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

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2,099 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: 2,099 | Ratings: 6,035
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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Photo of Westsidebuddha
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The smell of this beer is roasty with a light barbeque flavor. The pour is very dark like motor oil. As the beer settles in the pint glass, the look is very thick with a flat head. The taste is definitely stouty with a strong alcohol feel on the backend. A good stout that is worth another try.

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

Poured a dark brown bordering on black color with tan head that lasted a while and left nice lacing. Aroma was of chocolate, dark fruit, molasses, and coffee. Flavor is very similar with a bit of alcohol present in the taste. Good mouthfeel. Overall a good beer that I think might benefit from some aging.

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Photo of mcintire78
3.84/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep brown to black. Developed a good head over a soft pour, which slowly dissipated. Noticeable carbonation along the sides that gradually fades.

Smell: Strong smell of soy sauce, with malty sweetness.

Taste: Gentle, sweet caramel taste up front, with a bit of a harsh finish.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and thick, amazingly so given the 10.5abv.

Drinkability: The main limiting factor of knocking a couple back is the sweetness of the beer, not the abv. Great for a (1) after dinner drink.

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Photo of drpimento
3.84/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shazam! KIck ass, mo fo. now this is truly big beer. again, maybe it's just my thang, but I pick up hop type hallertau yeast flavs; too fruit for me. Not a bigb head, but lots of lace. almost visquous. roasty dark chocolate, dark overruoe fruits. Would imagine that this beer would age like a dream. creamy body

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Photo of buschbeer
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 9512

I poured into my glass to maybe a half inch of brown head. This beer is dark to say the least. The is no light coming through this beast. The aroma is chocolate, molasses, and some alcohol. The taste is black coffee and I get a fairly strong alcohol presence. That's about it. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy. I like that. I think this beer is a little hot yet. I am going to sit on my remaining bottles for at least a year and give this review an update. If the alcohol mellows out this could be a great beer.

revisited 6/13/2012

The alcohol has faded. I get some dark chocolate on the nose and in taste. I get some almost anise taste. Very thick and tons of flavor. Not sure if I like the flavor now.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Viscous, oily black--nice. Thin, muddy brown head that I had to force on there. Disappeared instantly...no lace, no retention, nada. My beer boner just died.

Aroma is hickory, chocolate, and espresso accentuated by a mild alcoholic kiss. Deep and provocative.

Sweet tips the scales vs. roast malt on this stout. Chicory, baker's chocolate bitter with dark fruit and espresso. Deadly alcoholic, you'll feel it before tasting it. Big, full mouthfeel.

Good, but I expect more from Bells.

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Photo of twelvsies
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got this as part of a "beer stimulus" package from jfunkk79. Haven't had this beer in years... yum. Real black and dense looking, with a healthy brown head. This beer has a very full roasted malt aroma. Deep and a bit smoky. Carries over to the taste as well. Deeply roasty, nice and bitter, a touch of burnt char and leather. Big flavors. This is definitely a sipper. Maybe a little bit hot, but plenty of character to cover it up. Thick, viscous mouthfeel. Would love to age this so it's a bit softer, but as is it's a totally worth stout.

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Photo of whendeathsleeps
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours thick motor oil black, tan two finger head, decent retention, nice lacing.

S- Dark roasted malt, anise, bakers chocolate, woody.

T- Dark chocolate, espresso, boozy, some dark fruits, a little bitterness from the hops to balance things out, let this one warm, it shines then.

M- Like you would expect from the pour, full bodied, thick, silky smooth, a little alcohol warming.

O- A good, not great RIS, the mouthfeel is excellent, I much prefer Ten Fidy to this, but I would go back to this for sure.

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Photo of bbtkd
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bell's Expedition Stout, 10.5% ABV, 78 IBU. Pours medium viscosity and black, with only a tiny head on a careful pour, so no lacing noted. Nose is coffee and roasted malt. Taste follows, with bitter close. Carbonation seemed higher than average, so an OK mouthfeel. Overall OKish, but pales in comparison to Ten Fidy.

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Photo of John_M
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Was very pleasantly surprised to see this on tap at Capone's the other night.

This has to be one of the oddest looking stouts I've ever seen. The beer looks more like a cup of dark hot chocoate then beer, with a hazy chocolate appearance, good lacing and decent head retention. On the nose one gets some more chocolate (quite a bit of it in fact), with a hint of vanilla, coffee and cherry. The flavors are replicated on the palate, especially in terms of the chocolate. However, there's also almost what I would call an underlying grittiness to this beer, which while fine for the most part, hurts the finish a bit I think. There is considerable bitterness in the finish, and at least for me, that coupled with the sweet chocolate and high abv. makes this a difficult beer to drink.

This is absolutely a solid beer, but is just not my cup of tea.

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Photo of bamadog
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Very thick on the pour and very viscous - like motor oil, probably the thickest I've seen since I first poured a FBS; A good size two finger head is present at first and it's dark tan, possibly the darkest tan I've seen; solid retention as it's just about done fading into a pretty thick and chewy looking skim on the sruface; a thick spongey looking lacing is coating the glass where the head once was.

Smell: Alcohol is actually the first scent I picked up on and with an ABV of 10.5%, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Behind that is dark, very roasty and burnt coffee-esque malts.

Taste: Again like the smell, the first thing that I pick up on is the alcohol, but it's not especially overpowering, just the most present flavor; behind that is a slightly subdued burnt roast; I would almost swear there is a very faint hint of some kind of a dark fruit, but if it is, it is buried very well amidst the strong roastiness.

Mouthfeel: Almost a little gritty, there's definitely some sediment floating in the darkness that is this beer; the alchol causes some burn in the mouth and definitely in the chest as it goes down and adds a slightly drying affect to the mouthfeel, but beyond that it's got a decent coating that again feels a little gritty.

Drinkability: It's a very good beer, but definitely sits heavy like most RISs are apt to do, so I don't feel like I would want to sit through too many of these because I would start to feel like a bit of a load.

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Photo of skizziks
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. Pour gives about an inch of dark cocoa foam, thick, leaves thick sheets on the side as it settles. A thin layer sticks around for a long time. The beer is a deep mahogany, not quite opaque.

Aroma is immediately vinous, roasty, with raisins and figs. Deep and complex.

Flavor starts out with some sharp acid, vinous with a wash of malt syrup. Figs follow with coffee beans and cocoa leading to a long lingering finish of burnt coffee. A little astringent, but not overpoweringly so. A nice counterpoint to the syrupy sweetness and roasted bitter.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and thick. Coats the tongue with a lasting impression of powdered cocoa. I don't mean to give the idea that this is some sort of cocoa flavored beer, but there is definitely an element of unsweetened cocoa down in there with all of the other flavors. This is a wonderful, rich, complex beer. I have been sipping on this one for about an hour and a half and enjoying the hell out of it. Drinkability is rated low because the burnt flavors really slow me down (in a good way) where others of the style are relatively easy to sip continuously. Overall, this is a very very good beer.

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Photo of freed
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Another batch imported by our man in the midwest; Bill. Thanks!

Yet another lovely label from Bell's, simple and elegant. I should have been wary when I popped the cap and there was no rush of gas. Pouring was enough confirmation though - there was no carbonation to the beer. The pouring was uneventful, despite the troubling black liquid. It sat dully in the glass, deeply brown with body. The very top, visible without any head, gave hints of amber around the edges. There's even some odd sediment that almost looks like it belongs in hot & sour soup.

The aroma is welcoming though - deep, filling, and robust with mocha goodness. The combination of malted barley and coffee hide the barely noticeable smell of alcohol.

The taste is also very robust - nearly syrupy without carbonation, but still good. There are very bitter chocolate flavors, dark espresso flavors, and a smooth maltiness all around.

The sensation is somewhat lacking without the balance of gasses, and the mouthfeel is somewhat alcoholic. Especially while brewing beer and having skipped breakfast and lunch.

This is a very tasty beer, but I feel it must be tried on cask, or tap. Preferably close to the source. I'll see what I can do.

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Photo of beer2day
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaquely black with a thin 1/2 finger deep tan head. No observable carbonatio. Nice lacing.

Chocolate with notes of cinnamon dominate the nose. A slight sugariness is there as well. Alcohol comes in also.

Very nice hit on the tongue. Slightly thinner than expected, though. Lots of roasted malt here with bittersweet chocolate finish.

Not as good as I remember when living in Northern Indiana, but still a pretty good RIS.

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Photo of SchmoTerp
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours and looks like a stout should with a dark tan head. Head took some time to dissapate. The mouthfeel are thick, robust, with some slight smokiness. The tastes are more subdued with balanced malts, there is a nice heaviness in the aftertaste. This beer was quite smooth and easy to drink - something I would definetely look forward to in the future.

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Photo of hopflop
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a black like used motor oil. with a tan head that dissipates quickly.

The smell is not impressive mostly coffee with roasted malts with dried fruit and alcohol

The mouth full is creamy and rich. with a huge coffee presences and malts with a hint of chocolate and alcohol at the end

This is a very hefty big stout with a big ABV 10.5%. the drink ability is good, but can't have more then two in one sitting. Would definitely recommend trying.

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Photo of TheBeerologist
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opened a bottle from batch 10068 - bottled 11/11/2010 and poured into a snifter.

Pours nice and thick, dark brown/black with a thin brown head. Looks like a great RIS.

This smells sweet and malty and strongly of raisins and tastes pretty much the same. Still a little hot after 15 months. The carbonation is nice, present but light, with a sticky sweetness.

Overall, I am underwhelmed at this point. It is a good solid RIS but I really prefer it fresh and cannot wait to get some from from a recent batch to review again.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased at Capone's in Norristown, PA. No dates listed on bottle. Poured into New Belgium snifter glass.

A: Pours a DEEP, rich black color. No light gets through. Not much carbonation. Thin, rust colored head that fades quickly leaves a tiny line around the exterior of the glass. Good lacing. Tiny bubbles.

S: Roasty malts, coffee, chocolate, molasses, alcohol

T: I like the roasty malt flavor. I got that dark chocolate and caramels as well. Some mild hops too.

M: Coats the mouth nicely. Smooth with a nice bite at the end. Mild hop finish, surprisingly.

D: I enjoyed this brew. I would definitely have it again, but the ABV does get you. You can smell it and it is definitely there.

Overall, a solid brew from Bell's. I have had better RISs from other outfits, but this is a good one that I'd enjoy again down the road.

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Photo of jkendrick
3.82/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours dark and viscous. A moderately aggressive pour yields a half inch brown head. There is no light shining through and little carbonation visible rising up in the glass. The head recedes relatively quickly, but leaves some foam stuck to the side of the glass. After a few sips, nice lacing is left in its wake.

Aroma: The aroma isn't as strong as many Imperial Stouts but what is there is malt. and some alcohol. I smell dark and sweet fruit. I don't smell coffee and chocolate as was expected. Maybe just a touch of molasses.

Mouthfeel: Not a ton of carbonation, but it is oily and full-bodied.

Taste: The taste is where the chocolate - dry, powdery cocoa to be exact - that was absent in the nose makes itself known. The fruit, so dominant in the aroma, is relegated to the back. The alcohol is definitely present, but for a 10% abv, it isn't bad. I think the alcohol could have been hidden a bit better. The molasses flavors are most dominant in the middle and there is bitterness in the finish. The alcohol is somewhat warming, but is mostly noticeable in the mouth.

Overall Impressions: This is good imperial stout. It has a very interesting difference from aroma to taste. While the aroma screams fruit and had me excited for something a bit different than the typical coffee/chocolate/molasses dominated impy stouts, ultimately it is the cocoa and molasses that rule the flavor. I'd definitely buy this one again and it's the best offering I've had from Bell's, but it has some flaws.

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Photo of marksto
3.82/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at the Indiana Microbrewers Festival. Bell's had this one opposite a keg of the bourbon barrel aged Double Cream/Expedition Stout. Perhaps it was because of that excellent beer that I thought this one wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be..

Poured opaque with an off-white medium head with medium retention. Surprisingly light in the nose. Some coffee and roast with malt sweetness, but nose overall lighter than I thought it would be. Flavor exhibited a blend of roastiness, malt, with a hint of chocolate. Smooth, nice, but not as complex as many of the other R.I.S.'s that I've had before.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,035 ratings.
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