Expedition Stout | Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

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Expedition StoutExpedition Stout
6,335 Ratings
Expedition StoutExpedition Stout

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,335 |  Reviews: 2,184
Photo of BitteBier
4.43/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This stout means business. Pours black and opaque with a cakey, bronze head that remains intact and laces nicely. Smell is striking, melding alcohol dryness, roasted notes, and the standard choco-coffee mix one expects from a stout. Taste smoothes out after a few drinks, especially after the optimum temperature is reached. Taste mimics the smell--rather smooth with a dry bite that piques your interest. Mouthfeel is pleasant; despite a somewhat sticky feel, the taste lingers, rather than the texture. Its strong smell and taste weaken its drinkability a bit, but this beer is worth having even just one.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.35/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled February 2004
Pours a deep black color with a creamy brown head. Thick aromas of chocolate, coffee, burnt caramel, an aroma I usually associate with Lactose stouts, and alcohol all waft form my glass. What a thick viscous brew, it is quite creamy on my tongue. The thickness and body of this brew helps to balance the roast character, so that it is not overwhelming. It is like a rich, creamy, chocolate covered espresso bean, but accentuated a bit more towards the creamy dark chocolate. This beer has a burnt/ roast astringent finish, which, helps to balance the rich malty sweet flavors that are up front. There is not much in the way of hops, but they would seem out of place in this brew. The alcohol is well hidden in the taste, and is only really noticeable in the aroma. Wow, what a wonderful, smooth, sipping beer.

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Photo of merlin48
4.55/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at room temperature into a Fuller's pint glass, this pours an inky, opaque dark brown with a fascinating head that is only 2 cm, but appears to give garnet hues on the tan fringe. Nice sheets of lace are left behind. Aroma is inviting, with a big mocha chocolate punch, some wood smoke, and a hint of alcohol. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, with medium carbonation. Taste is delicious. Creamy, milk chocolate dominates the palate, with burnt coffee, wood smoke, walnut nuttiness, raisins, and some English hops for bittering balance. Alcohol remains well hidden until it emerges a bit near room temperature. Finish is dry and bitter, with a bittersweet chocolate aftertaste. Exceptional flavor here, and very nice balance. One of the best stouts I've ever enjoyed.

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Photo of jackndan
4.42/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bell’s Expedition Stout: In a twelve ounce brown bottle. This beer has a small label around the neck, so I believe it to be a recent vintage.

An extremely vigorous pour spills up a large (two inch) head. The head is deeply packed with tiny bubbles and pours a creamy brown color. The last few drips of the brew slowly work their way through the dense head. The color of the beer is almost pure black, and even when held up to the strongest light, does not let any light through.

The aroma is very nice, as it poured out of the bottle, I could smell the coffee/chocolate malts. Giving this brew a nice swirl emits the same aroma, very nice and rich with just a bit of alcohol.

The taste is fantastic. Extremely malty, very nice dark chocolate flavors, with a hint of dried fruits, raisins, and a tiny bit of freshly mown hay. As the beer moves over the palate, the coffee espresso flavors assert themselves. Leaves a malty aftertaste, almost like melted dark chocolate. There is a definite warming from the alcohol towards the end as well. This beer is not a smooth stout, its got more than a little bite to it as well.

Extremely tasty, and highly recommended.

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Photo of Gavage
4.09/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep black color with no head. The aroma was huge, as espresso and alcohol were most notible. The flavors followed the aroma as roasted malt, espresso, and alcohol pummeled the tastebuds into overload. Decent bittering balanced this out.

But this bottle poured with no head and was relatively flat compared to others like Storm King. Do not know if this was an aberation, but this caused a lower score in mouthfeel. Drinkability is decent, but the alcohol level was a little over the top.

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Photo of bigbubba
4.31/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was an awesome stout! It is one of the darkest black beers I've ever seen. And the head was huge and dark brown. Lots of roasted malt, chocolate, and hops. The mouthfeel was incredible. The high alcohol content was well masked by the malt and hops. I really wish it wasn't so expensive because this was an awesome beer!

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Photo of yankeeheel
4.7/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My, my, my, what have we here. Pours like a big fat cup of adult dark cocoa. Nice two finger espresso head.

Lots of chocolate and malt coming up through the vapors. Smells heavenly to this stout lover.

Tastes almost like someone tried a little homemade concoction of melted chocolate and then added some really good colombian coffee. Malts just busting out from every direction. Smoky, charcoal, ash, oak. This one has it all. A huge beer in every sense of the word. Finishes dry.

Mouthfeel strikes a balance between being super fat and creamy but due to the goods winds up being fat. Not oily, just big.

Drinkability is very good for such a big beer. I could see having three of these and then calling a cab. Get you some.

JahNoth is the man with the big Bell's hookup.

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Photo of GreatPondBrewer
4.78/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer could be the be all end all for me. A huge thanks goes out to nomad for this one.

Poured the viscous black of some place in the heavens where starlight has never penetrated. Pearched atop what I could only call dark matter was a regal crown the shade and consistancy of a coffee milkshake.

Smelled divine with rich notes of figs, other assorted dry fruits and port which morphed into rolling waves of brown sugar, massive esters and the darkest of dark chocolates.

Tasted something akin to the ambrosia of the Olympian gods. It started out with a rum soaked, chocolate covered cherry flavor, which moved seamlessly into a deep roasty espresso vying for time with bitter grains and slight resinous hops. As it moved back down my throat it changed once again to more bitter chocolate notes and a dry smokey finish. Only in the back of my mind did the alcohol ever even remotely show itself. The mouthfeel was the consistancy of carbonated motor oil.

Since it is 11.5% I had to drink this slow, which was fine with me as it gave me time to savor each and every sip. This is a beer to take in on a cold winters night in front of a fire with one or two close friends and a fine conversation. Thanks damon this made my week

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

was a little wary of this one as i'm usually on the fence when it comes to imperial stouts. started out with an absolutely amazing pour. dark as night black (and thick as hell) with an deep tan head that is absolutely massive and creamy. it leaves anice streaky stickiness on the glass. bravo. the smell is great as well, with notes of cookies dough, spice, chocolate, malt with maybe some coffee hints in the back. i am a bit giddy at this point and can't wait for my first sip. so, while i'm on the fence with imperial stouts as i stated earlier, this one is just a winner. the best imperial stout i have tasted thusfar. starts with a chocolate malt flavour that moves into some bitterness then a dry coffee finish. it gets bonus points from me for not being overly aggressive with the coffee flavouring. there is a nice alcohol warmth in the throat on every sip as well, but the alcohol is maked nicely otherwise. while i would still turn down the coffee flavouring a bit (though just an ever so slight notch), this is a damn near perfectly balanced beer in terms of flavour. mouthfeel is heavy and smooth for this full bodied brew, which is just right in my book. easy drinking and i wish i had access to this brew and to this brewery more often. an excellent brew.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.13/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Midnight black with no highlights to speak of. The head is a massive milk chocolate brown monster, one of the darkest I've ever seen. The foam is melting slowly and is depositing thick, shredded sheets of lace on the glass.

The aroma doesn't exactly jump out of the glass, but it does become bolder with warming. Each sniff delivers chocolate, coffee and hops, in order from most prominent to least. The flavor is strong, rich and dark, with boatloads of roasted malt. Specifics include generous helpings of black licorice/anise, molasses and bitter espresso.

Expedition tastes rougher, more bitter and more alcoholic than Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout. It'd be a better beer if the alcohol were masked more completely and the edges were smoothed off a little. The mouthfeel is some kind of amazing. This brew is thick, chewy, ultra creamy smooth and goes down like heavy cream.

This is a Big Beer, one that should be sipped and savored. If you like your Imperial stouts with an unapologetically brash, bold, slightly raw taste, but with a refined, well-mannered mouthfeel, then you'll enjoy Expedition Stout immensely. I think I'll age the next bottle.

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Photo of nomad
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours quite a rolling, bulbous, and pocky head, showing a wide lattice stain and slow dripping lace.

Smells of smoky and dark malts, as well as plain dark coffee with some aromatics.

Tastes like big roastiness, big dark malts, big dark coffee, and big alcohol, and then some herbaceous, minty hops. Plenty of espresso-like bitterness once you settle in, too. After adjusting to this beer, you can feel it standing on the verge of falling off into a rollicking mess. Fruity anise slowly comes through, as the finish tastes like chewing coffee grounds and a creamy bitterness - interesting finish to say the least. Complex, rough, but smooth, the bigger the harder fall, and this one is dangerously close.

Its a thick doozy. Can't wait to try some more, I feel it takes more than a couple to wrap your mouth around this behemoth. Also aging two bottles to see what happens.

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

Pours like used motor oil. Thick and black as night. Modest head, but leaves some lacing on the glass. Has a french roast coffee to molassess aroma. Thick mouthfeel, which is appropriate for a this style. The carbonation is light, and needed to make the thick liquid dance on the tounge. This is defineatly a sipping beer. One or two of these would be plenty for the night. The taste is a tad heavy on the roasted barley-roasted coffee flavor for me, but this is an exceptional stout.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Black in color with a slightly reddish hue and an awesome, dark tan head that showed great retention and laced the hell out of my glass. I can't say enough about how cool this looks at the pour.

Smell - Big, beautiful roasted malt notes along with some nice coffee and very dark fruiting, most notably figs and dates. There's also some brown sugar to this one along with a hop balance of some kind. This nose is very complex, and I'm sure that I'm missing a lot.

Taste - The bitter coffee comes out huge at the taste. All the other players from the aroma are here as well, but it's the coffee that takes things up a notch. There's also some malty cocoa to the flavor profile. This is not for the faint of heart.

Mouthfeel - Super creamy and milky smooth. This is a full-bodied stout if there ever was one. The bitter nature of this ale will give you the shakes.

Drinkability - I loved this stout, although it may be too bitter for some. I'll give Stone the edge simply because it has a bit more balance (with more big fruits) but this is certainly one of my Top Ten beers of all time.

Comments - A big thumbs up to francisweizen for sending me this awesome offering from Bell's. This is an experience that I'll never forget - and one I hope to repeat : )

Update - I got an '04 bottle of this from my brother-in-law in Madison, WI, and cellared it for four years. For some reason I was in a giddy mood tonight and decided to pop it open.

Oh, Lordy, is this a good beer. First let me say that this has not changed nearly as much as I thought it would after four years of cellaring. It hasn't sweetened up like I thought it would and could probably stomach another four years. Having said that, this is one of the most flavorful beers on the planet and is probably STILL too bitter for most even after four years in the cellar. Damn the torpedoes though I am enjoying the hell outta this one.

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Photo of ElGuapo
4.75/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A deep dark black brew covered in a thick dark brown head. Oh, this one is certainly a looker. Sweet chocolate hits the nose first, followed by burnt malts. Coffee and espresso are in there as well. So rich and roasty, I can only imagine how great this one is going to be.

It is very smooth and rich with very mild carbonation. The body is full, very full, and I would even say a little thick. Flavors come at me from everywhere. Coffee is huge and very dark and roasty. Chocolate still manages to show off some sweetness. Espresso, and burnt flavors come in to play near the finish. There are small kicks of alcohol from time to time. This is an imperial alright. It also has a nice hop presence, so just when you think you had tasted it all, it gives you a little more. Warming effect is nice, and despite this being a big big beer, it is very drinkable.

Well, Bell's sure made a great first impression. The PA beer laws were good to me on this one. I "had" to buy a case. Looks like this one worked out real fine.

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Photo of kbub6f
4.9/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Side-by-side tasting with North Coast Old Rasputin (because I drink a lot of Raspy and it always makes me happy).

I didn't have the carbonation problem some have mentioned. The head was small, but it didn't take any extra coaxing to get one. Dark brown and a little noisy, too. There is a strong roasty edge to the nose. It's almost nutty. There's also chocolate and maybe a little smoke. The beer starts strong, thick and chocolatey. It's very buttery (like a dollop of butter melted into it). The middle is thick, thick, malty, choco, sweet, buttery. A strong alcohol finish seems almost toxic.

So how does it compare to my standard Rasputin? It's thicker, maltier and more buttery. Much less hoppy and bitter. Stronger than Raspy, quite a bit more intense. Very rich. So they're different, but each one impresses me as I switch between them. I'm going to ding Expedition on drinkability because for me the richness gets almost cloying (I said "almost"). But for that, it would beat Rasputin, I think.

Thanks Al. I think I owe you.

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Photo of Winter
2.87/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Presumably from the 2002 bottling as none of this six pack's residents are sporting any neck labels. Pours a thick viscous black with absolutely no head what-so-ever, even after an attempted hard pour. Aroma consists of alcohol, expresso and chocolate. Some sweetness also detected. Full-bodied and coating mouthfeel. The taste is vinous and alcoholic. Grainy and chocolate flavors emerge toward the back. Finishes dry with a roasted malt and ghost-like tabacco flavors.

Defintely a sipping beer and very hard to finish. I did not want another one, and quite frankly, how many of these could one desire, especially with the carbonation issues? My impression, at least from this batch, is that this beer is highly overrated. I'm not completely turned off, but I'll wait for the new bottles. The Bell's retailer should have these pulled off the shelf and supply a more fresher, properly brewed and bottled product.

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Photo of mikeys01
4.32/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served froma 12 oz brown bottle, this is from the 2002 batch. The expedition poured out an inky black the color of well used motor oil, and unfortunately with just about as much carbonation...however that was only a minor bump in the road and overlooked fairly easily. My only frustration was that I bought this under the inpression that it was the more-carbonated 2003. Aroma coming off this deep dark brew is full of espresso, roasted barley, and sugary sweetnees. The taste is even more rewarding with deep roasty coffee flavor coming right out. Then it begins to be enhances by just a touch of hop bitternes and a fruitiness that I can only describe as reminiscent of the fruit you used to see in big glass jars soaked in brandy once upon a time. Quite smooth and sweet, the alcohol this one sneaks up on you. I'd love to try a more carbonated sample of this one...

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Photo of CortexBomb
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The Black Hole of Beers.

Expedition pours out jet black into a pint glass with little carbonation evident, just enough to form a thin head which hangs around. The beer clings to the sides of the glass much like motor oil upon shifting and has an intense roasted and molasses scent which invites you to partake.

Strong and varied flavour on this one with coffee and chocolate being dominant but not overwhelming and an exceptional roasty bitter finale. Feels incredibly 'thick' in the mouth with a strong taste that lingers on your taste buds seemingly forever.

The drinkability rating represents my overall feelings about this beer relative to other imperial stouts. I've had a lot of them at this point, as it's one of my favourite styles, and though it might be hometown pride talking, I still think Expy is the best, plain jane Russian Imperial out there. It's affordable given its style, and I'm always in the mood for it.

Hard to find a more flavourful or tasty imperial stout, my current favourite, and the crown jewel of Bell's impressive line of stouts.

(Also worth noting that Expy ages wonderfully, like many of the more powerful beers, letting this stuff sit for a year or two only deepends the flavour, and takes the edge off the hops, an interesting juxtaposition with the fresh product, and just as tasty, simply in a different way)

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Photo of benmiliron
4.65/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is Bell's best offering without question. An opaque black with a brown head that vanishes immediately after the pour. It's everything you want in an imperial: espresso, dark caramel, toffee flavors with that overwhelming hop bitterness behind everything and the dominating malt sweetness... unnnnhhh! Damn it, I need a towel. Or maybe another expedition?

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Photo of lou91
4.12/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this stout straight and high into the center of my Delirium Noel glass to try and get a head but to no avail. It poured still and looked like soy sauce – black and opaque. The nose was like a stout perfume with scents of roasting coffee, sugar and alcohol. The taste is intense with chocolate, coffee and buttered rum. Rich, thick and delicious. Try it with a piece of good chocolate and experience bliss. My only qualm would be the need to vintage date the bottle to see if time helps. Didn’t see any sediment so maybe this is not bottle conditioned.

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Photo of Jables
4.4/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours oily black, black, midnight black. Head is dark tan and only an eighth of an inch thick.

Smells nutty, chocolately, sugary, and loads of it.

Definitely has nutty roasted malt flavors but also has strong sweet dark chocolate flavors present thoughout as well as some coffee.

Mouth feel is chewy, smooth, slick, chewy, outstanding.

ABV is somewhat masked at first but becomes more and more apparent as it goes down. That hurts the drinkability as does the sheer magnitude of this beer makes it too much to do a lot of.

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Photo of HiroProtagonist
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Note:I had a friend lug a six pack of this back from Michigan (where it was in a cooler), to Portland... the bottle I review below has been sitting in my closet since April 2002.
Poured out of the bottle into a Duvel tulip with little fanfare. Poured like a dark chocolate syrup, a dark burnt brown. Appearance score would have been better if there was evidence of carbonation. In the glass it was black, with some dark burnt red- brown peaking out at the edges of the glass. Wafting some distance away from the glass were powerful aromas of decadently dark chocolate, dry cocoa, and alcohol with some ester notes attached to it. I love it! It entered my mouth in what seemed like a dormant state, shunning my taste buds for a few moments. Then blam!! Ultra-dark smokey chocolate bitterness exploded on my palate, and my lips assumed the conformation of a blissful smile. Exceptional...a riot in my mouth. This flavor lingers on long after a sip is taken. After recovering from the shock I sought out other flavors. I found alcohol, raisins or prunes, hearty grainy malts, and maybe some cough syrup. I had a hard time distinguishing the bitter chocolate from bitter hops, maybe it comes from both the hops and the roasty malts? Mouthfeel was pure velvet, full and smooth. Notable was the complete lack of carbonation. I have heard that older bottlings are nearly flat (which I think this is because of the lack of a band on the neck or upper part of main label). Or it could be the travel mishandling on the way to my glass? I imagine that carbonation would improve the flavor and mouthfeel significantly. When I acquire a more carbonated bottle of Expedition a re-review may yield higher marks for taste and mouthfeel. It isn't extremely drinkable (though good), due to its power and explosiveness. This is the nature of a stout of this caliber. This is one to experience!

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Photo of beerluvr
4.75/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out with a creamy sinister-looking deep dark tan head that falls upon inky blackness. The nose is a cornucopia of delights...coffeeish, leathery, chocolatey, fruity and roasty. Superb! Moving on to the taste, I get ultra rich and oily thick mouthfeel supporting a plethora of flavors such as charcoal, chocolate, strong black coffee, deep dark fruits, roasty barley, rummy notes...everything but the kitchen sink here! Finishes as long and slow as a sunset on a long Summer's day, just fades to a complex and complatitive gorgeous ending. This is a Beer among Beers!

CRJMellor, I am indebted to you for this 6-pack!

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Photo of yen157
3.87/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Creamy, Turkish coffee foam looking head, but more voluminous. Beautiful black body, inky as hell. This was one mean looking stout. It had bittersweet chocolate, toasted bread crust, charcoal, and paper match smoke in the nose. Occasional whiffs of alcohol can be found. This was 11.5%?!?! This beer does an immaculate job hiding the alcohol. I would not have guessed it over 8.5%! In the mouth this beer was one harsh mofo. It tastes like it looks, dense and black. It actually smells like it could have been a sweet imperial stout, but it was not. It was dry and charred from start through everlasting, salty finish. It kinda funny, but there were some hop burps. Hops? They get lost in the blackened mess. Good creamy mouthfeel.

This was a gigantic stout. There is no doubt about that. I was a bit let down though. I’d been waiting to try this for years, and I finally cracked one of my two that I brought home from Michigan this Thanksgiving. I wish it was a bit sweeter. It grew on me, but it was no what I expected. While I can appreciate a aggressive beer like this (and Monster, Blithering Idiot, Quad, etc) I like them a bit more smooth. Not easy-drinking, but smooth.

[Once this one warmed up, the nose reminded me much of patis. Not a good thing, but not reflected in the “smell“ rating.]

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Photo of beergeek279
4.7/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color is oil black, with a nice bit of head for such a high ABV brew. The smell is sweet malt. The taste is very dark chocolatey, with hints of anise and coffee, and the alcohol is present if not necessarily overwhelming. Mouthfeel is oil-thick. Drinkability-wise, I'd want to drink more of these than I actually could!

A wonderful and rich imperial stout. Not quite as good as some of my personal favorites, it's still up there as a damn good beer nonetheless. Definitely one I'd have in the future!

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Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 4.26 out of 5 with 6,335 ratings