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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: 5,550
Avg: 4.21
pDev: 17.81%
Wants: 479
Gots: 1,450 | 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: 5,550
Photo of MikieV
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark, almost black with a thick, rolling rich rust colored head. Thick rust colored lacing stuck to the glass as I drank.

First, I have to admit, this was my first ever Imperial Stout.
I was in love from the first sip!

This is a bold, robust beer. It has very intense flavors. Dark bitter chocolate, booze, roasted malts all come through. Some slight fruitiness as well. A fairly thick beer, leaving some solids in the bottom of the glass. Very smooth mouth feel despite it's thickness.

At 10.5%, one of these is just right for me!

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Photo of jwilli7122
3.42/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

I finally located this one, and am quite eager to try it out...

pours an opaque black with a purple tinge. absolutely zero head - I poured it hard and I can literally count the bubbles. there is a somewhat frightening looking smoke-colored film covering about 1/3 of the surface.

smell is wicked plum and alchohol, smells more like a barley wine than a stout.

taste: wow. unlike anything i have ever had. i shouldn't, but i'll try -black licorice, chocolate syrup and...some sort of coffee-type flavor that i have never experienced...with alchohol, dark fruit and black malt in the back.

mouthfeel is syrupy-thick with almost no carbonation, and it's right.
absolutely the most aggressive, indefinable beer i have ever had.

note: after reading other reviews - and seeing that this beer is supposed to have a head and big hops - i wonder if my bottle was abnormal.

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

Got a bottle at the Cafe, enjoyed it in my hotel room so to speak.

Pours black as death. No head or foam whatsoever. Thin tan layer of bubbles from the pour immediately disappear.

Aroma of dark malts, some coffee, some dark chocolate, plums?, some hop aroma.

I get a lot of cocoa and roasted malts immediately in the taste. Lingering chocolate, some coffee...bit of a roasty finish. Bit hot.
Coffee flavors linger afterwards too.

Could benefit with 6-12 months in the cellar. Quite a drinkable stout though. Nice.

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Photo of vwcraig
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured black into a goblet. Camel colored head. Pruney and chocolatey smell that really sticks in the nose. Very appetizing smells. Caramelly, roasted malts jump out. Initial tastes were of hot cocoa and even a dark fruitiness switching into a bitter hop profile and some burnt malt flavors. Bitterness is felt throughout the mouth even on the roof. Heavy and slick mouthfeel barely any carbonation. Leaves a thick ring of lacing behind and clings to the glass. Booze level becomes more revealed as it warms up. Excellent for the last stout of the night.

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Photo of ryantho00
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This pours into the darkest of night black and leaves a nice 1.5finger foam that is reminicent of an iced mocha coffe drink.

I get deep coffee and cherry whifts from this one, with a bourben-like undertone followed by some chocolate. Very nice indeed.

This beer is fantastic. I get a full chocolate, oatmeal, coffee, caramel, cherry, spice, taste from this great beer. Very full mouthfeel that gives way to a nice smooth swallow, followed by a dark cherry/hop/mocha aftertaste that leaves you wanting more.

This is a great RIS that can creep up on you quickly as it's quite enjoyable to drink all night long.

Great job Bell's, Cheers!!

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Photo of isubsmith
3.6/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours like beer syrup. Extra dark. Large thick brown head.

Smell: Wow. Very very strong aroma. Lots of chocolate and strong espresso coffee tastes. Faint hints of the high alcohol. Lots of roasty smells.

Taste: Bitter chocolate and bitter espresso. Lots of hops. Rather creamy mouthfeel. Bitter roasty flavors linger on the tongue.

Drinkability: Not the most drinkable imperial stout. Too bitter for me. It's hard to drink anything after this beer. I've certainly had other imperial stouts that don't leave such a lingering taste.

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Photo of k3n
4.72/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle courtesy of tangfoot. No back label, and no batch #, but he states is about 5 years old. A thousand thanks for this beer I'm about to experience.

A: Viscous brownish black with mahogony edges. Minimal head and lacing. Color is beautiful!

S: Mollases, caramel, roasted malts, tobacco, sweet coffee.

T/M: Initial hit is syrupy caramel malt, tempered by background astringency and bitterness. Middle and finish is luxuriously smooth chocolate, coffee, maple syrup, figs. Keeps going after its down, and begs the next sip.

Holy cow this is good.

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Photo of bigman147
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours like dark crude oil. Viscous and black with dark brown bubbles as the only head formed. Impressive how black this stout is.

Aroma: Lots of malt, some raisin, Coffe, maybe toffee. Very aromatic with lots of depth. As the beer warms in my glass, each layer is peeled off like an onion. Absolutely wonderful with a slight amouth of hops and alcohol

Taste: Almost completely malt but with such depth. Slight sweet syrupy taste with good malt balance and slight hop bitterness. Malt makes way to a coffee finish. Slight sourness in the finish and a slight amount of smoke also.

Mouthfeel: Heavy syrupy notes with good carbonation to avoid being cloying. A slight creaminess in the finish.

Drinkability: I think that this is a wonderful beer. But it is by no means a session beer. The alcohol is powerful and the shear syrupy liquidness would make drinking 2 difficult.

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Photo of ThirdLap
2.89/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Got this through a great trade with aforbes10. Thanks Andrew!

Split this one with BA member 'macktbone' in two standard pint glasses. The minimal amount of dark brown head dissipates quickly, leaving only thirty-weight motor oil. Swirling the glass coats it with a translucent brown coating that is slow to disappear.

Lots of soy on the nose, with molasses, dark roasted malt, along with some sweet alcoholic beverage that I can't put my finger on. Some have said sherry, but I'm not sure that's it.

As promised, I'll be honest about what left my lips upon taking my first taste of this beer. I think the exact words were something along the lines of "holy shit".

It's not bad, just not well-balanced. I get way too much soy here. Very tangy and astringent with lots of burnt flavors... I get some coffee and caramel. The alcohol is very in-your-face.

Mouthfeel is much how it looks to be, thick and viscous. This beer really coats the mouth. Carbonation is minimal, and I really think a bit more would perk this beer up a bit.

Getting through my half was a bit of a challenge. I will probably return to it someday, hopefully on tap. Right now it just reminds me a bit too much of a SA Triple Bock. Hopefully the HopSlam arriving tomorrow will provide a better example of what Bell's is capable of.

[EDIT: I'm really thinking my bottle had gone bad. I will seek out and re-review this beer as soon as I can.]

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Photo of gtn80
4.09/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter.

Appearance has a distinct lack of carbonation. Small half finger head, mocha colored. Beer is jet black, no light getting through.

Aroma is rum raisin, roasted malts, chocolate, a bit of alcohol.

Taste is incredibly complex. Smooth combination of dark chocolate, booze. Not super roasty, bit astringent on the tongue in the finish.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy.

Drinkability is hurt by alcohol and flavor density, meant for a snifter, not a liter mug

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Photo of quaybr
4.16/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass. Had a huge mocha head that dissipated after several minutes of extreme patience! Color a dark brown, nearing black.

Smelled of roasted and chocolate malts, quiet bitter hops, and alcohol.

Taste is amazing. A ten degree warmup result in a completely different beer. So you should let that happen (50 degree range). Right after the pour, it tasted like a slightly roasted, hoppy, thick ale. As it warms up, however, the coffee and chocolate undertones get louder and louder in a wonderful way. So damn good.

Mouthfeel is thick and relatively smooth, not quite silky. Good level of carbonation.

Visiting Ohio for Christmas. I have spent that past few weeks hoping this beer would be accessible once I got back into the distribution area. Quarter Barrel in Oxford did me one better. This is a great beer. Well balanced and consistently delicious.

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Photo of BradenMK
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%

Age. This. Beer. It's begging for it. Sometimes overly harsh with the hop profile when fresh, once this hits the two year mark (and literally, for years and years after), this beer is a magical creature complete with fairy wings and unicorn horns. Always a hop bomb, the roasted, chocolate notes just get deeper and more nuanced and more smooth with time. A superb stout that any fans of the style will already know is delicious.

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Photo of afordney
3.87/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

motor oil black, nice finger wide head. No light gets through

good roasted malt. Very sweet and smoky

sweet malty start, deep roasted flavors, excellent bold flavors

Nice thick mouthfeel, a little sour but quite bitter in the finish

A good beer, would be excellent on a cold day

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

Pours a thick motor oil black with a 1 finger head that lingers.

The nose is huge. I pick up coffee and chocolate foremost with roasted malts and toffee, along with dark cherry's.

The taste is the same and the alcohol is apparent but with how thick this bad boy is you almost welcome the warmth.

The mouthfeel can only be described as chewy creamy and HEAVY.

As far as drinkablity goes, this is a one and done for me. There are a few other RIS that I've had more than one, but an Expedition is just so damn heavy its either an enjoyable one beer night or an equally enjoyable nightcap.

Can't wait to see how this bad boy ages!

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Photo of broodog
4.14/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 10759 pkgd 11/1/11. Poured into a Founder's tulip

A- Pours almost jet black. Not a very lively pour. Very little carbonation. Lacing is minimal.

S- lots of roasted charachter. Nice aroma. Some molasses and chocolate behind the roasted barley.

T- love this flavor. Very well balanced beer. Plenty of roasted barley, coffee molasses.

M- Assertive. Deep, dark, thick. Everything a stout should be here.

O- spot on RIS from bells. Textbook, except for the carbonation and lacing. I'll be sipping this one all winter long by the fire. Wearing my robe and bear claw slippers after a tough day at the rat races.

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Photo of purdueflyguy
3.71/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 vintage poured into pint glass

Poured black but not quite motor oil black. Was expecting it to be a little thicker looking. Descent mocha colored head.

Not quite as much as much going on as I would expect. Dark chocolate and coffee faint but big roasted malt. A little smokey.

Massive espresso flavors followed by a little bit of chocolate. A little boozy in the flavor but don't really feel any warming surprising for this ABV.

A little too thin as far as the mouthfeel.

Overall not a bad beer but it just doesn't take it to the next level would like to age this and see where it is in a couple years.

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Photo of MisterDeeds
4.22/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aged over a year in the wonderful cellar of RixBeer.

Pours a solid black with no light showing through. Very slight head, cocoa powder in color.

Smell is nice and roasted. Coffee with a raisin or plum-like fruitiness. Also picking up on that boozy brandy-like aroma that hints at the aging.

Taste has a few different kicks going on. It begins with a very subtle semi-sweet raisin taste, and is quickly overcome by the roasted coffee bitterness. Very unique from most aged beers I have had, in that the warm alcohol kick comes more towards the front than in the aftertaste.

Very little carbonation to it, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on who you ask. I happen to like it with this brew, because I think that too many bubbles would make the bitterness too overpowering.

The mouthfeel is thick almost milky, and the roasted coffee (almost burnt) seems to line your entire throat. (Again this could be good or bad, depending on your taste, but for me it is very strong.)

A very nice treat (thanks Rick!) and I would love to try one a year down the line to see what else goes on.

Is Bell's planning on coming to Massachusetts anytime soon?

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Photo of iuhophead87
2.82/5  rDev -33%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A- Dark black with almost no head! Looks almost like molasses or barbeque sauce.

S- It smells like molasses, raisons, and dates. Smells much sweeter than it tastes.

T- I had high expectations for this beer, but was greatly disappointed. There seemed to be almost no carbonation. It is more malty than sweet and where is the creaminess of a stout, it is not in this beer. Almost reminds me of cough syrup with a little hops added. Not a big fan of this beer, although I do like most beers brewed by "BELLS" .

MF- Thick and starts out sweet, then the flavor goes quickly as you choke down this raison juice.

D- The taste + alcohol content make this beer almost undrinkable. However, If you are able to get one down the 10% ABV is a plus. There is no way I could drink more than one of these.

I'm a big fan of Bells, but could do without this concoction of hopped up prune juice.

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Photo of adrock7309
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a bottle into a Chimay goblet. Poured a 2009 into the bottle agressively and almost no head was present.

Smell is strong on the licorice, molasses, and dark dark chocolate. It all mixes so well. Carbonation is a bit subtle but present and perfect for the style.

Taste is out of this world. Tons of complexity where the uber roasted molasses and licorice flavors up front mix with slight bit of hops. The alcohol is always present to me on the finish and the licorice comes back again after you take your fisrt breath after a sip.

Mouthfeel is heavy which i love and sticky.


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Photo of bboelens
2.06/5  rDev -51.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A-Black motor oil in viscosity, an aggressive pour yielded no head at all, and the beer left no lacing.

S-Ok we're getting back on track, roasted malt and coffee are the main presence, a hint of chocolate and alcohol in the background.

T-Woof! This beer is thick and has waaaay too much going on in it, it's an explosion of flavors and not in the good way, yes there's some malt and coffee and a heavy alcohol taste but i can't even explain what the rest is, licorice and a clusterf**k of other things that just didn't come together for me.

M-Thick, no carbonation, medicinal

D-I almost broke my no drain pouring rule with this beer. I wonder if I got a bad bottle or if my taste buds just weren't made for this beer. This is a fresh bottle and a bought another one to age, after reading about it's impressive aging abilities, so I'll give it another chance.

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Photo of bwd110
2.99/5  rDev -29%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle poured into Stone RIS Tulip.

A: Traditional motor oil black, very viscous looking. Really cool dark brown head, darker than most. This goes away quickly leaving a very thin sheet of lace.

S: Alcohol fumes abound. This one could do better with a toned down abv. If the nose is a clear indicator, this is gonna be one raw IRS, and probably not one of my favorites.

Also getting dark chocolate and espresso notes, and a sharp molasses sweetness underneath the alcohol phenols - sort of unpleasant.

T: Boozy. The alcohol hits hard and fast, with an almost bourbon twang to it. Black licorice and anise dominate any coffee or chocolate notes. I think I need to cellar my remaining stash to smooth this one out around the edges.

M: Thick and chewy. Fairly creamy and would be quite smooth without the alcohol burn on the way down. Overall, very good fit for the style.

D: Slow sipper, need to move on after one.

Overall, this is a decent IRS, but does not live up to the hype. I'd easily place Stone's RIS and Old Rasputin above this one. Heck, give me a Kalamazoo or Double Cream/Expedition Blend over this one. Too rough around the edges for my tastes/abv needs to be better masked, a boozy mess IMHO.

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

Batch 9512. Bottled Dec 18 2009. Thanks to Bells batch Finder! This poured like a dark motor oil. Thick tan head with nice lacing which stayed on the sides of the glass. Taste of espresso, some hop bitterness, chocolate and roasty malt. The alcohol becomes more evident as it warms. Would love to taste this after a few years of cellaring if only I could keep my hands from prying off the cap!

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Photo of Fluke828
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a cervoise-style glass
Batch # 9971
Bell's Batch Finder reveals this was bottled in September 2010.
Got this in a trade with tjohn2401 from his cellar to mine. Put in fridge last night.

A-> Poured cold and had to be aggressive to get barely a 3/4-finger head of mocha colored foam. Receeds rather quickly but leafves some nice lacing. Dark as night in color.

S-> Smells of coffee immediately and also get a bit of alcohol in the nose. Some burnt toffee, very dark chocolate, also getting quite a bit of smoke in the nose in the early going.

T-> Get hit with a big dose of bitterness up front initially, get some faint molasses (become more apparent once this brew warmed) Really getting a lot of bitter chocolate and coffee here. Got a healthy touch of alcohol at first, particularly when this beer was cold, but as it warmed it seemed to mellow out and get real smooth.

M-> Big, dare I say full bodied? Carbonation is present but probably lessened a bit after 6 months in the bottle but the bitterness hasn't lost a step at all and really gives the illusion that there is more carbonation than there likley actually is. Somewhat creamy as this warms up too.

O-> Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. Really curious what a year or more would do for this big delcious brew. Would also love to try with some coffee heath ice cream or something along those lines. Would seek this out again for sure.

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Photo of esv
2.52/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12z 10.5% abv

Brown-chocolate, milkshake head. Thick head. The beer is thick to the eye when poured. The beer is black.

I smell salty, smoked ham. It smells Malty Sweet. Hops have a real presence in the nose, which seems out of style. And now I'm sure I've got a pig in my nose.

It's a bitter-bulldozer that ploughs over the tongue but the wake is more like that of a loaded down barge. Sweet medicinal flavors dominate the finish.

Mouthfeel. Thick, heavy and smooth. Like the mother of all imperial oatmeals, hyped up on nitro.

While I can drink it, I also have a high, distorting threshold for imperial stouts.

Sometimes a severe beating can be less painful than a couple of light jabs. Adrenaline kicks in at higher levels and masks the really brutal stuff. I think my tongue went into survival mode.

I'm not even sure the masochist in me will reach for this again but the sadist may certainly help it into a house guest's glass.

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Photo of jojox
4.79/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My bottle was made in Feb 2008 according to the web site.

a - black black black. Not much head. Thin and light brown.

s - oh man. Chocolate, molassis, rich roasted malt yumminess. Some raisin/prune too.

t - smoked hickory, rich coffee roasted malty liquid smoke. Peat smoke? Hickory ash. Turning more coffee, coal, burnt sugar/caramel. Hint of molasses. All of this balanced with nice hop bitterness. Not much, if any, hop flavor, no hop aroma.

m - smooth silky up front, dry and bitter at the end.

d - ALL DAY. diggin' it.

This stout is simply fantastic. The aroma and flavor profile are off the charts, rich, complex, delicious. Age will make this even more awesome.

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