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

6,163 Ratings
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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,163 |  Reviews: 2,137
Photo of JRBecks
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of aboucher0319
5/5  rDev +18.5%

Photo of Dana718
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%

Photo of WoodburyMN
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of kojevergas
3.1/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It's my birthday! Best before date 10/02/17. 10.50% ABV confirmed. 355ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a New Blegium goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are through the roof given this beer's reputation. Acquired for $7.99 at a local beer store.

Served straight from the refrigerator but allowed to warm considerably over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

As I poured, I noticed it wasn't generating a head, so I really amped up the vigor.

A: Pours a quarter finger beautiful rich tan colour head of decent cream, good thickness, and awful retention - which is fairly excusable given the ABV, but I've seen other beers handle more than this without issue. Colour is a solid black. Not quite jet black, but dark as hell. Nontransparent and opaque, as it should be. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Coffee, chocolate, dark malts, cream, chocolate malt, caramel, roast, a bit of alcohol, and even a hint of toffee. Well balanced but not clearly focused. I'm getting excited for it. A mild strength aroma. Doesn't beat you over the head like many beers in the style.

T: Coffee, roast, intriguing chocolate, espresso, background floral hops, cacao, malty sweetness, hints of smoke, caramel, raisin, and a bit of dark fruit (maybe plum). Malty sweetness increases as it warms. No note seems particularly dominant, which is actually sort of a problem here. Without focus, it becomes messier. That's not to say it's imbalanced; the balance is only slightly off in that the flavours are too sweet. I imagine this would fade with time. I get molasses and licorice when I look for them. The flavour doesn't blow me away like I expected. It's actually somewhat disappointing. I don't get any yeast, but a bit of alcohol on the finish. There's a medicinal chocolate-covered raspberry note buried in the finish as well. It's certainly got body. I get more and more licorice as it warms. I despise licorice. Also, more raisin comes through along with the dark fruit - the best aspect of this beer. It's like the bastard child of a quad and an imperial stout, but far less enjoyable than that sounds.

The booze really warms the stomach - a bit too much.

Mf: Far too sticky for the style. Also chewy like licorice. Too smooth and wet. Outright wrong for the style; it should be coarse, dry and creamy. I'm unimpressed. This needs some work. It does have *some* dryness from the roast, but nowhere near enough. Undercarbonated.

Dr: Drinkable for the high ABV, but underwhelming within the style. I like the experimentation, but there are far better imperial stouts at this price point. I honestly wouldn't get this again unless it was aged or on draught. They need to tone down the sweetness and fix the mouthfeel. It does hide its ABV well in the taste, but not so much in terms of heat. I look forward to trying more Bell's, but this was a huge disappointment.


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

355ml bottle poured into a 16oz tulip. 2012 Bottle.

A - Pours a viscous black oil with a dense brown head on top; dark as hell. Despite the hard pour, the head remained small. Eventually it settles down to a thin skiff leaving slight bits of sticky lace. Looks like a fine stout, with excellent label design to boot.

S - Roasted malt, anise, cocoa, earthy hops and booze. A coffee presence looms in the background, with lots of roasty qualities upfront. There's a big resinous character here that I love. Definitely a greater focus on more abrasive aromas rather than residual boozy sweetness, which to me is ideal for the style. Smells awesome.

T - Absolutely delicious. Everything a big stout should be. Massive base of roasty malt fills the palate immediately, slowly giving way to subtle notes of anise, cocoa, and earthy wood. Finishes with a mixture resinous hops, boozy sweetness, and an assertive blast of espresso. As it warms slight bits of sweetness begin to poke through. Caramelized sugar, bourbon vanilla, dark fruits, and smoky flavors make their way across the palate. Finishes a touch warm, but I don't mind. This is a profile the matches up against the finest stouts I've tried.

M - Remarkably dense and viscous, incredibly creamy and smooth, with an understated carbonation of fine bubbles that lends itself to preserving the creamy texture of the brew. Sticky on the lips, with a mild alcoholic tinge to the finish. Awesome mouthfeel, that compliments the profile beautifully.

D - Certainly one of the finest beers I've ever tried. The profile is a perfect meld of roasty, hoppy and sweet. Insanely drinkable at nearly 11.00% ABV. Absolutely world class beer overall. If it were readily available to me I would have a cellar full of it.

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Photo of jriggins6
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of chippo33
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of Falcone
3.5/5  rDev -17.1%

Photo of FEUO
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of yamar68
3.78/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ominous black coffee body topped with a thick pillow of dense medium brown head that slowly fades to a solid cap, laces nicely.

Molasses, dark chocolate, raisin, boozy maple syrup qualities, hot cocoa... evolving with warmth.

Bitter coffee and chocolate, boozy figs or dates, the bitterness fades from sweet earthiness to alcohol, great flavors but a poor finish I think.

I'm excited to have a sixer of these to age, tons of flavor but just a tad hot if you ask me.

 468 characters

Photo of JJWIGHT
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of mscudder
4.41/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a pint. Dated 8/28/12.

A - Pours a viscous black. A deep black with with a nice 2-finger dark-chocolate head. Creamy head lasts for ages, forcing me to slurp up some. Lacing is excellent.

S - Sweet chocolate, warm coffee, dark malts and a touch of licorice. Not the boldest, but certainly nice on the nose.

T - Big, bold complexity here! A great portion of dark chocolate intertwines with roasted coffee. Hops are definitely here, contributing a good deal of bitterness. I like the contrast, although I feel I would have preferred more sweetness and a bit more subdued hop profile.

M - Medium plus body with light carbonation. Creamy/chewy mouthfeel.

O - This beer is pretty damn awesome. The ABV is large and has a very, very small presence in the taste of this brew. I had this a few years back and wow did I hate it. My palette simply could not appreciate all the greatness going on in one bottle. I am greatly interested in aging one of these and seeing if it grows into something I would further love.

 1,021 characters

Photo of anabar
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of bifrost17
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a Bells tulip (October 2012 vintage) 9 months old.

A: Couldn't ask for anything better. I wish I could post a picture in this review of how perfect it looks. Jet black, but not menacing...beautiful...? Awesome mocha colored 2 1/2 finger head with a vigorous pour into the tulip. Head subsides pretty quickly but leaves some awesome lacing behind.

S: So much going on in the nose. Booze, bitter espresso, roasted malts, chocolate, floral hops, and dark fruits are the prevailing scents that I pick up.

T: The taste is a little strange up front. Sourness initially, but after that it's damn near perfection. Dark chocolate notes on the middle of the tongue, and then the beer finishes with an intense espresso like bitterness from the blend of hops and roasted malts. Leaves a lingering flavor of dark chocolate and espresso in my mouth. Amazing.

M: Not too much to say about the mouthfeel, other than it's ideal. Smooth soft creamy silky goodness. Moderate (perfect) carbonation.

O: The first time I ever had this beer was a fresh bottle about 9 months ago. I enjoyed it, but thought it was a little bit of a mess, kind of all over the place, but now, after only 9 months of aging I see the potential that this beer possesses. When Bells states that this beer was designed with aging in mind they weren't kidding. I can only imagine this beer getting better and better with age. What a beautiful beer. I almost wish I lived somewhere in the Midwest so I could load up on this stuff when its in season, but at least my trading buddy in Chicago can send me it during the winter months. Anyways, final thoughts on Expedition...AGE THIS BEER! Can't wait to see what a few years does to this masterpiece.

 1,729 characters

Photo of ssimpson89
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of sabitu
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of itsthepleats
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Photo of MrTana
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of Peglegtim
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

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

'12 bottled on 10/02

Appearance - Black with ruby red highlights along the edges. 1 and a half finger beige head with lacing along the edges

Aroma - coffee, dark chocolate, dark fruits, a bit of hop character, though i cant really pinpoint the exact scent...maybe more of an earthiness

Taste - Very coffee and hop forward...almost astringent at first. Some dark fruit apparent towards the middle of the mouth, and bitterness on the finish. Almost a spicy, earthy finish...but very hoppy. While most imperial stouts rely on the hops for balance, this one is almost overtaken in the finish by the hops present.

Mouthfeel - Very creamy...which is pleasant. The beer finishes with a bitter tingle with a medium to full body. A little lighter than expected, but about ideal.

Overall - Great complexity on this one, however, Im a little turned off on how the hops overtake the beer. Its as if this one was meant to age, which there is nothing wrong with and it even says its worth aging on the bottle. If the hop character faded away a bit and the beer smoothed out, im sure this would be one amazing beer. Having said that, I guess its time to open my '09!!!

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Photo of Mavigo
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this at the Red Haven in Okemos, a sort of Pure Michigan- haute cuisine hybrid restaurant, got this off tap and was served in a pint.

A: poured an opaque black with a quarter inch light-brown tan head that lasted like 10 minutes before shrinking but was basically present the whole time, had good amounts of lacing too.

S: smells woody, chocolatey, boozey, smoky

T: Tastes like chocolate, malty, a woody taste, strong booze, kind of bitter, its pretty thick, even kind of salty to me, taste some malts too

M: its a bit on the dry side, its thicker, lower levels of carbonation

O: Overall, I thought this was a stand up stout, it was pretty smooth and rich, agreed with me very well, tasted great with the steak I had.

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Photo of equincel
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of jwat
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

Photo of FullObs
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,163 ratings.
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