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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 TK5150
4.31/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours black with brown head.

S- Chocolate, coffee, cherry, fig, other fruits.

T- Chocolate..almost like chocolate cake, cherry, coffee, fig, char, milky lactose flavor that ends sweet. Very flavorful.

M- Thick and full.

D- So tasty that it gets high marks even though its such a burly beer. Definitely a sipper though.

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

Bottle of 2011. Into Duvel glass.

Appearance: 4.5
Almost jet black opaque body, with an inch of creamy light brown head. Good lacing.

Aroma: 3.5
Strong notes of molasses and candy sugar. Notes of dark fruit and faint notes of milk chocolate and roasty espresso.

Taste: 4
Initially, semi-bitter dark chocolate/cocoa, dark fruits and coffee with notes of dark fruits. Slight warmth and presence of the alcohol. A moderate dry bitterness soon after that lingers through the whole taste. Finishes with amazing rich roasty flavour with a touch of sweetness, contrasting with a moderate amount of coffee and bitterness from the hops. The flavour changes quite a bit as it warms, improving significantly. As it approaches warmer temp, flavour soften and melt together with more mellowing out of the bitterness/sourness and bring forward more roasty cocoa flavors.

Mouthfeel: 4
Moderate thickness, a touch on the dry side because of the notable bitter presence. Mild to moderate carbonation.

Overall: 4.5
A nice beer with pleasant dark chocolate and roasty characteristics. Quite enjoyable, overall excellent stout. Good aging potential. Smooth mild presence of alcohol even though ABB 10.5%.
Recommend to try.

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Photo of BigDaddyWil
3.77/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a snifter glass.
No batch date on bottle.
Purchased a single at Cloverleaf for $2.70.

Slick, dark black, oily liquid pours from the bottle. A minimal tan colored head forms and then quickly disappears. No lacing, low carbonation, but an oily coating clings to my glass. Lots of dark fruit smells, raisins and prunes. Hints of burnt coffee and chocolate and roasted malts. Taste mimics the smell, but heavy on the burnt coffee and chocolate then fades with some hop bitterness. Slight alcohol burn in the belly. Lots of aftertaste. Creamy, smooth, medium bodied feel. Hard to drink more than one, especially with an abv of 11.5%. If your a fan of Russian Imperial Stouts its a must try. I have one in the cellar to try at a later date.

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

Batch #8728
Thanks mfielden for the bitchin' extra!!!

Pours motor-oil thick&black with a tiny tan head that hangs around 'till about half-way through. Smells like alot of roasted malts and mabye a touch of coffee or hops(something bitter). Taste is not as smooth as say, an Old Rasputin...still enough going on here to hide the alcohol(wich isn't noticeable at all). In all, a great IRS that came into my hands from afar. I woulden't miss a chance to try it again

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Photo of kpantz
4.08/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Executive Summary: A heavyweight in the world of Imperial Stouts. I can see the reason for its reputation. Slightly more boozy on the palate than others I've had. In all, a fantastic stout.

Appearance: Pours like syrup into my tulip glass. Pitch black with a dark tan head. Gorgeous lacing.

Smell: Roasted malts and a woody aroma with distinct molasses and coffee essence.

Taste: Alcohol more present than expected here. Woodiness is here, too, as is a smoky element I didn't detect in the nose. Definite molasses presence with accents of dark chocolate. Pronounced hop bitterness on the way down, too, like a swift kick in the ass (like you need it with this sucker).

Mouthfeel: Creamy and thick. Light carbonation. Slightly sticky. Just awesome.

Drinkability: It's pretty hefty. A sipper. A damn tasty sipper, but a sipper. Wouldn't have more than one at a time.

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

Appearance: Pours very viscous with limited carbonation. Super duper jet black. Nice lacing. Not enough of a head to rank much higher.

Smell: Very forward roasty malts. A little sweet. Alcohol presence is strong. Feels very full and stout.

Taste: Very roasty grain. HUGE malt notes. Coffee is there. The alcohol is very forward and is brought out a little by the sweetness. Very big flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: Substantial presence but a little lack of carbonation at first. Spreads nicely across the palate and the carbonation grows. Very enjoyable

Overall: I think this beer is better than the some of it's parts. It's a very big, and bold beer with a huge flavor profile. For being a fresh vintage, i would have liked some more carbonation and a little less sweetness. Overall though, a great beer.

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Photo of whendeathsleeps
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours thick motor oil black, tan two finger head, decent retention, nice lacing.

S- Dark roasted malt, anise, bakers chocolate, woody.

T- Dark chocolate, espresso, boozy, some dark fruits, a little bitterness from the hops to balance things out, let this one warm, it shines then.

M- Like you would expect from the pour, full bodied, thick, silky smooth, a little alcohol warming.

O- A good, not great RIS, the mouthfeel is excellent, I much prefer Ten Fidy to this, but I would go back to this for sure.

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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 Martin2D
4.42/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Pitch black with a tan head that fades without lacing

S - Roasted malts and licorice like liquor

T - Extremely roasty and creamy. Hints of warm alcohol on the finish.

M - Medium in carbonation and full in body. Mouthfeel is extremely thick and creamy

D - Very drinkable RIS. Not much alcohol presence, just a little warmth. Very balanced with just the right flavors going on. Simple and refined.

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

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

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

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Photo of StLThrash
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into my Schlafly snifter.

A - Pours a very deep, dark brown / black. No light through this one. Very small tan head that disappeared quickly. No lacing.

S - Complex blend of dark chocolate, smoke, roasted coffee, black licorice, and a bit boozy.

T - Dark chocolate & coffee bitterness with rich malts and lots of alcohol. The alcohol comes through on this stout more than I would've liked, but still wasn't overwhelming.

M - Medium-bodied thickness and nice malt character. Again, the alcohol shines through.

D - Couldn't drink too many of these. Very strong stout that seemed to get better as it sat. Definitely let this one warm up a bit. Much nicer flavor character after it sat awhile in my snifter.

Overall - pretty good stout. Very strong alcohol taste though. Nice after dinner beer.

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Photo of rustymoore
3.51/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I strongly disagree with the recent rash of poor reviews for this beer and I am thinking that a bad batch got out to the public or something. I find this to be a good to fair imperial stout.

A: Pours midnight black with my aggressive pour creating a massive creamy head that seems to go on forever, excellent lacing throughout.

S: Maybe the weakest attribute to this one. Just nothing interesting. Very high alcohol notes with some coffee sprinkled in there.

T: Thick and sweet (two attributes I like in a stout most of the time) with coffee and chocolate throughout. I wouldn't call it the best imp stout I have had but definitely is worthy of a "good" rating.

M: Somewhat acidic, thick like most stouts you would want to drink.

D: I wouldn't drink many of these in a sitting but definitely a good sipping beer.

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Photo of spartanfan
3.42/5  rDev -19%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

batch 9359 packaged 9/17/09

A: Pours an opaque black with a tight dark brown head which leaves much lacing on the walls of the glass as it fades to a thin layer.

S: Smells of rich roasted malts and coffee

T: Tastes slightly smoky off the bat. Lots of flavors going on here; chocolate, coffee, caramel. Also, piney hops are detectable in the swallow and leave a bitter aftertaste.

M: This might be the creamiest beer I have tasted yet, it almost feels as though I'm drinking cool whip. Leaves a sticky sweet coating in my mouth after each swallow. There is a slight warming character from the alcohol.

D: While I'm really digging this beer, it's just a little to thick and heavy for me to drink more than one in a sitting. It's definitely a sipper

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

This has to be one of the best Stout's I've ever tried. Almost like a dessert in a glass. Good stuff.

A: Pours dark as night with a tan milky head that, after dissipating, leaves a nice tan film over the beer. Same colored lacing on the glass.

S: You get a ton of roasted malt from this. I can't smell the espresso, but the chocolate is evident. You can smell the alcohol a bit, too.

T: Almost tastes like a boozy chocolate milk at first. Finishes with a little bitterness from the roasted malts that were in the smell. A little bit of burn from the ABV.

M: Very creamy and smooth. There is a bit of carbonation, but it does nothing but enhance and deliver the creaminess.

D: You don't want to drink this quickly not just b/c of the high ABV, but b/c it tastes so damn good. I couldn't believe this was 10.5%. You can taste the booze, but I had no idea it was that high. This could be a dangerous one.

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Photo of dc55110
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to wkcyr4 for including this awesome extra!

2008 Vintage

Like pulling the drain plug on an oil pan, after 10k miles, slow, dark and thick! Half a pinky finger of head, as it dissipates the last bit holds on for dear life (10+ minutes), very nice lacing even after that.

The aroma is molasses and malt with a hint of biter chocolate?!?

Black strap molasses, prune, raisin with a nice malt heft to it.

It hides the 10.5% well, although it has a nice warming effect going down. It imparts a nice coating on your mouth that lasts well beyond the last sip.

Very much a sipper, but since it takes a while to enjoy one of these, having two of these would make for a nice leisurely drinking evening.

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

From batch 8311 - Brewed Feb 7 2008

Pours pitch black into a snifter. Thin deep brown head dissipates very quickly.

Smells of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, slightly woody perhaps.

T - Roasty, bitter chocolate, coffee all come to mind. It again has a slightly woody character to me. There's a hop bitterness in the end that keep this in check.

M - Velvety smooth. Low level of carbonation.

D - Obviously not high drinkability but very good for the style and abv.

Definitely plan to hang on to some of these to age for a while. I split a bottle from the same 6 pack with my dad in December and I feel like it has already mellowed a bit in the past few months.

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Photo of thirtysixbelow
2.83/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

a - not good. Looks like motor oil being poured in. Completely opaque black with almost no carbonation. After I was done pouring the head took a second to creep up. It got to about a finger and a half of dark chocolate looking head. It held up for a few minutes before going down to a skim.

s - sweet smelling with chocolate, coffee, and caramel notes.

t - sweet coffee flavor up front. After that the alcohol sets in. I figured it was going to be hard to cover up 10.5% abv and it is. The alcohol gives a good warming with a strong bite. It has a hoppy bitterness that I wasn't expecting. It doesn't really strike me as hoppy, just oddly bitter. This is a little much for me.

m - looked like motor oil pouring it into my glass, and that is also about the consistency. Normally I don't mind a really smooth beer, but I just can't get that image out of my head. More carbonation in the mouth than you would think after pouring it though.

d - I don't know if my palate just isn't ready for this or not, but it's way too much. The only thing I enjoyed about this beer was smelling it. The alcohol and bitterness just doesn't sit well. There wasn't anything interesting up front either. I was hoping for some good stout flavors after smelling it, but :(

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Photo of mikedashg
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a little watery black with a very thing dark tan head that disapears pretty quickly

S- Nice dark chocolate and coffee and roasted malt flavor

T- Pretty much same as nose. Hot alcohal content is not hidden. Very warming. Fairly prominent in your face bittersweet/dark/chocolate/coffee/roasted malt flavor. Pretty aggressive beer as far as hotness and bitterness goes. Bitter finish that stays on your pallet longer after you have had your sip.

M- Low to moderate carbonation. OK body. Gets creamier as it warms up.

D- Fairly good example of style. A pretty good beer. Nothing oustanding though.

Me thinks I'd rather have a Stone IRS or a Ten Fidy though.

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Photo of atrus138
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this from a 12 oz brown bottle into a pint glass. Thick, thick, thick. Akin to motor oil. The opaquest of blacks. It actually made me do an experiment - I put a flashlight up to it to see if any light went through (it didn't). No head formed at all, though there are some streaks of froth. Smell was very faint, though not bad. The usual suspects for a stout are present: coffee, chocolate, with some woody character. Despite the weak aroma, this is a very flavorful beer. Very heavily malted. Notes of coffee, chocolate, burnt wood, and even a bit of soy sauce. Finds a decent balance between being bitter and sweet, though it leans toward bitter. This is one of the thickest beers I've had. Very heavy and smooth mouthfeel. This is one to drink slowly, which allows the flavors to come out more after it warms up a bit and also prevents the high alcohol content from getting the best of you. A great pick for the winter.

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Photo of StrangeBrewer76
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass at colder than ideal temp in the low 40s. It just looks thick, viscus. The bubbles were slow to rise but formed a nice light brown creamy-looking head that faded relatively quickly to a thin skin and very solid lacing.

I smell bittersweet chocolate, coffee, alcohol and burnt caramel or chocolate malt which is remarkably similar to the taste. The alcohol seems to become more pronounced as it warms which could be good if that's what you're in to.

It has a body like syrup or 2-cycle oil with a bite of bitter. It's like what people who have never tried Guinness think it probably tastes like.

It drinks like a meal and at 10.5% that meal ought to be dinner.

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Photo of jtd1969
3.78/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark Brownish black with brownish head. Lots of lacing

S - Sweet vinegar,sugary malt

T - Roasty,sweet yet bitter tartiness. Unique in stout department.chocolate, some dark fruit

M - full bodied, rather boozy, medium carbonation

O - Imperial Stout no doubt, just not what I tend to lean toward. I recommend trying it as it may be to your liking. To me it is a decent stout, but not great...

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

12oz bottle stamped on 11-1-11, poured into New Belgium globe glass.

A - Pours a seriously thick black that at first appears flat, but once the last drop lands in the glass, a pencil-thin dark maple head forms. It fades quickly but lots of chocolately lace rounds the glass. 

S - Coffee liqueur, raisins, molasses, pretzel rods, dark chocolate

T - Sweetened black coffee, milk & dark chocolate, noticeable hop presence but it adds a nice balance that cuts through all the thick, dark flavors.

M - Full bodied, medium carbonation that's held down by the overall thickness. Prickly finish, lingering bitterness but oh so good. Perfect mouthfeel for my stout preference.

O -  Picked this up as a trade extra even though we normally get this beer in south Florida. Haven't seen it on shelves yet this season but planning to buy at least a couple six packs. Easily one of my favorite 12oz stouts and can't wait to get more. 

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

I have been drinking Expedition for over a year. It is time to tell others how nice this beer is ! (BTW- Stouts are my favorite, Imperial, Double, Oatmeal, etc)

Pours deep mahogony black with rich garnet highlights at the edge, develops a creamy tan head, fine bubbles that takes several minutes to fade to an edge ring.

Smell is big toasty caramel malt over a hop backbone with a faint smell of alcohol.

Taste is rich, chocolate, coffee, toasted grains and caramel, followed by a well balanced big hop bitterness and then a slpash of alcohol.

Full rich mouthfeel that finished with a subtle alcohol bite (I find this a good characteristic), viscous and substantial.

Drinkable - Imperial Stouts are an acquired taste. This is a very fine example of one. I drink about 1 per month.

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Photo of swamiswamu
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a huge beer, the sears tower of beer. It looks like spent motor oil with a brown head. The taste reminds me of the "hungry, hungry homer" Simpsons episode when Duff has a chemical to add to Duff's malty goodness. It was what an imperial should be, a much bigger version. I can't drink more than one because it is just that big.

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Photo of steelreign
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is HUGE! Pitch black pour with zero head (And I mean nothing). Looks like motor oil sitting in my glass....but motor oil never smelled this good!! Aroma is so complex - roasted malt, chocolate, toffee, licorice....hops, liquor....you name it! Wow.

The taste is dense, thick with roasted maltiness with a nice hop hammer balance. So incredibly smooth and complex. A party in the mouth.

Viscous mouthfeel. Thick, nice low carbonation. High ABV is apparent, but enjoyable, on a small consumption scale at least. Not to be drank in mass quantities (unless you are a masochist). This is one of the best of the style without question!

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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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