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

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding
2,095 Reviews
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout
BEER INFO

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
2,095
Ratings:
6,005
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
17.77%
 
 
Wants:
529
Gots:
1,702
For Trade:
134
User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,095 | Ratings: 6,005
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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Photo of Chaney
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This brew was a tough one to review, because I consider it one of the "I just saw the light" beers that turned me onto craft beers years ago. I still remember where I was the first time I tried this brew.

I had this on tap (and on tap for the first time!) at the new Pizza Paradiso in Old Town Alexandria.

A: Poured the blackest black of any black you will ever see! The almost two finger head (yikes!) was roughly the same color as black coffee, with about a tablespoon of milk. I didn't have any night vision goggles handy, so I couldn't see if there were any bubbles lurking or not.

S: Bitter, dark chocolate, roasted (almost charred) barley, and a hint of licorice.

T: Did I mention bitter chocolate? Jeez, this was one bitter mutha! As a matter of fact, this brew needed more sweetness to help balance some of that "pure grain coffee ground" quality that I found a bit offensive. Still, the thick body on this sucker should be studied by every novice craft brewer on the planet.

M: Thick, but not syrupy. The lacing was fairly subdued, considering the brew's octane level. The carbonation was good here, and I didn't find the booze offensive in the slightest (although others on BA definetely have).

D: It really pains me to no end to state this, but I feel there are at least five other Imperial Stouts in the immediate area that blow this out of the water. Still, I totally respect this beer.

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Photo of hckyfn9999
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

I have high hopes going in at $15 a sixer, although I guess I've paid more at a bar for worse beers. Poured out of a bottle, there is minimum tan colored head that disappears quickley and leaves a little lacing around the glace. The color is jet black.

There is a smell of alcohol and dark chocolate and maybe raisons.

The taste is of espresso and chocolate. There is a bitterness consistant with espresso. The taste of alcohol is also very present, yet is pretty drinkable with the high levels of alcohol.

The mouthfeel of this beer is the only subpar aspect of this beer. It feels like watery hershey's syrup with little carbonation.

Overall, a pretty solid beer although I dont think that I will buy it very often because of the price, but I am not disappointed in my purchase.

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

A: Pours thick with a brown head. A very dark Brown appearance, coffee dark.

S: Sweet chocolate with toasty malt aroma.

T: Same as Smell. Chocolate with toasted malts. In some aspects almost chocolate shake like.

M: Thick, very rich toasted malts sit on tongue alomost weighing it down.

O: A very big dark sweet ale almost milkshake like. I, personally, am not a fan of Imperial Stouts but I had to try this because I have heard so much about it. Its good.

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Photo of Graham21
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

BLACK BLACK BLACK! This beer is dark, looks like motor oil. Head was only about a mm thick and left nice lacing in the glass.

In the nose I picked up on chocolate, cherries, roasted malts, hops, light coffee and maple undertones.
I tasted chocolate covered cherries, sweet and roasted malts, raisins, along with maple and coffee undertones, coffee becoming very stong in the aftertaste.
Carbonation is lacking to say the least, and the alcohol isnt hidden, it burns my throat slightly, but the beer seems to be fairly creamy and oil like on the palate. I enjoyed this imperial stout but would have enjoyed it more if the finish would have been smoother and the carbonation would have been there.

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Photo of GabrielM
3.89/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.

A - looks great except for some mysterious sediment, which is a little off-putting.

S - coffee, roasted malts, molasses, burnt brown sugar.

T - same as nose but with some definite alcohol heat. The coffee flavors are intense as is the molasses.

M - the alcohol heat and bitter espresso flavors are a little much on the palate right now. Carbonation is good.

D - I drink one or two now, but would much rather let them sit for a year or two.

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Photo of andrewjraab
3.89/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - BLACK velvet, and syrupy. This is dark as night and has a nice brown head that quickly settles but maintains a small ring throughout.

S - Coffee, caramel, vanilla. Deep multi-faceted smells with this brew. Highly complex and the more it warms the smell even changes a bit. Some faint toasted malts.

T - Again highly complex and robust. This is a heavy beer that is definitely a sipper. This is like setting out on a journey to eat a slice of bacon, but ending up having a whole pig end up on your lap. Semi sweet chocolate notes, caramel, finishes extremely dry and bitter. Something a little off with the finish and has a weird yeast flavor that is just a little off balance.

O - This is solid, but not as much as it was hyped. I'd love to try to cellar one and try it in a few years. This is most definitely worth a try.

Re-Review with just over 14 months of age on it: 3/1/14

A - Still dark as night with the mocha head.

S - Pulling the same smells previously described. The only difference is that more of a deep fruity smell is coming forward.

T - This is more drinkable with a year of age - smooth as hell. Robust flavors remain and I'm not detecting anything off with the finish. Balances really nice.

O - I'm glad I set aside a sixes to age - I think this may be one that only gets better. I'll keep setting aside a few of these each year to sit on.

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Photo of iuhoosier336
3.89/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a normal pint glass. It didn't have much head and poured very very dark. The alcohol is the first thing I smelled follow by a chocolate sweetness.

While there was alcohol in the nose the taste hid it well. The chocolate and malt hit you right away. Followed by an smokey oak flavor and hints of coffee.

This stout is think and a mouthful. A great winter beverage.

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Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Good.Bittersweet chocolate nice complement after food with strong taste. Loved the initial creamy head, just had to slurp some up. Beutiful chocolate brown with the head initial pour, then head tails off as expected. 11.5% was not detactable, thought it was 6 and change. Expresso soft drink.
Almost 6.5 years later, a two-yearold aged, good coffee and chocolate and so drinkable.

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Photo of ShrLSU
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Jet black with a tan thin halo. A tad bit of lacing but not much else to it.

S - Dark roasted malts and coffee. Some nice bitter chocolate and some dark fruit. Maybe prune and plum? A bit of an alcohol burn on the nostrils.

T - Sweet chocolate and Some roasted malt, earthy hop taste. Its semi sweet at first then bitter hop into bitter coffee and smooth semi sweet chocolate at the end.

M - Thick and creamy. Its got a bit of carbonation but its very chewy in the mouth.

D - I thought this was an enjoyable stout. It has everything you would want in a good stout. Great balance, nothing fancy, just a nice sipping stout. Maybe a tad much sweetness but not too bad. Something different. Defintely worth a go.

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Photo of JamesMN
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Opaque black with a thin dark brown head. Some lacing.

Aroma: Molasses, caramel, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Not all that aromatic.

Taste: Starts with big roasted flavor and then gives a big blast of dark coffee and bitter chocolate. Don't taste the 10.5% ABV but leaves a nice warmth in the throat. A hint of earthy hop flavor that adds some bitterness. A bit of an unbalanced brew but I'm sure aging would remedy that (this is a relatively fresh bottle). Not getting much in terms of the usual dark fruits I expect from the style.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with average carbonation (almost too much). Pretty decent drinkability.

Final Thoughts: Definitely one to check out if you are a stout enthusiast. Would I drink it again? Maybe, a bit of a high price point.

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Photo of mataelbata
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow! i must admit that i was shocked to see that "the bros" rated this a C. I love it! I just came in from a cold MN night and had one waiting for me at about 50 degrees. It poured with a nice head, and seemed to retain one to my satisfaction for a RIS. The taste warmed me up on this cold evening and exceeded my expectationso on the palate. Good job Bells !

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Photo of NearerMyBeerToMe
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Labelled with the number "6672," although I don't know what that represents. Pours coffee black and raises a tight, dirty sienna head about 1/4 inch deep. When swirled, the head leaves a pleasant, melting cling on the sides of the glass, but overall this is not as visually robust (read: gloopy) than some of the others in its style. Aroma is mostly dark chocolate with hints of vanilla extract, finishing with well-integrated touch of alcohol. Nosefeel could benefit from either a fuller body or an added dimension of bitterness; right now it just feels like sniffing at a glass of chocolate milk. Flavor begins with sweetness of raisin jelly, shifts to baking chocolate and finishes bitter and charred. As a whole, it tastes good in an unconventional way, like caramelized onions that got left too long in an iron skillet and burned. Mouthfeel is admirably smooth with a very slight carbonation and no twangy bitterness; but again, more viscosity would be welcome. Honestly, this is a beer that I'm happy enough to have 6oz of in a night. Good? Yes. Overrated? Also yes.

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Photo of robwestcott
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured cold and near pitch black to a portsmouth brewery balloon glass with a full finger, big bubbled and long lasting thick dark mocha head

aroma of dark chocolate, hints of coffee and dark fruit.

bitter bakers chocolate and dark fruit forward, licorice, coffee, toffees, and a little bit of tobacco and smoke.

medium bodied, medium carbonation, subtle bitter fading to sweet.

drinkable - probably a pint or two

overall - nice beer, big and toothy.

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Photo of herman77
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Wanted to try this fresh after having it on aged 3 years on tap a few weeks back. This was bottled 9/13/10.

A: Black with a big dark brown, very tight and compact head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Sweet dark fruits, dark cherries, dates and rum soaked raisins. Roasted malt and a little bit of dark chocolate. I think I like the nose on this one slightly better than the aged one I had on tap. Smells more vibrant, but still a little weak for what it is.

T: Roasted malt with dark chocolate covered dark cherries and dates. Rum soaked raisins and bold earthy bitter hops come through as well. Slight acidic char near the finish. Not as chocolaty and a shorter finish when this is fresh. Warming alcohol burn in the finish. A touch on the hot side.

M: Full bodied, thick and smooth. Moderate carbonation, it would feel even smoother and creamy if the carbonation was a tad lower. Great mouthfeel though.

D: A sipper. You can really feel the 10.5% on this one. Its a good cold winter night beer. This really mellows and rounds out with age.

Overall, I gotta say I prefer the aged on tap version.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into snifter. Bottled November 11, 2009. I forget which generous BA traded me this, but thank you.

A: A hard pour into my glass yielded about a finger of dense dark brown head under near-black liquid. A ton of small, soapy looking dots and strings of lacing were left down the glass.
S: Reminds me of a chocolate malt, or a chocolate-vanilla milkshake. Strong creamy chocolate smell, different from the normal dark chocolate smell found in a lot of stouts.
T: Follows the nose with a big creamy milk chocolate taste. The backside is sweet, and the finish has notes of dark fruits, molasses, and raisins. Aftertaste has notes blueberries and other berries. Aftertaste is actually pretty bitter as well.
M: Very soft and smooth mouthfeel over a medium-full body with delicate carbonation. Finish is chewy and lingering. Alcohol is noticeable in the aftertaste, but it doesn't even warm my throat.
D: Wonderful RIS. A bit rough in the finish, but I'm loving the mouthfeel. I could see this being even better if it were aged longer than 13 months.

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Photo of JDV
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Gregis
Big oily black pour, big brown lasting head in a snifter. Smell is figgy, banana notes, lots of dark roastiness and dry dry chocolate. Taste is dry dark roasty malt on the bitter side with figgy character. Some molassesy sweetness perhaps. Some alcohol showing a bit too in the flavor. Slightly sweet, but more rich, heavy chalky and slightly bitter malt. Big heavy rich mouthfeel and light carbonation. Nice, big, big stout. Thanks Greg!

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Photo of Redwood21
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: I think motor oil has been used for the appearance, but yes, think motor oil. The head could be a little better, but not suprised.

S: it has a nice coffee caramel aroma, enjoyable but with a twinge of estery alcohol.

T: Too much alcohol for me, not strength just in how much i can taste. There is a coffee and sligth caramel sweetness. it has some nice complexity and balance, but a little too much alcohol taste for me, makes it less smooth for me.

M: thick thick thick, if you want a full bodied beer, this is it. its a good beer a little to much alcohol taste for me, but a good beer just the same

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,005 ratings.
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