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

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2,100 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: 2,100 | Ratings: 6,039
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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Photo of RockerD
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at 3 Floyds brew pub.

An amazing looking beer. Has the coolest looking thick dark brown head I'd ever seen!!!! In the light it's as close as you can get to Black and still be Brown.

Smells of a roasted coffee and molasses in January.

Tastes of cocoa in smokey-coffee and rum...? Really good. Smooth and delicious. I love this beer.

Feel's great going in... nothing too special. It's a strong beer but after one you can easily drink another... and you'll want to!

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

My first Bells, and my first Imperial Stout. As I expected, the color was the darkest black. A creamy thick body. The flavor was dark chocolate with a soft fruity sweetness hidden in there. There was a little roasted malt flavor, but it wasn't nearly as prominent as I would have imagined. It had a bitter finish. As it warmed a bit, the bitterness of the alcohol and hops became more prominent. Overall, a very tasty and interesting beer.

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

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into my Schlafly snifter.

A - Pours a very deep, dark brown / black. No light through this one. Very small tan head that disappeared quickly. No lacing.

S - Complex blend of dark chocolate, smoke, roasted coffee, black licorice, and a bit boozy.

T - Dark chocolate & coffee bitterness with rich malts and lots of alcohol. The alcohol comes through on this stout more than I would've liked, but still wasn't overwhelming.

M - Medium-bodied thickness and nice malt character. Again, the alcohol shines through.

D - Couldn't drink too many of these. Very strong stout that seemed to get better as it sat. Definitely let this one warm up a bit. Much nicer flavor character after it sat awhile in my snifter.

Overall - pretty good stout. Very strong alcohol taste though. Nice after dinner beer.

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Photo of RandomBattle
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle (not sure as to the vintage), poured into a Bell's tulip. Bam!

Appearance - Oily and inky black RIS body, with almost no head, granted I did pour it very carefully.

Smell - I seem to get a large amount of dark fruits, think plums and dates, along with soy sauce. This beer specifically, I have always gotten soy sauce from, not unappetizing just there. After revisiting I get some nice roasty chocolate odors with some subtle hops.

Taste - Nice bitter dark chocolate flavors, followed by dark fruit flavors. Even though I always smell soy sauce in this one I never taste it. This beer has such a wonderful bittersweetness that is amazing and I feel separates it from other RIS'.

Mouthfeel - Full, mouth-coating, and smooth. This beer is liquid velvet. A treat and a sipper.

Overall - This beer is great and thankfully I can get it online when it's available since Bell's doesn't distribute to NY.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

"Here's a beer that thirsts for travel, holding up impressively under the rigors of any journey. At the same time, it's perfectly content to sit quietly in your cellar, aging and improving while you wait for the moment that seems perfectly appropriate for its consumption." Brewed in the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Available in 12 oz. 6 packs and on draft as a fall imperial series seasonal release. I will be reviewing this immensely popular stout alongside two other vintages, 1 year aged (2013) and 2 years aged (2012).

Poured from a 12oz. bottle to a snifter. Served above 54º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Expedition pours a crisp foamy chocolate brown head over a nearly solid black body, moderately viscous. Retention is above average, lacing is light and streaked. 3.75

(Smell) Aromas of moderate roasted malt, chocolate malt and spicy licorice with a moderate sweetness. The potency is modest. 3.75

(Taste) Earthy roasted barley malt finishing with a strong driving roast with chocolate undertones. 4

(Mouthfeel) The texture is moderately viscous, sticky and slightly dry. The carbonation generates a soft frothiness for a smooth mouthfeel. The body is medium/heavy for the style, heavy overall. Balance is earthy bitter over sweet. Alcohol presence is moderate, and off characters are few to none. 4

(Overall) As a fresh stout, Expedition is quite enjoyable, roasty, sweet and viscous with a solid mouthfeel and simple yet deep flavor profile. There are other Russian Imperial Stouts out there that will very likely pump up the flavor variety, but Expedition will likely get the job done for most. 3.75

Bell's Brewery, Inc.'s
Expedition Stout

Vintage Notes:

2013 (1 Year Aged): Pours a frothy creamy head of a similar head and body tone. The aroma shares similarities with the fresh batch with a mild creeping fruitiness. Lesser striking roast with a more solid balance with chocolate and finishing with a stronger spicy licorice. The texture is slightly smoother, slicker and oilier. Overall it's at least as enjoyable as the fresh batch if not better.

2012 (2 Years Aged): 2012 forms a creamy frothed head of a slightly darker tone over a jet black body. The nose continues the transition from heavy roast and sweetness to a more gradual balance with tart fruit subtleties coming in strong. The flavor is just as complex and balanced out as the 2013 batch, with a further reduced roast and chocolate balanced out with a mild acidic fruitiness. The texture continues the trend of smooth, slick and oily with a tame low carbonation for a very subtle soft frothiness. Another fine vintage, although I slightly prefer the 1 year over this vintage.

Recommended vintage: Fresh-2 years or older. Bells doesn't give a best by as per their website, so your patience is the limit as far as this beer is concerned.

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Photo of Traquairlover
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12-oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A = Looks like old motor oil in the glass, no light goes through it at all.ll, as close to black as a beer could get. Small head formed that was a cross between cherry and oak brown.

S = Coffee, burnt oak bark, cherries.

T = Coffee, dark chocolate, sweet molasses, bitters.

M = Thick and luscious, coats the mouth, could use more carbonation.

D = Pretty good for an occasional beer, but I find this is too strong (both in taste and alcohol) when fresh to have it too often. Does age well though.

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Photo of lurpy1
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Back home, we have access to some Bell's beer, but first time crossing paths with this one.

Drunk straight from the bottle in my hotel room in East Lansing Michigan, because drinking beer out of a coffee cup or slurpee cup just isn't right. However, stouts are like babies, they are all beautiful unless something goes wrong, so Expedition gets the benefit of the doubt on appearance. Bottle or no, the aroma isf reakin' spectacular. Deep hints of bourbon, malt, alcohol. I want to snort this beer. Despite an excellent, syrupy mouthfeel, there's something vaguely medicinal about Expedition in the mouth, so while the taste isn't bad, it isn't spectacular. Yes, I would absolutely do this beer again, but as far as stouts go it isn't quite up there with, say, Yeti or Surly Darkness.

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Photo of yen157
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Creamy, Turkish coffee foam looking head, but more voluminous. Beautiful black body, inky as hell. This was one mean looking stout. It had bittersweet chocolate, toasted bread crust, charcoal, and paper match smoke in the nose. Occasional whiffs of alcohol can be found. This was 11.5%?!?! This beer does an immaculate job hiding the alcohol. I would not have guessed it over 8.5%! In the mouth this beer was one harsh mofo. It tastes like it looks, dense and black. It actually smells like it could have been a sweet imperial stout, but it was not. It was dry and charred from start through everlasting, salty finish. It kinda funny, but there were some hop burps. Hops? They get lost in the blackened mess. Good creamy mouthfeel.

This was a gigantic stout. There is no doubt about that. I was a bit let down though. I’d been waiting to try this for years, and I finally cracked one of my two that I brought home from Michigan this Thanksgiving. I wish it was a bit sweeter. It grew on me, but it was no what I expected. While I can appreciate a aggressive beer like this (and Monster, Blithering Idiot, Quad, etc) I like them a bit more smooth. Not easy-drinking, but smooth.

[Once this one warmed up, the nose reminded me much of patis. Not a good thing, but not reflected in the “smell“ rating.]

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Photo of afordney
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

motor oil black, nice finger wide head. No light gets through

good roasted malt. Very sweet and smoky

sweet malty start, deep roasted flavors, excellent bold flavors

Nice thick mouthfeel, a little sour but quite bitter in the finish

A good beer, would be excellent on a cold day

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Photo of soulgrowl
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Tamari-thick blacker-than-midnight opaque black. Spotty mocha latte brown head with poor retention.

Smell: Smoked cherries - does that make sense? Because that's what comes to mind. Extremely roasty and deeply fruity, a massive malt anvil. Light soy sauce, sherry with lots of warm alcohol, honey graham crackers, sweet caramel, apple jelly, brown sugar on toasted wheat bread. Moist, molassesy gingerbread and lots of raisins, Cracklin' Oat Bran... I could go on. Insanely complex, and in a somewhat atypical way - low on chocolate and coffee aromas, high on grain aromas. Clean, acidic, oily hops add a fine, pointed spice, distilled by the volatile alcohol.

Taste: Weird - spicy as hell from the alcohol and hops, with burnt coffee, 90% cacao chocolate, tangy sherry, aniseseed spice. Aggressive alcohol impedes the full development of the malts' nuances (if they're there) on the palate, which is sort of a shame. This could probably improve with a year or two in the cellar. Piney, Goldings-esque hops stoke the flames of alcohol for a hot, spicy finish with a blossom of chocolate and tannic nut notes, similar to an Snickers bar laced with rum.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and very, very thick - yet somehow, not syrupy at all.

Drinkability: Aggressive as hell, and in my opinion, not complex enough to warrant it. Not bad - try it if you like Stone's RIS - but not my favorite.

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Photo of Fatduck
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Here's a beer I should have tried earlier. I'm a big fan of the RIS, and a big fan of Bell's. High time this one gets reviewed. I just finished my taxes and this is my reward.

This thing is black, nothing gets through, even on the edges. Smells of deep roasted/burnt coffee/chocolate with some raisins.

Taste is good, big full body, nothing like a good RIS to ruin your review, right?

Very drinkable

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Photo of Slack
3.87/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown in color with minimal head and moderate lacing as it goes down.

Smell is cocoa, alcohol, roasted coffee.

Flavors of coffee, roasted malt, cocoa, and hop bitters.

Mouthful is medium to light and creamy with moderate carbonation. Finish is lingering and dry.

A nice Russian imperial stout with a great flavor profile but not exceptional. I would try it but seek out others.

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Photo of Jammies
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-pours a deep brownish black with a thin layer of light brown foam that slowly recedes to the edges of the glass

S-light and slightly nutty. Nothing overpowering

T-very smooth with light coffee and nutty flavors

M-smooth and slightly malty as expected

O-great flavor and pleasantly smooth. one of the better stouts out there.

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Photo of nhindian
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

Batch 9971, bottled on September 13, 2010.

A - Pours a viscous, black motor oil black that culminates in a visually impressive, 3-fingered, dark mocha head. Retention is fantastic, and if it weren't for how slowly this beer drinks, it would last for more than half of the life of the beer. Body is pitch black, with only the slightest bit of chocolate highlights appearing at the bottom of the snifter, where it's at its thinnest. Lots of beautiful lacing as it drinks.

S - The nose is very sweet, full of malts and chocolate goodness. Also some appearances of thick molasses, raisins, and licorice. Throughout the whole nose there is a lot of alcohol presence. Overall a thick and heavy smell that is a bit intimidating.

T - First impression and all I can think of is that this is thick, chewy, and comes with wave after wave of flavor. The malts have a sweet, burnt flavor that contributes a nice, robust coffee flavor. Next comes some bittersweet chocolate and the dark fruits. These fruits help give a nice sugar characteristics that complements the high alcohol heat that this beer currently exhibits. A nice touch of hops at the end to complement the alcohol.

M - Mouthfeel is thick thick thick. And syrupy. Even after a few minutes between sips, all of the flavors still dance on the palate and there's a noticeable coating on the mouth. A long lasting bitterness in the finish resembling that of bittersweet baker's chocolate.

D - Drinkability is moderate. Even though this beer screams complexity, it's just a bit too much in terms of mouthfeel and alcohol. Being a little over 2 months old, it's still a bit hot for a RIS, so I can only assume the heat will dissipate after a few more months.

Overall, this beer seems like a more robust, thicker, more alcoholic version of Storm King, which lasts with me throughout the experience. I'm hoping some of the bitterness will round out more as it ages.

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Photo of mpyle
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very opaque with a thick, brown head. Head is dense, creamy, and with a decent linger for the small head size.

A strong chocolately sweet aroma - straightforward but clean. Not much alcohol and no hops in the aroma.

Malty sweet chooclate flavor, nice dark malt roastiness, alcohol evident but controlled. Finishes roasty and sweet. Sweetness doesn't quite approach the cloying level - enough hop bitterness and dark grain bitterness to maintain a semblance of balance.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with lowish carbonation. Alcohol warming evident, as should be for style. Minimal astringency from the dark grains - actually some sensation of chocolate milk - a bit creamy.

Overall a bit sweet, but doesn't deviate too far from its stout roots. Very flavorful without being overpowering. I'm afraid to say I could drink more than one of these, which at 11.5% ABV might not be a good idea!

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this beer sit peacefully in the fridge for 6 months after purchasing.

Appearance- Pours a dark, spent motor oil color. This is a good thing. To quote the great Garrett Oliver on his opinion of this beer,
"...seems to absorb light, mopping it up like a black hole in space." I couldn't agree more. A film of foam is leftover after the pour and gradually thins to a ring around the beer.

Smell- Reminds me of 7-eleven coffee that has been sitting on the burner too long. With some smokey and burnt malts mixed with a little mocha.

Taste- When the beer is a bit chilled, the flavor of mocha and smoked malts ndominates with a little grassy hops jumping in. Once it warms to almost rom temperature, the flavors take on a slightly milky and dark roast 7-Eleven coffee taste.

Mouthfeel- Oily, heavy, syrupy, but not bad.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Firestone pint glass
From: Barons Market in Alpine, Calif.
Price: $1.79
Purchased: Oct. 22, 2014
Consumed: Oct. 29, 2014
Misc.: Packaged on Aug. 22, 2014 with unlimited shelf life

Poured blackish, even dark purple, color with 1-to-2 fingers of frothy, khaki tan head. Went from a pour to calm and serene in about 12 seconds. Surprisingly very light spots of foamy lacing on the sides of the glass. Also below average retention on the top all the way down. (Sight - 3.75)

Smelled booziness up front, initially reminding me of a mudslide - vodka, coffee liquor and Irish cream liquor. Also the usual suspects - caramel, toffee, milk chocolate, roasty malts, nutty malts and cocoa powder. A tad like a chocolate milkshake, too. Not too bad on the nose. (Smell - 4.00)

Taste was about what I expected, albeit a bit rougher and earthier. Got boozy coffee liquor and Irish cream liquor up front. Also toffee, caramel, chocolate milk, bitter roasty malts, roasty nuts, earthy chocolate syrup and crayon. (Taste - 3.75)

Full body. Sticky-to-slick texture. Average carbonation. Long, warming finish. (Feel - 4.25)

A pretty good RIS. I’m usually a sucker for these types of beers, but I don’t think this was great. Just pretty good. (Overall - 3.75)

3.86 | 87 | B+

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Photo of TheDM
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
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 shoky01
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Vintage 08 09, 12oz bottle into stem-less red wine glasses.

A: black black, no light getting through this puppy. Brown to tan head depending on thickness. Very light lacing. Bit of carbonation.

S: malty goodness, hint of licorice, coffee and chocolate.

T: anticipation grips me for this one. Shocking to put a word to it. Complex, spices, malts, annice is strong as well as the alcohol. 10.5 to begin with but gotta be near 12 now. There is a bit of bitterness on the end. Smokey too.

MF: sticky and a bit of burn.

OA: would like a fresh bottle to make sure that nothing went wrong with this one in aging. Love the smell but almost let down by the taste. It isn't bad but its almost too complicated to enjoy. Reminds me a lot of the Stone Belgo Annise IRS

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Photo of MrBen
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A good beer, but not great enough to be a regular buy for me. The pour is lovely, scent is tasty, color is great, and so on. Bell's quality, upfront as always. Taste was good overall, but too hop-forward for my liking. Raw alcohol was fairly prominent throughout. I'll stick with Kalamazoo Stout and Java Stout.

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Photo of devilben02
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle, I could tell that this one was a shade of dark brown, but it was as dark as can be, with a medium-dark brown head that clung tenaciously to the side of the glass. The aroma is interestingly different from many other imperial stouts, with an up-front alcohol character that seems like a licorice liqueur along with some underlying sweetness. The flavor is roasy, sweet, and almost tangy, featuring the same licorice character found in the aroma, with complementing characteristics of charred firewood and bitter chocolate. Texturally, it is mouth-filling and resinous, but not to the point of being syrupy.

Overall, although it is not potently boozy, the flavors are dense (but I wouldn't characterize them as "rich"), making it readily apparent that this beer is a force. I sipped it slowly and enjoyed it, but I don't know how often I would go back for more.

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Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: pitch black, minimal brown head and lacing.
S: dark dried rum soaked fruit, dark caramel, molasses, vanilla, coffee, chocolate.
T: big sweet dark malts, roastiness and some hop bitterness vainly attempt to bring balance, lingering sweet finish. a bit boozy.
M: thick, viscous, lightly carbonated.
D: definitely a sipper and might improve with some cellaring time.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,039 ratings.
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