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

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
94
outstanding
2,083 Reviews
BEER STATS
Reviews:
2,083
Ratings:
5,951
Avg:
4.21
pDev:
10.45%
 
 
Wants:
516
Gots:
1,694
For Trade:
131
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002

User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,083 | Ratings: 5,951
Photo of biegaman
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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!

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Photo of Kelp
3.21/5  rDev -23.8%
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.

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Photo of plaid75
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.52/5  rDev +7.4%
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!

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Photo of John_M
3.83/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Packaged 10/2/12, so it has a little over 9 months under its belt at this time.

Appearance: entirely black body with two fingers of extremely rich and creamy tan foam. Wonderful.

Smell: richly malty with lots of roast in the works. Very good indeed, but it lacks the complexity often found in the style.

Taste: now that's more like it; we start off with a rich and bitter roasty character. Some dark fruit flavors are beginning to develop at 9 months: raisin and date especially. Some lighter fruity character from the alcohol is also present, which adds a nice depth. It finishes off with a mild bitterness and a little bit of vegetal hop flavor, but this doesn't detract too much. A nicely complex and very tasty RIS.

Mouthfeel: all the body in the world, this thing is like black oil. Not a huge level of carbonation, necessarily, but the massive body has a wonderful smoothness that I love.

Overall: this is a very delicious beer. Since this was my first Expedition, I couldn't wait to age it any longer; I just had to dive in. In future, if I can get my hot little hands on some more, I will age 2-3 years and see what happens.

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Photo of tone77
3.8/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1 inch head. Smell is of chocolate, coffee, a bit of sweetness. Taste is the same, chocolate, some hops, a bit of coffee, alcohol is well hidden. Feels full bodied in the mouth and overall is a solid beer.

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Photo of tobelerone
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This bottle was nearly 14 months old (October 5th, 2010).

What a big, intense, phenomenal stout. I’m kicking myself for not trying this one sooner. A quarter inch of chocolaty brown head sinks quickly down to a thin band, leaving minimal lacing. Visibly thick and viscous, totally black and opaque. The nose is huge, with strong coffee and molasses flavors up front, malty notes, chocolate, and fumy alcohol underneath.

The flavor is on the sweeter side, without much in the way of hops, so the bitterness comes mostly from the roasted malt and dark chocolate taste. Very creamy and thick, full of coffee, molasses, dark fruits, vanilla, booze. Not overwhelmingly alcoholic, fortunately. Coating mouthfeel with low carbonation, sticky and lingering aftertaste.

I split the 12 oz. bottle with the missus and some fudge brownies and that was enough; I suspect it would be pretty tough to finish the whole bottle, particularly if you’d already had a few others (as I had). Big and chewy and memorable. Wish I’d bought a few more to have on hand when the mood strikes.

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Photo of stevoj
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

One heck of a brew, slick and oily, black with fast disappearing beige head. Robust but mild aroma leads into sharp, crisp and deep smoky taste. Mouth feel is slick and slippery, lingering coffee bitterness/ Well worth its high ratings.

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Photo of weeare138
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

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Photo of corby112
5/5  rDev +18.8%
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!

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

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

A: Black with a hint of mohogany. Pours with a nice tan head, and although there's hardly any retention, it does like to lace.

S: Plenty of piney hops and roasted/burnt (almost smokey) aroma.

T: Plenty of hop flavour (resiny pine) and bitterness. Plenty of DARK roasted/burnt malt (with a little caramel & molases). There's a little dark-fruit/wine-like quality. The flavour is predominantly bittersweet, with the balanced tipped to the bitter side. Personally, I think Russian Imperial stouts should have more fruity esters & tertiary alcohols.

M: Full body is syrupy, acidic and a little oily. Carbonation is on the lower side of moderate.

D: Very drinkable, especially considering the strength! Far more drinkable than some of the American Wanna-be Russian Imperial Stouts.

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

( 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.

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Photo of kscaldef
3.92/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle. Pours very dark with minimal carbonation evident. Just a whisp of mocha foam rises. Coffee and chocolate aromas with prune and raisin notes. Tastes of very rich chocolate and finishes with coffee. Mouthfeel is thick, nearly flat. Slight harsh tannins. Quite drinkable for such a strong beer, but a little subdued.

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Photo of akorsak
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 11/15/11
*From notes

-- Vintage 2010 --

A: Dark, brooding black. A generous pour yields a killer 2.25 finger cascading mocha head. The retention is top notch, as is the lacing which rims the glass.

S: Dried and candied dark fruits with just a touch of smoke.

T: Really a massive dose of char up front. Yeah, this is aging beautifully. Though it's rather roasty, there's still a solid hop kick on the mid, even after it's been in the cellar for a year. Black coffee runs from the mid to finish, and it lingers for some time.

M: Just over the top. It's silky, creamy and velvety. It feels like a penthouse suite in mouth.

O: Bell's Expedition Stout is easily one of my favorite non-BA RIS's. It's big, bold and brash, yet deceivingly elegant and easy to drink. This has aging potential unlike many others. Though a bit pricey, it's worth every cent you'll pay.

A hearty recommendation.

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Photo of rudzud
4.51/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Received this a long while batch, bottle date of 8/29/12

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a nice pitch black hue with a good quarter inch mocha head that fades to leave light wisps and a nice halo. Good legs on it too.

S - Aromas of char, nutty roasted notes, faint alcohol, flashes of dark fruit. Very, very faint hops. Awesome dark chocolate. Almost brownie like!

T - Taste is sweeter malts, chocolate, rich roast, light char. Flashes of occasional pine, alcohol is nearly nonexistant. Faint, faint bitterness. The roast malts and rich rich chocolate are really just awesome here. Not quite brownie batter, but awfully close. The nuttiness is really fun here.

M - Mouthfeel is great, just great. Maybe a hair less carbonation on the finish would make this a 5. Creamy, rich velvet, hardly any alcohol.

O - Overall, this was a very, very good beer. Glad I waited as long as I did to crack one of these, age has really mellowed out all that bitterness. Stuff is drinking so so good.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Growler filled at Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

Pours a deep dark black, with a sizable 2 inch head. Sticky spider-web like lacing.

Aromas include roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, and a bit of something that smells like bourbon, even though it's not barrel aged.

Huge roasted malt taste here, lots of bitterness. Some chocolate covered espresso beans as well. There is a bit of an alcohol burn and sweetness, but it is integrated well and doesn't detract. Some mild tastes of earthy dark fruits. There is a richness and depth of flavor here that suggests extended barrel treatment, but it didn't get any. Awesome.

Full viscous and creamy mouthfeel. Low carbonation.

One of the best non-BA stouts I've ever had, this one is knock your socks off good.

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Photo of beertunes
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received in a recent trade, but I've forgotten with who, apologies and thanks! Bottle with code # 9554. Poured into 10oz glass. Poured solidly black with just under an inch of light brown head that had decent retention and lacing.

The aroma full and rich, lots of roasted and toasted scents. The flavors were also well executed examples of the style. In addition to the roasted flavors there was a nice little hop tang at the end.

The body was typically full, rich and tongue coating. Drinkability will vary depending on your personal taste for the style, 1 of these at a time is usually enough for me, YMMV.

Overall, a very good example of the style and better than some much more highly hyped versions. Worth trying when you see it.

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Photo of cjgator3
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- The pour is a thick dark black color reminiscent of motor oil that produces a tan head. There is no light coming through this puppy.

S- The aroma is dark roasted malt, chocolate and alcohol soaked fruits.

T- The taste is dark and roasty and warming from the alcohol with a bitter finish from the hops.

M- The mouthfeel is very thick and chewy with little carbonation. This is one of the thickest beers that I have tried.

D- The high ABV hinders the drinkability of this brew but it is not meant to drink a sixer of these in one sitting. It is a very nice brew to sip on a chilly night.

This is another great stout from Bell's, I look forward to trying this every winter.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a blackish body with a solid one-finger head that stuck around forever. A thick, hearty malt aroma of chocolate and roasted malts along with a touch of breadiness; hops are minimal but give off dark fruit like black cherry. A sweet stickiness greets my tongue and then I pick up chocolate and hints of toffee but there's a greater bready, biscuity, almost coffee-like roasted sensation that gives this thick beer a hearty finish. Plum and tasty with minimal hop bitterness and fruit flavorings make for a great sipper that goes down smooth and the ABV is complementary on the backbite but does not bleed into the beer.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.7/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours from 12oz bottle a pitch black with a medium sized head of foam that shrinks rather quickly leaving just a fine ring around the edge of the glass.

The smell is very strong but nice. There's oodles of roasted and sweet malt on the nose and also some fruitiness.

The taste is also hugely malty. Lots of roastiness and sweet caramel malt along with chocolate and hot cocoa that adds some nice bitterness that creates one heck of a complex and pleasing experience to my palate. Wow is this ever a great sipping Imperial Stout! I did have a couple bottles of it a few years back but I think I'm enjoying it more now because of my "evolved" appreciation of quality microbrews.

I'm about halfway through now and though the abv is pretty darned high, I'm not getting any of it in the taste, just some warming as it goes down. What a great brew to have on this very cold Casper winter evening...

Bottom line: A *superb* full bodied, full flavoured Imperial Stout that borders on perfection. I can't recommend this one enough!

Thanks to ColoradoBobs for allowing me to try this beauty again!!!

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Photo of ppoitras
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into tulip sept18 2010, bottle 10 months old according to the bells batch finder

A pours pitch black right out of the bottle with a few little chunks at the bottom, and has a super dark thumbs worth of foam to go with it, falls to a thin film rather quickly but covers the side of my glass with lace

S molasses with some chocolate, prune, booze, and and a little cinnamon of all things

T not far from the smell but a little stronger with some added complexity from a little licorice and coffee, quite enjoyable beer and the booze is quite well concealed compared to the nose

M enters silky and ends thick and creamy, a little sticky on the lips and I'm thinking I'll still be tasting this beer tomorrow the flavors just linger in your mouth

D a little dangerous if you ask me, well rounded and quite easy to drink

a good paring for this chilly "summer" day in Calgary, a solid beer and would do quite well in a cellar but I only have one bottle and I need to thank MasterSki for sending it my way

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 2,083 ratings.