Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
2,099 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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,099 | Ratings: 6,033
Photo of beermanbrian
4.52/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oil black in color with a a thin tan head that foams up to only 1/4 inch with a heavy pour. The head is the foamy fine bubbled consistancy and has a slightly reddish tint to it. Smell hits you with a huge wash of flavors. Dark fruits are the most prominant followed by coffee, chocolate and the other typical stout flavors. Also, as it warms you get a real wiff of the high ABV. The taste is just as enjoyable as the smell. I think beer might have the most prominant dark fruit flavors of any stout i've ever tasted. Finishes with some nice bitterness and some alchohol burn. Overall a wonderful beer. Hurt a little on drinkability due to the high ABV. I couldn't see having more than 2 in a night and really 1 is just about perfect.

 733 characters

Photo of oakbluff
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I thought this beverage would be appropriate considering it is -35 degrees celsius out tonight.

Pours out like ten month old motor oil from my car. I had to run upstairs to get the knife and fork for this baby. Wow that is a thick stout. Hops are quite pronounced even though there is obviously an avalanche of malt here. Chocolate, plum, raisins, hops are main tastes. As thick as it is at the beginning, it actually finishes lightly and dry. carbonation is medium to low, but is at an appropriate level for this style.

A slow sipper for sure, but a perfect match for a soul sucking cold ass night. I'm looking forward to aging a couple of these to see how it/if it mellows out.

 685 characters

Photo of Atlas1
3.99/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a generic pint glass. This beer is deep pitch black. I hold it up to the light and nothing gets through. A seriously dark stout. Very nice. Pours a fat, heavy two-finger head which is a burnt orange color. It is thick and sticky, and cakes along the side of the glass as the beer recedes, leaving a very nice lace. It's strange, but I just don't get much out of the aroma here. I would have expected more, but the aroma is thin, with some slight coffee notes and hints of hoppiness. But otherwise, there's just not much in the way of aroma here. However, what it lacks in smell is made up for in flavor. This beer is delicious. Creamy, dark chocolate sweetnees mixed with a bitter coffee taste. It is nutty as well. Finishes with a noticeable amount of heat; you can really taste the alcohol in the aftertaste. Still, it's not a huge distraction, but it's just too hard to hide all of that 11.5% ABV. A wonderful winter brew, this stout will definitely keep you warm on a cold February night.

 1,020 characters

Photo of oelergud
4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Completely opaque black body with a silken brown head. Great lace and good retention.
Strong sweet malts, roasted burnt expresso beans. Vanilla and powerful nutskin bitterness.
Taste has all the elements of the smell but expands into a rough smoked hop experience mingled with bitter roasted chocolate beans and expresso. Almond bitter aftertaste and smoke undulating along hoppy notes.
Full thick body, lots of residual sugars and decent coating.
Very high drinkability but watch the abv, it'll kick your ass.


 528 characters

Photo of dfried
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black as night, thick and oily, dark tan head like creme brule almost. The aroma was of rich molasses, black licorice, chocolate and coco powder, and some tropical fruity notes. Some alcohol lingered but I wont knock you off your seat. A lot of coco powder in the taste as well, fruity flavors, pears, a lot of black cherry. Quite sweet and tart. Some black licorice and coffee in the background. Very rich and creamy mouthfeel, silky.

Verdict: one of the better RISs out there in my opinion. The flavors come together very well, and while it is a sipping beer, it is easy to get lost, look down, and see that it is gone and want another.

 641 characters

Photo of crwills
4.54/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The highlight of a pre-Christmas trade with CBA out in Alberta; thanks Chris, this was awesome!

Poured an opaque, jet black into my Sinha glass. A slightly pinkish, relatively small chocolate-milk head fades fast but leaves a ton of brown lacing.

Aroma is very dark and planty. Licorice and anise, damp roots, milk chocolate, and good Caribbean rum. Just fantastic.

Taste was very bitter (moreso than I expected). Damp earth and plants right up front, which evolved into dry coffee or espresso and cocoa beans in the middle. Some warming alcohol and toffee as well. Finish is oaky vanilla, with a little bit of those grapefruit/pine citrus hops coming through in the aftertaste. Complex as hell, all the way through.

Mouthfeel is extremely smooth and milk- or cream-like, with almost no carbonation. Only dropped marks for drinkability due to the ABV and the fact that I couldn't finish more than one.

One of my top beers of all time.

 950 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
4.7/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours from 12oz bottle a pitch black with a medium sized head of foam that shrinks rather quickly leaving just a fine ring around the edge of the glass.

The smell is very strong but nice. There's oodles of roasted and sweet malt on the nose and also some fruitiness.

The taste is also hugely malty. Lots of roastiness and sweet caramel malt along with chocolate and hot cocoa that adds some nice bitterness that creates one heck of a complex and pleasing experience to my palate. Wow is this ever a great sipping Imperial Stout! I did have a couple bottles of it a few years back but I think I'm enjoying it more now because of my "evolved" appreciation of quality microbrews.

I'm about halfway through now and though the abv is pretty darned high, I'm not getting any of it in the taste, just some warming as it goes down. What a great brew to have on this very cold Casper winter evening...

Bottom line: A *superb* full bodied, full flavoured Imperial Stout that borders on perfection. I can't recommend this one enough!

Thanks to ColoradoBobs for allowing me to try this beauty again!!!

 1,104 characters

Photo of arguemaniac
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a viscous, opaque black with a long-lasting, creamy brown head. Chocolately, roasted aroma. Big chocolate and bitter coffee in the rich, burnt palate. Dark fruit and a fairly intense malt sweetness make their way through as well. Intense coffee and burnt grain in the robust finish.

I’ve heard good things about this one and I would say it lives up to the hype. It’s rich and complex with a nice balance between the rich malt sweetness and bitter, burnt flavors. Highly recommended.

 493 characters

Photo of beerphan
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle
batch# 7740
packaged 12/19/2006 according to http://www.bellsbeer.com/

Pours black with a full 2inch dark tan head that calmly settles to a thick blanket, then a small film. Lacing is minimal.

Nose: Roasted chocolate malts, some mild dark fruit, a tad bit of sour apple, and some piney hops. Alcohol becomes present with some time.

Taste: Roasted dark malts gives chocolate, plum, and coffee. Finishes with a stiff drying bitterness that balances the complex roasted flavors well. Flavors seem a little more sharp, than the mellow balance i got from the tap this afternoon at Vintage Beer and Wine in Boardman, OH.

Mouth is thick and chewy.

An imperial stout that could be sipped delicately during long winter sessions. The 11.5% is well hidden and packs a wallop.

 794 characters

Photo of techdiver
4.7/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dense black with a modest head that dissipates quickly.

Chocolate, coffee, and anise to the nose.

Taste of coffee and roasted malt. So smooth and decadent, with a hint of alcohol in the finish.

Coats the mouth as one of the densest brews I've tried. The taste just lingers.

Quite drinkable concidering the ABV, which is really well hidden.

 359 characters

Photo of Chaz
4.77/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in a logoed Bell's tulip. Looks black as pitch! Head is dark tan / mahoganny, about half a finger with very good duration and excellent lacing, and served in this glassware it looks better than ever! Nose is everything I've come to expect in this brew, a near perfect blend of espresso, roasted and dark malts, and yeast. I let the glass warm a bit out of custom, but on first sip it is tangy, bittersweet, and roasty all at once. The lingering bitterness and roasted malt / espresso notes really stick in yer craw. Rather full mouthfeel and rather complex, with broad strokes of green apple, licorice, and molasses. Boozy? Yes and no: there's no arguing with 11.5%, but it's so well hidden here that it would be somewhat easy to drink this all night, and more than one of these in a sitting can be downright dangerous! As it warms the notes of bitter chocolate and light, dusty cocoa emerge and begin a nuanced and masterful interplay with the bigger, broader flavors mentioned above. Hop use is just about perfect: this isn't a style or a rendition that will suit everyone, but Bell's have thankfully resisted the 'bigger is better' approach to bittering hops that resulted in the Imperial IPA style. Carbonation is great here, and apart from one rather infamous batch has always been so. Full-bodied but not heavy, and warming rather than hot. Well balanced but not-quite sessionable . . . this is the epitome of a sipping beer.

 1,438 characters

Photo of GPHarris
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a - poured a three fingers thick dark brown head into a pint glass. the head clings to the glass as it dissipates. the body is black as night and leaves a thick ring of lace throughout. this is an amazing looking brew.
s - light hints of chocolate and coffee. it is the definition of light done right. there's just enough to awaken the senses but not so much that it is overwhelmingly strong.
t - chocolate, oats, malt and cherry, a very complex beer.
m - medium body, smooth and it really coats the tongue.
d - gives a nice warming sensation and the alcohol begins to mellow towards the finish. this beer will be spectacular after one year plus of cellaring.

 664 characters

Photo of ChazMania
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - this is one thick beer. It looks like pouring Penzoil into the pint glass.Not much of a head and very very dark.

S- molasses and brown sugar with hints of cocoa and mocha.

T- this is very complex. It is strong, full and over the top in a good way. I taste everything that I smell and this beer engulfs the full flavor palate. One of the best stouts I have been honored to have.

M- really does feel thick and syrup like. not carbonated nor fizzy.

D- man, I can only hope to sample this beer again. It's not easy to find here and I paid big for this bottle, but it was worth it!

 596 characters

Photo of Tyrawlings
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Edition: 12oz. Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Brew pours like black sludge. Very little if any cinnamon brown head. Virtually no lacing.

S: Smells of roasted coffee. Dark chocolate. Sweet molasses and earth. Oak barrel and alcohol.

T: Rich roasted coffee is followed by dark bitter cocoa. Dark fruit and sweet molasses meld together well with burnt malts. The beer finishes a smooth bourbon oak barrel flavor and warming alcohol with vanilla undertones.

M: Extremely thick. Creamy and chewy. No carbination and very dry due to the alcohol bite.

D: A magical elixir! The perfect brew to warm the soul on the most bitter cold winter evenings. A special treat that is to be sipped and savored over time. I highly recommend aging this beer for at least one year before trying. Must try!

 807 characters

Photo of budgood1
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

expedition stout pours out an opaque pitch black, ruby hued, motor oil like colour. a rather impressive dark tan head dies down slowly to tight rings of lace. looks beautiful. the first aroma to hit the nostrils is all fusel driven hops, followed by sturdy doses of alcohol laced fruiten maltiness. upon tasting...my first impression is one of raw, varnish like alcohol...laquered fruitcake...wooden, oaky, smoken notes...black malted barely roasted on an open fire. all sorts of layered chocolate and caramel flavours...just delicious in it's evil decadence. "oh yeah....i think so!" very yeasty in the bell's sort of way (very fruity) but absolutely not sour or tart. brandy, red wine notes, and a bitter but tasty hop balance of some citric zest. silky smooth, rich, creamy mouthfeel. much too easy to drink for such a high ABV brew. finishes with a fire in my belly and a smile on my face. bell's brewing brilliance at it's finest. amazing!! this is almost perfect. a superb sipper for a northern minnesota winter. the quintessential fireside brew.

a massive thank you to feloniousmonk for sending out my first sample fall of '03.

the re-review is from batch 7251 bought fall of '06.

 1,193 characters

Photo of doubleshovels
4.08/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Great pour. Its well oiled and lacy head sticks to the glass and stays there. Great depth and reflective blackness in the colour with only a hint of maghony around the bottom rim, while under the "beer review" halogen light.

For such a strong and bold appearance, this RIS has more then a hint of fruit and flowers in its bouquet. I never would have guessed, but I like it there.

Real clean on the mouthfeel and drinkability. Its alcohol is not hiden,but at the same time it lets all the flavors through, even if its one by one. Dark-n-sour fruit, molasses, dark chocolate, aged tobacco, and licorice.

 607 characters

Photo of msubulldog25
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to melbatoast93 for this 12 oz. bottle, poured to a Millevertus sampling glass. From Batch 7251.

A: Viscous and deep dark brown, a shade shy of black. Traces of auburn around the edges. Not much head, just a few wisps of mocha-colored film with random splotches of lace.

S: Dark fruit, charred malt, heavy on the molasses with vanilla. A cocoa chocolate covered coffee bean at the core. Sugary caramel is a surprise from the depths of this darkness.

T: Dark bittersweet chocolate, syrupy molasses, ripe raisins and ground coffee. Oak-y vanilla with some warm alcoholic flair in the finish. Flavors intensify as the beer warms...a rich & decadent treat.

M: Thick oily mouthfeel, full of flavor that clings to all surfaces in the mouth. Bitter coffee finish that lingers for several minutes. Creamy texture and remarkable smoothness.

D: A satisfyingly rich pour. Well-balanced between its sweetness and bitterness, this is one I would gladly enjoy again and again. An excellent sipping beer that I heartily recommend.

 1,028 characters

Photo of BeerHonky
4.55/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I purchased a case about a year ago from the Beer Yard in Wayne, PA. I realized right away that this is a beer that you have to let age. I drank a few fresh, but the flavors were all competing and too strong. After a year of aging, I have to say this beer is unbelievbale. It pours thick and black and totally opaque. Two finger's worth of super thick, fluffy tan colored head. The beer smells of dark roasty malt, lots and lots of roasty flavors appear to be on the way. There is also some hints of figs and raisins soaked in alcohol. The aroma leaves to mystery as to how this tastes. There are good hints of chocolate and coffee amongst all the roasty malt and dark fruit flavors. The mouthfeel on the aged beer is significantly different than when fresh. Its much creamier and smoother now. My only problem with this beer is that its a tad sticky, sweet. But thats something that is part of this style of beer. The drinkability is a tad difficult because its sweet and high in alcohol. This is just a great beer.

 1,016 characters

Photo of OStrungT
5/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours an oily black color. It boasts a thick, creamy brown head that fades slowly, leaving a massive lacing that coats the entire glass. This beer is so thick, it looks like tar.

This beer has so many aromas that it is hard to describe it all. I smell figs, and raisins. Also some chocolate covered cherries. Some chocolate and coffee are also present. It has some licorice aroma also. Molasses and caramel are also present. The beer smells very sweet.

As with the aroma, this beer has a multitude of flavors. Dark fruits mostly. It has a bittersweet chocolate flavor. The caramel sweet malt flavor is quite nice. The alcohol content is well hidden in the flavor. A slight coffee flavor is also present.

This beer is very full bodied. It goes down smooth, but very thick, leaving a sweet malty aftertaste. This beer is very aggressive. It is low in carbonation, adding to the style.

This beer is not a session beer. It is very aggressive, and with the high alcohol content, it might prove to be hard to put down many. However, just one is easy to put down.

Overall: Wow. Thank you Himerman for this trade. I think this is one of the best beers I have ever had. I owe you one man. Cheers

 1,211 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass, the beer pours very, very dark brown with a thick brown head. Head retention and lacing are both excellent. It smells like chocolate, molasses, coffee, dark fruit and a bit of alcohol. It tastes mostly bitter with a bit of sweetness, like coffee, plums and/or figs, semi-sweet chocolate and roasted malt. The alcohol warming in the taste is noticeable, but it's not too much. Mouthfeel is full, smooth and creamy. The drinkability is good, but I don't think I'd want any more than 2 at a time. I think it's a good choice as a nightcap. IMO, it's a very good beer. Another winner from Bell's!

 615 characters

Photo of Wasatch
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BuckEyeNation for this awesome brew.

Batch 7205

Pours a thick black color, nice carbonation, nice fizzy tan head that quickly leaves, and in return a few islands appear. The second I opened the bottle the roasted malts, coffee/toffee, and alcohol hit me in the face, I knew I was into something special. The taste is very malty, coffee/toffee flavor, the alcohol is hidden pretty well though. Only really shows on the way down, warming the body. Medium body, creamy/chewing, well rounded. Very drinkable, a very very nice RIS, way to go Bell's.

 560 characters

Photo of Alkey
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz. bottle poured black with small brown head and a bit of lacing around the glass. Smells of dark roasted malt and a touch of alcohol. Taste of slightly bitter malt with hints of coffee and chocolate. Mouth feel is thick and creamy. Drink ability is exceptionally easy with the rich flavors and smooth creaminess.

 316 characters

Photo of objectivemonkey
4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

*Shit, did I just pour motor oil into my glass?* *No, no, smells like beer*

Into a pint glass, pours a deep dark blackness, with ample fluffly and bubbly dark tan head, about an inch thick, that lasts all the way down and stays about an quarter inch, and lots of splotchy lacing. Its about all you could ask for in an RIS. Aroma is broad, intoxicating, rich, sexy, lots of chocolate and espresso and all other things stouty, hinting on caramel toffee and the alcohol comes through just a smidge harsh.

This is a delicious beer. It starts off immense, loads of sweet chocolate and caramel and toffee and roasted malts, some fruits take a brief stab in the middle, plum perhaps, which give way to a slight earthy herbal hop that spurts through the sweetly onslought, just as its washed down the hatch. Defines 'rich', is intoxicating in both flavor and abv. Very warm in the mouth, silky smooth and thick, kept alive by slight carbonation. The finish just lingers, pitches a tent, it stays.

This is a finely crafted brew, superb balance, strength and nuance all at once. Next time I'm going on a beer run, I think I'll pick up a 6er for aging to see what happens.

 1,172 characters

Photo of neenerzig
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer is a very dark brown/black color that lets in no light whatsoever. has a fairly good foamy, tan head. Pretty decent lacing as well. Aromas of roasted malt and coffee with maybe a hint of caramel or chocolate are present. Bitter flavors of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and malt are prsent upfront followed by a sort of slight sweetness that I can only describe as tasting like a steak with A1 sauce on it. Very interesting taste indeed as I have never had a beer that tasted quite like this before. I certainly enjoyed it. Has a thick, creamy, and crisp mouthfeel with light to moderate carbonation. It becomes more and more drinkable as it warms. This is an ass kicking beer!


 696 characters

Photo of rayjay
4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch 6811, which I believe dates it to 4/05, according to the interweb. Via trade with northernbrews.

Rich, thick, black, viscous sludge.

Rich 99% cacoa dark chocolate, licorice liqour, and heavily carmelized maple syrup. Soft, settled, and thick from sitting in the bottle; lacks much carbonation, but it's got plently of spunk with the rich flavor notes. Maybe the thickest beer I've had yet, behind Sam Adams Tripel Bock. Highly recommended for big beer fans.

 471 characters

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,033 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!