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

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2,095 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: 2,095 | Ratings: 6,005
Photo of Patric65
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into an Abita Pint glass. My bottle was brewed in September 2015.

Pours with a very thin head, very little lacing to speak of. Nice deep black color. A very nice looking beer in the glass.

It has a rich, sweet smokey smell with a hint of pepper.

The primary flavors are very well balanced between the malt and the chocolate, with the chocolate winning out by a hair. This beer presents both sweet and bitter tastes with the slightly dominant sweet being offset by a light peppery finish. The alcohol in this beer is almost completely hidden.

Very smooth, rich mouth feel. This beer is, to me, the perfect pairing of taste and texture. Every sip pleases on multiple levels.

The overall drinking experience associated with this beer is excellent. A beer you can sit and savor, take your time with and enjoy slowly and steadily. Definitely among the best in its class. I will definitely be putting some of these up for a year or two to bottle age. If you find yourself with the opportunity to try this beer, I strongly suggest you do.

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Photo of q33jeff
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Go Lehigh. Lafayette Sucks. 2014 Bottle (13 months old) to goblet. Aroma is a lot of roasted barley. Hints of coffee also. Appearance: Dark black color, very thick, with thick light tan head. Taste: bitter dark chocolate, roasted barley, maybe a touch burnt. Excellent beer though. Feel is thick and meaty. Not quite as tasty as some other stouts, but all the peripherals are on the mark. Excited to age a few of these further.
Picked up a younger bottle. Bottled 9/11/15, so about 6 months. Very nice. A tad less bitter than i remember the 13month old bottle.

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

I decided to do a taste test between a newly released bottle and a bottle cellared for a year. I found the 2014 to be slightly less carbonated as the head was a bit less than the 2015. I also found it to be a little creamier than the 2015 variety. Head to Head I can't really say I have a favorite, we'll see what another year brings to the 2014. There was not a tremendous difference in taste but the alcohol may be a little more subtle in the 2014. Keep in mind, I usually start at 10% ABV and work my way up, if it is under 10% I won't usually bother.

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

Pours black with a nice 2 inch caramel head and leaves a nice lacing on the glass. Notes of chocolate and vanilla on the nose. Upon tasting, you get the chocolate up front, then vanilla and coffee on the finish. All in all, an excellent brew. My wife picked this up for me on a recent business trip she took.

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

12 oz bottle 9/3/15 poured into a tulip glass.

A - jet black with a one finger head that dissapears quickly.

S - chocolate, roasted malt, anise, vanilla.

T - In line wth nose, with some coffee/cocoa/nut flavors melded in.

M - Carbonation is medium low, mouthfeel is dense, gets sticky.

O - Looking forward to seeing how a few these age.

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Photo of spoony
4.43/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a 355 ml bottle (packaged September 2, 2015) to a snifter.

A-The beer looks heavy as it pours into the glass. A nice, dense head of khaki foam starts at about one fat finger tall and lasts a good while. The beer is black and opaque beneath the foam. Good looking stuff.

S-The aroma is pretty intense with higher levels of roasted grain, bittersweet baker's chocolate, coffee bean, a little alcohol warmth, and some vanilla bean that gives just a little creaminess. There are some hops here, but the beer is nicely balanced.

T-Wow, nice layering of flavors here. The beer opens with a little hit of roasted barley bitterness, then a waive of milk chocolate, raisins, black licorice, and sweetness kicks in. The next layer transitions back towards bitterness with baker's chocolate, heavily roasted grains, medicinal alcohol, licorice and coffee grounds. The finish is long on the palate.

M-The feel is medium in heft with a soft, almost imperceptible carbonation that gives the beer a nice creamy texture.

O-This is a really well-done beer. It looks pretty much like I think a stout should look, and it smells and tastes great. Very complex. A big beer for sure, but a really nice one to sip on this chilly November evening.

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Photo of dpgoblejr
4.89/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Black in color, fluffy khaki head, streaks of lacing, and brewed on 9/2/15. Two and a half months young and the bitterness is there but nothing that detracts at all. Aroma of dark cocoa and dark fruits but not much else. Huge flavors of chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, and a marshmallow sweetness. Quite thick and coats well. Smooth, yet vicious, and the abv is well masked. A truly spectacular RIS! Probably one of the best I've indulged upon.

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Photo of Evilyak
4.49/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

darkness shmarkness. i'm pretty tired of surly getting all of the love in MN for the best RIS when this is what is wanted all along.

it pours inky black with a thick, tan head that laces all along the glass.

smell is pleasantly roasted, with a hint of pine in the fire. taste is the same - there should be fire on the label. perfect for campfires.

it's brilliant for what it is.

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Photo of Stevem68
4.12/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a motor oil black color. Has a slightly boozy aroma with moths of chocolate. Flavor is smooth, a little oaky and there is a presence of chocolate and malts. Overall a very solid stout. This could be drank any day of the week.

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Photo of BullDoza
4.12/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark black in glass. Mocha ring as it settles, and not much else resembling a head. Pretty nice legs on the glass though.

S: Straight forward with Chocolate. Vanilla. A muted nutty flavor in there as well. The alcohol in this big beer is well hidden.

T: Nice roasted coffee bean that wasn't there for me on the nose. Some chocolate. The vanilla I thought I had in the nose doesn't show up on my palate. Bitter bite on the finish. This isn't a complex stout, and that's okay.

F: A smooth 10%'er. Fairly creamy as well.

O: I have been wanting to try this one for a while. Recently received as an extra and was glad to try it. Bottom line: This is a no frills stout. That isn't a negative. It's straight forward and exactly what you'd expect. Is it exciting? No. But it's a well made example of a style we all enjoy in these cooler months.

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Photo of maedhros09
4.68/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: Oil black with a very dark tan, slowly developing head and lingering lacing and bubbles
Smell: Sweet roasted malt and a bit of dark fruit
Taste: bottled 9/3/2015. Sweet gentle roastiness, dark fruit, chocolatey, moderate bitterness in the finish with the lingering roasted malt. A bit tingly, but the alcohol is otherwise not too noticeable. Great balance.
Feel: Full bodied, thick with light, fine carbonation. Excellent

Overall: Given the reviews I read about Expedition I expected it to be much less balanced 2.5 months after bottling. It sounds like some people think it's too hoppy initially? However, I think it is already a very finely balanced beer, on par with Old Rasputin or Narwhal. I would say that anyone who likes those two beers shouldn't hesitate to grab a 6 pack of Expedition. I look forward to trying it with a little more age, but it's nice to know it's so good right off the shelf.

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Photo of mschantz
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sampled pour from a 12oz bottle. Pours a moderately viscous deep rich black with a bit of espresso colored head. As it warms fig, prune and molasses present on the nose. Taste is dark brown sugar balance by aggressive hop bitterness with hints of dried fruit. The booze brings a rich fruitcake to mind. Bitterness lingers on the finish.

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Photo of Buck89
4.22/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter. Opaque thick liquid out of the crowler and into the glass, with a sturdy creamy tan head that lingered and then left big tracks. Aromas of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, dark bread and plum. I tasted plum and cherry up front, followed by a nice building chocolate roasty flavor that lingered on the finish. Creamy mouthfeel and full bodied. Beautiful.

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Photo of SayBoom
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

1 y.o. 12oz bottle>sniffer.
Looks excellent. Coffee, dark fruit, chocolate, and a little alcohol notes on the nose.
Taste\mouthfeel is super creamy and smooth with huge espresso type bitterness. The classical RIS with a great flavor. Extremely drinkable, without a doubt.

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Photo of MJSFS
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I bought two of these on 11/6/15. I opened one on the same day and poured into a snifter. Thick black color with no head but nice lacing. Smells of heavy roasted malt and coffee. The taste is very bitter just as Bell's stated it would be without aging. I enjoyed this "fresh" one, and I'm looking forward to revisiting my second one after its aged a bit.

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Photo of Keananmichael5
4.37/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a really good beer and by far my favorite Bell's beer. Very creamy taste and feel with a very roasty and bold flavor. Great beer that I will have again soon

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Photo of fscottkey
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: [5.00] The beer looks jet black in the glass. It pours out with 1 finger of dense mocha head. The head looks like it could easily support the bottle cap. The bottle lists the ABV (10.5%) and a label printed packaged date (9/11/15).

S: [3.75] Dark fruit. Bittersweet chocolate.

T: [4.50] Really nice chocolate flavor up front. Hints of coffee. Mild charred hardwood. Toasted marshmallows. Finishes with malty sweetness.

M: [4.25] Thick, creamy mouthfeel. No alcohol on the palate but I get it slightly in the back of the throat.

O: [4.25] This is a damn near perfect stout. My only quibble is that I wish the nose offered slightly more. Visually it is perfect and very appealing. The taste is magnificent with chocolate, coffee and campfire all playing along with malt sweetness. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy. This is definitely on my short list for best stouts.

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Photo of Dolphinsmarlins1
4.48/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle dated 9/9/14, poured into snifter. Like most stouts, this one definitely improves as it warms. The distinct feature on this one is definitely the mouthfeel. It's got a noticeably higher viscosity, something of which I prefer in a beer. The thicker and heavier it is, the better. Above average flavors, though I don't taste many of notes others suggest (A little chocolate and coffee, but definitely not any marshmallow or caramel). It's a well balanced brew. Wish I had more to imbibe. Happy National Stout Day!

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.78/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - pitch black beer pours like oil, mocha head that sticks and leaves great lacing
S - chocolate, smoke, caramel, burnt marshallow, roasted malts
T - chocolate, dark malted milk ball, roasted malts, smoke, creamy/umami/wholesome, burnt marshmallow
M - perfect, heavy, like a beer chocolate milkshake but better, alc covered, aftertaste is roasty, chocolate, creamy
O - pretty damn near perfect

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Photo of oldn00b
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Current release poured into stout glass following 30th anniversary.

Pours black but slightly thin and with a lighter head.

Flavor is solid but not overly complex. Typical roasty malts, lots of coffee and some burnt chocolate.

Feel is a touch light and on the syrupy side.

Will be aging the rest and will revisit in years to come. For now, very good stout, fantastic. But 30th edges it out.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 13415 bottled 8/22/14.

Served slightly chilled into a goblet. Expedition Stout is a deep dark brown, almost black, color with thin tan head that settles fairly fast.

Aroma is full of dark roasted malts, cocoa, and coffee. There is also some dark fruits and black cherries.

Flavor is bold and intense. There are all the classic stout flavors of dark chocolate, dark roasted malts, and coffee. Also, more subtle notes of cherries.

Mouthfeel is wonderfully full bodied and perfectly carbonated.

Overall a classic verision of the style and perfectly executed. Really nice after a year of aging in the cellar.

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Photo of Gemmell
4.48/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

First taste of the 2015 batch and I am not disappointed. My first review will have to be somewhat biased because I am fully aware of what this beer will become with time.
From a 12oz. bottle into the snifter. It pours like thin tar, absolutely no light pierces through this beer. Holding the flashlight of my phone up to the glass, the light is completely obliterated by the depth of this stout. Almost no head exists with this beer. A swivel of the glass brings some foam to life that dissipates rapidly leaving a very roasted/espresso colored lacing crawling down the sides. It smells amazing! Tons of coffee and I mean that is about all I smell. Some chocolate, more heavily roasted coffee and some black cherries. And the flavor is just what I expected...COFFEE! Man, that is delicious! I scored this a little lower than it deserves simply because I know it will get even better, but damn I can't wait for a few years on this; it is very good right now. It was slightly colder than it should have been when I started, and now than its warming up the mouth feel is getting creamier and smoother. Tons of cherries and chocolate come through the warmer it gets and the bitterness that was all coffee fades into a dessert of sweet, sweet black deliciousness. It's like two beers in one. I'll have to review the 2014 in comparison. This is and destroy. Cheers!

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

Poured from 12-ounce bottle (dated 9/18/14) into snifter. Opaque dark-coffee color, with aromas of burnt caramel and dark fruit. Amazingly complex, with flavors of roasted malts, burnt coffee, dark fruit, and even a little bit of sour cherry as it warms on the palate. Thick and syrupy in body, burnt coffee bitterness on the finish. The alcohol presence is evident, but nowhere near what you would expect from the high (10.5) ABV. One of the finest Russian Imperial Stouts I have tried and well-deserving of its world-class ranking.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Black very cloudy body, dark tan prodigious head with great sticky thick lacing. Nose carries roasted malt, chocolate, dark fruit, coffee, hop acidity and pine. The palate turns up bitter burnt malt, a fair portion of vanilla (the only widely accessible flavor encountered), bitter chocolate mixed with hop acidity and bitterness, smoke, faint blackberry, and on an adventurous/bad note alcohol and faint acetone appear on the finish. Kinda messy, meaning every sip is different and none are balanced between the wide array of flavors, but spinning the slots with this one is damn fun. This brew is medium bodied, with a slight oily/resinous quality that coats the tongue.
I can definitely see the cellar potential, but right off the fermenter this is a pretty awesome brew. Lots of bold flavors that don't care to play fair with each other but somehow mix well together. Dope.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz, dated 10/23/2014 (a year old); snifter. Pours like milk chocolate, with a nice light caramel-colored head that didn't last more than 30 seconds, but a smallish amount of bubbles remained around the edge, and when swirled it leaves a nice lacing effect that slowly dissipates. Strong aroma of dark fruits, with a bit of alcohol burn on the nose (literally!), together which somewhat reminds me of an old ale. The taste has everything I expect in an imperial stout: a tasty complexity of dark malts balanced nicely with the hops, with a dry/bitter finish. Full, creamy, and clean mouth-feel.

After months of first reading about it I finally got to try the legendary Expedition Stout, and I have to say it didn't disappoint. I had it hours after having had Bell's Neptune, and Expedition Stout is by far the superior beer. This beer is clearly one of the best imperial stouts I have ever had. I look forward to seeing how this ages.

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