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

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

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BA SCORE
93
outstanding

1,978 Reviews
THE BROS
98
world-class

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Reviews: 1,978
Hads: 5,499
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 11.46%
Wants: 465
Gots: 1,420 | FT: 113
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: 1,978 | Hads: 5,499
Photo of bwyker
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a massively chunky pitch black, with a mud tinted light head speckled with red bubbles. Foam settles immediately to a ring of dirty lacing and pockets of bubbles in the center of the glass. Huge punches of chocolatey roasted malts and alcohol. Taste, well I took a bite and chewed on it…like an alcohol soaked piece of dark chocolate cake with molasses icing. It feels like it was brewed with roofing tar. Immensely chunky mouthfeel. Drinkabilty was not so high, as the alcohol is a bit too noticeable. However, a great after-dinner treat. (546 characters)

Photo of WrathsU
4.64/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - deep black pour like staring into a polished onyx gem.

S - Caramelized sugars up front. Roasted coffee tones and chocolate throughout.

T - So good. Tastes like bittersweet chocolate, fresh ground coffee, and caramel.

M - Smooth, very smooth for its abv. Perfectly carbonated.

D - I could drink this forever, one of the best stouts I've ever had. (353 characters)

Photo of Optifron
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours jet black with brown, thick, creamy head. Leaves moderate lacing.

Aroma: Chocolate, a touch of hops, smooth French roast coffee

Taste: Dark chocolate, but without the intense bitter. Smoother espresso beans. A nicely balanced sweetness, almost like a touch of lactose.

Mouthfeel: Fantastic. Was the first thing that really stood out when it hit my mouth. Incredibly smooth, creamy but not heavy

Overall: Really impressive. I like smoother stouts, and this really fits the bill. Impressively drinkable for 10.5%. Will definitely be picking up more of this. (577 characters)

Photo of Flopjack
4.46/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into snifter

Appearance - Pure black, nice caramel and cream colored head about 2 fingers settles down nicely but remains.

Smell - Roasted malts, molasses, bread, alcohol is warming but not to intense. Thick smell.

Taste - Starts out with a roasted rich dark chocolate, molasses, and rich dark coffee both bitter and slightly sweet. Middle gives a bread and alcohol flavor with a slight warming sensation. Ends just a bit dry leaving smoked and roasted after taste.

Mouthfeel - Medium carbonation, full bodied, coats palate with a thick syrup like feel.

Overall - Great stout. Not only does this beer give a nice blanket when it's cold out, but you can put this one away for awhile. Buy a 6 pk drink one and put the rest in your cellar. Open one every 6 months (at least) and see how it changes! (807 characters)

Photo of vladtheimpaler
4.48/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle aged 1 year. Deep dark brown with a lasting dark tan head. Real nice aroma of coffee, chocolate (dark), carmel, vanilla, and a touch of alcohol carrying the fragrances up the snifter. Flavor is roasty and smooth, with big chocolate malts and roasted barley bitterness. Big thick palate. Bitterness lingers. This is an ager, for to age gets rid of the hot alcohol burn that is present when young. Should be present en every BA's cellar! (448 characters)

Photo of Soilworker
4.65/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a 12oz bottle, fresh no aging, into a standard stout/pint glass. Bottle has a batch number on it...this is batch number: 9554.

A: Pitch black with zero light shining through even with a strong flashlight put up to the glass. Nice caramel colored head that is slow to dissipate and the bubbles are very fine. The liquid seems to almost stain the glass.

S: Dominated by an intense and strong blast of fig, plum, and raisin. Bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted malts, and perhaps a hint of roasted coffee provided the backboard for the dark fruit character. There are also small hints of alcohol and vanilla that hit the nose from time to time. Very rich, savory, and bold.

T: Starts off with pretty much an explosion of burnt and roasted malts. I was expecting a start with some wateriness to it but that is definitely not the case. After the blast of malt this settles down to a pleasant bittersweet chocolate flavor with vanilla and espresso notes playing along with it. Somewhat sweet at the beginning. This then fades towards the end to a flavor characterized by burnt coffee and roasted malts and some oaky wood notes that seem to be somewhat charred. The finish holds on the burnt and roasted malt character and there is plenty of bitterness here which seem to be primarily hoppy in nature but have an interesting bitter burnt malt aspect. As you drink it, especially when you start there is a lovely warming feeling in both your mouth but primary in the throat all the way down the stomach. A very impressive taste profile!!!

M: Amazing!!! As you swirl it through your mouth it is smooth and creamy and very bold with a little bit a zing on the tongue from the carbonation. As oily and creamy as the beer is at first, the finish definitely feels dry.

D: Did I mention this was a bold beer? The flavor profile is huge and definitely takes the right palate to enjoy this one. I would love to drink this all night and I would, but this is a beer for sipping if I ever tasted one. The ABV is pretty aggressive but not terribly noticeable during the taste but I'm sure if you managed to get a few of these down it would start to catch up to you.

Overall I loved this beer. I especially liked the rich, bold taste and creamy mouthfeel. This was my first Expedition ever and I can definitely see how aging this one would be a smart move since this would most likely tone down the bitterness a bit. I definitely plan on buying a second or third six pack just for aging past 2yrs. If you like stouts, you must try this beer. (2,552 characters)

Photo of dotsonjamesg
4.97/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Special thanks to jcdgoad for recommending this brew to me....

I purchased this brew from liquorama.net. Not that bad of a price either but shipping costs made it a little pricey, but hopefully worth it. I would really like to point out that Russian Imperial Stout is my favorite style, so you can imagine that I tend to have somewhat of a bias concerning them. In my defense, I would like to let those who read this know that I also grade them very harsh. If this one is truly as good as I have heard, it must be truly impressive; though I have noticed the wide-array views so I am very skeptical and curious.

Served in a chilled 14oz snifter

Appearance: Whoa...probably one of the thickest, darkest ales I have ever poured. The brew had a thin, ½ finger head that quickly dissipated. I have heard some complaints stating the brew is over-carbonated. Since my head was so weak, maybe my pour wasn't aggressive enough. Still looks good to me.

Smell: Probably one of the most aromatic stouts I have ever experienced. I poured the brew and set it aside, as not to be hindered by the heat of my "super-laptop." The brew is sitting about 18 inches away from my nose and I can still smell it...not very common, even with the most aggressive of stouts. The nose is full of chocolate, fig, currants, dark roasted malts, a tinge of hops, and alcohol.

Taste: Much like its intense nose, the brew is rich with dark roasted malts, chocolate syrup, and alcohol. Starts with a smooth and intense chocolate flavor and moves in to brutal bitter, dark roasted coffee-like flavor. The bitterness is harsh and lasts for quite some time. I can see why some people have given this brew some varying reviews. It stays true to its legacy in being a Russian Stout, but it might be a little too bitter. Russian Stouts should be strong, and extremely sugary. This brew is absent of the EXTREME levels of caramelized sugars, commonly found in many Russian Stouts. The enormous, backed-up bitterness may be too intense for most people.

Mouthfeel: Thick, velvety, and very smooth. Carbonation was also pretty nice and matched well.

Drinkability: It is a definite sipper. If you can stand the extreme bitterness, it is heavenly, but you have to possess the ability to drink some of the heaviest of ales ever brewed; and this most certainly qualifies. This brew is extreme, and that's being nice. Don't let the simplistic label or bad reviews fool you...this epic-brew is anything but simplistic. Its character is tremendous and unfathomable by most, and enjoyed by even fewer.

Excuses for the bad reviews? Russian Stouts are definately an aquired taste. This one is pretty intense and not as balanced as others and will probably drive away most people who aren't use to the extreme levels of burnt-bitterness, flavor of alcohol, and syrup-like viscosity.

I would recommend this only to a seasoned Russian Imperial Stout drinker. I would also recommend a very nice cigar with this lovely brew, it would match perfectly.

Enjoy this as much as I did.

Cheers!

-Dotson (3,048 characters)

Photo of deford
4/5  rDev -4.5%

Poured from a 12oz. bottle dated 8/12/14 into a Saints & Sinners Snifter.

A- Pitch freaking black! Half inch orange head that disappears pretty quickly.

S- A musty, syrupy coffee...maybe a hint of orange...no heat.

T- A bit different. Burnt espresso and prunes? Hard to tell, there's a lot going on here...nicely done too. The alcohol is hidden completely.

M- Really nice a bubbly when you give it a swirl...otherwise pretty standard for the style...almost flat.

O- A quality stout worth giving a go... (508 characters)

Photo of jdoolin
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12oz bottle, poured into a brandy snifter

Appearance: Dead black, like old motor oil. A slight brown head formed and dissipated quickly, leaving a ring of brown lace the entire time.

Aroma: Heavenly aroma of roasted barley, molasses, hints of coffee and chocolate, and of course a bit of alcohol. This beer smelled so good, I couldn't keep my nose out of the snifter the entire time.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Thick, smooth and creamy, like velvet. Just enough carbonation to achieve this and maintain the ring of lace. Taste was an ode to roasted malt. All of the usual roasted malt flavors are here and are wonderfully exemplifed. Of course, the roasted barley itself, coffee (especially in the finish) and chocolate. No hop flavor. Bitterness seems to be achieved more by the roasted malt than the hops. The alcohol was present but subdued by the roasted malt flavors.

Notes: A superb imperial stout. I thought the alcohol would have more presence, but I was pleasantly surprised. The roasted malts are the center of this beer, and Kalamazoo has done a fantastic job exploiting them. A great after dinner sipping beer. (1,143 characters)

Photo of metallistout
4.95/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one damn fine beer!

This thing pours black like Florida Swamp water! The head is so foamy it looks like a giant marshmellow on top.

Smell rich in coffee and chocolate.

Tastes of coffee and chocolate malts with a dry hop finish.

Probably one of the best Imperial Stouts I have had. I love that I can buy this in a sixer. (332 characters)

Photo of abankovich
2.79/5  rDev -33.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured with a pretty nice light brown head with the beer being extremely dark as it should be.

Smells very strong and sweet of molasses and maple syrup maybe some brown sugar as well. Some chocolate notes as well.

Very sweet on the initial sip, a lot of malt and syrupy flavors present. Almost a little too syrupy for me. I wish there was a little more bitterness throughout to balance it out. Chocolate and Java hints on the very back end as it washes down.

Mouthfeel is medium to thick and the drinkability isn't too high on this one for me due to the overwhelming sweetness for the style. (594 characters)

Photo of johnwarne
3.7/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A beer haiku for you:

"A Russian delight;
Don't drink too late in the night
Big ole' heavy stout".

Quite a tasty treat: do not, however, drink this after consuming two others in an evening--it becomes overwhelming and frankly tough to finish [good as it is].

Cheers! (271 characters)

Photo of demitriustown
4.48/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

So lets get this baby started. I pop open the bottle, and the cap strikes the counter with a wonderful ting. Thick, way past 3,000 miles, motor oil black pour with a small brown head that disipates quickly. I can smell the thick malt aroma from across the room. Molasses, a floral hop texture, and a rich chocolate scent rounds out the aroma. The taste warms through and through with a thick malt note, big in your face hops, fresh Columbian coffee undertones, molasses, and slightly tasting of caramel. Palate is bitter and stinging from the big alcohol content. Only problem with this on is the overdone alcohol burn at the end. Excellent Imperial Stout. Buy, trade, but try not to steal to get this brew. (707 characters)

Photo of MaxAdvo
4.46/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - Pours a very dark, almost black, with deep, dark reddish hues. Almost no head, but don't let that fool you.

S - The smell is slightly off-putting of rubbery leather, but also with a dark, roasty, chocolately coffee.

T - Here's where she pulls on through! It's very robust, full of roasty, Brazilian-like coffee bean. Also a slight of dark fruits. Very similar to Oskar Blue's Ten Fidy.

M - Don't be fooled with having almost no head because you feel the carbonation. It's not overpowering, and has a very creamy fill. Very pleasant with lingering notes of dark coffee and chocolate

O - A very great imperial stout! I really enjoyed this, and will definitely purchase again. (681 characters)

Photo of Carloco
4.7/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A --> Beer poured darker than chocolate brown. Very caramel looking, with a very small head.

S --> Aroma is that of chocolate, syrupy, MAJOR coffee, vanilla?, and get almost a tad cinnamon

T --> Taste is coffee, chocolate vanilla, slightly bitter, very malty

M --> the mouthfeel is THICK with not much carbonation. Wonderful flavors, stay in your mouth for a while due to the thickness.

O --> Overall VERY complex beer. many different flavors and great aroma. I should have aged it a little because I hear it is even better, but regardless was awesome. Only criticism I have is that you definitely taste and smell the 10% alcohol. (651 characters)

Photo of kohoutek
4.77/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark as the darkest night with a nice brown head. The foam quickly dissipates into an oil drop experiment of xylem cells and migrating plasmodium.

The beer smells of dark fruits, plums, slivovicz, cherry pits and currants. A good swirling reveals smoky roasts with layers of complexity, herbal hops, fruity acidity and chocolatey/espresso warmth. This beer is heavily ester laden. These aromas are beautifully integrated into this complex, rich beer.

The flavors are winey/vinous and maltiliciously acidic, all wrapped in a roasty, fruity, chocolately/caramel blanket.

The mouthfeel is rich, medium-thick. It is enhanced by the lively acidity, hop bitterness and low carbonation.

I have enjoyed up to four expeditions in a row (lots of time in between) and they are very drinkable. (793 characters)

Photo of jcnd9803
4.24/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a thick black color, with some slight amber hues. No head and little lacing in sight.

S: Some licorice and chocolate. Also some smoke it seems. Amazingly, I'm not picking up any alcohol, but I know it's there!

T: Ahh, there's the alcohol. A nice mix of roasted malt and chocolate.

M: Leaves a thick, creamy, sweet, feel on the palate. Also some tickle from the alcohol.

D: I think this is a great beer, fresh and aged. A perfect night cap Plus, given the price of most big stouts, this is a deal IMO. (513 characters)

Photo of DevilsCups
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle I've been sitting on for some time. Bottled 11/01/11.

A - Pitch black with a nice dark mocha head. Big legs, minimal lacing.

S - Sweet and roasted malts with some awesome milk chocolate notes. Slight bit of smoke. Smells fantastic.

T - Very roasted malts up front with dark chocolate and smokey notes in the finish. Hops are still hanging around, and pleasantly cut through the sweet malts used.

M - Coats pretty nicely. Carbonation is still pretty up there, but works. Leaves a nice smoky chocolate flavor in the mouth.

O - Fantastic. If this was a limited release 22oz every year, people would go nuts over it. Good on Bell's for doing this in sixxers. Fantastic beer. I got this as an extra in a trade, but it will be the main-piece in a future trade. Fits somewhere between Rasputin and Founders Imperial Stout flavor-wise. (849 characters)

Photo of Jwburns75
4.67/5  rDev +11.5%
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. (200 characters)

Photo of kitch
4.16/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A friend helped me bring back two 12oz bottles of this to Hong Kong for me from the US. They were packaged on 9 October 2014, so around 6 months now.

A: Poured pitch black into a snifter with a one finger brown head that dissipates in less than a minute leaving some spotty lacing.
S: Strong chocolate smells first followed by sherry, malt and pine. The alcohol also does come through at times.
T: Begins sweet with chocolate and malt, then turns bitter dark chocolate, pine, herbal-ey lasting finish. Like the nose, the alcohol is there but leaves a warm feeling.
M: Full bodied, light to medium carbonation, warm, sticky.
O: I only got 2 bottles of this… and this was the second bottle. As per the description on the bottle and brewery website, I wish I had more so that I could age it and compare the differences it would make. Having said that, 6 months in, and this was nice. (883 characters)

Photo of jayb
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This syrup poured out as black as night into the glass. when pouring it almost looked like oil, as far as its thickness. started with no head but as i finished pouring a nice chocolate milk colored, 2 fingered head appeared....then settled to a film. lacing was ...decent. a very lovely beer to behold while the head remained. smell was of sweet chocolate, burnt malts, and what my sister described as "soy sauce".
Taste: gee whiz. what a powerful brew. Most probably wouldnt think so as much as i, but from this was probably the strongest brew ive had in my limited experience. Taste was of chocolate, coffee, and a very roasty, burnt taste that lingered in the mouth. with such a sweet nose on this, the bitterness is a suprise, and a welcome one. Hint of candy flavoring, toffee and butterscotch? weird for me, id never expect that in a beer. wow, that burnt taste, as well as the bitterness keeps kicking me in the teeth! Toasty, just like my stomach. definite warming effect in my gut. Alcohol level is high but isnt a prevailent characteristic. mouthfeel is FULL and lovely, thickest ive had (I imagine not the thickest there is though) For my first imperial stout experience im a overcome with joy... and the roasted bitterness. Delightful. drinklability is low just for the fact that i could in no way drink more than two of these in an evening. Mighty tasty! Again i say, gee whiz, what a powerful brew. (1,413 characters)

Photo of Reed415
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a black color with almost no head

S - Dominated by dark caramel chocolate malt, some hops are lingering in there

T - Chocolate, Coffee, Roasted Malt, with a small amounts of hops

M - Full Bodied, Moderate Carbonation, Significant alcohol warmth, Somewhat sticky

D - Very malty Stout, but very good (319 characters)

Photo of Telix
4.48/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to have this served from a cask at Slows BBQ in Detroit, MI.

A: The pour is a tarry jet black, with a nice 1/2" puffy, bubbly head. There is a bit of cool looking lacing around the head, but not much in the remainder. It's perfectly attractive, but most stouts aren't anything unique.

S: The aroma is mild, with a bit of roasted nuts and booze. I wish it were bigger, to be honest.

T: Extremely complex and inviting you to drink more. A super creamy maltiness forms the backbone, as bright sharp citrus notes shine through and give it an awesome acidity and tongue bite, aided by a controlled booziness. Some roasted coffee notes are in the background. I realized that THIS is what a coffee stout should be, really, not those beers that taste like cold coffee in a bottle, but this complex beverage with hints of tropical fruit, roasted malts, honey and caramel sweetness.... truly epic goodness.

M: Creamy, thick, somehow avoiding syrupyness even though it lacked much carbonation in the cask. So smooth, I almost think it has to have some oats. Great.

D: I could sit and sip this all day. It's such a smooth, creamy, complex ale, truly exceptional. The booziness and ABV might get to you after a bit, but it's not meant to be a session beer. (1,267 characters)

Photo of SAxDRC5
2.65/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Dark black with a very small brown head. pretty much what I'd expect for the style

S: sweet milk chocolate, a bit of coffee, some burnt charcoal.

T: starts with sweet chocolate and some dark fruits, raisins perhaps. ends with darker bitter chocolate and some alcohol. I'm not too impressed, it is a bit boring for a RIS.

M: thick and creamy. very low carbonation. alcohol more present than I would expect.

O: pretty average imperial stout. I probably won't buy it again, but wouldn't turn it down if given to me. (520 characters)

Photo of mjsheehan08
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Bell's expedition stout

Turns my snifter into a black-hole. Head is dense with a mocha tan one finger head that clings to the glass for safety. Lace paints the side of the glass, and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon. 

Nose is really fragrant. Rum, raisin, figs and other dark fruits start out the nose, and then some booze kicks in. There's also a sugarery sweetness that comes through from the malt, and I'm expecting a great malty brew. 

Alot if dark fruit in the front, but the kind of dark fruit that is wrapped up in a big ball of molasses. Really a great blend of malts here. As it continues on, a shot of expresso comes through and lingers with you after you set your glass down. As I am about halfway through the 12 oz bottle, a little heat builds up at the top of my mouth and throat from the alcohol. 

Feel is eh. For as full flavored as this beer is, I was expecting a little more body in it. It was kind of thin with little to no carbonation. 

I can feel the booze after 1, but I could probably drink 2 of these.  (1,056 characters)

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
93 out of 100 based on 1,978 ratings.