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

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2,095 Reviews
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

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

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Reviews: 2,095 | Ratings: 6,006
Photo of philberinghele
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bolsheviks took these
the emperor's private stock
redistribute wealth

Imperial is the only way to describe this beer. I'd give you a faberge egg for a six pack and a portrait of Lenin. The workers at Bell's have created a monument to the excesses of the Czars and offered it to the revolution. There is a specter rising over Michigan, the specter of me drinking this beer and savoring every last fucking drop.

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Photo of PlaywrightSam
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Like motor oil. A surprising and enticing dark chocolate head. S: Coffee, hops almost completely subsumed under the heavy pull of cocoa and roasted malt. T: Hops now making a bold appearance, nice bitter finish. M: Milky, not much carbonation. Drinkability: Very, very nice, though with the heavy body and staggering alcohol content, this is definitely a sipping beer.

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Photo of Duster72
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black with a hint of a copper brown head which settles into a small ring around the glass. Aroma is roasty malts with hints of coffee and chocolate. Taste is roast chocolates and slightly burnt malts with some carmel sweetness. Very creamy mouthfeel with a slight alcohol burn. Taste lingers several minutes. Nice stout.

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Photo of granite
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A--- Poured a dark mahogany with a frothy little tan head.

S--- Esters, rich mocha and a heavy hand of roasted malt in the aroma.

T--- All chocolate malt and warming alcohol in the front. Fruity and vinous like in the middle. It finished with a nice astringent dryness provided by the roasted malt.

M--- Full bodied with a chewy mouth feel.

D--- This was a very well made American imperial stout. It had a very complex malt profile and a big mouth feel that I expect from this style. It has a little too much alcohol to session but it was the perfect winter dessert ale. It was delicious and I highly recommend it.

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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 pmcavena
4.46/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Some friends of mine hyped up this beer quite a bit. I opened the beer with excitement and high expectations, needless to say upon taking the first sip from the lavishly thick and creamy head I was not disappointed.

I continued to sip on the head for a few minutes, enjoying its subtle tastes of dark chocolate, and toffee, mixed with a malty texture.

The beer its self is beautiful, rich, creamy and bold. There is a mild, bitterness however most of the flavors of the beer are very balanced with a nice sweet after taste that leaves you wanting more.

If there was such a thing as a beer latte, this would be a fine example. It's so rich and thick, with so many flavors and subtle textures.

This beer has a hint of peppermint, mixed with a chocolate undertone, that makes for a developed rich taste and it makes this beer a very unique stout. There are also hints of banana, that blend into the mix perfectly. The lacing is beautiful, golden brown rims of delight surround the sides of the pint glass.

About half way through the beer, the lushes head is still present, still as rich and creamy as when I took my first sip. I begin to feel a tingle of warm alcohol, however it is ever so slight, and not over powering. This is a strong beer, but because of its rich and creamy taste, it is extremely drinkable.

The beer is beautiful, its almost completely black, but has a tinge of purple, complimented by a golden brown head thats still present almost to the end.

This is truly a beer that has one down fall, its so delicious that when its gone, I want another. I do have another six pack five feet away from me, but thats another story. If you can find this gem your in for a real treat, Cheers.

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

Poured into a pint glass, the first thing I noticed about this beer was how thick it was coming out of the bottle, very oily and syrupy. It quickly formed two-fingers of dark caramel head with some retention throughout. The lacing was thick and long lasting patches.

The scent of chocolate and espresso came up front with a mild candy sweetness following close behind. There was also a definite presence of alcohol. Overall however, for as strong as this beer is in every other aspect I felt the smell was a little mild. Not necesarily a bad thing, just not overpowering by any means. Pleasent.

This beer tasted great, coffee and chocolate once again, very mild bitterness in my opinion...there's almost some saltiness to this brew, but I think the sweet and salty maintains a nice balance. Finishes with a fairly warm flavor of alcohol.

I've gotta say this is by far the creamiest beer I've had. It's almost milky and chewy. Not one to just swallow immediately, it really takes some time to get through your mouth, and it leaves your mouth feeling sort of wet and dry at the same time. Very intriguing and enjoyable.

All in all this is an excellent beer that I'd definitely recommend, and I'm sure I'll be drinking it again, but due to the high abv and it's intense flavor and thickness, it's one to watch out for...I could probably only handle a couple of these at a time.

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Photo of hunteraw
4.02/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to mymrngjckt for sending this one my way in the Secret Bunny '07 exchange.

Appearance: black as the night, with a seriously dark and seriously big head. Some retention, good lacing.

Smell: Heavy on cocoa, roast (almost burnt - black malt?) and some soysauce. Hops come across as somewhat grassy. This is one you can keep smelling for a while before taking the first taste. Some alcohol.

Taste: Very similar profile to the nose, but I think soy sauce is a bit more pronounced. Caramel notes come out more on the palate, as well. Good finish. Reminds me of a homebrewed stout I made, except better. Solid bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Nice and thick, good carbonation. Sticks to your tongue - after this, an APA would taste like water. I'm surprised at the bros' reviews - the carbonation on mine was fine, must have been a batch issue??

Drinkability: Very nice, but not sessionable, both for the huge flavor and the high alcohol.

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Photo of stereosforgeeks
4.37/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - A wonderful thick black body and creamy dark tan head. Minimal Lacing.

Smell: Some roasted chocolate malts provide the major notes, but coffee, mild dark fruits, sour apple, and piney hops are there as well.

Taste: The roasted chocolate malts drive the flavor here. The coffee and plums intermingle nicely. The sour apples provide a nice mild tartness. The finish is a nice dry hop bitter.

Mouthfeel - Thick and chewy with minimal carbonation.

Drinkability - Do yourself a favor and buy this.

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Photo of drseamus
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours jet black with a thick dark mocha colored head. It smells like dark malt, dark chocolate, alcohol, and has a general sweet aroma. The taste is very sweet and very malty and it is very obvious that this is a high alcohol beer. There is a bit of alcohol burn after each sip. It's a bit too sweet for my taste. The mouthfeel is good and full, just like it should be. Overall, it's a bit too sweet for my taste, but this is a good beer.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle very basic bottle graphics. Poured into a chalice I had to be fairly aggressive to get the most out of it but it does form a loose chocolaty head. Lace is an occasional ring. Jet black body.

My initial reaction was they threw in everything AND the kitchen sink. This is a palate stretcher. Mollasses seems to edge its way out as the champ but followed closely behind with chocolate and huge levels of charred bitterness. Mouthfeel was a drawback as its ultra creamy and far from smooth. More or less it coats the mouth and you have to chew for a while to get it all down. There is a touch of a candied backside but the beer never allows it to develope any presence. This brew is incredibly huge in every way including a rum like alcohol presence.

Notes: Not for the faint of heart. I can see why some would be turned off by this as its alot to take in (or dissect). I thought it was really good but not in the elite category for the style.

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Photo of umustdrink
4.83/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've had this one once before and have always thought it to be the best stout I have ever had, it still is.

Served at slightly more than 50 degrees.

A - I poured this one rather aggressively in my tulip so I got a gigantic head. It was kind of fun to watch the head change forms from a solid looking head with TINY little bubbles to a big rocky formation with a smooth top. Head is deep brown in color and gets darker as it gets closer to the actual beer. Lacing sticks in thick patches.

S - Aroma is of lightly roasted malts, more sweet than bitter chocolate and a creamy milky background. Very slight alcohol vapor like scent just barely detectable.

T - Oh yes...this is it. Slightly bitter up front, quickly leading into a dark toasty malt with a creamy chocolate note, grainy in texture. Warming, comforting alcohol as it goes down. Heaven in a glass.

M - THICK consistency with a nice oilyness allowing for maximum taste retention. Parts of it are noticeably grainy, like unmixed hot cocoa.

D - I've never had Darklord, but to me this is the best stout and one of the best beers allover I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. Thank you Bell's!

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Photo of dogger6253
4.85/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours out like motor oil, dark and viscous, almost black. The head is a beautiful mocha color that dissipated to a thin ring around the top.

Smells like chocolate, slight alcohol present blended into the licorice. I also noted hints of citrus and a definite roasted-coffee scent. There are other fruity aromas present too, but I have trouble picking them out, raisins/plums perhaps? Also a definite molasses tone in the aroma. The chocolate and fruits come through more as the beer settles.

The taste is dominated by roasted malt and chocolate with hints of coffee or cocoa coming through. Towards the finish, a very slight hint of alcohol balanced by a fruity sweetness, figs and plums.

Very thick in the mouth, but not overly so. This is what my idea of a stout should be; thick and heavy, yet delicious and easy to sip. I would drink this all night. The alcohol definitely affects you so be aware if you're having a few. The alcohol is masked very well in the taste. This is one of my favorite stouts, by far.

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Photo of kdoc8
4.92/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this both on tap at the brewery and in a bottle, but reviewed from the bottle purchased at the brewery. I can't believe this is an 11.5% stout. You simply cannot taste the alcohol content at all. It pours a deep dark black color with some hints of red to it. I didn't get too much of a head from either on tap or the bottle. The little there was was dark brown in color. The aromas were so complex. Chocolates and fruits and coffee or mocha roast with just a twinge of alcohol. The taste was similar. Started out with a little bitterness and then erupting into the complexity of the malts. This was the winner of I'm Bored Tonight Stout-Off, pitted against Deschutes Obsidian Stout and Rogue's Imperial Stout. It was a hard choice - they were all amazing, but I found the Bell's Expedition to be the most complex and and exceptional. Way to go Bell's. Another job very well done.

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Photo of udubdawg
4.31/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. From the code I see this was bottled Feb 2006. Let's see how this has evolved over 13 months. Over the last 3 days I've had Old Rasputin, Bourbon County, and now this. I can't very well drink all three of these monsters at once to do a proper comparison, but I'm curious to see how this stacks up anyway.

Pours nearly jet black, and thick, almost syrapy. After seeing no initial carbonation or head I expected I got another of the bottles I've been reading reviews about - "where is the carbonation?" - etc.
But the pour finished it suddenly formed a huge dark brown frothy head. After a VERY impressive display of reverse cascading this would subside but a quarter inch of it would last to the bottom. Unexpectedly nice lacing too. For those that haven't gotten a head on their pour, let me say that it is beautiful. On appearance, this beer easily defeated the other big stouts I mentioned.

Nose is strong alcohol, with added dark roasted coffee and chocolate. A hint of char on this one. I didn't notice fruitiness at all at first, but as it warmed it was quite strong - raisin and plum especially. Not quite as complex as the Rasputin (or if so it was overshadowed by the alcohol) and not nearly as strong in the nose as the Bourbon County. Not the best, but quite good.

Well this beer hasn't lost it's edge after more than a year. I don't think I'd have liked this one that much fresh. Malty chocolate/sugary plum/coffee flavors. Strong alcohol which is heating up my throat. Some hits of carmelized sugar and char. Nice hoppy/coffee bitterness in the finish. Overall pretty boozy as one would expect from this ABV, but quite good. Not my favorite combination of flavors, but relatively complex, tasty, and warming. If I could, I'd rate this flavor as 4.25. I'll give it another shot one day at 4.5.
Nice full mouthfeel with some alcohol burn. Though not heavily carbonated, it is far from missing as many have experienced, and I give thanks for that. Truly a meal in a glass.

I can't conceive of drinking more than one of these. It is huge, relatively complex, with a bitter finish and very warming. Though I won't rate it as highly as the Rasputin or Bourbon County I had the last two days (at least on the BA scale) if I were looking to SIP one beer over the course of an evening in front of the fire, this might be my choice. At $2.33 a bottle, I'm glad I've got several more.

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Photo of ILhophead
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, Batch # 7740, poured into a Stone IRS glass

A: Pours with a 1/2 inch head that falls down to a thin ring of tiny bubbles around the edge of the glass. Very black, pretty viscous.

S: Smells of roasted malt, dark chocolate, raisins, alcohol, and a licorice or molasses kind of smell that I find a few of Bell's high gravity beers.

T: Very rich, strong flavor. Dried fruit, dark chocolate up front with roasted malt, a hint of coffee and alcohol coming in through the finish. Nice level of sweetness. Very tasty!

M: Nice viscosity, coats your mouth. Very warming alcohol.

D: It's pretty drinkable for an Imperial Stout but you probably wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) want more than one of these.

Overall an outstanding beer and at $2.25 a bottle it's one that I can afford to stock my cellar with. Very big beer. Big flavor, big alcohol, big enjoyment!

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Photo of loving44
4.48/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've been sitting on this one for months waiting for a good time to sample it... it's time!

Pours extremely thick and black... probably the thickest stout I have ever seen. I held my pint glass up to a very bright desk lamp and no light made it's way through at all! Very little head... even after a fairly aggressive pour only a thin caramel colored film of bubbles rose and they vanished quickly. Small whisps of carbonationation can be seen slowly sneaking through the think crude of a beer to the surface.

The nose is full of dark fruits, raisin, plum, fig... also I smell chocolate pudding, black cherry, butterscotch, deep roasted coffee, and slight alcohol. The alcohol is very slight... give no hint to the massiveness of this beer.

Taste: coffee hits me right away with a deep roasted malt character that I don't think I've experienced in many stouts. A very "heavy" flavor if that makes any sense.... This is followed by rich chocolate, coco powder, ripe plum, very intence. As the beer warms more alcohol bitterness comes though.

Mouthfeel: This is like drinking tar.... the thickest beer I have ever had in my life. Carbonation is there but the massive body in this beer keeps it in check. It coats your mouth and stays there.... leaving a protective beer barrier that you will enjoy for hours!

Drinkability: I can't see how anyone could survive drinking more than one of these... two at most. The beer hides it's alcohol very well, but it will catch up with you for sure! If you can find this, pick it up. This is a must try for stout lovers!

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Photo of quikfish13
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very thick black with no sign of carbonation in the pour. Suddenly a nice foamy and thick two finger head appeared out of no where threatening to spill over the glass. Smells of roasted malts and dark chocolate were very prominent with a slight hint of coffee and alcohol.

This stout smacks you heavily with alcohol in the after taste with a very dark chocolate and bitter hops flavor in the middle. Virtually no carbonation in the mouthfeel.

Leaves a very heavy taste and sometimes a lttle hard to swallow. Not really a beer I could see having a session with a six pack with. None the less a good beer to drink and savor for the extremely bold flavors. Any fan of stouts should give this a try at least once.

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Photo of flexabull
4.37/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beer pours a deep black color with a decent sized brown head that quickly faded.

This smells a bit sweet, with some stewed fruit, dark chocolate, and a bit of alcohol.

Flavors are full and rich. There is a very malty coffee and chocolate backbone. It follows with some sweetness, and a touch of hoppy bitterness. The finish is crisp, and with a touch of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is quite good, very full, and well rounded.

Drinkability is good. This has a bit of a boozy feel to it, but it's not overwhelming at all. It works well as an after dinner sipper, and the high scores it has received are well earned.

Thank you MuenchenerKindl for sending this beer out west.

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Photo of
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle

Opaque black, with a modest brown head. Towards the finish, edges appeared to be a clear, dark mahogany color.

Aroma was molasses, dark fruits (raisins & figs), and chocolate.

Taste was mainly sweet, and followed aroma. Chocolate, dark fruits. After a bit, coffee and roast came into play, more at the finish. A bit of bitterness at the end, not much, though. Alcohol was present and strong enough to be noticed. Finally, at about room temperature, a soy sauce like flavor came into play.

A very thick body, chewy and viscous. My idea of a stout. Creamy, based on (my guess) very well integrated carbonation. Smooth and dry. Alcohol warming in play at first sip.

Wow, thickest beer I've ever had, I believe. A sipper for sure, and what a way to spend a winter evening.

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Photo of Daehpoh
4.51/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presented in a tulip glass, this looks amazing.
Black with one finger mocha head that coated the interior of the glass.
Aroma of coffee and chocolate.
Taste is extremely full and busy. Chocolate, coffee after, great hop balance. Too many flavors for me to distinguish, but this is the best tasting stout I have ever had.
Full bodied for sure, but not dense. The flavors are not weighed down by their collective substance, but are on full display to be enjoyed.
Delicious and smooth, but huge flavors and high abv limit its drinkability.
If a better RIS exists, I haven't had it. This beer is top shelf.

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Photo of rallison
4.66/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 12oz bottle into a Chimay goblet at cellar temp.

A: Beautiful jet black with a 2 finger brown (yes, this is one dark head too!) head that cascades upon pour (like Guiness from the tap, except that you'll truly look forward to tasting what shows up). Not quite as thick as motor oil, but not all that far off (and I just changed the oil on my car today, so you can trust my comparison!). Head lasts nicely, especially considering the alcohol level.

S: Good roasted coffee, dark chocolate, some more roastiness, and some more chocolate!

T: Amazing. Tons of bitter chocolate and espresso. This is truly one of those beers that will keep you warm on a cold night. Get some fig and prune flavor in there too, with maybe a bit of black licorice. Alcohol is there, but not overpowering - just a nice warming at the end. This is on the extreme end of imperial stouts flavorwise - you better like the roasted, bitter chocolate and coffee flavors - not for the faint of heart indeed! Needless to say, that makes this one of my favorite beers. So, you ask, what can you really call this beer? And I shall answer. It is one delicious, luxuriant journey to chocolate spiked espresso heaven!

M: Exceptionally rich and full mouthfeel. I guess it could get a bit intense after a few, but the mouthfeel is quite enjoyable.

D: All I can say is this: The amazing flavors far outweigh the heaviness of this beer. And considering this is 11.5%, it's pretty drinkable.

Delightful! Exceptionally well crafted, worthy of all the praise it receives. This beer took a special trip to Lone Hill to get, and was worth every penny (well, if I could get this for just pennies...wait, that would prevent me from ever being productive again...).

In a word, extremely highly recommended. Stone makes one amazing RIS, but in my mind, the title (for now) must go to Bell's. Go. Buy. Drink.

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

Appearance: Thick, completely black, little bit of med brown head. If there were any bubbles there, they were eaten by the thickness of this brew.

Smell: Dark fruits, heavily roasted malts, a bit of hops and vanilla. Alcohol is present in the smell along with some sweetness. Very nice.

Taste: Shamalamadingdong, this is truly an awesome beer! Dark semi-sweet chocolate mixed with rasins and hop then meld with hops and a nice warming of the palate from the alcohol. Coffee seems to linger later as the warming continues. Almost like one of those fancy coffee cordials, but without all the sugar. Not quite like and RIS I have had before.

Mouthfeel: Very sticky. I could see this being very harsh to the light beer drinkers. Unless you like your beer to hang out and have a party in your mouth for a while, steer away from this one. I liked it though!

Drinkability: Only one for a night is all I need. Maybe one a week would be about right. Any more and you might ruin your pallate. Very assaulting but in a good way. Will keep me coming back for more.

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Photo of BillyB
4.22/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Excellent Russian Imperial Stout, although I wouldn't try to drink too many in one sitting!

Pours opaque with absolutely no light coming through. Dark tan head quickly fades.

Aromas of roasted malt, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, dried dark fruits like plums, raisins, even some prunes. Also caught some fig and date notes.

Tastes are the same as aromas with a big whiskey-ish alcohol taste and chocolate, coffee and dark fruit character.

Creamy and full bodied with a strong alcohol warmth.

An excellent example of the style.

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Photo of phil7568
4.87/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Grabbed the last two bottles of this at Roof Bros. in Paducha, KY a week ago. I meant to hold on to them for a while but I couldn't resist. I've wanted to try this beer forever.

The beer pours jet black with an inch head which quickly becomes about 1/8". As noted by other reviews the aroma is dominated by dark fruit and chocolate, very enticing.
Awesome flavor. This brew has everything from sweet chocolate to roasted coffee and everything in between with only a hint of alcohol. It's so rich and smooth.

I figured this could not live up to expectations and was actually expecting a letdown. That didn't happen. I can't say anything negative about this awesome RIS. I wish I had more!

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,006 ratings.
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