Expedition Stout - Bourbon Barrel-Aged | Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

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Expedition Stout - Bourbon Barrel-AgedExpedition Stout - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
583 Ratings
Expedition Stout - Bourbon Barrel-AgedExpedition Stout - Bourbon Barrel-Aged

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.40%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
This 12 month barrel-aged version of our award-winning Expedition Stout thirsts for travel, but is perfectly content to sit in your cellar, maturing, until you are ready. The tough part? Deciding if you want to enjoy it now or wait until later. You can't go wrong either way.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 583 |  Reviews: 113
Reviews by Nichols33:
Photo of Nichols33
4.25/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

More User Reviews:
Photo of Lazhal
4.41/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Really glad to have gotten some of this, so I figured I'd give a review a fair shot.

This beer is one of those barrel aged beers that doesn't try to do too much. It's barrel + stout and nothing else and it does an excellent job at it.

Bottled ten days ago and its a bit hoppier than I like my stouts, but nothing like the hoppiness of Yeti beers/variants. The barrel character really smooths out the taste. Closest cousin might be Dark Horse Barrel Aged Plead, but Plead is a tad sweeter, at least that's what my palette tells me today. It also could just be the bitterness masking it.

Mouth feel is great, not too thin or thick. Nose is fine. Wouldn't call it anything special. The best thing that I've done with this beer is let it warm. My first drink was at 50, and that was way too cold. Definitely needs to sit at room temp for a while.

If you are a big fan of the non adjunct/flavored format (I hesitate to say basic, because of the connotation) of big BA stouts, then this is a must try. However, if you prefer the cinnamon + bacon + coconut + coffee + vanilla + cat piss or one of the thousand other ridiculous things they put in beer these days, you may find yourself a bit underwhelmed considering what this beer is trading for.


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Photo of maximum12
4.6/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A deep bow towards LambicPentameter for this 12 oz. bottle. Expy Stout was my wife’s gateway beer into the dark side…for years I heard “I don’t like dark beers”. One night in the middle of 2008 she gave in to my offer of an Expedition Stout & a few months later we were hunting Darkness on tap together. She won’t touch her previous favorite (“A Kolsch” she sniffs now).

The pour is eye-patch black with a ribald head that fades faster than a Twins starting pitcher. The nose isn’t overwhelming, but nice fudge, sweet malts, vanilla, touch of bourbon. Not objectionable. The beer, not the pitching. THAT was highly objectionable.

Expedition Stout – Bourbon Barrel Aged is a barrel showcase. Massive bourbon presence along with a thick, coating mouthfeel puts me immediately in mind of a slightly smaller cousin to Bourbon County Stout (like free safety vs. linebacker). The base is there but muted: slight roast, malt sweetness, liquid fudge, great depth, but without the stone fruit that haunts some years (& which I’m not fond of), with just a shadow of hops. Vanilla follows, along with a finishing touch of spice, so I’m going to swear these were aged in rye whiskey barrels. A sipping beer. I need a fire.

Simply decadent. The barrel & the base work together like Buxton & Sano. If only they could pitch. A truly outstanding beer.

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Photo of SierraNevallagash
4.67/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle - dated 10/16/18 - poured into a snifter after sitting in the snow a bit too long.

Pours the utmost deepest shade of dark brown, just shy of being pitch black. Pours headless, and then suddenly, like an apparition, half a finger of mocha head forms over the top, lasting for less than a minute before disappearing into the shadowy depths again, leaving little behind, but a frothy tan collar, and a swirly film.

Nose - Dear god. I have died and gone to heaven. I mean holy barrel-aged jesus. Where do I even begin? Hot cocoa mix powder. Bourbon. Vanilla. Caramel. All wrapped up and in your face. It's truly remarkable. Cake batter, chocolate frosting, whiskey and cream. Ancient oak, magical bourbon barrels, priceless leather. Milk chocolate covered cherries, figs, pralines, under-baked brownies. 50 year old bourbon. I can't stop smelling it. I've never given any category of anything a 5, because I've been saving that bar. This is it. The nose on this is the 5 I've been waiting for.

Palate: I need to lower my expectations after that nose, so I'm not disappointed. Okay. Here we go...
Oh my god. It's the nose personified. Need I repeat myself? Hot cocoa mix powder, fudge, bourbon, vanilla, oak, milk chocolate, chocolate covered espresso beans, fudge, fresh leather, brown sugar, Irish cream, a hint of maple, a hint of molasses, a kiss of boozy bourbon, the faintest wisp of smoky char in the finish, and truly, a touch of magic. Divine. Fairly sweet up front and through the middle, but never cloying, and then concluded nicely with the ever-so-slightly charred oak semi-dryness. Flavors dancing and transforming from start to finish, and continue to transform well after. Beautiful.

Mouthful is full, rich, slightly sticky, ever-so-sliiigghhttlllly thick and viscous (imagine a thin viscosity), bold, heavy, yet still beautifully liquid. Lovingly coats the palate in a sweet, delicious, bourbon-infused film, and then as-slow-as-glaciers, manifests into a rich, drier charred chocolate oak spirit, that stays and haunts you in such a beautiful manner. One need only take another sip to see the sweet, vibrant life from within reappear before your very palate. A fine, but very discernable carbonation is present, to remind you that this is still a being of the beer realm.

Overall: Man, I was so hesitant to grab this, at nearly $9 for a 12oz bottle. One of the only beers I can think of that's worth every penny of a huge asking price. This isn't just a beer. This is an experience. One to savor for as long as possible. This is a freshly bottled batch. I can't imagine what some age would do to this. It's incredible as is - dare I say...perfect? This is one of the extremely rare few beers that has truly blown my mind. Tree House Julius was one. Allagash Belfius was one. This...this is a work of art. Magnificence. Liquid divinity. World-class? Now that's an understatement.

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Photo of cjgiant
4.32/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle 10/16/2018:
Pours an oily black with brown edges into a black mirror of a body in the glass. A mocha to straight brown head builds low on only a moderate pour. A creamy ring leaves temporary sheets on the glass, but the lacing doesn't sustain. The ring does, however, keeping me company down the glass.

The barrel has a nice presence, a little more of the spirit, really. The barrel seems to quell some of the char I seem to recall from the base beer, and definitely doesn't have as big an umami presence. It is replaced with more mellow freshly burnt wood and cocoa aromas.

Near full feeling, mainly due to the expanding warming presence of the bourbon spirit up front. Creamy when more chilled, more smooth as it warms. The barrel is forward, but the base beer sneaks its way back into the picture. There's a bitter dark chocolate note during the transition, then the dark coffee and light char finally grab hold for the end of the taste. As the beer nears room temperature, the opening barrel notes mellow a bit and a little bit of a licorice bite feeds into the dark chocolate middle.

The regular beer is one that can be aged easily, I have found from other people and my own experience. I'd think this beer would also take some age, perhaps a little less than the base so as to maintain a decent barrel presence, but allow some of the spirit to integrate a little earlier in the taste. But what do I know? I might just have to prove it to myself.

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Photo of Remaster3
4.68/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I had recently tried Black Note Stout for the first time and wanted more of it ASAP...although not yet available for 2018. When this Imperial Aged Stout came out this last Monday (Oct 21, 2018), I tried it expecting to be stronger tasting than Black Note, but I found it to be quite smooth. I purchased a 24 case thinking it could last some time, since this is more of a sipping stout...but now I'm not so sure. Best stout I have ever tasted!

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.82/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a brandy snifter with a large tan head. Black as night with just hints of red,showing through.
Aroma of bourbon mash on a highly potent backbone of chocolate, nuts and burnt toffee. Really quite amazing on how much the bourbon dominates a fairly aromatic beer anyway.
Flavor is an amazing mix of the peat and charcoal hit of the bourbon with the heavy malts and bitterings of the Expedition. For some reason the burnt characteristics of the regualr Expedition co-mingle so well with charcoally hints in the bourbon notes. Really compliment one another.
Mouthfeel is a highyl alcoholic punch of cocoa and charcoal with some resiny bitterness on the finish. Imagine regular Expedition with well blended addition of some peat and charcoal.
Drinkability was great, could not have just one. Poured too cold but after it warmed appropriately this was truly a world class beer.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.75/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

When the mother batch of Double Cream Stout doesn't turn out, the stout show must go on. The other half, the Expedition Stout is ready to play. Without the blend that would normally make up Black Note, the Russian imperial stout stands alone. A long slumber in bourbon barrels and straight to your tastebuds is a rare culinary treat that simply exudes decadence in a glass.

Onyx-black and with an ominous tar sheen, the beer whips together a short but sturdy lather to endure the session. Its powerful scent is of all things burnt. Roasted espresso bean, dark chocolate, walnut, grilled fruit and spicy whisky all align in the nose for a heavily decadent, dessert-like aroma. As its burnt sweetness slathers on the early palate, a mesmerizing taste of burnt marshmallow, black-strap molasses and the darkest coffee roast imaginable shows power and seduction immediately.

Lavishly malty on the middle palate, the bittersweet chocolates seep deep into the tastebuds along with walnut brownie mix, chocolate covered espresso bean, campfire and grilled dark fruit. Grape, berry, currant and cherry offer a mild vinous twang that extends effortlessly into the realm of oak-soaked char, vanilla, coconut and caramel. Spicy, roasty and rounded with bourbon ball candies give this seriously robust beer a power punch of flavor that's head and shoulders above the rest.

Full, lavish and viscous, the beer sticks to the mouth with a malty sweetness that's unwavering. Roast acidity, spicy whisky, hints of tartness and peppercorn keeps the complex flavor coming as the stout balances to near pin-point perfection. Its a rare taste that extends well into the next sip, rewarding the imbiber with continued culinary excellence with each and every grace of the lip.

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Photo of beergoot
4.32/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Coal black body; thin yet lasting light brown head; rings of lacing cascading down the glass. Rich, roasted grain aroma with some spirit barrel woodiness. Cocoa and bitter chocolate flavor blended with charred grain; alcohol notes are present yet well-tamed and mixed in with the heavy, dark sweetness. Heavy body; thick and chewy; some boozy heat.

This barrel-aged imperial stout exudes rich and tempting notes of charred grain and decadent sweet chocolate flavors. It's dense and rich on the palate with a warm and ever so slight bourbon hint.

PKG 10/16/2018
PRN 23038

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Photo of M_chav
4.45/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Damn son, this is incredible. What I love most is the base stout is still perfectly represented.
L - dark and the blackest night, its beautiful
S - Roasted chocolate love? Pretty sure its love, dark chocolate
T - Dark fruited crunch bars, maybe some chocolate covered pretzel goodness, good nutty factor
F - thick raisins dark-viscous-oaky dessert cake, crazy nice
O - a beer I'm thankful to have come across, what a treat, everything I wanted it to be and more.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.25/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

i feel like the base expedition stout is an early cellar beer for a lot of budding beer geeks. its widely available, ages with the best of them, and fairly affordable. i think its been over hyped to some degree as a result, but i still adore it. this bourbon barrel aged edition is next level, but has surprisingly no hype at all. must be that its not packaged, but it absolutely should be. hear that bells?! do it up! its great beer, still huge and roasty with dark espresso and yeasty dryness, but the bourbon brings out the best of the malt, char and char, vanilla and honey, and a wooded smoothness thats just amazing in the already huge bodied luxurious brew. still more bitter than sweet, which i really admire in stout this big, its true to that. its also not overly flavored by the barrels, or changed too much, its more accentuating and highlighting various features, and it does so sequentially and beautifully. i think this should be packaged, straight up. these guys are big enough now to pull the resources together to make it happen, and i think a lot of us out here in beer geek land have been waiting patiently. i almost wish i never tried it, because now i want it more than ever. really top notch. hard to improve on a classic, but theyve come real close to doing that...

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Photo of JefferyLaGrow
4.33/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I love the regular expedition stout and I look forward to it's release every year. This version is just as good, pours with a similar viscosity, has the same dark cappuccino head, and very similar flavors. So naturally I think that it is a great beer... That being said, there is not very much barrel flavor to enhance it. You get some bourbon notes, and the usual chocolate roasty flavors that come with expedition, but not too much else. The nose is really nice, and you pick up all of the barrel aged aromas, just not too much on the palate. Overall, it is still a great beer...

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Photo of CaptCleveland
4.55/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Single 12oz bottle purchased at local grocery for $7.59 American dollars. PKG date of 10/16/2018.

Thick, black-brown liquid poured into etched tulip. Mocha head quickly thins to a rim. Wonderful lacing from side to side.

Oh that musty, Bells barrel fragrance. Nice bourbon high, dark chocolate, molasses and vanilla.

Roasty char, dark chocolate, bourbon predominate with some nice vanilla and molasses finish.

Thick, fudge, tongue-coating goodness.

A wonderful, decadent, thick and rich BA RIS. Worth the wallet stinger.

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Photo of Lingenbrau
4.61/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bell's has always impressed. Thank you Joe for this wonderful gift.

The barrel aged version of this famous stout is pitch black. So clean and dark it is void of all else. The smooth as glass surface gains intensity with the lack of foam, though the faintest ring of browned bubbles do hug the coast.

Let's get the obvious out of the way, this is boozy. The elements around this booze are incredible. Semi sweet chocolate chips cooked down for a drizzle over something decadent. The first smoke of a freshly lit fire, the wood with some remnant dampness. Raisins and boysenberry jam fruitiness. Brown sugar, molasses, and moist chewing tobacco.

I have to skip the flavor for a second to talk about this texture. It is simply magnificent. Bordering chocolate syrup viscosity with the smoothest and creamiest cruise control over the tongue. It coats relentlessly. The boozy warmth just right, and the barrel influence does not dry it out like so many other bourbon barrel aged beers do. This texture is one of a kind. It leans on the sweet side as expected, but a roasty finish rounds it out just right.

Alright, back to the flavor. Chocolate Roulade in a glass. The berry and dark cherry like flavors along with creamy milk chocolate. Wow. A little bourbon to soak that cake, and a touch of smokey wood and black licorice. This thing is full flavored and then some.

There's something to say about these breweries that have been at it for the long haul. They make great beer. Barrel aging is an art that many can't pull off. This one is about as good as it gets. I couldn't tell you if this would benefit with age or not because it's so fucking good right now as is.

Cheers, and thanks again Joe!

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Photo of DanGeo
4.69/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Smokesnotes
4.75/5  rDev +6.3%

Photo of tectactoe
4.7/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of t2grogan
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of SkiBum22
3.75/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of heddar33
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of JayGreezy
4.56/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Wolvmar
4.32/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. Bottled 10-16-18.

Pour: deep black. Minimal tan head that ends with a thin ring and almost no clouds. Very little lacing.

Nose: sweet malts, bourbon, vanilla and oak. Maybe some dark fruit and licorice.

Taste: dark chocolate, coffee, sweet bourbon. Some black licorice, molasses in the middle. Dark fruit with some vanilla and oak on the backend. Lots going on and really well balanced. Bourbon really complements the base stout rather than overpowering it.

Mouthfeel: low carbonation, viscous, some creaminess, but not a milkshake. Pretty clean finish.

Overall: this is a really good BA Stout. Had a BCBS last night and, while this isn’t quite to that standard, it’s absolutely worth pursuing.

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Photo of JakerLou
4.44/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of mmcurran
4.66/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of olradetbalder
4.78/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

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Expedition Stout - Bourbon Barrel-Aged from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 4.47 out of 5 with 583 ratings