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

2,133 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: 2,133 | Ratings: 6,143
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'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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Photo of philbe311
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Thick dark brown head... Onyx black color... Strong head retention... Coats glass well...

S - Caramel... Malts... Brownie mix... Soy Sauce... Coffee... Rum... Mainly sweet with subtle complexities throughout...

T - Raisins at first sip... Followed by roasted grains, hints of maple syrup, and a slight hoppiness... Finishes with alcohol... Complex and very aggressive in nature...

M - Heavy... Thick... Syrupy... Chewy... Bitter finish... Menacing... Will catch you off guard if you're not ready...

D - Extreme beer in both taste and ABV... BOLD... A sipper with major attitude... An intense beer experience... I'm happy to have tried and conquered, but not one I'll readily seek out for future enjoyment...

Bottle / Artwork - Understated in the Bell's tradition... Marbled label with feminine compass / key symbol...

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Photo of MyThoughtsExactly
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle dated this year.
L: An aggressive pour led to very little head and head retention. Beer appears jet black both during the pour and in the glass. Looks like a big stout in the glass.
S: Sweet syrup, dark fruit, chocolate, and a little alcohol on the nose.
T:Follows the nose with lots of sweet syrup, carmel, and dark fruit flavors. The finish brings on roasted malt, coffee, chocolate all balanced with some nice bitterness. Slight alcohol warm and heat.
F: Interestingly, lots of carbonation in the mouth leads to a creamy, smooth mouthfeel. Easy drinking for its ABV.
Overall this is a somewhat sweet imperial stout which brings more syrup and dark fruit flavors than other RIS. Am interested in how this will taste with a year or two on it.

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Photo of mactrail
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Really big black ale.

Great big stout, a little touch of brown-amber in the glass. Huge malt. Very strong, alcohol flavors, like a brandy. Spicy and full of the spectrum of roasted malt. Butterscotch and cocoa. Nice nose full of burnt cereal and chocolate. Long burning aftertaste with coffee flavors.

Had a glass at Barley's in Greenville, SC.

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Photo of suspect
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Duvel Tulip.

A: Thick black oil-like stout. Super aggressive pour led to a light espresso colored two finger head that sticks and then slowly dissipates.

S: Dark malty forward brew. Brings the abv in the nose along with some molasses a touch of smoke, licorice and star anise but only in the end and because I was looking deeper.

T: Pretty complex flavor full of toasted and roasted chocolate malts with a bit of burned cocoa and over brewed coffee. Somehow it all blends in nicely but the after taste certainly lingers for some time. It's excellent and powerful all at once.

M: A touch thin but still good given that this is an RIS.

O: A really good RIS. Not great, but good.

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Photo of mavbrew
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep dark brown color with minimal head, even with a strong pour, color is dark tan. The little bit of head fades very quickly and leaves no lacing whatsoever.

S: The smell is very sweet, mainly dark fruits and a bit of a boozy scent to it as well.

T: The taste is much like the smell, very sweet with some dark fruits up front followed by a molasses flavor, a good amount of boozy flavor and slight roasted malts (very slight). The finish has some smokey characteristics and is boozy.

M: Full bodied with no carbonation. Creamy, sweet and boozy feel.

D: Overall, this is a good beer. It's tough to be a great beer with some many outstanding RIS's but this is a good example.

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Photo of bonsreeb85
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Aquired this 12 ouncer through a trade w/ pochman. thanks Ed!

A - black as tar, this stuff looks like jet fuel! Modest brown head doesn't stay for too long.

S - strong scents of coffee, roasted nearly burnt malts,and black licorice

T - plenty of burnt malts on the tongue. the alcohol gives it a hot feeling, in a pleasant manner though(at least I thought so) very bitter, like a good strong black coffee. wonderful earthy hop presence adds only good things to the mix.

MF - massive body, but tiny bubbles and moderate carbonation help the drinkability factor.

D - great flavor, but a definate sipper/night cap. when people talk about Guinness being a "meal" i have to wonder what these folks would say about a beer like this! hahaha. I hate to dock points for drinkability, but seriously, at greater than 10 % how drinkable can a beer be.

overall a damn fine and tasty brew.

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Photo of domtronzero
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Clear deep dark brown, almost opaque. Average lasting, big mocha head with lots of lacing.

S - Dark fruits, caramel and sweet malts. Chocolate and a little roast. Light alcohol.

F/M - Bitter baker's chocolate with toffee, caramel and sweet bready malts. Medium high bitterness accentuated by the dark malts. Dry finish with a lingering chocolaty roasty aftertaste. Moderate carbonation, light alcoholic warmth.

D - Okay, but this is a pretty big beer. Thick and rich makes it quite challenging to put down more than a bottle of this in a single sitting.

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Photo of CTAID
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours jet black into snifter with 1 finger tan head. Smells like a malt bomb - lots of coffee, a little chocolate maybe, slight booziness, minimal hops on the nose. Taste is just plain old big - lots and lots of flavors. Creamy burnt caramel smokiness, lots of heat, pretty typical of RIS's. Real sipper. To be honest, there was a bit too much booze for me. I know, it's a strong beer, but I've had many examples of Russian Imperial Stouts that haven't been quite as abrasive. So maybe this is a beer that I'll have to age for a while. Mouthfeel is nice, low to moderate carbonation (closer to low) which is pretty fitting. I will return to this beer later, hopefully with something nicer to say about it.

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Photo of Brez07
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this in the Black Booty Vol 4 BIF from normyk. Batch 8944 (hand labeled 1/28/09). 12oz, poured into a snifer

A: Pours thick, jet black with a slight amount of head. After the pour, I only get a thin ring of head. No lacing

S: Rich, dark chocolate mixed with an underlying hint of smokiness and cocoa nibs. Biscuit and toasted cracker. Minor notes of dark fruit. Some roasted malt, almost nut-like. Upon swirling the glass, I am hit with a big whiff of charcoal, but this only lasts a few seconds

T: Starts with lots of roasted malt flavor along with some smokiness. Some dark chocolate comes through in the middle, but is overtaken with smoked malt. The is a brief period of sweetness, similar to chocolate covered dark fruit. The warmer, the better with this beer as smoke fades to a tolerable amount

M: Full bodied, thick and smooth. Smoked malt aftertaste with a dry finish

D: Relatively easy to drink at 10.5%, but the alcohol is still fairly present even 2 years after bottling. At times the smokiness was too much but once it faded a little, the beer was quite enjoyable

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,143 ratings.
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