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

Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout
BA SCORE
4.26/5
6,213 Ratings
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States
bellsbeer.com

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

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#687
Reviews:
2,153
Ratings:
6,213
pDev:
10.33%
Bros Score:
4.41
 
 
Wants:
557
Gots:
1,776
Trade:
126
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 6,213 |  Reviews: 2,153
Photo of seedyone
4.55/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

02/11/14 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. A fine, fine brew. First nostril full is of a mild coffee. On the tongue it has a very pleasant bitterness from coffee & a mild chocolate. Steady, steady stuff. Sessionable plus.

 216 characters

Photo of Stevem68
4.12/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a motor oil black color. Has a slightly boozy aroma with moths of chocolate. Flavor is smooth, a little oaky and there is a presence of chocolate and malts. Overall a very solid stout. This could be drank any day of the week.

 231 characters

Photo of BMoney575
4.72/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled on 12-11-06
Batch: 7251
Bottled: 2-25-06

Looked fantastic pouring out of the bottle, thick and pitch black, with a good amount of carbonation to create a one-inch head that went away decently quickly.

The smell hits you as soon as the cap comes off. Dark fruits, raisin, plum, are very apparent, a malty sweetness and a good amount of smokiness make it even better.

Taste is unbelievable. Same fruit flavor up front, with the sweet malt balanced by a perfect amount of hoppiness. The finish is smoky and stays around for awhile. No noticeable alcohol taste, which shows how very balanced this beer is.

The mouthfeel is great, thick and creamy.

Drinkability is very good, it would not be hard to finish two or three of these.

Overall my favorite example of an RIS, and maybe one of the best beers I've ever had.

 840 characters

Photo of neonbrown82
4.62/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is the second time I've had this brew. The first time was obviously a bad batch with a thick jism-like substance coating the bottom of the bottle, what I presumed was yeast and proteins.

The beer pours to a completely opaque black with a very thin chocolatey head. Tried hard to get more foam, but the high alcohol must have prevented it from getting to where I would have liked it to be. Pours very thick and viscous, almost as thick as I've seen.

The smell is good. Very sweet with molasses with some rich roasted barley and fruity esters. A little bit smokey. Quite complex and interesting, but still has that hint of anise and soy sauce that prevents me from giving it the extra .5%.

The taste is very similar. Very rich, flavorful and complex. I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Expedition Stout. If I were to pick out one prime example of Imperial Stout, I would be hard pressed to choose between Sam Smith's, Stone's, and this one.

The body is uber thick and chewey. Very nice. Not too bitter or sweet, doesn't dry out too bad in the finish. Good stuff. This sludge almost demands a knife and fork to drink it. As good as it is, it would be hard to drink much more than one in a night. I'm glad I decided to give it another chance and have 2 more in the cellar.

 1,280 characters

Photo of rrski198
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of HopsHopenstein
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%

Photo of SStein
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of dannyfayy
4/5  rDev -6.1%

Photo of alamode
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%

Photo of strohme2
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%

Photo of addiwilliams
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of Piglet_rulz_da_yard
4.29/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of XicanoBeerRun
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of BierFan
4.05/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a tumbler glass. The bottle was labeled batch 8728.

Appearance: Expedition Stout has a black body with a head the color of chocolate milk.

Smell: Lots of roasted coffee and alcohol aroma.

Taste: Little bit of an alcohol burn. Bitter dark chocolate and roasted coffee.

Mouthfeel: No carbonation kinda hurts the mouthfeel. Also was kinda thin.

Drinkability: Surprisingly good drinkability even with the stronger presence of alcohol.

 470 characters

Photo of CaptainNomihodai
3.75/5  rDev -12%

Photo of eulerthegrape
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%

Photo of Denzo
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of martyl1000
4.47/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

UPDATE 7/31/15
Yep, my 2014 update for the 2013 (below) Expedition was entirely sound. Having mellowed nearly a year in the cellar, this bottle of 2014 Expedition holds its place near the tippy top of my double stout fave's of all time. I have 11 more bottles in the cellar. Yay!

I also have six bottles of the 2013 in the cellar. I'm shaking my head at the hedonism that awaits in those six bottles.

If you're trying this out with a fresh bottle, what Bell's says about it on their label is quite accurate:

. . . . . . "Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages."

That night at Fischman Liquors in 2013, I rashly rated this 3.75. When fresh, this brew has a bitterness that just won't quit. But, throw it in the cellar for a while, and, voila!

-----------------
UPDATE 8/1/14
I seriously have to upgrade my previous 3.75 rating from last summer. Perhaps the tap lines at Fischman Liquors last year needed to be flushed. Even more likely, it was served too cold. Whatever the case, the specimen I'm now this moment holding in my hand is fabulous.

A fairly aggressive pour into a tulip glass gives a small head, w/ almost no lacing (a sign of high abv, with slippery solvent alcohol refracting on the glass). The aroma is still remarkably weak (though subtly rich with a quiet majesty--just too quiet). I get in the nose a woody alcohol, plus uncooked pasta. And a bit of leather (but in a good way; I don't know how that's possible, as I detest leather in beer).

But the flavor in the mouth, wow, that's a different story. Incredibly complex. The flavors oscillate between a balance of bitter and sweet: burnt coffee and milk chocolate, black licorice and caramel, honey-baked ham and oatmeal-raisin. Wait, that last pair are both sweet. Plus an alcohol heat and an odd salt that helps cut the sweet.

A fullish-bodied, slick-viscous texture like warm maple syrup. Yet that creaminess is leavened by a mild to moderate carbonation, even as the pour in this tulip glass has risen to room temperature.
------------------

ORIGINAL RATING & REVIEW 7/2015
Rating: 3.75

On tap at Fischman Liquors, Chicago

I am not impressed. What a letdown the flavor is upon seeing this be-you-tea-ful black pour. It's nearly devoid of aroma. And in the mouth, the flat, coffee syrup (if there were such a thing!) is not quite welcome.

Several hours later, I'm getting the aroma, now, from the warmed-over tulip glass: orange peel, black pepper, black cherry juice, unripe tomato, and dopplebock malt. That's a pretty astonishing aroma. I only wish I could say the same about the flavor in the mouth.

 2,653 characters

Photo of 77apm
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of JackieTH
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black motor oil opaque and thick with a dark mocha head. Very inviting.

Smell: Dark chocolate, coffee and roasted malt.

Taste: Espresso and rich dark chocolate with a welcome bite of hop and the espresso bitterness coming through to balance. A hint of anise makes an appearance. A very foreboding brew and the pleasant warming of the 10.5% alcohol helps lighten the mood a bit.

Mouthfeel: Heavy, luxurious. Layered.

Drinkability: Challenging but delicious.

 472 characters

Photo of GuttaMane138
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of PeakedInHighSchool
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%

Photo of elgiacomo
4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle, batch 9459, bottled Nov 19, 2009. Over a year old. Served cellar temp in a New Belgium globe/snifter. I've enjoyed this a few times in its youth but wanted to wait to review til it was over a year old.

Pours black with a two finger brown head that leaves some pretty lacing and holds a small cap.

Aroma is rich roasted malts, chocolate, anise, coffee, vanilla, dark fruits of plums, figs, cherries, and raisins, some alcohol. Great strength.

Flavor is also very rich much like the aroma with chocolate, coffee, dark roasted malts, cherries, plums, figs, raisins, vanilla, there is still a noticeable alcohol bite/burn which is to be expected for the ABV but I thought it would have diminished more over a year's time. Still, can't really fault a big Imperial Stout for being a touch hot.

Mouthfeel is full, creamy, medium carbonation.

A world-class Imperial Stout for sure, so very rich and decadent. Can't wait to try some of the 2010 batch.

EDIT: By FAR my favorite non-barrel aged Imperial Stout. Just can't get enough of this magical brew. Numerous batches, numerous years at a variety of ages and they're all fantastic in their own way. Age certainly benefits this one as well and I can't wait to try some extended aging well beyond 2 years on this one.

 1,282 characters

Photo of axeman9182
3.21/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle (cheers to IdrinkGas), warmed slightly from fridge temperature and poured into my Chimay goblet.

The beer pours absolute black, with a two finger dark coffee head. It quickly dissipates halfway and just sits at a finger in height for a long time. A little bit more lacing would have garnered Expedition Stout a five. The smell is of dark chocolate (good) and some black licorice (not as much). As long as the flavor pulls more from the former than the latter I think I'll still dig it. Well, I got my wish, but this beer is *very* rough around the edges. The dark chocolate overpowers the licorice, after an opening dollop of caramel, but there's a harsh graininess and a bitterness that I want to say comes from hops, but there's no accompanying hop flavor. I was ready to score the flavor lower, but it did smooth out some as the beer hit room temperatureIt's a shame too, because the mouthfeel on this beer is great, a chewy and luxurious body and carbonation that's just a tiny bit too high for my taste. The poor taste really hurts drinkability, but the beer gets some credit for effectively masking any alcohol. I'd never had Bell's beer that was less than top notch until Expedition Stout, but I'm glad I got to try and I'd like to try this beer with a few years on it to see if it smooths out.

 1,314 characters

Photo of meathookjones
4.73/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The poured out an opaque ink black with a huge brown head I had to sip to keep from spilling over the glass. Great retention and chunks of lace left decorating the glass as I consumed this. Aroma is thick with dark chocolate and roasty coffee as well as a touch of fruit and some other unidentifiables. I will have to try and figure out more with my other bottle. The flavor was similar with a strong chocolate taste and notes of roasted malt and espresso. Dark fruits were also in the mix as well as some earthy hops. The finish was a mixed of roasted malts, hop bitterness and a slight alcohol bit. Excellent all around flavor that I couldnÂ’t ask any more of. Mouthfeel is full and creamy. Damn good drinkability here. Great all around Russian Imperial Stout that is near the top of my favorites.

 799 characters

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Beer rating: 4.26 out of 5 with 6,213 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.