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Expedition Ale - Drake's Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Expedition AleExpedition Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

86 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 86
Reviews: 69
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 9.09%
Wants: 16
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Drake's Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Mark on 04-19-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 86 | Reviews: 69 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mactrail


3.13/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

White foam and a load of lacing on this mahogany amber brew. A damp basement smell mars the first sips. Acidity slides off into a hint of sourness. After the brief malty flirtation it leaves you with a dirty bitterness that goes on and on. Murky, sharp, a hint of burnt fat.

I just don't get this over-hopped big red style. Start with a wet cardboard malt base and dose it with too much earthy hops? I know they can make great beers like the Aroma Coma, so this flat, harsh taste is a surprise. In the 22 oz bomber.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2011 04:28:39 | More by mactrail
Photo of lacqueredmouse


4.55/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Ooh, yeah. I love it when a red ale pours a genuinely red colour. This is one of those, a brilliantly deep ruby hue, with a filmy but exceptionally fine head of creamy off-white. Lacing forms in rings and is pleasantly persistent. Body is heavy but fluid, leaving tiny bubbles of carbonation when swirled. Looks great.

Nose is fantastic. Wonderful blend of slightly dark, caramelised malt characters with a bright hop crispness that brings it into a wonderful melange—mixing hops and malt in a way that accentuates both, but also complements. Biting with slight resin, but subtle with biscuity depth. Lovely.

The taste is probably even better. Here the lightly grainy malt character comes through giving a basis on which are layered jammy, fruity hop characters, always tempered with a brisk bitterness to cut through on the finish. A tiny bit more body would help it a little, but this is a real nitpick. It's a lovely brew.

Exceptionally drinkable, and absolutely characterising what I love in an American Red Ale. It has the fresh, bright hoppiness, the mellow malt character, and blends the two superbly. I already regarded Drake's well, and yet this beer just made them shoot up even further in my opinion.

Serving type: bottle

10-08-2011 23:23:03 | More by lacqueredmouse
Photo of flexabull


4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$3 for a 22 oz. bomber, seems like a deal to me.

Pours a deep amber color with a pretty nice white head.

Aromas are of caramel with nice hop notes. Some malts, tea leaves, pine, and earthy hops. Smells good.

Taste starts out malty, with some tea, caramel, and some graininess. Finish is crisp, fairly dry, with some earthy bitter hops.

Mouthfeel is good, crisp, feels full and not heavy.

Overall a nice tasty amber, that's pretty drinkable even with the higher ABV. Well worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2011 02:59:23 | More by flexabull
Photo of avaldivia


4.65/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured Into a Chimay glass.

A: Nice dark, hazy amber color. Very nice off white head and lacing.

S: Caramel malt. Some citrus hops notes. Great blend of smell.

T: Very floral hop at first. Then the sweet caramel maltiness comes in. There a nice roasted or burnt caramel flavor. This tastes amazing. Everything I would want from a Red Ale.

M: Medium to heavy. Nice creamy mouthfeel.

O: This is why I love amber ales. When they are done well, they are one of my favorite styles. This is done beautifully. I have found my favorite in the style.

Serving type: bottle

09-11-2011 15:43:22 | More by avaldivia
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Public House, in San Francisco.

Expedition Ale is a muddied enough amber colour that only to the light can any transparency be made out. The beer itself is likely clear, however - it's the use of black and toasted malts that give it its deep, shadowy tone. There is some head but not much; it looks less like foam and more like a brittle sheet of ice over a spring pond. Lacing, however, is left.

At 7%, this is no light beer. Indeed, it flexes malt big time, although the real power lay in the the hop muscle; roasted amber malt is predominant but the oily, damp, leafy hops and a squeeze of citrus are the more striking features. There's also a forest-like pine element that won't be anything unusual to those already familiar with Pacific North-West offerings.

The flavour is where malt and hops really lock horns. Crystal malts and Chinook and Cascade hops go at it as if it were a UFC title match. The roast of the grain puts an arm-bar on most of the citric qualities but the hops retaliate with a neck crank that suffocates most of the malts' sweetness, saturating the palate in a pine-like resin. Neither can land a knockout.

We find out late in the game, however, that it's the bitterness that ultimately wins out. Plant-like herbal qualities reach fever pitch with warmth, which accentuates each and every alpha acid on the spec sheet, creating a slightly stinging sensation of which the alcohol plays no part in. In fact, I'm surprised to learn the beer is as strong as it is - it drinks quite casually.

Drake's can be a fairly risk-averse brewery but for one of their flagship offerings, Expedition Ale is actually pretty bold. While a formulaic beer at its heart, the abundance of C-hops and the succulency of quality malts make this a more impressionable and gratifying ale than the average amber. Not worth a voyage to obtain, but worth a few bucks for sure.

Serving type: on-tap

08-28-2011 19:49:45 | More by biegaman
Photo of augustgarage


4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a fresh 22oz bomber into my Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Dark chestnut body with coral highlights and a massive upthrust of tea rose colored merengue. Heavy sticky lacing, superior retention.

Floral and sweet (malty/fruity) aroma with citrus-laden hops and estery alcohol.

Caramel, cola, sassafras, oats, and deep toast on the palate. An almost-savory tartness comes and goes with hints of rye. Finishes rather dry and moderately bitter with a hefty dose of earthy/herbal C-hops.

Very smooth and creamy mouthfeel - soft and pillowy with good carbonation.

Diverges from style guidelines a tad, but not for the worse. Reminds me of a NW style Double-IPA in many ways and while good alone, it would be even better paired with broiled salmon.

Serving type: bottle

08-25-2011 03:35:05 | More by augustgarage
Photo of Beerandraiderfan


3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Light brown/mahogany with a red edge to the pour, cream head. Aroma was nice, hoppy, strong malt aromas. Hops were orange and pine at the same time, didn't see that one coming.

Sturdy beer with a sturdy hop presence. Not too bitter. More pine and caramel. Stays away from sweetness, opts for body, relatively dry and smooth finish. Toffee.

This beer really bridges a gap in red and amber ales. Some of the higher rated ones are very hoppy and bitter without much substance in the body, this one is the best of both worlds kinda.

Serving type: bottle

08-24-2011 16:00:41 | More by Beerandraiderfan
Photo of Gosox8787

New Hampshire

4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22 oz. bomber bottle courtesy of brewpaab. Served chilled into a Sam Adams pint glass. No freshness date from my brief search.

Appearance: Light to medium brown and clear in color. Light brown, two finger, thick and creamy head with good retention. Rather dull color considering this is an "amber ale."

Aroma: Big west coast hop notes. Strong pine and grapefruit are definitely there. Undertones of toasted bread and caramel. The hops are definitely big here, but the malt bill holds it own.

Taste: A rush of pine and bitter hops immediately. Toasted malt, caramel, molasses, and a slight nuttiness all balance out the strong hops nicely. A slight bitter finish. Very pleasant and balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied and really creamy for a hoppy brew. It works here though.

Overall, a really nicely balanced amber ale. The hops are bitter and strong and work nicely with the toasted and caramel malts. Really enjoyable and refreshing. I would definitely try this again.

Serving type: bottle

08-24-2011 15:50:09 | More by Gosox8787
Photo of jmarsh123


3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep deep ruby red with a small white head and good lacing.

Smells heavily of toffee/caramel. Very sweet on the nose. A little bit of an earthy smell as well. Maybe a little pine. Allergies are acting up a bit today so my nose feels a bit off.

Sweet caramel malts smack the palate at first, but it rounds into a good piney bitterness that lingers on the tongue. I thought from the smell this may be too sweet, but even though the caramel is strong the hops do a good job balancing to prevent it from becoming cloying.

Medium-high mouthfeel. A bit sticky but the finish is still somewhat dry though with medium carbonation level.

Picked this one up on a whim while in SD and had never heard of Drake's before but love reds. Not the very best I've had, but a solid example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

08-18-2011 23:29:08 | More by jmarsh123
Photo of DijonKetchup


4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 12 oz pilsner glass. Had this bottle in my fridge for about 2 months because I found the first bottle I had to be a bit green. On to the beer...

Fantastic color, nice head build and retention, very sticky. Smells a tad sweet, nice general hop profile, perfect caramel notes. Taste is really nice, a bit slick (if you like that, which I do) combined with the caramel malt and back of the throat hop, a super-solid brew. This has aged perfectly in the last few months, a really great, reounded out beer.

If you are looking for a nice, higher ABV red ale, this one comes highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2011 00:58:41 | More by DijonKetchup
Photo of DarthKostrizer


3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Look: Dark reddish/mahogany in color with 1 inch foamy tan head. Great head retention and probably the best lace I have seen in a beer.

Smell: Piney hops are the front runner and they are there in just the right amount. Slight bit of sweetness from the malt

Taste: Same as the smell the hops are right up front. On the backend you get just a hint of caramel and toffee

Mouthfeel: Medium body medium carbonation and a slightly dry finish

Overall: Great example of the style. Good flavor profile and drinkability. Good spring beer

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2011 03:32:32 | More by DarthKostrizer
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Better than average in every measurable aspect, superb for the style. Rich reddish tinge, with retained 3/8 inch white head. Mildly hoppy aroma. Above average mouthfeel. Well balanced hops and malt. Very good drinkability.
Bottle from Augustgarage. Thanks Brad!

Serving type: bottle

07-03-2011 03:30:37 | More by Sammy
Photo of ExplosivoSR


4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

A - Deep, deep, DEEP ruby red. Two finger head with good lacing.

S - Toasted malt, toffee, a pinch of lemon. Not as sweet as I was expecting, which I was totally fine with.

T - Sweetness shows up, but not for long as the malt character shows itself with a great roasted flavor. This fades into a coffee bitterness on the back end which I totally was not expecting. Definitely interesting and unique.

M - Medium body, and light/medium carbonation. Nice and dry finish.

O - Definitely worth a try. One of the better reds I've had.

Serving type: bottle

06-19-2011 08:56:13 | More by ExplosivoSR
Photo of FosterJM


4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

462nd review on BA

App- A nice wood stain red with some a good head to it. A little bit of cling and a nice ring as it feel.

Smell- A bit bigger grain note with a bit of an earthy quality to it.

Taste- Was pretty tasty. A bit malty but balanced and not overly sweet as I have found some reds to be.

Mouth- Medium bodied and medium carbonated. Was a bit dry at the finish.

Drink- Overall, a pretty good red. I will need to snag a bottle of this somewhere soon.

Serving type: on-tap

05-18-2011 03:22:34 | More by FosterJM
Photo of colforbin73


4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured out of a 22oz into a stemmed goblet. 7% ABV on the label.

IT'S BACK! in way better packaging, like all their brews... someone update that pic!

pours a dark ruby red -- you can't see though it -- foams up nicely and leaves a decent sticky lace on the glass.

smell is malty and sweet - not very much hops, but good and deep, resinous aroma. the taste is excellent and rich -- raisins and bitter dried fruit give way to a slick roasty sweet malt base -- the hops provide solid bitterness.... but they are the accent to the malty profile -- not the show.

the mouthfeel is absolutely delicious -- very silky smooth and fresh.

i'll be buying this again.... a very worthy brew!

Serving type: bottle

05-15-2011 05:00:40 | More by colforbin73
Photo of DaveHS


3.75/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours maple wood brown with ruby highlights and 1/4 inch of khaki colored head.

S-Piney sharp hop aromas, pale, grainy maltiness. An interesting sweet and sour fruit aroma. Strawberry?

T/M-Fairly dry. Mouth coatingly dry tannic hoppiness. Medium bodied, with a grainy, unobtrusive malt profile. This one's all about showcasing the hops. The finish is dry and bitter. It sticks in the back of the throat and lingers for a little while.

O-Solid. Definitely worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

05-14-2011 01:03:56 | More by DaveHS
Photo of madvermin


4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of the new bombers that just hit shelves - I like the art on this one.

Pours dark reddish amber, approaching maroon, but with good clarity and a glassy body. Head is voluminous and foamy, gushing to the top of the glass. Lace is extensive and beautiful, and the head retains forever, turning rocky as it dissipates. One of the best looking beers I've seen.

Nose is of tropical mango and orange citrus, with a caramel sweetness thrown in. Candied fruit is most apt, with the touch of pine adding a little extra to the package. Very crisp, yet full, aroma.

Taste has a lot more citrus versus tropical fruit, as it starts with rindy grapefruit and a good deal of pine. Maltiness isn't really sweet - it's more of a full graininess that complements the hops well. A brief dank resin note adds another flavor, while dry, softly bitter hops round it out.

Mouthfeel isn't thick or heavy, but isn't thin either. A good balance between the two goes well with the dry finish and crisp nature of the brew. Carbonation is average. Drinkability is great for the 7% abv, as the alcohol is hidden completely and the finish sets up each sip nicely. Citrus and pine are strongly flavored without getting out of control as well. Another solid base hit by Drake's.

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2011 18:34:42 | More by madvermin
Photo of hophead247


4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear deep amber brown with a 1 1/2 finger beige head. Aroma of pine and grapefruity hops, powdered sugar, light toasty malts wth a hint of toffee. Flavor still has a good hop presence, though the burnt toffee and caramel malts seem much stronger. Very unique style take on this beer...I've always been a huge Drake's fan. This actually can best be described as a thin bodied barleywine IMO...

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2010 22:51:24 | More by hophead247
Photo of BeerFMAndy


3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into an imperial pint. 6.5% ABV, no date, "best kept cold and enjoyed with a rich head from a glass."

A - Gusher! Beer overboard! I quickly stopped the gushing but the pour resulted in over five fingers of dense tan head. Well, I followed the instructions on the bottle... Moderate retention and a plateau of foam with only small bits of lace residing over the hazy brown beer.

S - A striking balance of hops and toasted malts is abruptly noticeable with toasted caramel and amber backing up grassy, earthy notes. It's simple but well-done. Later on I pick up a hint of toffee shavings and solvent alcohol.

T - Lots of strong caramel and crystal with amber malts which come out big in the flavor with an alcohol suggestion but no real strength. The hops are very secondary adding only a little bit of earthiness.

M - Smooth and bold with a medium body and creamier finish with a moderate alcohol sensation.

D - Good but just above a run-of-the-mill amber, Drake's Expedition is a fair offering in the strangest-labeled bottle I've ever seen which is also the reason I picked it up off the shelf in Cali.

Serving type: bottle

07-26-2010 11:59:48 | More by BeerFMAndy
Photo of htomsirveaux


3.75/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle tried 19 Nov 2007. bottle courtesy of my brother, thanks!

Extra large huge cascading foamy head. Cloudy dark oak color. Smells like vanilla, tea, caramel, slightly floral. Tastes of sweet candied almonds. Fair amount of semisweet chocolate. Becomes more bitter towards the finish. Texture is foamy and creamy.

A says reminiscent of a chocolate orange.

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2010 05:12:57 | More by htomsirveaux
Photo of WestValleyIPA


4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark amber color, a finger and 1/2 of head poured into my Ommegang wine glass. Nose of tea, hops, and a heavy beef bouillion scent. Lingering mild bitter finish, gamey. Medium Dry, medium/heavy body. A bit of soy sauce on the palate. Not disappointing at all. This is actually my first Drake's brew, and it's time I extended them a welcome hand.

Serving type: bottle

03-27-2010 23:59:25 | More by WestValleyIPA
Photo of KeefD


3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Big thanks go out to Arbitrator for sending this extra in a great trade! One of the best looking amber ales I've ever seen. Poured into my New Belgium globe, very dark amber with a huge, 4 finger head that slowly fell, leaving a ton of lacing and the cap lasted throughout. Perfect in terms of looks. Nice hoppy, piney aroma with a touch of sweetness somewhere in there, but this one smells mostly of hops. Taste has a good balance of sweet and bitter, pine and citrus make up the bulk of the flavor profile, but there are some toasty, sweet, caramel malts near the back end. My only complaint about this beer is the mouthfeel. It's overly carbonated and as such is quite abrasive on the tongue and washes away all the flavor before you can really enjoy. Flavor came out a lot more as it warmed and the carbonation mellowed, more caramel, fruit (apple) and hop depth. Good beer, drank it pretty quickly. Thanks again, Mihir!

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2009 01:29:56 | More by KeefD
Photo of popery


4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drake's Expedition Ale is a very nice amber ale with strong flavors of caramel malt and hops. The beer pours a darkened persimmon color with a creamy beige head. The aroma shows off a strong dose of caramel malt of a mildly roasted, somewhat fruity character. The hops are floral and fairly strong. I actually prefer the hop character of this beer to Drake's IPA. The flavor has strong bitterness from the hops and a strong caramel sweetness from malt. There are light touches of grapes and apricots in the malt. The hops are more bitterly citric than floral on the palate. The mouthfeel is fairly round and full. The beer tastes bigger than the listed 6.5% abv, in a good way. There's just a bit too much going on to merit a higher score.

Serving type: bottle

09-29-2009 05:34:06 | More by popery
Photo of sweetbrew82


3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass/ no freshness date

P: Dark brown with amber edges and a tan head that looks beautiful! The thick and creamy foam is 2 fingers tall and gets quite rocky, forming huge dimples as it deflates. A thick coating of lace plasters the glass with each and every sip. Nice!

A: Roasty toasty malts, caramel, brown sugar, and some piney hops. Smells pretty good, but nothing that'll blow you away with power or complex

T: The malts are more toasty upfront with caramel and brown sugar making for a sweet start. Pine resin and grapefruit-flavored hops soon make their way to the forefront to counterbalance the sweetness with some much needed alpha-acidity. The caramel malts seem to turn a little more roasty on the back end as the hops deliver a spicy kick on the semi-dry finish.

M: Medium bodied with not much creaminess or silkiness to talk about. It is semi-sticky from the hops, but feels a little over-carbonated, and isn't as smooth as it could be.

Notes: This is a pretty well-balanced American Amber that features some good, solid flavors with a nice hoppy bite to it. A solid effort from a good brewery. Worth a shot

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2009 06:30:11 | More by sweetbrew82
Photo of Arbitrator


4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On cask at the Rose & Crown in Palo Alto.

A: Kind of hard to see the shade exactly, given the dim lighting. Pours a hazy medium brown with slight reddish tones when held to the light. Has a light film on the top that remains for a few minutes.

S: Malty, to be sure: caramel, brown sugar first. But it's hoppier than I expected, with a strong pine bent that comes through very clearly toward the end of a sniff.

T: Unlike the nose, hops dominate the taste with pine and citrus characters. They give way to a caramel malt and brown sugar backbone in the mid-taste, but the secret has been let out. There are hops afoot. The finish is a blend of malt and pine, and I think I get some chocolate in there.

M: Medium-bodied, with low carbonation as expected. Nice flavor profile, even when cold, and it gets stickier as it warms.

D: I liked the way the flavor came out on cask, but the flavor itself didn't blow me away. It was good, just not great. I would have this again on cask but I wouldn't go running out to find a place that had it.

Serving type: cask

05-05-2009 03:08:54 | More by Arbitrator
Expedition Ale from Drake's Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 86 ratings.