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 srv33
2.82/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had heard such good things about this beer so I was excited when I nabbed one of the last singles from a local shop. Dark brown pour, almost no foam head. Light smell, not very fragrant, bit of soy and pine. Taste is full bodied, stout-like, slightly lactic, sits heavy on the tongue, not too bitter, with notes of echanacia. I wanted to be wowed by this but was just not impressed - I think its possible I might have gotten a bad bottle, as I have read others experiencing more of a head when poured whereas I had almost zero.

 529 characters

Photo of braker649er
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Beer bottled 11/05/15 and poured into a tulip 9/1/16.

L - dark beer and very tan head with smooth creamy look. Left lacing.
S - dark fruit and dark cocoa with suggestion of booze.
T - more dark fruit than I anticipated on the dark grain and cocoa of a stout. Boozy.
F - smooth with some booze kick
O - this is a Russian stout that shouldn't disappoint for any stout fan

 370 characters

Photo of kingjames1
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours jet black, with an enticing, creamy tan head. Looks great! Smells like a wonderful stout - roasted coffee, chocolate, and a touch of alcohol. Tastes great - again, dark chocolate, espresso, licorice and a healthy portion of citrusy hops, giving the sweet and creamy aspect a balancing tartness and nice finish. This is fantastic. One of the best stouts i've had in a while. The mouthfeel is thick, but with a good amount of carbonation. Very drinkable, for such a heavy duty stout.

 487 characters

Photo of doopydoogle
3.95/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Black with a thin dark brown lace.

S - Coffee, soy sauce, dark and milk chocolate, earth.

T - Rich coffee and bittersweet chocolate give way to a subtle bitter that is backed up by some consistent alcohol, earthy tones, and even more chocolate, followed up by some dark fruit essences and continued roasted malt sweetness.

M - A little sticky and not highly carbonated. Rich and coating.

O - A wonderful RIS! Do try!

 424 characters

Photo of iabeerbaron
3.18/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked this beer up at Dirty Johns in Iowa City, IA. Beer pours a dark black color with a thick dark brown head. Smell is of roasted malts and caramel. Flavor of chocolate, malts, coffee, and carmel. Very intense flavor and very intense beer. Not sure if I was ready for this one yet.

 284 characters

Photo of Dansting
4.88/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle. Poured a brownish-black color with a medium brown head. Nice lacing. Aroma is a nice roasted malt with a pleasant chocolate hint to it. Mouthfeel is about perfect. Flavor is rich with a chocolate and roasted malt taste. Aftertaste has a hint of coffee to it. A very special brew.

 287 characters

Photo of unclederby
4.85/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch 6811

So i'm gonna go ahead and say it now, this is absolutely one of the best beers i've ever tasted.

The pour was an opaque pitch black topped by a smallish mocha-colred head which dissapated quickly. Impossible by sight to guess if there is any carbonation activity.

Smell is sweet, dominated by smoke and chocolate, wheat toast and with the faintest hint of hops.

And the taste! Rich with flavours of milk chocolate, roasted malts, hazelnuts, coffee and the slightest hint of hop bitterness on the finish. How the hell did i get all of this? I would never know this is 11.5 ABV.

What superb flavors!

I'm drinking too fast...

Mouthfeel to me is perfect for a double stout, thick and chewy, smooth and creamy... just a bit slick and oily. Who needs carbonation?

Drinkability? Give me another... but just one more. Not because it's harsh on the palate but just the opposite; it's delicious and very rich and quite filling.

 953 characters

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

I've had this one on tap in the past and bottles numerous times, but this review is of a bottle. This brew was bottled back in early Dec of 2008.

It pours a luxurious dark color with medium fluffy head. The aroma is very inviting with chocolate and rich, dark malts. The taste is excellent, even though I must admit I'm not always the biggest fan of imperial stouts. To be honest, I often prefer a flavored (coffee or sometimes chocolate) stout to a "regular" version. Whatever the case, Bell's Expedition is an excellent brew! This beer has quite a kick, but it's so darn drinkable at the same time.This is the kind of imperial stout that makes me ask, "Why don't I drink imperial stouts more often?"

 703 characters

Photo of wardough
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well done, Mr. Larry Bell

Poured a jet black into a snifter. Almost zero head, but a crema lies on top with a trace of light lacing. Smells pretty sweet-raisins, malty goodness, prunes. Taste is by far the best part of this stout-starts of sweet, followed by some bitterness from chocolate that start pushing out the sweet. I like the balance of this. Mouthfeel is pretty good, smooth and velvety on the tongue. I could drink this all night long.

 447 characters

Photo of mbudner
4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Batch 8944 (1/29/09)

A- Pours a deep black with a beautiful 2-finger, medium-brown head. Great lacing as it dissipates, lots of depth and fluff to the coating on the glass. Looks nice and viscous as it pours and as I swirl it.

S- Sweet molasses, dark fruits like figs, sweet chocolate. Slight booziness comes through in the nose. Caramelized sugar. Mild salty, soy-sauce like flavors, which seem to be appearing a little early, but inviting.

T- Very much mirrors the smell. Chocolate sweetness with a little soy-sauciness. Slightly more roasty than I expected from the aroma. A little bit of booze. This reminds me A LOT of the Dark Lord '08 I sampled back in May 2009 (less chewy.) The finish is kind of disappointing, but thats my only complaint and its not bad in the scheme of things. The bitterness from the roasted malts become in more prevalent as I move through this one. As it warms, I get more tobacco and leathery smokiness. Really complex.

M- Great creamy, coating mouthfeel. Slightly more carbonated on the tongue than some of the bigger stouts, but not overly-carbonated in general.

D- Overall, this was a great stout. I had tried it years ago before having some of the hyped greats and I would say that the aroma and taste of this were remarkably similar to the '08 vintage of DL. It was noticeably thinner, however, and slightly more carbonated. The finish in the taste was also a little more plain that I had hoped for. A really remarkable brew that doesn't get enough credit, most likely because of the fact that it is not rare.

 1,576 characters

Photo of DogfishJoe
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a. this beer had little to no head, although the bottle was about 9 months old. also this is black!

s. pick up a perfect roasted malt smell with slight chocolate note.

t. great big roasted malt followed by little chocolate and leaves you with bitter coffee.

o. good beer wish it was cheaper, way to easy to drink and no alcohol burn.

 337 characters

Photo of Nutleybeer
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours thick, almost syrupy-like to the edge of the glass. It leaves a mild head somewhat coppery in color. This stout is dark like night, like a bottle of espresso.

The smell has a mild roastiness and hints of licorice.

First taste is nice, smooth but strong. The spiciness remains present. It almost creates a tingle on the tip of my tongue. Not your typical stout, there is more present here. A thick, rich flavor.

It is heavy and as noted above, rich. Full of underlying flavors. Mild coffee perhaps, with a bit of roasted essence.

A really good representation of a stout. Bought a single bottle at Capone's in Norritown. No place else in the NJ/Eastern PA area have I ever seen this available.

 703 characters

Photo of Tbn2
2.63/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle to pint glass

A-Mineshaft black. Thick brown/dark tan head forms and laces all the way down.

S-Interesting. Alcohol hits you for sure. Toasted caramels, coffee, and a few other things I can't detect. A little confusing to be honest.

T/M-A little disappointing....There is a lot going on here, but I feel like everything is fighting to be number one. Alcohol warms and a roasted caramel taste is there. Really is just like the smell, lots of flavors fighting to be number one. I do like the body of this beer. It weighs heavily on my tongue and I feel like the carbonation is right on.

Overall this beer isn't bad. I had hoped for more, it surely came up short, but it's not that bad. I read the Bros reviews and I am surprised they rated it so low, but that is the beauty of this site.

As I finished this off, I had to come back and change my rating. I am now tasting what the Bros tasted. Most beers get a little better as you drink them down and this one didn't. The alcohol became too overpowering and the oxidation the Bros talked about really started to show up. I can't say I would recommend this one.

Drink em' if ya got em'...

 1,159 characters

Photo of FunkyMacGroovin
3.72/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to Plenum for this one. 12 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. pour is a very deep shade of brown with a 1/2 finger coffee-colored head. Lots of lacing on the sides of the glass - this beer looks a bit like something you'd brew in a cauldron. Smells mainly of alcohol and molasses underpinned by hints of coffee and cacao - very nice.

Roasted malt is the primary flavor component on first sip - it's a little overpowering, and tastes somewhat over-roasted to the point of being burnt. Unfortunately this flavor gets more prominent as the beer warms. There's some alcoholic heat here too, but it's less than I expected, and I actually quite like it. Not as sweet as I expected either. The mouthfeel is very full-bodied, viscous, and a bit syrupy. There's moderate carbonation, and it helps keep my mouth feeling refreshed between sips.

A solid beer overall, but the burnt-grain taste definitely hurts this brew.

 925 characters

Photo of BradenMK
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%

Age. This. Beer. It's begging for it. Sometimes overly harsh with the hop profile when fresh, once this hits the two year mark (and literally, for years and years after), this beer is a magical creature complete with fairy wings and unicorn horns. Always a hop bomb, the roasted, chocolate notes just get deeper and more nuanced and more smooth with time. A superb stout that any fans of the style will already know is delicious.

 429 characters

Photo of ttroha
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%

Bottle from Maltitude. Pours black with a brown head. Aroma of chocolate, roasted malt, and dark fruit. Taste of chocolate, vanilla and molasses, along with chocolate and coffee. Excellent imperial

 197 characters

Photo of darthvohn
4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glass Used: Nonic Pint
Vintage: 7/26/13

Appearance: Dark as the night. Very little head on this one, however it was a milk chocolatey brown. Next to no lacing.

Smell: Boozy (especially after warming), rich dark fruits (prune and fig), chocolate-caramel scents drifting around the glass.

Taste: Chocolate, dark fruits, and boozy heat. A bitter bite on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Very thick, sticky, med carbonation. Creamy smooth.

Overall: Any RIS that's heavy on dark fruits and chocolate wins me over, and this one did. I only wish I would have put some age on this one. The booze was pretty strong on the nose and palate but the flavors, oh man, had me loving every drink.

 675 characters

Photo of kaimcm
4.01/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

bottle poured into a pint glass. carried back from Ohio by my bud, cheers Croix!

A: black as tar with a really dark chocolate head. one of the darkest heads Ive seen in recent memory. nice light stick.

S: sweet and roasty malt, some vanilla and bourbon-esque notes. smells a tad stale. hints of cinammon and even cherries. booze.

T: huge creamy wave immediately followed by some roasted bitterness. a little chocolate is overtaken by lots of stale coffee which is then itself replaced by a grounds bitterness. toffee, some of that elusive aromatic cherry. a earthy woodyness persists on the finish which is mostly dry with just a touch of residual sweetness.

M: incredible. like a malted milkshake. big, thick, creamy, just awesome.

D: huge body, 11.5%, and not available in Mass! but all things considered this goes down pretty well on this painfully humid night. one a night for sure though, quite filling.

 923 characters

Photo of HitokiriNate85
3.51/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 9384, bottled in October, 2009.

A - Pitch black with a nice mocha cap that is surprisingly sticking around and giving off some nice lace as it sits for a couple minutes.

S - Lots of a sort of dry roastiness upfront. Some dark chocolate, but not nearly enough to provide any sort of backbone to the roast. There's something that's kinda leafy to it. It doesn't really come across as hoppy, but more earthy.

T - Now things are starting to pull together a bit. The smell wasn't too impressive, but this is helping. Huge roastiness upfront, with some dark chocolate behind it. Slightly sharp, but not nearly as much as when fresh. There are some fruit flavors as well, but the roastiness just carries over and tinges everything. Alcohol is nicely hidden at this point, and probably the best aspect of aging. It could really use some sweetness to provide some backing to all the roast and bitterness(which is moderate).

MF - Easily the best aspect of the beer. Thick, chewy, and coating, with a slight burst of carbonation.

D - At 10.5%, Expedition carries itself really well, which is definitely a benefit of aging for one year. However, it's kind of disappointing because it doesn't coalesce into a total package. This is the only bottle I put away last year, but I think I'll grab some this year with some to age for 2-3 years.

 1,336 characters

Photo of Jwburns75
4.67/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 9/18/14, poured from 12oz bottle into snifter. Huge chocolate and dark fruit taste, very nice sweetness, laces well. Alcohol is well hidden by all the flavor. What a magnificent RIS this is.

 200 characters

Photo of cnjohn19
3.51/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Now, granted I do not know much about russian imperial stouts beyond the high alcohol range, but overall i was just a tad let down by this one...poured dark brown, almost black with a nonexistent head...almost looked flat...the alcohol characteristics dominated the smell with a faint hint of dark, bold chocolate...did enjoy the taste, which left a nice coffee aftertaste...very smooth, bold...strong roasted flavor...

not sure i would rush out to buy this one again...would be interested to find it on tap to compare...could imagine this stout being more enjoyable out of the tap....

 586 characters

Photo of Duane_Opfer
4.24/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottled poured into a Spiegelau glass. Packaged on 8/22. Consumed on 10/24.

A - Brown approaching black with a cinnamon colored head. Less delicate pour yielded a 1 finger head which fades quickly. Carbonation appeared light. No lasting lacing.

S - Rather fragrant. Licorice, vanilla, roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and alcohol notes. Somewhat boozy.

T - Licorice, vanilla, roasted coffee, dark chocolate, caramel and almond extract. Slight dark fruit, perhaps, raisin. ABV not completely hidden, but does not taste 10.5%.

M - Higher carbonation initially than comparable stouts and lighter bodied. Carbonation wears off somewhat quickl. Generally sticky in corners of mouth, like most stouts.

O - Good, but not great. Although a wide spectrum of flavors , flavors are less intense. Licorice was an interesting addition though. Mouthfeel compared less favorable... less creamy, lighter bodied than comparable stouts. Worth a try, but better options available.

 971 characters

Photo of JohnnyI
4.52/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a rich black, crowned with a coffee colored head that has a custard-like consistency. The foam slowly settles, leaving a solid inch and half thick band around the glass. I don't know if I can call that lacing. It's looks more like a decorative ribbon! There's a slick coating on the surface and an oily film left behind with each swirl. The appearance is sturdy. A hearty looking brew. The smell is quite complex. Pronounced soy sauce and canned mushrooms, with a mild metallic scent. Chocolate baklava with honey sweet figs. The customary coffee, char and dark fruits are there as well, but less so. Subtle booze. The flavors are much more potent. There's an explosion of taste on the first sip. Sweet molasses with roasted black coffee. Burnt malts with black licorice notes. A distinct cocoa toffee finish with charcoal bitterness imparted from the hops and deep roast. Dry and bitter in the end, as the roast simply clings to your palate and refuses to let go. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth with a hearty creaminess that gives the brew an enormous body. Lively, fine pin-prick carbonation helps all of the flavors burst to life. After a few sips, it leaves a sticky feeling in your mouth. Half-way through the glass and there is a nice warming alcohol heat in the chest. I know this is not a spiced beer, but I'd swear that there is some cinnamon in there. Ultimately, this is a man's beer. Something to warm the winter nights in northern Michigan while staying in the snow-covered cabin. A big, bold Russian Imperial Stout with a soothing touch of rustic campfire goodness. Bottled 10/23/14. I've had aged versions that are phenomenal in their own right, but I still prefer the fresher alternative. A+

 1,726 characters

Photo of trumick
4.07/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black very little light penetrates if at all. There is very little head that hangs around for a bit with nice lacing all around.

Smell is of sweet molasses, burnt coffee, dark fruits and chocolate.

Taste is right on with the nose burnt coffee, sweet dark malts chocolate and hops. It finishes dry and with a nice burnt coffee dark bitter chocolate that goes on froever. There is an alcohol taste. I can tell it is there, almost overwhelming, it's also warming.

Mouthfeel is smooth and full bodied, robust with just the right amount of carbination, I would even call it creamy.

Drinkability would be great but for the abv. The abv. is too noticeable. It stands out and that puts it lower on the drinkability scale.

 731 characters

Photo of nicnut45
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours out like used motor oil leaving a tan halo around the sides. Nice coating of lacing as I drink. The smell of soy sauce first greets the nose with hints of chocolate followed by vanilla,port, and other dark fruits I don't know about. I let this warm up quite a bit so the flavors can develop. Dark fruits, espresso, bourbon, soy sauce, chocolate, and burnt flavors all in one sip. There is another round of flavors after you swallow. I get tastes of tobacco, vanilla, and other flavors my limited palate can't describe. There is a kind of unpleasent bitterness/booziness that I am sure would mellow out with age. This beer sits on the tounge thick and chewy. You would be a fool to drink several of these in a row. And a rich fool at that. Best to let it age. I wouldn't mind enjoying one of these once in a while.

 829 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 FestĀ® 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!