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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

5,041 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 5,041
Reviews: 1,928
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 10.85%
Wants: 426
Gots: 1,141 | FT: 77
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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,041 | Reviews: 1,928 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mactrail
3.93/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

Photo of MarkyMOD
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of DrunkinYogi
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of mdfb79
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a dark black that lets no light through. Two inches of dark tan head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of roasted malts, toasted malts, dark fruit, and chocolate. A little bit of burnt malts as well. Getting some sweetness to the smell as it warms up, which is quite enjoyable.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, burnt and toasted malts, bready malts, licorice, dark fruits, and alcohol.

m - Full body and moderate carbonation. A sipper for sure.

d - A pretty nice RIS. Lots of roasted malts in the smell and taste. Have it many times and will have it again. Would recommend.

Photo of WesWes
5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy brown head that slowly fades to lacing. This is a thing of beauty. The aroma is great! It has a warm black, chocolate, and roasted malt scent. It's rich and creamy with a stiff non malted roasted barley aroma. The taste is great. It is rich with malt complexity. It starts out smooth and creamy with a chocolate malt taste. Then it quickly warms with a roasted malt feel and finishes with a bold black malt blast. This is a damn tastey beer. The mouthfeel is great. It's a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is the perfect RIS. It's bold and challenging with loads of flavor and malt complexity. It's warm and inviting. A damn fine beer!!

Photo of drewone
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%

Photo of jwc215
2.7/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours pitch black with a light brown head that soon fades to a patch, then disappears. Nice color, but disappointing head. I know that the abv works against head retention, but there was none to speak of.

The smell is of dark chocolate with some subtle dark fruit notes. The alcohol masks most of the aromas.

Thick, dark chocolate with an alcohol punch upfront. The sweet chocolate is so dominant that it reminded me of a chocolate stout more than an IRS. It is certainly full-bodied, but more in a chocolate malt sort of way. It reminds me of when I was a child and would put too much chocolate syrup in my milk. The alcohol creates a harsh edge, as it is not masked in any way. As there is little, if any hops, it becomes cloyingly sweet. They have the chocolate and alcohol down pat, but where is the complexity that the style calls for? A dark fruit essence tries to come through, but that is too syrupy and masked by the chocolate and alcohol.
The feel is creamy and softer than the taste, but without any carbonation it does not go down so easily. And, again, the sharp alcohol edge detracts more than adds.
I can appreciate a beer with a high abv, and this is one of my favorite styles, but this one doesn't do it for me. Overly malty, even for the style, no carbonation, and the alcohol is not masked and doesn't really add to the flavor, leaving the sweet rich chocolate to be the only dimension to its potential.

Photo of Mora2000
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up in a trade from Exiled.

2007 vintage. Pours pitch black with basically no head. What little head is present is is a brown color. Aroma is strong coffee with some roasted malt and dark fruit. the flavor is heavy on the roasted malt with some smokiness. Some dark fruit and bitter chocolate as well. There is also a slight soy sauce character to the beer. The alcohol has a nice alcohol warming affect. Very thick body and low carbonation. Slightly creamy mouthfeel. This one might have improved with more carbonation.

Photo of smcolw
3.7/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours like motor oil: thick liquid with no initial head. After the bottle is emptied, a quarter inch head shows up. This settles to a single bubble layer, but leaves a decent blanket of lace on the glass.

Not like a typical stout (much less a RIS): No coffee or dark chocolate smells. This comes across as a creamy brown ale to the nose. Not bad, just not what I expected.

Potent alcohol bite with a chewy, patent malt bitterness. The flavor is closest to espresso. There's a decent dollop of hop bitterness in the swallow. The brew is very thick, like half and half cream. This is enhanced by a lower level of carbonation. I think this would go very nicely with a tart dessert.

Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +17.9%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of kojevergas
3.08/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It's my birthday! Best before date 10/02/17. 10.50% ABV confirmed. 355ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a New Blegium goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are through the roof given this beer's reputation. Acquired for $7.99 at a local beer store.

Served straight from the refrigerator but allowed to warm considerably over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

As I poured, I noticed it wasn't generating a head, so I really amped up the vigor.

A: Pours a quarter finger beautiful rich tan colour head of decent cream, good thickness, and awful retention - which is fairly excusable given the ABV, but I've seen other beers handle more than this without issue. Colour is a solid black. Not quite jet black, but dark as hell. Nontransparent and opaque, as it should be. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Coffee, chocolate, dark malts, cream, chocolate malt, caramel, roast, a bit of alcohol, and even a hint of toffee. Well balanced but not clearly focused. I'm getting excited for it. A mild strength aroma. Doesn't beat you over the head like many beers in the style.

T: Coffee, roast, intriguing chocolate, espresso, background floral hops, cacao, malty sweetness, hints of smoke, caramel, raisin, and a bit of dark fruit (maybe plum). Malty sweetness increases as it warms. No note seems particularly dominant, which is actually sort of a problem here. Without focus, it becomes messier. That's not to say it's imbalanced; the balance is only slightly off in that the flavours are too sweet. I imagine this would fade with time. I get molasses and licorice when I look for them. The flavour doesn't blow me away like I expected. It's actually somewhat disappointing. I don't get any yeast, but a bit of alcohol on the finish. There's a medicinal chocolate-covered raspberry note buried in the finish as well. It's certainly got body. I get more and more licorice as it warms. I despise licorice. Also, more raisin comes through along with the dark fruit - the best aspect of this beer. It's like the bastard child of a quad and an imperial stout, but far less enjoyable than that sounds.

The booze really warms the stomach - a bit too much.

Mf: Far too sticky for the style. Also chewy like licorice. Too smooth and wet. Outright wrong for the style; it should be coarse, dry and creamy. I'm unimpressed. This needs some work. It does have *some* dryness from the roast, but nowhere near enough. Undercarbonated.

Dr: Drinkable for the high ABV, but underwhelming within the style. I like the experimentation, but there are far better imperial stouts at this price point. I honestly wouldn't get this again unless it was aged or on draught. They need to tone down the sweetness and fix the mouthfeel. It does hide its ABV well in the taste, but not so much in terms of heat. I look forward to trying more Bell's, but this was a huge disappointment.

C+

Photo of InspectorBob
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.38/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of wrightst
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of GClarkage
4.88/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Photo of Gavage
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

Photo of imperialking
5/5  rDev +17.9%

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

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden into a nonic pint.

A - Pours dark as can be with a thick, pillowy, one finger head, dissipating down to a thick film of head, leaving thick rings of lacing down the glass.

S - Rich, chocolatey, nose with a bit of lightly roasted dark malt. Chocolate is quite bitter but not to the point of being overpowering. A bit on the sweeter side compared to others in the style. More and more roast comes thru as it begins to warm.

T - Lots of dark, roasty, flavors in this one. Plenty of bitter chocolate up front giving way slowly to a mix of sweetness and rich roasty malt. Finish is very roasty that lingers long after consumption. Alcohol is ever present, unable to hide in the shadows for long, offering a warming sensation on finish. Not the best I have had but still very nice.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Fairly creamy feel with a very nice balance of flavors.

D - Fairly high. I really like this one a lot but it can become overpowering after the first glass. I could have one or two of these but that would be about all.

Photo of yourefragile
2.73/5  rDev -35.6%
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.

Photo of stakem
3.68/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Expedition Stout, a brew I've had multiple times over the years and never bothered to review. Time to remedy that. Thanks to pmsawyer for gifting me with this aged bottle. Poured into a snifter, the brew appears black with a brown head that fizzes fast. Just a few bubbles remain atop.

The smell is heavy of roasted grains, raisiny alcohol and a bounty of licorice notes. As it warms up, some smooth semi-sweet chocolate character evolves towards the back but there is a solid inclusion of raisiny alcohol that tingles the nose with almost a solvent touch.

The tastes hits upfront with licorice and roasty bitter chocolate. Some hop inclusion accents a dark fruity alcohol character. More sips reveal more and more solvent alcohol with some raisin, plum and a bit of roast that is earthy and faintly of coffee.

This is quite a bold, warming sipper that really hasn't mellowed with more than a year of aging. It is medium to full bodied with an enjoyably low level of light carbonation. It is a fairly enjoyable brew but I much rather enjoy a stout that focuses more on roast and dryness than big fusel alcohol that is fruity. To each their own but this one doesn't quite do it for me.

Photo of duceswild
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of woodychandler
4.55/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

Photo of dbrauneis
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours an opaque jet black in color with some light amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a two finger tall dense and creamy mocha head that slowly reduces to a half finger thick layer covering the entire surface of the beer with a slightly thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of dark roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits, licorice, coffee, and some hops.

T: Strong flavors of roasted malts with bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit sweetness. Fairly strong flavors of hops that impart a moderate amount of lingering bitterness. Light to moderate flavors of alcohol in the finish.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Moderate amounts of alcohol heat in the finish.

O: I wish that the alcohol was a little more well hidden in this beer - there are some very nice aspects to this beer and it would likely mellow out a bit with age. Not the easiest beer to drink, definitely requires some slow sipping over quite a bit of time.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 5,041 ratings.