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

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2,101 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: 2,101 | Ratings: 6,043
Photo of Hallu
4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a ballsy stout, like Port Brewing's Old Viscosity. It's not a sweet one, it's very much on the bitter chocolate, winey dark fruits, roastiness. It stays with you for a very long time. I would have wanted tobacco, or smokiness to really push the boundaries. As is, it's a bit too much on the dark fruits for me.

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Photo of yung_peli
4.71/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Black w/ a 2 finger mocha head, some retention and lacing
AR: Coffee, chocolate, molasses, caramel, hints of dark fruit
T: Follows nose, slight twinge of hop bitterness on the finish as well as bready malt
M: Medium, slightly chewy and oily.

A wonderful stout. Does become a little syrupy when too warm.

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Photo of jpearce4
4.7/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Various bottles ranging from fairly fresh ( < 2 months) to about 10 months. Have yet to try a truly aged Expedition, but it's on my list! Never have enough patience to keep aging them fully.

Look - Very dark, almost black, very thick. Hardly any head retention, but maintains a small ring around the edges.

Smell - Chocolate, almost fudge or cake, small hint of chili, roasty notes (more so on the very fresh version).

T - Really excellent balance between chocolate and roast with pleasant bitterness that makes you want to keep drinking more. Very slight dark fruit notes.

F - Thick! Very smooth and creamy drinker.

Essentially the perfect example of an Imperial Stout.

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Photo of Thomas_Wikman
4.61/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

I had this sent to me from Ohio by a friend. I loved it.

(L) It has a dark brown almost black color and an inch mocca colored head.

(A) It has an aroma of choclate, coffee and banana.

(T) It has a really nice balance of flavors, coffee, chocolate, banana, dark fruits, and it has a nice lingering bitterness and alcohol is almost not detectable.

(F) It is creamy and smooth and very pleasant drinking.

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

Pitch black pour with a medium height espresso head with decent retention. Smells like milk chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, cherries. Very smooth texture with low carbonation and taste notes that include espresso, roasted malts and dark chocolate up front, followed by a bit of caramel, cocoa and cherries and some vanilla in the background. Very well balanced and just the perfect mouthfeel.

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Photo of adamhdg
3.58/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I know. I'm way off in comparison to other ratings. But, this is about my taste preference. Jet black pour with a thin toffee brown head and heavy lacing. Smells of dark malt. The taste is one of licorice, coffee, and molasses. Very creamy mouth feel. Overall, I enjoyed this, but just not my favorite stout. I'm sure this is sacrilege, but just one novices opinion.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Aged 6 months from bottling date in the dark.

The pour : Total inky blackness, straight 5,000 mile oil change black with brown tinges from the bottle...you know the kind. Head forms a finger in the snifter and fades to a firm creamy moss on top. 100% opaque. Totally on point for a RIS.

The smell : From the bottle I get smoky lactose and ripe bananas; from the snifter with some agitation I get (a 5 star appearance with an almond head!) more ripe bananas, black cherry, dark figgy notes, raisin, a touch of milk chocolate, and a small hint of metal. Complex, deep aromas with focus on fruits but not quite linear. Solid.

The taste : Less powerful than it was fresh, but still fabulous. I get a mishmash of oats, chocolate, lactose, raisin, banana nubs, with a significant stale metallic note permeating the whole profile. I know this metallic presence was not there before, perhaps it's infected or these 6 months have been rough on poor Expy.

The feel : is beyond amazing. By far the creamiest, substantial, deep stout I've had. Excellent.

The skinny : So basically I think this bottle was an unfair trial as my first one from the pack was totally amazing. The metallic bitterness presented here almost ruins the experience but I know for a fact this was better the first time through. Perhaps the best thing to do is to age the rest of them another 6 months to shave off whatever might be mutating in there.

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Photo of mschrei
4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled May 2015, 11 months old when drank. Poured into snifter. Standard dark stout color, not much carbonation or head. Slight chocolate and coffee on the nose. Sweet start, subtle bitterness in the middle. More chocolatey and malty than anything else. Smooth, not too oily.

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Photo of Alan_Bats
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L- Brilliantly dark with an almost brown 2 finger head.
S- Not overly fragrant but a lot of notes still there like coffee, dried fruit. alcohol and a little chocolate
T- Tastes how you would expect from the smell but the tastes are stronger. Sweetness from dried fruit and chocolate notes with a great roasty backbone. Coffee and chocolate in the aftertaste.
F- Nice full-bodied stout

The looks are a great first impression and the beer backs it up with nice flavor to balance out the high abv.

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Photo of MIbeer27
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, dated 09/02/2015.

Bottle into snifter with dark as sin, pitch black hue. Thin espresso colored head that quickly fades.

Aroma has so much going on. I get chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, wood, leather, cherry, and booze. Wow.

Taste matches up. Boozy, chocolate covered dark fruit with some leather and wood. The intensity builds as it moves through the mouth, finishing with a huge, stinging bitterness.

Motor level oil thickness on this one with light carbonation. Not quite the fullest I've ever experience, but in the top three without a doubt.

Expedition Stout belongs on the Russian Imperial Stout version of Mount Rushmore. The only issue I have at this stage is the massive bitterness on the finish. This is one of the few beers I think would benefit from some mellowing, so to the cellar the rest of the six pack will go!

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Photo of jmasher85
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

As good a stout as everyone says it is, I'm drinking a 1 1/2 year old bottle from a trade (what a nice guy!) and the flavor and texture are spot-on! Smooth as silk with a nice head that recedes nicely while maintaining very gentle carbonation and creamy texture. Seriously, this stuff is crazy smooth with little alcohol burn.

The nose has a lightly charred, smokey flavor with some coffee and chocolate notes, and just a hint of black cherry and port wine. Flavor is also bitter on the front end with some coffee, cocoa, and molasses, and just a hint of that savory, briney, soy sauce flavor that many imperials stouts come with. Mild black cherry flavor makes a return here too.

As good and accessible an example of the style as one could ask for!

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Photo of jaypaul522
4.56/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a good one. The beer pours very dark with a lot of head. The smell is malt and fruity overtones. The taste is strong, with the fruit coming through in the aftertaste left in your mouth. The body is full and very pleasant to drink. This is one of the best stouts around.

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Photo of derftron
4.59/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This enters the gold club for non barre aged stouts along with Narwhal, Ten Fidy, Storm King , and Stone RIS.

Recent addition to the Oregon distribution, this is very nice to have around. Had it 3x out in North Carolina, just as good as I remember it.

Pouts black, smells like dark chocolate, malt, sugar, coffee. Exquisite imperial stout, definitely one of the best I have ever had

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

Poured into snifter glass. It pours a rich, dark mahogany, nearly black, with a one-finger, mocha-colored head and extensive lacing that didn't dissipate throughout the pour. It features that classic RIS smell: chocolate, coffee, caramel, dark fruit, and and enough booze to get your attention. The taste is truly outstanding with lots of roasted malt, dark chocolate, burnt coffee, caramel, and one of the best dark fruit profiles I've ever experienced. The tastes blend magnificently. This stout is rich and very creamy, lightly carbonated, and easy to drink despite its 10.5% ABV. Overall, Expedition merits its lofty rating. It is exceptionally well-crafted and delicious. This is just a notch below Parabola and right up there with Ten Fidy, Narwhal, and some of the other big name RIS's. I'm hooked!

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Photo of rrock44
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked up a sixer at the Belmont station (wish I picked up a case). This is right up there with all my favorite stouts - speedway (can't believe I never reviewed this one, but easy 5), ten fidy, a Stone IRS...Chocolate, coffee, motor oil-esq nectar of the gods. This one lives up to the hype for me.

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Photo of medicinewheel
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

6 month old bottle from date on label, maybe too young, couldn't wait. This is Bell's after all.

Look- Black as night, it is like motor oil, tan thin head, quick run lacing. (Doesn't last)

Smell- almost too much to describe, so much going on at once- pine, tar, resin, chocolate, coffee, wine.

Taste- dark Chocolate, coffee bitterness that lingers, possibly some very ripe banana, noticed that after many tastes.

Feel- Smooth, light carbonation but the effect here is so appealing for the style, the ale just lingers on the tongue and the palate, you'll feel it sip after sip it's right. Bitterness will sit on the back of the tongue for a while in such a pleasant way commanding another taste.

Stout's are not my favorite style-but- now this Stout is one of my favorite's how's that for a change of pace!?
Only Bell's could do something like that-

It's a massive Stout and I recommend anyone give one a try regardless of palate preference- it's simply an amazing ale.

If you come across this- it's a must have.
Cellaring would be damn fun if you have the patience.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Hits all those used motor oil notes, beige head right at that deft one inch mark with very tiny bubbles, great retention. Aroma was deep bitter roast, chocolate malt.

Thick consistency and viscosity, coats the mouth, enveloping mouthfeel. Covers the alcohol well, imparts heavy notes of chocolate without using it as an adjunct. Very chewy, but yet not heavy relative to every other aspect of the beer.

Remember when the Bros gave this beer a C-? Those were the days.

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Photo of ikenney87
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Acquired this vintage bottle from my gracious neighbor. Will give him homebrew and other beer to compensate! Also need to figure out how he stored the bottle.
Bottle has date of October 2012.
Poured into a goblet-style glass at 40F.

Look: Opaque black with no head.

Smell: Sweet stone fruit, soy sauce, concord grape-like vinousness, coffee grinds, overripe bananas

Taste: Dark plum sauce, bakers chocolate, leather, spicy white pepper. Has a 'soily licorice' roasty aftertaste that is extremely pleasant and reminiscent of Kalamazoo stout. Moderate nondescript bitterness at the back end (the ghosts of hops past) keeps the syrupy sweetness in check. Combination of earthy, vegetal hops and soy-sauce style umaminess in aftertaste not bad, but not great either.

Feel: Thick, luscious, and creamy start with a surprisingly dry finish. The moderately low level of fine carbonation is pleasant.

Overall: A great stout. I'd be interested to try a fresh bottle and compare, seeing as this is my first time trying this beer.

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Photo of alarmclock314
4.29/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle, dated 11/6/15. Pours black with a medium sized khaki head. Smells of mostly dark roasted malt and earthy hops with some dark fruit and cocoa. The taste follows exactly with lots of malt and hops, some more reserved cocoa and dark fruit; very good intensity. Moderate bitterness and slight dryness in the finish. Above average body and carbonation. Overall, it's a pretty straight-forward RIS. It's advertised as being cellarable which makes sense with its strong malt and hop profile.

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Photo of crisis1290
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bell's Expedition Stout - Bell's Brewery, is one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts I have ever tasted. My beer was pour after sitting in the basement for almost a 16 months after purchase. Yummy.
Super dark pour. A nice foam ring hangs around for quite some time. Thick , malty and delicious. I find the 10.5 ABV is well hidden as compared to others.
This is a quality beer and yes, you pay for the quality as you do with all great beer. Another fine product from one of the best breweries out there.

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Photo of wuthrichj15
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Awesome brew. Super easy to drink for 10%. Nice chocolate/roasted malt notes with some dark fruit that comes through as well. i drank some bottles that had aged quite nicely. What is great about the RIS is that over time, the flavors come together more harmoniously over time. Unlimited shelf life for these bad boys.

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Photo of kilo_005
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a wide Belgian-style (Duvel to be specific) glass.
I gather people drink this beer at various levels of aging - this one was about 5 months old.

A: Very dark and little to no head. This beer has a strange viscosity to it, which some people think is a positive, but to me, it's a bit strange! It really does look like motor-oil, as one of the previous posters suggested - if you look at it up close it even has that same sheen.
S: This is where this beer really shines. The aromas are incredible, with all sorts of excellent roasted malts in combination with all the dark fruit / raisiny smells you might expect. But what's so impressive is you don't just get that ethanol smell overriding all that subtlety, even though the ABV is quite high. To get those aromas to come through at that level of alcohol is extremely impressive to me.
T: Very good. This beer is drinkable and delicious, but can also be appreciated with small sips. The level of bitterness vs. malt is nearly perfect, at least at the aging that I had this bottle. They got the balance right. The only reason my rating isn't higher is just because the excellent aromas don't quite come through fully in the taste.
M: Similar to what I said regarding smell, it's impressive that you don't get hit with any overwhelming alcohol burn or anything like that, despite the high ABV. You can really enjoy the beer. And, although I thought the viscosity was weird for the appearance, it's totally pleasant as far as the mouthfeel.
O: I don't think there's really any way to dispute that this is one of the top high-alchohol stouts out there. It's an exquisitely crafted beer and really my only knock is just that I personally think the oily/not-too-carbonated appearance is not great, but if that doesn't bother you then really there's no faults with this beer at all.

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Photo of gustavmahler-09
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark solid black, one finger head. Aroma not very gripping, but taste and feel are great. Long taste, thick, complex flavors, thick and creamy on the palate. I really enjoyed this.

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Photo of lastmango
4.61/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured black as night with a frothy chocolate milkshake two finger head. Aroma initially was of mild birch beer then dark chocolate and coffee. The first sip blew me away with the thickness of this brew. This is heavy stuff! Thick and chewy with a bit of oiliness. Low carbonation. The taste is complex and hits you in waves of malt, dark chocolate, coffee, caramelized sugar and followed by black licorice. And . . . that is only in the first half of the glass. As you savor the complexity, you may notice dark cherry and raisin flavors too. Watch out for the alcohol. At 10.5 ABV, you do not notice it at first. It sneaks up on you. Sip this one slowly while listening to some of your favorite classic jazz, country or oldies. You will want to roll this on your tongue and savor every drop!

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Photo of brewaddict
4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is a review of a fresh 2015 and realize this needs some age. I've put away 5 more to review at later dates.
L - Pours syrupy and black with a thin mocha head
S - Notes of rich mocha and roasted coffee
T - I taste lots of coffee, burnt sugar, dark chocolate, and a bitter finish
F - This one's thick, thick, thick, and chewy. I get some residual chest heat
O - thickest stout I've had. Lots of depth of flavor. I'm excited to see how this one ages.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,043 ratings.
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