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

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2,100 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: 2,100 | Ratings: 6,039
Photo of mjc410
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First bottle from my very own case...

The pour into my venerable La Moneuse tulip at first made me fear that there would be head head whatsoever, but out of nowhere bubbles appeared in the incredibly viscous ink. The bubbles themselves are incredibly thick-walled and oily looking. I had a Yeti the other day, and this appears even more massive, although the head is a good deal lighter, only a medium light brown, with large bubbles and thick lacing. It hangs around for quite a while, too. And what can be said about the body except BLACK? No light, no hope. None.

Smell is incredibly toasty and espresso-like. Definitely smells like expensive brownies, and fudge. Smells bitter, too. I like.

Good gracious, what is this taste? I'm at a loss for words - this is unique! Alcohol, definitely, and wood, for sure. Caramel leads the flavors. I'm picking up on some chocolate notes, and a coffee finish. I was hoping for more chocolate coffee flavors, though. Does become a bit cloying, as well.

Too heavy? Maybe...this certainly is the thickest beer I've ever had. No carbonation, either. Still, it is fitting. Although this beer certainly would be a good candidate for a nip bottle...

I will reach for another, and I do like this a lot, but I wished for a bit more. Not the best RIS I've had, but still nice. I think it'll age well...I certainly have enough to find out!

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Photo of hckyfn9999
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

I have high hopes going in at $15 a sixer, although I guess I've paid more at a bar for worse beers. Poured out of a bottle, there is minimum tan colored head that disappears quickley and leaves a little lacing around the glace. The color is jet black.

There is a smell of alcohol and dark chocolate and maybe raisons.

The taste is of espresso and chocolate. There is a bitterness consistant with espresso. The taste of alcohol is also very present, yet is pretty drinkable with the high levels of alcohol.

The mouthfeel of this beer is the only subpar aspect of this beer. It feels like watery hershey's syrup with little carbonation.

Overall, a pretty solid beer although I dont think that I will buy it very often because of the price, but I am not disappointed in my purchase.

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Photo of scalffd
3.31/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Perhaps I am too much of a newbie, but this beer did nothing for my palate. While highly regarded among beer enthusiasts, the alcohol dominated this beer from aroma to finish. The pitch black color was exciting, but the small, fizzy head that soon disappeared was lackluster. The smell and taste of alcohol was too overwhelming to be enjoyable and more balance would make the beer more pleasant. I prefer the Bell's Kalamazoo stout. Sorry, not a fan.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.72/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours just brutally thick. Appears to have no carbonation at all until bubbles are conjured out of no where and a 1/2 head of dark beige bubbles forms then gently falls. A ring remains with faint remnants of the head that once was across the top.

S: Molasses, marshmallow cream, cherries, red grape juice, black patent and resinous chocolate. Delightful

T: Begins very rich and creamy with some serious chocolate expressions. Reminds me of a luxurious chocolate-espresso cream you'd find in the middle of a killer cake. Moments remind me of a premeire chocolate syrup laced with cognac. The beer then transitions from a quaint dessert to something a bit more unrefined....the roasted coffee characteristics and severe bittering hops turn this once friendly puppy into an aggresive beast. With out an ounce of remorse, the roastedness dominates the palate before ever so slowly dwindling away leaving the mouth in shock and awe.

M: Full bodied with a great mouthfeel.

D: One of the most complex stouts on the market. This beer takes the tongue for a ride. Absolutely excellent imperial stout.

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Photo of burnstar
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black and thick out of the bottler. Huge persistant dark tan head clings to the glass as it slowly recedes. Coffee and chocolate roasted malt aroma dominates the nose along with some excellent fruit notes. Powerful espresso and chocolate roasted malt flavor hits first. The finish is powerful alcohol followed quickly by hoppy bitterness. There is a lingering roasted malt aftertaste and bitterness with notes of fruit. Mouthfeel is heavy. Not extremely drinkable but very good stuff. Definitely could pick up a six pack of this in the winter.

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Photo of klewis
3.64/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 7251

A: Pours a thick black with a small tan head. Specks of lacing.

S: The smell is primarily of fusel alcohol with some roasted coffee and chocolate aromas.

T: Huge taste with rich coffee flavors and earthy undertones. A touch of alcohol in the finish.

M: Thick and chewy with fine carbonation. The flavor lingers for a long time.

D: A very good RIS, but the alcohol in the nose is a bit much. This one seems a little young right now, and a year or two of cellaring would do it well.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A big "Thank you!" to BlackAngus for trading me this one.
Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is pitch black with a thin dark brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: Heavy coffee & chocolate aroma with roasted malt, a touch of dark fruits and a hint of alcohol.

T: Heavy roasted coffee flavor dominates the taste. As you drink more of it, you start to get a little bit of the bitter dark chocolate & hops which completely hides the high ABV.

M: Smooth, oily & thick, full bodied, light carbonation, very sticky finish though.

D: Tasty & smooth and you certainly wouldn't know that the ABV is at 10.50%, which makes you want another and another until they start catching up to you.

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Photo of luvND
4.52/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

P: 12 oz bottle, batch 7251, bottled 2/24/06
A: Absolute jet black, settles into a nice 1/4 inch head that laces nicely down the glass
S: Beautiful, toasted malt, chocolate, coffee, just pleasing
T: Rich, chocolate again with some coffee, the hops do come through and leave a really nice aftertaste
M: Thick, as it should be for the style, sticks to the tongue after the swallow
D: Very drinkable for over 10% alcohol, I have a slight cold, but I can neither smell or taste the alcohol
Notes: This is one great stout, maybe top 3 in my book. I will definitely try to get a case of this every year. We'll see how it ages, but it is damn fine as is, right now.

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Photo of hoppymeal
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with minimal reddish brown head that fades quickly. Very big, rich aroma is comprised of smoky and peaty smells with roasted malts, and a vinuous and big bourbony booziness. Taste reveals rich sugary malts, a hint of chocolate liqueur, quite sugary as it rolls on the tongue with some cola like flavor as well. A pleasant warming alcohol bite finishes the taste and there is a slightly drying aftertaste of roasted and smoky flavors. Nice big and chewy mouthfeel, a very rich and enjoyable ris. From batch 7205 at cellar temp.

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Photo of kaimcm
4.01/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

bottle poured into a pint glass. carried back from Ohio by my bud, cheers Croix!

A: black as tar with a really dark chocolate head. one of the darkest heads Ive seen in recent memory. nice light stick.

S: sweet and roasty malt, some vanilla and bourbon-esque notes. smells a tad stale. hints of cinammon and even cherries. booze.

T: huge creamy wave immediately followed by some roasted bitterness. a little chocolate is overtaken by lots of stale coffee which is then itself replaced by a grounds bitterness. toffee, some of that elusive aromatic cherry. a earthy woodyness persists on the finish which is mostly dry with just a touch of residual sweetness.

M: incredible. like a malted milkshake. big, thick, creamy, just awesome.

D: huge body, 11.5%, and not available in Mass! but all things considered this goes down pretty well on this painfully humid night. one a night for sure though, quite filling.

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Photo of DuqTroops
3.03/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance - very very dark in color with a tannish head atop the body.

Smell - lots of great aromas from this. chocolate / coffee

Taste - overwhelming taste of alcohol. too much for this lightweight. the smell is a lot better than the taste.

Mouthfeel - too much alcohol in the taste and could not handle this.

Drinkability - i couldn't handle one beer, let alone two.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.55/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Golden2wenty1 for the sample.

Dark, near opaque brown with a Crayola brown skim on top. Crude like. Well hopped and burning aroma of vanilla, coffee, plum, and booze. Tastes and feels like bitter and acidic coffee sludge with a hint of chocolate and a shot of gasoline thrown in for good measure. Dark fruits are also present. Very assertive, butt kicking beer. A bit much to drink more than a few ounces of. Long term aging would do this beer well.

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Photo of expatsteve
3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for sharing this one, Golden2wenty1.

Appearance: Black, with a 1/2 inch cappucino head. Nice thick lacing on the beer and the glass. Medium viscosity.

Aroma: Plum, cane sugar, chocolate and a booze/hops edge.

Taste: Booze over chocolate and molasses. Cream, toffee, raisin developments, along with a sharp boozy bite. Plum sweetness and a few espresso bursts, but definitely the most spicy stout I've ever had.

Mouthfeel: Thick and spicy, with a lot of hops and booze character. Low carbonation focuses attention squarely on the more aggressive characteristics of the beer.

Drinkability: While the flavor is balanced and fairly impressive, the bite in this beer is definitely a challenge. Enjoyable and distinct, but not most drinkable big stout I've had. Will probably please hopheads and strong beer fans who appreciate aggressive flavors.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Been sitting on a few bottles left over from a six pack for a few months. Broke them out for the Madison Big Stout Session, already known as one of the most epic tastings ever to be attempted.

Pour: crude oil thick and black, glug, glug, glugs into a taster under soapy capuccino head with a bit of chunky lacing.

Nose: espresso, vanilla cream, gasoline booze/hops, oatmeal malt, dark fruit and oatmeal malt.

Taste: appleskin tart, espresso bitterness, creamy vanilla sweet, unleaded booze-spicy, chocolate booze, black cherry and currant booze and a bit of nuttiness in the finish.

Feel: chocolate syrup thick, oily slick, uber-fine carbonation.

Drinkability/Overall: J.H.C., this is a potent beast of a beer - kudos for that - but a bit of a chore to drink, even 6 ounces worth. Yeesh. I'm spent, but must trudge on...

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Photo of twelvinlucifer
4.73/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours slow and thick. The head looks like chocolate milk foam! Tapers off after a while into a very nice lacing cover. Smells of chocolate and and coffee. Unbelievable smooth taste, lots of roasted malt in this one! There has to be a ton of chocolate malt in this as well. There is a nice bitter back-end on this that I can't quite put my finger on, but, it balances out quite nicely. Mouth feel is very nice, very clean for a stout of this magnitude. The alcohol is definitely present in the taste and when it hits the tummy it really warms you up!

This is probably My favorite stout of all time so far. It's going to be very hard for me to find any other that could top this!

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Photo of bjohnson
3.67/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: As I'm pouring this, I'm wondering if it's engine oil or a beer. Very thick jet black color with no head. No head=no carbonation....hmmm. Is it flat? It's got the color of a RIS, but I'm a bit curious.
S: Caramel, chocolate, coffee, dark fruit notes hit the palate all at once. Hard to decipher what is what in there. It's like getting lost in a black hole. Smells spicy and and a bit sweet for an RIS. High abv is definately noticeable.
T/M: Prickly on the lips even before I swallow some. Chocolate, coffee, caramel, and dark fruit flavors blend in and out with each peaking through here and there. After it initially goes down, theres an over eager sweet spicyness that floods the senses. Big long coffee aftertaste with a slight bitterness. Smooth, creamy, and velvety in the mouth. Coats the mouth, but doesn't hold like oil. Washes away pretty fast leaving you with a dry aftertaste. Huge body and very very complex. No carbonation on this guy makes me wonder if I'm drinking oil or a beer.
D: Abv is very noticeable. This could be a very drinkable RIS if it just calms a bit more--Possibly I cracked it too soon? Luckily I have another in the fridge. Pretty decent tasting RIS from Bell's, but I'm not sure about it. There was just something amiss. Everyone seemed to like it, but I'll swim against the current on this one.

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

Thanks to Jasonm for giving me this beer. I really enjoyed this beer. Sorry to take so long until I reviewed it.

Appearance: This beer pour absolute black! The head is moderate in size but rich in red brown color. A nice lacing is left as you swirl the beer, it simply looks exquisite.

Smell: Smelling this beer just absolutely teases the senses! A magnificent plethora of dark rum tobacco, leather, roasted malts, dark vinous grape aromas and more flood through the nose and straight to the brain sending me instantly into a state of awe! I guess you could simply say that it is a *very* enticing aroma!

Taste: After all the anticipation from the aroma the beer does not disappoint as it enters the mouth. It is vinous and thick. It starts off very roasty and the alcohol and hop dance like pins and needles on your tongue then as your palate adjust you begin to taste the remarkable depth and complexity with deep red flavors of grape and cherries meeting tobacco rum charcoal bitter flavor and balancing brilliantly. There are also hints of sweet like a caramel and coco with vanilla in there too. The finish is very bitter, with a spicy alcohol burn like a great bourbon. The alcohol is not shy and I love that feature as a whiskey fan.

Mouthfeel: There is plenty of rough around the edges that keep you awake and appreciating each sip. It is not *harsh* but it is certainly not easy either. This is for a fan of RIS who likes liquor. The feel in the mouth is thick and smooth. It is so creamy I can hardly imagine any beer could be creamier.

Drinkability: Simply put this beer is a perfect night cap! It is not a session beer (unless you want to hurt yourself). This beer is very big and not one I would call approachable. It is intimidating but for those who want a big ass Russian Imperial Stout stand back and get ready because here comes Bell's Expedition Stout.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of KilgoreTrout27
3.47/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a standard pint glass.

This beer could be exceptional, but it has some problems that are holding it back. Pours a deep black with no head whatsoever. Looks like motor oil, which isn't necessarily a bad thing with this beer. The smell of toasted malts is faint. The flavors of the beer are good, with coffee dominating as well as hints of chocolate. Big alcohol taste with this one, that gives off a nice burn. The mouthfeel is where this one misses out. Its thick and oily, which is okay, but where is the carbonation? If this had more carbonation it would help balance the oily finish. Drinkability is also hurt by this, as well as the high alcohol taste.

As I stated at the beginning, this beer could be great, and many other BA reviews don't seem to have a problem with the way this is put together, but I found that the lack of carbonation really held this beer back.

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Photo of bigman147
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours like dark crude oil. Viscous and black with dark brown bubbles as the only head formed. Impressive how black this stout is.

Aroma: Lots of malt, some raisin, Coffe, maybe toffee. Very aromatic with lots of depth. As the beer warms in my glass, each layer is peeled off like an onion. Absolutely wonderful with a slight amouth of hops and alcohol

Taste: Almost completely malt but with such depth. Slight sweet syrupy taste with good malt balance and slight hop bitterness. Malt makes way to a coffee finish. Slight sourness in the finish and a slight amount of smoke also.

Mouthfeel: Heavy syrupy notes with good carbonation to avoid being cloying. A slight creaminess in the finish.

Drinkability: I think that this is a wonderful beer. But it is by no means a session beer. The alcohol is powerful and the shear syrupy liquidness would make drinking 2 difficult.

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Photo of hanco005
4.19/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of batch 7205, poured into my St. Bernardus glass

A—pours black as night with some chunks of tan stuff that settles on the bottom like stones, no head at all, no lacing at all, it’s very thick and murky

S—alcohol, bourbon, almost overwhelming, faint coffee and licorice, a little soy too maybe, very strong in the smell

T—bitter alcohol flavors are strong with some coffee, chocolate, licorice tones, a sipper to be sure

M—very thick, full bodied, almost no carbonation

D—this is a sipper, no doubt about it, a perfect dessert beer, but one is plenty

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

12 oz bottle served in an AleSmith pint glass (just got them in).

Awesome pour - (poured side by side with Victory Storm King aged from Nov 04 2004), black like tar with a nice dark ruby hue in the light. Head was strong dark-brown.

Taste - near exceptional, this comes in at a dark chocolate taste with a nice, and appropiate, alcohol finish (not harsh though). Wonderful head and retention, aroma is excellent and no hops flavor at all.

This is hard to drink more than one of, and it would be hard giving this anything higher than 4.25 in the drinkability category - though, in no way is this hard to drink if you are trying it. Same for mouthfeel - this is not for the faint of stout. Imperial Stout fans - this is a must.

I am drinking this on the colder side, note why the hops are low, and am enjoying it more this way than at warmer temperatures.

Buy this beer, it is absolutely worth it, I am going to age some for 6-9 months to see if some of the alcohol gets masked.

Wonderful. Cheers!

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Photo of maundythirsty
4.52/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There was so much sludge in the bottle that I left a half-inch of beer behind on the pour. I dumped a bunch of it in my first Expedition Stout and the taste suffered quite a bit.

Head? From this barrel of oil? Skimpy layer of greasy brown bubbles turns quickly into a tiny ring of bubbles around the top of a glass full of midnight. Smell is baker's chocolate, roasted grains and maple. This beer has serious weight. I may be imagining the hops, but I think it's there up front before a round moutful of sweet roasted coffe and bitter chocolate.

Thick in your mouth to great effect, but I think it would do better with more carbonation. You understand the high alcohol is there without being distracted. A stunner. I don't know about having more than one in a sitting. However, I'm rating the third bottle I've had, and I'm already thinking about how wise it is to have only three more on hand.

Put off only by the sheer amount of greasy yellow goop that is fairly hard to keep out of the pour.

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

A: Poured a dark dark black body, with a light brown sticky head that left nice lacing.

S: Smelled mainly of the deep roasted malts that gave off a strong coffee and chocolate aroma. It also carried along a strong alcohol aroma.

T: Very similar that the aroma that fit well with the rainy and dark day that Cincinnati was having on the day that I drank this beer. It was a lovely coffee and chocolate taste that just really hit the spot, not unlike a comfort food.

M: Very very thick. This beer coated your whole mouth when it entered. When it was in you mouth and after you swallowed it left a lovely warming sensation throughout the body that was lovely on the rainy day.

D: I found this beer highly drinkable. As soon as I finished one I had the want to open another right away. It was really a lovely beer.

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Photo of shbobdb
3.48/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3


There is a lot of cookie dough in this beer. That isn't a bad thing . . . but I'm not sure I'm feeling it right now. The cookie dough is married first with coffee, which is where I think the flavours clash a little. A low-milk, high sugar latte with a dash of chocolate thrown in. Maybe a dash of molassas as well.

It actually reminds me of my homebrewed RIS. Here is the recipe:
2 Edme Stout Kits
3lbs Laaglander Amber DME
1lb Dextrose
6oz Blackstap Molassas
10oz Brown sugar
1oz Chinook hops at 90 minutes.

Pitch onto yeast cake of dry ale yeast (mine was from the ABDIJ beerkit from Brewferm). Age for 1 year. Prime with brown sugar.

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

Pours blacker than black. You have to ask yourself how much more black it can be, and the answer is none, it can be none more black. Moderate dark tan head that dissolves pretty quickly to thin islands. But hey, with 11.5% I think that's kind of excusable.

Smell is big on baker's chocolate with a booziness reminiscent of Tia Maria coffee rum. Also, raisins/prunes/dark fruit make a huge appearance, as do some really earthy smelling hops.

The hops in this serve to rein it in and keep it from getting too sweet, but it REALLY pushes it for me in terms of being too sweet and fruity. That earthiness keeps it dry and pretty refreshing, but it's still really big on dark fruits and raisins and maybe like a tart blackberry jam thing. That distinct tart fruitines is something I've only experienced in this and Batch 7000, and Southern Tier Jah-Va.

Mouthfeel is viscous and thick, but still really creamy and velvety and luxurious.

Good drinkability for a stout of this size, because let's face it, this is a huge ass beer.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,039 ratings.
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