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

2,126 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: 2,126 | Ratings: 6,127
Photo of Shovelbum
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours…like motor oil. Dark brown, almost like the foam on chocolate milk but darker, finger and half head over a solid black body. Head recedes but leaves a delicate web of chocolate lace. Rich aromas of chocolate, a bit of espresso and a light nuttiness. A trace of earthy hops as well. Upfront, the flavor is the embodiment of richness. Smooth, sweet milk chocolate flavor provides the base joined by a bit of burnt espresso. The scene changes however when a spicy, earthy character makes itself known half-way through the sip. Also a nice vinous fruit character throughout and delectable sweetness that is there in quite a substantial way, but is never demands center stage. Full bodied—no doubt about that. Low to moderate carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel with a clean finish.

Praise the heavens this fine ale. Waves of complexity unfold in your mouth in nearly perfect succession. Depth too. To do this one justice most certainly requires more research. That and a larger vocabulary.

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Photo of Graham21
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

BLACK BLACK BLACK! This beer is dark, looks like motor oil. Head was only about a mm thick and left nice lacing in the glass.

In the nose I picked up on chocolate, cherries, roasted malts, hops, light coffee and maple undertones.
I tasted chocolate covered cherries, sweet and roasted malts, raisins, along with maple and coffee undertones, coffee becoming very stong in the aftertaste.
Carbonation is lacking to say the least, and the alcohol isnt hidden, it burns my throat slightly, but the beer seems to be fairly creamy and oil like on the palate. I enjoyed this imperial stout but would have enjoyed it more if the finish would have been smoother and the carbonation would have been there.

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Photo of ybnorml
4.27/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A black beer, pours like ink. Has a small deep brown head. The aroma starts with hints of cherries. With a deep chocolaty malt coming in stronly behind it. There is a quick rush of cherry like sweetness that runs over your tongue. Followed rich strong dark chocolate/bittersweet chocolate character. Sort of the beer equivilent of biting into an expensive chocolate covered cherry liquor.
Thanks skyhand

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Photo of woodychandler
4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

My first reaction was "WTF, did they fill my bottle with motor oil by mistake?!?" I tried an aggressive pour and still only managed wisps of head in the glass. The beer was viscous, black (even the white bits was black), oily, with the only head a thin coating on the top of the liquid. The nose was huge with alcohol and chocolate. The mouthfeel was both slick and thick. After my first swallow, I realized that Larry ain't playin' around here. This is lights out action in a bottle. Nitey nite. My notes remind me to sic Carolyn Blowers on this one, since she has proven capable of drinking Russian Imperial Stouts first thing in the morning. I got an interesting mix of bittersweet chocolate, charcoal, and smoke floating across my tongue. The finish was smoky and chocolaty, just beautiful. My notes ended because of a sudden urge to lie down.

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Photo of brentk56
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dirty motor oil color with a huge tan head that sheets lacing

Smell: Roasted notes with dark fruit, coffee, dark chocolate and some hops in the back

Taste: Opens with rich chocolate flavors; after the swallow, the hops kick in for a second, followed by a myriad of dark fruit flavors; bitterness and coffee tones engulf the tongue through to a long lasting finish

Mouthfeel: Thick and syrupy with modest carbonation; a lot of warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: Marvelous flavor; just a bit too boozy; clearly improves with a few years of age though the hops do fade

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

Had this paired with FFF Dark Lord in a tasting with Crosling. (PROPS TO CROSLING!!!!) Talk about sensory overload!

Vigorous pour into a tulip glass produces a black opaque body under a decent light brown reverse-cascading head.

Smell of dark chocolate covered raisins, prunes, malty malt on malted malt.

Taste of intense sweet malt, chocolate malt, raisins, figs, charred apples(?), espresso, rye bread and pepper. Ridiculously intense.

Mouthfeel is thick and rich, like a melted chocolate malt. It's round, dense, full, smooth and chewy, with a gluteny, bread-like quality.

Very drinkable for 11.5%. Wowow. Dangerous.

Overall, this is the most incredible beer for the money I've ever had: at $2.33 for a 12-ounce bottle (= 19.43 cents per ounce), it is nearly as good as Dark Lord, which is $15 for 22 ounces (=68.2 cents per ounce).
So . . . for those 364 days a year when you can't lay your hands on a Dark Lord, this is a great and very affordable next best.

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Photo of Raymond69
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz poured cold into goblet
Thin tan head retreats quickly . Very dark.

Smell is a faint grassyness. Not a lot their for me.

Taste is a nice balance of hoppiness , bitter chocolate. The maltiness and hops seem to fight for dominant profile. I like a good fight.

Mouthfeel is thick , slightly carbonated.

Drinkabitly is great for high ABV Imperial stout. I'd take this on a journey North , east , or hell, I'd drink it on the beach.

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Photo of bennetj17
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of the thickest black pours I've seen, with a thin burnt amber foam crust that dissipates fast. The smell has light toasted milk chocolate notes, with a hint of raspberry and cherry. Slight alcoholic nose also. The taste begins with sweet chocolate and mild hops, the finish turns dry with a roasty bitterness that I enjoy immensely, though it is fairly subdued. Alcohol is not that noticible, but does burn a bit as it goes down. Thick and chewy mouthfeel, rich with subtle carbonation.

This stout nearly achieves a delicate balance, except the smoky finish is slightly overpowered by the fruity chocolate malt that is perhaps overly sweet. It's a strong brew also, making it hard to drink more that one or two. It is one of the best Imperial Stouts I've tried, yet it still could be better...

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

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Poured pitch black with a small brown head.

Smell: Coffee, roasted malt, chocolate, and a slight cherry.

Taste: Starts sweet and then moves to a roasted malt and coffee. There is also a hint of chocolate and a slight hint of hops. Sweet but not overpowering and the 11.5% ABV is hidden well.

Mouthfeel: Thick Mouthfeel with hardly any carbonation.

Drinkability: Due to the alcohol and richness of the beer I only could have 1 in a sitting.

A great example of the style. I will definitely be looking for this when the colder weather starts to come back.

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

Reviewing this live from my computer desk.

Pours from the 12 oz'r as viscous and black as motor oil. 1" chocolate colored head that fades into a thin layer of brown bubbles. Oh, if only all beers looked this mouth-watering.

Smells like chocolate chip cookies dipped in alcohol. A warm cookiedough smell to it with subtle hints of dark, rich fruits.

The first sip coats your mouth with melted dark german chocolate as a plethora of flavors make themselves known. Chocolate chip cookie taste as stated before, plenty of alcohol but isn't over-bearing. Has a rich winey taste of a red wine with some prune and dark cherries to round it out. Finishes very smoothly for a stout with this kind of power. Wow.

What a great beer. I would've given it solid 5's except for the drinkability gets a little rough as it warms. The alcohol becomes more present however, still not overpowering. A perfect example of an Imperial Stout.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this beer sit peacefully in the fridge for 6 months after purchasing.

Appearance- Pours a dark, spent motor oil color. This is a good thing. To quote the great Garrett Oliver on his opinion of this beer,
"...seems to absorb light, mopping it up like a black hole in space." I couldn't agree more. A film of foam is leftover after the pour and gradually thins to a ring around the beer.

Smell- Reminds me of 7-eleven coffee that has been sitting on the burner too long. With some smokey and burnt malts mixed with a little mocha.

Taste- When the beer is a bit chilled, the flavor of mocha and smoked malts ndominates with a little grassy hops jumping in. Once it warms to almost rom temperature, the flavors take on a slightly milky and dark roast 7-Eleven coffee taste.

Mouthfeel- Oily, heavy, syrupy, but not bad.

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Photo of macster
4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Just a huge, classy, but muscular Imperial Stout. Pours inky black and as thick and viscous as year old motor oil. Develops a thin slick of a deep tan head. Luscious, rich aromas of roasted espresso beans, dark semi-sweet chocolate, molasses and a faint smokiness waft up from the snifter. The palate is near perfection; syrupy thick and oily with a restrained minimal level of carbonation. This is the mouthfeel all big Imperial style beers should attain. The first sip is a life changing experience. Intense flavors of melted dark chocolate and espresso are initially noted followed by a pleasing molasses/maple syrup/dark fruit sweetness. The finish shows off a subtle presence of the alcohol to warm things up with a late palate appearance of a hefty hop bitterness to cut down the sweetness of the immense malt profile. An amazing, close to perfection beer. One that shouldn’t be missed.

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

A - The pour is dark and a little thick, not overly thick. It had a little carbonation with a half-finger very dark brown head.

S - The charred malt smell coincides with the smell of portobella mushrooms. As it warms a slight alcohol smell comes out. The smell is opposite of the taste.

T - The taste is very sweet with a burnt character. Then lots of hops kicks in at the end to balance out the sweetness of the dark malts. After it warmed I finally was able to grab a chocolate note at the end of the swallow.

M - The mouthfeel is kind of syrupy especially as the beer warms. It is nice.

D - This beer is quality. Do I want more than one at a sitting? No. For my first venture into imperial stouts, I am happy.

It was pretty cold out of the fridge but as it warmed it developed so much more.
Just to let other newbs know, let those beer warm a little. Most good beers don't need to be ice cold.

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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 Boto
4.66/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle: This one pours an inky, very dark brown color. There was almost no head on the pour, but a moderate tan one came up through the darkness to the surface. It subsides quickly. The nose is fairly potent. Chocolate and a roastiness are the most noticeable. Some coffee and alcohol come through also. A bit of a sweetness to it also. The mouthfeel is a bit thick and silky: definitely a full bodied beer. The taste seems to be more complex than the aroma. The chocolate is there, but not as strong as I thought it would be. Hints of dark fruits, roastiness are in the taste profile also. Almost no sweetness, and a touch of bitterness in the aftertaste. This is an extremely good beer.

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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 quasimoto
3/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I lucked out, this one isnt oxidized, unlike the the Brothers had.

A - Dark opaque black and way syrupy. there is barely any head. But what there is it is dark tan. Not the greatest thing I'd like to see, but who cares.

S - Dark malts. Chocolate, some molasses, some smoke. It's pretty good but not really strong.

T - Threre is some gummy paper and some alcohol. These are encompassed by the afforementioned flavors of chocolate, coffee, molasses, and I guess there is cardboard in there. The after taste reminds me of cigarette butts.

M - Thick, and chewy. there is no carbination to speak of and there is some bitterness at the end.

D - It is a little heavy , not a session beer. If it wasnt for the aftertaste of the cigarettes it would be ok.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Original review 5/27/03
Raising the bar (imo) on what a perfect representation of the style ought to be. In all fairness, I almost need to go back through my reviews and adjust any other stout ratings using this beer as the standard. Whew, what a sampling this turned out to be.

Pours a brownish-black with a mocha-brown head, very sticky creamy lace that ain't goin' nowhere! The aroma nearly qualifies as tasting it, it's that intense. Sweet espresso, heavily roasted malts, you can smell that much without trying. The look and smell absolutely give away what you're about to experience, no punches pulled.

The taste is Jurassic, nothing less. Huge, bold, dark roasted malts and espresso, coated with a sweet syrupiness. The taste kind of evolves into a bitter chocolate and charcoal finish completely off the scale.

The beer coats the mouth and is in no hurry to clear out. You can just sit and savor for a minute between each sip. High alcohol, for sure, but you won't need many of these to make it through the night.

I split one of these 3 ways, if I have one just to myself it will take an hour or more, there's just so much flavor, you dare not rush it and short circuit any taste along the way. Thank you, Kalamazoo!

Aged another 2 1/2 years to see what happens...

Appearance - pours an inky black with a trace of coca cola brown/red at the bottom edge of the glass. Very thick dark mocha bubbles form up a half-finger or so cap, receding to a thin but solid cover. Hasn't lost a step. 5.0

Aroma - the sweet roastiness, the syrupy coffee and espresso and bitter chocolate, what a great aroma. 5.0

Taste - heavy, charred malts, sweetness and bitter espresso bean. A touch of soy somewhere from mid-palate to swallow, followed by much charcoal and some late hop bitterness. The end tries to regain a little of the sweetness but the bolder side has stepped it up through the rest period and doesn't allow it to develop. Some fleeting bittersweet chocolate as the flavors dissipate, which takes a bit. Very late warming alcohol, often only felt down in the belly. Perhaps experience has tempered my palate or my tastes aren't quite as impressed or maybe the beer's best has waned, I don't know. It's not as memorable but for the smoky, burnt stout lovers out there, give this a shot after two to three years. 4.0

Mouthfeel - incredibly thick, the carbonation has held up well. It's still huge. 5.0

Drinkability - at this point, this is a tasty beer but not one I'd age again. 4.0

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

pours a thick jet black with a tan head that dropped in to a slight lace around the rim.
the aroma is roasty, coffee, malt blend.
the flavor is malty, spicy, coffee, hopsack, alcohol, mocha, but it lingers on the tongue, just wounderful.
mouthfeel is very full this beer pours like motor oil
best enjoyed fireside on a cold night

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

12 ounce bottle. Expedition Stout chugs out of the bottle into my glass, a thick black color with a small brown head. Winey grape aroma, but that is just the start. Lots of chocolate, roasted coffee, and hops. The hop aroma is very much present, but not overwhelming as it is in other stouts such as Bell's batch 7000. The flavor is silky smooth chocolate, coffee, and hops. Sweet at first, but not cloying. Some cherry flavor. The finish is very bitter. Mouthfeel is full. Just enough carbonation. Drinkability is outstanding. How can this be 11.5%? This is one of the two or three best stouts I've ever had, and possibly the best.

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

One of the best beers i've ever had. All that's good about the style, with boat loads of chocolate character. The smell was unbelievable. Just had to sit and take it in for a while.

Flavor was intense and fantastic. Complex. Perfectly balanced. Thick. Just enough sweetness. Just enough hops. I don't even know where it all comes from. As a homebrewer i can't imagine how i'd even begin to try to create something like this.

Lost just a touch on drinkability because it's so overwhelming. But in a good way.

Must have more.

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Photo of aforbes10
4.26/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours like one heavy son of a bitch beer. Looks like black syrup. builds a small fleeting head and the beer literally clings to the pint glass. What's the smell resemble? hmmmm. prunes, lots of fresh melted chocolate. something mildly unsettling in the odor too some weird sourness. Taste is chocolately and bitter with a roasted malt finish. bitterness subsides after a couple of swigs. hoppy flavor should decrease with age. Thick and syrupy to drink. alcohol hits the tongue right away. perfect for the style. belly warming and heavy. i'd have another, but the big chunks at the bottom just didn't do it for me and kept me from wanting another. ill cellar some and see what happens with time.

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

This beer pours a mysterious midnight black that looks like a void in space itself. The head was a dark copper and tan that started quite small, but then fell to a thin ring, leaving no head what so ever.

Smells of syrupy chocolate and an awesome, dare I say wholesome, roasted barley. There are also swirling bits of dark fruits and a subtle nip of fruity hops. This one just makes me feel good smelling it. Five stars! …er, points.

Tastes exceptionally sweet, but the sweetness is clearly natural and wholesome. This emanates from the smooth dry roasted barley that isn’t too charred (espresso), nor underdone (barley wine), but just right. Bell’s hit that right on the nose. There’s also some port like qualities with some cherries and a definite brandy, presumably where the alcohol is hiding out of sight.

The mouth feel is thick as hell and sticky with a light easy going carbonation that only adds to the over all thickness.

I really like the quality of this beer and the perfect roast of the malt, but the sweetness, although right on, is a little distracting.

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

Pours motor oil black with small, tan head. Aroma is roasted and burnt malts, coffee and sweet chocolates. Flavor is enormous. Chocolate, coffee, citrus hops and burnt molases. Very bitter. Very dry. Flavor opens up and mellows as it warms. Coats the mouth for a finish that lasts for weeks. Texture is very smooth and creamy.

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

This 1 year+ old bottle pours viscously pitch black with incredibly thick, syruppy legs and a small, but tight dark brown head comprised of tiny bubbles. Head has some stick and leaves crusty lace streamers on my goblet.

Aroma is massive and powerful, reaching me from afar with it's song of huge malt complexity, bittersweet chocolate, sweetened espresso, charred and roasted malt, ripe plum, raisins, berries, and vanilla oak. One of those beers you could just smell forever.

Flavor explodes on my palate with tons of malt goodness, thick and viscous. Bittersweet Belgian chocolate, freshly ground Colombian coffee beans, toasted black bread drizzled with molasses, sweet dark fruit, prunes, raisins, melted brown sugar and more. There are hints of charred wood smoke and a perfect hop finish that is green and piney. As it warms, some sweetness emerges, but not cloying or obtrusive. Very complex and delicious, not a trace of the 11.5 % abv. A true masterpiece in the world of beer.

Body is just huge, with a very creamy, smooth mouthfeel and a texture like liquified silk. Feels glorious on my palate, so creamy and rich. One bottle is not enough, I NEED more! Probably the best Imperial Stout I've ever had, magnificent.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,127 ratings.
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