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

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2,089 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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Reviews: 2,089 | Ratings: 5,983
Photo of drpimento
3.84/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shazam! KIck ass, mo fo. now this is truly big beer. again, maybe it's just my thang, but I pick up hop type hallertau yeast flavs; too fruit for me. Not a bigb head, but lots of lace. almost visquous. roasty dark chocolate, dark overruoe fruits. Would imagine that this beer would age like a dream. creamy body

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Photo of buschbeer
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 9512

I poured into my glass to maybe a half inch of brown head. This beer is dark to say the least. The is no light coming through this beast. The aroma is chocolate, molasses, and some alcohol. The taste is black coffee and I get a fairly strong alcohol presence. That's about it. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy. I like that. I think this beer is a little hot yet. I am going to sit on my remaining bottles for at least a year and give this review an update. If the alcohol mellows out this could be a great beer.

revisited 6/13/2012

The alcohol has faded. I get some dark chocolate on the nose and in taste. I get some almost anise taste. Very thick and tons of flavor. Not sure if I like the flavor now.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Viscous, oily black--nice. Thin, muddy brown head that I had to force on there. Disappeared lace, no retention, nada. My beer boner just died.

Aroma is hickory, chocolate, and espresso accentuated by a mild alcoholic kiss. Deep and provocative.

Sweet tips the scales vs. roast malt on this stout. Chicory, baker's chocolate bitter with dark fruit and espresso. Deadly alcoholic, you'll feel it before tasting it. Big, full mouthfeel.

Good, but I expect more from Bells.

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Photo of twelvsies
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got this as part of a "beer stimulus" package from jfunkk79. Haven't had this beer in years... yum. Real black and dense looking, with a healthy brown head. This beer has a very full roasted malt aroma. Deep and a bit smoky. Carries over to the taste as well. Deeply roasty, nice and bitter, a touch of burnt char and leather. Big flavors. This is definitely a sipper. Maybe a little bit hot, but plenty of character to cover it up. Thick, viscous mouthfeel. Would love to age this so it's a bit softer, but as is it's a totally worth stout.

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Photo of whendeathsleeps
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours thick motor oil black, tan two finger head, decent retention, nice lacing.

S- Dark roasted malt, anise, bakers chocolate, woody.

T- Dark chocolate, espresso, boozy, some dark fruits, a little bitterness from the hops to balance things out, let this one warm, it shines then.

M- Like you would expect from the pour, full bodied, thick, silky smooth, a little alcohol warming.

O- A good, not great RIS, the mouthfeel is excellent, I much prefer Ten Fidy to this, but I would go back to this for sure.

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Photo of John_M
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Was very pleasantly surprised to see this on tap at Capone's the other night.

This has to be one of the oddest looking stouts I've ever seen. The beer looks more like a cup of dark hot chocoate then beer, with a hazy chocolate appearance, good lacing and decent head retention. On the nose one gets some more chocolate (quite a bit of it in fact), with a hint of vanilla, coffee and cherry. The flavors are replicated on the palate, especially in terms of the chocolate. However, there's also almost what I would call an underlying grittiness to this beer, which while fine for the most part, hurts the finish a bit I think. There is considerable bitterness in the finish, and at least for me, that coupled with the sweet chocolate and high abv. makes this a difficult beer to drink.

This is absolutely a solid beer, but is just not my cup of tea.

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Photo of bamadog
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Very thick on the pour and very viscous - like motor oil, probably the thickest I've seen since I first poured a FBS; A good size two finger head is present at first and it's dark tan, possibly the darkest tan I've seen; solid retention as it's just about done fading into a pretty thick and chewy looking skim on the sruface; a thick spongey looking lacing is coating the glass where the head once was.

Smell: Alcohol is actually the first scent I picked up on and with an ABV of 10.5%, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Behind that is dark, very roasty and burnt coffee-esque malts.

Taste: Again like the smell, the first thing that I pick up on is the alcohol, but it's not especially overpowering, just the most present flavor; behind that is a slightly subdued burnt roast; I would almost swear there is a very faint hint of some kind of a dark fruit, but if it is, it is buried very well amidst the strong roastiness.

Mouthfeel: Almost a little gritty, there's definitely some sediment floating in the darkness that is this beer; the alchol causes some burn in the mouth and definitely in the chest as it goes down and adds a slightly drying affect to the mouthfeel, but beyond that it's got a decent coating that again feels a little gritty.

Drinkability: It's a very good beer, but definitely sits heavy like most RISs are apt to do, so I don't feel like I would want to sit through too many of these because I would start to feel like a bit of a load.

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Photo of skizziks
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. Pour gives about an inch of dark cocoa foam, thick, leaves thick sheets on the side as it settles. A thin layer sticks around for a long time. The beer is a deep mahogany, not quite opaque.

Aroma is immediately vinous, roasty, with raisins and figs. Deep and complex.

Flavor starts out with some sharp acid, vinous with a wash of malt syrup. Figs follow with coffee beans and cocoa leading to a long lingering finish of burnt coffee. A little astringent, but not overpoweringly so. A nice counterpoint to the syrupy sweetness and roasted bitter.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and thick. Coats the tongue with a lasting impression of powdered cocoa. I don't mean to give the idea that this is some sort of cocoa flavored beer, but there is definitely an element of unsweetened cocoa down in there with all of the other flavors. This is a wonderful, rich, complex beer. I have been sipping on this one for about an hour and a half and enjoying the hell out of it. Drinkability is rated low because the burnt flavors really slow me down (in a good way) where others of the style are relatively easy to sip continuously. Overall, this is a very very good beer.

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Photo of freed
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Another batch imported by our man in the midwest; Bill. Thanks!

Yet another lovely label from Bell's, simple and elegant. I should have been wary when I popped the cap and there was no rush of gas. Pouring was enough confirmation though - there was no carbonation to the beer. The pouring was uneventful, despite the troubling black liquid. It sat dully in the glass, deeply brown with body. The very top, visible without any head, gave hints of amber around the edges. There's even some odd sediment that almost looks like it belongs in hot & sour soup.

The aroma is welcoming though - deep, filling, and robust with mocha goodness. The combination of malted barley and coffee hide the barely noticeable smell of alcohol.

The taste is also very robust - nearly syrupy without carbonation, but still good. There are very bitter chocolate flavors, dark espresso flavors, and a smooth maltiness all around.

The sensation is somewhat lacking without the balance of gasses, and the mouthfeel is somewhat alcoholic. Especially while brewing beer and having skipped breakfast and lunch.

This is a very tasty beer, but I feel it must be tried on cask, or tap. Preferably close to the source. I'll see what I can do.

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Photo of beer2day
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours opaquely black with a thin 1/2 finger deep tan head. No observable carbonatio. Nice lacing.

Chocolate with notes of cinnamon dominate the nose. A slight sugariness is there as well. Alcohol comes in also.

Very nice hit on the tongue. Slightly thinner than expected, though. Lots of roasted malt here with bittersweet chocolate finish.

Not as good as I remember when living in Northern Indiana, but still a pretty good RIS.

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Photo of SchmoTerp
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours and looks like a stout should with a dark tan head. Head took some time to dissapate. The mouthfeel are thick, robust, with some slight smokiness. The tastes are more subdued with balanced malts, there is a nice heaviness in the aftertaste. This beer was quite smooth and easy to drink - something I would definetely look forward to in the future.

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Photo of hopflop
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a black like used motor oil. with a tan head that dissipates quickly.

The smell is not impressive mostly coffee with roasted malts with dried fruit and alcohol

The mouth full is creamy and rich. with a huge coffee presences and malts with a hint of chocolate and alcohol at the end

This is a very hefty big stout with a big ABV 10.5%. the drink ability is good, but can't have more then two in one sitting. Would definitely recommend trying.

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Photo of TheBeerologist
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opened a bottle from batch 10068 - bottled 11/11/2010 and poured into a snifter.

Pours nice and thick, dark brown/black with a thin brown head. Looks like a great RIS.

This smells sweet and malty and strongly of raisins and tastes pretty much the same. Still a little hot after 15 months. The carbonation is nice, present but light, with a sticky sweetness.

Overall, I am underwhelmed at this point. It is a good solid RIS but I really prefer it fresh and cannot wait to get some from from a recent batch to review again.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.83/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased at Capone's in Norristown, PA. No dates listed on bottle. Poured into New Belgium snifter glass.

A: Pours a DEEP, rich black color. No light gets through. Not much carbonation. Thin, rust colored head that fades quickly leaves a tiny line around the exterior of the glass. Good lacing. Tiny bubbles.

S: Roasty malts, coffee, chocolate, molasses, alcohol

T: I like the roasty malt flavor. I got that dark chocolate and caramels as well. Some mild hops too.

M: Coats the mouth nicely. Smooth with a nice bite at the end. Mild hop finish, surprisingly.

D: I enjoyed this brew. I would definitely have it again, but the ABV does get you. You can smell it and it is definitely there.

Overall, a solid brew from Bell's. I have had better RISs from other outfits, but this is a good one that I'd enjoy again down the road.

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Photo of jkendrick
3.82/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours dark and viscous. A moderately aggressive pour yields a half inch brown head. There is no light shining through and little carbonation visible rising up in the glass. The head recedes relatively quickly, but leaves some foam stuck to the side of the glass. After a few sips, nice lacing is left in its wake.

Aroma: The aroma isn't as strong as many Imperial Stouts but what is there is malt. and some alcohol. I smell dark and sweet fruit. I don't smell coffee and chocolate as was expected. Maybe just a touch of molasses.

Mouthfeel: Not a ton of carbonation, but it is oily and full-bodied.

Taste: The taste is where the chocolate - dry, powdery cocoa to be exact - that was absent in the nose makes itself known. The fruit, so dominant in the aroma, is relegated to the back. The alcohol is definitely present, but for a 10% abv, it isn't bad. I think the alcohol could have been hidden a bit better. The molasses flavors are most dominant in the middle and there is bitterness in the finish. The alcohol is somewhat warming, but is mostly noticeable in the mouth.

Overall Impressions: This is good imperial stout. It has a very interesting difference from aroma to taste. While the aroma screams fruit and had me excited for something a bit different than the typical coffee/chocolate/molasses dominated impy stouts, ultimately it is the cocoa and molasses that rule the flavor. I'd definitely buy this one again and it's the best offering I've had from Bell's, but it has some flaws.

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Photo of marksto
3.82/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at the Indiana Microbrewers Festival. Bell's had this one opposite a keg of the bourbon barrel aged Double Cream/Expedition Stout. Perhaps it was because of that excellent beer that I thought this one wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be..

Poured opaque with an off-white medium head with medium retention. Surprisingly light in the nose. Some coffee and roast with malt sweetness, but nose overall lighter than I thought it would be. Flavor exhibited a blend of roastiness, malt, with a hint of chocolate. Smooth, nice, but not as complex as many of the other R.I.S.'s that I've had before.

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Photo of swid
3.82/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours very thick and syrupy...deep brown to black. Carbonation nearly nonexistant. A 2" brown head forms; fades after about 10 minutes or so.

Chocolate and caramel notes are prominent in an overall sweet, malty aroma. Along with the chocolate and caramel, a coffee flavor dominates this beer. A surprisingly light mouthfeel; slightly bitter on the palate, feels like a light syrup on the back of the mouth/throat, finishes fairly clean. The high ABV of this beer is masked very well, much more so than other strong beers I've had in the past.

Overall, a decent imperial stout, and a beer worth trying or breaking out every once in a while. However, I wouldn't go out of my way to track down another one.

Thanks to mdinges for the bottle!

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Photo of alleykatking
3.81/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle. Quite surprised I haven't reviewed this beer on here!

A- Pours a nice black color. When held to the light you can see faint brown hues on the sides of the glass. Two finger mocha colored head stays for a good couple of minutes before dying down to whisps of foam on the top of the beer. Lacing was streaked on the sides of the glass.

S- Big roasted malts in the front of the aroma. Ground coffee smell was muted a little in the middle with some light chocolate notes and even lighter hints of prunes. Alcohol is present in this but it almost takes on a semi-sweet note to it. I picked up some brown sugar hanging around the alcohol. For a stout of this size though the overall aroma was muted.

T- This beer starts off with a nice roasted taste that lasts well into the middle of the beer. Light darker fruits in the middle that shine through in small doses. The ending on this one is a little more chocolate sweet than I remembered. Light roasted taste in the back end of this one as well.

M- Heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is good with the style. Left a oily slick roasted mess on the palate and into the aftertaste. Chewy is good feature with this beer. Sludge like...heh. Makes you want to take a sip right after you are done with the first one.

D- This is a good drinkable stout. The only reason I gave it a 3.5 was because I could not drink a sixer of this even if I tried. It was a very filling beer for me and after a couple I would need to switch to something lighter in feel.

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Photo of everetends
3.81/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Redwood21 for this bottle. Poured into a pint tumbler.

A: Damn near perfect. Black and opaque. Poured a think, and oil like consistency. Had a head that I didn't think would form and left some nice sticky lacing.

S: Dark chocolate, deeply roasted malts, coffee and a touch of licorice.

T: The chocolate really shines here. Coffee bitterness and malts are also present. Has a heavy alcohol taste on the back end, a bit metallic also (even after it warmed).

M: Low carbonation, thick and chewy. Alcohol heat on the back of the throat and in the tummy. Dry finish.

D: This is an RIS that lets you know the alcohol is there. Not bad, but definitely a sipper and really no need to hit more than one. Very nice brew.

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Photo of rastaman
3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Extremely black and thick. Very heavy on the tongue, huge fat roasted malt flavours blend with raisins and spicy (hops are even a bit citric)hops, big and ugly (but ugly in kind of a good way), huge bitterness. Vinous. Not elegant at all, but nicely mean and ugly. Its great to try some US imperial stouts, and this one was another gift from Feloniousmonk.

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Photo of BeerAmbassador
3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Motor oil black, small head that leaves a bit on the glass as it dissipates. Coffee, roasted grains and dark, dried fruit (prunes?) on the nose. All of the above plus a bit of licorice on the nose. Stong bitterness from both hops and roasted malt. Sweetness that borders on cloying for me, but not quite too much. Very long finish, and low, but creamy, nicely integrated carbonation.

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Photo of tone77
3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1 inch head. Smell is of chocolate, coffee, a bit of sweetness. Taste is the same, chocolate, some hops, a bit of coffee, alcohol is well hidden. Feels full bodied in the mouth and overall is a solid beer.

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Photo of schusterbauer
3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

a -- "none more black." but really, absolutely black, limp dark brown head doesn't last long.

s -- alcohol, charcoal, roasted/burnt malts, chocolate, soy sauce, more alcohol

t -- there's so much going on in this beer that you can find something new with every sip: heavy on the charcoal/smoked/roasted flavors, chocolate ice cream, raisins, licorice, soy sauce, lemon peel(?); flavor coats your mouth and lasts for a long time after each sip

m -- THICK. melted milkshake thick.

d -- i don't think that drinkability is really the word. the beer seems to dare you to sip more, in all of its ruggedness; sometimes the challenge is a pleasure, sometimes it's a chore.


I had previously given this beer across the board 5s, based on a previous sample -- a bottle that was about 18 months old. The above is based on a fresh sample. While I'm sure that the aged sample didn't deserve anywhere near the perfect 5, it was notably better, and I'll be curious to review again, with another aged sample.

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Photo of ChrisPro
3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 8944 (vintage 2008?).

12oz bottle pours thick oily black, but very little dark tan head.

Caramel and chocolate in aroma, some hints of pitted fruit (cherries, prune).

Rich, sweet up front, a bit boozy, then a long drawn out chocolate finish. Quite bitter, but balanced.

Pretty well carbonated, quite thick and oily and the alcohol and carb leave a bit of stinging on the tongue. Much better with some warming.

This is a pretty complex imperial stout and its hotness implies that it could benefit from some age to let some of those flavore meld and the heat mellow. Still something I would seek out again.

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Photo of expatsteve
3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for sharing this one, Golden2wenty1.

Appearance: Black, with a 1/2 inch cappucino head. Nice thick lacing on the beer and the glass. Medium viscosity.

Aroma: Plum, cane sugar, chocolate and a booze/hops edge.

Taste: Booze over chocolate and molasses. Cream, toffee, raisin developments, along with a sharp boozy bite. Plum sweetness and a few espresso bursts, but definitely the most spicy stout I've ever had.

Mouthfeel: Thick and spicy, with a lot of hops and booze character. Low carbonation focuses attention squarely on the more aggressive characteristics of the beer.

Drinkability: While the flavor is balanced and fairly impressive, the bite in this beer is definitely a challenge. Enjoyable and distinct, but not most drinkable big stout I've had. Will probably please hopheads and strong beer fans who appreciate aggressive flavors.

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Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
94 out of 100 based on 2,089 ratings.
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