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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: 6,037
Photo of don1481
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz poured into snifter.

Appearance: Pours like a motor oil. Virtually no head on this bad boy. Tiny amount of lacing on the side of the glass. Mocha colored.

Smell: a little boozy, coffee and chocolate notes intertwined.

Taste: like the nose. The booziness is less prevalent on the tongue.

Mouthfeel: rich, full mouth feel here. Luxury in a bottle.

Overall: aging more. Cant wait to revisit in a year. Already so good .

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Photo of Vierenner
4.59/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Very impressive beer! Thick, malty, delicious. Pours a beautiful, chocolate brown, fine bubbled head which lasts quite a long time. A ring of foam sticks around until the last sip. I didn't find the smell all that pleasing, and there was a slight bit of a hop bite which I'm not fond of ... but those remarks aside, this is an incredible beer.

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Photo of m_hall
4.82/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12oz longneck into a tulip. This beer is absolutely inky black - no light whatsoever penetrates the glass - and is topped by a huge thick khaki head that falls slowly. Lacing is thick and sticky.

Aroma is dominated by sweet malts, dark chocolate notes, and alcohol, though not to a nose-burning degree.

Flavors hit the palate with a huge wallop of semi-sweet chocolate along with hints of blackberry and caramelized sugar. These are soon followed by espresso and toasted grains, licorice, and smoky notes. The finish is strong coffee bitterness and pleasantly warming booze, and lingers for an eternity.

Mouth feel is thick, syrupy and chewy, coating the mouth as you drink. This is a beer that pours huge and drinks huge... luxurious. Given that body and the brawny ABV of 10.5% this is certainly one you take your time with.

I had heard little about this this stout, and after drinking I have no idea why more people aren't totally geeking out about this one... this is a deep, huge, complex monster of a RIS, completely world class, and should be talked about in the same revered tones as Old Rasputin, Ten FIDY and other paragons of the style. Yes, it's a trifle expensive (I gave a shade over $16 for a six pack) but for a stout enthusiast it's money well spent. And even as good as it is now, this one should cellar excellently. A true tour-de-force.

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Photo of HamdenHector
4.46/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A; opaque; very dark brown - virtually black; 3 finger dark khaki head that receded to a thin cap; sheets of lacing;

S: bittersweet chocolate, roasted grains, a little smoke;

T: bittersweet chocolate mixes with roasted grain up front, but becomes dominant by the middle; a little licorice and smoke in the background; alcohol is noticeable, but appropriate for the style;

M: medium to full bodied; moderate carbonation; dry finish;

O: complex flavors; really nice;

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Photo of Strike00
4.48/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L: pours black with a brown head and nice lacing.
S: smells sweet with roast smell and an underlying alcohol smell.
T: Much like the nose. Pretty sweet compared to some other RIS but it works well. The alcohol warmth is there but not overpowering by any means.
F: Full bodied with low carbonation. Feels like what you think of when you think imperial stout.

O: Very, very good. Ha some differences from my other Favorite stouts but fantastic.

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Photo of Tilly
4.41/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

P: Black, nice root beer head. Impressive lacing.
A: Sweet cherry, chocolate, can't hide the alcohol.
T: Bitter, sweet chocolate, cherry/raspberry, dark roast coffee,
M: Where to start, chewy, full body, thick, heady creamy, slight amount of bitterness.
O: I understand this brew has morphed into an outstanding RIS. 4 years? Excellent!

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Photo of Uniobrew31
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Expensive….Yes but compared to some others the price is reasonable and for what you get it is worth it as often as you can afford it. Perfect or damn near perfect in every way. The best RIS on the market hands down.

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Photo of AmeriCanadian
4.49/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Damn, this is such a great beer. I'm cellaring some, but wanted to try a fresh one because I had never tried Expedition (Bell's just came to TN this year) and couldn't resist. Look is black and thick and a beautiful bright brown on the edges, with a creamy, thick tan head that slides down the glass almost glacially. Smell is dark chocolate, malty biscuit, hot chocolate espresso, big, and bold. Taste is deep, dark, bitter, toasty, roasty chocolate and molasses, with a touch of peat and licorice. So rich. Mouthfeel is thick and chewy and extremely creamy. Just a fantastic stout.

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Photo of MrWonka
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very exceptional take on the Russian imperial stout. Pours motor oil black, with a nice head, though it doesn't last too long. Smell is booze, roast, char, and chocolate. Perhaps some mild notes of coffee, molasses & dark fruits. Taste follows the nose, with roast, char and chocolate coming thru the most. A very interesting stout bcuz it involves so many complex flavors in one. I agree that providing this brew some age would make for a whole other great analysis/taste. For some stouts, the alc% is well hidden, this one, not so much. However, make no mistake my friends; I rated this beer as high as I did for a reason. Enjoy

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Photo of GreatStoutman
4.94/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pitch black and thick like motor oil. Dark tan head that slowly lays down, leaving a beautiful sheet of lace. This stout smells amazing; dried fruits, vanilla, malts, but almost no sign of alcohol.

First drink is pure heaven, thick and smooth, creamy on the tongue. Chocolate and fruits, absolutely delicious flavor to go with the nose. This is probably the best stout I've had, and my only concern is how I'm going to get all these bottles back to Texas with me. I'll figure that out, and I can't wait to see what they do with some age.

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Photo of Discos2
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle>tulip glass
A- heavy, black with a khaki head and good lacing.
S- heavy roasted malt. Light coffee, chocolate, dark fruit, and hops.
T- very good. Let it breathe to warm it to ideal temp. Not too overwhelming with any certain flavor. Good balance. Boozy finish.
O- above average stout. 10.5 abv so sip and enjoy.

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Photo of GuitarIPA
4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a thick brown, foamy head. Smells and tastes include smoke, booze, roasted malts, molasses, raisins or prunes. Thick body, with sharp, boozy bite to finish. Great flavor, but slightly astringent on the nose

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Photo of ccg
4.06/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This is one of the best-looking stouts I've seen in a while. Great lacing of dense little bubbles, and the head seems to stick around forever. The smell is super roasty. I can taste chocolate and coffee notes, but mostly it's roasty malt and some bitter hops. It's dense and chewy. A well-made stout.

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Photo of car2052
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a snifter glass. Packaged 10/23/14, Drank 12/26/15.

A: Jet Black. Interesting looking raspberry/brown head. Small amount of lacing.
S: Salty Jerky, Chocolate, Raspberry, smoke, hint of coffee.
T: Follows the nose a lot. Strong chocolate and coffee flavors. Very sweet upfront with smoky roasted malts. However, very fruity taste. Raspberry and blueberry flavors come through with the sweetness.
M: Very heavy. Strong, smoky aftertaste.
O: Very sweet and strong beer. The fruit flavors (not sure how they got there) threw me off a bit. Flavors reminded me a lot of their Old Coast Ale.

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Photo of Czequershuus
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours a dark black with a small head. The first thing that strikes me about the aroma is it's booziness - not in a bad way. This is followed by dark chocolate, very mild unbrewed coffee, licorice, cassia cinnamon, cherry blossom, rose petal, and a host of other unnamable scents. Dark chocolate and licorice lead the way, with the floral notes playing a wonderful background flavors. The sweetness is very present in the aroma, but the flavor is quite dry. The mouthfeel is sticky and full. Overall this is an awesome beer to sink into.

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Photo of smanson56
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured a dark black color into my tulip glass. Nice malty nose with hints of chocolate and coffee. The taste is full and smooth with a rich dark malt flavor with hints of cacao and coffee. The mouthfeel is perhaps a little thin for this stout. A good stout that should age gracefully.

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Photo of ThaneMcC
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours like pitch with a copious tan head that resolves very slowly – smells strongly of roasted and charred malts, cocoa, coffee, citrusy hops, earth and hint of leather. Tastes sweet malts forward with hints of molasses, caramel, some coffee, transition to a dark chocolate, hint of dark fruits and a smoky, earthy note and a rather clean finish. Well balanced. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, milky and chewy with pleasant finish with only the mildest (not unpleasant) tacky texture.
Very smooth stout, thoroughly enjoyable – easily one of the best RIS I’ve had – and the price point is reasonable for a beer of such high quality.

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Photo of T-34-85
4.42/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at one of the local beer bars in Syracuse Area.

Great looking RIS with a deep obsidian color accompanied by a thick dense, dirty brown one finger head.

Smell of dark roasted malts with a hint of char and sweetness.

The taste is excellent, with a great combination of bitter notes from the hops and dark malts, and deep rich complexity one would expect from an RIS, topped off by healthy amount of sweetness to balance out the taste.

The feel is thick and viscous, coating the mouth, and accented by the frothy head of foam from the original pour, which holds on for about 1/3 of the beer's consumption, and further enhances the feel.

Overall: This is an awesome beer on tap, with an amazing balance of characteristics for an RIS. If you're a fan of the style, then I would strongly recommend it.

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Photo of KillerJigger
4.52/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great thick viscous pour with creamy head that slowly mellows. THE BEST RIS FOR THE MONEY!! Better than many rare brewery release only stouts. Great beer!! My hats off to the brewers.

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Photo of CHickman
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 10/16/15, so it's still a young RIS: pours pitch black with a menacing looking darkness which produced a huge 2+ finger brown head that was full of bubbles of all sizes that crackle and hiss as it faded very slowly, leaving outstanding foamy lacing coating the sides forming foamy rings as it went down. The head was like a brown cloud that didn't budge for a pretty long time. Very impressive looking stout.

Smells of dark chocolate, coffee beans, burnt malts, charred wood, cocoa powder, toffee, brown sugar, light piney hops and earthy notes. The dark chocolate is the star of the show, almost dominating the air and really standing out. I like the char and smoky aspects, but don't get much fruit or hops and was a little let down by it's simplicity. It smells good, but not great.

Tastes much better than it smells, wow it's complex and gets better with every passing minute. Initial flavor is molasses, bitter coffee grinds, toffee, dark chocolate and maple syrup, then it turns fruity and sweet with dark fruit such as raisins, dates, red wine and black cherries. Mix in some brown sugar, cocoa powder, port wine, espresso and charred wood or a s'mores that fell into the campfire ashes, and you've got this very complex flavor profile to enjoy. Everything works well together, dare I say in harmony, and it is so smooth for a big beer that it's almost dangerous to drink. Really tasty, naturally getting better as it warms up.

Mouthfeel is slick but thick, chewy and almost viscous like syrup; the sweetness is tamed by the roasted and burnt malt bitterness which gives nice charred notes mixed with coffee grinds and a bunch of chocolate. It's like a dessert in it's richness, fading with a nice mix of chocolate sweetness, faint booze and complex roasted malts that seem to turn fruity and let out more dynamic flavors.

Overall a really damn good beer that hides the 10.5% ABV masterfully and is a RIS I could drink all the time. This is the type of beer I'd love to have in stock at home year round. I imagine this would age with the best of them so I will seek out more of this, as I suspect it will get better with age and drive up my rating. This brew lives up to the hype.

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Photo of Ivanhoes_Backpack
4.42/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank on a snowy day in March in a New York City hotel room; paired with crack pie (courtesy of Momofuku milk bar). Fantastic winter sipper. Rich and chocolatey. Will seek out again.

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Photo of ajilllau
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a great beer. Smells like chocolate and malt. Looks like dark motor oil. It is super creamy and smooth. Tastes like chocolate, coffee and oak. Bottle dated 10/23/14. I would definitely put this on tap at my bar. One of the best stouts I've had all year.

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Photo of Tonyjenlasc
4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Look - Jet black, viscous, half finger of a mocha head that dissipated quickly
Smell - Chocolate immediately hits the nose first. Then some coffee, roasted malt, nutty and anise notes
Taste - A lot of coffee, chocolate, smoke, earthy, char, espresso type bitterness
Feel - Lovely mouthfeel this beer has! Creamy and smooth. Coats the palate

Overall - One of the better imperial stouts I've tasted. Really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, bottled on date 09/11/2015. Finally getting around to reviewing this one from Bell's, acquired a single bottle from the local beer store.

Poured into a Big Eddy snifter glass.

A - Pours an impressive opaque dark black body, around one finger of dark chocolatey mocha head, bubbly, that leaves behind good scattered strands of lacing. Looks excellent.

S - Big roasty charred malt aroma. Huge complexities of vanilla, oak, wood, chocolate, roast, & cream, with perhaps even a slight touch of fresh piney / fruity hop presence.

T - Taste follows the nose: big dark roast, chocolate malts, notes of vanilla / cream / wood / earth. Big notes of roasted barley malt & notes of char / coffee. Very robust and delicious. Chocolatey roast / malt bitterness.

M - Robust & roasty malt bitterness on the palate. Very smooth & creamy, extremely drinkable stuff for the high abv.

Overall, an extremely drinkable and delicious RIS from Bell's. Definitely a beer I will be adding to my rotating line up of beers more often, and a surefire contender for some serious aging. Highly recommended stuff.

Bell's Expedition Stout -----4.5/5

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Photo of MichaelNeelsen
4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Did a 10-year vertical with friends. Below are our general thoughts on how it changed each year.

2015 - tastes young, woody, bitter, chocolate
2014 - cherry, milder, sweeter, lost its bitterness
2013 - got more complex, a "flavor punch" as Matthew said.
2012 - smoother, milder, back to a 2014 taste
2011 - deep cherry flavor, dark fruit, fig, chocolate, chalky, back to the "flavor punch"
2010 - "I can't tell if this one is my favorite or if I'm just buzzed," says Megan. Lost its fruitiness, more date, salt, 7UP, minerals, not as mild
2009 - a small swig tastes like nickels or loose change (oxidation), but a big swig is like chocolate goodness "going through my body."
2008 - super woody, smoky, "the flavor is back!" says Griffin. Matt ranks this one in the lower 50%. "Pretty metallic with no strong flavors to cover it up."
2007 - "Ooh, very chocolatey," says Megan. Smooth. All the metallic taste is gone. Really good. Michael is debating if it's the best of the bunch.
2006 - Smooth, oily, almost like a bourbon barrel aged beer. Salt, no bite, strong flavor of everything that's come before. It's like "a concentrated version of the current 2015 stout," if they put it in a saucer and boiled it, it would be a chocolate or mole sauce. Very little alcohol bite.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,037 ratings.
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