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

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2,107 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: 2,107 | Ratings: 6,071
Photo of dmfrench
4.56/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A huge, syrupy, fruity/chocolate/coffee milkshake


A: Absolute black with no highlights, even when held to a light. Crowned with a huge three finger khaki head that just stares at you, crawling all over the glass A beautiful cascade effect is the icing on the cake.

S: Dark fruit, molasses, cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, a bit of burnt malt, and perhaps a hit of piney hops, in that order. A good nose, but not overly potent.

T: Huge, sweet roasted chocolate body greets you up front, with dark fruit in the middle, ending on burnt cocoa and a slight embittering hops. The finish is so long that drinking one of these usually takes me the better part of two hours.

M: Perfection... can be chewed if desired. Creamy as can be.

D: Outstanding for such a huge beer.

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Photo of moonboogie_n8
4.56/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

awesome Imp stout!
thick dark deep brown color with chocolate tan head that's barely there (good!)
creamy mouthfeel, FULL body, low carb.
warming alc on the finish that feels great.
roasty, toasty, and with complex changes in flavor as it warms.
wait at least 6 months from bottling to try this. best after a year. keep some saved for a two year open, and you won't be disappointed.
very highly recommended indeed.

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Photo of menkros
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a black motor oil. Smells of sweet dark fruit. The taste is unexpected and welcome, coffee undertones. Absolutely wonderful. 1 year old beer that pours dark brown, medium fine head, a good looking stout. Aroma up front is malty dark fruit with strong alcohol, the roasted malts come in at the end. Taste is a huge mouthfeel, this is a big ass beer, malty, alcohol, some sharpness which is a warming alcohol. With hop flavor as well. Roasted malts which go very well with chocolate desserts. I have this as a desert beer with chocolate ice cream or desserts often. try this with Ben and Jerry’s New York Super fudge chunk. Great beer one of the top ten I have had made in the US if not the world.

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Photo of jmalex
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Part 2 of 2 of Bell's stout tasting session for me tonight. While the first was a sweet stout (Kalamazoo), this one is quite the change up. Either way though, tonight is a good beer night for me.

APPEARANCE: Pours a thick, chunky, motor oil black with a small but sturdy latte brown head. It falls to a hearty collar with a thin layer of bubbles.

SMELL: A fantastic balance of roasted malts, dark fruits, floral hops, and even a hint of winter spice. This is really, really nice. The various aromas work so well in balance with each other. The smells are strong and let you know you're about to drink one hell of a beer, but they don't overwhelm to the point of being offensive. Simply wonderful.

TASTE: Good lord, this one packs a punch. This beer comes out with fists a-flying, and the intensity of this is something to behold. It starts out with a full malt flavor (chocolate, roasty) and hits your taste buds with a hop bitterness to match. Flavors of sweet licorice and then coffee start to come on. The finish is bitter and roasted with strong indications of black malt and burnt coffee. Every imaginable RIS flavor can be found in this beer, and with great balance. Alcohol is detectable, but certainly not 11.5% worth.

MOUTHFEEL: This is the other striking thing about the initial taste. The thickness of this beer just assaults your mouth, forcing you to savor every last drop. Full-bodied would be a gross understatement. Now that's what I'm looking for in a RIS!

DRINKABILITY: Sadly, this beer is so hard hitting that it'll take some time to get through. And it's got to be one and done... at least for me. But that doesn't mean my one is a chore. Far from it. I will enjoy and savor this one for as long as I need to.

Bell's continues to impress. This is exactly what I think of when I want a heavy hitting Russian Imperial Stout. It simply has it all. It may suffer from being so hard hitting, but that just means I'm getting my money's worth. Thank you Bell's for giving us such a fantastic beer!

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Photo of DaveFL1976
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow, that's black.
They should have another word for things this dark.
I spilled a drop on the countertop while I was pouring. I think my countertop is stained now. It's black.
But not relaly much of a head. A tan head surfaced at first, but by the time I sat down, the head was gone, and didn't really bother to cling to the side of the glass, either. Oh well.
The smell is lovely. Chocolate, coffee, and jsut general sweetness. No alcohol is discernable on the nose. It's nice. Really nice.
Taste? Holy cow! Huge! Massive! Chocolate just kicked me in the face. It's sweet, but with a bitter finish. Warm on the back of the throat. Really nice.
Mouthfeel is full and creamy, with those same microscopic tiny bubbles that I tasted in Westvleteren beers. It's great.
But huge. Huge to the point that drinkability might suffer a bit. I couldn't imagine drinking more than one in a sitting. But what a sitting!

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Photo of lenbert
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This was bottled on 10/2012. Pours black with very slight head. The head that it has lingers a good long time!

The aroma is of dark fruits, and malty chocolate. The taste mirrors the aroma, chock filled with malty and chocolaty goodness. The mouth feel is thick and very pleasing.

This is an amazingly delicious Russian Imperial Stout, currently my favorite.

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Photo of Neorebel
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, oil hue, nearly black into my glass, with an off-white frothy head covering the top. It remains there clinging to the side and holding steady at about 1/2 inch. This beer's appearance is on point - exactly what I am looking for, it's as if this is just a very large espresso I have here. The aroma is nothing short of an absolute delight! A complex array of flavors enters my nose, such as raisin, purple grapes, cream, molasses, coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and a slight woody, earthiness. After a healthy gulp I am pleasantly surprised to find that the aroma was not all hype in the slightest. I initially get some fruit flavors, again the grapes, dark fruit, and also a hint of cranberry, and noticeable hops of the "grapefruit" variety. Those first aspects are then overtaken by bitter chocolate, a splash of coffee, and a more musty, yet sharp "barrel" finish. The alcohol content is not as striking as you would imagine, although the warming sensation eventually does come when you sit for a second. For the mouthfeel, of course it's relatively heavy, but it's not as velvety and full coating as I would like. Overall though its quite delicious and worth picking up because of the more prevalent fruit and hop flavors within this excellent stout. I do wonder what aging this a few years would do to it as well...

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Photo of rawthar
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

One more from my Bell's Darkside case, about two months after purchase. This is my favorite of the bunch, time to rate it.

A- As dark as a black hole, no light that enters makes it through to the other side. A finger-and-a-half capaccino head, light and fluffy slowly dissipates, leaving some of the nicest lacing I've seen, and a nice thick filmy froth on top. Beautiful.

S- Hints of chocolate and dark roasted coffee mingle and swell like a double helix around a strong backbone of booze, and a buttery loaf of whole grain bread.

T- Boozy flavor hits like a wave against a cliff during a squall, followed promptly by the billowing smoke of a tribal bonfire carrying the essence of the roasting meat of a fresh hunt. Sweet notes of the darkest caramelized sugar rendered with dripping animal fat.

M- Oily alcohol floats on the brine like the rendered fat referenced above while the creamy carbonation bubbles from the darkest depths.

D- One is enough for even the fiercest of warriors after the most viscous of battles. Undoubtedly drank by Cimmerians during the spring raids into Pictland and Vaneheim.

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Photo of Parmesan
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Look: Pours a beautiful pitch black with a nice frothy brown head and some lacing on the glass.

S: Dark chocolate, some toasted malt, a little black olive, Roasted malt, Dark stone fruits. Very good smelling beer.

T: Dark chocolate, Roasted malt, Dark fruits, a nice bitterness from the chocolate. Complex and fantastic.

F: Creamy thick mouthfeel, with light carbonation.

O: One of the better stouts I have had.

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Photo of ryrust5301
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - At first it looks as if it's a pretty good russian stout. It has the molasses black oil look, with a faint bit of dark brown bubbles that shoot up and form a tiny ring right after the pour. It settled down too quickly though and appeared somewhat lifeless. Should have a bit more life to it.

Smell - Real BIG! Heavy burnt espresso notes, and a noticeable alcohol personality behind it. Also has that cherry oak scent to it that is present in some stouts. Hops also play their part too, backed by a bittersweet chocolate.

Taste & Mouthfeel - Smooth as silk with a sticky oily mouthfeel. I really frickin love this beer. Coffee and sweet chocolate are the biggest part of this beer, and hit you the whole way through the front half of the taste. The second half is a hoppy licorice taste with a oak and wood flavor. Maybe some vanilla dropped into to smooth things out as well. Hardly taste any alcohol at all, and it's a sledgehammer of a sipper.

Drinkability - This turned out to be a bad ass mofo of a beer, especially since I put some age on it. I can tell it did it well, as it prolly smoothed out some of the original harshness and allowed it to settle down into a smooth well rounded beauty. I expect nothing but the best from bells.

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Photo of korguy123
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz poured into snifter.
Special thanks to TheSevenDuffs for sending this gem my way.
Batch code 9512 (December 2009)

Quick background story first while it warms a bit. I've been a member here since 2008 but never really participated in reviewing or forums. I used the site to check reviews and ratings of the beers around me only. Last year my brother and his fiancee drove to Iowa to spend time with their friends. There first stop was Kalamazoo... Never heard of Bell's before and off they went. Two weeks later I here of Bell's (specifically Expedition stout and Hopslam) and am floored remembering that my brother drove through there not even a week prior... been trying to hunt them down ever since, and here we are now, a year later and finally sucess. Thanks Marcus!

A- Thick black syrupy pour producing a dense two finger dark khaki head. Quickly recedes to a faint ring. Lacing is wonderful.

S- Dark chocolate, blackstrap molasses, medium roast coffee, cream, brown sugar, vanilla, faint earth and wood, slight bourbon.

T- Bitter coffee, molasses, vanilla, smoke taste reminds me of cedar grilling on the bbq. Slight cherry taste. Alcohol is nowhere to be found in the taste.

M- Creamy and chewy. Sticky sweet on the lips after each sip. Very little carbonation (I know this was a point deduction for the Bro's but I kinda like it in this case, there is so much going on flavor wise that I didn't realize it until my third or fourth sip.

D- It's quite cold today so I decided itm was going to be a stout and barleywine day. So far this is keeping me quite warm. Come winter i could see this being a staple. The alcohol is mute in taste, and the complexity is wonderful definitely would have a hard time stopping at one or two (unless I can't make it to the fridge anymore)

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Photo of bnes09
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ink black and completely opaque. Ample amount of auburn colored foam. Exceptional retention for a beer of this strength, thanks to the hops, in part. Lots of sticky lines on the glass.

Highly complex, deep roasted aromas. Coffee and licorice. Assertive alcohol spice reminisent of a dark merlot. Smoked maple, molasses and prunes come through as well.

Spectacular flavors of dark coffee, baking chocolate, licorice, molasses, prunes, raisins, and sweet maple syrup. Hops are assertive, pungent, almost biting with a piney, soap-like bitterness that lasts into the aftertaste. Alcohol spice of bourbon rounds it out nicely. Highly complex and delicious from beginning to end.

Full-bodied, thick and chewy mouthfeel, just like a meal. Low level of carbonation is fitting.

Simply an excellent brew and a great example of the Russian imperial stout. Bell's has done it again!

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Photo of ILiveOffHops
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to my brother Sean for the 12 oz purchased at the Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville, VA.

Appearance - Jet black in color. Thin head, but good retention. I love the etching on the bottom of the Chimay glass, it does help produce more head.

Nose - Sweet sweet, roasted, slightly fruity- plums and blackberries.

Taste - Sweet, but not too much, roasted, very chocolately, melted brown sugar, slightly fruity, finishing with an nice roasted acrid bitterness and a slight alcohol taste. The malty, roasted, and, most prominently, chocolately flavors beat down the alcohol.

Mouthfeel - Heavy, smooth, viscious and a little sticky in the finish.

Drinkability - This could be the most drinkable RIS I've ever had. The lack of a sharp or even strong alcohol taste makes it a lot more drinkable to me. Smooth and damn tasty.

Overall Impression - What a great RIS. Smooth, balanced with lots of complexity.

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Photo of lnashsig
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage, poured from bottle into CBS Snifter. Pours a rich black color, nice tan head that recedes quickly. Some lacing. Beautiful so far. Smell- rich dark chocolate, molasses, roast, some mocha. Still plenty boozy. Man, after 2 yrs I would have thought this would mellow more. Its truly built for looong term cellaring, and I will be laying the rest that I have for awhile more. Taste- rich dark chocolate just coats my mouth. A touch of espresso hits the tongue and sides of mouth, followed by a nice roasty bitterness. This is just so complex. The booze doesn't present itself on the taste, it is really covered by the rich dark chocolate taste. Mouthfeel- still nice carbonation, super creamy and thick. This is a great beer. I am looking forward to seeing what else happens over time.

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Photo of CraigP83
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Very good stout. Pours black with thick mocha head. Nose is subdued roasted malts. Loads of chocolate flavor with coffee up front. It is a bit "hot". Mouthful starts thin and thickens after a moment. Very chocolate milk like

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Photo of Gusler
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

As this beauteous jet-black elixir of life sets in the glass, I just marvel at its thickness, and the miniscule chocolate brown head that dissipates into clumps of sticky lace. Nose has the aroma of bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee beans, sweet malt, and black strap molasses, what a treat to sniff this magnificent beer. Start is cotton candy sweet, the malt thick and heavy upon the palate, the top thick as a piece of chocolate fudge, the finish delicately carbonated the hops spiteful in their spicy bite, the alcohol quite evident in the bitter dry aftertaste. 'Excellent', not meant for the weak of palate, as this is as robust as “Stouts” get a real 'Stout Lovers' dream, WOW! Big beer, Big ABV, I may not need to eat supper after sampling this 'MONSTER'.

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Photo of alcstradamus
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A--Dark as night with a late cascading 3 finger chocolate milk looking head that almost overflowed my glass. Good lacing and retention.

S--Wood, cocoa, molasses, roasted malts, a hint of booziness. Big and complex.

T--Taste mirrors the nose, with the roasted malts taking the forefront. This is a big, bad ass beer. Not for beginners. This is probably deserving of a 5, but I'm having a tough time pulling the trigger because it seems that one more layer of complexity is just waiting to burst out but is held back by the wood and roastiness.

M--Thick, chewy, creamy, syrupy, whatever words you use this puppy is FULL bodied and wonderful

D--I had this once before, early in my craft beer life, and I was underwhelmed. I thought it was too thick and boozy. I suspect that the less-than-world-class rating on Beer Advocate is due to the same reason. This beer is easy to find if Bell's distributes to your state, but it is not meant for a developing palate. But I can tell you that this is 10 times better than I originally thought. Definitely one of the best stouts in the world. And so damn smooth and easy to drink I can't help but be in awe.

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Photo of SometimesIfart
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A -Pours an impenetrable black with a three finger bubbly white head. Left a ton of lacing.

S - Huge chocolate on the first sniff, followed by some cocoa. A second sniff yields sweet dates and chocolate covered cherries. The smell ends with moderate boozyness.

T - Sweet dark coffee up front along with dark chocolate covered cherries and dates. Alcohol also makes it's presence known.

M - Creamy body with light carbonation.

O - Overall, this was a great stout. Only complaint is that I wish the sweetness were toned down a bit. It would do wonderfully with some age.

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Photo of kdmorse
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Black from top to bottom and edge to edge. Capped with 1/2 inch of beautiful khaki head. Gorgeous smoke, coffee, and dark chocolate aromas with whisps of bitter hops. Some sweet fruity (prunes) alcohol in the nose. Hits the tongue with a wave of coffee perfection. Sweet prune and chocolately flavors as well. Low but appropriate carbonation levels. Thick, but not creamy, mouthfeel. Drinks well for alcohol content, but because of alcohol aroma/taste, it would be hard to do too many.

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Photo of beerceller99
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, batch # 6672.
Wow... Opaque black with a brown head. A slightly oxidized smell is mildly sweet with chocolate and plums, prunes. Medium heavy body with a oily mouthfeel. Rich taste of dark chocolate truffles, expresso, and plums with a slight hint of alcohol. A cloying finish has that expresso taste to it.
One of the best stouts brewed these days. Excellent.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap in Bloomington, IN earlier this year. Served in a snifter.

A: Very, very dark with a massive brown head.

S: Quite good, but a little muted compared with the taste. Hops, chocolate, coffee, cherries, slightly-burnt espresso.

T: Same as the smell, and utterly fantastic. I taste the most from the espresso with a little bit of the cherry.

M: Very thick. Chewy and creamy.

D: Highly, highly drinkable. Grab two of these and sip 'em for the rest of the night.

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Photo of mcallister
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on cask at Boston's in Dayton. Been waiting a month for them too tap this and off the pour it's not dissapointing at all. Black as midnight with a 2 inch creamy, fluffy mocha head that has retention that won't quit. Head has not faded after a good 5 minutes and counting...and counting....and counting....and counting.

Chewy caramel aromas with a dark chocolate backing, vanilla, black currant, coffee, hints of strawberry milk? huh, mollasses, and many other dark fruits. Delightful and pleasing to say the least.

As usual a huge masculine, robust, bold beast of a beer. Full of bitter as hell and full of dark bakers chocolate. Caramel with hints of roasty barley stand forward on the mid palate. But damn the bittering hops and pure tannin from the ground coffee and barley shine through the entire palate spectrum.FInish lasts longer than most insect lifetimes. Black and red currants, mollasses, gooey and resiny mouthfeel, hot fudge, creamy and delicious.

On cask it looks as though I will be drunk soon very soon from multiple glasses.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solid,deep black color. A picture of perfect blackness. Nice tan head on top. Great aroma-big chocolate and roasted aroma. Burnt raisens and licorice. Extremely slight alcohol comes thru. Huge,huge roasted malt flavor. Very espresso like-chocolatey and almost buttery fudge. A very smooth graininess. Huge body-its like a liquid piece of cake-just big in every way. I could consume this all night. A freakin damn fine beer. Doesnt exhibit the harshness as some imperials. This is what a dessert beer should be. Careful-it could be a session one if you put your mind to it. Get some-get a lot!!!

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Photo of rodrot
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is by far one of the boldest Imperial stouts I've ever had. It poured totally black with a nice half inch tan head that hung around. Aroma was very roasty and coffeeish with lots of ripe fruit
and a hint of madeira in the nose. Taste was very complex with a medley of flavors coming through. Espresso, dark chocolate, licorice and port wine were just a few of the flavors in each taste. Alcohol was barely evident, making this stout highly drinkable. Mouthfeel was quite rich and full bodied. This is not a beer for folks who favor light or less assertive styles. Next year, I'm buying a case of this stuff.

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Photo of Kendo
4.58/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from the bottle (package date: 8/22/14; consumed on 11/13/14 - as we get the first modest snow flurries of the year, leading me to think "Stout season!") into a Speiglelau tulip. It's thick on the pour, and black in the glass with a half-finger brown head on top. Very nice collar of lace on top, with slow-fading legs of lace after each sip refracting the light like the prism on Dark Side of the Moon.

S: Big stout nose. Dark fruits, molasses, chocolate and roasty malt.

T: Big stout flavors too. Chocolate-covered raisins, molasses, black cherry, roasted malt, charcoal and smoke all play nicely together, with a bit of cocoa powder and piney hops at the finish. Booze makes its presence known at the end of the sip, though after a few sips I've gotten used to it and barely notice anything more than the warming in the belly. And the buzz on the brain.

M: Thick in heft, modest carbonation at best leaves it slightly syrupy - but that's fine with me for a big stout like this.

O: Awesome stuff. I will likely drink this sipper far too fast.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,071 ratings.
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