1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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
94
outstanding

4,462 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,462
Reviews: 1,875
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 381
Gots: 950 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,462 | Reviews: 1,875 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of stakem
stakem

Pennsylvania

3.68/5  rDev -13%

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.

02-21-2012 19:25:20 | More by stakem
Photo of akorsak
akorsak

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +2.4%

A snifter glass served at Capone's during both Founders/Bell's nights.

A: The stout is pitch black, no other words adequately describe the dark depths of this stout. Unfortunately there was no head atop this black beauty, besmirching the nice appearance.

S: The nose is roasted malts, dark thick grains that have bready and vinous characteristics. Some sweeter grains punch up the strong burnt aromas.

T: The taste is right in line with the big aromas from the nose. There is a thick roasted burnt malt flavor, bitter and strong that remains throughout the drink. That burnt flavor is nicely matched up against a graham sweetness. The alcohol underlying this beer is huge, completely unable to hide itself even amongst the abundance of flavor here. The finish is burnt and bitter, leaving a long full taste in the mouth.

M: The stout is huge, easily overwhelming the tastebuds with dark roasted flavors and big alcohol. This is not a stout for the faint of heart.

D: A snifter is great, more than one and you'll be seein' double. This is a complex beer that is best enjoyed slowly with good company.

08-31-2007 01:56:06 | More by akorsak
Photo of dbrauneis
dbrauneis

North Carolina

4/5  rDev -5.4%

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.

11-22-2012 23:00:58 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of rhoadsrage
rhoadsrage

Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

( Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a thick black molasses with a dark tan cocoa head and no sign of light or bubbles in the body.

S- This beer as complex dark roasted malt aromas with some dark coffee and dark cocoa powder with faint smokiness. There is a nice barley-wine aroma under the dark roasted flavors.

T- This beer has very complex flavor complexity with roasted and burnt malt with some caramel and dark toasted grains aswell. Notes of cocoa or bitter chocolate and some dried fruit like dates or prunes in the background. This beer finishes with a nice semi-sweet finish and some alcohol warmth to smooth out the sweetness.

M- Full mouthfeel with nice faint alcohol warmth.

D- This is truly the black barleywine that make up a RIS. Very nice complexity and good bold flavors. Great to drink now and I bet it would stand up great to age.

07-30-2005 03:28:53 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of Zorro
Zorro

California

4/5  rDev -5.4%

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.

05-27-2006 00:57:02 | More by Zorro
Photo of DoubleJ
DoubleJ

California

4.28/5  rDev +1.2%

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!

06-09-2009 04:54:25 | More by DoubleJ
Photo of duceswild
duceswild

Maryland

4/5  rDev -5.4%

09-22-2013 16:41:45 | More by duceswild
Photo of mothman
mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

4.35/5  rDev +2.8%

Batch 8726

Poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark brown head that leaves an incredible lacing. Color is dark dark brown, almost black.

Smell is a toasted malted chocolate. Very 'toasty' that is. Taste is quite similar very very chocolaty. It also tastes like something was burnt. Some dark fruit notes in there. Maybe some coffee as well.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, just a little crisp. After it lingers around enough, the 10.5% abv shows. Full bodied with a nice amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is a great RIS. Not too expensive for a 6er and at 10.5% you really can't go wrong. I will be getting this every year. If you see this at the stores, do yourself a favor and buy some!

11-22-2008 01:49:38 | More by mothman
Photo of Wasatch
Wasatch

Utah

4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Thanks to BuckEyeNation for this awesome brew.

Batch 7205

Pours a thick black color, nice carbonation, nice fizzy tan head that quickly leaves, and in return a few islands appear. The second I opened the bottle the roasted malts, coffee/toffee, and alcohol hit me in the face, I knew I was into something special. The taste is very malty, coffee/toffee flavor, the alcohol is hidden pretty well though. Only really shows on the way down, warming the body. Medium body, creamy/chewing, well rounded. Very drinkable, a very very nice RIS, way to go Bell's.

01-10-2007 00:29:29 | More by Wasatch
Photo of BARFLYB
BARFLYB

Pennsylvania

4.3/5  rDev +1.7%

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.

11-10-2009 05:27:09 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of ppoitras
ppoitras

Massachusetts

4.53/5  rDev +7.1%

12oz bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, WOW, some almost nitro action from a CO2 bottle beer, weird, but cool. Formed a thick, frothy 2" chocolate-hued head above a dark, dark brown/black brew. Head lasts more or less forever, and laces like you wouldn't believe. Aroma is is of heavy grains and malts, but not the bitterness that is usually associated with such a constructed brew. Heavy malts dominate the flavor, but their bitter ness seems to hide behind their sweetness, and make for an easy drinking brew, considering the heaviness and alcohol strength that is hiding somewhere in there... Mouthfeel is excellent, and drinkability is dangerously high for such a brew. An amazing phenom of brewing construction, this one is.

06-08-2004 02:48:27 | More by ppoitras
Photo of superspak
superspak

Michigan

4.43/5  rDev +4.7%

12 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled 11/11/2010. Pours very dense pitch black color with a nice 1-2 finger dense brown head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Some nice soapy lacing clings to the glass. Aromas of huge very dark chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, caramel, biscuit, toast, char, molasses, vanilla, toffee, earth, wood, and light herbal hops. Fantastic aromas with great complexity, balance, and strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, roasted malt, char, coffee, molasses, caramel, toast, tobacco, biscuit, earth, pine, citrus, and light herbal hops. Decent amount of roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, caramel, toast, molasses, citrus, and herbal on the finish for a while. Fantastic roasted flavor balance and complexity. Medium carbonation and very full bodied; with a very nice creamy, slick, thick, and lightly chalky mouthfeel. Alcohol is very well hidden with almost no warming noticed at all after the finish. Very smooth to sip on. Overall this is a fantastic Russian imperial stout. Huge complexity and big robust roasted flavors; and very smooth to sip on. Extremely impressive.

07-16-2012 03:56:14 | More by superspak
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss

Pennsylvania

3.58/5  rDev -15.4%

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.

08-18-2012 18:26:29 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of Huhzubendah
Huhzubendah

District of Columbia

4.08/5  rDev -3.5%

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.

11-12-2011 01:43:40 | More by Huhzubendah
Photo of Gonzoillini
Gonzoillini

Illinois

4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

01-13-2013 02:02:29 | More by Gonzoillini
Photo of BillRoth
BillRoth

Maryland

4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

12-16-2013 02:16:23 | More by BillRoth
Photo of brandoman63
brandoman63

Illinois

4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

11-27-2011 03:26:55 | More by brandoman63
Photo of biegaman
biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.38/5  rDev +3.5%

Beyond just inky or oily, this is a total solar eclipse. It is utter darkness. Needless to say, no highlighting or transparency is afforded. The surface is, unlikely considering its strength, crusted in a spring mud-like substance. A beer that's simply black doesn't require much inspection, it can simply sit and be admired for what it is.

And it smells big enough to block out the sun as well! Tremendous (frankly intimating) notes of bitter espresso, port soaked berries, black licorice, charred oak barrel and artisan dark chocolate truffles resonate through the senses. With a long list like that you ask: is there any stone left unturned? Nope. It seems they've thought of everything.

A rich and heavyset flavour profile offers decadent notes of dark chocolate and espresso. While still young, a backdrop of green, lightly zesty hops is easily discerned. These seem to grow a tad more piquant with warmth. Ironically, so too does the beer's sweetness which is now starting to resemble such flavours as double-double coffee and creme brulee.

At only 6 months of age this has plenty of potential yet to blend and develop flavours. From experience I know it will. The beer won't only sustain a little time on the cellar shelf, it'll most likely benefit from it, too. The alcohol's a bit forward (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that) and the flavours could stand to meld a little more.

I don't care if it takes an expedition to find this beer, it's worth searching out! Bell's Brewing should be conferred the highest possible accolade of beer for their lineup of stouts, of which the Expedition is arguably the most impressive. This Michigan brewery allows you to have your cake and (literally) drink it too!

04-08-2009 03:31:07 | More by biegaman
Photo of Mebuzzard
Mebuzzard

Colorado

3.15/5  rDev -25.5%

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.

03-30-2011 07:14:04 | More by Mebuzzard
Photo of John_M
John_M

Oregon

3.83/5  rDev -9.5%

Was very pleasantly surprised to see this on tap at Capone's the other night.

This has to be one of the oddest looking stouts I've ever seen. The beer looks more like a cup of dark hot chocoate then beer, with a hazy chocolate appearance, good lacing and decent head retention. On the nose one gets some more chocolate (quite a bit of it in fact), with a hint of vanilla, coffee and cherry. The flavors are replicated on the palate, especially in terms of the chocolate. However, there's also almost what I would call an underlying grittiness to this beer, which while fine for the most part, hurts the finish a bit I think. There is considerable bitterness in the finish, and at least for me, that coupled with the sweet chocolate and high abv. makes this a difficult beer to drink.

This is absolutely a solid beer, but is just not my cup of tea.

09-23-2007 13:28:43 | More by John_M
Photo of afsdan
afsdan

Colorado

4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

03-22-2014 21:28:17 | More by afsdan
Photo of smakawhat
smakawhat

Maryland

4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

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.

11-10-2011 02:45:25 | More by smakawhat
Photo of rab53
rab53

Washington

4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

11-25-2011 03:48:28 | More by rab53
Photo of plaid75
plaid75

New York

3.68/5  rDev -13%

Poured an oily black hue with a one finger dark tan creamy head. There was decent retention and good sticky lacing.

The smell featured a rich coffee and caramel aroma with hints of dried fruit.

The taste consisted of nice caramel and chocolate malts with elements of raisin and coffee. There was a significant warming alcoholand a bit of an uncomfortable sweetness.

The mouthfeel was full and chewy.

Overall a tasty RIS. Big flavors and big ABV.

12-10-2006 17:30:05 | More by plaid75
Photo of Viggo
Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Pours a deep black, no light is visible, dark brown head forms and laces. Smell is toasted bread, hops, yeastiness, licorice, coffee and alcohol. Taste is insane coffee, lots of chocolate, nice hoppiness, very roasty and satisfying. This was the thickest beer ever. The bottom is full of sludge and it took a struggle of epic proportions to take that down, but it was well worth the espresso shot. Amazing beer, one I would be proud to drink at any point in time. Thanks DrJay.

07-20-2005 02:46:29 | More by Viggo
Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 4,462 ratings.