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 UncleJimbo
4.29/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz longneck brown glass bottle.

I was a bit surprised by this stout's appearance and thought perhaps I had an "off" bottle, but after glancing at a few reviews, my bottle sounds typical. This stout poured black like soy sauce with almost no foam whatsoever, despite coaxing. The surface was shiny and mirror-like. The smell was rather strong: dark roasted malt, caramel, nuts, and a whiff of alcohol. The taste was very full: initial sweetness turns to hop bitterness and then to nutty coffee mellowness and finally finishes with a long lasting lingering hoppy flavor. Wow! This is a complex stout. The mouthfeel was full, and the flavors coat the mouth and roll around. Slightly warming, but no carbonation at all. The drinkability was good. This stout was full of good flavors, but I can't help but think that some carbonation would really improve it.

Thanks to feloniousmonk for this bottle!

Sampled another bottle 9/26/03

Fairly similar to the first bottle. No carbonation at all (obvious from the moment the cap was removed). Some small foam with coaxing. The smell had notes of figs and raisins, dark caramel, and cocoa. Tastes of roasted barley, bitter coffee, dark molasses, and caramel were detected. Other than this, very similar to the other reviewed bottle. Scores adjusted.

Thanks for feloniousmonk for yet another bottle.

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Photo of Gusler
4.58/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

As this beauteous jet-black elixir of life sets in the glass, I just marvel at its thickness, and the miniscule chocolate brown head that dissipates into clumps of sticky lace. Nose has the aroma of bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee beans, sweet malt, and black strap molasses, what a treat to sniff this magnificent beer. Start is cotton candy sweet, the malt thick and heavy upon the palate, the top thick as a piece of chocolate fudge, the finish delicately carbonated the hops spiteful in their spicy bite, the alcohol quite evident in the bitter dry aftertaste. 'Excellent', not meant for the weak of palate, as this is as robust as “Stouts” get a real 'Stout Lovers' dream, WOW! Big beer, Big ABV, I may not need to eat supper after sampling this 'MONSTER'.

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Photo of Brian700
4.19/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I look forward to picking up a few six packs of this every winter. It's the perfect beer to come home from work and drink while winding down. No light gets through this beer, its the thickest I've seen. Totally opaque. I usually pour it roughly so the head amounts to a little more than it normally would. It disappears none the less. The head is real chocolatey and also coffee-like. Taste follows the nose. It tastes very chocolatey at first and then you can pick up on its heavy coffee notes and maltiness. Good mouthfeel. I might try it on toast. Mmm...

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Photo of Webby64
3.49/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I will be honest, I didn't like this one. It looked good in the glass, bottle looked great but the taste was a disappointment. for $18 bucks a sixer, I should have had fireworks!

Poured like motor oil, no head, no lace. I thought maybe I had a "old" sixer because of the lack of carbonation. Smelled like a, oh hell, I forgot to smell it, but then again, my sence of smell is trashed due to, well I won't go into my life story! I don't think it had much smell to it.

Taste was like a "stout" no doubt about er, very complex taste. Hoppy, malty, STRONG alcohol content which I felt! Flat as my "love life"!

All in all, it was not a good tasting brew to me, I won't buy this one again. Maybe I am not "ready" for a beer of this "caliber".


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

Initially, a shock to the palate! I couldn't believe how strong tasting this beer is. Pours like 10W 30, little head, no lace. Super malty and super hoppy at the same time. It got tastier as I went, and left me feeling no pain. Quite bitter, with some chocolate sweetness. I'm glad I got to try this (thanks, Monk). This is one of those beers that I wish I always had around, for when the mood strikes me. In the same category as Speedway and Stone in that regard. An excellent and powerful stout.

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Photo of Dantes
4.67/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tenzing pointed to the peak and remarked on the lack of snow for so late in the season. The night had been pitch black, with the weight and substance of melted dark-chocolate; despite the thinness of the air and the lack of clouds.

As I stuck my nose out of the tent, I smelled the smoky aromas released by the cooking fire, and I could detect the beckoning smell of sweet, strong coffee wafting across the South Col campsite. I picked up a cup and filled it with the unctuous fluid and took a sip. I could tell Sambhu had added some cocoa in addition to the sweetened condensed milk enhancing the body. The strong brew opened my eyes. Sonam proffered a pull-top can, which I popped open, discovering a compote of stewed fruit. The treacly syrup covered lovely raisins, prunes, apricots, and bananas; balancing the coffee’s astringency. A nice start. I would need the energy for the rest of the day. Climbing the mountain no longer seemed as daunting as it had yesterday.

Package: 12oz. brown bottle, no ABV or date information listed. Simple but elegant white label depicting compass-points.

Cost: Trade with Sidabeef7 who noted it as $14.99 a 6-pack

Presentation: Imperial Pint glass at 50º

Appearance: A super-viscous pour, resulting in only a brief head. Darkest brown.

Smell: Rich and subtle. Sweet roasted malt, coffee, caramel, toffee and dark fruits. Some Madeira-like alcohol notes.

Taste: Surprising. In a role reversal, this was sweeter than the Double Cream Stout, almost like a super-ABV Mackesons or a World Wide Stout, although the alcohol is well-masked. This exhibited a decidedly sweet character, more than any other Imperial I’ve tried. Well-balanced, with flavors of coffee, roasted malt, stewed fruits, a distinct nuttiness and enough edge to be interesting. Hops present, but not assertively at the forefront. None of the sourness some have described as common to Bell’s stouts. Extremely long, dark finish.

Mouthfeel: Sweetly viscous. A full-bodied, warming stout that is very satisfying. The light carbonation lasted throughout the beer.

Drinkability: What to say? Not something you’ll have many of in one sitting, but disappears from the glass all too quickly.

Bottom Line: Storm King, although different, doesn’t even compare. I only wish the carbonation were a bit stronger. Now that this is meant to be available in PA, I will be buying this by the case. Make plans for your own Expedition to the Heart of Darkness. Don’t walk, run.

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

Updated: 2003 version pours at slightly below room temp with a humungous head of tan 5, thus increasing the appearance and aroma to a '5'. Taste is also a 5 to me now, but this stuff is just too thick so I have to drop .5 for drinkabiity and mouthfeel. Still, this is one of the best imperial stouts out there on the market!

Like the previous reviewer my bottle was also very flat. Rendering me with only an almost inaudible 'pfft' as I popped the cap. This beer poured as dark as darkness itself but unfrotunately for me, it had no head. The aroma was a little intense at first, but as this beer warmed up you could small dark roasted flavors, malts, chocolate, candies, and fruits...very nice. The taste was, of course, exceptional but the mouthfeel was a little too thick for the low carbonation of this bottle. This has a good drinkability and it is one of my favorite Imperial Stouts by far. If I could get this with a nice head on it and some more carbonation it would probably rate all 5's. I have heard about this breweries inconsistency so perhaps my next bottle will be the 'straight 5's monster' I think this beer can be!
thanks to sakaroo for the sample...

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Photo of marc77
4.59/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Due to nearly complete lack of carbonation, there is no head whatsoever. Utterly black and opaque. Swirling releases deeply burnt malt and rich bittersweet dark chocolate notes, with buttery malt and nutty, caramelized toffee and brittle emerging late in aroma. Fruitiness is aroma is quite mild, and consists of mellow, dried date and prune notes. Quite similar to Third Coast Old Ale aromawise, but with a obviously pronounced roasted barley character. Quick waft of heaty ethanol and higher alcohols. Treacle laced sweetness bathes the palate at first, then is superceded by a drying combination of carbonaceous roasted barley and sharp, but clean hop bitterness. Malt sweetness resurfaces as hop bitterness diminishes, taking on a concomitant milk chocolate like and ripe prune character, which lend a candied, cocoa sprinkled plum impression mid palate. Full bodied, with a dextrinous mouthfeel that lacks liveliness that would otherwise be present with greater carbonation. Ghostly undertone of citric hops. Finishes slowly and long, with lingering dark chocolate and maple sap like sweetness. Wow-- Expedition Stout embodies the style. Rich, balanced, intense, yet very drinkable. My bottle was unfortunately very undercarbonated (but not flat.) If carbonation were higher, this would near perfection. A righteous thanks to feloniousmonk for sending the bottle.

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