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

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding
2,089 Reviews
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout
BEER INFO

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
2,089
Ratings:
5,985
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
17.77%
 
 
Wants:
520
Gots:
1,700
For Trade:
133
User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,089 | Ratings: 5,985
Photo of bwd110
2.99/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle poured into Stone RIS Tulip.

A: Traditional motor oil black, very viscous looking. Really cool dark brown head, darker than most. This goes away quickly leaving a very thin sheet of lace.

S: Alcohol fumes abound. This one could do better with a toned down abv. If the nose is a clear indicator, this is gonna be one raw IRS, and probably not one of my favorites.

Also getting dark chocolate and espresso notes, and a sharp molasses sweetness underneath the alcohol phenols - sort of unpleasant.

T: Boozy. The alcohol hits hard and fast, with an almost bourbon twang to it. Black licorice and anise dominate any coffee or chocolate notes. I think I need to cellar my remaining stash to smooth this one out around the edges.

M: Thick and chewy. Fairly creamy and would be quite smooth without the alcohol burn on the way down. Overall, very good fit for the style.

D: Slow sipper, need to move on after one.

Overall, this is a decent IRS, but does not live up to the hype. I'd easily place Stone's RIS and Old Rasputin above this one. Heck, give me a Kalamazoo or Double Cream/Expedition Blend over this one. Too rough around the edges for my tastes/abv needs to be better masked, a boozy mess IMHO.

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Photo of stonelis
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch 9512. Bottled Dec 18 2009. Thanks to Bells batch Finder! This poured like a dark motor oil. Thick tan head with nice lacing which stayed on the sides of the glass. Taste of espresso, some hop bitterness, chocolate and roasty malt. The alcohol becomes more evident as it warms. Would love to taste this after a few years of cellaring if only I could keep my hands from prying off the cap!

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Photo of Fluke828
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a cervoise-style glass
Batch # 9971
Bell's Batch Finder reveals this was bottled in September 2010.
Got this in a trade with tjohn2401 from his cellar to mine. Put in fridge last night.

A-> Poured cold and had to be aggressive to get barely a 3/4-finger head of mocha colored foam. Receeds rather quickly but leafves some nice lacing. Dark as night in color.

S-> Smells of coffee immediately and also get a bit of alcohol in the nose. Some burnt toffee, very dark chocolate, also getting quite a bit of smoke in the nose in the early going.

T-> Get hit with a big dose of bitterness up front initially, get some faint molasses (become more apparent once this brew warmed) Really getting a lot of bitter chocolate and coffee here. Got a healthy touch of alcohol at first, particularly when this beer was cold, but as it warmed it seemed to mellow out and get real smooth.

M-> Big, dare I say full bodied? Carbonation is present but probably lessened a bit after 6 months in the bottle but the bitterness hasn't lost a step at all and really gives the illusion that there is more carbonation than there likley actually is. Somewhat creamy as this warms up too.

O-> Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. Really curious what a year or more would do for this big delcious brew. Would also love to try with some coffee heath ice cream or something along those lines. Would seek this out again for sure.

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Photo of silverblaze540
4.75/5  rDev +12.6%

A - Motor oil black and completely opaque with almost no head. What little head there is is tan in color.

S - Dark fruits. Prunes and cherries. Malty and sour.

T - Intensely complex taste. Strong fruity sweetness, malty, and a light bitter aftertaste.

M - Very thick and smooth. Strong burn from the alcohol.

O - Very strong flavors. Very sweet with not a lot of bitter. Almost a dessert by itself. Very interesting beer.

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Photo of esv
2.52/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12z 10.5% abv

Brown-chocolate, milkshake head. Thick head. The beer is thick to the eye when poured. The beer is black.

I smell salty, smoked ham. It smells Malty Sweet. Hops have a real presence in the nose, which seems out of style. And now I'm sure I've got a pig in my nose.

It's a bitter-bulldozer that ploughs over the tongue but the wake is more like that of a loaded down barge. Sweet medicinal flavors dominate the finish.

Mouthfeel. Thick, heavy and smooth. Like the mother of all imperial oatmeals, hyped up on nitro.

While I can drink it, I also have a high, distorting threshold for imperial stouts.

Sometimes a severe beating can be less painful than a couple of light jabs. Adrenaline kicks in at higher levels and masks the really brutal stuff. I think my tongue went into survival mode.

I'm not even sure the masochist in me will reach for this again but the sadist may certainly help it into a house guest's glass.

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Photo of jojox
4.79/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My bottle was made in Feb 2008 according to the web site.

a - black black black. Not much head. Thin and light brown.

s - oh man. Chocolate, molassis, rich roasted malt yumminess. Some raisin/prune too.

t - smoked hickory, rich coffee roasted malty liquid smoke. Peat smoke? Hickory ash. Turning more coffee, coal, burnt sugar/caramel. Hint of molasses. All of this balanced with nice hop bitterness. Not much, if any, hop flavor, no hop aroma.

m - smooth silky up front, dry and bitter at the end.

d - ALL DAY. diggin' it.

This stout is simply fantastic. The aroma and flavor profile are off the charts, rich, complex, delicious. Age will make this even more awesome.

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

This was back in color with a brown head of fine bubbles. There were scents of molasses, chocolate, roasted coffee, dark fruit and a slight spicyness toward the end. In the mouth this was concentrated with lots of midpalate power and shows off mainly coffe & chocolate flavors with a hint of the alcohol. Very well balanced with the hops just poking out at the end. I look forward to trying this repeatedly as it ages.

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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 sweett3k
3.33/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thick Thick beer. My daughter asked me for a sip of my rootbeer float because of the thick creamy head it had.Then she smelt it and asked me if it was a chocolate and raisin milk shake. It has a nice thick coats your tongue feel with a choclate and rasin taste so my sweet pea nailed it. I am a hops man so I say it is O.K. I'll drink one of these at a time when I am in the mood for a thick stout. I just enjoy all the best beers in the world that South West Michigan brews and brings to my table. Now I need a Hopslam!

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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!

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Photo of Mightykingmalard
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: completely opaque. Beautiful caramel head that burns down fast. Super black. 4.25

S: milk chocolate. A hint of booze. 4.25

T: very characteristic imperial stout taste: smooth taste with a bitter finish. 4.0

M: very smooth. Hard to say much more, but it has a great feel. 4.25

O: a very, very nice imperial stout. Probably one of the best straight up imperial stouts I've had. If it was distributed to ca, I would definitely frequent it. 4.25

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

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

A: Very dark pour. Black with a brown head.

S: Roasted malt, coffee, and a hint of chocolate.

T: Very heavy and bitter. Malts and coffee.

M: Thick with little carbonation.

D: Uh-huh. This must be an acquired taste.

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Photo of KingG
4.59/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received in a trade early last year.

Served at cellar temp.

Poured into a Rogue pint glass.

Appearance is good. Opaque with no light going through, not even through the edges. Mocha colored head is sturdy off the initial pour then quickly thins out.

Smell is exceptional. Lots of roasted malts and dark coffee. Little bit of hops are detected. Intense nose.

Taste is very good. Dark chocolate, fresh fig, Turkish coffee, dried dates and a little bit of alcohol. Extremely intense flavor. One of the better tasting RIS i've had.

Mouthfeel is very good. Carbonation is medium to slightly low. Creamy, smooth texture.

Drinkability is very good. Quite easy to quaff considering the alcohol. I could drink another after this one.

Overall: Love this stuff. An exceptional RIS that ranks up there with the greats.

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Photo of branimal9
4.07/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle, poured into my New Belgium tulip glass...

appearance - 'bout an inch of nice looking brown head, creamy n' fluffy. beer itself is a deep, dark brown. real nice.

aroma - coffee, dark chocolate, a little licorice. getting a bit of vanilla & fruit in there as well. a hit of booziness also.

taste - lots of chocolate. dark chocolate. milky. warming. roasted malts a bit of nice hop bitterness.

mouthfeel - full bodied, thick & creamy. oily. real nice.

drinkability - warming alcohol present, but it's nice n' smooth. this is really drinkable considering the height of the ABV, but this is also my favorite style of beer, so i'm a bit biased.

overall, a really finely crafted imperial stout. glad i scooped up a decent amount of these, as i think they'll age well.

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Photo of wuthrichj15
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Awesome brew. Super easy to drink for 10%. Nice chocolate/roasted malt notes with some dark fruit that comes through as well. i drank some bottles that had aged quite nicely. What is great about the RIS is that over time, the flavors come together more harmoniously over time. Unlimited shelf life for these bad boys.

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Photo of boogles
3.24/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is an overrated beer, a real let down for me.

The *amount* of flavor is the only thing it has going for it. Poured into glass from 12 oz. bottle, with no head until dumped very hard at the end, and it quickly dissipated, although with some lingering lace--very light tan, not at all dark for an imperial stout.

The scent was on par for a regular stout, but with more alcohol, burnt raisins, and roastiness, characteristic of Russian imperial stouts. The taste was very strong and full, about the only thing that distinguishes this beer. Way too sweet, though.

The mouthfeel was no good--far too creamy and very low carbonation, and this begets low drinkability. In all, a decent beer--I'd be impressed to find a beer this good at any unknown microbrewery--but this is in no way deserving of the honor of a top 100 beer, nor is it on par with other offerings from Bell's, such as its simple, well-crafted Two-hearted Ale.

Most egregious, however, is the price at $15/6 pack. There are way better options for as low as $9-$11 in this category alone (especially Victory and Thirsty Dog). This is one Expedition I probably won't be making again.

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Photo of shoky01
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Vintage 08 09, 12oz bottle into stem-less red wine glasses.

A: black black, no light getting through this puppy. Brown to tan head depending on thickness. Very light lacing. Bit of carbonation.

S: malty goodness, hint of licorice, coffee and chocolate.

T: anticipation grips me for this one. Shocking to put a word to it. Complex, spices, malts, annice is strong as well as the alcohol. 10.5 to begin with but gotta be near 12 now. There is a bit of bitterness on the end. Smokey too.

MF: sticky and a bit of burn.

OA: would like a fresh bottle to make sure that nothing went wrong with this one in aging. Love the smell but almost let down by the taste. It isn't bad but its almost too complicated to enjoy. Reminds me a lot of the Stone Belgo Annise IRS

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Photo of bwyker
4.08/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a massively chunky pitch black, with a mud tinted light head speckled with red bubbles. Foam settles immediately to a ring of dirty lacing and pockets of bubbles in the center of the glass. Huge punches of chocolatey roasted malts and alcohol. Taste, well I took a bite and chewed on it…like an alcohol soaked piece of dark chocolate cake with molasses icing. It feels like it was brewed with roofing tar. Immensely chunky mouthfeel. Drinkabilty was not so high, as the alcohol is a bit too noticeable. However, a great after-dinner treat.

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Photo of WrathsU
4.64/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - deep black pour like staring into a polished onyx gem.

S - Caramelized sugars up front. Roasted coffee tones and chocolate throughout.

T - So good. Tastes like bittersweet chocolate, fresh ground coffee, and caramel.

M - Smooth, very smooth for its abv. Perfectly carbonated.

D - I could drink this forever, one of the best stouts I've ever had.

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Photo of Optifron
4.37/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours jet black with brown, thick, creamy head. Leaves moderate lacing.

Aroma: Chocolate, a touch of hops, smooth French roast coffee

Taste: Dark chocolate, but without the intense bitter. Smoother espresso beans. A nicely balanced sweetness, almost like a touch of lactose.

Mouthfeel: Fantastic. Was the first thing that really stood out when it hit my mouth. Incredibly smooth, creamy but not heavy

Overall: Really impressive. I like smoother stouts, and this really fits the bill. Impressively drinkable for 10.5%. Will definitely be picking up more of this.

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Photo of Flopjack
4.46/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into snifter

Appearance - Pure black, nice caramel and cream colored head about 2 fingers settles down nicely but remains.

Smell - Roasted malts, molasses, bread, alcohol is warming but not to intense. Thick smell.

Taste - Starts out with a roasted rich dark chocolate, molasses, and rich dark coffee both bitter and slightly sweet. Middle gives a bread and alcohol flavor with a slight warming sensation. Ends just a bit dry leaving smoked and roasted after taste.

Mouthfeel - Medium carbonation, full bodied, coats palate with a thick syrup like feel.

Overall - Great stout. Not only does this beer give a nice blanket when it's cold out, but you can put this one away for awhile. Buy a 6 pk drink one and put the rest in your cellar. Open one every 6 months (at least) and see how it changes!

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Photo of deford
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Poured from a 12oz. bottle dated 8/12/14 into a Saints & Sinners Snifter.

A- Pitch freaking black! Half inch orange head that disappears pretty quickly.

S- A musty, syrupy coffee...maybe a hint of orange...no heat.

T- A bit different. Burnt espresso and prunes? Hard to tell, there's a lot going on here...nicely done too. The alcohol is hidden completely.

M- Really nice a bubbly when you give it a swirl...otherwise pretty standard for the style...almost flat.

O- A quality stout worth giving a go...

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

12 oz bottle aged 1 year. Deep dark brown with a lasting dark tan head. Real nice aroma of coffee, chocolate (dark), carmel, vanilla, and a touch of alcohol carrying the fragrances up the snifter. Flavor is roasty and smooth, with big chocolate malts and roasted barley bitterness. Big thick palate. Bitterness lingers. This is an ager, for to age gets rid of the hot alcohol burn that is present when young. Should be present en every BA's cellar!

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Photo of Soilworker
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a 12oz bottle, fresh no aging, into a standard stout/pint glass. Bottle has a batch number on it...this is batch number: 9554.

A: Pitch black with zero light shining through even with a strong flashlight put up to the glass. Nice caramel colored head that is slow to dissipate and the bubbles are very fine. The liquid seems to almost stain the glass.

S: Dominated by an intense and strong blast of fig, plum, and raisin. Bittersweet chocolate, dark roasted malts, and perhaps a hint of roasted coffee provided the backboard for the dark fruit character. There are also small hints of alcohol and vanilla that hit the nose from time to time. Very rich, savory, and bold.

T: Starts off with pretty much an explosion of burnt and roasted malts. I was expecting a start with some wateriness to it but that is definitely not the case. After the blast of malt this settles down to a pleasant bittersweet chocolate flavor with vanilla and espresso notes playing along with it. Somewhat sweet at the beginning. This then fades towards the end to a flavor characterized by burnt coffee and roasted malts and some oaky wood notes that seem to be somewhat charred. The finish holds on the burnt and roasted malt character and there is plenty of bitterness here which seem to be primarily hoppy in nature but have an interesting bitter burnt malt aspect. As you drink it, especially when you start there is a lovely warming feeling in both your mouth but primary in the throat all the way down the stomach. A very impressive taste profile!!!

M: Amazing!!! As you swirl it through your mouth it is smooth and creamy and very bold with a little bit a zing on the tongue from the carbonation. As oily and creamy as the beer is at first, the finish definitely feels dry.

D: Did I mention this was a bold beer? The flavor profile is huge and definitely takes the right palate to enjoy this one. I would love to drink this all night and I would, but this is a beer for sipping if I ever tasted one. The ABV is pretty aggressive but not terribly noticeable during the taste but I'm sure if you managed to get a few of these down it would start to catch up to you.

Overall I loved this beer. I especially liked the rich, bold taste and creamy mouthfeel. This was my first Expedition ever and I can definitely see how aging this one would be a smart move since this would most likely tone down the bitterness a bit. I definitely plan on buying a second or third six pack just for aging past 2yrs. If you like stouts, you must try this beer.

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Photo of dotsonjamesg
4.97/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Special thanks to jcdgoad for recommending this brew to me....

I purchased this brew from liquorama.net. Not that bad of a price either but shipping costs made it a little pricey, but hopefully worth it. I would really like to point out that Russian Imperial Stout is my favorite style, so you can imagine that I tend to have somewhat of a bias concerning them. In my defense, I would like to let those who read this know that I also grade them very harsh. If this one is truly as good as I have heard, it must be truly impressive; though I have noticed the wide-array views so I am very skeptical and curious.

Served in a chilled 14oz snifter

Appearance: Whoa...probably one of the thickest, darkest ales I have ever poured. The brew had a thin, ½ finger head that quickly dissipated. I have heard some complaints stating the brew is over-carbonated. Since my head was so weak, maybe my pour wasn't aggressive enough. Still looks good to me.

Smell: Probably one of the most aromatic stouts I have ever experienced. I poured the brew and set it aside, as not to be hindered by the heat of my "super-laptop." The brew is sitting about 18 inches away from my nose and I can still smell it...not very common, even with the most aggressive of stouts. The nose is full of chocolate, fig, currants, dark roasted malts, a tinge of hops, and alcohol.

Taste: Much like its intense nose, the brew is rich with dark roasted malts, chocolate syrup, and alcohol. Starts with a smooth and intense chocolate flavor and moves in to brutal bitter, dark roasted coffee-like flavor. The bitterness is harsh and lasts for quite some time. I can see why some people have given this brew some varying reviews. It stays true to its legacy in being a Russian Stout, but it might be a little too bitter. Russian Stouts should be strong, and extremely sugary. This brew is absent of the EXTREME levels of caramelized sugars, commonly found in many Russian Stouts. The enormous, backed-up bitterness may be too intense for most people.

Mouthfeel: Thick, velvety, and very smooth. Carbonation was also pretty nice and matched well.

Drinkability: It is a definite sipper. If you can stand the extreme bitterness, it is heavenly, but you have to possess the ability to drink some of the heaviest of ales ever brewed; and this most certainly qualifies. This brew is extreme, and that's being nice. Don't let the simplistic label or bad reviews fool you...this epic-brew is anything but simplistic. Its character is tremendous and unfathomable by most, and enjoyed by even fewer.

Excuses for the bad reviews? Russian Stouts are definately an aquired taste. This one is pretty intense and not as balanced as others and will probably drive away most people who aren't use to the extreme levels of burnt-bitterness, flavor of alcohol, and syrup-like viscosity.

I would recommend this only to a seasoned Russian Imperial Stout drinker. I would also recommend a very nice cigar with this lovely brew, it would match perfectly.

Enjoy this as much as I did.

Cheers!

-Dotson

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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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