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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.

1,987 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,987
Hads: 5,547
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 479
Gots: 1,447 | 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: 5,547
Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Good.Bittersweet chocolate nice complement after food with strong taste. Loved the initial creamy head, just had to slurp some up. Beutiful chocolate brown with the head initial pour, then head tails off as expected. 11.5% was not detactable, thought it was 6 and change. Expresso soft drink.
Almost 6.5 years later, a two-yearold aged, good coffee and chocolate and so drinkable.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.98/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Kelly88 and Knownfactor for each sending me a bottle of this.

Pours a thick motor oil black with a huge 3 inch dark chocolate colored head that fades to a puffy island in the middle of the glass. Nice rings of lace around the glass on the drink down. Smells of dark chocolate, roasted malts, chocolate covered dark fruits, and whiffs of alcohol. Tastes of chocolate covered dark fruits (raisins), sweet chocolate caramel, and slight roasted coffee beans. This beer is super thick with low carbonation. It coats the mouth with each sip and is slightly cloying. There is a slight alcohol burn and cocoa powder bitterness on the palate with each sip. Overall, this is a good RIS but I was expecting something more from this one.

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Photo of nmann08
3.97/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle. Pours jet black. Very thick, light brown head, good carbonation and lacing.

Nose is heavy on roasted malt. Dark Chocolate. Smokey smell, wet burnt wood.

Taste is very bitter. Smoked meat, peat flavor. Heavy roasted malt, coffee.

Mouthfeel is full bodied. Creamy finish.

Overall, this is a great beer, but a bit too bitter for my taste.

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Photo of metter98
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a finger high dark tan head that has excellent retention properties and hardly died down and left lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are moderate aromas of roasted malts in the nose along wit some hints of licorice.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, although the licorice becomes more prominent as the beer warms up and lingers through the finish. A light to moderate of bitterness is present.
M: It feels a little more than medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonated. All of the roasted malts make the finish feel dry.
O: This beer is quite drinkable considering the strength because the alcohol is well hidden from the taste (provided you can get past the roastiness).

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.11/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

this is a colossal beer, and one that comes with quite a bit of hype. for me, it was a shade under the quality of the most elite Russian imperials, but its a damn good beer nevertheless. it pours a really dark brown color, coffee in color really, with a robust milky cream head and an aroma of black barley and more hops than expected, this is bitter for sure. some hot alcohol greets my lips, followed by raw cocoa, toasted nuts of some kind, maybe macadamias, something oily, and then the bitter super dark, almost burnt barley. its quite the journey, but the whole thing really is overshadowed a little bit by the alcoholic intensity. some age may indeed do this good, as mine is less than a year old. fortunately I have some more bottles for this. which reminds me, thanks again to thebrewo for making yet another great beer possible for me in Colorado. obviously full body, but not as thick or viscous as some, decent carbonation for what it is, and a very warming alcohol finish on top of all the bitter. this is an impressive beer, but one that age will service well I think. bells can really do no wrong for me.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap in Bloomington, IN earlier this year. Served in a snifter.

A: Very, very dark with a massive brown head.

S: Quite good, but a little muted compared with the taste. Hops, chocolate, coffee, cherries, slightly-burnt espresso.

T: Same as the smell, and utterly fantastic. I taste the most from the espresso with a little bit of the cherry.

M: Very thick. Chewy and creamy.

D: Highly, highly drinkable. Grab two of these and sip 'em for the rest of the night.

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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

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Photo of Knapp85
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours out As black as most typical stouts do. The head is brown and pretty thick looking. The smell of the beer has some licorice and lots of roasted malts and a few light aromas of dark fruit. The taste of the beer is deeply roasted, with some burnt flavors in there. Light herbal notes and some dark chocolate in the mix. The mouthfeel is on the thicker side which is pretty nice. Overall I think it's a good brew it's not great but it's worth trying.

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

Do large stouts get any more classy than this? Bell's makes it look easy as they layer the taste of roast, chocolate, alcohol, and fruit onto a succulent and savory base that seduces the palate at every turn.

The onyx-black ale arrives at the bar with a stern, disciplined, and masculine appearance. It's depth of clarity gives the beer a mirror-like sheen although it's black color makes it opaque. A mocha-stained head caps the beer with a blanket of foam that easily retains the session and laces the glass with confidence. Even a gentle swirl of the glass leaves brandy-like shiny legs clinging to the glass.

High roast, light smoke, and cocoa-rich chocolates overwhelm the nose with a backing of rum and bourbon booze that reveal notes of toffee and molasses. Underlying fruit aromas of red grape, cherry, and blackberry seem to carry a charred character and create a mouthwatering effect heading into the first sip.

Notions of chocolate wrapped espresso beans come to mind as the sweeter malts coat the front of the tongue and palate with its malty richness. Slightly scorched molasses allows for a rich and savory taste to rise at middle palate. This is the point where espresso roast, bittersweet chocolate, and charred dark fruit weave together for a complex but pleasantly rounded taste. Bold however, the taste is further complemented by piney and citrusy hops that assist the roast bitterness to finish. Cherry flavored alcohols and walnut oils all integrate into taste and continue the varying tastes that unveil themselves as the beer warms.

And with its marshmallowy texture, the enormous malt complexes provide a nearly chewy body to start. This silky and succulent texture keeps the beer's flavor squarely focused on the taste buds. But a patient transition to semi-dry maltiness is rewarded in finish as the beer's alcohols act like port wine and fine cognac to signal closure. It's extended roasty bitterness melds seamlessly with the next sip.

Bell's Expedition is a world-class stout, by which all others could be measured. I'm not sure if it is perfect at any one attribute, but it's near that on all. Plus there's several complexities that go above and beyond what the style prescribes. It pairs well with rich foods like honey-dripped dates, smoky bacon, and well aged gruyere.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a thick black color stout with a small dark brown head with excellent retention. Aroma mainly dominated by roasted malt with some subtle coffee and chocolate notes. The roasted malt dominates taste at first and then chocolate and coffee are also easily identifiable. Creamy texture makes this even more enjoyable. It all ends with some well balance bitterness. Body is incredibly full and there is even quite a lot of sediment at the bottom of my glass. Alcohol is well hidden which I always appreciate. Very good stuff indeed.

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

Appearance - Black in color, viscous and oily. An inch of dark brown head rises and falls over the course of a few minutes.

Smell - Sweet and roasty with a hint of alcohol. Molasses and dark chocolate are very pronounced, with undertones of licorice and vanilla.

Taste - Bold and bitter. Moderate sweetness; flavors of molasses and dark chocolate are met with an almost burnt bitterness. The finish is long and coating, leaving a bittersweet aftertaste. Well crafted, but too intense, acrid and sweet. If that's your thing, you'll probably love this.

Mouthfeel - Incredibly rich and creamy; easily one of the most full-bodied brews I've had. Medium to low carbonation.

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Photo of emerge077
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brownish-black, not quite opaque. Two fingers of tan latte foam rise and settle. Above the rim, the surface could pass for a chocolate chip cookie.

Aroma of roasted malt, vague sweetness, with a possible lactic note. Not especially bold, but complimentary to the huge flavor.

Rich taste, notes of smoky malt, bitter chocolate, and creamy coffee. Residual hop bitterness. Very powerful and bold flavors, the alcohol isn't overwhelming, but it packs a punch.

Mouthfeel is intensely smooth and velvety, creamy and luscious. Lactic milk sugar contributes a boatload of palate-smudging heft.

Although it's not one for sessioning, it has a sublime quality that makes you savor every sip. Every so often I crave an Expedition, so it has a year-round place in the cellar.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

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Photo of zeff80
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a velvety smooth appearance. It had a foamy, brown, long-lasting head that left behind rings of sticky lace.

S - It smelled of tons of chocolate, very sweet smelling with toffee notes. Also, some nice floral notes.

T - It tasted of dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses and some oaky notes. It had a sharp bitter kick from the hops.

M - It was smooth and creamy, possibly the smoothest RIS that I've ever had. It was medium to full-bodied.

D - This is a very good RIS. Potent and very well balanced.

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Photo of oberon
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have been able to drink this a few times and really like it,poures a rich black color with small brownish colored head.Smell is sweet and earthy,the taste is a complex mix of earth,chocolate,and roasted malt.When it warms a little the alcoholic notes really come thru,very true to the style.A good high quality imperial stout from my favorite brewer.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a thick dark, black as night with a nice 1" cream colored tan head with a real nice retention. Very havy brown lace all through the glass. This one looks like it will hurt ya.

S - Heavy, thick sweet caramel and sugar smell, lots of hints of chocolate and and just very sweet overall. Did I mention it was a thick smell?

M & T - First impression was very creamy and not overly carbonated, lotd of lactose sugar flavors, and lots of chocolate malts. A hint at a smokey profile as it warmed up a bit, but just a really thick and extremely enjoyable heavy stout. I mean this realy tasted awesome. Could have used a bit more in the carbonation, but really just very nice.

D - Overall I give this an awesome, very thick and heavy, not even close to being sessionable in any way. I really great RIS and would love to try some more.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Batch 7740 (Dec. 2006!) thanks to Derek.

A: The pour is viscous and lightly carbonated with a thin layer of mocha colored head.

S: Even after a little more than 4 years, this beer is still a little bit boozy. Alcohol notes come through immediately with lots of dark fruits and licorice. Dark chocolate and burnt sugar fill in the back end along with a strong roast.

T: Surprisingly bitter with lots of roast and coffee notes, particularly on the back end. Dark chocolate, licorice, burnt sugar, and dark fruits make up the bulk of the flavor profile. The booze is a bit more subdued than I was expecting.

M: The body is medium to full with a low but ample carbonation.

D: I think one bottle is enough, but this is a fine beer indeed. One that can certainly hold up to (and in some cases, benefit from) again.

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

Appearance: Pours a jet black body with a full, frothy tan-colored head.

Smell: Aroma of black malts, roasted coffee, dark chocolate syrup, scorched almonds, molasses, and herbal, piney hops.

Taste: Black roasted malts with flavors of coffee and exceedingly dark chocolate. Some burnt almonds and fire-blackened marshmallows. The hops are bold in their bitterness, but not overbearing, and provide a taste of dried herbs and pine. Finishes with a lingering bitterness and acidic char taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Mild carbonation. Chewy mouthfeel. Warming from the first sip.

Drinkability: A very fine stout both fresh and cellared. To wit, I had an '02 this past weekend that had morphed into a slightly roasty chocolate liqueur.

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Photo of nickfl
4.12/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Apparently I did have one of these guys hangin' around in my fridge after all. Go figure. Let's review it, shall we? It pours an opaque black-brown topped by a short finger of tan foam that fades fairly quickly. The nose comprises plenty o' roasted malts, dark wheat, chocolate syrup, nutmeg, and a surprising dose of rye bread. A general sweetness pervades. The taste darkens the proceedings, roasting some of the sweet notes and replacing the rye bread with a leather-like character. Some light prune notes gurgle up from th bottom, but don't pool all that much. Something's missing here, but I can't quite put my finger on it. The body is fairly hefty, with a heavy light carbonation and a borderline chewy feel. Overall, a solid RIS, but I've had better, even among regularly available offerings. Something's just off a little, you know what I mean?

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.77/5  rDev +13.3%
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!

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Photo of Kegatron
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap @ the Capital Ale House (Richmond, VA) on 12/13/09. Served in a cervoise.

Pours a deep flat black in the glass, with a finger of smooth looking dark & burnt mocha head. Retains with some huge frothy bunching around the edges, that leaves a huge cascade of drenching foam in its wake. The aroma is very floral and hoppy up front, with thickish sweet notes of chocolate and toffee mixing in with sharp coffee and roasted bitterness. Alcohol gives this some heft and punch in the nose.

The taste is even more sweetness, milk chocolate and toffee, with some extra sticky notes of brown sugar and molasses. Even a bit of dark fruit towards the back of the profile. Hops, coffee, and roast surround this, with a deeply burnt and bitter feel that really sticks hard in the finish. The mouthfeel is as full as can be, with a massively creamy feel up front that coats the back of the palate. Thick, sweet, and gooey, this is the rare feel here that's up there some of the best Imperial Stouts. There is some warmth on the tale end of the swallow but the alcohol is so entrenched in the rich flavors, it's not really detectable at all.

Man, I had forgot how hoppy this is fresh and it's no wonder that this is a great candidate for aging. The flavors are just so robust on this and the feel is one of my favorites on a Stout. Probably my favorite go-to Imperial Stout, this always puts a smile on my face.

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Photo of jlindros
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've been waiting to try this one for a long time. Thanks to paco1029384756 and Noslenwerd for providing this beast to me.

A: Pours a dark semi thick rich pitch black color with a dark almost black head, which rises about a finger of thick creamy goodness.

N: Nose is loaded with chocolate! Bakers and milk chocolate dominate. Also adds some roast and a little coffee on the nose. Some sweet caramel, and a slight bright fruit. A slight boozy aroma also comes out.

T: Taste starts with tons of dark chocolate and bakers chocolate. Very earthy bitter stout flavor! Some creamy darkness. More roast and spicy dark malt flavor. Lots of malt to go with that. A little coffee with the roasted flavor. Some dark fruit. It's very heavy, thick, rich, spicy, earthy, bitter, roasted, chocolate, and perhaps too much of all. Some boozy warmth adds to the spicy dark flavor.

M: Super thick and heavy, rich, and more carbonation than I expected for the style.

F: Finishes pretty dry and super bitter still. Lots of earthy dark stout like char and scorched malts. The dark flavors just feel like they are pulling the water and nutrients out of my mouth. The thick syrupy barely liquid seems to stick to everything as well and coats the mouth, leaving the flavors for a while. More chocolate, roast, coffee, bitter earthy stout, and the lingering boozy flavors just go for a while. Considering how thick it is, with the boozy quality, and so bitter and dry its difficult to drink. Glad it isn't a bomber! Still a great beer though.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A big "Thank you!" to BlackAngus for trading me this one.
Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is pitch black with a thin dark brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: Heavy coffee & chocolate aroma with roasted malt, a touch of dark fruits and a hint of alcohol.

T: Heavy roasted coffee flavor dominates the taste. As you drink more of it, you start to get a little bit of the bitter dark chocolate & hops which completely hides the high ABV.

M: Smooth, oily & thick, full bodied, light carbonation, very sticky finish though.

D: Tasty & smooth and you certainly wouldn't know that the ABV is at 10.50%, which makes you want another and another until they start catching up to you.

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Photo of mactrail
3.92/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Really big black ale.

Great big stout, a little touch of brown-amber in the glass. Huge malt. Very strong, alcohol flavors, like a brandy. Spicy and full of the spectrum of roasted malt. Butterscotch and cocoa. Nice nose full of burnt cereal and chocolate. Long burning aftertaste with coffee flavors.

Had a glass at Barley's in Greenville, SC.

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