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

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Expedition StoutExpedition Stout
6,340 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

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Ratings: 6,340 |  Reviews: 2,188
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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Photo of proc
4.78/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Re-rate 1/15/03: What an intense beer. It breaks all rules and it will break your spirit if you aren't ready for it. Pours out to the darkest of dark. Picture being in a pitch black room with no lights. No head to speak of visible. Initial aroma is that of fruit, coffee and molasses. Taste is a veritable explosion starting with plums and raisins and ending with a wonderful hop bite. A beer to sip and enjoy not pound. A beer for serious beer drinkers who have developed thier palates. Excellent.

Original Rating 4/3/02: Out-freakin' standing. Wonderful beer. Dark as the darkest night, with an alcohol presence that lets you know you are going to be warmed up. Very full flavored, with malt that creeps up on you as the beer warms in the glass to the point that you sit back and say..."Wow". Not a beer that you just open and throw back, but one in which you chill out and enjoy. Excellent.

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Photo of cokes
4.95/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I am stunned by this amazing concoction. A masterpiece through and through. It is easly the best imperial I have tried. As good, if not better than the much heralded Storm King.

Expedition pours pitch black...light enters but cannot escape. A wispy tan head appears, but the beer itself is hardly carbonated. Makes the mouth feel wonderfully slippery.

Smell is of dark fruit, charcoal, sharp hops and alcohol. Taste contains all of these plus expresso, chocolate, molasses, caramel, and faint vanilla bean. Starts with some burnt sweetness, the comes the onslaught of the hops (cascades?). Even the huge hop profile is quickly buried beneath the avalanche of massive roasted flavors. Alcohol is not too evident (especially for 10%ABV) but provides a delighful warming sensation.

Very well integrated right now, but I can't wait to see how this matures. Kepping my hands off the rest will truly test my will-power.

Update 3.22.03:
(2yr old bottle.) Holy shit.

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Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 4.26 out of 5 with 6,340 ratings