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

1,979 Reviews
THE BROS
98
world-class

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Reviews: 1,979
Hads: 5,500
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 11.46%
Wants: 465
Gots: 1,423 | 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: 1,979 | Hads: 5,500
Photo of GClarkage
4.85/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11/24/07- Received via trade with Lou91.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with a code marked 6672 on the bottom of the back label. Not a clue what that means. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Very black in color. 3/4 inch milk chocolate colored head. Head has nice staying power. Lace streaks and spots and patchwork remain after the finish.

Smell- Strong nose of molasses, deep sweet malt, coffee, licorice and chocolate. Full house in this nose. One of the better ones out there.

Taste- Wow, this is right up there with my all time favorite tasting imperials. Huge milgled flavors of dark chocolate, roasted fresh coffee beans and mollasses. Sweet and dark like candy. Just an explosion of flavors that meld so well together. Hops are there, but come out more in the aftertaste than the actual consumption.

Mouthfeel- Creamy, viscous, extremely mouthcoating. Thick and chewy, but unlike cough syrup. Medium carbonation level with a bitter aftertaste that gets stronger and stronger.

Drinkability- Abv is noticeable, but doesn't seem like the 11.5% Seems high though. Damn I wish I could get these out here. May have to do some mail order. Top notch stuff that competes with Stone, Alesmith and a few other ones IMO. Will be doing what I can to get more of these. (1,270 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

32 oz. swing top growler.

Fabulous appearance. Deep, jet black with a thick, beige head that leaves a generous amount of lacing cascading down the sides of the snifter. Grandiose aroma of molasses, malt, charred roast, dark fruits. Dark fruits really emerge as the beer warms. Lots of charred, roasted malt as well. Full bodied, though not viscous or syrupy. A really solid beer, though there are several other imperial stouts I prefer to this. (445 characters)

Photo of woodychandler
4.53/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

My first reaction was "WTF, did they fill my bottle with motor oil by mistake?!?" I tried an aggressive pour and still only managed wisps of head in the glass. The beer was viscous, black (even the white bits was black), oily, with the only head a thin coating on the top of the liquid. The nose was huge with alcohol and chocolate. The mouthfeel was both slick and thick. After my first swallow, I realized that Larry ain't playin' around here. This is lights out action in a bottle. Nitey nite. My notes remind me to sic Carolyn Blowers on this one, since she has proven capable of drinking Russian Imperial Stouts first thing in the morning. I got an interesting mix of bittersweet chocolate, charcoal, and smoke floating across my tongue. The finish was smoky and chocolaty, just beautiful. My notes ended because of a sudden urge to lie down. (847 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled February 2004
Pours a deep black color with a creamy brown head. Thick aromas of chocolate, coffee, burnt caramel, an aroma I usually associate with Lactose stouts, and alcohol all waft form my glass. What a thick viscous brew, it is quite creamy on my tongue. The thickness and body of this brew helps to balance the roast character, so that it is not overwhelming. It is like a rich, creamy, chocolate covered espresso bean, but accentuated a bit more towards the creamy dark chocolate. This beer has a burnt/ roast astringent finish, which, helps to balance the rich malty sweet flavors that are up front. There is not much in the way of hops, but they would seem out of place in this brew. The alcohol is well hidden in the taste, and is only really noticeable in the aroma. Wow, what a wonderful, smooth, sipping beer. (832 characters)

Photo of BARFLYB
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a small snifter. This bottle has to be at least two years old right now, I could not hold out anymore. I found this to be to sweet fresh.

Bell's Expedition is a dark pitch black oily looking beer. It looks mean and tough coming out of the bottle with a gooey togetherness. Thick with staining power, don't spill this. A gorgeous dark mocha colored head rose up about an inch or more with a thickness and milkshake look on top, creamy, lasting. Coats of dirty lace on the way down.

Expe has mellowed nice in just two years time. The nose discovered Chocolate cake with enough roasted malt scent to stop a horse. Caramel and slight toffee With the roast comes some smoke and molasses. Really not getting any coffee from this, perhaps that's the 1st thing to go with time, the hops are next with minimal screen time. Just a hint of dark fruit with some figs among others. This smells great.

Big amounts of roasted malt on the palate with some smoke and sweetness. The chocolate is huge and rich, bittersweet. There is some coffee espresso with some warming. Taste with figs and molasses and just a bit of wood. Some alcohol in the back but hidden over two years. In the after, I get some soy sauce which is more noticeable cold. When fresh, this was a bit to sweet and off putting, that's not the case now, great integration.

A big bold thick feel on this one, somewhat robust, creamy and large. The feel is almost bordering on syrupy, but it goes down like a charm, what's going on here? Just a bit of alcohol after all is said and done and a touch of heat, not hot at all. Hidden very well but not 100%. The hops are not completely faded as there is some bitter sense hanging around. Sweet but subdued.

Drinkability takes a slight hit due to a high ABV, but I wont dock points for that, this is a Russian after all. Whatever I did not like about this when young (alot) is completely opposite now. I would not do more than one of these a night though and won't drink it in a bottle younger than two years. You need to take your time with this to see what it holds. (2,088 characters)

Photo of Gavage
4.09/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep black color with no head. The aroma was huge, as espresso and alcohol were most notible. The flavors followed the aroma as roasted malt, espresso, and alcohol pummeled the tastebuds into overload. Decent bittering balanced this out.

But this bottle poured with no head and was relatively flat compared to others like Storm King. Do not know if this was an aberation, but this caused a lower score in mouthfeel. Drinkability is decent, but the alcohol level was a little over the top. (499 characters)

Photo of tdm168
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - black and as thick as oil with a thick, short cap of brown head that sits atop this brew forever

S - licorice, dark fruit, coffee, roasted malts

T - big roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, faint dark fruit, very bitter

M - full bodied, warm, smooth, perfectly carbonated and oily

This is a really solid beer. The bitterness is a bit intense and detracts from the rest of the flavors. The overall flavor profile is impressive. Rich, chocolate, roasty, bitter coffee, underlying dark fruit -- really enjoyable. I would have this again for sure. (548 characters)

Photo of Halcyondays
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, Batch 8864 (12-4-08),

A: Pours black, even when held up to the light, moderate brown head.

S: Oil, woody notes, licorice, black coffee.

T: Rich coffee and licorice right of the bat reminds me of the Abyss. Definite notes of pine and hoppy aftertaste. Hints of cherry, orange.

M: Perfect to style. Silky smooth, mouth-coating, thick, robust, rich and warming from the ethanol.

D: A great RIS here, just wish I could get it more living in CA. Probably one of the easiest drinking big beers I've had. (517 characters)

Photo of Billolick
3.43/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle, with no freshness dating.
Think and goey, rich and chewy.
This is as dark, rich, flavorful and robust as any beer I've had. To my tastes its over the top and not all that pleasant, and I like stouts and rich, strong beer in general. HEAVY roasted, burnt, chocolate, coffee flavors. Mega sweet malt in the finish with a bit of bittering. Extreme after dinner beer. not for women and children or the feint of heart. (434 characters)

Photo of billab914
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Down to my last one out of the 12 I bought so I figured I better review this one before I'm out. Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Stone RIS glass.

Pours nearly black with a half inch tan head that settled to a thin covering that sticks to the sides. Nice lacing on the glass as well.

Aroma has coffee and bitter chocolate with some slightly sweet roastyness to it.

Taste has some dark chocolate, coffee and roastedness followed by a nice long bitterness that lingers in the mouth.

Mouthfeel is heavy bodied and slightly slick and carbonation is moderate.

Drinkability is good for a RIS, I really enjoyed these and will be buying them every winter for sure. (665 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
2.78/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle

I had been looking forward to trying this one for a long time and unfortunately the beer was not able to live up to my expectations or appearance. I'm hoping I had a bad bottle and will try this again in the future and hope for better....

A: Ok, lots good so far, pours a very thick, sludgy black and from hard pour has a nice sized tan head that has nice retention and leaves incredible lacing. Looks like a great RIS.
S: Not as strong as expected or mentioned in other reviews, but it has a sweet, rich aroma with chocolate, molasses, roasted flavors, etc.
T: Sweeter than expected, alcohol is well hidden, but something just seems...off. Everything just seems flat, overly sweet and not balancing bitterness. I mean, the flavors are there from the aroma and tastes like it should be a good RIS, but I don't know, I don't feel like thinking any harder about this.
M: Thick, creamy, flat, no carbonation, just....not good. Too sweet, no bitterness or hops detectable...
D: Ok, I'm being redundant, I only bump up the drinkability for the 10.5% alcohol being well hidden, otherwise it was very difficult for me to finish this bottle as I just didn't enjoy and would rather just have Kalamazoo, Double Cream, Java or basically any of their other stouts (for much cheaper). I'll update this review in future when I try again. (1,339 characters)

Photo of Mebuzzard
3.16/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Knownfactor for this bottle, and two more.

Pours black, perhaps some brown edging, but overall this thing is dark. That's the good part. No head at all. I could be persuaded to say it has a collar...

Aroma is boozy up front. This takes away from the nice prune and black plum, dark chocolate and molasses aromas. Too bad.

Again, booze really hinders the flavors. I know they are there. The cocoa is thinned out and the dark, soft fruits are too soaked. It has some sharp agents, too. Anise and quick roasted malt give it a bit of a kick. This one *needs* age on it. Ok with me.

Overall a nice beer. Too boozy right now to warrant higher ratings, but it has great potential. (687 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass. Nice to see how this out of the bottle for a change. Packaged September 26th 2011 off we go.

Out of the bottle this pours supper dark and motor oil thick with an incredibly dark DARK brown chocolate head, creamy tiny bubbles and big lacing edges around the glass. Body color is a classic walnut black/brown.

Nose is very fruity, banana, barleywine sense, and mild malts. Interesting very creamy smelling, not so much roasty or malty, quite nice though.

Taste is a great mix of milk chocolate, and very hop bitter finish. Slightly prickly but mostly velvety chocolate texture in the mid palate, and finishing with a very noticeable grapefruit hop bitter. Hop character seems to take over the remaining drink, but still give a basic impression of a dark malty stout.

Overall pretty tasty, but was quite surprised by this hop bitter presence. (894 characters)

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bell's Expedition Stout
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.50 %

LOOK: Pours a dark brown, almost black, with a solid inch of brown foam. Mostly clear with no sediment.

SMELL: Roasted malt with a good amount of burnt aromas, pumpernickel bread, and alcohol.

TASTE: In the flavor there is more of the roasted flavor, a bit of a yeasty twang, bread, spiked coffee, and definitely some clean and assertive alcohol flavor. Bitterness has died down to a suggestion and works with the alcohol bite. Faint chocolate, coffee, but mostly just roasted flavor with a kick of booze.

FEEL: Full bodied, smooth, medium carbonation. Has a bit of alcohol and burnt flavor lingering into the finish.

OVERALL: A pretty standard Imperial Stout, big in its ways, but certainly enjoyable. Can be aged for extended periods of time, but the alcohol will always be there, as it is a big part of the flavor. (912 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Here it is, the finale of the long and commemerative Third Unorganized Invitational. I'm going big and strong on this one, and I'm hoping to end this on a good note. On to the beer:

Pours a small, mocha-tanned head on top with the usual pitch black body associated with the style. The aroma is good. Some cocoa, licorice, a side of fruit, and a faint fume of cardboard.

At first taste, this is an easy going imperial stout. A little roasty with some hops (piney)burst on to the scene as it enters your mouth. Baker's chocolate appears, and then it morphs into chocolate brownie liquid. Faint smokiness and molasses. Where's the booze? Bitter astringent coffee lingers on in the aftertaste. Full bodied with a tick of carbonation, it soaks and coats the tongue.

This will conclude the Third Unorganized Invitational, and now in the usual fashion, it is time to announce the winner of it all, and it is:

Girardin (black label) Gueuze!

What to way to celebrate my graduation from college, with eight big beer for eight straight nights, but in the end, the sour holds the power to winning. Girardin joins Anchor Steam and Hacker Weiss as the winners of the Unorganized Invitaitonal series. I won't be in school to have another end of the year celebration with beer, but I will continue to carry on the tradtion. Check back around this time next year for the Fourth edition. Good night everyone! (1,398 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.58/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

It’s big and pretty good, but my bottle need more time. There’s too much alcohol flavor and the chocolate and coffee taste feel like they’re only just budding. There’s a nice addition of hops flavor under the malt, but the alcohol that follows leaves a bad feel. (266 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Firestone snifter. Batch 10068, 12/17/2010.

Appearance - Inky viscous black that yields only the slightest tinge of brown at the edges. Not much of a head. Thin khaki collar around the edge with just a lonely dime-sized island of foam roaming the surface.

Smell - I can smell the molasses from the open bottle. Tons of molasses. A stronger sniff unveils booze, licorice, and ashy burnt malt.

Taste - Ridiculous molasses again. Really creamy in the middle with just a little bit of sweetness and then the onslaught begins. Licorice, dark fruits, the darkest chocolate. Burnt pieces of chocolate, really. Ashy and extremely bitter. Booze comes back at the last gasp and bites the throat.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation, boozy, nearly acrid in its ashy bitterness. And yet it manages to be creamy and delicious.

Overall - Every complaint I have ever had about fresh Expedition Stout has turned into an attribute in this bottle. Two years has done this very well. (989 characters)

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've reviewed this before from the bottle, but I was interested to see how this beer was on cask. To be honest, I was a little dubious about a beer this big, and with these flavors being able to make the transition nicely, but I was certainly wrong- it was very good indeed. I had this at the Atlanta Cask Ale Festival, and we're not talking a skimpy pour, but a good 1/2 nonic at least. Poured black, and quite bubbly, with good carbonation and quite a decent head, even with no sparkler and gravity poured. Nice aromas of espresso and licorice. Oh my, this tastes good! Beautiful and well integrated notes of espresso, licorice, chocolate, and roasted grains with a firm creaminess underpinning these flavors. The cask lends this beer a wonderful silkiness that puts it over the top. Very nice indeed! (803 characters)

Photo of Kelp
3.21/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thank you once again to beerisheaven for this one. The appearance is nice inky with a nice sark tan head. Smells like a traditional RIS to me, chocolate, coffee, and malt. Nothing different there. The taste is unlike any RIS I have ever had. Molasses, malts and a bit of chocolate make up the initial taste. Then Bitter hits my tongue and takes over. All I can taste now is the bitter from some unknown source. I think a little age would do wonders for this beer. The mouthfeel is smooth, velvety and a bit creamy. I could not drink another of these right now. It just is way to bitter for me. I would love to try an aged and brand new one side by side, but for now ugh. (670 characters)

Photo of corby112
5/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at the South Philly Taproom.

Perfection! Dark black pour with a coffee colored head. Very full aroma with hints of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, caramel. This beer is so smooth that it become dangerous at 10.5 abv. The flavor is very complex with malty chocolate and coffee, dark berries, and many other things that are silly to even try to list. Simply amazing! (372 characters)

Photo of weeare138
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a pitch black with a thick tan head that slowly fades into a small oily, tan film and thick tan collar. Lots of spotty lacing and webs left around the glass.
Smell is of intense roasty nuts, chocolate cake, caramel, molasses, espresso, along with minty and piney hops.
Taste is of rich, chocolate cake, laden with rum drenched espresso beans. Lots of hops in here.
Mouthfeel is thick,smooth, velvetty, richly of chocolate, bitter cocoa, a potent punch of hops and mild, mild carbonation that makes this almost like syrup.
ABV is present and I'm still on the fence with this. It started off great but ended up very syrupy with a mild soy sauce taste lingering. I guess I'll split the verdict and call it good. (720 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solid black that lets no light through. Tanish head that dissipates quickly, but leaves lots of marks down the surface of the glass. Aroma is wine like, with roasted malts, licorice, some chocolate and coffee too. Taste is sweet. I pick up some dried fruit, molasses, some roast and some faint hop or roast bitterness in the end. Mouthfeel is thick, and a bit sweet. Almost leaves my lips sticky like my kids with candy. Not your average Imp Stout, but I love this stuff. Bells continues to impress me!! (511 characters)

Photo of KAF
4.77/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Absolutely amazing! This is the best stout ever! Pours very dark if not black. Thick foamy tan head. Nose of chocolate and a little coffee. Thick and full bodied. Great aroma but an ever better taste. Creamy and thick on the palate. Dark chocolate and coffee in the flavor. Just a great beer. (292 characters)

Photo of Zorro
4.03/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

12 Oz bottle sampled through the efforts of dirtylou and The No BS BIF.

Pours an opaque black colored beer that passes no light. A small but extremely dark brown head forms and then disappears. Not a bad stab at trying to create a beer with a black head.

Smell is Sharp sweet and very much like Kahlua. Strong coffee and chocolate aromas. Fruity and wine like scents are also in this one, mostly figs and dates with a slight amount of banana in the very fringe of it. Brown sugar and burnt sugar aromas and a little pineapple upside down cake.

Taste is thick and sharply bitter and charred in the first sip, long lasting charcoal flavor. A thick bitter beer that is very much a concentrated stout, almost like a beer mix that you just add carbonated water. After you get past the charred shock of the first taste there is a lot of chocolate flavor here and it is fairly sweet. There is some fruitiness here but it is pretty much hidden by the charred flavor.

Mouthfeel is syrup thick.

This is a beer a lot like Turkish coffee, it is OK in small amounts but you tire of it quickly. This would be a great beer for a 4 oz shot but a glassful gets tiring quickly. I have had better. (1,193 characters)

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

Wow. This is how a RIS should taste! Thanks Drunkmonk!
Where do I begin? Perhaps the best RIS I have had. Poured a deep thick black with a nice deep brown head. Carbonation was good. Nose is sticky, sweet with cocoa, espresso, roasted malts. Taste is very smooth. Lots of cocoa, coffee, roasted malts and maybe even some vanilla. Mouthfeel was great. Drinkability was awesome. So good and the 10.5 ABV was well disguised. Awesome brew. (435 characters)

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
93 out of 100 based on 1,979 ratings.