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

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2,099 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: 2,099 | Ratings: 6,037
Photo of 4lo
4.12/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

'14 Bottle

Pour - Bit thicker than your average stout. Dark on the pour with a one finger tan head that forms and eventually yields way to a ring around the glass.

Smell - Bitter chocolate and dark fruits on the nose. Some coffee, but not as much as a ~10 months ago.

Taste - Sugary chocolate up front which turns to a dark chocolate molasses taste as you muddle through it. Bit of dark fruit in between and on the tail end. Coffee isn't overly strong, but a get a bit in there.

Feel - Well put together and fairly smooth mouthfeel. Nice level of carbonation which makes it easy to drink.

Overall - Great seasonal release stout which hits the spot during the winters.

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

Bought a 6-pack of the 2013 vintage; interested in seeing how age affects this beer. I plan on drinking one a year through 2018. Today 1/31/15, about 18 months after bottle date, this beer has an enticing smell with a silky smooth taste mixed with dark fruit; really coats the mouth. Alcohol heat is still slightly there. 4/7/16 ages gracefully. Smooth, less alcohol burn. Delicious fudge flavor that lingers.

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

L-Thick, black, dark, sand colored head that stays about 1/8" layer on top as your drink.

S-Roasty, liquor-ish, smell. Hints of something sweet.

T-Complex, getting an oak after taste. Drinks well with rings staying around glass.

F-A little slippery coating that lasts a minuet or so after first drink.

O-Very, very good. Will be savoring the rest of the sixer.

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Photo of Jwburns75
4.67/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 9/18/14, poured from 12oz bottle into snifter. Huge chocolate and dark fruit taste, very nice sweetness, laces well. Alcohol is well hidden by all the flavor. What a magnificent RIS this is.

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Photo of mattbk
4.01/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Jet black, deep tan, very creamy looking head.
S: Cocoa, caramel, some dark fruit, fig, pretty nice.
T: Some roasty and hop based bitterness, followed by sweet dark fruits, grape coming to mind. More subtle cocoa. Definite booziness in the back. This is a big beer in all ways, shapes and forms. Good beer, slightly rough though. Definitely a sipper.
M: Super full bodied, very creamy. Pretty awesome.
O: I have a lot of respect for this beer. It's sort of like a full bodied Rasputin, although this is far from my favorite style.

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Photo of Bone53
4.81/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: The pour on this bad boy is thick and pitch black; motor oil. Atop sits a one finger mocha brown head. Also the most laced glass from a beer iv seen in a long while. Wish i could post a picture on this review

Smell: dark chocolate, roasted malt, dark fruit, coffee, slight molasses

Taste: The taste is even better! Nothing in particular really hits my palate upfront, rather its a blissful medley of chocolate and roasted malts/coffee with a slight presence of dark fruit mid palate, although i get more dark fruit in the nose. Then the espresso-like coffee character leaves everything else behind and lingers for a bit; But not without molasses finally finishing it off

Mouthfeel: A fairly heavy body; viscous and coats the mouth. Slight alcohol presence but smooth considering the abv. Bitter finish

Overall (4.6): I fell in love with this beer at first sip. From the motor oil pour to the dark and rich aromas and flavors of chocolate, espresso, roasted malts, dark fruit, molasses, and the smooth mouthfeel, this is EVERYTHING you want in a RIS. The only thing that stops me from sipping this everyday is the price, but the taste definitely justifies that. Overall this beer is mindblowing, and i look forward to having it each and every winter.

EDIT 3/2/15: Sippin a 2009 Expedition on draft and this is just spectacular. The aromas and flavors have blended together beyond words. The smell is dark espresso, bitter roasted and sweet caramel malts, dark fruits, and subtle chocolate. The taste is like some of the best espresso youll ever have, dark fruits, subtle chocolate, and a solid roasted and caramel malt backbone. The alcohol from a fresh batch has totally dissipated and the bitterness has mellowed out, although still slightly bitter. This joins an aged oatmeal yeti as the best stout iv ever had. I thought a fresh Expedition was one of the best RIS iv ever had, but this is somethin else. I have just raised my rating a couple tenths. I need to start cellaring bottles in my basement, if only i could forget theyre down there lol

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Photo of humuloner22
4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I have had this one in the past. Tonight I decided I would grab another one to see kind of what the base beer was like because I was going to drink and review the Black Note. So here goes...

Appearance: Black as night not a lot of head whatsoever but very viscous and the head that lays on top is a dark caramel color. With a little agitation the head does appear again but otherwise it pretty much settles to nothing.

Aroma: Licorice, dark burned malts and lots of charred flavors.

Taste: Licorice, burned cream flavors. This is not a beer I would drink cold. At first it was too biting for me, however as it warmed it began releasing more pleasant flavors. Still this beer is on the bitter side. Mouthfeel is pretty much spot on. Not to thin not to thick.

Overall: I have drank this beer before years ago. I was not impressed with it the first time I tried it, I know more what to look for now and although in the beginning I had it too cold and did not enjoy the flavors, as it warmed it was definitely better, nevertheless it is still not one of my favorite beers of the style nor from Bell's. With all the options we have out there these days I would probably pass on this one considering the price point, however it does come in a six pack which is a good thing.

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Photo of DaverCS
4.69/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Motor oil black. 2 plus finger head with a moderate to aggressive pour. The head reminds me of a beautiful espresso crema (if it was 2 fingers tall over my coffee). Great lacing up the glass.
Aroma definitely boasts some alcohol. I do get a presence of some dark fruits soaked in rum, some molasses, brown sugar, and coffee.
Taste is rather pleasant. It really doesn’t have much sweetness. The beer is only 3 months old, so it has some bitterness, but I find that the slight bitterness makes it drinkable. I think it has the perfect mouth feel: not overly thick, but not overly carbonated. I get huge burnt coffee and smokiness, molasses in the middle of the palate with a nice malt flavor. Not as much dark fruits as on the nose. You get them primarily near the middle of the mouth. I primarily get a rum soaked date flavor with some raisins thrown in. Almost an oak flavor. I do taste the alcohol a little at the end as the beer warms, but it isn’t as much as the nose would make you think. Definitely coats the palate.
Overall, not a bad stout. This beer is readily available and totally drinkable. I like this beer because it has more substance and thickness than some boasting the same flavors. It isn’t overly thick, but the rights blend. Aging would work well for this beer; it would tame the bitterness down making it beautifully balanced. While I like the bitterness, as it warms, it is a little too much for the beer. I could see something remarkable after a year or so. This would be a good beer with some beignets. I give it 94/100.

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Photo of Goodspeed83
4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

As another reviewer stated, this is beer is difficult to rate, as the bottle I had is only a few months old. Based on its reputation, I wanted to like it immediately. The first half of the bottle was a little overwhelming. Very bittersweet smell, along with a sweeter taste that becomes very bitter immediately.

I wasn't too surprised, since that bitterness is described by Bell's themselves, but my desire to try it out won over my original intent to age it. In the end, I liked it, but the rest of the bottles went to the basement, to be enjoyed at a much later time.

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Photo of Bshaw22
4.39/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer is really hard for me to rate. I'm drinking it so fresh, only a couple months old.
Looks beautiful. Sleeps ok. Taste is really goo but really bitter for a stout. I am going to save the rest of the six pack and age it. I'll review again next year.

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Photo of leroybrown10
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 9/18/14 poured into a snifter.

Pours a thick inky black. Head bubbles up slowly but keeps rising and rising till there is a solid finger and a half. Head is a rich khaki color and leaves plenty of lacing as it dissipates.

Aroma is heady and strong. Intense bitter coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malt, and earthy hops clash and blend together.

Heavy malt on the tongue. Coffee notes go beyond roasted into the bitter/burnt range. Rich dark chocolate as well as some smoke and peat. Hops are strong and lingering on the end with some earthy/loamy notes.

Thick mouth feel with an acridness that is mildly unpleasant.

Overall, a very good beer that could be better if some of the flavors were less intense. The coffee notes in particular could use toned down and made less bitter. While this bottle had 3.5 months already, I could see an extended cellaring improving this a good deal.

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Photo of rangerred
4.26/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle from October 2014 poured into a snifter.

Pours an inky black with the look and consistency of used motor oil. Leaves a quick glimpse of a tan head that quickly fades away. Some nice splotches on the sides of the glass.

Aroma really jumps with coffee, dark chocolate, and prunes. A bit of a charred character hinting at the roastyness.

The flavor when cold is really bitter with a tartness that surprised me. As the beer warmed, however, this smoothed out considerably and everything just seemed to meld. Coffee, char, and dark fruit just seem to be married perfectly with just enough bitterness to keep the sweetness in check. Incredible mouthfeel that is silky smooth and the alcohol is barely noticeable.

Overall, an incredible RIS and very drinkable. Really hits all the high points of the style and is quite delicious.

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Photo of JohnnyI
4.52/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a rich black, crowned with a coffee colored head that has a custard-like consistency. The foam slowly settles, leaving a solid inch and half thick band around the glass. I don't know if I can call that lacing. It's looks more like a decorative ribbon! There's a slick coating on the surface and an oily film left behind with each swirl. The appearance is sturdy. A hearty looking brew. The smell is quite complex. Pronounced soy sauce and canned mushrooms, with a mild metallic scent. Chocolate baklava with honey sweet figs. The customary coffee, char and dark fruits are there as well, but less so. Subtle booze. The flavors are much more potent. There's an explosion of taste on the first sip. Sweet molasses with roasted black coffee. Burnt malts with black licorice notes. A distinct cocoa toffee finish with charcoal bitterness imparted from the hops and deep roast. Dry and bitter in the end, as the roast simply clings to your palate and refuses to let go. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth with a hearty creaminess that gives the brew an enormous body. Lively, fine pin-prick carbonation helps all of the flavors burst to life. After a few sips, it leaves a sticky feeling in your mouth. Half-way through the glass and there is a nice warming alcohol heat in the chest. I know this is not a spiced beer, but I'd swear that there is some cinnamon in there. Ultimately, this is a man's beer. Something to warm the winter nights in northern Michigan while staying in the snow-covered cabin. A big, bold Russian Imperial Stout with a soothing touch of rustic campfire goodness. Bottled 10/23/14. I've had aged versions that are phenomenal in their own right, but I still prefer the fresher alternative. A+

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Photo of lenbert
4.57/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This was bottled on 10/2012. Pours black with very slight head. The head that it has lingers a good long time!

The aroma is of dark fruits, and malty chocolate. The taste mirrors the aroma, chock filled with malty and chocolaty goodness. The mouth feel is thick and very pleasing.

This is an amazingly delicious Russian Imperial Stout, currently my favorite.

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Photo of Moun10
3.48/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Taste is very heavy on the dark fruit flavor. Reminiscent of eating a small box of raisins in one mouthful or chugging some warm prune juice. Too much.

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Photo of byronic
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a midnight black with minimal head, very little retention. A beautiful dark chocolate and almost bourbon like quality. Dark roasted malts with some chocolate. The abv is quite present but this brew is very smooth and very drinkable despite it. A finish that is sweetness reminiscent of a fine cognac. Had fresh and aged 18 months. Better with age. Treasure this in your cellar.

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

Looks: Black, opaque, big fluffy mocha head made of tiny bubbles and legs. Surprisingly strong head retention.
Smell: Dark fruits, raisins, chocolate malts, mild coffee, alcohol when it warms up
Taste: Sweet chocolate malts, plums, anise, cherries.
Mouthfeel: Satiny smooth with a full body and a slight alcoholic burn.
Overall: One of the best stouts out there.

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Photo of DaveBar
4.42/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at Champagne's for $16.00 for a 6pk. Served at a mighty low 6deg C in a tulip.

A- Opens well and pours a tiny brown head that lasts. Super dark almost black color.

S- Lots of coffee, chocolate and nuts. Super hot

T- Not very hot at all. Not what it smells like. Lots of chocolate. Touch of coffee. Good overall bend. Nice balance

M- A touch chalky but other than that pretty

O- Excellent beer. Glad there 6 in the pack.

Food Pairing

This excellent beer went well with..... Roasted pork loin encrusted in cracked pepper corns!


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Photo of Gasc0igne
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 21st August 2014. Consumed @ 4 months old.

A(4.25): Cola pour, black with strong red hue at edges, medium size tanned head, short retention, nice alcohol legs, minimal lacing

S(3.75): quite dark fruit heavy, good roasted malt and no coffee, good dark chocolate throughout, licorice and alcohol finish, alcohol is actually quite pleasant though it is very noticeable, fairly subdued aroma

T(4.25): quite bitter but not overly as I was expecting, very heavy roasted malt and a beef jerky smoked salty funkiness, meaty, a decent espresso on the back end along with a milk chocolate/molasses thing, maybe some cherry...maybe

M(4): on the lighter side of full, a tad chewy thanks to medium carbonation, there is some dryness to the finish, some stickiness and no alcohol burn

Bottled 25th September 2013. Consumed @ 2 years old.


O(4/4.25): glad to try this young to compare with my older bottle. A good ris and will certainly improve with age.

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Photo of spacecake9
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On the advice of BA I grabbed a 6-pack of Expedition Stout. I'd hesitated in the past as my experience with Bells has been hit or miss.
This beer pours black with very little head. Aroma is chocolate maybe, molasses maybe.
Taste is a solid Imperial Stout, kind of pure in a way as there is not a strong chocolate or coffee tone to it.
I enjoyed my first bottle. Great beer. Now I'm going to put the rest of the bottles in my cellar and drink one a year.

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Photo of bman13
4.84/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Very good beer. Picked this one up by mistake, but man am I happy that I screwed up! It's a huge big ol plus to me that this is in 6 packs and not dumb 4 packs. There's very little beer now with this high of an ABV and of this quality that are sold that way, but on to the beer;

Just excellent is all I can say at the least. Smells and tastes of deep dark chocolate with a little molasses possibly, can't really tell but whatever is in there, is good. Slight hoppy bitterness on the finish. And has a very thick syrupy appearance with a thick sticky brown head. Just amazing

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Photo of BuckeyeBeers
4.64/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Tried a 5 year bottle while at dark lord day this past spring and never had a chance to score it. The difference the 5 years had on this beer is astonishing. The flavors all melt together and you are left with a mellowed out version that is much more forward with chocolate notes. If you pick up a 6 pack I highly recommend drinking one initial bottle and then pull one bottle per year for the next 5 years so you can experience the transformation.

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Photo of tedvr
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours very dark with a small, creamy head. Faint fruit smells, fruit cake like. Nice dark taste, coffee and chocolate background. Overall a great stout!

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Photo of richj1970
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into snifter. Bottled dated 10/23/2014.

A: Pours motor oil black with dense one finger tan head. Nice lasting retention settling to a thin ring around the edge and leaving plenty of sticky lacing.

S: Roasted coffee beans, bittersweet chocolate bars, and molasses.

T: Very rich coffee, roasted malts, dark chocolate, and a hint of dark fruits.

M: Thick and creamy. Finish is fairly bitter.

O: Excellent stout. Lots of big bold flavors and aromas. Very nice sipper on a cold winter night.

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Photo of Sandalwood
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%

Pours a very dark brown to black color with a small light brownish head. There is a little bit of lacing. The odor is creamy vanilla, chocolate, dried fruits, raisin, coffee, and caramel. The taste is very rich, velvety, cocoa, bitter chocolate, vanilla, chalky, bitter throughout, this beer is only four months old.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,037 ratings.
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