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: 6,035
Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a mysterious midnight black that looks like a void in space itself. The head was a dark copper and tan that started quite small, but then fell to a thin ring, leaving no head what so ever.

Smells of syrupy chocolate and an awesome, dare I say wholesome, roasted barley. There are also swirling bits of dark fruits and a subtle nip of fruity hops. This one just makes me feel good smelling it. Five stars! …er, points.

Tastes exceptionally sweet, but the sweetness is clearly natural and wholesome. This emanates from the smooth dry roasted barley that isn’t too charred (espresso), nor underdone (barley wine), but just right. Bell’s hit that right on the nose. There’s also some port like qualities with some cherries and a definite brandy, presumably where the alcohol is hiding out of sight.

The mouth feel is thick as hell and sticky with a light easy going carbonation that only adds to the over all thickness.

I really like the quality of this beer and the perfect roast of the malt, but the sweetness, although right on, is a little distracting.

 1,088 characters

Photo of neonbrown82
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is the second time I've had this brew. The first time was obviously a bad batch with a thick jism-like substance coating the bottom of the bottle, what I presumed was yeast and proteins.

The beer pours to a completely opaque black with a very thin chocolatey head. Tried hard to get more foam, but the high alcohol must have prevented it from getting to where I would have liked it to be. Pours very thick and viscous, almost as thick as I've seen.

The smell is good. Very sweet with molasses with some rich roasted barley and fruity esters. A little bit smokey. Quite complex and interesting, but still has that hint of anise and soy sauce that prevents me from giving it the extra .5%.

The taste is very similar. Very rich, flavorful and complex. I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Expedition Stout. If I were to pick out one prime example of Imperial Stout, I would be hard pressed to choose between Sam Smith's, Stone's, and this one.

The body is uber thick and chewey. Very nice. Not too bitter or sweet, doesn't dry out too bad in the finish. Good stuff. This sludge almost demands a knife and fork to drink it. As good as it is, it would be hard to drink much more than one in a night. I'm glad I decided to give it another chance and have 2 more in the cellar.

 1,280 characters

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.

 271 characters

Photo of kilo_005
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a wide Belgian-style (Duvel to be specific) glass.
I gather people drink this beer at various levels of aging - this one was about 5 months old.

A: Very dark and little to no head. This beer has a strange viscosity to it, which some people think is a positive, but to me, it's a bit strange! It really does look like motor-oil, as one of the previous posters suggested - if you look at it up close it even has that same sheen.
S: This is where this beer really shines. The aromas are incredible, with all sorts of excellent roasted malts in combination with all the dark fruit / raisiny smells you might expect. But what's so impressive is you don't just get that ethanol smell overriding all that subtlety, even though the ABV is quite high. To get those aromas to come through at that level of alcohol is extremely impressive to me.
T: Very good. This beer is drinkable and delicious, but can also be appreciated with small sips. The level of bitterness vs. malt is nearly perfect, at least at the aging that I had this bottle. They got the balance right. The only reason my rating isn't higher is just because the excellent aromas don't quite come through fully in the taste.
M: Similar to what I said regarding smell, it's impressive that you don't get hit with any overwhelming alcohol burn or anything like that, despite the high ABV. You can really enjoy the beer. And, although I thought the viscosity was weird for the appearance, it's totally pleasant as far as the mouthfeel.
O: I don't think there's really any way to dispute that this is one of the top high-alchohol stouts out there. It's an exquisitely crafted beer and really my only knock is just that I personally think the oily/not-too-carbonated appearance is not great, but if that doesn't bother you then really there's no faults with this beer at all.

 1,862 characters

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

Dark brown head that fully diminishes. Color is black. Aroma - big strong coffee, dark chocolate and roasted/toasted. A hint of smoke, as well. This is one of the fullest bodied beers I've ever had. Really outstanding - got better an it warned to room temperature.

 264 characters

Photo of steelreign
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is HUGE! Pitch black pour with zero head (And I mean nothing). Looks like motor oil sitting in my glass....but motor oil never smelled this good!! Aroma is so complex - roasted malt, chocolate, toffee, licorice....hops, liquor....you name it! Wow.

The taste is dense, thick with roasted maltiness with a nice hop hammer balance. So incredibly smooth and complex. A party in the mouth.

Viscous mouthfeel. Thick, nice low carbonation. High ABV is apparent, but enjoyable, on a small consumption scale at least. Not to be drank in mass quantities (unless you are a masochist). This is one of the best of the style without question!

 644 characters

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

Bottled on 9/19/11...so if my math is correct, it's two days from being two years old! Picked this up at the Bell's Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo with a sign on the cooler door that said temperature fluctuations of beer in a bottle is fine as long as they aren't extreme temps. Learned something and therefore didn't stress about carrying this in my trunk with some other beer on a roadtrip from Denver. Downtown Kalamazoo is pretty nice, by the way.

A: Dark as any beer could possibly be with a huuuge dark brown, bubbly, frothy, sticky head that leaves behind great lacing and retention. One of my finer pours.

S: So deep and complex. Lots of dark fruit, super dark chocolate, roasted and charred malt, dark earth, wood, licorice, black strap molasses, and definitely some sharp booze.

T: Whoa. Everything that's in the nose but better. Way better! So rich, so flavorful, so damn good. Heavy on the roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, and dark, sweet, dried fruits.

M: Not surprising here...incredibly smooth. Great body, minimal carbonation, and flavor that is off the scale. Fairly easy drinking for its' strength. But the finish is very sweet, strong, and dark.

O: An outstanding and unique stout. I imagine this would be pretty harsh fresh so I'm glad I was able to enjoy it after two years of aging and mellowing.

 1,324 characters

Photo of arizcards
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked up a couple of singles in late February from AJ's in Scottsdale for $3.19. From batch 9512 which was bottled on 12-18-09.

Beer poured black as night with a nice tan head that is leaving lacing behind. Nose is mocha, roasted malts, floral hops. Taste is a wonderful combination of roasted malts, mocha, chocolate, and bittering hops. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, perfectly smooth, creamy with good viscosity. Drinkability is amazingly great, even at a young age. The abv is very well hidden. I think I will save the other bottle for awhile to see how well it ages! Awesome beer, glad to see Bell's in Arizona!

 623 characters

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

Pours an opaque darkness with a wispy head of those cherished tiny bubbles that lend themselves to a soft texture in the mouth. A bunch of lacing present.

The smell is amazing and complex. In fact it changes around the warmer it gets. At about 55deg it starts out with that sweet tootsie roll chocolate aroma that's kicked up by a touch of bourbon. The barrel-aged aroma tends to take over gradually as it warms up. It begins to smell like a Kahlua chocolate then it warms to a steady state choco-cherry-vanilla.

Full bodied, the mouth feel is a horse race. The mouth is being conditioned by the warmth from the alcohol while the smooth mocha flavor demands equal time. That complexity itself is 'MONEY' but it doesn't stop there.

The oak aged flavor of sweet chocolate, light coffee, cherries and vanilla are really pronounced. It finishes with another level of coffee and that java flavor tends to linger nicely.

Definitely one to be savored. The 10.50 % ABV is showcased. Highly recommended.

 1,007 characters

Photo of Pencible
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Another outstanding stout from Bell's. This time an imperial, it poured opaque black with good brown head. It smelled like molasses and dark chocolate with some roasted coffee. It tasted strongly like very bitter/dark chocolate with a roasted flavor, mixed with natural/wood cask notes and a bit of alcohol taste. It was very thick but not too sticky, with a strong but mostly sweet aftertaste. Overall this was a very flavorful stout, but not too strong to drink more than one. Very enjoyable, reminiscent of the Old Rasputin with slightly different flavoring.

 561 characters

Photo of bulletrain76
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle. I really wasn't terribly impressed with Bells's other stouts, but this is pretty damn good stuff. I'm going to skip the beer color and go right to the head because that's really all that sets stout apart; I mean, you know it's black, right? has a good sized brown head off the bat, but settle into a solid ring of tan foam in a couple minutes. Big, vinous, chocolate, port-like aroma, with cherry and other fruity accents. Like a delectable black forest cake in a glass really. The flavor is the same rich dark chocolate with fruity, port-like complexity. You can tell that there are plenty of hops to balance the malt, but they don't really protrude at all. There is a light alcoholic bite in the finish that reminds you how strong this is and dries enough sugar off on your tongue to invite the next sip. Thick, mouth-coating body. Definitely the most balanced imperial stout that I have had to date. Amazing beer actually

 937 characters

Photo of shapudding
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured an amazingly dark chocolate brown, almost blackish.... Great thick and creamy head reduced down to about one finger of luscious caramelly beige lovleyness. This is a beauty to look at, perfection marred by the tons of large pieces of sediment throughout. Scents of chocolate, toffee, sassafrass...roasted yumminess.... So great and creamy, wonderful mouthfeel. Tastes so dark and yummy... Chocolate, very dark black coffee, burnt toast, grapefruit. Light carbination. Very good and one I could sit back and handle a damn few in a sitting. Good amount of thickness to it, but not so it is too heavy. Very great stout. Love this one!

 638 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep black motor oil, moccha tan head leaves speckled lacing. Aroma: Anise, chocolate, plums, and a whole load of underlying hop tones, cascade I think. Taste: Really poetic blend of fllavor here crashing waves of syrupy sweet alcoholic tinged fruit blended with bittering hops and harsh dark roasts what a treat this is definitely alot going on in there. Really potent, the alcohol doesn't burn though it doesn't overdo anything just adds another depth level there. Mouthfeel: Like drinking a protein shake thick and full bodied as all hell, this beer as great streaks of syrupy goodness going on. Drinkability: Complex, enticing, and oh so enjoyable to indulge and challenge the senses, however it's not the type of beer to drink a sixer it's that once in awhile when I get a craving for a big brew that knocks my senses renderless.

 846 characters

Photo of Flashsp2
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bell's Expedition Stout into snifter (roughly 1yr old)

Pours from the bottle a deep brown, but in the glass it sits a depth of black that can only be described as moonless midnight. On top of this sits a medium tan head that looks more reminiscent of a whole wheat pancake, dense with tiny bubbles. Spots of lace stick after a few drink. The head leaves lots of bubbles and patching on top, never letting the surface break through.

Nose is powerful and balanced. Lots of roasted black malt, dark roasted coffee, earth, dark cocoa, booze, raw/oily hops. Doesn't jump from the glass, but sits and lets you enjoy it fully. I sniffed this for a good 5 minutes before pulling back a drink.

The palette isn't as roasty and raw as the nose leads on. Lots of roasted malt, espresso, dark cooking cocoa powder, high cocoa chocolate, hop biting bitterness that is subdued and balanced. This is not a cloyingly sweet imperial stout, it is balanced and rich. The hops are surprisingly oily and flavorful at this age, I want to hold one for another year or two and see what it's like. Right not the espresso/chocolate/hop dance is beautiful. Such an immensely long finish.

The mouthfeel is heavy, thick, lightly carbonated with an oily finish. It moves around in the mouth and penetrates every taste bud with a velvet vengeance.

Now this is a proper drinking imperial stout. Big and bold, in your face attitude with a graceful refinement. I could easily kill half a sixer of these, but that would be some bad juju. This is so much better than many of the other in the style, I think this is my new favorite imperial (non-adjust/barrel aged) stout, right up there with Nogne O and Old Rasputin.

 1,687 characters

Photo of blackie
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Probably my introduction to the Midwestern beer world, or maybe it was Two Hearted. In any case, a review is long overdue.

a: Pours a nice brick-mocha head with decent retention. The beer is a deep brown in color, essentially black.

s: Rich roasted malt aromas coupled with earthy, pine hops. A touch of creamy bittersweet chocolate and espresso. Welcome ethanol note. Very rich.

m: Carbonation on the low side, and very smooth. The body is very full, and everything balances out very well. Creamy. Can't ask for much more here.

t: Roasted malt backbone with a big dose of piney Centennial hop flavor...perhaps killing some complexity. A range of creamy roasts makes up the bulk of the flavor, with a touch of smoke coming through. Moderate bitterness in the long espresso finish. A great RIS, but this fresh the depth is lost to the astringent roast and fresh hop combination.

d: easy enough for the style

batch 8295

bottle dated 9.25.13 consumed 12.06.13 - 5/6 on this rootsy Bell's night - perhaps my first realization of what an ris or double stout could be, lovely black in color with a rich mocha head, the nose swims with rich, impressive dark chocolate played off blackstrap molasses, coffee cream, tobacco fruit leather, the trademark soy sauce, and a touch of pine hops, full and smooth in body with a low, creamy carbonation, the flavor follows with dark chocolate, molasses, charred sugar, tobacco, dark fruits, and a nice little pine hop flavor and bitterness...incredible and tough to beat in the ris world, no hype, no frills

previous scores 4.5, 4.5, 4, 5, 4

 1,583 characters

Photo of JayQue
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

What a great beer!!!! Pours a dense black with no lighting getting through. The head is big and dark tan. Leaves sheets of lacing on the glass.

Good smell kind of a combination of bitter chocolate and port wine (smells better than it sounds).

Taste is fantastic. Semi sweet chocolate, little hint of alcohol and roasted malt follow up.

Mouthfeel is best part. This is the most incredibly smooth, creamy and rich stout I have had. The combination of taste and mouthfeel are exceptional.

Drinkability is very good. At 10.5 abv, I'm sure blithering idiocy awaits after a few. Would be worth it!!!

 598 characters

Photo of toppoop
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - aggressive pour yielded a solid inch thick head which reduced down to bit lingering on the top. A little bit of lacing too.
S - booze and chocolate hit the noise with a bit of dark wine and wood.
T - half a year has done this great. The booze is a lot smoother now and chocolate notes dominate up front with a touch of vanilla. The bit of booze hits at the end with nice dark fruit.
M - great mouth feel here. The beer completely coats the mouth with a nice touch of carbonation.
O - one of my favorites. Never fails. Tremendous stout.

 539 characters

Photo of Frozensoul327
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Yes. This is a good beer. Solid, heavy, thick, powerful. Quite possibly the ultimate winter brew. Poured out to a pitch black color with a motor oil level of thickness. Very high viscosity. Lower carbonation, but a nice dense brown head arose from the beer totaling about 3/4 of an inch, and remained consistant. Aromas of chocolatey malts, roasted coffee, earth and soft wood notes. Very appealing. Taste was direct and filling. Flavors of dark turkish coffee, cocoa, heavily roasted malts, dark chocolate and burnt molassas. Amazing, and worthy of the exceptional designation. Mouthfeel was thick and chewy, while still having a smooth and creamy element to it. Very hearty. A good level of drinkability, this brew's 11.5% ABV is hardly detectable, which could mean trouble for those with a six pack on hand and a low level of moderation ability. An amazing brew, and worth the price. The best Russian Imperial Stout I have ever had. Highly recommended.

 955 characters

Photo of The_Snow_Bird
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Has a perfect dark look like used motor oil. Has a medium frothy dark caramel colored head. Has a strong roasted malt smell. Tastes like how it smells along with hints of chocolate.

 181 characters

Photo of hopflyer
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 8/22/14

Pours pitch black with dark tan head that dissipates quickly but maintains a thin ring around the glass.

Nose is chocolate, coffee bean, and toffee. Some charted wood and a touch of licorice.

Taste is full flavor of rich dark chocolate and mild coffee. Very roasty and rich. Awesome! Charred wood notes come thru and are prominent and some bitterness rounds out this big stout. Almost no booziness detected but just a slight burn hits nicely.

full body and silky smooth. This is what a stout should be. Low to medium carbonation. The mouthfeel fits the taste profile well. long finish and flavors hang around a while.

This is definitely the best stout and best bells brew I've ever had. full of flavor and perfect texture. Bonus for being available in 6pk format. Perfect stout while watching the first snowfall of the year tonight.

 866 characters

Photo of MuddyFeet
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I am completely fascinated with the beer. Thank you so much to CRJMellor for this bottle.

Poured an incredibly deep brown in color. Slight head that was slightly tinted brown. Not much lace, but what the lace that was tere was in the form of a spotty and stringy hybrid. Nose was a very, very dark chocolate and almost as if I stuck my head into a fireplace where the flu was a bit dirty.

Wow! What can I say about the flavor. Knocked me over and left me sippign this beer as if it were the nectar of life. It was full of coffee. but not a dark or even mild roast. It was more of a flavored coffee. Little bits of mocha and hazelnut coffee. Not so much as choclate as flavored coffee. Mouthfeel is full bodied and rich. Very smotth drinking--even for such a high ABV. So tough to put the glass down.

 805 characters

Photo of rivertrance420
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I get this for $15.99 a sixer when I go out to Indiana. Very delicious Russian Imperial style stout. Very thick in consistency and very sweet. Definitely a good "dessert beer" with a nice abv of 10.5%. Sweet chocolate invades your mouth at first sip, followed by a long lingering chocolate/cocoa taste thats a tad bit bitter. Defintely one of my favorite stouts. Hope the brothers on beer advocate try it again. Sounds like they got a bad batch. I love this beer.

 463 characters

Photo of MIbeer27
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, dated 09/02/2015.

Bottle into snifter with dark as sin, pitch black hue. Thin espresso colored head that quickly fades.

Aroma has so much going on. I get chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, wood, leather, cherry, and booze. Wow.

Taste matches up. Boozy, chocolate covered dark fruit with some leather and wood. The intensity builds as it moves through the mouth, finishing with a huge, stinging bitterness.

Motor level oil thickness on this one with light carbonation. Not quite the fullest I've ever experience, but in the top three without a doubt.

Expedition Stout belongs on the Russian Imperial Stout version of Mount Rushmore. The only issue I have at this stage is the massive bitterness on the finish. This is one of the few beers I think would benefit from some mellowing, so to the cellar the rest of the six pack will go!

 851 characters

Photo of ltltony
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Almost a year old now, and it's mellowed out nicely. Drank at 55 degrees.

A - Pours pitch black with about a one finger creamy white head.

S - Boozey with a strong mocha and dark fruit smell. Reminds me of chocolate covered raisins.

T - Roasted chocolate and coffee. Slight sweetness with a bit of alcohol. Still a bit of bitterness, but mellowed very well.

M - Nice mild carbonation, and a slight creaminess. Coats the mouth nicely.

O/D - A fantastic RIS that gets better and better with age.

 501 characters

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours like motor oil with a very dark brown 1/2 inch head. Not much lace. Smells of rich dark malt, bitter dark chocolate, coffee with a touch of cream.

Tastess is rich and bitter dark malt. Bitter dark chocolate. Decadent roasted malt. Coffee. Bitter coffee finish. Big thick beer, bitter aftertaste that lingers long. This stuff is yummy. I love a good imperial stout and this one is a great one. Superb.

 409 characters

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.22 out of 5 based on 6,035 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!