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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 branimal9
4.07/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle, poured into my New Belgium tulip glass...

appearance - 'bout an inch of nice looking brown head, creamy n' fluffy. beer itself is a deep, dark brown. real nice.

aroma - coffee, dark chocolate, a little licorice. getting a bit of vanilla & fruit in there as well. a hit of booziness also.

taste - lots of chocolate. dark chocolate. milky. warming. roasted malts a bit of nice hop bitterness.

mouthfeel - full bodied, thick & creamy. oily. real nice.

drinkability - warming alcohol present, but it's nice n' smooth. this is really drinkable considering the height of the ABV, but this is also my favorite style of beer, so i'm a bit biased.

overall, a really finely crafted imperial stout. glad i scooped up a decent amount of these, as i think they'll age well.

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Photo of boogles
3.24/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is an overrated beer, a real let down for me.

The *amount* of flavor is the only thing it has going for it. Poured into glass from 12 oz. bottle, with no head until dumped very hard at the end, and it quickly dissipated, although with some lingering lace--very light tan, not at all dark for an imperial stout.

The scent was on par for a regular stout, but with more alcohol, burnt raisins, and roastiness, characteristic of Russian imperial stouts. The taste was very strong and full, about the only thing that distinguishes this beer. Way too sweet, though.

The mouthfeel was no good--far too creamy and very low carbonation, and this begets low drinkability. In all, a decent beer--I'd be impressed to find a beer this good at any unknown microbrewery--but this is in no way deserving of the honor of a top 100 beer, nor is it on par with other offerings from Bell's, such as its simple, well-crafted Two-hearted Ale.

Most egregious, however, is the price at $15/6 pack. There are way better options for as low as $9-$11 in this category alone (especially Victory and Thirsty Dog). This is one Expedition I probably won't be making again.

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Photo of shoky01
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Vintage 08 09, 12oz bottle into stem-less red wine glasses.

A: black black, no light getting through this puppy. Brown to tan head depending on thickness. Very light lacing. Bit of carbonation.

S: malty goodness, hint of licorice, coffee and chocolate.

T: anticipation grips me for this one. Shocking to put a word to it. Complex, spices, malts, annice is strong as well as the alcohol. 10.5 to begin with but gotta be near 12 now. There is a bit of bitterness on the end. Smokey too.

MF: sticky and a bit of burn.

OA: would like a fresh bottle to make sure that nothing went wrong with this one in aging. Love the smell but almost let down by the taste. It isn't bad but its almost too complicated to enjoy. Reminds me a lot of the Stone Belgo Annise IRS

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Photo of bwyker
4.08/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a massively chunky pitch black, with a mud tinted light head speckled with red bubbles. Foam settles immediately to a ring of dirty lacing and pockets of bubbles in the center of the glass. Huge punches of chocolatey roasted malts and alcohol. Taste, well I took a bite and chewed on it…like an alcohol soaked piece of dark chocolate cake with molasses icing. It feels like it was brewed with roofing tar. Immensely chunky mouthfeel. Drinkabilty was not so high, as the alcohol is a bit too noticeable. However, a great after-dinner treat.

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Photo of WrathsU
4.64/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - deep black pour like staring into a polished onyx gem.

S - Caramelized sugars up front. Roasted coffee tones and chocolate throughout.

T - So good. Tastes like bittersweet chocolate, fresh ground coffee, and caramel.

M - Smooth, very smooth for its abv. Perfectly carbonated.

D - I could drink this forever, one of the best stouts I've ever had.

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Photo of Optifron
4.37/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours jet black with brown, thick, creamy head. Leaves moderate lacing.

Aroma: Chocolate, a touch of hops, smooth French roast coffee

Taste: Dark chocolate, but without the intense bitter. Smoother espresso beans. A nicely balanced sweetness, almost like a touch of lactose.

Mouthfeel: Fantastic. Was the first thing that really stood out when it hit my mouth. Incredibly smooth, creamy but not heavy

Overall: Really impressive. I like smoother stouts, and this really fits the bill. Impressively drinkable for 10.5%. Will definitely be picking up more of this.

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Photo of Flopjack
4.46/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into snifter

Appearance - Pure black, nice caramel and cream colored head about 2 fingers settles down nicely but remains.

Smell - Roasted malts, molasses, bread, alcohol is warming but not to intense. Thick smell.

Taste - Starts out with a roasted rich dark chocolate, molasses, and rich dark coffee both bitter and slightly sweet. Middle gives a bread and alcohol flavor with a slight warming sensation. Ends just a bit dry leaving smoked and roasted after taste.

Mouthfeel - Medium carbonation, full bodied, coats palate with a thick syrup like feel.

Overall - Great stout. Not only does this beer give a nice blanket when it's cold out, but you can put this one away for awhile. Buy a 6 pk drink one and put the rest in your cellar. Open one every 6 months (at least) and see how it changes!

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Photo of deford
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Poured from a 12oz. bottle dated 8/12/14 into a Saints & Sinners Snifter.

A- Pitch freaking black! Half inch orange head that disappears pretty quickly.

S- A musty, syrupy coffee...maybe a hint of orange...no heat.

T- A bit different. Burnt espresso and prunes? Hard to tell, there's a lot going on here...nicely done too. The alcohol is hidden completely.

M- Really nice a bubbly when you give it a swirl...otherwise pretty standard for the style...almost flat.

O- A quality stout worth giving a go...

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

12 oz bottle aged 1 year. Deep dark brown with a lasting dark tan head. Real nice aroma of coffee, chocolate (dark), carmel, vanilla, and a touch of alcohol carrying the fragrances up the snifter. Flavor is roasty and smooth, with big chocolate malts and roasted barley bitterness. Big thick palate. Bitterness lingers. This is an ager, for to age gets rid of the hot alcohol burn that is present when young. Should be present en every BA's cellar!

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Photo of Soilworker
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a 12oz bottle, fresh no aging, into a standard stout/pint glass. Bottle has a batch number on it...this is batch number: 9554.

A: Pitch black with zero light shining through even with a strong flashlight put up to the glass. Nice caramel colored head that is slow to dissipate and the bubbles are very fine. The liquid seems to almost stain the glass.

S: Dominated by an intense and strong blast of fig, plum, and raisin. Bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted malts, and perhaps a hint of roasted coffee provided the backboard for the dark fruit character. There are also small hints of alcohol and vanilla that hit the nose from time to time. Very rich, savory, and bold.

T: Starts off with pretty much an explosion of burnt and roasted malts. I was expecting a start with some wateriness to it but that is definitely not the case. After the blast of malt this settles down to a pleasant bittersweet chocolate flavor with vanilla and espresso notes playing along with it. Somewhat sweet at the beginning. This then fades towards the end to a flavor characterized by burnt coffee and roasted malts and some oaky wood notes that seem to be somewhat charred. The finish holds on the burnt and roasted malt character and there is plenty of bitterness here which seem to be primarily hoppy in nature but have an interesting bitter burnt malt aspect. As you drink it, especially when you start there is a lovely warming feeling in both your mouth but primary in the throat all the way down the stomach. A very impressive taste profile!!!

M: Amazing!!! As you swirl it through your mouth it is smooth and creamy and very bold with a little bit a zing on the tongue from the carbonation. As oily and creamy as the beer is at first, the finish definitely feels dry.

D: Did I mention this was a bold beer? The flavor profile is huge and definitely takes the right palate to enjoy this one. I would love to drink this all night and I would, but this is a beer for sipping if I ever tasted one. The ABV is pretty aggressive but not terribly noticeable during the taste but I'm sure if you managed to get a few of these down it would start to catch up to you.

Overall I loved this beer. I especially liked the rich, bold taste and creamy mouthfeel. This was my first Expedition ever and I can definitely see how aging this one would be a smart move since this would most likely tone down the bitterness a bit. I definitely plan on buying a second or third six pack just for aging past 2yrs. If you like stouts, you must try this beer.

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Photo of m_hall
4.82/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12oz longneck into a tulip. This beer is absolutely inky black - no light whatsoever penetrates the glass - and is topped by a huge thick khaki head that falls slowly. Lacing is thick and sticky.

Aroma is dominated by sweet malts, dark chocolate notes, and alcohol, though not to a nose-burning degree.

Flavors hit the palate with a huge wallop of semi-sweet chocolate along with hints of blackberry and caramelized sugar. These are soon followed by espresso and toasted grains, licorice, and smoky notes. The finish is strong coffee bitterness and pleasantly warming booze, and lingers for an eternity.

Mouth feel is thick, syrupy and chewy, coating the mouth as you drink. This is a beer that pours huge and drinks huge... luxurious. Given that body and the brawny ABV of 10.5% this is certainly one you take your time with.

I had heard little about this this stout, and after drinking I have no idea why more people aren't totally geeking out about this one... this is a deep, huge, complex monster of a RIS, completely world class, and should be talked about in the same revered tones as Old Rasputin, Ten FIDY and other paragons of the style. Yes, it's a trifle expensive (I gave a shade over $16 for a six pack) but for a stout enthusiast it's money well spent. And even as good as it is now, this one should cellar excellently. A true tour-de-force.

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Photo of dotsonjamesg
4.97/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Special thanks to jcdgoad for recommending this brew to me....

I purchased this brew from liquorama.net. Not that bad of a price either but shipping costs made it a little pricey, but hopefully worth it. I would really like to point out that Russian Imperial Stout is my favorite style, so you can imagine that I tend to have somewhat of a bias concerning them. In my defense, I would like to let those who read this know that I also grade them very harsh. If this one is truly as good as I have heard, it must be truly impressive; though I have noticed the wide-array views so I am very skeptical and curious.

Served in a chilled 14oz snifter

Appearance: Whoa...probably one of the thickest, darkest ales I have ever poured. The brew had a thin, ½ finger head that quickly dissipated. I have heard some complaints stating the brew is over-carbonated. Since my head was so weak, maybe my pour wasn't aggressive enough. Still looks good to me.

Smell: Probably one of the most aromatic stouts I have ever experienced. I poured the brew and set it aside, as not to be hindered by the heat of my "super-laptop." The brew is sitting about 18 inches away from my nose and I can still smell it...not very common, even with the most aggressive of stouts. The nose is full of chocolate, fig, currants, dark roasted malts, a tinge of hops, and alcohol.

Taste: Much like its intense nose, the brew is rich with dark roasted malts, chocolate syrup, and alcohol. Starts with a smooth and intense chocolate flavor and moves in to brutal bitter, dark roasted coffee-like flavor. The bitterness is harsh and lasts for quite some time. I can see why some people have given this brew some varying reviews. It stays true to its legacy in being a Russian Stout, but it might be a little too bitter. Russian Stouts should be strong, and extremely sugary. This brew is absent of the EXTREME levels of caramelized sugars, commonly found in many Russian Stouts. The enormous, backed-up bitterness may be too intense for most people.

Mouthfeel: Thick, velvety, and very smooth. Carbonation was also pretty nice and matched well.

Drinkability: It is a definite sipper. If you can stand the extreme bitterness, it is heavenly, but you have to possess the ability to drink some of the heaviest of ales ever brewed; and this most certainly qualifies. This brew is extreme, and that's being nice. Don't let the simplistic label or bad reviews fool you...this epic-brew is anything but simplistic. Its character is tremendous and unfathomable by most, and enjoyed by even fewer.

Excuses for the bad reviews? Russian Stouts are definately an aquired taste. This one is pretty intense and not as balanced as others and will probably drive away most people who aren't use to the extreme levels of burnt-bitterness, flavor of alcohol, and syrup-like viscosity.

I would recommend this only to a seasoned Russian Imperial Stout drinker. I would also recommend a very nice cigar with this lovely brew, it would match perfectly.

Enjoy this as much as I did.



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Photo of MaxAdvo
4.46/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - Pours a very dark, almost black, with deep, dark reddish hues. Almost no head, but don't let that fool you.

S - The smell is slightly off-putting of rubbery leather, but also with a dark, roasty, chocolately coffee.

T - Here's where she pulls on through! It's very robust, full of roasty, Brazilian-like coffee bean. Also a slight of dark fruits. Very similar to Oskar Blue's Ten Fidy.

M - Don't be fooled with having almost no head because you feel the carbonation. It's not overpowering, and has a very creamy fill. Very pleasant with lingering notes of dark coffee and chocolate

O - A very great imperial stout! I really enjoyed this, and will definitely purchase again.

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Photo of jdoolin
4.39/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12oz bottle, poured into a brandy snifter

Appearance: Dead black, like old motor oil. A slight brown head formed and dissipated quickly, leaving a ring of brown lace the entire time.

Aroma: Heavenly aroma of roasted barley, molasses, hints of coffee and chocolate, and of course a bit of alcohol. This beer smelled so good, I couldn't keep my nose out of the snifter the entire time.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Thick, smooth and creamy, like velvet. Just enough carbonation to achieve this and maintain the ring of lace. Taste was an ode to roasted malt. All of the usual roasted malt flavors are here and are wonderfully exemplifed. Of course, the roasted barley itself, coffee (especially in the finish) and chocolate. No hop flavor. Bitterness seems to be achieved more by the roasted malt than the hops. The alcohol was present but subdued by the roasted malt flavors.

Notes: A superb imperial stout. I thought the alcohol would have more presence, but I was pleasantly surprised. The roasted malts are the center of this beer, and Kalamazoo has done a fantastic job exploiting them. A great after dinner sipping beer.

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Photo of metallistout
4.95/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one damn fine beer!

This thing pours black like Florida Swamp water! The head is so foamy it looks like a giant marshmellow on top.

Smell rich in coffee and chocolate.

Tastes of coffee and chocolate malts with a dry hop finish.

Probably one of the best Imperial Stouts I have had. I love that I can buy this in a sixer.

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Photo of abankovich
2.79/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured with a pretty nice light brown head with the beer being extremely dark as it should be.

Smells very strong and sweet of molasses and maple syrup maybe some brown sugar as well. Some chocolate notes as well.

Very sweet on the initial sip, a lot of malt and syrupy flavors present. Almost a little too syrupy for me. I wish there was a little more bitterness throughout to balance it out. Chocolate and Java hints on the very back end as it washes down.

Mouthfeel is medium to thick and the drinkability isn't too high on this one for me due to the overwhelming sweetness for the style.

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Photo of johnwarne
3.7/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A beer haiku for you:

"A Russian delight;
Don't drink too late in the night
Big ole' heavy stout".

Quite a tasty treat: do not, however, drink this after consuming two others in an evening--it becomes overwhelming and frankly tough to finish [good as it is].


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Photo of ljdrinksbeer
4.77/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2013 bottle poured gently into snifter.
no head to speak of just a thin spotting of small dark brown bubbles clinging together, liquid is so dark that you can just tell its brown by looking at the edeges where the light shines through to reveal a reddish tint.
Smell is strong booze soaked fruit and some dark chocolate.
Taste is heavy on the roasted coffee and malt flavors, immensely complex.
body is thick without being being cloying
overall a favorite i keep coming back to, i think its better as it gets a little warmer, the only negative i ever, experience, is a slight soy sauce aroma/ flavor in some older bottles but somehow it still works, almost adds something.

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

So lets get this baby started. I pop open the bottle, and the cap strikes the counter with a wonderful ting. Thick, way past 3,000 miles, motor oil black pour with a small brown head that disipates quickly. I can smell the thick malt aroma from across the room. Molasses, a floral hop texture, and a rich chocolate scent rounds out the aroma. The taste warms through and through with a thick malt note, big in your face hops, fresh Columbian coffee undertones, molasses, and slightly tasting of caramel. Palate is bitter and stinging from the big alcohol content. Only problem with this on is the overdone alcohol burn at the end. Excellent Imperial Stout. Buy, trade, but try not to steal to get this brew.

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

A --> Beer poured darker than chocolate brown. Very caramel looking, with a very small head.

S --> Aroma is that of chocolate, syrupy, MAJOR coffee, vanilla?, and get almost a tad cinnamon

T --> Taste is coffee, chocolate vanilla, slightly bitter, very malty

M --> the mouthfeel is THICK with not much carbonation. Wonderful flavors, stay in your mouth for a while due to the thickness.

O --> Overall VERY complex beer. many different flavors and great aroma. I should have aged it a little because I hear it is even better, but regardless was awesome. Only criticism I have is that you definitely taste and smell the 10% alcohol.

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Photo of Jim_Benz
4.22/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A 12 oz. bottle (2013) poured vigorously--at cellar temp--into a shaker pint.

A: Dark brown with a one-finger tan colored head that quickly dissipated and left only small amounts of fragmentary lacing.

S: I have a cold so I wasn't picking up much beyond cocoa, some roasted malt, and a little coffee.

T&M: Rich, creamy, luxurious cocoa--not anywhere near too sweet--backed by the subtly warming presense of its not unsubstantial ABV. I wanted a little dark fruit to be mixed in but couldn't find any; maybe with age? Carbonation was just about perfect for my taste and the body tended medium toward heavy but smooth and creamy. Was a little thick on my tongue at the finish--which lingered for quite awhile-- but overall kind of pleasant. It left a taste of dry cocoa powder on the back of my tongue. The alcohol was warm but it didn't burn. Very nice.

Overall? I'm glad I still have five of these left and will probably let a few age for a year or so (still craving some dark fruit amidst that slightly bitter cocoa). I might even buy another six-pack while they're available. Good stuff.

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Photo of EHopkinsi
4.37/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a pint glass and consumed 19 November 2014.

Date stamp on label reads 135292 PKGD 10/23/14 C. So I'm guessing this stuff is just under a month old.

Look- Pours like a dirty oil spill. The two finger thick head is solid, and has the color of some overpriced candybar frappawhappachinomucca concoction at a coffee shop. Head slowly settles down to a 1/4" layer of creamy goodness that lasts the duration. Pretty good lacing.

Smell- Malt, chocolate, alcohol. The latter is pretty noticeable, maybe just a little too much so, but not bad. It's just letting you know it's a RIS.

Taste- Yum! Tasty, malty-chocolate notes; more than just a little coffee. That's on the front. It finishes with hops that, while they take back seat to the malt, they aren't exactly shy. At the beginning of the glass the alcohol floats in with, but over top of, the hops. Not excessive or huge, but still pretty dang big, too. By the middle of the glass its rambunctiousness has faded and it is more of a suggestion than a presence in the finish.

Feel- Interesting. A little thin for my preferences in a RIS. That said, it does have a creamy, sticky-lip inducing goodness to it, though. Can't ding it too much.

Overall- One really good stout! I wish the feel was thicker, but the other criticisms almost feel like nit-picking. Getcha some and enjoy it. I will definitely have it again.

Edit- After reading other reviews, I think "molasses" is a note I should add in. Being a noob I didn't know I knew it was there until reading other reviews.

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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 kohoutek
4.77/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark as the darkest night with a nice brown head. The foam quickly dissipates into an oil drop experiment of xylem cells and migrating plasmodium.

The beer smells of dark fruits, plums, slivovicz, cherry pits and currants. A good swirling reveals smoky roasts with layers of complexity, herbal hops, fruity acidity and chocolatey/espresso warmth. This beer is heavily ester laden. These aromas are beautifully integrated into this complex, rich beer.

The flavors are winey/vinous and maltiliciously acidic, all wrapped in a roasty, fruity, chocolately/caramel blanket.

The mouthfeel is rich, medium-thick. It is enhanced by the lively acidity, hop bitterness and low carbonation.

I have enjoyed up to four expeditions in a row (lots of time in between) and they are very drinkable.

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Photo of jcnd9803
4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a thick black color, with some slight amber hues. No head and little lacing in sight.

S: Some licorice and chocolate. Also some smoke it seems. Amazingly, I'm not picking up any alcohol, but I know it's there!

T: Ahh, there's the alcohol. A nice mix of roasted malt and chocolate.

M: Leaves a thick, creamy, sweet, feel on the palate. Also some tickle from the alcohol.

D: I think this is a great beer, fresh and aged. A perfect night cap Plus, given the price of most big stouts, this is a deal IMO.

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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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