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

2,132 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: 2,132 | Ratings: 6,141
Photo of irishkyle21
4.87/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with the darkest brown head. Thick and creamy foam that settles but not without leaving behind a lot of lacing. Has a jet black color.

Smells of sweet roasted malt, caramel, chocolate, coffee, molasses and licorice. The nose itself knocked me on my ass.

The mouthfeel is wonderfully thick and smooth. Tastes sweet and satisfying. Has a good hop bitterness, toasted malt, mocha, a bit of fruits and some alcohol.

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Photo of pheggeseth
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Single 12oz bottle bought at The Blue Max in Burnsville, MN for $2.59

A: tremendous 3 finger head, great cascading effect, pours very thick

S: roasted malt, hops, hint of chocolate, alcohol

T: roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, possibly from the hops, warming alcohol

M: the thickest beer I've had yet, very oily, pretty strong carbonation, the bitterness is a little too much for my taste

D: again, the bitterness is a little much, but it is very smooth, quite the sipper, just one prompts an immediate contemplation of the meaning of life

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Photo of hwwty4
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 12 oz bottle into my normal tasting Chalice. Appearance is black. It barely let any light through. It had a large, thick 2 inch head, that left no lacing down the sides of the glass. Smell is of molasses, baker’s chocolate and espresso. Taste is mostly the same, but with hints of raisins. This stout is balanced better then any stout I've had to this point in by beer journey. Mouthfeel is full bodied and creamy. I think I could drink a keg of this if my liver (and rest of my body) could handle it

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

Batch # 8145 packaged Sept.14th 2007

A-Poured into a goblet at about 50 degrees.It pours BLACK with a dark brown 1/2" thick head that fades to a small laced layer.

S-Smells of bitter-dark chocolate,coffee and strong notes of molasses and raisins or plum.

T-At first a slight hint of hops then a smokey malt with a hint of caramel and a slight alcohol taste-then-the real thing,big dark chocolate/coffee taste with a smooth bittersweet finish.

M-Thick,chewy,oily residue coats entire mouth.Good carbonation.

D-This is a very smooth and relaxing beer.At 10.50% it makes a great sipping beer on a cold night.If you like big beers or RIS's you must try this one.

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

12oz bottle, received in a trade with tavernjef, served in a snifter.

A - black as the night with a light brown head that thinned to a layer, leaving spots of lacing behind.

S - molases, black licorice, espresso and bittersweet chocolate aromas fill the nose.

T - all of the aromas I listed are blended into the taste with a slightly bitter bite on the finish. The alcohol warms, but is not tasted.

M - thick and rich, very nice.

D - a most enjoyable sipper.

Final Note: not for the novice stout drinker!
thanks again, tavernjef.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.85/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11/24/07- Received via trade with Lou91.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with a code marked 6672 on the bottom of the back label. Not a clue what that means. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Very black in color. 3/4 inch milk chocolate colored head. Head has nice staying power. Lace streaks and spots and patchwork remain after the finish.

Smell- Strong nose of molasses, deep sweet malt, coffee, licorice and chocolate. Full house in this nose. One of the better ones out there.

Taste- Wow, this is right up there with my all time favorite tasting imperials. Huge milgled flavors of dark chocolate, roasted fresh coffee beans and mollasses. Sweet and dark like candy. Just an explosion of flavors that meld so well together. Hops are there, but come out more in the aftertaste than the actual consumption.

Mouthfeel- Creamy, viscous, extremely mouthcoating. Thick and chewy, but unlike cough syrup. Medium carbonation level with a bitter aftertaste that gets stronger and stronger.

Drinkability- Abv is noticeable, but doesn't seem like the 11.5% Seems high though. Damn I wish I could get these out here. May have to do some mail order. Top notch stuff that competes with Stone, Alesmith and a few other ones IMO. Will be doing what I can to get more of these.

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

I poured this thick beer into my tumbler at 50 degrees. The beer was inky black and poured a tan head that was pretty nice. The taste was strong like a Russian stout and very stout indeed. The thick coffee taste blended well with the smokey chickory taste that oozed around in my mouth. I will buy this beer again. Bell's makes a fine product.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.94/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quite a nice imperial stout. I remember having this perhaps 2 years ago, and being a bit turned off by it, but my how my tastes have changed. This beer is not the biggest imperial stout I've had, but still has plenty to offer.

It poured a bit viscous, and was the opaque black that characterizes the style. A pretty thick cappuccino colored head topped it. Aroma was of liquorice, chocolate and coffee. Flavor was definitely more liquorice-y...gave a nice sweetness to the beer and accompanied the dark malt. Mouthfeel was full but not syrupy and was quite nice.

I don't know why it's taken me so long to return to this beer. It is a winner!

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Photo of malcontent
4.16/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The black body that doesn't allow an iota of light in is mounted by an unmovable flinger of khaki-colored head. Simply beautiful.

Layers of aromas stack up as following; chocolate, leather, smoke, cinnamon, and butter. Dark fruit surfaces upon further inspection. Nice.

Roasted malt jumps out right away accompanied by a bittersweet chocolate that never relents. Much less dark fruit here instead hints of juniper and earth are the supporting flavors. A strong coffee taste finishes as part of a dual bitterness along with a shocking (and welcome) hop kick. Falls a bit short of greatness due to the aforementioned hop character; the aggressive nature makes me think they went with Chinook or Challenger or another freakish varietal.

Creamy and rich without ever feeling sticky or oily. Carbonation is certainly there preventing the listlessness the style sometimes suffers from.

It's obviously a dastardly strong beer but the alcohol is scarcely detectable. I have had a few substandard bottles of this in years past. However, it appears as though Bells' has worked out the kinks with Expedition and they now have a beverage firing on all cylinders.

Thanks to kryptic for the trade.

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Photo of smurphy77
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured from bottle an espresso color with a large foamy tan head. Aromas of brazilian chocolate, espresso and earthy undertones. Bold flavors of coffee and dark, rich chocolate. Lots of alcohol on the finish but it was balanced by the chocolate and coffee flavors. Very drinkable for the high alcohol content. One of the finer examples of this style.

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Photo of rye726
4.88/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz '07 poured into a goblet at 50F.

Certainly a beautifull beer. The color is a dark black with brown hues. A nice espresso head settles to a very thin cover.

The nose is of choclate, dark fruits, coffee, oats, molasses and roasty malts.

Quite tasty, a wonderful mixture of choclate, coffee, toffee, molasses and sweet malts.

It has a full body and texture that silks over the tounge. Very drinkable for a big RIS and one of the best around.

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Photo of joe1510
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle
$15.00 6-Pack
Bell's General Store

Packaged 10/25/07

This is a fresh bottle consumed on 11/23/07. Expedition Stout pours midnight black and actually swallows up the light present. A one finger faded brown head grew on the pour and fell rather quickly to a thin skim coat leaving somespotted lacing on it's way down. An expected expierence with the high abv.

The aroma starts off with some deeply and freshly roasted barley. This roastiness is consistent throught the aroma and everything else is just a compliment. Deeply roasted coffee beans, a quick flash of dark fruit, quick lactic quality on the second half, and a flash of spicy alcohol and mild hops on the backend.

Flavor goes hand in hand with the aroma. There's deep roasted qualities from both coffee and malts. Lactic, still green from the freshness, a touch of dak fruit, and a nice alcohol spiciness on the swallow. It's actually nice to get an alcohol kick from an RIS since most don't let the alcohol add the complexity needed.

Body is heavy but leaning more toward the medium side of the spectrum than the hugely creamy side. Alcohol fumes exhale through the nose. Spiciness warms my cheeks. There's more of a hop presence than tasted or smelled and it leaves the tongue somewhat beat up.

This, especially in it's raw young age, is a sipper without a doubt. I could easily drink a couple in a night but that's about all.

Another great beer from Bell's. Their stouts are above verage to outstanding. This is one that leans toward outstanding. I reviewed this one while it was very fresh. Up next will be an ged example and this beer ages with the best of them.

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

My wife bought me this for no reason at all... just because! I know... I know.... she's the BEST!

Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a pint glass (DATE CODE: 8145: Packaged on September 14th, 2007).... oops! Improper glassware.... oh well.... let's see what happens... The head formed up to 1-1/2 inch and it wasn't THAT hard of a pour. It was rocky tan and very thick. The lacing was VERY Pronounced. The beer was a deep ebony.

The nose was of chocolate/caramel/charcoal and burnt malt.

The taste was very good. Charcoal, dark chocolate, sweet malt but with a burnt finish. AND a big alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel: Thick, creamy, robust.... quite good. I have to try my 4 favorite RIS's side by side one day.... will this ever happen?.... I doubt it... they are all so close, it's difficult to differentiate them.

Right now (11-20-2007) I think they're pretty even. Of course, I haven't had Dark Lord... is that REALLY that much better than these??

Bell's Expedition
Stone Imperil Russian Stout
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Hoppin' Frog B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher

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Photo of sacrelicio
4.36/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Legendary stout, my first taste of it. Beautiful appearance, total pitch midnight in a glass topped with creamy mocha head, rocky with lacing to boot. Smell is good, but doesn't leap out like expected. Still, nice sublime chocolate and coffee notes. Taste is intense. Very bitter, but rich with coffee, chocolate, wood, and spice. As it warms, green pepper and green olive notes reveal themselves. Mouthfeel is amazing, hefty yet with a lift that elevates this to the exceptional. Drinkable, not easygoing, but you would certainly like another.

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Photo of soulgrowl
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Tamari-thick blacker-than-midnight opaque black. Spotty mocha latte brown head with poor retention.

Smell: Smoked cherries - does that make sense? Because that's what comes to mind. Extremely roasty and deeply fruity, a massive malt anvil. Light soy sauce, sherry with lots of warm alcohol, honey graham crackers, sweet caramel, apple jelly, brown sugar on toasted wheat bread. Moist, molassesy gingerbread and lots of raisins, Cracklin' Oat Bran... I could go on. Insanely complex, and in a somewhat atypical way - low on chocolate and coffee aromas, high on grain aromas. Clean, acidic, oily hops add a fine, pointed spice, distilled by the volatile alcohol.

Taste: Weird - spicy as hell from the alcohol and hops, with burnt coffee, 90% cacao chocolate, tangy sherry, aniseseed spice. Aggressive alcohol impedes the full development of the malts' nuances (if they're there) on the palate, which is sort of a shame. This could probably improve with a year or two in the cellar. Piney, Goldings-esque hops stoke the flames of alcohol for a hot, spicy finish with a blossom of chocolate and tannic nut notes, similar to an Snickers bar laced with rum.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and very, very thick - yet somehow, not syrupy at all.

Drinkability: Aggressive as hell, and in my opinion, not complex enough to warrant it. Not bad - try it if you like Stone's RIS - but not my favorite.

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Photo of BioBilly
3.5/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

This beer pours dark, real dark, small carmel brown lacing on top. The smell is the best part of this beer. The taste was not what I was expecting, it was really bitter and you can taste the alohol through the other hidden flavors. Mouthfeel was terrific, I love the thinkness of this beer. I found that this beer did not have me wanting to conitnue to drink it, I drank and did not want another. This beer was not as good as I thought it was going be.

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

Batch 7817: Fall 2007 - gave it a good year to age in the cellar.

Force poured - pitch black with a khaki head almost 3" high. Very dense & creamy head.

Chouffe coffee liqour-esqe scents; basically high-grade coffee spirits drenched in bitter dark chocolate, dark fruits; figs, black cherries, black strap molasses - all up in your nose!

Smooooth deep flavors of gourmet espresso, dark chocolate powder dissolved into thick cream with marshmallows and rum. Intoxicating flavors that scream (actually moan) rich and full-on deep dark and devilish flavors I already mentioned.

Mouthfeel is oily slick and quite velvety. Ultra full-bodied with fine carbonation at the perfect level. Long, full, lingering bold dark malty/liqouresque finish.

Drinkability is good. I don't know how well I'd be operating after a couple/few of these - but I'd give it the 'ole college try.

Overall an ale that I wasn't truly able to appreciate a couple years ago (this is my 2nd review). After sampling the bourbon barrel version at the Great Taste of the Midwest a couple years ago (poured by Larry Bell himself) and several stints with Kentucky Breakfast & original Breakfast Stout, I’ve been tempered and educated enough to truly appreciate the masterpiece this stout truly is. This RIS is utmost decadent and supremely balanced, and with just enough understated attitude (kinda like Billy Jack) to kick your ass if you mishandle it. I'm humbled to think I gave this a poor rating just over two years ago. This is one of the finest HUGE ales I've ever had the pleasure to drink. Hail to Bell's - the original Michigan micro!

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

I had the pleasure of sampling this RIS on-tap at Bell's Brewery. It poured all black with a thick, creamy, tan head that leaves some nice wall of lace. Very formidable looking poured in to a tulip glass.

Amazing aroma; primarily heavily roasted malt and spent coffee grounds. Earthy and robust. Lots of bitter cocoa. Fills the nostrils. Exactly what I look for in a RIS.

Again the flavor is primarily of heavily roasted; dark malty goodness. Rich and decadent. Black coffee and bitter dark cocoa. Some toffee sweetness. Deep caramelization. A bit of milk chocolate comes through in the finish. As does a good amount of warmth. Some booze and dark fruit are there too. Earthy and complex with just a hint of smoke. All the fundamental characteristics that make this style great.

Thick and creamy on the palate with low carbonation and a somewhat syrupy texture. Again there is some nice warmth in the finish that rounds out this amazing beer. One of the best examples of a RIS I can think of. Such a great selection. If you ever have the opportunity to sample it on tap, take it.

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

2007 version poured into snifter

Pours a thick black sludge that drips out of the bottle. A nice foamy chocolate milk covered head rests on top of this one and leaves lacing all along the side of the glass and a thin layer rests on top. Smell is of chocolate cookie dough and it warms your nostrils as if they had just been taken out of the oven. The rich doughy sweetness is followed by a bitter coffee scent. Taste is bittering coffee, and a smokey aftertaste. Mouthfeeling is a little oily with a good amount of warming alcohol presence. Delicious beer.

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Photo of BeerSox
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12oz bottle into nonic

Generally I drink Imperial Stouts out of snifters, but I think this one is okay to enjoy out of a pint glass.

Pours deep black, not a trace of red edges. The head is brown (actually brown), about one finger head, and lasts forever. The lacing hold well too, generally a solid wall down the glass.

Deep roasted flavors with some bitter chocolate. Some hopiness is detectable, mostly as a citrus like flavor, although it's masked well by the bitterness of the malts. The alcohol is hidden well, considering it's amount. Full bodied with a good amount of carbonation. The finish is 95% barly, 5% bitter hops.

This is one exceptional stout. One reason to keep it out of the nonic is so you don't drink it too fast. Recommended.

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Photo of Mitchster
2.86/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Fall 2007. $2.50 for a single 12oz bottle at Jack's. Pours out to a very dark brown, but not as oily and sheer black as prior versions. Forms a large, voluminous sticky dark cocoa head with excellent retention and lacing. Very nice looking beer. Nose of heavily roasted grains, big malts, lots of herbal hops, vanilla, walnut (a little more subdued than prior versions) and a wisp of alcohol. Mouthfeel is big and coating. Big bodied, but not as big as I remember it..certainly not as oily. Hrmm, off-flavors galore...the requisite cocoa, prunes, and big dark malts are there, but it has a very definite "homebrew" plastic-y pang, and by that I mean, there are some off-flavor fusels and aldehydes (but not in a good way). It reminds me almost exactly of a RIS I brewed a long time ago..fermented it too warm and it kinda had this funky rubbery taste. Bitterness is moderate. The finish is kinda rubbery...tastes likes plastic and bleach.

Hrmm, quite the disappointment. I'm glad I didn't pick up a 6'er of this. I'm gonna go drink my Stone RIS to wash this taste out of my mouth. This one is going down the drain.

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Photo of Blybloke
4.68/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I love this time of year. Just bought this and sixer of Sierra Nevada Celebration. I've had this before and it's nice to compare the flavors year to year.

Poured pitch black into a snifter. The caramel-colored head rose an inch and a half. Lace in curtains after about 5 minutes. A gorgeous and intimidating beer.

The alcohol is perhaps a bit too prevalent in the nose but... it still smells incredible - the old stand-bys introduce themselves: toffee, chocolate, coffee, figs, licorice, caramel and banana. But, over everything, there's just a small fraction too much alcohol.

Taste is what you'd expect from the pour and the aroma. It's one of the most complex flavors I've ever come across in 33 years of food and drink. Everything in the aroma is represented here in spades. Plus there's a pleasant subtle sting of alcohol as this clocks in at 10%+ abv.

Mouthfeel is heavy, thick and oily. It leaves a syrupy film wherever it touches on the palate. This is as heavy a stout as you'll come across. Simply wonderful.

This is a perfect beer for a feast, or perhaps to sip while you stare at the fire. If you're an adventurous beer drinker or heavy stout fan, don't miss this one.


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Photo of stuckonhops
4.9/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had heard about this beer and was told i should try it and also was recommended by many people. I decided to see if it would live up to expectations. Which it did and also surpassed mine so so much.

A-- EXTREMELY dark. Not a speckle of light passes through. The head has to be formed manualy during the pour. Be careful though, on my first pour i tried to induce head and it grew VERY slow but made almost my whole pint glass foamy.(rookie mistake i guess). The head is a definet cocoa color, looks like cocoa foam to say the least.

S-- smells of roasted malts and coffee. also hints of chocolate and maybe fig? definetly an alcohol smell but not at all overwhelming as in some ALES.

T-- WOW WOW WOW. as i said it is amazing. first sip you taste alcohol with roasted malts and a semi-sweet cocoa finish. as you go on the alcohol COMPLETELY diminishes fairly quickly. After that it becomes a battle between the fig and chocolate with hops setting in. I have been so amazed with the way all the flavors play against each other in such harmony its ridiculus.

M-- very thick and coats the mouth and tounge with so many flavors i think you bite lemon and this beer would still shine through. very nice.

D-- another one to be careful with. after the first one you may be inclined to keep going. but trust me, pace yourself more than a nascar driver this one will take you for a ride...

One of the best beers i have ever had. At least in the stout category. I highly recommend this one to anyone. I dont care if they only like BMC or not. This one can turn heads 360degrees

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Photo of brewdoc75
4.04/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is actually my first Imperial Stout. I've always been a bit scared of these because a lot of them that I see have been aged in bourbon barrells and such. I hate bourbon. After reading this site, I decided that this would be a reasonable choice.

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Jet black w/ a dark toffee colored head.

Smell: Not a whole lot of aroma. Smells of burnt grains, a hint of chocolate, and a little bit of alcohol.

Taste: Nice strong bite initially. Pleasant roasted coffee flavors mixed in with toffee and caramel flavors. A little sweet. Finishes w/ a nice bitterness. One of the best things about this beer is that I don't really taste the ABV that is listed. I barely taste the ABV at all.

Mouthfeel: Very heavy, rich mouthfeel. Despite this, it is quite smooth and relaxing. Good carbonation.

Drinkability: I was quite afraid of Imperial Stouts before trying this beer. I had always thought it would taste more like bourbon than beer. This beer is not like that at all. It is similar to a nice dry stout, but there is much more complexity there. It is almost too easy to drink with an ABV like this. I think this has opened me up to the world of Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of phrygian68
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Corsendonk Christmas Ale Chalice!
Black as night! with a very minimal head that dissipated rather quickly! lacing is virtually none! The mouthfeel is extremely thick and creamy with heavy notes of bitter chocolate, coffee, burnt caramel,and figs with a nice lasting bitter finish,one of the best Stouts i have had the pleasure of tasting!

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,141 ratings.
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