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

2,133 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: 2,133 | Ratings: 6,143
Photo of KilgoreTrout27
3.47/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a standard pint glass.

This beer could be exceptional, but it has some problems that are holding it back. Pours a deep black with no head whatsoever. Looks like motor oil, which isn't necessarily a bad thing with this beer. The smell of toasted malts is faint. The flavors of the beer are good, with coffee dominating as well as hints of chocolate. Big alcohol taste with this one, that gives off a nice burn. The mouthfeel is where this one misses out. Its thick and oily, which is okay, but where is the carbonation? If this had more carbonation it would help balance the oily finish. Drinkability is also hurt by this, as well as the high alcohol taste.

As I stated at the beginning, this beer could be great, and many other BA reviews don't seem to have a problem with the way this is put together, but I found that the lack of carbonation really held this beer back.

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Photo of bigman147
4.23/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours like dark crude oil. Viscous and black with dark brown bubbles as the only head formed. Impressive how black this stout is.

Aroma: Lots of malt, some raisin, Coffe, maybe toffee. Very aromatic with lots of depth. As the beer warms in my glass, each layer is peeled off like an onion. Absolutely wonderful with a slight amouth of hops and alcohol

Taste: Almost completely malt but with such depth. Slight sweet syrupy taste with good malt balance and slight hop bitterness. Malt makes way to a coffee finish. Slight sourness in the finish and a slight amount of smoke also.

Mouthfeel: Heavy syrupy notes with good carbonation to avoid being cloying. A slight creaminess in the finish.

Drinkability: I think that this is a wonderful beer. But it is by no means a session beer. The alcohol is powerful and the shear syrupy liquidness would make drinking 2 difficult.

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Photo of hanco005
4.19/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of batch 7205, poured into my St. Bernardus glass

A—pours black as night with some chunks of tan stuff that settles on the bottom like stones, no head at all, no lacing at all, it’s very thick and murky

S—alcohol, bourbon, almost overwhelming, faint coffee and licorice, a little soy too maybe, very strong in the smell

T—bitter alcohol flavors are strong with some coffee, chocolate, licorice tones, a sipper to be sure

M—very thick, full bodied, almost no carbonation

D—this is a sipper, no doubt about it, a perfect dessert beer, but one is plenty

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

12 oz bottle served in an AleSmith pint glass (just got them in).

Awesome pour - (poured side by side with Victory Storm King aged from Nov 04 2004), black like tar with a nice dark ruby hue in the light. Head was strong dark-brown.

Taste - near exceptional, this comes in at a dark chocolate taste with a nice, and appropiate, alcohol finish (not harsh though). Wonderful head and retention, aroma is excellent and no hops flavor at all.

This is hard to drink more than one of, and it would be hard giving this anything higher than 4.25 in the drinkability category - though, in no way is this hard to drink if you are trying it. Same for mouthfeel - this is not for the faint of stout. Imperial Stout fans - this is a must.

I am drinking this on the colder side, note why the hops are low, and am enjoying it more this way than at warmer temperatures.

Buy this beer, it is absolutely worth it, I am going to age some for 6-9 months to see if some of the alcohol gets masked.

Wonderful. Cheers!

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

There was so much sludge in the bottle that I left a half-inch of beer behind on the pour. I dumped a bunch of it in my first Expedition Stout and the taste suffered quite a bit.

Head? From this barrel of oil? Skimpy layer of greasy brown bubbles turns quickly into a tiny ring of bubbles around the top of a glass full of midnight. Smell is baker's chocolate, roasted grains and maple. This beer has serious weight. I may be imagining the hops, but I think it's there up front before a round moutful of sweet roasted coffe and bitter chocolate.

Thick in your mouth to great effect, but I think it would do better with more carbonation. You understand the high alcohol is there without being distracted. A stunner. I don't know about having more than one in a sitting. However, I'm rating the third bottle I've had, and I'm already thinking about how wise it is to have only three more on hand.

Put off only by the sheer amount of greasy yellow goop that is fairly hard to keep out of the pour.

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Photo of cproioi
4.02/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a dark dark black body, with a light brown sticky head that left nice lacing.

S: Smelled mainly of the deep roasted malts that gave off a strong coffee and chocolate aroma. It also carried along a strong alcohol aroma.

T: Very similar that the aroma that fit well with the rainy and dark day that Cincinnati was having on the day that I drank this beer. It was a lovely coffee and chocolate taste that just really hit the spot, not unlike a comfort food.

M: Very very thick. This beer coated your whole mouth when it entered. When it was in you mouth and after you swallowed it left a lovely warming sensation throughout the body that was lovely on the rainy day.

D: I found this beer highly drinkable. As soon as I finished one I had the want to open another right away. It was really a lovely beer.

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Photo of shbobdb
3.48/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3


There is a lot of cookie dough in this beer. That isn't a bad thing . . . but I'm not sure I'm feeling it right now. The cookie dough is married first with coffee, which is where I think the flavours clash a little. A low-milk, high sugar latte with a dash of chocolate thrown in. Maybe a dash of molassas as well.

It actually reminds me of my homebrewed RIS. Here is the recipe:
2 Edme Stout Kits
3lbs Laaglander Amber DME
1lb Dextrose
6oz Blackstap Molassas
10oz Brown sugar
1oz Chinook hops at 90 minutes.

Pitch onto yeast cake of dry ale yeast (mine was from the ABDIJ beerkit from Brewferm). Age for 1 year. Prime with brown sugar.

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

Pours blacker than black. You have to ask yourself how much more black it can be, and the answer is none, it can be none more black. Moderate dark tan head that dissolves pretty quickly to thin islands. But hey, with 11.5% I think that's kind of excusable.

Smell is big on baker's chocolate with a booziness reminiscent of Tia Maria coffee rum. Also, raisins/prunes/dark fruit make a huge appearance, as do some really earthy smelling hops.

The hops in this serve to rein it in and keep it from getting too sweet, but it REALLY pushes it for me in terms of being too sweet and fruity. That earthiness keeps it dry and pretty refreshing, but it's still really big on dark fruits and raisins and maybe like a tart blackberry jam thing. That distinct tart fruitines is something I've only experienced in this and Batch 7000, and Southern Tier Jah-Va.

Mouthfeel is viscous and thick, but still really creamy and velvety and luxurious.

Good drinkability for a stout of this size, because let's face it, this is a huge ass beer.

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Photo of HellsBELLS24
4.85/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Very strong russian imperial stout.

Has an excellent amount of hopiness and will definately warm you up in the winter. Has an excellent shelf life and this stout continues to get better with age. Has a very rich flavor and can be too strong for some "young" stout drinkers. I feel that this is one of the best stouts that money can buy. I could drink this all year round.

Top of the line world class imperial stout.

Nice job Larry :-)

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Photo of Tupperwolf
4.44/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle purchased at Warehouse Liquor in Duluth, MN.

It pours a solid, deep, cowboy-coffee black, with no light showing through; A thin, very dark tan head hangs around for a little while, becoming a thin ring after a minute or two. It fills the pint glass like a near-solid mass - very stout beer indeed.

dark, extremely intense coffee and chocolate flavors are present in the nose - some beers smell like coffee, this beer smells like coffeee!!! Ther are vinuous notes, and a sort of nutty banana-bread twinge, along with the warm liqueur of alcohol.

The flavors follow the scents extremely well, with a deep, wine-like fruitiness mingling with tongue-tingling, throat, soaking chocolate and coffee - I get huge notes of hazelnut three-espresso-shot latte! Delicious!

Mouthfeel is complex, seeming both light and very heavy all at once. It's lightly carbonated, but thick, so the mouth is very happy. Just enough lovely, lightly sticky aftertaste hangs around to invite further sips.

Definitely a world-class imperial stout. This has TONS of character.

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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 karengarys
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

As i hold this up to the light, I still can't see through it. There is settlement on the bottom of the glass. Beautiful!!!

This is one super rich malty beverage. It's taste is of malt and malt, with some malt. There is just a hint of burbon-like alcohol, and a twinge of hops.

The mouthfeel is pure creme. Wonderful!

The finish is slightly rough, as the alcohol bashes on the back of the tongue. It lingers a bit too.

The first few I had of these were a bit... um... too thick. Too much. Over time I've learned to appreciate this wonderful richness in a glass. Recommended if you are looking for a super thick over the top RIS.

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

My scores are going to be largely out of line with everyone elses, but my only explanation for this is that the Expedition may be a hit-and-miss beer. This is my first time experiencing it so it’s possible I stumbled across one of their better batches aged for just long enough to blend the flavors perfectly. Anyway, disclaimer out of the way, here we go: Pours pitch black with a gorgeous (almost edible) milk chocolate head, with dense packs of carb bubbles clinging seductively to the sides of the glass. Smells of brown sugar, molasses, a touch of black licorice, and dark malt, all of which blends into a bouquet far more inviting and less intrusive than other beers of this abv magnitude. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous, very milkshake like, leaving a sticky coating on the lips and tongue. Cholocate and sugars predominant up front followed by dark roasted malt on finish. Superb flavoring - all other ingredients whiffed before drinking blend so well into the chocolate and malt as to be almost individually imperceptible. Alcohol is unbelievably well hidden, probably the best that I’ve ever seen for this strong of a brew. Although the alcohol does eventually make its presence known, it’s more in the "gullet burn" than in the taste. You really have to be looking for it on the tongue to even realize it’s there. No perceptible way to improve this beer at all in my eyes, so perfect 5.0’s all around. I do believe this one has slipped into my top 5. I plan on having more very soon so we’ll see if the honeymoon period lasts.

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Photo of WeisGuy
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a - looks like motor oil when pouring, black with little chunkies in there, tan head that lingered throughout drinking, no lacing, but the the smaller chunks stuck to the sides which was the only thing i didn't like about the appearance

s - roasted malts and alcohol are about all I could detect, could tell this one was going to be a monster

t - the first few sips were dominated by the alcohol and were quite harsh, but this beer got better as I continued drinking, the flavors became more complex with the roasted malts, coffee and bitter hoppiness balancing out the ever-present alcohol kick

m - full-bodied, creamy, and smooth until the bottom of the glass, then the chunks reared their ugly head

d - took me quite awhile to down the 12oz, not one I'd probably want to have more than one of, but that is more owing to the style than to the beer's quality, a great sipping beer

Although a great beer, this one didn't live up to my expectations. I'll buy it again when I'm in Michigan, but won't go out of my way to obtain some.

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Photo of nickg902
2.35/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

This beer really disappointed me. It poured pitch black and thick, looks like motor oil, very little mocha colored head. Aroma is overpowering with alcohol...extremely distracting. Possibly a little chocolate comes through but all I can smell is that alcohol. Taste is of carmel, burnt chocolate and coffee, but again, the alcohol taste is hugely overpowering. Mouthfeel is creamy and a little oily and the drinkability is definitely low. Don't get fooled by the high rating, this is hardly in the top 20 stouts in my book, unless you happen to like the taste of alcohol overpowering everything. Unfinishable, never will buy again.

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Photo of timtheenchanta
2.35/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1.5

Good look. Completely pitch black with thin dark tan head. Slight retention with some thin lacing down the glass.

Sweet malt tries to squeeze through the alcohol but is unsuccessful. When I noticed this beer was 11.5, I was taken back but it really ruins the nose of this beer.

The taste is a tad bit maltier but once again completely spoiled by the alcohol. There are some dark fruits (raisins, plums) trying to poke through following and it finishes with a black coffee taste which is very dry after swallowing .

This brew is very thick. Bulky chewy feel.

Glad I could try this one but I'm not going to try it again without at least 18 months on it.

Many thanks go to CRJMellor for a chance to try this well regarded beer.

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

Here is a wonderful beer.

Dark as midnight, oily and heavy with a dark tan head that dissipates quickly. The bouquet is a mix of currant, rum, and dark chocolate (pure cocoa). Yet, it is the complexity of the taste, the swirl of different spices and flavors--coconut, cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, raisin, burnt wood, black pepper, and smoke--that makes me swoon.

The various layers of flavor weave in and out of a smooth, albeit heavy, texture that glides across the tongue, leaving a slightly bittersweet aftertaste. For something so heavy, so strong, and so complex, I moved through my first bottle of this with frightening speed and would have kept going if I had had more on hand.

This may be the RIS by which all others should be measured. Like so many of Bell's great beers, this offering is the classiest of acts, a tasty brew, faithful to style that begs to be tried and explored again and again.

Perhaps the expedition is as much a reference to what tasting this beer entails as anything else...

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Photo of kirok1999
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Love it or hate it. There seems to be no middle ground.

Appearance- Black as night with a burnt chocolate minimal head. Thick and creamy

Smell- Burnt chocolate, roasted malt, and slight coffee.

Taste- Here's the rub. You either love the burnt chocolate taste or not. There is no question this is a massive brew, It assaults you with chocolate, roasted malts, and hops.

Mouthfeel- Thick and creamy, clings like cough syrup.

Drinkability- Just got this and I'm on my third so I guess it's drinkable to me. This one is on the edge, like I said. love it or hate it.

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

The pour was much more exciting that I first thought - this comes out a thick, chunky, heavy black liquid that kind of "plops" into the glass with no release of carbonation at all. "Oh great," I thought, "a heavy, flat stout - yippee..." I finished the pour with a flourish but still no more than a few bubbles. I turned my back to toss the bottle in the recycling bin and by the time I turned back around - beercano! A huge head of mocha foam had risen up, out and over the pint glass leaving a small black puddle on the countertop. Even in a very thin layer in the puddle it was completely opaque. The remaining three finger head stuck around for a long time and left a surprising amount of lacing on the glass.

The aroma was very nice - lots of heavy fruit notes with a dark sweet malt and cocoa scents mixed in.

The taste was just short of perfect. (My stout loving girlfriend may not rate beer here on BA but one sip and she declared "This is the best beer I've ever tasted!") There are very strong notes of fig and raisin on top of a rather sweet caramel and treacle base. Echoes of dark chocolate and coffee serve to finish each sip. No hint of alcohol at all - though some of the sweetness may have been due to the high ABV. Good balance to the flavors - they're all strong but none of them is overpowering.

Mouthfeel is rather impressive as well. This is a seriously heavy bodied brew with a viscosity close to maple syrup but it didn't leave a sweet or sticky residue on the palate (quite a trick) There was still enough fine bodied carbonation left to give the beer a creamy consistency similar to hot cocoa. Just a small amount of roasted grain bittering at the end but it's enough to provide a good finish.

Wow - what a beer! I can't imagine how they could have improved it. (Well, okay, if they had tossed it in an oak barrel for a few months it could have been even more awesome but that's about it) This brew was just shy of perfect in nearly every category.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.67/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tumbler. The beer was completely black with a thin tan head. The aroma is sweet and malty. The flavor is rich with malt and chocolate and other things that kick ass. It's perfect for the style, maybe even better than Batch 7000 due to easier drinkability.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.5/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, batch 6811. Pours an opaque black with an almost non-existent dark brown head that is quickly gone.

The aroma is sweet chocolate, lots of alcohol, raisins, anise and cola.

The flavor is the same as the aroma...very sweet chocolate malts, lots of alcohol, and some dark fruits. It finishes sweet and sugary but with a burnt bitterness that helps to balance it out some. The mouthfeel is medium to full and smooth but low on carbonation.

I was worried that this would be another disappointment like the Mephistopheles. It was similar in some ways (lots of sweetness and alcohol), but this was not as over the top and better balanced. Still a little to sweet and alcoholic for me.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

This beer doesn't pour out of the bottle, it flows. Velvety smooth, no fuss, it knows where it's going. It arrives pitch black with a medium brown head 1 & 1/2" thick. small to medium sized bubbles. Fabulous retention and massive sheets of lace.
Smell is roasted malts, smoke, soy, peat/earth, nuts, serious dark chocolate, you know, the 70% kind. Nice complexity and great balance.
Taste is very close to the nose. Rich, malty, smoke, peat/earth, soy and noticeable but not overpowering alcohol bloom.
I had no idea this brew was 11.5%. Chewy, creamy, borderline viscous, it just flows across your tongue. Full bodied with light effervescence. Unexpected, but pleasant, memories of Samiclaus without the overwhelming presence of that brew. This beer is what the uninitated think all dark beers are, and in this case, it is as it should be. This is a stout that can easily be the standard-bearer for the style.

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Photo of geexploitation
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. This one looks HUGE right out of the bottle. It pours incredibly thick, yet silky smooth, with a great big, ruby brown head that leaves a dusting on top of the beer and lacing on the sides of the glass. No light escapes from this beer. The nose of this stout is full of great burnt smells -- espresso, caramel, molasses -- and some yeasty dark fruits and berries. The aroma reminds me very much of Victory's Storm King Stout, actually.

Tastewise, again, "huge" is the theme here. Tons of sweet dark berry flavors, followed by burnt coffee, dark chocolate, and just a hint of peppery alcohol. Considering this thing is 11.5 percent ABV, it hides its alcohol extremely well. Expedition Stout rolls around the mouth with extreme thickness and creaminess, almost like a melted milkshake. I could swill this stuff all night were it not for the staggering -- literally -- ABV. Oh well. Maybe some things are better in moderation.

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Photo of Bumpon10s
4.55/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A bottle from batch 6811 that I let warm up a bit before opening.

A - Black with a tan head that dissapates into a bumpy lace. Looks thick before it ever hits your mouth.

S - Coffee and chocolate, sweet but with just enough roast to stop it from being sugar. For sure a bittersweet chocolate resides.

T - Roast at the very front, and very back, otherwise all chocolate. A very sweet RIS, most are a charcoal fire in my mouth. Also, if you know what you are looking for you can still get a nice hop touch out in front.

M - Outside of maybe Dark Lord, and maybe even running with that, the richest and creamiest I've had. Super thick and smooth.

D - Drinkability is outstanding, even at a more than wealthy 11.5%. I've had this a few times, and this is the first time I am reviewing it and for some reason it seems so much better this time around.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,143 ratings.
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