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

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
94
outstanding
2,087 Reviews
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout
BEER INFO

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

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
2,087
Ratings:
5,967
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
10.43%
 
 
Wants:
518
Gots:
1,693
For Trade:
132
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,087 | Ratings: 5,967
Photo of RandomBattle
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle (not sure as to the vintage), poured into a Bell's tulip. Bam!

Appearance - Oily and inky black RIS body, with almost no head, granted I did pour it very carefully.

Smell - I seem to get a large amount of dark fruits, think plums and dates, along with soy sauce. This beer specifically, I have always gotten soy sauce from, not unappetizing just there. After revisiting I get some nice roasty chocolate odors with some subtle hops.

Taste - Nice bitter dark chocolate flavors, followed by dark fruit flavors. Even though I always smell soy sauce in this one I never taste it. This beer has such a wonderful bittersweetness that is amazing and I feel separates it from other RIS'.

Mouthfeel - Full, mouth-coating, and smooth. This beer is liquid velvet. A treat and a sipper.

Overall - This beer is great and thankfully I can get it online when it's available since Bell's doesn't distribute to NY.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

"Here's a beer that thirsts for travel, holding up impressively under the rigors of any journey. At the same time, it's perfectly content to sit quietly in your cellar, aging and improving while you wait for the moment that seems perfectly appropriate for its consumption." Brewed in the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Available in 12 oz. 6 packs and on draft as a fall imperial series seasonal release. I will be reviewing this immensely popular stout alongside two other vintages, 1 year aged (2013) and 2 years aged (2012).

Poured from a 12oz. bottle to a snifter. Served above 54º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Expedition pours a crisp foamy chocolate brown head over a nearly solid black body, moderately viscous. Retention is above average, lacing is light and streaked. 3.75

(Smell) Aromas of moderate roasted malt, chocolate malt and spicy licorice with a moderate sweetness. The potency is modest. 3.75

(Taste) Earthy roasted barley malt finishing with a strong driving roast with chocolate undertones. 4

(Mouthfeel) The texture is moderately viscous, sticky and slightly dry. The carbonation generates a soft frothiness for a smooth mouthfeel. The body is medium/heavy for the style, heavy overall. Balance is earthy bitter over sweet. Alcohol presence is moderate, and off characters are few to none. 4

(Overall) As a fresh stout, Expedition is quite enjoyable, roasty, sweet and viscous with a solid mouthfeel and simple yet deep flavor profile. There are other Russian Imperial Stouts out there that will very likely pump up the flavor variety, but Expedition will likely get the job done for most. 3.75

Bell's Brewery, Inc.'s
Expedition Stout
3.89/5.00

Vintage Notes:

2013 (1 Year Aged): Pours a frothy creamy head of a similar head and body tone. The aroma shares similarities with the fresh batch with a mild creeping fruitiness. Lesser striking roast with a more solid balance with chocolate and finishing with a stronger spicy licorice. The texture is slightly smoother, slicker and oilier. Overall it's at least as enjoyable as the fresh batch if not better.

2012 (2 Years Aged): 2012 forms a creamy frothed head of a slightly darker tone over a jet black body. The nose continues the transition from heavy roast and sweetness to a more gradual balance with tart fruit subtleties coming in strong. The flavor is just as complex and balanced out as the 2013 batch, with a further reduced roast and chocolate balanced out with a mild acidic fruitiness. The texture continues the trend of smooth, slick and oily with a tame low carbonation for a very subtle soft frothiness. Another fine vintage, although I slightly prefer the 1 year over this vintage.

Recommended vintage: Fresh-2 years or older. Bells doesn't give a best by as per their website, so your patience is the limit as far as this beer is concerned.

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Photo of Traquairlover
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12-oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A = Looks like old motor oil in the glass, no light goes through it at all.ll, as close to black as a beer could get. Small head formed that was a cross between cherry and oak brown.

S = Coffee, burnt oak bark, cherries.

T = Coffee, dark chocolate, sweet molasses, bitters.

M = Thick and luscious, coats the mouth, could use more carbonation.

D = Pretty good for an occasional beer, but I find this is too strong (both in taste and alcohol) when fresh to have it too often. Does age well though.

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Photo of lurpy1
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Back home, we have access to some Bell's beer, but first time crossing paths with this one.

Drunk straight from the bottle in my hotel room in East Lansing Michigan, because drinking beer out of a coffee cup or slurpee cup just isn't right. However, stouts are like babies, they are all beautiful unless something goes wrong, so Expedition gets the benefit of the doubt on appearance. Bottle or no, the aroma isf reakin' spectacular. Deep hints of bourbon, malt, alcohol. I want to snort this beer. Despite an excellent, syrupy mouthfeel, there's something vaguely medicinal about Expedition in the mouth, so while the taste isn't bad, it isn't spectacular. Yes, I would absolutely do this beer again, but as far as stouts go it isn't quite up there with, say, Yeti or Surly Darkness.

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Photo of yen157
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Creamy, Turkish coffee foam looking head, but more voluminous. Beautiful black body, inky as hell. This was one mean looking stout. It had bittersweet chocolate, toasted bread crust, charcoal, and paper match smoke in the nose. Occasional whiffs of alcohol can be found. This was 11.5%?!?! This beer does an immaculate job hiding the alcohol. I would not have guessed it over 8.5%! In the mouth this beer was one harsh mofo. It tastes like it looks, dense and black. It actually smells like it could have been a sweet imperial stout, but it was not. It was dry and charred from start through everlasting, salty finish. It kinda funny, but there were some hop burps. Hops? They get lost in the blackened mess. Good creamy mouthfeel.

This was a gigantic stout. There is no doubt about that. I was a bit let down though. I’d been waiting to try this for years, and I finally cracked one of my two that I brought home from Michigan this Thanksgiving. I wish it was a bit sweeter. It grew on me, but it was no what I expected. While I can appreciate a aggressive beer like this (and Monster, Blithering Idiot, Quad, etc) I like them a bit more smooth. Not easy-drinking, but smooth.

[Once this one warmed up, the nose reminded me much of patis. Not a good thing, but not reflected in the “smell“ rating.]

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Photo of afordney
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

motor oil black, nice finger wide head. No light gets through

good roasted malt. Very sweet and smoky

sweet malty start, deep roasted flavors, excellent bold flavors

Nice thick mouthfeel, a little sour but quite bitter in the finish

A good beer, would be excellent on a cold day

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Photo of soulgrowl
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Tamari-thick blacker-than-midnight opaque black. Spotty mocha latte brown head with poor retention.

Smell: Smoked cherries - does that make sense? Because that's what comes to mind. Extremely roasty and deeply fruity, a massive malt anvil. Light soy sauce, sherry with lots of warm alcohol, honey graham crackers, sweet caramel, apple jelly, brown sugar on toasted wheat bread. Moist, molassesy gingerbread and lots of raisins, Cracklin' Oat Bran... I could go on. Insanely complex, and in a somewhat atypical way - low on chocolate and coffee aromas, high on grain aromas. Clean, acidic, oily hops add a fine, pointed spice, distilled by the volatile alcohol.

Taste: Weird - spicy as hell from the alcohol and hops, with burnt coffee, 90% cacao chocolate, tangy sherry, aniseseed spice. Aggressive alcohol impedes the full development of the malts' nuances (if they're there) on the palate, which is sort of a shame. This could probably improve with a year or two in the cellar. Piney, Goldings-esque hops stoke the flames of alcohol for a hot, spicy finish with a blossom of chocolate and tannic nut notes, similar to an Snickers bar laced with rum.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and very, very thick - yet somehow, not syrupy at all.

Drinkability: Aggressive as hell, and in my opinion, not complex enough to warrant it. Not bad - try it if you like Stone's RIS - but not my favorite.

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Photo of Fatduck
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Here's a beer I should have tried earlier. I'm a big fan of the RIS, and a big fan of Bell's. High time this one gets reviewed. I just finished my taxes and this is my reward.

This thing is black, nothing gets through, even on the edges. Smells of deep roasted/burnt coffee/chocolate with some raisins.

Taste is good, big full body, nothing like a good RIS to ruin your review, right?

Very drinkable

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Photo of Slack
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown in color with minimal head and moderate lacing as it goes down.

Smell is cocoa, alcohol, roasted coffee.

Flavors of coffee, roasted malt, cocoa, and hop bitters.

Mouthful is medium to light and creamy with moderate carbonation. Finish is lingering and dry.

A nice Russian imperial stout with a great flavor profile but not exceptional. I would try it but seek out others.

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Photo of Jammies
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-pours a deep brownish black with a thin layer of light brown foam that slowly recedes to the edges of the glass

S-light and slightly nutty. Nothing overpowering

T-very smooth with light coffee and nutty flavors

M-smooth and slightly malty as expected

O-great flavor and pleasantly smooth. one of the better stouts out there.

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Photo of nhindian
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

Batch 9971, bottled on September 13, 2010.

A - Pours a viscous, black motor oil black that culminates in a visually impressive, 3-fingered, dark mocha head. Retention is fantastic, and if it weren't for how slowly this beer drinks, it would last for more than half of the life of the beer. Body is pitch black, with only the slightest bit of chocolate highlights appearing at the bottom of the snifter, where it's at its thinnest. Lots of beautiful lacing as it drinks.

S - The nose is very sweet, full of malts and chocolate goodness. Also some appearances of thick molasses, raisins, and licorice. Throughout the whole nose there is a lot of alcohol presence. Overall a thick and heavy smell that is a bit intimidating.

T - First impression and all I can think of is that this is thick, chewy, and comes with wave after wave of flavor. The malts have a sweet, burnt flavor that contributes a nice, robust coffee flavor. Next comes some bittersweet chocolate and the dark fruits. These fruits help give a nice sugar characteristics that complements the high alcohol heat that this beer currently exhibits. A nice touch of hops at the end to complement the alcohol.

M - Mouthfeel is thick thick thick. And syrupy. Even after a few minutes between sips, all of the flavors still dance on the palate and there's a noticeable coating on the mouth. A long lasting bitterness in the finish resembling that of bittersweet baker's chocolate.

D - Drinkability is moderate. Even though this beer screams complexity, it's just a bit too much in terms of mouthfeel and alcohol. Being a little over 2 months old, it's still a bit hot for a RIS, so I can only assume the heat will dissipate after a few more months.

Overall, this beer seems like a more robust, thicker, more alcoholic version of Storm King, which lasts with me throughout the experience. I'm hoping some of the bitterness will round out more as it ages.

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Photo of mpyle
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very opaque with a thick, brown head. Head is dense, creamy, and with a decent linger for the small head size.

A strong chocolately sweet aroma - straightforward but clean. Not much alcohol and no hops in the aroma.

Malty sweet chooclate flavor, nice dark malt roastiness, alcohol evident but controlled. Finishes roasty and sweet. Sweetness doesn't quite approach the cloying level - enough hop bitterness and dark grain bitterness to maintain a semblance of balance.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with lowish carbonation. Alcohol warming evident, as should be for style. Minimal astringency from the dark grains - actually some sensation of chocolate milk - a bit creamy.

Overall a bit sweet, but doesn't deviate too far from its stout roots. Very flavorful without being overpowering. I'm afraid to say I could drink more than one of these, which at 11.5% ABV might not be a good idea!

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this beer sit peacefully in the fridge for 6 months after purchasing.

Appearance- Pours a dark, spent motor oil color. This is a good thing. To quote the great Garrett Oliver on his opinion of this beer,
"...seems to absorb light, mopping it up like a black hole in space." I couldn't agree more. A film of foam is leftover after the pour and gradually thins to a ring around the beer.

Smell- Reminds me of 7-eleven coffee that has been sitting on the burner too long. With some smokey and burnt malts mixed with a little mocha.

Taste- When the beer is a bit chilled, the flavor of mocha and smoked malts ndominates with a little grassy hops jumping in. Once it warms to almost rom temperature, the flavors take on a slightly milky and dark roast 7-Eleven coffee taste.

Mouthfeel- Oily, heavy, syrupy, but not bad.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Firestone pint glass
From: Barons Market in Alpine, Calif.
Price: $1.79
Purchased: Oct. 22, 2014
Consumed: Oct. 29, 2014
Misc.: Packaged on Aug. 22, 2014 with unlimited shelf life

Poured blackish, even dark purple, color with 1-to-2 fingers of frothy, khaki tan head. Went from a pour to calm and serene in about 12 seconds. Surprisingly very light spots of foamy lacing on the sides of the glass. Also below average retention on the top all the way down. (Sight - 3.75)

Smelled booziness up front, initially reminding me of a mudslide - vodka, coffee liquor and Irish cream liquor. Also the usual suspects - caramel, toffee, milk chocolate, roasty malts, nutty malts and cocoa powder. A tad like a chocolate milkshake, too. Not too bad on the nose. (Smell - 4.00)

Taste was about what I expected, albeit a bit rougher and earthier. Got boozy coffee liquor and Irish cream liquor up front. Also toffee, caramel, chocolate milk, bitter roasty malts, roasty nuts, earthy chocolate syrup and crayon. (Taste - 3.75)

Full body. Sticky-to-slick texture. Average carbonation. Long, warming finish. (Feel - 4.25)

A pretty good RIS. I’m usually a sucker for these types of beers, but I don’t think this was great. Just pretty good. (Overall - 3.75)

3.86 | 87 | B+

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Photo of TheDM
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This brew has a very hoppy aroma and an extremely black, as in a black hole, body with no head whatsoever. It had a very strong coffee flavor. It almost burns as it goes down. Somewhat of a bitter initial taste that lingers well after is has gone down.

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Photo of shoky01
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Vintage 08 09, 12oz bottle into stem-less red wine glasses.

A: black black, no light getting through this puppy. Brown to tan head depending on thickness. Very light lacing. Bit of carbonation.

S: malty goodness, hint of licorice, coffee and chocolate.

T: anticipation grips me for this one. Shocking to put a word to it. Complex, spices, malts, annice is strong as well as the alcohol. 10.5 to begin with but gotta be near 12 now. There is a bit of bitterness on the end. Smokey too.

MF: sticky and a bit of burn.

OA: would like a fresh bottle to make sure that nothing went wrong with this one in aging. Love the smell but almost let down by the taste. It isn't bad but its almost too complicated to enjoy. Reminds me a lot of the Stone Belgo Annise IRS

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Photo of MrBen
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A good beer, but not great enough to be a regular buy for me. The pour is lovely, scent is tasty, color is great, and so on. Bell's quality, upfront as always. Taste was good overall, but too hop-forward for my liking. Raw alcohol was fairly prominent throughout. I'll stick with Kalamazoo Stout and Java Stout.

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Photo of devilben02
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle, I could tell that this one was a shade of dark brown, but it was as dark as can be, with a medium-dark brown head that clung tenaciously to the side of the glass. The aroma is interestingly different from many other imperial stouts, with an up-front alcohol character that seems like a licorice liqueur along with some underlying sweetness. The flavor is roasy, sweet, and almost tangy, featuring the same licorice character found in the aroma, with complementing characteristics of charred firewood and bitter chocolate. Texturally, it is mouth-filling and resinous, but not to the point of being syrupy.

Overall, although it is not potently boozy, the flavors are dense (but I wouldn't characterize them as "rich"), making it readily apparent that this beer is a force. I sipped it slowly and enjoyed it, but I don't know how often I would go back for more.

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Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: pitch black, minimal brown head and lacing.
S: dark dried rum soaked fruit, dark caramel, molasses, vanilla, coffee, chocolate.
T: big sweet dark malts, roastiness and some hop bitterness vainly attempt to bring balance, lingering sweet finish. a bit boozy.
M: thick, viscous, lightly carbonated.
D: definitely a sipper and might improve with some cellaring time.

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Photo of mjsheehan08
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Bell's expedition stout

Turns my snifter into a black-hole. Head is dense with a mocha tan one finger head that clings to the glass for safety. Lace paints the side of the glass, and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon. 

Nose is really fragrant. Rum, raisin, figs and other dark fruits start out the nose, and then some booze kicks in. There's also a sugarery sweetness that comes through from the malt, and I'm expecting a great malty brew. 

Alot if dark fruit in the front, but the kind of dark fruit that is wrapped up in a big ball of molasses. Really a great blend of malts here. As it continues on, a shot of expresso comes through and lingers with you after you set your glass down. As I am about halfway through the 12 oz bottle, a little heat builds up at the top of my mouth and throat from the alcohol. 

Feel is eh. For as full flavored as this beer is, I was expecting a little more body in it. It was kind of thin with little to no carbonation. 

I can feel the booze after 1, but I could probably drink 2 of these. 

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Photo of BarrelO
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a goblet. Batch 8864, packaged on December 4, 2008.

A: Blacker than black with a smaller-than-expected head that quickly dissipates. Lots of lacing.

S: Alcohol, roastiness, a bit of chocolate, something between licorice and soy sauce.

T: Roasted malts with hints of licorice. As the beer warms up, chocolate notes start to show up. Finishes with huge hop bitterness. Pretty big alcohol burn.

M: Thick, almost viscous. The hops dry the mouth out in a hurry.

D: A solid sipping RIS.

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Photo of belgbeerdrinker
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: black thick brew, light head forms ring, ring of lace around top
s: roasted, caramel sweetness, heavy alcohol smell
t: sweet chocolate flavors abound, roasted coffee, with nice vanilla and warming alcohol finish that eventually turns bitter
m: almost syrup-like with a decent carbonated finish
d: overall a nice brew with plenty going on

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Photo of Jwale73
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a nonic. Pour was black as night. Half-inch coffee colored head quickly dissipated into a quarter-inch layer of foam that maintained decent cohesion. Consistent, sticky lacing coated the sides of the glass throughout the tasting. Strong scents of malt, coffee and alcohol. Taste similar to nose, but also extremely sugary sweet (maybe molasses); burnt taste lingers at the finish. Somewhat of a syrupy mouthfeel with a hint of carbonation. Not bad, but drinkability is somewhat compromised by the thick mouthfeel, pronounced flavor of alcohol and bitter finish that lingers in the mouth. What's weird is that I typically enjoy many of these features in an RIS, but the combination just didn't come together for me.

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Photo of mchegash
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - 4.25/5
Pours a beautifully perfect golden-chocolate colored head. The head dissipates in a minute or so, but the color was awesome while it lasted. The beer itself is pitch black. This beer looks dark, mysterious, and awesome.

Smell - 3.5/5
The smell surprised me. It is very floral and sweet, while still having some tiny hints of chocolate. The smell is also fairly alcholic (unsuprising, at 10.5%). The smell reminds me of a Belgian Tripel. Overall, I don't really think I'm a fan of the smell. It's not a bad smell, but it's not what I want a stout to smell like.

Taste - 3.75/5
Sweet, vanilla, bourbon, slightly roasty. Smoky. Still has that "floral" quality, but now in the taste I think it might be better described as caramalized sugar + fruitiness. As I said above, this taste/smell reminds me of a beer I had recently, the New Holland Black Tulip (a Belgian Tripel). The taste is slightly alcoholic as well.

Mouthfeel - 4.5/5
Medium bodied and silky smooth, it glides across your tongue. Definitely creamy, but still the carbonation adds a nice kick. There is a small to medium amount of medium to high intensity carbonation. I love the feel of this beer in my mouth

Overall - 4/5
This is definitely a unique stout, just not quite sure if the flavors are exactly what I'm desiring from a stout.

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Photo of jjanega08
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A= pours a thick black with a light brown head that sticks nicely to the glass
S=malty plums, figs, carmel and some spicy hops
T= chocolaty and coffee, plums follow and a slight booze touch going down
M= sticky with average carbonation. Heavy feeling
D= average. Gets a little too sticky and boozy. As the beer warms the alcohol is more prevelant.

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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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