too much for the beer. I could see something remarkable after a year or so. This would be a good beer with some beignets. I give it 94/100.

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Photo of Goodspeed83
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

As another reviewer stated, this is beer is difficult to rate, as the bottle I had is only a few months old. Based on its reputation, I wanted to like it immediately. The first half of the bottle was a little overwhelming. Very bittersweet smell, along with a sweeter taste that becomes very bitter immediately.

I wasn't too surprised, since that bitterness is described by Bell's themselves, but my desire to try it out won over my original intent to age it. In the end, I liked it, but the rest of the bottles went to the basement, to be enjoyed at a much later time.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 2,011 ratings.