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

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding
2,096 Reviews
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
Reviews:
2,096
Ratings:
6,009
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
17.77%
 
 
Wants:
528
Gots:
1,702
For Trade:
134
User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,096 | Ratings: 6,009
Photo of plaid75
3.7/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured an oily black hue with a one finger dark tan creamy head. There was decent retention and good sticky lacing.

The smell featured a rich coffee and caramel aroma with hints of dried fruit.

The taste consisted of nice caramel and chocolate malts with elements of raisin and coffee. There was a significant warming alcoholand a bit of an uncomfortable sweetness.

The mouthfeel was full and chewy.

Overall a tasty RIS. Big flavors and big ABV.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, Batch 8864 (12-4-08),

A: Pours black, even when held up to the light, moderate brown head.

S: Oil, woody notes, licorice, black coffee.

T: Rich coffee and licorice right of the bat reminds me of the Abyss. Definite notes of pine and hoppy aftertaste. Hints of cherry, orange.

M: Perfect to style. Silky smooth, mouth-coating, thick, robust, rich and warming from the ethanol.

D: A great RIS here, just wish I could get it more living in CA. Probably one of the easiest drinking big beers I've had.

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Photo of KAF
4.77/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Absolutely amazing! This is the best stout ever! Pours very dark if not black. Thick foamy tan head. Nose of chocolate and a little coffee. Thick and full bodied. Great aroma but an ever better taste. Creamy and thick on the palate. Dark chocolate and coffee in the flavor. Just a great beer.

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Photo of Zorro
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

12 Oz bottle sampled through the efforts of dirtylou and The No BS BIF.

Pours an opaque black colored beer that passes no light. A small but extremely dark brown head forms and then disappears. Not a bad stab at trying to create a beer with a black head.

Smell is Sharp sweet and very much like Kahlua. Strong coffee and chocolate aromas. Fruity and wine like scents are also in this one, mostly figs and dates with a slight amount of banana in the very fringe of it. Brown sugar and burnt sugar aromas and a little pineapple upside down cake.

Taste is thick and sharply bitter and charred in the first sip, long lasting charcoal flavor. A thick bitter beer that is very much a concentrated stout, almost like a beer mix that you just add carbonated water. After you get past the charred shock of the first taste there is a lot of chocolate flavor here and it is fairly sweet. There is some fruitiness here but it is pretty much hidden by the charred flavor.

Mouthfeel is syrup thick.

This is a beer a lot like Turkish coffee, it is OK in small amounts but you tire of it quickly. This would be a great beer for a 4 oz shot but a glassful gets tiring quickly. I have had better.

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

I've reviewed this before from the bottle, but I was interested to see how this beer was on cask. To be honest, I was a little dubious about a beer this big, and with these flavors being able to make the transition nicely, but I was certainly wrong- it was very good indeed. I had this at the Atlanta Cask Ale Festival, and we're not talking a skimpy pour, but a good 1/2 nonic at least. Poured black, and quite bubbly, with good carbonation and quite a decent head, even with no sparkler and gravity poured. Nice aromas of espresso and licorice. Oh my, this tastes good! Beautiful and well integrated notes of espresso, licorice, chocolate, and roasted grains with a firm creaminess underpinning these flavors. The cask lends this beer a wonderful silkiness that puts it over the top. Very nice indeed!

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Photo of John_M
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Was very pleasantly surprised to see this on tap at Capone's the other night.

This has to be one of the oddest looking stouts I've ever seen. The beer looks more like a cup of dark hot chocoate then beer, with a hazy chocolate appearance, good lacing and decent head retention. On the nose one gets some more chocolate (quite a bit of it in fact), with a hint of vanilla, coffee and cherry. The flavors are replicated on the palate, especially in terms of the chocolate. However, there's also almost what I would call an underlying grittiness to this beer, which while fine for the most part, hurts the finish a bit I think. There is considerable bitterness in the finish, and at least for me, that coupled with the sweet chocolate and high abv. makes this a difficult beer to drink.

This is absolutely a solid beer, but is just not my cup of tea.

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Photo of Kelp
3.21/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thank you once again to beerisheaven for this one. The appearance is nice inky with a nice sark tan head. Smells like a traditional RIS to me, chocolate, coffee, and malt. Nothing different there. The taste is unlike any RIS I have ever had. Molasses, malts and a bit of chocolate make up the initial taste. Then Bitter hits my tongue and takes over. All I can taste now is the bitter from some unknown source. I think a little age would do wonders for this beer. The mouthfeel is smooth, velvety and a bit creamy. I could not drink another of these right now. It just is way to bitter for me. I would love to try an aged and brand new one side by side, but for now ugh.

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Photo of tobelerone
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This bottle was nearly 14 months old (October 5th, 2010).

What a big, intense, phenomenal stout. I’m kicking myself for not trying this one sooner. A quarter inch of chocolaty brown head sinks quickly down to a thin band, leaving minimal lacing. Visibly thick and viscous, totally black and opaque. The nose is huge, with strong coffee and molasses flavors up front, malty notes, chocolate, and fumy alcohol underneath.

The flavor is on the sweeter side, without much in the way of hops, so the bitterness comes mostly from the roasted malt and dark chocolate taste. Very creamy and thick, full of coffee, molasses, dark fruits, vanilla, booze. Not overwhelmingly alcoholic, fortunately. Coating mouthfeel with low carbonation, sticky and lingering aftertaste.

I split the 12 oz. bottle with the missus and some fudge brownies and that was enough; I suspect it would be pretty tough to finish the whole bottle, particularly if you’d already had a few others (as I had). Big and chewy and memorable. Wish I’d bought a few more to have on hand when the mood strikes.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Packaged 10/2/12, so it has a little over 9 months under its belt at this time.

Appearance: entirely black body with two fingers of extremely rich and creamy tan foam. Wonderful.

Smell: richly malty with lots of roast in the works. Very good indeed, but it lacks the complexity often found in the style.

Taste: now that's more like it; we start off with a rich and bitter roasty character. Some dark fruit flavors are beginning to develop at 9 months: raisin and date especially. Some lighter fruity character from the alcohol is also present, which adds a nice depth. It finishes off with a mild bitterness and a little bit of vegetal hop flavor, but this doesn't detract too much. A nicely complex and very tasty RIS.

Mouthfeel: all the body in the world, this thing is like black oil. Not a huge level of carbonation, necessarily, but the massive body has a wonderful smoothness that I love.

Overall: this is a very delicious beer. Since this was my first Expedition, I couldn't wait to age it any longer; I just had to dive in. In future, if I can get my hot little hands on some more, I will age 2-3 years and see what happens.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.67/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Growler filled at Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

Pours a deep dark black, with a sizable 2 inch head. Sticky spider-web like lacing.

Aromas include roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, and a bit of something that smells like bourbon, even though it's not barrel aged.

Huge roasted malt taste here, lots of bitterness. Some chocolate covered espresso beans as well. There is a bit of an alcohol burn and sweetness, but it is integrated well and doesn't detract. Some mild tastes of earthy dark fruits. There is a richness and depth of flavor here that suggests extended barrel treatment, but it didn't get any. Awesome.

Full viscous and creamy mouthfeel. Low carbonation.

One of the best non-BA stouts I've ever had, this one is knock your socks off good.

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Photo of weeare138
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a pitch black with a thick tan head that slowly fades into a small oily, tan film and thick tan collar. Lots of spotty lacing and webs left around the glass.
Smell is of intense roasty nuts, chocolate cake, caramel, molasses, espresso, along with minty and piney hops.
Taste is of rich, chocolate cake, laden with rum drenched espresso beans. Lots of hops in here.
Mouthfeel is thick,smooth, velvetty, richly of chocolate, bitter cocoa, a potent punch of hops and mild, mild carbonation that makes this almost like syrup.
ABV is present and I'm still on the fence with this. It started off great but ended up very syrupy with a mild soy sauce taste lingering. I guess I'll split the verdict and call it good.

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Photo of Derek
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a hint of mohogany. Pours with a nice tan head, and although there's hardly any retention, it does like to lace.

S: Plenty of piney hops and roasted/burnt (almost smokey) aroma.

T: Plenty of hop flavour (resiny pine) and bitterness. Plenty of DARK roasted/burnt malt (with a little caramel & molases). There's a little dark-fruit/wine-like quality. The flavour is predominantly bittersweet, with the balanced tipped to the bitter side. Personally, I think Russian Imperial stouts should have more fruity esters & tertiary alcohols.

M: Full body is syrupy, acidic and a little oily. Carbonation is on the lower side of moderate.

D: Very drinkable, especially considering the strength! Far more drinkable than some of the American Wanna-be Russian Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of corby112
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at the South Philly Taproom.

Perfection! Dark black pour with a coffee colored head. Very full aroma with hints of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, caramel. This beer is so smooth that it become dangerous at 10.5 abv. The flavor is very complex with malty chocolate and coffee, dark berries, and many other things that are silly to even try to list. Simply amazing!

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Photo of dar482
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours in a thick oily black with a small mocha head.

The aroma has chocolate, roasted malt, a bit of spiciness, a dark fruit.

The flavor follows with a big chocolate flavor, roasty malt, and a bit of chocolate and a good amount of sweetness along with dark fruits. There's a good amount of alcohol with a decent mouthfeel, although it could be richer and creamier.

This beer was slightly disappointing, but still a very well made.

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

Wow. This is how a RIS should taste! Thanks Drunkmonk!
Where do I begin? Perhaps the best RIS I have had. Poured a deep thick black with a nice deep brown head. Carbonation was good. Nose is sticky, sweet with cocoa, espresso, roasted malts. Taste is very smooth. Lots of cocoa, coffee, roasted malts and maybe even some vanilla. Mouthfeel was great. Drinkability was awesome. So good and the 10.5 ABV was well disguised. Awesome brew.

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Photo of rudzud
4.51/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Received this a long while batch, bottle date of 8/29/12

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a nice pitch black hue with a good quarter inch mocha head that fades to leave light wisps and a nice halo. Good legs on it too.

S - Aromas of char, nutty roasted notes, faint alcohol, flashes of dark fruit. Very, very faint hops. Awesome dark chocolate. Almost brownie like!

T - Taste is sweeter malts, chocolate, rich roast, light char. Flashes of occasional pine, alcohol is nearly nonexistant. Faint, faint bitterness. The roast malts and rich rich chocolate are really just awesome here. Not quite brownie batter, but awfully close. The nuttiness is really fun here.

M - Mouthfeel is great, just great. Maybe a hair less carbonation on the finish would make this a 5. Creamy, rich velvet, hardly any alcohol.

O - Overall, this was a very, very good beer. Glad I waited as long as I did to crack one of these, age has really mellowed out all that bitterness. Stuff is drinking so so good.

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

( Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a thick black molasses with a dark tan cocoa head and no sign of light or bubbles in the body.

S- This beer as complex dark roasted malt aromas with some dark coffee and dark cocoa powder with faint smokiness. There is a nice barley-wine aroma under the dark roasted flavors.

T- This beer has very complex flavor complexity with roasted and burnt malt with some caramel and dark toasted grains aswell. Notes of cocoa or bitter chocolate and some dried fruit like dates or prunes in the background. This beer finishes with a nice semi-sweet finish and some alcohol warmth to smooth out the sweetness.

M- Full mouthfeel with nice faint alcohol warmth.

D- This is truly the black barleywine that make up a RIS. Very nice complexity and good bold flavors. Great to drink now and I bet it would stand up great to age.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a blackish body with a solid one-finger head that stuck around forever. A thick, hearty malt aroma of chocolate and roasted malts along with a touch of breadiness; hops are minimal but give off dark fruit like black cherry. A sweet stickiness greets my tongue and then I pick up chocolate and hints of toffee but there's a greater bready, biscuity, almost coffee-like roasted sensation that gives this thick beer a hearty finish. Plum and tasty with minimal hop bitterness and fruit flavorings make for a great sipper that goes down smooth and the ABV is complementary on the backbite but does not bleed into the beer.

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Photo of kscaldef
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle. Pours very dark with minimal carbonation evident. Just a whisp of mocha foam rises. Coffee and chocolate aromas with prune and raisin notes. Tastes of very rich chocolate and finishes with coffee. Mouthfeel is thick, nearly flat. Slight harsh tannins. Quite drinkable for such a strong beer, but a little subdued.

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

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 11/15/11
*From notes

-- Vintage 2010 --

A: Dark, brooding black. A generous pour yields a killer 2.25 finger cascading mocha head. The retention is top notch, as is the lacing which rims the glass.

S: Dried and candied dark fruits with just a touch of smoke.

T: Really a massive dose of char up front. Yeah, this is aging beautifully. Though it's rather roasty, there's still a solid hop kick on the mid, even after it's been in the cellar for a year. Black coffee runs from the mid to finish, and it lingers for some time.

M: Just over the top. It's silky, creamy and velvety. It feels like a penthouse suite in mouth.

O: Bell's Expedition Stout is easily one of my favorite non-BA RIS's. It's big, bold and brash, yet deceivingly elegant and easy to drink. This has aging potential unlike many others. Though a bit pricey, it's worth every cent you'll pay.

A hearty recommendation.

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

A snifter glass served at Capone's during both Founders/Bell's nights.

A: The stout is pitch black, no other words adequately describe the dark depths of this stout. Unfortunately there was no head atop this black beauty, besmirching the nice appearance.

S: The nose is roasted malts, dark thick grains that have bready and vinous characteristics. Some sweeter grains punch up the strong burnt aromas.

T: The taste is right in line with the big aromas from the nose. There is a thick roasted burnt malt flavor, bitter and strong that remains throughout the drink. That burnt flavor is nicely matched up against a graham sweetness. The alcohol underlying this beer is huge, completely unable to hide itself even amongst the abundance of flavor here. The finish is burnt and bitter, leaving a long full taste in the mouth.

M: The stout is huge, easily overwhelming the tastebuds with dark roasted flavors and big alcohol. This is not a stout for the faint of heart.

D: A snifter is great, more than one and you'll be seein' double. This is a complex beer that is best enjoyed slowly with good company.

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Photo of cjgator3
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- The pour is a thick dark black color reminiscent of motor oil that produces a tan head. There is no light coming through this puppy.

S- The aroma is dark roasted malt, chocolate and alcohol soaked fruits.

T- The taste is dark and roasty and warming from the alcohol with a bitter finish from the hops.

M- The mouthfeel is very thick and chewy with little carbonation. This is one of the thickest beers that I have tried.

D- The high ABV hinders the drinkability of this brew but it is not meant to drink a sixer of these in one sitting. It is a very nice brew to sip on a chilly night.

This is another great stout from Bell's, I look forward to trying this every winter.

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

Received in a recent trade, but I've forgotten with who, apologies and thanks! Bottle with code # 9554. Poured into 10oz glass. Poured solidly black with just under an inch of light brown head that had decent retention and lacing.

The aroma full and rich, lots of roasted and toasted scents. The flavors were also well executed examples of the style. In addition to the roasted flavors there was a nice little hop tang at the end.

The body was typically full, rich and tongue coating. Drinkability will vary depending on your personal taste for the style, 1 of these at a time is usually enough for me, YMMV.

Overall, a very good example of the style and better than some much more highly hyped versions. Worth trying when you see it.

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

Pours from 12oz bottle a pitch black with a medium sized head of foam that shrinks rather quickly leaving just a fine ring around the edge of the glass.

The smell is very strong but nice. There's oodles of roasted and sweet malt on the nose and also some fruitiness.

The taste is also hugely malty. Lots of roastiness and sweet caramel malt along with chocolate and hot cocoa that adds some nice bitterness that creates one heck of a complex and pleasing experience to my palate. Wow is this ever a great sipping Imperial Stout! I did have a couple bottles of it a few years back but I think I'm enjoying it more now because of my "evolved" appreciation of quality microbrews.

I'm about halfway through now and though the abv is pretty darned high, I'm not getting any of it in the taste, just some warming as it goes down. What a great brew to have on this very cold Casper winter evening...

Bottom line: A *superb* full bodied, full flavoured Imperial Stout that borders on perfection. I can't recommend this one enough!

Thanks to ColoradoBobs for allowing me to try this beauty again!!!

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Photo of spinrsx
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz Bottle from 2009 - Thanks to pushkinwow for this

Appearance - Black/brown colour with a small size fizzy/frothy brown coloured head. I can't see much carbonation due the darkness of the beer and there is some good lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for around 5 minutes.

Smell - Chocolate, coffee, malts, smoke, roasted/burnt nuts, dark fruits

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation and I can taste lots of chocolate, coffee, and some burnt/roasted nuts. There is also some smoke mixed with malts and it ends with a chocolatey burnt/bitter aftertaste.

Overall – Another fantastic beer from Bell's. It seems like it has aged very well and the booze hits you pretty hard. I would like a touch less charcoal/burnt flavour but the dark fruit notes help balance it out. A great beer.

Edit. 2014 batch, a seriously good ris

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,009 ratings.
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