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

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Expedition StoutExpedition Stout
6,389 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: 6,389 |  Reviews: 2,207
Photo of Doppel07
4.56/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Jet black, opaque and flat as Lubbock, Texas. Sorry but it ain't pretty. Aroma of licorice, soy sauce, alcohol, chocolate, black coffee, and hops. Ultra-thick and full bodied, this beer is jam packed with flavors of figs, coffee, chocolate, licorice, raisins, plums, berries, soy sauce, tobacco, smoke, port, nuts, molasses, hops, and ethanol. Evokes memories of the three-course meal gum from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory that turned Violet into a giant blueberry. The aftertaste is rich and indulgent. Lack of carbonation and ultra-complex flavor make this brew a fantastic slow port-like sipper.

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Photo of ecoboy
4.52/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Inky Black. (Yes, it deserves the capital "B," I stuck a 60 watt bulb right behind my glass and saw NOTHING through it.)

Incredibly appealing malt aroma of chocolate and cake with alcohol apparent in the nose.

A really indescribably big flavor: burnt/sweet/chocolate all spread to the far reaches of the palate. At least three taste bud regions get a workout.

I felt the mouthfeel was a bit too big and round for an imperial stout; fans of Samuel Smith Imperial will find this nicely oily, but too heavy.

An incredible product, but only appealing every once in a while.

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Photo of granger10
4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I dont see how it could get any better than this one! Amazing, a stout lovers wet dream. Very dark, very thick, very heavy to drink. Sweet malt flavors of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and thick fudge come to mind while drinking this however it is balanced out by a big bite of hop bitterness. One of my favorite beers of all time!

edit: This year's batch is well carbonated and has a beautiful head! The flavors are even better, all BA's need to get a sixer of the 03 es.

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Photo of TheDM
3.86/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This brew has a very hoppy aroma and an extremely black, as in a black hole, body with no head whatsoever. It had a very strong coffee flavor. It almost burns as it goes down. Somewhat of a bitter initial taste that lingers well after is has gone down.

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Photo of daledeee
4.17/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I read some other reviews. People spoke of a head on this beer. No such thing on the one I drank. The top of this glass of beer is shiny as a mirror. Completely opaque, Smell is much like the taste. Charcoal, dark chocolate, coffee with malt in the background. A little alchohol on the nose also. This beer tasted better after it sat a while. It WILL sit a while this is a definite sipper. Mouthfeel is thick and clean. Good residual chocolate and coffee aftertaste.

I have bought this beer 3 times. There has been absolutely no carbonation. I don't think this is the way it should be. The taste has been good but I like so me carbonation.

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Photo of johnrobe
4.22/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Acquired through trade. This brew is right up there with other great stouts like Stone IS, not better, just in the same ballpark. It pours a motor oil black...completely opaque, but with absolutely no head. Blackstrap molasses, rich malt, and chocolate dominate the smell. The flavor is intense! This is stout concentrate, professional strength. Tons of dark chocolate, coffee, heavy caramel malt and a touch of roasted barley bitterness. Viscous, syrupy mouthfeel, almost like having a liquer. Bravo!

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Photo of BierReise
4.52/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Without question one of the finest stouts I've ever had the privelage to know. Outstanding aroma, sweet roasted malt with coffee overtones that remind me of Kahluha. Also reminds me of the very first Mackeson XXX I had some 10 years ago. Smooth full body and very drinkable. Seems to be at its best after sitting a little while and warms up. This is a Stout lovers wet dream!!

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Photo of stegmakk
3.12/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Well...I don't believe the hype...
As I opened it up and poured into my glass, I had to take a sniff to make sure I wasn't pouring old oil into my glass...
Dark almost black, thick, no carb
Aroma sweet raisin molasses
Taste too sweet, and not complex at all...I thought there might be a chocolate flavor there somewhere but the sweet molasses over took everything...not wretched but not great...
I loved the thick mouthfeel on this one, and for drinkability, I couldn't drink more than 1 at a time...

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

Sampled for my 100th review from a 12oz bottle via a friend.

Poured a black, like pure oil, black as coal with a dark beige head. The head was small at first then build to a sheer mountainous head full of bubbles, craigs, and peaks. Simply beautiful to watch it build. As the head starts to receed over time it leaves a webbing of lacing on the glass that simple defies gravity and clings to the glass. The head does fade but a quick swirl builds a new 1/8 inch head.

Aromas of cocoa, coffee, espresso, something similar to raisins, and molasses. Simply wonderful and begging to be tasted

The first sip was amazing, perhaps breath taking. Harsh and brash like a true Italian espresso with alcohol behind the bitter coffee. Wonderful, thick, chewy. Tastes of cocoa, coffee, toasted malt sweetness, that finishes with the taste of unsweetened coffee. A truly monsterous brew. A wonderful beer. A true pleasure. I believe I have chosen wisely for my 100th review!

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.49/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had the Expedition Stout in a 12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It poured a deep black with only about half a finger (if that) of reddish-tan head, which dies to almost nothing quickly. There is only a trace amount of lace left on the glass. The smell is invigorating, roasted coffee with a hint of sweetness, maybe caramel or chocolate. All of these smells are brought forth in the taste. Very heavy coffee taste with a great punch of hops. The taste really wakes you up. The mouthfeel is very strong and smooth. The drinkability is a little low due to the 10% abv. A very tasty brew though!

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

Originally rated on 4 October 2002. thick, rich, chocolatey, nice malt aroma. Has hints of soy sauce & malt. A big beer, w/ the alcohol well hidden. The malt & hops are well balanced. This is not your beginner's Imperial Stout. This is one of the top Imperials available.

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Photo of rastaman
3.8/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Extremely black and thick. Very heavy on the tongue, huge fat roasted malt flavours blend with raisins and spicy (hops are even a bit citric)hops, big and ugly (but ugly in kind of a good way), huge bitterness. Vinous. Not elegant at all, but nicely mean and ugly. Its great to try some US imperial stouts, and this one was another gift from Feloniousmonk.

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

No carbonation, No head. I have read that this is common. Black as night.

A molasses smell, very sweet, kind of cloy - a pulpiness, kind of a fig smell? Terriyaki? Wow!

A taste of chocolate syrup and thick. Coffee taste very present. Puckery aftertaste. Almost too sweet but the alcohol kind of acts as a balancer.

A good beer in small quantities, i would say.
It is very rich and might benefit from a food or dessert accompaniment.

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Photo of bditty187
4.39/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black, opaque, no head (maybe a couple dozen stray bubbles), no lace. Deep, rich burnt/roasted malt nose… trace hints of chocolate, alcohol… pleasant, far from overpowering yet it is still very inviting. Amazing depth on the palate, so many flavors tickle the tastebuds. Roasted malt, chocolate, alcohol, prunes, coffee, some almost hidden sweetness… the bitterness is well conceived by the hops. The aftertaste is tremendous (!) with warm alcohol, molasses and coffee-like bitterness. Awesome. Very low carbonation, full-bodied, slick, smooth, chewy mouthfeel. The abv hits the brain head-on yet is pretty hidden in the taste. This beer would work well as a nightcap or dessert. A ‘must try’… highly recommended!

Thank you, feloniousmonk for this awesome beer!

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Photo of Brent
3.09/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a stygian black - no light could escape the gravitational pull of this beer black-hole. A tannish head quickly fizzed about, and then departed, thereafter the beer seemed quite lightly carbonated. Aroma was sweet and creamy, boasting of highly roasted malts. Dark roasted malt flavors packed the liquid, like strong brewed coffee, without the coffee flavor. Mouthfeel was rather disconcertingly thin, which seemed out of place against the onslaught of roasted malt. Hops in the finish vied with a rather harsh alcohol flavor for control of the finishing note, with the alcohol winning out after a hard-fought battle. Overall, the flavor profile seemed out of whack for the style - a great deal of effort had gone into crafting the beer, but the final product is one which failed to win me over.

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Photo of oberon
4.2/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have been able to drink this a few times and really like it,poures a rich black color with small brownish colored head.Smell is sweet and earthy,the taste is a complex mix of earth,chocolate,and roasted malt.When it warms a little the alcoholic notes really come thru,very true to the style.A good high quality imperial stout from my favorite brewer.

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Photo of dwarbi
3.77/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured with almost no head at all. Very little carbonation present. Completely black. Could not see through it at all. Very good nose. Very complicated. Smells strong, too. Tastes a little tart (!) and very thick, but it leaves a pleasant aftertaste and it very drinkable.

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

My expectations for this beer are sky high. I have heard so many great things about it. Not what I expected at all. When I popped the top of the bottle, it didn't make a noise.

Pours black as night with no head or bubbles or anything to make note of. The smell is very sweet, chocolate, coffee and a bit earthy. The taste is even more sweet. Coffee, chocholate, earthy, bark all leads to a nice bitter finish. Reminds me a bit of Le Coq (Sp?), but much easier on the wallet.

Overall I like it. Not what I expected but very good.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.05/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a thick, light brown head that leaves excellent lacing. It has a licorice aroma kind of like the “Good & Plenty” candies I remember as a kid. It is also roasty, chocolatey, and has a bit of an alcoholic smell. The flavor has alcohol throughout. It starts out roasty, and finishes dry, and bitter. It has a burnt roast malt bitterness in the finish. It is a full-bodied beer, with a big alcoholic warmth. A tasty brew; a good beer for warming you up on a cold winter’s day.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.28/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

New trial with '08-'09 version.
Still highly hopped. Really quite dry, but holds nice deep and dark fruit flavors and enough sweetness. Aroma is largely malt with well intentioned roast (coffee) and some hops. Appearance holds a very stubborn and persistent rign of a very dark head. Opaque.
The alcohol is very well subdued. No burning or hotness.
Even with a couple of months aging the hops have settled some and I wonder what will happen with aging a couple of years. I look forward to that. Certainly better than my original trial (which in hindsight appeared to be part of a batch in which the brewery was in transition and showed some inconsistency).

I'm glad I read some reviews before making a decision on this beer, because for a time I thought that I may have had a bad bottle, but it seems several had the same experience as I. No sound upon opening and absolutely no head and no evidence of carbonation. Looks like motor oil and pours like it too. I found it very difficult to pick up much for aroma, it seemed dead to me. Flavor was different, extremely rich (too rich for my tastes) with coffee, dark roasted malt, burnt, dark fruit, alcohol and bitterness characteristics. Very heavy mouthfeel.
For a beer lover, this style holds much ambiguity for me. I wouldn't list it as a favorite style, and therefore may hold a less objective position from which to review. Thus, even more than normal I'll own that not all samples of this style fit my tastes, i.e., some ones I like and some popular and well scored ones I don't. This falls in the later. Too rich, too bitter.
But for those of you who love it, drink away. I'll just pick something else.
I think Dirty Harry noted it as " A man's gotta' know his limitations."
original 3.5, 3, 3.5, 3.5, 3.5

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Photo of marburg
3.22/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The last time I drank this beer, it was called Robitussin. Seriously.

Poured a deep, purple-black with zero head. It's Valvoline in a bottle, baby -- viscous doesn't even begin to describe this. In fact, there's no carbonation in this beer at all. Low carbonation seems normal enough for a stout, sure. But this is just flat.

Anyhow, the aroma is mostly derived from the high alcohol content -- rubbing alcohol, pine needles, raisins (or grapes?). The taste is the lone redeeming factor of this beer but even then, I rate it highly only because of its complexity. I think this beer is actually kind of poorly balanced, and the alcohol flavor is way too overpowering. I generally dig high-abv beers -- trappists, barleywines, even Sam Adams Triple Bock. But this just didn't do it for me. If you don't drink this nearly ice cold, the flavor -- like many overdone American microbrews -- just overpowers any semblence of balance. And having so little carbonation in this really hurts the texture and feel.

Naturally, I couldn't see myself having more than (n)one of these -- at most. I have a pretty wide range of tastes for beer, but this one just didn't fit into it.

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Photo of purplehops
3.95/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Expedition Stout pours a jet black with no and I mean no head of any form or fashion. Carbonation is unheard of here. Lacing? Not a chance. The aroma is molasses and alcohol with some faint herb and medicinal offerings. The taste starts with a syrupy sweetness that quickly melds into coffee and bitter black malt flavors. This is followed by flavors of barley, caramel, and some hints of fruit such as apple and pear. The finish is dry with flavors of French Roast coffee and black malt. Aftertaste is coffee and alcohol with first notes of hops starting to make an appearance. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy with quite a bit of weight to it.
Overall a stout with great taste characteristics but, in my humble opinion, not enough complexity to carry off the lack of carbonation and the dense syrupy body. Perhaps it needs this density to balance the 10% alcohol. Personally this stout feels a bit dead to me. Don't get me wrong I would buy it again given the chance but it would only be drunk on the coldest winter night by the fire after a great dinner.

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Photo of StevieW
4.82/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Nothing on the opening, not even a whisper. I've heard the reports, read the reviews about the lack of carbonation, is it flat ? is it made that way ? That's subject to debate I guess. But, it doesn't bother me.
Murky darker than the inside of a stovepipe. Thick and dense. Flat, viscous, full fledged motor oil viscosity. Slick is an understatement. Nearly molasses like, much like Utopias MII without the maple syrup and vanilla, or the alcohol burn. A few bubbles cling together on the side of glass, like the Chess team at the homecoming dance, they never make it alone, nor do they create any action. Smell is an earthy full combination of burnt fruits, figs, plums, and maybe some carmel apples. Initial taste is full of roasted bitter malt. Bitterness, beyond regular coffee, this is burnt espresso, the Starbucks guy run amok.
Hints of chocolate malt, extremely smooth. Some hops whisper by, lots of them, cascade, who knows, theres a bunch. Then after the flavors slip a highly charged shot of hop bitterness. Striking, and attacks the inside of the mouth, puckering.
Flat, lifeless carbonation, any glass swills yeild only the smallest, individual bubbles. High alcohol leaves no trace either feel or taste wise. Just a sublte belly warming comfort it. Slick, with a resiny hop induced, Celebration Ale stickiness to it. The ultimate experience beer, or after dinner beer. I almost want to visit the North again in the winter to truly experience this one. Maybe not, I'll just turn the AC down low and enjoy this one.
What an experience...again earns my highest compliment......Magic in a glass !

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

Color is a deep, deep, brownish-black with a deeper purple like tone in certain lighting and is absolutley thicker then all hell. Put it up to the light, nothing? I must have a brand new batch, cuz the super dark tan head grew fast up the edge of the glass. One of the darkest heads I've ever seen, very dark tan-chocolatey brown and it is nice and frothy with some bigger bubbles on the opposite side from which I poured it. Some large patches of tight tan lace cling forever. Eventually the head shrunk down leaving a nice settled coat of caramel colored head just on top. Overwhelming aroma of chocolate, molasses, corriander, and licorice, very warm and alcoholic in back on bigger whiffs. Has an extremely fresh quality, very lightly hinted dark roastyness and coffee. Taste is damn good, super smooth and silky, nicely coats and has a bit of sweet bitterness in the finish. Heavily roasted malt with some coffee and lots of dark chocolate in there. Some spices play underneath of nutmeg, white pepper, yeasty stuff, and corriander The feel is nera perfect for a Imp. stout, very smooth, rich, silky, bold, and heavy, hardly any carbonation really and has a nice little sweet twinge in the finish and leaves your tongue with a bit of bitterness on it. This an amazing brew and is very soothing to drink. That powerful 10% is hardly noticeable in the smell or taste, but its there. It sinks in about 3/4 of the way through. A great Imperial stout thats become one of my all time favs.

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Photo of aaronh
4.79/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After several beer expeditions over the previous few months, the time has come for an Expedition beer. Once it is time to embark, I remove the beer from the fridge. I gradually leverage the bottle cap open. It turns over with little protest, yet seems strangely silent. As I gradually start the pour, something seems amiss. I push the accelerator and roughly finish the pour. Oh no! Do I have a flat?! Something's not right! I stop, and gaze at the level of liquid in the glass. A fine bead of bubbles rings the glass, as a few larger bubbles surface on one side. I tentatively raise the glass and give it a slight swirl. A small ring of very fine carbonation surfaces. Phew! Maybe a little low on air, but not a flat. Probably due to the cooler temperatures at the start of the trip. I decide it's time to move on.

As I settle in for the journey, I roll down the windows a bit to partake of the wonderful scents of nature. Black chocolate, plums, molasses, and toasted marshmallows are on the breeze. Did someone have a campfire with smores nearby? Then I notice a hint of alcohol in the air as well. Maybe it’s just me; I’ve been known to think of alcohol of all sorts, and at the strangest times.
As I travel to an unknown place (as most of my expeditions start), I take a look in my stash to see what there might be to eat. Ahh, one of my favorites, dark chocolate. Mmmmmm. I love these treats that are chewy with all kinds of taste! That smoky roasted marshmallow pops back into my mind again, so I reach back into the bag to find all kinds of dark, ripe fruits.

After a while, I feel a need for a bit more sustenance. I take a big bite, and discover a bit of bitter spices in a thick molasses and chocolate sauce. I take a sip of coffee with a bit of whiskey to wash it down. Who put this sweet cream in my coffee! I can tell it's there by the way it coats my throat and has that silky feel to it.
I've gotten so wrapped up in all the different taste experiences on this expedition that I've forgotten where I'm going! Oh well, I don't mind. I'll make this a long trip, because who knows when I'll get another? But I could definitely take another one of these any time. What a great trip this is! Thanks to cretemixer for supplying the compass. This Expedition won't steer you wrong, although you may find yourself a bit lost. Lost to the world while you're enjoying the trip, and then again feeling lost when it's over, not knowing when you'll take another trip like this one again.

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Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 4.26 out of 5 with 6,389 ratings