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

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Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout
6,252 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,252 |  Reviews: 2,163
Photo of jtw5877
4.97/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

An excellent beer, pours a deep dark black thick motor oil color. Little head, but on a beer like this that is not a problem. Smells like coffee, toffee, chocolate, and caramel. A rich roasted malt experience. This beer lives up to the hype, and exceeds it.

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Photo of stoutman
4.21/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

There's no shining a light through this one. Sweet aromas from a pitch black oily stout. Bubbles collect around the rim and an oily haze dances around on top. Alcohol is present in the breath as you breathe in your first sip, followed by a thick, heavy sweet rush. Sweet and sticky on my teeth, malty and thick on my tongue, bitter and alcoholic down my throat.

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

Wow, this beer jumps out of the glass at you but fits more towards a barleywine style beer.It looks like a cup of thick cold coffee from yesterdays pot. The beer is pitch-black the alcohol knocks any head out of this pour. The legs are outstanding.It really has a nice chewiness about its body. The aroma is very complex, lots of layers of vanilla, fresh roasted coffee, candied fruits,wood and tobacco. The flavors follow the aroma pretty closely with a long roasted malt finish. Rich, definitely rich is the one word that comes back with every sip. The flavors are very concentrated with just enough hop bitterness to balance. The finish is,overall,rather dry with alcoholic warming to go along with a little residual sweetness. A nice warmer for this time of year.

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Photo of kunzbrew
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours a jet black with a nice creamy head that last a while, then reduces to a nice creamy collar leaving a very sexy lace behind. A robust coffee smell pours out of the top of the glass leaving me very excited for my first sip; which is one of great happiness, this beer is living up to everything everyone said about it. The coffee flavor and roasted malt flavors are very complex, every sip is different it seems. The malt and hops are one to cherish for the next 30 to 60 minutes. Thanks to MJR and Jeffboo for trading this wonderful beer.

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

Wow! Makes me want to live in Kalamazoo. I've never even been to Kalamazoo. Nice black color, thin toffee head. Smells like burnt toast. Tastes like a fine Italian espresso. Creamy, soft finish. Nicely dry. Good at all temperatures. My first was too cold. Subsequent tastings were closer to room temperature where the beer filled out a little. This is one of the best Stouts that I have ever tasted. Very impressive.

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

Beers like this remind me why Imperial Stouts are currently my favorite kind of beer. Probably the blackest beer I have poured, dark as orc blood! Minimal head really didn't surprise me because this beer did not seem like the kind to screw around with such things. It wants you to get right to the Evil. Aroma is a dark and foreboding roasty smell with some black coffee and dark chocolate. The aroma really did not prepare me for how strong this beer is. Somehow the smell does not warn you of the sinister alcohol content that waits to pounce on you the second you take your first sip. Flavors of alcohol, coffee, roasted malt and burnt wood. A truly baleful beer, this is definitely the Lord of Imperial Stouts, and will make a lesse beer cry like 7 year-old girl with a skinned knee.

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

Pours super thick with an old motor oil color and consistency. Not much head to speak of, just a lace.

Appearance: Pitch, dark, opaque, black.

Smell: All I can think right away is potent, in the best way.
Chocolate, coffee, molasses.

Taste: Burnt malt, coffee and chocolate, then substantial hop bitterness, and a warming feeling. High ABV isn’t that evident other than the warming feeling which is very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy, milky smooth.

Drinkability: Slow…drink it slow and savor it.

Notes: I’d say Expedition has Storm King beat when it comes to smoothness. I recommend this stout for anyone who enjoys a very smooth and warm mouthfeel instead of a more bitter and carbonated stout.

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Photo of jreitman
4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Now I finally know what all the fuss was about (all thanks to cokes). Poured a jet black with a rich cocoa colored head. Rich smell of coffee and cocoa. Many other smells were in there but my stuffy nose could not quite identify them. Flavor is full of chocolate and coffee with a very nice sweetness. Bitterness was high but kept in check by the malts. Mouthfeel was thick and mouth-coating. Finished dry and quite bitter as the hops really show themselves. On my list of top 5 Stouts. Easily competes with Storm King and Pike XXXXX.

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

Dark as sin, and pours out a nearly violent, volcanic rich cocoa-colored head. Aroma is simply incredible: maple syrup, anise, dates, dark rum, dark chocolate, and it doesn't end either, it spins on and on! THICK texture! It's a liquid candy bar, sweet, full, chewy, but no Butterfingers here, this is heavy, substantial stuff! Full body, persistent finish: this ripple of flavor will not let go! It's tenacious, is what it is! This is Kalamazoo's Imperial Stout and it's way over the top, outdoing most, if not all the ISs I've ever had. One of the thickest and chewiest Imperials in memory!

10-26-03 ...I'm sipping from a bottle of a newer batch, though proper aged, some 9 1/2 months from my first reviewing, and can only agree with myself..the HUGE flavor, the enormous feeling on the palate, the never-ending finish...I would be amazed to find a better Imperial Stouts, but this is still the King...

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Photo of Lupe
4.87/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

First off, this is a HUGE beer.

Pours thick and nearly black with some ruby highlights. Small, tight brown head with nice lacing. Aromas of dark chocolate, roasted malt, and dark fruit dominate with alcohol in the backround. Full bodied, mouthfeel is smooth and thick. Many flavor hit you, this is a complex brew. Present are flavors of roasted and burnt grain, dark chocolate, licorice, espresso, raisin and other dark fruit, a dose of hops and alcohol. Slightly bitter, but more of a burnt type of bitterness than from hops. Sit back and sip this one, a big brew and a real belly warmer. Relax by the fire and enjoy.

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Photo of cretemixer
4.97/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours thick, not really black, more of a garnet so deep it seems black. Not much head to speak of, even after a vigorous pour. Chocolate fudge & coffee aromas are so strong that I can actually taste them before I take my first sip. It almost smells like malted chocolate chip pancakes with an alcohol based currant syrup. The first sip coats my mouth and oozes down my throat warming everything as it goes down. A "belly warmer" as Gusler calls it. Bitter chocolate like fine Dutch cocoa is at the forefront, currants and port wine follow behind. The carbonation is not apparent unless you just let a swallow sit in your mouth for a while. Wow this beer has some weight to it! There's a burnt toast aftertaste that comes through at the finish and lingers for a good long while. A little more head and it would have been 5's accross the board for me.

A powerhouse of a brew that will cellar well. Another great Bells product. Their best so far IMHO.

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

Dark black color, pours like motor oil, sweet fruity aroma of raisons, plums and chocolate, hardly any head, a few bubbles and they are brown, huge roasty malty and fruity flavors, has a thick, full mouthfeel, leaves deep roasty flavors on my tongue, this is one hell of a stout.

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

The King of Imperial Stouts in my opinion....we did a blind taste test a few years back and everything else paled in comparision..this is thick...rich...and chewy....black in color with a tinge of ruby red...no light gets through....the nose is sweet dark fruits, burnt malts, dark cocoa, and alcohol...mouthfeel is not quite as overbearingly thick as I remember...don't get me wrong because it is thick, but it is surprisingly drinkable...taste mimicks the nose. The dark cocoa and burnt malts emerge at first but as it warms it I get more of the sweet dark fruits....finishes with a dry bite...outstanding beer..among the best I've tried...

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Photo of zerk
4.1/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I'll start off by saying that I'm not a big fan of Imperial Stouts... they are usually too powerful flavorwise for me to really enjoy. Having said that, there is absolutely nothing I can fault in this beer... black as can be, with a thick reddish brown head that leaves a ton of lace on the glass. Aroma is full of complixety... coffee, chocolate, cherries, port wine... and on the first sip, I was knocked to my knees with flavor... it began with some sweet and sour port-like flavors... then the chocolate and rum, finishing with creamy and bitter coffee. It feels thick and oily in the mouth, but has quite a bit of carbonation. This is a HUGE beer, and not something you drink quickly. Even though I don't really care too much for the style, I can definately appreciate the craft and care that went into making this fine brew.


Reveiw edited on Jan 22, 2003


Although I still find this to be a fine beer, I'm altering the scores based off of a blind veritcal tasting against other Imperial Stouts. Expedition was basically middle-of-the-pack for the style, in my mind.

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

Appearance: Blacker than any other stout I've ever encountered...no light gets through at all. A massive head forms as the bottle is poured and stays a good size the whole time.

Smell: All kinds of aromas here: roasted grain, burnt malt, chocolate, molasses, and a bit of licorice. I could be happy just smelling this beer...well, almost.

Taste: The flavor is just as complex as the smell. There is just so much flavor in here, novices are warned to stay away! There's a 'huge' malt flavor that is balanced quite well with a 'massive' hop bitterness. Starts with a hop tingle on the lips, moves to the malt flavors, then the hop bitterness comes in as you swallow. Amazing.

Mouthfeel: Huge, thick, oily...enough said.

Drinkability: Good for a 10%abv brew that makes 10W30 motor oil seem like water. I can't imagine ever drinking more than, say, 2 of these in one night, but this kind of beer you pull out for special occasions or when the mood strikes you.

My absolute favorite of the style. The shear breadth of this brew is incredible and something every beer lover should try at least once.

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

This beer poured as black as oil and almost the same texture. The head was huge, bubbly and a very dark brown color, leaving some nice lace. The aroma was amazing and had many things going on. I detected chocolate, coffee, anise and other smells. The flavor was of chocolate and burnt coffee. The finish included some of the burnt aspect. This is an amazing stout and another fine addition to the Bell's line. I am just sorry that living in Ohio(next door)it took me and the state this long to get it. This one is not for the weak and definately a sipping style of beer best done in a snifter. The amazing impact it does on all sensory levels still amazes me, even the off year with no carbonation.

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Photo of mjohn27603
4.9/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From 12 oz bottle no best before date. Pours black as asphalt, very opaque. As Spinal Tap might say, "None blacker." Head developed very big oozing over the edge of the glass and unfortuantely wasting some. Aroma is of figs, roasted malt, raisins, and licorice. Taste has lots 'o stuff going on. The beer is sweet, roasty, and bitter all at the same time. A warming alcohol presence is felt. I'm getting a flavor almost like raspberry with chocolate. The only reason it doesn't give 5's all around is I couldn't imagine having more than one so drinkability is less than perfect.

By the way, if you are looking for a special treat I recently attended a beer class at Henry Ford Museum where the dessert course was an Expedition Stout Float. They added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to Expedition Stout and it was truly a great ending to a meal. I know it is hard to sacrifice one for an experiment but if so inclined give it a try.

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

This example was cellared for about two and a half years.

Absolutely opaque black color. Can't see any light through it even when held up to a 225 watt light bulb.

Head was a little less than in the past, but a persisitent espresso-crema-like cap of foam is there and remains throughout the pint.

The nose is roasty coffee and chocolate with incredible sweet fruity notes of dates and dried cherries. There is no hop aroma, but a definite bitter note exists in the nose.

Amazingly thick and rich on the palate, but a very fine beaded carbonation keeps it from being too much. There is a ton of malt character, but its not sweet, and its well-balanced by a coffee-like bitterness. In fact, the lingering impression is one of bitterness, but the good kind that just keeps making you reach for another sip.

Simply stated, a triumph of the brewer's art. IMHO this is even better than a bottle sampled from this six pack about five months ago - the fruity complexity was much greater here. Still one bottle left, and can't wait for a cold night in front of the fireplace to try it!

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Photo of Jon
4.53/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Everything about this beer is huge. It pours truly black with a small, brown head that leaves some nice lace. The smell and taste is of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate and hops. Just huge on the palate. This is easily Bell's best stout (which says a lot), but it certainly isn't one that I could drink one after another. It's just an excellent imperial stout.

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

Pours a midnight black with a decent brown head that leaves a great lace all the way down the glass. Smell is of dark chocolate, slightly bitter coffee, raisins, dark fruit and some light toffee as well. Sweet chocolatey goodness starts off this brew with some slight warming alcohol in the background. Raisins and some other sweet, dark fruits are then brought in with a slightly bitter coffee finish. Extremely creamy and smooth, this brew is amazingly drinkable for its 10% abv. The alcohol is barely perceived and then only in its warming effects. This is one great beer, not quite a Storm King, but damn close. I am going to have to get some of this to sip on this winter.
A big thanks to Deuce for the sample.

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

Christ it was dark. Dark and damp, but I had to move on. I started by probing the darkness and cutting a swath through the dense roasted barley jungle. Juicy currants bathed my sides and cacao beans landed on my back. Vines of hop wrapped around me in bitter spite but I kept on, through the clouded mire of malt, I kept on. I kept on and a sense of elation had begun to wash over me. It wrapped me up in its warm and furry embrace and I was happy now. It was right and good now. It was Expedition Stout.

Cheers to Deuce for the sample!

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Photo of aracauna
4.1/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Imperial Stout Blind Tasting notes (11-16-02): Another no-header. Pitch black. Nice rich aroma, chocolate fruitiness, coffee. The flavor is bitter, nice roasty. Creamy mouthfeel. Smooth.

It didn't matter how hard I poured the beer, there was no head gonna form. This is an intensely black beer that sucks the light from the surrounding aread giving it a sort of dark halo. Light can't even pass through the edges. When you pour, you immediately pick up chocolately, coffeeish aromas before you even lean in for a sniff. Upon closer inspection a bit of caramel can be picked up. The flavor is very similiar to the smell except that it explodes on your tongue and can be overwhelming at first. Huge. It leaves the same aftertaste as dark coffee with cream. The mouthfeel is very creamy and chewy. It's a very rich, dessert-like beer.

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Photo of Viking
4.73/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black as pitch? Black as midnight? No, those are understatements. Expedition Stout is the very definition of the color 'black'. And it's got a nice thick, brown head with excellent retention. Few non-nitro brews hold a head like Expedition Stout.

Aroma is filled with rich roasted malt and chocolate, with something spicy which I can't quite place (licorice maybe?) and a bit of coffee and caramel. Very rich and complex, very well blended aroma. Taste delivers everything the aroma offers and more. Roasted malt and chocolate form the base taste, with bitter spice and caramel blending in the middle. Finishes with a fairly strong and bitter coffee taste while holding onto the base flavors.

This beer is thick and oily. Perhaps a bit too thick, but still incredibly smooth. Surprisingly drinkable considering the thickness of the brew along with the high abv (something around 10% I think?). This will certainly be one of the brews I keep around for Sunday breakfast!

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Photo of ADR
4.39/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Crikey, this poured out like dirty oil out of a crankcase! Black as night, dark yellow skim on top. Coffee and lemon aromas, very rich and inviting. Thick, thick, thick mouthfeel... Molasses, some coffee, and a dense and vaguely cherry flavor. Java at the back of the throat. Sharper and a little richer than Storm King, if a tad less flavorful and without the fruitiness. In some ways, a highly unique beer among beers. Bitter as all get out. Skoal on this one. It can come off as unidimensional, and that is something that can annoy me about some Imperial Stouts overall...

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

This beer pours like motor oil. It is midnight black in appearance. Beautiful. With a creamy brown head that has some retention. On the nose, I get deep roasted malt, burnt tones, anise and licorice. Smells great. The sensory overload on the buds with the first taste is incredible. Coffee, cocoa, burnt malt, licorice, dark fruits, bittersweet chocolate and a HUGE bitterness that I love. One thing that I do not note is a significant alcohol taste. (Surprising being that it is 10%.) Saying that this beer has a full body is like saying that Claudia Schiffer is good looking. Both are understatements. This is a brew to behold.

This is the first brew I've rated 5's across the board. (I've reconsidered my stance of not giving all 5's after seeing somebody's opinion that all 5's mean exceptional in every category, but not necessarily the Perfect Beer, which I believe may be impossible to find.)

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Beer rating: 4.26 out of 5 with 6,252 ratings
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