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

2,114 Reviews
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

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

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

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Reviews: 2,114 | Ratings: 6,102
Photo of BuckeyeOne
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch 9435, aged at Zipp's, not my home.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a standard pint glass an impenetrable black with a solid mocha head that left a thick, hearty lacing down the glass.

I must say that all I could pick up from the nose was molasses and licorice. For a RIS, I really was expecting some chocolate and coffee, but I got neither of these from the nose.

The flavor followed the nose almost exactly, but there was a hint of chocolate in the end that was lacking in the nose. Also picked up some hop bitterness at the end.

Yummy, creamy smooth feel. Not a ton of carbonation, but wasn't expecting this in a RIS. Hit the spot.

I was disappointed. I've not had this beer before and thought one that was aged a year (or more) might be better. I'll try this fresh and see if I like it better.

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Photo of goldbot
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 11/19/2009. Reviewed on 8/18/2010.

Pours pitch black with thin, brown head. The foam fades quickly, leaving bits of lace on the surface of the beer.

Roasty, malty aroma. Hints of chocolate and coffee, but malt, bread, and roasted flavors really dominate. Lacks depth in a way compared to many of its peers.

Sweet milk chocolate flavor followed by a smooth malt and sweet caramel. Fresh roasted coffee beans linger on the palate and provide a nice bitterness.

Full bodied, on the sweet side which works well with the strong malt and coffee flavors. Reminiscent of a mocha dessert drink.

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Photo of MmmIPA
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had this beer on tap before but never got a chance to review it.

Very black body with a stunning brown head.Spotty lacing on the glass.

Notes of chocolate and soy sauce? whats up with that.

Taste is Booooze and all booze,its very hot.Malty with some chocolate and nice hoppiness at the end of the sip.

Mouthful is good but the booze takes away from the score.I would love to age this.I need another bootle soon.

Good beer but its very hot at its freshness.Will buy sgain though.

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Photo of hansgruber
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch 8944 consumed tonight

Thick black pour yields a nice dark tan head. Nice surface foam with a foamy collar. Nice lacing and plenty of tight bubbles rising from the sides with each sip. 

Malty roasty chocolaty yeasty nose. No alcohol detected.

Bitter roasty taste with some chocolate and coffee notes in there too. Virtually no sweetness but I sensed a bit of a molasses flavor deep in there. Very roasty.

Nice thick mouthfeel. Good sipper stout for sure. Nice to have in 12oz form as opposed to a bomber so it's doable if you're alone. 
Solid imperial stout.

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Photo of One2Remeber
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass

A: Dark khaki tan head, rich in texture. Black body with a faint brown hue.

S: Black licorice, sweet juicy fruits (cherry), dry smokey chocolate powder. Tons of roasted barley. There is a distinct 'fresh leather' aroma.

T: Creamy up front, to a delicious floral hop presence mixed with a dark fruits. Finishes with a licorice candy/boozy finish.

M: Intense viscosity, turns to syrup on the back end. Silky smooth up front. Mild carbonation and no lingering alcohol taste makes for easy drinking.

O: Not crazy over the top with flavor making it more enjoyable than most; it is trying too hard! I would put this up against any RIS.

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Photo of airmike
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured bottle to snifter

A: Pitch Black, little light brown head that disipates quickly.

S: Not much in the nose, I get slight coffee, chocolate, but mostly boozy smelling alcohol.

T: Well balanced, coffee, dark chocolate, nice complex flavor, well balanced (did I already say that?). Little to no alcohol presence, well done!

M: Thick, full bodied. Coats the palate.

Overall, I think this is a very well done stout. I wouldn't say no if someone offered this to me for breakfast!


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Photo of doppelmeup
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to shbobdb for this fine brew.

Pours like thick motor oil into a wine glass. (That's all I have, as I'm reviewing this from a hotel room). Daark cocoa head slowly builds, but doesn't remain for long. Black as night. One of the darkest beers I've ever seen. Winey legs slowly slide down the glass, with specks of foam dotting the outside of the glass.

Not a real strong smelling RIS. Definite roasted malts, slightly sweet. Slightly musty. Maybe some chicory?

Taste is strong on dark roasted coffee. Quite a bit of hop bitterness, and the alcohol is quite well hidden. Roasted malts prevail.

Definite bitter aftertaste, which sticks around just long enough to make sure know you've had really big beer. Chewy mouthfeel, with a surprisingly clean finish.

Overall, this is a really big, really solid RIS. It would be hard to drink more than one at a time, but IMO this rivals, if not surpasses, Stone RIS and the other big stouts for the top of the list.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Over the years, as my tastes evolved, I think this is one of the beers that's seen the greatest falloff in palatability to me. The first time I reviewed this, I gave it a 4.8 or 4.85. Batch 8728 from Sept 2008.

Jet black with a dense, very dark brown (almost Hunahpu's-like) that falls off to a ring, leaving a little lace. As always, very motor oil-like. The nose is intense. Licorice and soy are most noticeable, and there's dark chocolate, plenty of roasted malt with a firm, grainy bitterness on the back end. Molasses is also quite noticeable. Alcohol is *very* well hidden here.
The palate is quite gargantuan. Massive waves of flavors roll through, with licorice and molasses being most noticeable. This is closer to the British interpretation, with the only sweetness present being roasty, bitter and grainy without much caramel or brown sugar, both which seem to be embraced by more brewers because they make for more drinkable beers. Thankfully, the soy that I picked up on the nose isn't as intense on the palate. Fresh, I remember this being pretty hoppy, but 2+years has given this time to mellow out and the hops have pretty much disappeared. Quite sweet without being cloying (in no small part, thanks to the lower levels of crystal malt?) A little ashy as well. Again, a touch of soy appears on the finish with some licorice. Full in body with soft carbonation, this beast is a treat on the palate, but ultimately, too intense to be drinkable in large quantities. Still, this is an intense sipper and a rewarding one.

**Original review dated 01-23-2008 03:11:43**
12oz bottle (Batch # 8145) poured into my Duvel tulip. Poured like motor oil

A: Jet black with a dense 1 1/2 finger head. Good retention and lacing

S: Roasted malts, dark chocolate and some hops right up front. Definite vanilla presence. Hints of alcohol. Excellent! As it warms up, a bitterness reminiscent of licorice is apparent.

T: Damn, this is one tasty beer. Massive chocolate, espresso up front with a wave of creamy vanilla. A smorgasbord of all flavors dark - roasted malt, molasses, licorice. The finish is mildly bitter, with a touch of hops and some licorice.

M: Soft, creamy and viscous. Perfect

D: This goes down easier than it should and i will pay for it if i have more than a couple. In any case, this one's near perfect.

Get it. This is a new favorite of mine

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Photo of Heavenisbeer
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a deep chocolate-black, with suspended, flurried sediment throughout, including a thick layer on the bottom of the glass. Thin head dissipates rapidly, leaving in its wake splotchy caramel-brown puddles. Light, transitory lacing. Appearance is extremely warm and inviting, exciting even. Other than gentle bubbling on its surface, no sign of carbonation.

S: Nose is sweet, lightly infused with prunes, and a little buttery. There is also a hint of saltiness, soy sauce even.

T: Complex. The chocolaty appearance is not seconded by the taste--sweet and salty malt burst, followed by a molasses middle, ending in a bitter finish. The taste is not commensurate to its body (see Mouthfeel). The high ABV is masked very well, although the final kick is a delicate alcohol finish on the back of the tongue.

M: Wonderfully dense, viscous, and chewy. Rich and syrupy, a little oily. Thickest stout I've probably ever had. Warm alcohol finish.

D: Delicious, but definitely not a beer that I could drink more than one of in one sitting.

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Photo of corey0212
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to moose3285 for this!

Pours pitch black with a glorious fluffy brown head, fades very slowly and leaves lots of lacing in its wake. Smell is coffee, dark chocolate, some dark fruit and spicy alcohol. Taste is much heavier on the fruit element, plenty of raisin and plum, lots of roasted coffee, and some hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is great on this, low carbonation, slight chewiness, excellent lingering flavors. This is a damn fine Imperial Stout. Me likey.

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Photo of mgoblue5743
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a very drinkable stout. Rivals Stone RIS in flavor, though it's a little thin for my liking.

This is an excellent beer. It is very powerful, you can taste the roasted, malty flavor and is one of the rare, high powered stouts that you can drink a few of without falling off your chair. I wish it came in a bomber.

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Photo of assurbanipaul
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours motor-oil black with ruby highlights, including the darkest, thickest meaty head I've seen. Looks like oatmeal floating on top, settles to a thin ring after a while. Aroma is dark malts, pungent but with a fruity, smokey element.

This is a story of two beers in the same glass: At first, the taste is dark burnt malts, almost charcoal, like the crust on a grilled chicken. Has a vinous element, like a merlot spilled into the batch. Very bitter, almost no sweetness, a little salty. Drinks hot with alcohol, like a barleywine.

But after being interrupted by a phone call and returning to the remainder of the glass, this beer awakens: Traces of coffee, raisins, licorice, baker's cocoa. Still with a prominent alcohol presence but silky smooth on the palate, heavy with no apparent carbonation.

Mouthfeel is thick like flannel, fuzzy and sticky. Initially, I was rather nonplussed by this one but the taste and my impressions and ratings improved greatly as the beer warmed. This is one where the rhetoric is true: you *must* let it warm up to just cool before drinking it. I'd like to try this one again after aging it a bit. Thanks to trbeer for sharing this one.

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Photo of mjtiernan
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to heyta for sending me this one!

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter
Bottled 12/17/2010 (Batch 10105)

A: Ridiculously black. No light getting through. Some carbonation evident with a semi-vigorous pour. Any cap that appeared quickly vanishes leaving, well...not much. This appears oily and quite viscous.

S: Dark chocolate, cocoa, licorice, black pepper and roasted malt.

T: Bitter chocolate and coffee, licorice, and roasted malt. Also a bit of caramel that helps transition you to the finish. Alcohol shows up early but it’s not as much as you might expect. The coffee, chocolate and malt are wonderfully intense! This is a pretty hot one but I like it.

M: Pretty thick...heavy body. Carbonation is on the low end of the spectrum but it’s enough to keep it lively.

O: This is a delicious tummy warmer. I drank this before its prime to do the review, but I’ve got a second bottle of ‘10 and another from ‘09. I’m going to sit on these for awhile and hopefully collect some more vintages.

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Photo of CooperEllis
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz into dfh snifter. from notes.

I can certainly understand why this brew gets such high marks across the board, however I also think that a lot of brews within this style are comperable in look and aroma.

The look and aroma are as expected with the style, dark, minimal head, good full malt roast aroma.

The taste is malt and cocoa nib notes in the background. The carbonation is spot on and helps bring the subtle notes of roast to the front. This also makes this beer one of the best feeling brews I've ever had. Considering I had this out of a 12oz bottle shipped 1/2 way across the US, I would love to get to try this on draft sometime. Full, slightly coats but the carbonation keeps the weighy brew from sticking on the tounge or roof of the mouth.

The drinkability is very good. I have a hard time w/ this for this brew. I would certainly drink more of it. For the style it is quite drinkable. I do think I've had stouts I would reach for ahead of this, which is why I've rated it 4 instead of higher.


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Photo of ocelot2500
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black with a small tan head that leaves enough lacing on the glass.

Smells of coffee and molasses mostly with a nice chocolate undertone.

Tastes of the roasted malts upront followed by a subtle hop bitterness and ending with a little sweetness. Notes of chocolate, coffee, caramel, and molasses all make their way through. Sweetness supports the chocolate and caramel. Hops are very subtle as they should be. Alcohol is noticeable, but that should be expected.

Mouthfeel is full, but on the lighter side of full. The carbonation is appropriate, but could be a bit creamier.

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Photo of thekanna
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pitch dark with a very thin head and a somewhat oily texture.

S: Roasted coffee beans, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla extract, complementing a dark roasted malt character.

T: Strong roasted malts, coffee and chocolate. The roasted flavor really shines through, although it is lacking a (somewhat expected) smokiness. Faint sweetness counters a bitter note at the end.

M: Big and smooth; heavy as anything.

D: Nice to sip, but it's so heavy that I found myself taking a long time to finish the bottle.

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Photo of scottyshades
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours completely opaque, bottomless pit black. The head is very dark brown (almost purple-ish) and recedes very slowly leaving some nice layered lacing.

S: Burnt malts, chocolate is big, nice and hoppy, coffee, licorice, molasses, brown sugar. A little subtle for such a big brew, but otherwise well done

T: Much more bitter than I had expected, and to tell you the truth, I don't really like that too much. Alcohol is upfront and aggressive, and the malts are all over the place.

MF/D: Chewy, creamy full body that finishes semi-dry.

This brew is a little untamed for its style, but definitely a solid offering from Bells, as always

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Photo of Luk13
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle thanks to TheJester. Beautiful black body with lasting mocha head. Aroma is standard IS; coffee and chocolate truffle. Flavor is more interesting. So rich. Heavy chocolate brownies with some grapes and almonds. Wow, this is intense. Somewhat boozy though. Creamy and syrupy palate. Its heavyness makes it less enjoyable. I prefer american stouts that are more balanced such as Yeti and Speedway. Still, one of the best intense and over-the-top IS.

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Photo of HosP
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured 12 oz into a pink elephant snifter.

A- Pours dark black. Aggressively poured to get maybe a quarter inch dark khaki head. Left very quickly too. Nice color though.

S- Dark fruit aroma. Chocolate, roasted malts coffee notes. Boozy smell to it.

T- Pretty harsh flavors here. Wasn't expecting that much bitterness up front. Roasted malts mixed with dark fruits, raisins maybe. Followed by burnt coffee flavors. Flavors didn't seem to mesh as well as they could have. Still nice strong flavors throughout. Can't wait to hold one for a year or so and see what happens.

M- Full body with little carbonation. Coats your mouth.

D- Overall its an ok RIS. Would like to see the flavors blend together a bit better. But still can't complain about the good presence of lots of flavors. Like I said before, can't wait to age this one a bit and see what happens.

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Photo of Boppar
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass with a half-finger of leathery head. Standard evil-looking obsidian black.

Aroma of raisins, molasses and chocolate.

Tastes pretty much the way it smells, but with chocolate far and away the leading flavor. Some alcoholic spiciness, but not nearly as much as one would expect from 11.5% ABV. Lingering dry finish of smoke, leather, spicy hops and... damn it! Pennies! A slight metallic aftertaste knocks this down from a 4.5 to a 4.0 in the flavor department.

Mouthfeel is thick, sticky, and briskly carbonated (much more so than I had expected).

Drinkability is about what you'd expect from a Russian Imperial with 11.5%, which is to say not that much. I think two of these would be pushing it, but that's normal.

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Photo of Buck1
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Finally found a sixer after wanting to try it for a while.
A: very dark like most RIS, nice tan head that does not last to long
S: Roast malts, plumy or raisin smell, some coffee and chocolate, alcohol
T: Roasty malts , molasses and plumy. Not as much chocolate as some, can taste the alcohol, some ash, smoke
M: not as smooth or as silky as some other RIS but not bad.
O: It is a very good RIS but I like Plead the Fifth or Yeti better , alcohol hidden better and more silky mouthfeel. This was bottled within the last 4 mounths and is a young stout. I think a year or two on this would move it up . We will see as I have put 3 back.

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Photo of chugalug06
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - A nice crust forms on the top of a well poured head... The crust almost looks like a graham cracker. Color is a great taupe color. Head pours soapy on the base and a solid-foamy on top. Very interesting! Lacing is quite weak, but for the ABV, I'm not surprised. Brew is quite black...

S - Oh wow. Super molasses and oak. Tons of chocolate and bittering hops. Very great vanilla scent. No sugary scent. There is a *slight* funk in the back of the nose.

T - Oh my... So fresh and so clean. Super delicious! Very dark and roasty flavored. Definitely one of the better RIS I've had. Tons of dark chocolate. Zero heat to be found.

M - A little bit on the overly bitter side... A very dry and crisp RIS. Drinks well, but not great. Super aggressive with well hidden heat.

O - Very glad I got to finally try this brew! Super complex flavors, flavors are quite difficult to separate... Thank you Another6Pack! A great brew to a great trade!

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Photo of SwiftyMcBeer
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tbis beer is a looker. Getting to have it on tap was a huge bonus, mad props to the Trion for having the guts to tap this sucker. Jet black with a chocolate head . . . all the smells to go along with it. Just reeks darkness, chocolate, coffee, this is where wimpiness goes to die. You defintely know the +10 ABV is there when you taste it and that is really my only negative and a slight one at that. It'd be tough to have more then two of these in a sitting, but that could just be a reflection of the style.
A top notch stout, just not my favorite style.

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Photo of AaronHomoya
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I finally opened a bottle I'd had laying around for a few years. Probably 4-5 years old, and may have been a bit past it's prime.

Appearance was still an impressive, deep black with a very dark tan head. Little carbonation or head was left, perhaps partially a function of the age. Smell was rather sweet, with dark chocolate, soy sauce, smoke and tobacco notes. The taste was also sweet. A lot of malt, chocolate and some alcohol warmth. A few hoppy, earthy bitter notes were detectable in the finish, along with a little coffee. Mouthfeel was very thick and oily, lacking in carbonation. I need to try this one again fresh.

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Photo of purplehops
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Expedition Stout pours a jet black with no and I mean no head of any form or fashion. Carbonation is unheard of here. Lacing? Not a chance. The aroma is molasses and alcohol with some faint herb and medicinal offerings. The taste starts with a syrupy sweetness that quickly melds into coffee and bitter black malt flavors. This is followed by flavors of barley, caramel, and some hints of fruit such as apple and pear. The finish is dry with flavors of French Roast coffee and black malt. Aftertaste is coffee and alcohol with first notes of hops starting to make an appearance. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy with quite a bit of weight to it.
Overall a stout with great taste characteristics but, in my humble opinion, not enough complexity to carry off the lack of carbonation and the dense syrupy body. Perhaps it needs this density to balance the 10% alcohol. Personally this stout feels a bit dead to me. Don't get me wrong I would buy it again given the chance but it would only be drunk on the coldest winter night by the fire after a great dinner.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,102 ratings.
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