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

2,137 Reviews
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

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Reviews: 2,137 | Ratings: 6,155
Photo of Klym
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks for SPDKilz for supplying this to Cavery in a recent trade and thanks to Cavery for sharing it. 2009 bottle. Poured into an oversized wine glass.

A: Pours a typical RIS black, but perhaps a little browner than most. Head is a light brown and is small but very lasting (to the end of the drink, there was at least a little head still sitting there). Lacing is spotty but so much more than you'd typically expect from a beer like this. Really good look.

S: Dark fruits (figs, dates, raisins) is perhaps the most stand out and typical aspect of the smell, but there's definitely a lot more going on. Graham cracker, a little vanilla, chocolate, coffee, woody-ness, nutty-ness, etc. are all definitely roaming about. Also, it admittedly smells pretty hot. The smell of this (much more than the taste) changed majorly with temperature so it's worth letting this sit out a bit.

T: Just like in the nose there's a lot going on here. Dark fruits hit with a smoky bite in the beginning, graham crackers (strong in the spice), grapes, and tons of nuts come in in the middle and it finishes off with a spicy coffee like bite and lingering nuts with vanilla. I can't quite do it justice; really complex and hard not to enjoy.

M: Mouthfeel could be a little thicker, but it is quite creamy and really acceptable as it is. The flavor and mouth sensations really travel up through the back of the tongue to the top of the mouth and the throat, but I find it a pleasant transition and experience and not an imbalanced one.

O: There's a big disparity between people and the bro's rating here and I feel confident the people have it right. I've had some average/mediocre RISs and this is definitely not one of them. Tons of complexity and plenty of delicious drinking to be enjoyed here.

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Photo of shaebs99
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: poured into my southampton snifter. opaque black with thin creamy tan head that leaves nice lacing all throughout.

Smell is of bittersweet chocolate, hints of caramel and alcohol

Taste is, surprisingly, of the lighter malts. Caramel and toffee notes backed up by dark chocolate and of course the presence of alcohol

Nice creamy smooth mouthfeel suits the beer quite well. A great beer, but one I would need to be in the mood for to enjoy. Even so, I would love to have several on hand to drink at a moments notice

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Kelly88 and Knownfactor for each sending me a bottle of this.

Pours a thick motor oil black with a huge 3 inch dark chocolate colored head that fades to a puffy island in the middle of the glass. Nice rings of lace around the glass on the drink down. Smells of dark chocolate, roasted malts, chocolate covered dark fruits, and whiffs of alcohol. Tastes of chocolate covered dark fruits (raisins), sweet chocolate caramel, and slight roasted coffee beans. This beer is super thick with low carbonation. It coats the mouth with each sip and is slightly cloying. There is a slight alcohol burn and cocoa powder bitterness on the palate with each sip. Overall, this is a good RIS but I was expecting something more from this one.

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Photo of MaximalC
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours nearly black with a minimal head of coarse mocha bubbles that settle teasingly on the brink of dissipation. The beer features a deep molasses color even as it streams from the bottle, which is generally a sign of quality in stouts as far as I'm concerned. The aroma smells of molasses, dark fruit, toasted bread crust, and shades of alcohol that singe the nostrils slightly. Shades of raw sugar emerge with subsequent acquaintance as well.

Bold flavor greets you like a kick in the teeth upon sipping. Molasses-like sweetness is offset by bittering roast, alcohol, and a healthy dose of peppery, herbal hops. These constituents engage recklessly at first before settling into an appreciable stasis. The bite on the front end is nearly caustic, but the rich sweetness of the malt staves off total annihilation just in time. The finish, once it is finally revealed, affords a very nice roasted character with shades of bittersweet chocolate. The body is full, and the mouthfeel lush and wholesome, the way a stout should be.

This is definitely a slow sipper, even for an imperial stout. The upshot is that it's rich, full beer brimming with the bold flavors expected of the style. The bite of the hops is slightly excessive on the front end, but it's not a fatal transgression by any stretch. It's certainly the best thing I've had by Bells, which typically struggles to impress me.

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Photo of katan
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a goblet, batch 8729

A - Motor oil black - extremely opaque. Head formation is strong, mocha. Dissipates into a film. Small amounts of carbonation evident.

S - Coffee, bittersweet chocolate, some yeast spicy notes in the backdrop. Roasted character is present.

T - Starts off with a light roasted malt sweetness. Mid-stream shows a bitterness, with only the lightest amount of hops. Finishes with a very direct, in your face chocolate note. Aftertaste is roasted, with a light amount of coffee. Well hidden phenolic notes.

M - Some alcohol warming on the tongue. Carbonation bite is not present. Cloying and clinging, with a load of syrupy sugars.

D - A hard beer to call drinkable - although the way the abv is masked in this beer, it could easily sneak up on you. Flavors are just a hair potent enough that it barely allows you to get through one.

A very solid RIS - tasty all the way around.

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Photo of mikedashg
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a little watery black with a very thing dark tan head that disapears pretty quickly

S- Nice dark chocolate and coffee and roasted malt flavor

T- Pretty much same as nose. Hot alcohal content is not hidden. Very warming. Fairly prominent in your face bittersweet/dark/chocolate/coffee/roasted malt flavor. Pretty aggressive beer as far as hotness and bitterness goes. Bitter finish that stays on your pallet longer after you have had your sip.

M- Low to moderate carbonation. OK body. Gets creamier as it warms up.

D- Fairly good example of style. A pretty good beer. Nothing oustanding though.

Me thinks I'd rather have a Stone IRS or a Ten Fidy though.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Bottle presented at the Eulogy Cafe in Philadelphia...
Deep,dark opaque hue with a creamy, tan, reddish head...
Deep, roasted malts on the nose, heavy on the alcohol both in the nose and on the tongue...
Taste: Ultra-rich, thick, viscous, and creamy... A great sample and depiction of an RIS...
Thick malts, deep, dark, espresso, mocha, cappuccino nuances...
A heavy, full-bodied, thick stout...
Good stuff if you're a fan of the style...

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Photo of nmann08
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle. Pours jet black. Very thick, light brown head, good carbonation and lacing.

Nose is heavy on roasted malt. Dark Chocolate. Smokey smell, wet burnt wood.

Taste is very bitter. Smoked meat, peat flavor. Heavy roasted malt, coffee.

Mouthfeel is full bodied. Creamy finish.

Overall, this is a great beer, but a bit too bitter for my taste.

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Photo of Cavery
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz shared with Klym, bottle courtesy of SpdKilz (thanks for the throw in!)

This bottle was born in 2009, a good soldier.

into an Oversized wine glass.

A: Classic motor oil with small brown bubbles. Sticky groups of bubbles clump at the side, giving a look of caviar. Perhaps this thing is quite fancy! a thin creme brulee burnt sugar film keeps form above the motor oil body.

S: Bright biscotti milk chocolate. A heavy hand of nutmeg; with dashes of cinnamon and burnt sugars. Really quite a crazy nose for how BRIGHT the notes are. I mean really this is a bakery status nose. The chocolate notes are so pronounced that you can essentially visualize the texture of the cake. Graham cracker crusts wear heavy on the nose throughout.

T: Very milky flavors of nougat with swirls molasses and butterscotch. Caramel comes through in the collision of all 3 prior mentioned flavors. Carob chips, peanut butter, and chocolate all fly through the mouth in an unexpectedly cheap way. There's a crap load of flavor in here, it's really almost shocking. Cocoa nibs really hit me in the end, but they almost taste glazed in Splenda. A bit of an artificial sweetener taste in the end I'm not so fond of. However, there's much more going on here that's good than bad. Chocolate covered leather in the finish (love this note).

M: Really ever so milky without a definitive feeling of lactose. A medium-heavy body that isn't quite fully realized, but strong never the less. There most certainly is carbonation, but there's a strong feeling of wetness that stays in the mouth. Which I would say is much more characteristic of much flatter brews. This is not a flat beer, there is however, a weird transition.

O: At times, this is really very good, the flavor is far bolder than I ever could have hoped for. If I were to give a visual of this beer, it would be like a triple chocolate mousse pie with peanut brittle whip cream; speckled with cocoa nibs. However, if you were to consume this pie, you couldn't help but think that it was really just baked good version of a butter-finger. It comes off a bit cheaper in parts; but I can't deny that this is still a treat. Sometimes you'd like a cheap candy bar, and this beer is just that -- your cheap candy bar beer. You kind of have to be in the mood for a beer like this, and tonight I was in the mood. Tasty, but not fancy.

Edit - This beer gave me a pretty nasty headache, I didn't have anything else besides an amber, and it really tortured my skull. I downgraded the overall for this reason by .5 ! You've been warned ~_~

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Photo of Aenema
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Picked this up in DC earlier this month.
Appearance - Pours jet black with a thin cap of brown foam.
Smell - Aromas of roasted malt, cocoa and bourbon fill the nose.
Taste - Roasted, chocolaty malts transition to a nuttiness before finishing with a bitter hoppy note reminiscent of black coffee.
The alcohol is a bit too noticeable at the moment.
Mouthfeel - Silky smooth with light carbonation that works very well.
Drinkability - A very rich brew that is difficult to drink more than one of at a time.
Overall - A very tasty stout, though one that I am looking forward to aging both to allow flavors to emerge/meld and so the alcohol recedes.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours pitch black, finger of dark mocha head with some retention and no real lacing.

S - Rich chocolate, espresso, sweet cherries and figs, vanilla and molasses.

T - The ABV is noticeable off the top, the chocolate and espresso notes conthrough alongside some leafy greens. ABV sweetness complements some musty cocoa on the finish.

M - Medium bodied ale, with a prominent ABV heat, though not to be interpreted as burning going down, and finishes with a touch of dryness.

O - Super tasty RIS, loads of flavour, rich and chewy. This is a bold beer with an ABV kick that could knock the toughest critic down.

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Photo of byteme94
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is currently my fav go to beer when i want a nice RIS w/o unloading my cellar/wallet. (<3$ 12 oz.)

pours with a two finger head. hides alcohol extremely well with a nice slight hop(which i personally enjoy). Tastes a little bit bitter/burnt coffee at the end.

Overall graded on a hard scale - I give this a B, B+ :giving the A's to barrel aged RIS's. As for a grade among RIS thats not BA, an A.

I try to have these on hand at all times(make nice extra's for those that havent had) - Very nice beer!

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Photo of kegger22
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured a very dark brown with a tiny head that dissipated to the barest of collars. The aroma was chocolate, coffee and alcohol. The taste was a blend of bitter and sweet. Bitter chocolate, bitter coffee and I believe the alcohol added some harshness. Sweet from the malt. The feel was thick, viscous, heavy with light carbonation. Drinkability was average due to a high ABV and the robust flavors.

I originally sampled Expedition Stout 3 months ago and found it so strongly flavored, I could barely drink it. I decided not to review at that time, to give my palate, and the beer, a chance to mature. I am sure the beer hasn't changed that much in 3 month, but my tastes have, and I'm glad I waited. While still very strong, I can now appreciate the complexities. I bought a sixer and have four left, they are still in the cellar for at least a year. We'll see how Expedition ages.

BTW, I'm thinking my first impression of Expe Stout would have been around 2.2 to 2.5, and now is a 4.05.

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Photo of tehchunk
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A - Poured straight into a Bell's tulip glass. A very welcoming two-finger, brown head that quickly subsides into a thin ring that sits on top of an opaque, black, delicious-looking beer. Definitely looks like a Russian Imperial Stout!

S - Dark chocolate comes through the strongest. Followed nicely by roasted notes of coffee, some hint of dried fruit, slightly nutty.

T - Roasted coffee, dark chocolate, raisins plus other sweet dried fruit. Coffee is predominant & makes up the (delightfully) lingering after-taste. Lots of bitterness which is to be expected for an RIS that should mellow out nicely with some age.

M - Thick. That can be the only word to describe this beer. Smooth, creamy; pretty much everything an RIS should be. Rests nicely on the tongue with a slight tingling sensation.

D - It's about as drinkable as any other RIS. It's a true sipper that gets nice with a little warmth. Not sure I could drink more than a bottle in one sitting. Glad I got two bottles in a trade so I can age the other.

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Photo of sweetbrew82
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. into a snifter/ no freshness date

P: Syrupy black from the bottle, pitch black with streams of pecan brown light trickling in through the edges. Even with a vigorous pour, there was barely even a thin sheet of chocolatey brown foam that was gone immediately, dissipating into an island on top.

A: Smells of roasted malts, chocolate, subtle citric hops, and alcohol.

T: Opens big with deep, roasted malts with chocolate/fudge, molasses, and citrusy hops that lay low. It also seem to get more nutty in the middle with some black licorice flavor, too. Black coffee comes out on the back-end to provide some bitterness. The alcohol pokes its head a little too far out of the water for me, but it's not overwhelming. It does show some warmth, though.

M & D: The mouthfeel of Expedition Stout is good. It's full-bodied, syrupy, thick, and chewy. But, it's just falls short of reaching the upper eschalon of RIS body's.

Notes: While Bell's has produced a pretty solid RIS here, it's just not up to snuff with the elites in such a top-heavy category. Still a really good beer, and if I could buy a sixer for a decent price it would be in my rotation. Just wish Bell's would expand their distribution west!

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Photo of Biggness
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours very dark with a 1/2 fingered dark tan head with some lacing. The smell is of molasses. The flavor has hints or dark chocolate, some molasses as well as some burnt sugar flavors. The mouthfeel is nice and creamy but the low carbonation holding it back. There is alot of roasted malts in this brew you can majorly taste them in the aftertaste. A decently drinkable brew, I will look for it next time I am @ Bell's.

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Photo of oglmcdgl
3.97/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

08 vintage on tap at via marconi's piazza pub.

A- deep dark brown almost completely black in color. No head to be seen.

S- port soaked plums and bakers chocolate, molasses. Hints of wood and booze.

T- huge dark roasted malts and burnt brown sugar. 92 percent dark chocolate and brownie batter. Port soaked dark fruits and berries. Tons of dark roasted coffee and some burt wood.

M- full bodied but by not means to thick with a lite carb. Slick and syrupy on the palate. Heat on the finish big time. And this has two years on it.

D- I like a big boozy stout upon occasion but just that, this is not an every day brew.

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Photo of SIRIUS2
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours thick and black, viscous, remind me of motor oil. I was a little surprised at the head that developed on this, it just kept rising to more than an inch of light brown creamy foam. Lacing was good - all the way down the glass.

S: Aromas were a bit complex with a mix of coffee, prunes, and something on the order of brown sugar. There is also a faint whiff of alcohol but no discernible hops.

T&M: Heavy and full on the tongue, thick & chewy. Lots of coffee and thick sweet malts. It's hard to tell where the bittering is coming from - the bittering of the dark roast or something else. There are other flavorful hints in here too, like raisins, candy sugar, something like black licorice, and several layers of other malts. The carbonation is very fine and rather minimal, but it is there and seems to be well matched to the brew. The finish on this is long, as you might expect, with sweet malts that fade quickly to a long linger of bitter coffee tones.

D: Smooth and creamy texture is an interesting contrast to the aggressive coffee bittering, sort of a hard & soft complex. The ABV makes this a stiff drink, but it's enjoyable just the same.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darker than night with a wisp of quickly dissipating dark brown foam. The nose is an obscene amount of dark malt along with some roasted barley. The mouth is thick and sticky. The front of the palate is heavy with dark malt and roasted barley. The back of the palate is plums and fig mixed with dark malt.

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Photo of hctap00
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle packaged on 10/22/12, so this one is fresh. Ignored recommendations to cellar it for a while.

Nice appearance. Black with some dark brown transparency at the edge. Reddish tan head reduces to a lacing that sits on top of the beer, not just around the edge.

Aroma was fairly one dimensional, though it did evolve as it warmed. Initially, I got almost exclusively booze. Maybe some chocolate. Later, the same "dark fruit" smell that I get from Narhwal, only stronger. I think it may be fig. I wish I could place it. Not much complexity.

Again, a bit one dimensional, but still enjoyable. A boozy start, followed by some dark chocolate sweetness, a solid malt backbone that is not very roasty, and finishes with the same fig-like flavor I get in the aroma. Fairly pronounced cherry toward the end, mixed with the booze. Tastes like what I imagine the Jim Beam Red Stag to taste like, but in a good way. Warming alcohol very noticeable.

No complaints with the mouthfeel. Can still feel it in a good way.

This beer had its moments. I would try it again, but definitely want to cellar it.

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Photo of frankiepop
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Classic Russian Imperial Stout. Black beer and damn dark brownish head. Pretty good head. Smell? Smells like stout. Taste - rich and delicious. To break it down, a Imperial Stout should have a good balance of bitter and sweetness. I get a strong well-roasted malty flavor at first with almost a molasses flavor that is quickly followed with a clean bitter thirst quenching finish. That finish is smooth. This may not be my favorite, but it very well could be yours. Expedition is worth a try.

This beer goes well the the fine soundtracks by the Russian composer Prokofiev's work with film maker Eisenstein like his scores for Battleship Potemkin and Alexander Nevsky.

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Photo of BuckeyeOne
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch 9435, aged at Zipp's, not my home.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a standard pint glass an impenetrable black with a solid mocha head that left a thick, hearty lacing down the glass.

I must say that all I could pick up from the nose was molasses and licorice. For a RIS, I really was expecting some chocolate and coffee, but I got neither of these from the nose.

The flavor followed the nose almost exactly, but there was a hint of chocolate in the end that was lacking in the nose. Also picked up some hop bitterness at the end.

Yummy, creamy smooth feel. Not a ton of carbonation, but wasn't expecting this in a RIS. Hit the spot.

I was disappointed. I've not had this beer before and thought one that was aged a year (or more) might be better. I'll try this fresh and see if I like it better.

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Photo of goldbot
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 11/19/2009. Reviewed on 8/18/2010.

Pours pitch black with thin, brown head. The foam fades quickly, leaving bits of lace on the surface of the beer.

Roasty, malty aroma. Hints of chocolate and coffee, but malt, bread, and roasted flavors really dominate. Lacks depth in a way compared to many of its peers.

Sweet milk chocolate flavor followed by a smooth malt and sweet caramel. Fresh roasted coffee beans linger on the palate and provide a nice bitterness.

Full bodied, on the sweet side which works well with the strong malt and coffee flavors. Reminiscent of a mocha dessert drink.

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Photo of MmmIPA
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had this beer on tap before but never got a chance to review it.

Very black body with a stunning brown head.Spotty lacing on the glass.

Notes of chocolate and soy sauce? whats up with that.

Taste is Booooze and all booze,its very hot.Malty with some chocolate and nice hoppiness at the end of the sip.

Mouthful is good but the booze takes away from the score.I would love to age this.I need another bootle soon.

Good beer but its very hot at its freshness.Will buy sgain though.

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Photo of hansgruber
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch 8944 consumed tonight

Thick black pour yields a nice dark tan head. Nice surface foam with a foamy collar. Nice lacing and plenty of tight bubbles rising from the sides with each sip. 

Malty roasty chocolaty yeasty nose. No alcohol detected.

Bitter roasty taste with some chocolate and coffee notes in there too. Virtually no sweetness but I sensed a bit of a molasses flavor deep in there. Very roasty.

Nice thick mouthfeel. Good sipper stout for sure. Nice to have in 12oz form as opposed to a bomber so it's doable if you're alone. 
Solid imperial stout.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,155 ratings.
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