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

2,087 Reviews
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,087 | Ratings: 5,967
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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Photo of Chico1985
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to cbutova for sharing this. Batch 9512, which according to Bell's website, means this is from 12/18/09.

Pours black with a pretty excellent brown head. Retains pretty well and leaves nice lacing, stains the glass.

Smell is roasted malt, licorice, booze.

Taste is a solid, no frills imperial stout. Mostly just roasted malt, booze, and dark burnt coffee. A little bit of smoke and anise. Gets more boozy as it goes on but not really a bother. Very dense in the same way as Stone IRS, though not nearly as complex.

Mouthfeel is oily and a little hot, low carbonation. Pretty much an imperial stout in the rawest form, which I like, it is a tad harsh but good. I bet this would be nice to age.

** more notes - 1/5/14** - Great beer to revisit. Opened a bottle I bought in Philly or NY a while back, the batch # is 10105, I believe this to be from 2010 sometime. Huge+robust but smoothed out with maybe some slight oxidation. Roasty dark chocolate licorice all the way. Less alcohol than I remember. Definitely a nice winter sippin' beer, I will definitely get more of this when in their distribution range again.

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

Appearance: The beer is jet black and was poured with a half finger of a dark tan head. This is even darker than the Bell's special double cream stout, which I had during a side-by-side (mixing them, made a glorious concoction that was better than the it's parts, with about a 50-50 mix).

Smell: Huge caramel and sweet nose. There is a roasted malt note and a hint of chocolate. This beer had a tiny bit of chalkyness in the nose. I was expecting a bit of coffee, but it seemed to either meld extremely well to the point of not being noticeable, or was rather covered up by the sweet malt smell.

Taste: There is a lot of sweetness, which did battle and won with a decently strong alcohol presence that did happily did not seem offensive. The roasted barley kicked in right after, which lead to a nice added depth. There is definitely a bit of molasses and caramel present as well. The finish is sweet, and this beer seemed immensely more complex and sweeter than bell's milk stout (Bell's Special Double Cream Stout).

Mouthfeel: This is a full bodied beer that is very rich and still has a nice bit of carbonation. This is a sipper through and through, but so enjoyable you won't be able to help yourself.

Drinkabiltity: Due to the rich mouthfeel and high abv, this beer is a sipper, but man is it a good one. I really enjoyed this beer and if you can pick up a single, I would not hesitate to buy it, but the 6 pack price is a bit much for a beer which is somewhat difficult to finish due to its size.

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Photo of m1ked
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Pours like black black coffee with brown edges to it. Thick 3" brown java head to it, hanging around for quite some time. Eventually shrinking down to a thickish brown cap. All kinds of lacing.

S- Vanilla & bittersweet chocolate , woody, prunes/raisins' sweet coffee, touch of alcohol.

T- Bitter woodiness with the same hints of vanilla and bittersweet chocolate and dark dried fruits. Roasted coffee subtle. More boozy on the palate than the nose.

M- Some creaminess cut by the bitter wood/coffee/alcohol bite. Low carbonation.

D- I will admit that I am partial to this style. While this style in general is not my session, I feel like I could have a couple of these in one sitting. I have only received these in trades.

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

A-poured into a brandy snifter I had layin about. Appears thick as about 5W-30 motor oil, still a bit viscous

S- Heavy coffee and malt and a bit of a yeasty finish

T - Dark malts hit first right out of the gate. Then a nice sweet taste followed abruptly by the alcohol on the back end with some astringency to clean the palate.

M- Extremely smooth, creamy, and definitely full. Floods the palate with heavy smoked overtones and in all honesty for all you single malt fans out there a bit of peat.

O- Very good beer for after dinner, before, or with not so much. It would be great with oily or heavy foods as it would cut through anything on the palate.

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Photo of NoLeafClover44
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Kuhnhenn balloon goblet. Bottled 8/22/13.

A - Pours sludge-black with about a finger of cocoa colored head. The foam is quick to recede, save for a thick halo remaining around the edge. Impressive, layered lacing.

S - The smell is rich; full of fudge, charred mesquite, plum, and a hint of black licorice. As I let it sit, molasses and dark fruits emerge. I enjoy the complexity of malts, chocolate, and char.

T - Starts with sweet, ripe, dark fruit, vanilla, and dark chocolate. Intense bitter char follows. For the first few sips, the burnt flavor dominates and lingers. As my palate acclimates to the charred assault, coffee and roasted nut flavors become more prominent. Milk chocolate on the back end, as well as a considerable alcohol presence.

M - Thick, luxurious feel. Light carbonation. The finish is a bit hot.

O - Although not unusual for an RIS, this beer is a little bit too charred and hot for my liking. I imagine this would improve considerably with time. Overall a very good beer, but it fell just short of my expectations.

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

Appearance: Opaque black, big brown colored head.

Smell: Dark chocolate, booze.

Taste: Bitter coffee, sweetened dark chocolate, some alcohol heat, roasted flavor.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thick stuff.

Drinkability: If it hid the alcohol a little better this would be a little higher.

I haven't had this beer for probably 4 years so I picked up a single to re-try. I enjoyed it more than years ago as I am more used to the big stouts these days. It was good but probably could use a little age to mellow out the alcohol a bit.

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

Pours an opaque black color. The brown colored head started at 1/2 inch after the initial pour and grew to about 2 inches after I set the glass down. The head stuck around forever, and turned to a 1/4 inch thick creamy layer that left all kinds of lace on the glass.

This has a very nice chocolaty malt aroma. Very much a milk chocolate smell on this with an earthy, almost smoky end.

A surprisingly complex and very rich chocolate/roasted malt flavor up front with a delectable earthy, bitter chocolate finish. A hint of sweet toffee throughout.

This is a full bodied brew and contrary to many reviewers my bottle actually had the perfect amount of carbonation. Not overly carbonated but far from flat, it felt perfect considering the richness of this beer. This is an excellent RIS, complex, and the alcohol is very well hidden. Too well almost. I decided to pick up a 6-pack of this today since it's 15 degrees outside and snowy...I couldn't have picked up a better compliment to the weather. I'm very happy with my purchase. I'm going to cellar 2 bottles and open them up at this time next year.

*EDIT 12/25/09*
Wow. Expedition stout with a year on it....ti's God-like. Like a thick chocolate malt milk shake. The flavors are some complex and the body on the beer improves ten-fold. It was good fresh...it's incredible aged, even only 1 year.

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

App: Pours into a tulip glass thick, brown, and with a caramel colored 2-finger thick head. Dark, brooding and caramel, chocolate color. Thick and big with nice head retention that settles into a low but persistent lacing.

Aroma: Slightly sweet roasted bitterness, big chocolate nose, with underlying alcohol aroma. Toffee plus coffee sweetness. Good roasted nuttiness all the way through with almost barleywine-like characteristics.

Taste: Big flavor up front; sweet and chocolatey, followed in the middle by alcohol, then finishes roasty sweet and bitter. Too much alcohol but really nice big full flavors alongside it. A slight hop bite at the finish.

Mouth: Full, thick and chewy. Smooth and full mouthfeel. Good carbonation to balance the size. Surprisingly effervescent.

Drink: Nice, buy the alcohol impedes on any real continuous drinking, but for a sipping stout, it's drinkable.

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

Gift from Mauerhan. And you know what they say: never take a gift from a horse's mouth. No, it's never look at a horse's gift. No, never put your junk in a horse's mouth. Oh, screw it, thanks Mauerhan!

Teeny tiny 'lil head of beige color over an open tar pit.

Odd scent to me. What the hell is it?

A unique blend of the coffee chocolate flavor. Both strong, both bitter, and completely mashed together. This one has a little too much soy sauce flavor going on.

Real thick, real smooth, creamy.

Overall: good, but a one timer for me

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Photo of pmccallum86
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brownish black color with a massive thick bubbly mocha colored head.

Lots of licorice and hops in the nose. Some chocolate and toffee aromas as well. Roasted malts come through too, but the licorice is the top dog here.

Boom! Flavors galore here; licorice, chocolates, cocoa powder, big roasted malts and hops. Very flavorful beer, as with the smell centered on the licorice. Quite a delicious and original RIS.

Mouthfeel is thick with a medium level of carbonation. Viscous as a mf'er.

Drinkablility is decent, maybe this beers weakest aspect. Still not bad though.

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

From: Hyvee, Council Bluffs, IA
Date: Bottled 2012-10-02
Glass: Standard US Pint glass

Bell's Expedition Stout is an excellent version of the style, filled with robust flavors of charred bread, dark chocolate, and roasted coffee. One I would definitely get again, though other strong stouts (Plead the 5th, Blackout Stout, Founders RIS) are more competitive in price and overall experience.

Pours a 1.5cm tall head of dark tan to light brown-colored foam, made up of small bubbles with a fairly dense appearance, with average retention time of one minute. The head fades to a thick ring around the perimeter of the glass and a thin layer of wispy lace atop the body of the beer that remains for the duration of the drinking session. Lacing is modest, but present, smallish dots and blotches cling to scattered portions of the glass. Beer's body is dark brown to black, opaque, with light changing nothing. Carbonation is not visible in this beer's void of a body.

Aroma is good, but not as potent as I was expecting or desiring: it's almost subsumed by its own weight. Scents primarily of dark chocolate powder, burnt toast, minor roasted coffee beans, and ethanol.

Flavor of heavily burnt toast, charred sweetness as from a very dark chocolate bar, dark roast coffee beans, flourishes of alcohol-soaked vanilla, and ethanol itself. Front palate finds charred, chocolate-like bread with some residual sweetness, and dark roast coffee beans. Mid-palate of burnt toast with residual sweetness, very dark chocolate, dark roast coffee beans, vanilla, and spicy ethanol. Back of palate notes burnt toast with rich, heavy sweetness, dark chocolate and roast coffee beans, and ethanol. Aftertaste of spicy ethanol with charred toast and cacao nibs.

Beer is medium-heavy to heavy in body, carbonation of a medium-low intensity, yielding a minimally foamy, primarily chewy stout. Ethanol is definitely present, particularly in the nostrils and back of throat, though tingling can be felt on the palate, too. Closes semi-dry, with substantial stickiness clinging to the palate and lips after each sip.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 2,087 ratings.
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