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

2,117 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: 2,117 | Ratings: 6,107
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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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 54ยบ 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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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,107 ratings.
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