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

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2,100 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: 2,100 | Ratings: 6,039
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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Photo of GregSVT
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a snifter...extra from a recent trade. Thanks Edgar!

A: Pours pitch black like motor oil with a big dark brown head that fades relatively quickly and leaves some lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is very different from most RIS I've smelled. I can't quite place the aroma but it's very good. After some warming I can smell loads of sweet malt.

T: The taste is very unique as well. A sharp hop bite that is quickly overwhelmed by dark fruits, licorice, slight roasted malt, very sweet malts, and a boozy alcohol flavor. The alcohol isn't that bad and doesn't really detract from the enjoyment but the large amount of sweetness does.

M: Relatively thick and creamy. Good carbonation and slick.

D: Pretty good and unique from most other RIS I've tasted over the past year or 2. I'd buy a 4pack if it was available in my area. The sweetness and ABV would make it tough to drink more than one though.

Worth a try if you can get some and you like malt bombs.

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

A- Black with a thin dark brown lace.

S - Coffee, soy sauce, dark and milk chocolate, earth.

T - Rich coffee and bittersweet chocolate give way to a subtle bitter that is backed up by some consistent alcohol, earthy tones, and even more chocolate, followed up by some dark fruit essences and continued roasted malt sweetness.

M - A little sticky and not highly carbonated. Rich and coating.

O - A wonderful RIS! Do try!

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Photo of gmuller
3.94/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

I acquired this beer from a friend who lives closer to the brewery. This one was relatively young, and I will probably age the other one after tasting it.

Appearance - There wasn't much to look at, thus the 3.0 on the appearance score. Completely black, very little head to speak of, largely due to the lack of carbonation. In retrospect...this beer was almost impressively black.

Smell - Caramel, sweet, candy-ish, but with enough balls behind it that you can tell the hops and bitterness waiting.

Taste - What I expect in an Imperial Stout, hoppy and bitter, with enough coffee and malt note to balance it. Sweet at the start, bitter on the finish. Somewhat more alcohol flavor than I like, and the aftertaste is...odd.

Mouthfeel - HEAVY. A bit like oil. You can see this beer coat the glass and the imagine it does the same to your esophageal tract.

Drinkability - Despite a lot of high notes to this beer, it isn't as drinkable as you might expect. After about a half of one you're left feeling somewhat tired of it. The alcohol bite tends to wear on you, and though the mouthfeel is impressive, it tends to get tiresome as well. This beer might be better packaged in 6 oz bottles...like a fine scotch it's better dosed in small quantities.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.94/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quite a nice imperial stout. I remember having this perhaps 2 years ago, and being a bit turned off by it, but my how my tastes have changed. This beer is not the biggest imperial stout I've had, but still has plenty to offer.

It poured a bit viscous, and was the opaque black that characterizes the style. A pretty thick cappuccino colored head topped it. Aroma was of liquorice, chocolate and coffee. Flavor was definitely more liquorice-y...gave a nice sweetness to the beer and accompanied the dark malt. Mouthfeel was full but not syrupy and was quite nice.

I don't know why it's taken me so long to return to this beer. It is a winner!

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Photo of Tilley4
3.94/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is what a stout is all about here. Nice and dark and roasty with plenty of kick and it's still smooth.

Jet, jet black here. Pretty big head on a stout too. Beautiful beer.

Smells wonderful with a combo of chocolate and fruit and malt. Very dark rich aroma.

Tastes wonderful. Absolutely wonderful here. Dark rich flavor, lots of dark bitter chocolate. I actually drank this at dead room temp., about 65 degrees or so and it was delicious. Very rich and creamy.

I have a few more bottle of this and I'm glad because this stuff is delicious.

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Photo of Duster72
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black with a hint of a copper brown head which settles into a small ring around the glass. Aroma is roasty malts with hints of coffee and chocolate. Taste is roast chocolates and slightly burnt malts with some carmel sweetness. Very creamy mouthfeel with a slight alcohol burn. Taste lingers several minutes. Nice stout.

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Photo of nicnut45
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours out like used motor oil leaving a tan halo around the sides. Nice coating of lacing as I drink. The smell of soy sauce first greets the nose with hints of chocolate followed by vanilla,port, and other dark fruits I don't know about. I let this warm up quite a bit so the flavors can develop. Dark fruits, espresso, bourbon, soy sauce, chocolate, and burnt flavors all in one sip. There is another round of flavors after you swallow. I get tastes of tobacco, vanilla, and other flavors my limited palate can't describe. There is a kind of unpleasent bitterness/booziness that I am sure would mellow out with age. This beer sits on the tounge thick and chewy. You would be a fool to drink several of these in a row. And a rich fool at that. Best to let it age. I wouldn't mind enjoying one of these once in a while.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is very nice, the head is thick and doesn't dissapte very fast and has a good lacing that sticks. Black color is solid.

Smell has coffee, molasses, dark fruit tones and is full in body and flavor.

Taste has flavors of coffee, molasses, and slight flavors of dark fruit like prune.

Mouthfeel is very silky and smooth, very nice.

Drinkable for sure, I would buy this for sure.

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Photo of Kurioser
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: The brew poured black as night, with an agressive pour I coaxed a 3 finger head the color of cafe-au-lait. The lacing left was heavy.
Aroma: Smells of malt and coffee
Taste: Deeply roasted coffee/espresso flavors, bitter after-bite on the rear of the palate.
Mouthfeel: Smooth and velvety; low carbonation.
Drinkability: A wonderful full bodied beer for cold days, I would love to kick a few back regularly.

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Photo of lightindarkness
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, no batch number printed on label

An aggressive pour yields a full two finger tan head that sticks around a while, leaving nice lace. It pours a little like tar.

Nose is sweet and malty. Big dark grainy bread and a warm sugar sweetness. Some juicy hops and dark fruits emerge as it sits, with much more complexity in the back: light smoke, earthy root, faint coffee, oak, and alcohol.

Taste is full and smooth, with up front roasted grains and cocoa filling in with a wash of bitterness and hop character. Finishes with a nice mix of malt and hops, very tanic in taste and feel mixing with a sticky sweetness that really lingers on the palate.

Feel is full bodied and smooth, extra sticky, even a little puckery from the surprising bitter finish. Little carbonation to speak of, swallowed by the thick body.

Overall drinkability is in question. Certainly a very tasty beer that should be on every big beer lovers list to try. Bitterness and thickness of body leave my mouth and tongue a bit worn, but not necessarily a negative. Might do well with some age to mellow the finish. High abv and full character knock it down for overall, but I'd drink this regularly on a cold winter day.

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Photo of diybrun
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass stout black (is stout black not a color? it is now) with a 1/2 finger head that left very little lacing. Smells of... hops? Maybe my nose is off, but I smell a bit of citrus, not something I'm used to from a stout. Some roasted barley, too. Carbonation is there, but it's weak. Cream and alcohol are predominant, smoked barley and hints of mocha and caramel too. Definite hop presence, especially in the aftertaste, which I don't mind. This beer has a kick, as I would expect from an imperial stout, but it isn't that balanced. I don't see myself kicking back and enjoying a couple of these. Still a perfectly enjoyable stout.

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Photo of iconoklaztor
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very nice rich black with a tan, 1 finger head. The smell is sweet and flavorful. The taste is very sweet too but a nice coffee finish. I enjoy this beer. The taste sticks around for quite a while. The mouthfeel is has a little bit and maybe a hint of alcohol. A nice beer indeed.

Overall, this is a nice beer. The taste nice be a little sweet but it has a nice coffee finish to kill any sweetness left over at that point.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,039 ratings.
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