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

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding
2,095 Reviews
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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
2,095
Ratings:
6,006
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
10.43%
 
 
Wants:
528
Gots:
1,701
For Trade:
134
User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,095 | Ratings: 6,006
Photo of BAbaracus
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My scores are going to be largely out of line with everyone elses, but my only explanation for this is that the Expedition may be a hit-and-miss beer. This is my first time experiencing it so it’s possible I stumbled across one of their better batches aged for just long enough to blend the flavors perfectly. Anyway, disclaimer out of the way, here we go: Pours pitch black with a gorgeous (almost edible) milk chocolate head, with dense packs of carb bubbles clinging seductively to the sides of the glass. Smells of brown sugar, molasses, a touch of black licorice, and dark malt, all of which blends into a bouquet far more inviting and less intrusive than other beers of this abv magnitude. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous, very milkshake like, leaving a sticky coating on the lips and tongue. Cholocate and sugars predominant up front followed by dark roasted malt on finish. Superb flavoring - all other ingredients whiffed before drinking blend so well into the chocolate and malt as to be almost individually imperceptible. Alcohol is unbelievably well hidden, probably the best that I’ve ever seen for this strong of a brew. Although the alcohol does eventually make its presence known, it’s more in the "gullet burn" than in the taste. You really have to be looking for it on the tongue to even realize it’s there. No perceptible way to improve this beer at all in my eyes, so perfect 5.0’s all around. I do believe this one has slipped into my top 5. I plan on having more very soon so we’ll see if the honeymoon period lasts.

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Photo of gshak
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've had this a number of times, and rated it around 4.75-5. Decided this time, to chime in and write a review. Poured from a year-old (Jan '12) bottle into a Meukow snifter at refrigerator temperature. I had the desire but not the discipline to let this one sit for long and warm up. Here we go:
A - With an aggressive pour, the liquid still went flat into the snifter, only for the bubbles to gradually rise up towards the end, generate a thin mocha-colored head, and fade back into a tiny, persistent, ring. Viscous, and pitch-black; upon swirling leaves noticeable signs of alcohol legs. The mocha-tint lets you know where the beer's been through in your glass. Impressive.
S - Chocolatey, very, very chocolatey with hints of molasses. Now, this may not be much to rate the stout on, but there is that almost zen-like statement from this stout (hyperbolic, I know) the subdued appearance, the subdued aromas that portend of awesome things to come. And for that feeling alone, this gets a 5.
T - Yes, yes, yes. A big hit of dark chocolate and sweet molasses coats the mouth. Transitions into a slightly vinous sensation on the palate most likely the alcohol. I want to keep this in my mouth for as along as I possibly can - ah, the sweet, sweet delight of sipping on this beauty. As it goes down, it dries the palate - possibly a combination of hops and alcohol coming into play. I never felt the alcohol at any time, and the hops are only there to balance out the sweetness of the beer. Even so...this is a malt-lover's dream!
M - Thick, viscous, silky, smooth....the ultimate sipper.

As far as non-barrel aged imperial stouts go, this is the one to beat. I do not see how anyone could possibly out do this one. And even among the barrel-aged ones, I can only pick a few that could, possibly, go toe-to-toe with the Bells Expedition.

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Photo of hefewisseguy
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the best RIS I've everhad next to a 2008 darklord. I enjoyed this beer I'm my delirium sniffter. Pours out dark and has an awsome smell. Dark tan head and left a little lacing. Has a nice mouth feel and let's u know their is a 10.5 abv. Then chocalte,coffee, and tasty malts cover your pallet along with a creamy head (if swurled before consumed) I love that is availible in a 6pack so I can enjoy almost one a day!

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Photo of EvoRich
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Aged one year:

Look: DARK. Reddish brown head which fades to nearly nothing. No light is getting through this beer. It looks about as good as any beer I've ever seen. Served in a snifter.

Smell: Sweet fruits, chocolate, coffee, and malts.

Taste: Easily one of the best beers I've had. A LOT of dark chocolate and coffee mixed with sweet fruit flavors. A finish of coffee and malts.

Feel: Thick, full bodied, creamy. Like dessert.

Overall: This has to be one of my all time favorite beers I've ever had. Amazed by it's price and availability.

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Photo of jopezu
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

pours opaque oil black, with a small violet-tan head that poofs into bubbly lacing almost instantly. nose; dark bread rind, cocoa and light hops. taste; dark roasted malt, coffee bean, semi-sweet chocolate, toffee, raisin, vanilla and a strong bitter earthy hop presence. aftertaste is baker's chocolate, light plum, roasted coffee and some woodsy notes. as rich as this brew is with all the darkness, the hops are not overrun here true to russian imperial stout style; amazing balance. strong carbonation, heavy/creamy mouthfeel, and a touch of warming booze as well at 10.5% abv. absolutely top shelf!

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Photo of Uniobrew31
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Expensive….Yes but compared to some others the price is reasonable and for what you get it is worth it as often as you can afford it. Perfect or damn near perfect in every way. The best RIS on the market hands down.

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Photo of WesWes
5/5  rDev +18.5%
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!!

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Photo of Hesscabob
5/5  rDev +18.5%

Before I review this, I must disclose my favoritism towards this specific Stout over Bells "Preferred" Black Note Stout.

A - Dark as night, mocha, dark bown, head. Tight bubbly carbonation that sits on top without disapating too fast.
S - Like roasting marshmallows on a cold night which chocolate. A smore with booze involved.
M - Perfect. This is how a stout should feel... creamy, thick, coats the tongue/throat/ mind.
T - Way better than Black Note in that... this is perfection. No under/over doing the carbonation. Tastes like it smells.
O - If i go to the bottle store and dont see anything worth drinking or anything that can beat Expedition... I walk out with this, which is why I have many saved for verticals.

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Photo of drgonzo3705
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2006 bottle. Batch #7205 (Jan 12, 2006)

A: Very beautiful dark black with some slight mocha around the edge.

S: Buttery Milk Chocolate. Bit of raisin and a soft touch of vanilla.

T: Like a roasted Hershey bar. A bit smokey tasting that remains on your tongue.

M: Thick and full bodied. slightly creamy with little signs of carbonation.

D: The ABV will catch up with you after a while but until it does I'm going to drink the shit out of this stout!

This being a vintage review I will say I have had fresh Expedition Stout. Definitely worth holding on to and cellaring for a few years. Like a nice Port wine or a sherry. I split this bottle with a friend and I just want to slowly sip on this alll night long.

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Photo of Wildman
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer poured as black as oil and almost the same texture. The head was huge, bubbly and a very dark brown color, leaving some nice lace. The aroma was amazing and had many things going on. I detected chocolate, coffee, anise and other smells. The flavor was of chocolate and burnt coffee. The finish included some of the burnt aspect. This is an amazing stout and another fine addition to the Bell's line. I am just sorry that living in Ohio(next door)it took me and the state this long to get it. This one is not for the weak and definately a sipping style of beer best done in a snifter. The amazing impact it does on all sensory levels still amazes me, even the off year with no carbonation.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I hate molasses.

Pours pitch black with a large dark tan head. Nose is dusty with strong molasses tones. Flavor is oh so smooth. Strong molasses flavors prevail, but stay perfectly balanced. Feel is thick in the liquid and thin on the carbonation. This is a beautiful stout that is a hard one to surpass. Amazingly crafted and worth seeking out...at all costs.

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Photo of artusory
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours motor oil black with small, tan head. Aroma is roasted and burnt malts, coffee and sweet chocolates. Flavor is enormous. Chocolate, coffee, citrus hops and burnt molases. Very bitter. Very dry. Flavor opens up and mellows as it warms. Coats the mouth for a finish that lasts for weeks. Texture is very smooth and creamy.

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Photo of FormatKid
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I received this beer as a part of BIF XII and have to admit this was the one I was most excited about. I’m glad it made it all the way to me.

The packaging is a standard 12oz bottle and I poured this into my La Trappe goblet. The body of this beer is blacker than blackity-black y’all, nothing more can be said. A dense and rather creamy head rolls up impressively especially for a beer of this girth and alcohol content. The head is the color of creamed coffee.

The nose is surprisingly sweet, and inviting. Alongside the standard stout aromas of burnt caramel, dark roasted coffee, and charred malt, I pick up sweeter scents of vanilla, ripe dark fruits, and berry, tons of berry is in the nose on this brew. Further inspection also reveals a sophisticated woody aroma.

First of all this is the thickest beer on the palate I have ever experienced. From the first sip it coats your mouth and just hangs around lovingly not letting you forget the sweet flavor for a second. If you let it sit in your mouth it brings on a milkshake like mouthfeel, you’ll be spitting black malt residue like you’ve been chewing tobacco. That being said the flavor is even more elegant and assertive than I would have ever imagined. I taste so many things as I drink it and ponder. Chocolate covered cherries, tons of berries again, bitter baker’s chocolate, espresso, and vanilla. The finish of this is a duel between charred malt flavors and stunning hop bitterness so arrogant you almost feel inferior. The alcohol only registers with a slight vinous flavor note and small burn in the back of my throat.

This beer is amazing and has absolutely bowled me over like no beer has yet. I cannot fathom taking points away for anything so here it is…my first perfect score.

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Photo of Eldalonde
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours pitch black with a dark brown full head. The smell just fills the room once the cap has been cracked...phenomenal. Rich aromas of bourbon, tobacco, sweet and bitter dark chocolate, copious amounts of coffee. There is also a bit of a hoppy bite in the aroma. The flavor is just spot on. Rich oily mouthfeel gives flavors that are close to the nose. Bitter roasted coffee and dark chocolate are the most accessible flavors with those heavily roasted malts coming across with such brilliance. Tobacco and toffee combine with molasses to give an incredible complexity. This beer also has that 'raw' edge that I love in stouts so much. The finish is long, dry, and lingering. This beer provides everything I look for in a RIS and leaves nothing undone. This is just wonderful

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Photo of roadhouse
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a snifter. This is a re-review. My last tasting was 6/18/08. There is no batch number on the bottle but at it's youngest it must only be 6-7 months or so, my last tasting was bottled 2/8/08.
Edit: I contacted Bell's and it was probably batch 8270 bottled 1/3/08 when their ink system failed.

Pours an opague charcoal black with very dark tan one inch tall head. There was a big pop when I opened it, these reviews about it having no carbonation must have gotten bad bottles. The head sinks down to a skim and leaves a small amount of lacing on the glass.

Aroma of molasses, rum, chocolate, raisins, vanilla, a very faint smokiness, coffee in the back, and some alcohol. When I last reviewed this the alcohol smell was very prominent and almost overbearing, but it seems to have faded away.

The taste starts out very sweet, but not cloying, kind of like brown sugar and molasses. After the initial burst of sweetness I am tasting rum-soaked candied fruits and chocolate covered raisins. On the finish we finanlly get some bitterness in the form of roasted coffee beans and as it lingers on I am getting some piney hops, but overall the sweet flavors keep them under control and the aftertaste ends up more like coffee.

This is a very thick beer, almost the consistency of maple syrup. It goes down oh so smooth and creamy, some might say velvety. Flavors just glide through the mouth.

An exquisite beer. I never really found any flavor trying to dominate here; they all blended together quite nicely. For the alcohol content it goes down really smooth. Very drinkable for what it is, definitely a sipper though. Some aging really seems to help this one out. I'm heading to the liquor store right now to get the other 5 bottles that were left so I can cellar them, that is if I can control myself from drinking them.

1/06/09 Tasting:
The aroma and taste are very similar only blended together better than before. This is basically the perfect RIS and I see no way that it can possibly be topped. If I wouldn't die from it I could drink a keg of this. Age this one for a year and you will taste heaven.

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Photo of Chris_the_Tartar
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Looks bitch black, one finger of mocha head. Smells strongly of chocolate and malts. Taste is malts, chocolate, bourbon, wood, ethanol, toffee. Alcohol flavor shines through a little more strongly than I was anticipating but it was awesome. Also a little sweeter than I was expecting. Feel is thick but not not as robust as some other high ABV stouts, complimented the taste perfectly. Overall an awesome beer, really blew me off my feet. Need to acquire more ASAP.

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Photo of philberinghele
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bolsheviks took these
the emperor's private stock
redistribute wealth

Imperial is the only way to describe this beer. I'd give you a faberge egg for a six pack and a portrait of Lenin. The workers at Bell's have created a monument to the excesses of the Czars and offered it to the revolution. There is a specter rising over Michigan, the specter of me drinking this beer and savoring every last fucking drop.

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Photo of tavernjef
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Color is a deep, deep, brownish-black with a deeper purple like tone in certain lighting and is absolutley thicker then all hell. Put it up to the light, nothing? I must have a brand new batch, cuz the super dark tan head grew fast up the edge of the glass. One of the darkest heads I've ever seen, very dark tan-chocolatey brown and it is nice and frothy with some bigger bubbles on the opposite side from which I poured it. Some large patches of tight tan lace cling forever. Eventually the head shrunk down leaving a nice settled coat of caramel colored head just on top. Overwhelming aroma of chocolate, molasses, corriander, and licorice, very warm and alcoholic in back on bigger whiffs. Has an extremely fresh quality, very lightly hinted dark roastyness and coffee. Taste is damn good, super smooth and silky, nicely coats and has a bit of sweet bitterness in the finish. Heavily roasted malt with some coffee and lots of dark chocolate in there. Some spices play underneath of nutmeg, white pepper, yeasty stuff, and corriander The feel is nera perfect for a Imp. stout, very smooth, rich, silky, bold, and heavy, hardly any carbonation really and has a nice little sweet twinge in the finish and leaves your tongue with a bit of bitterness on it. This an amazing brew and is very soothing to drink. That powerful 10% is hardly noticeable in the smell or taste, but its there. It sinks in about 3/4 of the way through. A great Imperial stout thats become one of my all time favs.

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Photo of corby112
5/5  rDev +18.5%
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 benito
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Here is a wonderful beer.

Dark as midnight, oily and heavy with a dark tan head that dissipates quickly. The bouquet is a mix of currant, rum, and dark chocolate (pure cocoa). Yet, it is the complexity of the taste, the swirl of different spices and flavors--coconut, cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, raisin, burnt wood, black pepper, and smoke--that makes me swoon.

The various layers of flavor weave in and out of a smooth, albeit heavy, texture that glides across the tongue, leaving a slightly bittersweet aftertaste. For something so heavy, so strong, and so complex, I moved through my first bottle of this with frightening speed and would have kept going if I had had more on hand.

This may be the RIS by which all others should be measured. Like so many of Bell's great beers, this offering is the classiest of acts, a tasty brew, faithful to style that begs to be tried and explored again and again.

Perhaps the expedition is as much a reference to what tasting this beer entails as anything else...

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Photo of ZAP
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The King of Imperial Stouts in my opinion....we did a blind taste test a few years back and everything else paled in comparision..this is thick...rich...and chewy....black in color with a tinge of ruby red...no light gets through....the nose is sweet dark fruits, burnt malts, dark cocoa, and alcohol...mouthfeel is not quite as overbearingly thick as I remember...don't get me wrong because it is thick, but it is surprisingly drinkable...taste mimicks the nose. The dark cocoa and burnt malts emerge at first but as it warms it I get more of the sweet dark fruits....finishes with a dry bite...outstanding beer..among the best I've tried...

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Photo of budgood1
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

expedition stout pours out an opaque pitch black, ruby hued, motor oil like colour. a rather impressive dark tan head dies down slowly to tight rings of lace. looks beautiful. the first aroma to hit the nostrils is all fusel driven hops, followed by sturdy doses of alcohol laced fruiten maltiness. upon tasting...my first impression is one of raw, varnish like alcohol...laquered fruitcake...wooden, oaky, smoken notes...black malted barely roasted on an open fire. all sorts of layered chocolate and caramel flavours...just delicious in it's evil decadence. "oh yeah....i think so!" very yeasty in the bell's sort of way (very fruity) but absolutely not sour or tart. brandy, red wine notes, and a bitter but tasty hop balance of some citric zest. silky smooth, rich, creamy mouthfeel. much too easy to drink for such a high ABV brew. finishes with a fire in my belly and a smile on my face. bell's brewing brilliance at it's finest. amazing!! this is almost perfect. a superb sipper for a northern minnesota winter. the quintessential fireside brew.

a massive thank you to feloniousmonk for sending out my first sample fall of '03.

the re-review is from batch 7251 bought fall of '06.

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Photo of Bighuge
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours like motor oil. It is midnight black in appearance. Beautiful. With a creamy brown head that has some retention. On the nose, I get deep roasted malt, burnt tones, anise and licorice. Smells great. The sensory overload on the buds with the first taste is incredible. Coffee, cocoa, burnt malt, licorice, dark fruits, bittersweet chocolate and a HUGE bitterness that I love. One thing that I do not note is a significant alcohol taste. (Surprising being that it is 10%.) Saying that this beer has a full body is like saying that Claudia Schiffer is good looking. Both are understatements. This is a brew to behold.

This is the first brew I've rated 5's across the board. (I've reconsidered my stance of not giving all 5's after seeing somebody's opinion that all 5's mean exceptional in every category, but not necessarily the Perfect Beer, which I believe may be impossible to find.)

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Photo of vette2006c5r
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a dark black color, with a creamybrown head. The smell is very malty. The taste is massivly heavy, lots of choclate and coffeflavors, an intense malt flavor. The flavor is going to linger and the alchool blends nicley. Overall may very well be the best stout i ever had, fantastic.

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Photo of AdamB84
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I tried this beer from my boss who had a few bottles. One of the best stouts ever tasted. Such good aroma and mouthfeel. Pretty much no head, just like motor oil and just how I like it. Rich, Coffe, and chocaltes. Definently top 5 on my favorite beers.--

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,006 ratings.
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