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

2,087 Reviews
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

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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User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,087 | Ratings: 5,967
Photo of philbe311
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Thick dark brown head... Onyx black color... Strong head retention... Coats glass well...

S - Caramel... Malts... Brownie mix... Soy Sauce... Coffee... Rum... Mainly sweet with subtle complexities throughout...

T - Raisins at first sip... Followed by roasted grains, hints of maple syrup, and a slight hoppiness... Finishes with alcohol... Complex and very aggressive in nature...

M - Heavy... Thick... Syrupy... Chewy... Bitter finish... Menacing... Will catch you off guard if you're not ready...

D - Extreme beer in both taste and ABV... BOLD... A sipper with major attitude... An intense beer experience... I'm happy to have tried and conquered, but not one I'll readily seek out for future enjoyment...

Bottle / Artwork - Understated in the Bell's tradition... Marbled label with feminine compass / key symbol...

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Photo of MyThoughtsExactly
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle dated this year.
L: An aggressive pour led to very little head and head retention. Beer appears jet black both during the pour and in the glass. Looks like a big stout in the glass.
S: Sweet syrup, dark fruit, chocolate, and a little alcohol on the nose.
T:Follows the nose with lots of sweet syrup, carmel, and dark fruit flavors. The finish brings on roasted malt, coffee, chocolate all balanced with some nice bitterness. Slight alcohol warm and heat.
F: Interestingly, lots of carbonation in the mouth leads to a creamy, smooth mouthfeel. Easy drinking for its ABV.
Overall this is a somewhat sweet imperial stout which brings more syrup and dark fruit flavors than other RIS. Am interested in how this will taste with a year or two on it.

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Photo of mactrail
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Really big black ale.

Great big stout, a little touch of brown-amber in the glass. Huge malt. Very strong, alcohol flavors, like a brandy. Spicy and full of the spectrum of roasted malt. Butterscotch and cocoa. Nice nose full of burnt cereal and chocolate. Long burning aftertaste with coffee flavors.

Had a glass at Barley's in Greenville, SC.

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Photo of suspect
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Duvel Tulip.

A: Thick black oil-like stout. Super aggressive pour led to a light espresso colored two finger head that sticks and then slowly dissipates.

S: Dark malty forward brew. Brings the abv in the nose along with some molasses a touch of smoke, licorice and star anise but only in the end and because I was looking deeper.

T: Pretty complex flavor full of toasted and roasted chocolate malts with a bit of burned cocoa and over brewed coffee. Somehow it all blends in nicely but the after taste certainly lingers for some time. It's excellent and powerful all at once.

M: A touch thin but still good given that this is an RIS.

O: A really good RIS. Not great, but good.

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Photo of mavbrew
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep dark brown color with minimal head, even with a strong pour, color is dark tan. The little bit of head fades very quickly and leaves no lacing whatsoever.

S: The smell is very sweet, mainly dark fruits and a bit of a boozy scent to it as well.

T: The taste is much like the smell, very sweet with some dark fruits up front followed by a molasses flavor, a good amount of boozy flavor and slight roasted malts (very slight). The finish has some smokey characteristics and is boozy.

M: Full bodied with no carbonation. Creamy, sweet and boozy feel.

D: Overall, this is a good beer. It's tough to be a great beer with some many outstanding RIS's but this is a good example.

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Photo of bonsreeb85
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Aquired this 12 ouncer through a trade w/ pochman. thanks Ed!

A - black as tar, this stuff looks like jet fuel! Modest brown head doesn't stay for too long.

S - strong scents of coffee, roasted nearly burnt malts,and black licorice

T - plenty of burnt malts on the tongue. the alcohol gives it a hot feeling, in a pleasant manner though(at least I thought so) very bitter, like a good strong black coffee. wonderful earthy hop presence adds only good things to the mix.

MF - massive body, but tiny bubbles and moderate carbonation help the drinkability factor.

D - great flavor, but a definate sipper/night cap. when people talk about Guinness being a "meal" i have to wonder what these folks would say about a beer like this! hahaha. I hate to dock points for drinkability, but seriously, at greater than 10 % how drinkable can a beer be.

overall a damn fine and tasty brew.

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Photo of domtronzero
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Clear deep dark brown, almost opaque. Average lasting, big mocha head with lots of lacing.

S - Dark fruits, caramel and sweet malts. Chocolate and a little roast. Light alcohol.

F/M - Bitter baker's chocolate with toffee, caramel and sweet bready malts. Medium high bitterness accentuated by the dark malts. Dry finish with a lingering chocolaty roasty aftertaste. Moderate carbonation, light alcoholic warmth.

D - Okay, but this is a pretty big beer. Thick and rich makes it quite challenging to put down more than a bottle of this in a single sitting.

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Photo of CTAID
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours jet black into snifter with 1 finger tan head. Smells like a malt bomb - lots of coffee, a little chocolate maybe, slight booziness, minimal hops on the nose. Taste is just plain old big - lots and lots of flavors. Creamy burnt caramel smokiness, lots of heat, pretty typical of RIS's. Real sipper. To be honest, there was a bit too much booze for me. I know, it's a strong beer, but I've had many examples of Russian Imperial Stouts that haven't been quite as abrasive. So maybe this is a beer that I'll have to age for a while. Mouthfeel is nice, low to moderate carbonation (closer to low) which is pretty fitting. I will return to this beer later, hopefully with something nicer to say about it.

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Photo of Brez07
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this in the Black Booty Vol 4 BIF from normyk. Batch 8944 (hand labeled 1/28/09). 12oz, poured into a snifer

A: Pours thick, jet black with a slight amount of head. After the pour, I only get a thin ring of head. No lacing

S: Rich, dark chocolate mixed with an underlying hint of smokiness and cocoa nibs. Biscuit and toasted cracker. Minor notes of dark fruit. Some roasted malt, almost nut-like. Upon swirling the glass, I am hit with a big whiff of charcoal, but this only lasts a few seconds

T: Starts with lots of roasted malt flavor along with some smokiness. Some dark chocolate comes through in the middle, but is overtaken with smoked malt. The is a brief period of sweetness, similar to chocolate covered dark fruit. The warmer, the better with this beer as smoke fades to a tolerable amount

M: Full bodied, thick and smooth. Smoked malt aftertaste with a dry finish

D: Relatively easy to drink at 10.5%, but the alcohol is still fairly present even 2 years after bottling. At times the smokiness was too much but once it faded a little, the beer was quite enjoyable

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Photo of wd40
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pitch black pour with almost no head. The brew is obviously thick and viscous just from watching the pour. Small amount of very fine carbonation upon aggitation. Looks like a beer that has been left out for a while. The beer gives and aroma of vanilla extract, chocolate and coffee. Hints of fruit like raspberries in the background. I can tell even before sipping that the beer has a high alcohol content from the smell. The taste confirms the high alcohol content! But fortunately the raw alcohol taste is pretty well covered. The coffee flavor is very prominent in the flavor and tends to linger after the other flavors have past.

Mouthfeel is ok, but not rich or creamy or anything. Overall, a pretty decent beer that I'd have again, but not one of my favorite in this style.

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Photo of LittleDon
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A pint at Harrison's in Cary, NC on 12/13/11.

Black with decent lace until the head disappeared about 10% into the beer. Aroma is dark roast coffee, raisins, and a whiff of alcohol. Soft mouthfeel, possibly a bit too soft (on the flat side). Oily rich body. Flavor makes me think of rum-raisin ice cream with a fair amount of sweetness, dried fruit, and a noticeable alcohol presence. Finish has a healthy bitterness to it.

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Photo of kmcnair
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, at least 2 years old... not sure how to identify otherwise.

A - Pours a deep, viscious, used motor oil-like burnt sienna to black hue. A hard pour generates almost no bubbles. Opaque, clarity is unavailable.

S - Rich burnt malts, molasses, bitter baking chocolate, coffee, subtle liquorice, soy sauce. No hop aroma.

T - Huge, rich complexity of roasted and burnt malts, soy sauce, coffee, chocolate. Subdued hop bitterness, no hop flavor. Clean, no diacetyl.

M - Viscious, sticky coating on the palate, quite still -- almost no carbonation, slick.

D - I've never had this fresh, but it has held up well for the most part. Rather complex and enjoyable. Would like to try this again.

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Photo of kscaldef
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle. Pours very dark with minimal carbonation evident. Just a whisp of mocha foam rises. Coffee and chocolate aromas with prune and raisin notes. Tastes of very rich chocolate and finishes with coffee. Mouthfeel is thick, nearly flat. Slight harsh tannins. Quite drinkable for such a strong beer, but a little subdued.

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Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to GraniteSkunk for the fine extra. Cheers!!

The basics: no idea on price and a hefty and hearty 10.5% ABV (YEEESSS, my precious!!)

Pours a super-uber dense black, like the darkness of the Mines of Moria. A creamy head about a finger thick. Spotty lacing. Above average...

Aromas are intense and robust. Lot's of semi-sweet chocolate, some vanilla, roasted chocolate malt. Also some rounder notes like pancakes with syrup and butter. Luscious....

OMFG - the flavor is...INSANITY!!! It's robust to the power of 100. I almost can't believe this. Super tangy and a nuclear blast of malt right upfront. This smooths out a touch into a massive roasted chocolate espresso flavor in the early middle. This lengthy middle eventually gives way to a tangy and complicated finish - I get some bitter hops and some char, and also some boozy notes. This has to be tried to be believed...It will be too much for even some seasoned Imperial Stout fans, as this makes even Old Raspy look smooth and creamy by comparison...But this beer is very smooth in its own right, I only mean that Old Rasputin is a robust and tangy RIS in its own right, but is nothing as crazy as this...It's like coffee concentrate mixed with chocolate chip extract and poured into a glass of Imperial Stout...And that doesn't even do it justice. As it warms, I even get some nice barrel aging notes. Fantastic but definitely a sipper and not a "drink with your buddies at the river in summer" beer...

What I like most: The insanely robust and complex flavor profile.

What I like least: The almost overwhelming nature of the beer as a whole.

Verdict: Not for the faint of palate, this needs to be tried (price be damned) to be believed...

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Photo of Janderson91
3.91/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Batch #10068. According to the Bell's Batch Finder, it was bottled on November 11, 2010. Enjoyed on February 22, 2011.

A - Pours an opaque black with a nice 1.5 finger head. Surprising for the high alcohol content in this one. Head is light brown and sticks around for most of the tasting leaving great lacing. Excellent looking beer.

S - Dark chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, licorice and alcohol. Pretty good aroma, just a little boozy.

T - Expedition is one of the most bitter stouts I think I've had. Begins with some roasted malt and dark chocolate. Then I get some coffee and more dark chocolate and alcohol. The finish is VERY bitter roasted flavor, hop flavor and quite boozy. Quite good now but I imagine that in a year or two, this will be excellent.

M/D - Full bodied and it really suits this one. The thickness and alcohol presence lower the drinkability but it's welcome.

Another very good beer from Bell's, I have yet to be underwhelmed with any of their offerings. Can't wait to see what this one turns into in about a year.

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Photo of jtingue
3.91/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 11/1/11. Poured into a tulip.

Appearance. Pitch black, with a slightly red tint when held up to the light. Pours with a huge 4 fingers of frothy brown head. Lacing is great.

Smell. Coffee and chocolate are dominant. Some roastyness and grassy and earthy hops in the distant background.

Taste. Starts out roasy with some lingering yeasty flavors. An intense sweetness builds with an equally intense chocolate flavor. Some moderate bitterness comes in to dull down the sweetness. Roasted malts join this into a sweet finish.

Mouthfeel. Very thick in body. Carbonation is moderate.

Lots of huge flavors here. Cant wait to see how this is with some age on it.

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Photo of cvstrickland
3.91/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

12-ounce bottle poured into a pint glass yields a coal-oil-black body with a monstrous chocolate ice cream float head featuring defiant retention. I wind up taking sips of the espresso-swirled foam to keep from getting it on my nose trying to get to the liquid. Chunky brown lacing decorates the glass.

The creamy foam alone teases the nose and the palate. Rich dark malty molasses and deep chocolatey mocha with charcoal and strong black coffee lead the way... but the drink is thick, heavy, and syrupy; under carbonated, oily, and darkly mocha sweet. Molasses flavor and viscosity with chocolate and coffee, and sticky icky.

Oily, chewy. Full-bodied and decadent. A guilty pleasure like silky dark mocha ice cream... perhaps edible--but not all that drinkable. Second half of the drink was more of a snack than a drink, but a tasty snack, for sure.

*Note* It is imperative to serve this brew at cellar temperature, else it is a flat, sticky mess not worth drinking. A three letter-grade difference. No joke. Be warned!

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Photo of BeerRun13
3.91/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Stan at Lone Hill for this one.
Pours pitch black even at the thin edges of the glass. Darkest brown head I've ever seen, very thick and creamy. Great lace is left in it's wake.
Nose is full of dark chocolate, cherry, and what would seem to be a boat load of alcohol.
Roasty burnt toffee dark chocolate. Nice amount of cherry like fruit behind. The alcohol is very evident, more so than some stronger beers.
Full bodied and moderateley carbonated. Kind of creamy. Has quite the alcohol kick.
Good beer, but is most definately a sipper.

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Photo of kwalters
3.91/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

The grand daddy of the Bell's stout lineup finally makes an appearance in my glass.

My expectations were very high having read many good reviews and having enjoyed several other imperial stouts and Bell's stouts. Expedition pours as black as a new moon in a midnight sky. The head is small but tightly bubbled and beautiful. Surprisingly, the aroma from this brew is subdued. You can pick out roasty tones, but you'll have to work a bit.

The taste is not at all subdued. Roastiness and burnt wood abound. Bittersweet chocolate and hoppiness are easy to find and enjoy. But I kept wondering if something was missing. The best part of Expedition is the mouthfeel. Like so many of Bell's stouts, Expedition is very creamy and smooth.

If it weren't for the big price ($14.99/sixer) this big brew would be topnotch. But considering that I can get comparable Michigan imperial stouts from Arcadia and Founders for $5 less, Expedition will have a hard go of it trying to frequent my fridge.

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Photo of asabreed
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into a Thomas Hardy's snifter.

Appearance: With the ABV and the style you know the darkness will be present, and surely it is. Wish there was more lacing and more retention, but still, this sucker lives up mostly to its wishes of pure oblivion.

Smell: I've been drinking this for a long time in the snifter, and I wanted to wait until it warmed to close to room temperature say some words. The initial aroma's all chalky burnt and roasted malts with some sourness, along with some bitter chocolate, and of course as I said previously, any malt character is heavily roasted and charcoaled to the ends of the earth. Still a good thing, but I think with the high ABV, that's the thing that's possibly bringing it to a lower level.

Taste: What's dominating here is the sourness, the burnt malt, the roasted chocolate, and the slight citrus from the hops. Lots of complexity without a lot of balance and depth, or at least as much as I had hoped for. Granted, this is still young, and yes, its tasty and warming, but I feel like the aging process may have to be a part of this brew for it to do good things in the future.

Mouthfeel: Thick yet almost powdery, which somehow works for this. More carbonation could make it worse, yet it could do some great things for it.

Drinkability: I'd liken this to Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout or possible Thirsty Dog's Siberian Night, but what's missing here is the visceral, creamy, heady, and ultimately thick and malty delicious nature of those brews. I was a bit taken aback with the hype of this brew, and now that makes sense, as I don't personally think the ratings are giving it the experience I'd hoped. Still, I enjoyed it, and I can certainly see years bringing good things to this. Not sure I'd spring for a sixer in its green nature, but the one bottle I purchased certainly was anything but a bad decision.

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Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a Stone IRS tulip/snifter.

A: Black as night, 2 fingers of dark khaki head with sticky lace.

S: Coffee beans, anise, and nuttiness.

T: Bitter dark fruits, coffee, strong cocoa, and licorice.

M: Thick and sticky. It makes it considerably less drinkable.

O: This has very boisterous flavors and is one of the only non-sweet Imperial Russian Stouts I've had.

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Photo of treehouse
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

packaged nov 11, 2010....10.5%..

deeep dark

nose ...tart...roasted malt....cacao...tiny bit of heavy cream....and roasted coffee beans...

mouth....creamy and chocolatey and a decent amount of alcohol taste...hoppy too..but decently balanced....relatively dry..i mean..the cacao and alcohol makes it taste less voluptuous...

a bitter chocolate finish...long one...

some nice bright tang in my mouth....an alive feeling beer!

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Photo of jgasparine
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

A- Poured into the glass with a substantial medium-brown foamy head, which left little traces of lacing, over a completely opaque jet-black body. The head is reasonably retained. No visible carbonation; although any carbonation present could be easily hidden by the opacity of the brew.

S- The aroma is comprised of stewed and roasted malts; very malt-forward... with a light & zesty hop aroma, reminiscent of citrus zest. No esters- simple and elegant.

T- An exceptionally bold flavor. The roasted malt peeks though- intensely roasty- and then the hops kick-in with a piney intense bitterness that lingers on the tongue substantially after each sip. There's also a little bit of booziness that hits you partway through as well. While it's bold and dynamic, it's almost overboard...

M- A full chewy body, with texture presumed to be from unattenuated sugar. Very soft carbonation and a moderate astringency. Just a touch of heat from the EtOH. Stellar mouthfeel.

D- Drinkability is hindered by the high alcohol content, and further inhibited by the over-the-top roasty and hop flavors. One 12oz. bottle is enough for me in one sitting...

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Photo of dedrinker
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Mmm. Used motor oil. Chocolate with booze filling. Brazil nuts dusted in cocoa powder. Monstrous, full bodied, lingering, viscous. If your stomach experiences high viscosity break-down, then a bottle of this ought to lube your chassis. If you don't try it fresh enough (as I did my first time) it might just seem dense, heavy, oily - a lot of malty heft without much complexity or depth, but this time around I got in peak condidtion and the layers revealed themselves.

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Photo of curasowa
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark, dark brown/black, very similar to used oil, with a thin, tan cap of foam that slowly fades away.

Aroma: Roasted malt, burnt coffee and dark chocolate. The burnt notes become more assertive as it warms.

Taste: A thick and creamy roasted malt bomb. Very heavy and coating with lots of roasted flavor, with more cocoa and a touch of bitterness showing up on the back end. The finish is lingering with residual roasted malt, but isn't is heavy as I though it would be.

The Rest: Wow, this is one heavy beer. It's has so much body, it right on the border of being excessive. As a result, it hides its 10.5% very well. You only get some warming after a few swallows. While I enjoyed this beer, It is definitely a one-serving beast.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 2,087 ratings.
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