Expedition Ale | Drake's Brewing Co.

very good
70 Reviews
no score
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Expedition AleExpedition Ale

Brewed by:
Drake's Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Mark on 04-19-2003

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Reviews: 70 | Ratings: 90
Photo of rodbeermunch
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Hit the red and amber notes, a little brown in there too. Tan head, 1/2". Aroma hit both cascade hop notes and a malty aroma. Almost balanced, thankfully not.

Taste is a strong red ale in the vein of Jamaica Red ale, its a little darker, stronger and hoppier than your average, and its better for its adventurousness. Almost 1st tier, not quite.

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Photo of ADZA
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice red hue and i mean red with a creamy three finger head that stays and leaves clingy lacing everywhere,the smell is burnt toffee,caramel malts,treacle and also some underlying piney hops,the mouthfeel is medium bodied with light carbonation and has tastes of marzipan,caramel treacle,redgum honey,piney bitter hops to keep that sweetness in check with the finish being dry and a touch bitter,overall its a nicely balanced Red Ale and id drink it again cheers.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a Jester King pint.

A- pours a light copper color with a 2 finger off-white head. Nice blotches of lacing cover the glass.

S- toasted amber malts, some rye, and some pine.

T- slight caramel flavor, toast, spice, citrus and some pine bitterness.

M- medium body and carbonation. Slight dryness lingers.

O- nice amber ale. Slightly dry and doesn't have a lot of citrus, but I like the rye spice in this beer.

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Photo of Drinkerofales
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear coppery red, with a big poofy densely bubbled head leaves all kinds of lacing.

Smells of roasted malts, caramel, lightly sweet, nice tangy hops.

Tastes of fruitiness up front, like fruit cocktail, sweet roasted malts, and a pithy bitter finish.

Texture is very smooth from start to long finish. A of dryness on the end makes for a easy to drink beer that is carbonated well.

A nice beer, texture and taste are the highlights. I wouldn't have any problems drinking or recommending this.


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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.23/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Black Raven pint glass. Pours a deep garnet red amber. Fine off-white to light tan head with nice lacing. Looks good. Full aroma of herbal hops and toasty malt. Flavor follows with a somewhat complex hop flavor balanced with toasty and a touch of caramel malt. Finishes semi-dry with a strong grapefruit and slight pine hop bitterness. Very tasty, just what I like to see in a hoppy red ale. Very nicely made.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.87/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear reddish amber, with a small, quickly falling head and minimal lacing. Powerful aroma of pineapple and sweet caramel malt follows through in the taste. Pineapple and pine needles, caramel and toffee, general sweet maltiness. Very fruity. Booze is pretty well hidden throughout. Medium bodied, a bit creamy, with medium to low carbonation, making for a smooth drink. Lingering aftertaste keeps the fruity sweetness and pineapple candy hanging around a while. Nice example of the style if not anything extraordinary.

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Photo of hiku7
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is dominated by caramel malt, toastiness, and a very slight roastiness. Citrusy hops, with a clean yeast profile.

Pours opaque red to brown with a long lasting cream color head. Three fingers high. Great lacing.

Flavor is mostly caramel, but there is a phenolic smoky off flavor that detracts a bit. Earthy woody lasting hop bitterness speaks of California origins.

This is a full bodied, creamy and somewhat chewy brew.

I love imperial amber/red beers, and this one is borderline in that category, but this one didn't capture my attention. A little disappointed in the smoky phenolics coming through. Overall, still not a bad beer and right up my alley, so my scores are probably higher than others might give it.

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Photo of Hophead101
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

another one from the bullman - labeled as blind beer #6

A:4 pours a nice opaque dark burgundy brown with a moderately sized off white taupe-esque head that settled down somewhat quickly. leaves a nice collar on the glass with decent lacing.

S:4 lots of things happening - decent hop smell with a balancing malt aroma to compliment. faint pine but much more citrus and some mild smoky and roasted tones too. smells good -

T:4 digging this taste of this beer. a well articulated mix of hops and malts. continue with the pine and some caramel. more earthiness in the taste than what I was expecting from the smell. also get the very mild but noticeable roasted tones in the flavor as well.

M:4 nice overall moutfeel. a medium body, crisp drinkable beer. the bitterness is prominent, but doesn't stick around and annoy you.

D:4 good brew. enjoyed it quite a bit.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a rude red ale colour, bit of cloud with dense pillow of marshmallowy head. Beige colour, nice ribbon of lace left behind and good retention. Looks very good; not quite excellent.

Smells very tangy and hoppy. Lots of citric notes, but hints of acetyldehyde and perry as well. Maybe some green pepper and a big wallop of pineapple. In fact it's totally pineapple. Yeah, big, massive pineapple. Not sure I like beer smelling that much like pineapple, but hey, let's go with it.

Taste is not bad, but still very fruity on the back. Starts with decent caramel and toffee malt but gets very tangy and fruity with hop oils and some alpha acidic notes. Hint of more pineapple that gets almost puckering but it's sweet, bitter, sour and hoppy as a nice blend. Not bad, really, quite refreshing even though it doesn't quite hit the mark. I think there's a goodly amount of hop bitterness there so it's fairly clean and drinkable. Bit weird, though.

Foamy texture, quite full and well-weighted though. Yeah, not bad.

Not sure I genuinely love it, but there's a weird, very refreshing quality to it. I might not be proud of it, but I really could drink it most of the night.

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Photo of mactrail
3.15/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

White foam and a load of lacing on this mahogany amber brew. A damp basement smell mars the first sips. Acidity slides off into a hint of sourness. After the brief malty flirtation it leaves you with a dirty bitterness that goes on and on. Murky, sharp, a hint of burnt fat.

I just don't get this over-hopped big red style. Start with a wet cardboard malt base and dose it with too much earthy hops? I know they can make great beers like the Aroma Coma, so this flat, harsh taste is a surprise. In the 22 oz bomber.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.55/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Ooh, yeah. I love it when a red ale pours a genuinely red colour. This is one of those, a brilliantly deep ruby hue, with a filmy but exceptionally fine head of creamy off-white. Lacing forms in rings and is pleasantly persistent. Body is heavy but fluid, leaving tiny bubbles of carbonation when swirled. Looks great.

Nose is fantastic. Wonderful blend of slightly dark, caramelised malt characters with a bright hop crispness that brings it into a wonderful melange—mixing hops and malt in a way that accentuates both, but also complements. Biting with slight resin, but subtle with biscuity depth. Lovely.

The taste is probably even better. Here the lightly grainy malt character comes through giving a basis on which are layered jammy, fruity hop characters, always tempered with a brisk bitterness to cut through on the finish. A tiny bit more body would help it a little, but this is a real nitpick. It's a lovely brew.

Exceptionally drinkable, and absolutely characterising what I love in an American Red Ale. It has the fresh, bright hoppiness, the mellow malt character, and blends the two superbly. I already regarded Drake's well, and yet this beer just made them shoot up even further in my opinion.

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Photo of flexabull
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$3 for a 22 oz. bomber, seems like a deal to me.

Pours a deep amber color with a pretty nice white head.

Aromas are of caramel with nice hop notes. Some malts, tea leaves, pine, and earthy hops. Smells good.

Taste starts out malty, with some tea, caramel, and some graininess. Finish is crisp, fairly dry, with some earthy bitter hops.

Mouthfeel is good, crisp, feels full and not heavy.

Overall a nice tasty amber, that's pretty drinkable even with the higher ABV. Well worth trying.

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Photo of avaldivia
4.62/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured Into a Chimay glass.

A: Nice dark, hazy amber color. Very nice off white head and lacing.

S: Caramel malt. Some citrus hops notes. Great blend of smell.

T: Very floral hop at first. Then the sweet caramel maltiness comes in. There a nice roasted or burnt caramel flavor. This tastes amazing. Everything I would want from a Red Ale.

M: Medium to heavy. Nice creamy mouthfeel.

O: This is why I love amber ales. When they are done well, they are one of my favorite styles. This is done beautifully. I have found my favorite in the style.

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Photo of biegaman
3.97/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Public House, in San Francisco.

Expedition Ale is a muddied enough amber colour that only to the light can any transparency be made out. The beer itself is likely clear, however - it's the use of black and toasted malts that give it its deep, shadowy tone. There is some head but not much; it looks less like foam and more like a brittle sheet of ice over a spring pond. Lacing, however, is left.

At 7%, this is no light beer. Indeed, it flexes malt big time, although the real power lay in the the hop muscle; roasted amber malt is predominant but the oily, damp, leafy hops and a squeeze of citrus are the more striking features. There's also a forest-like pine element that won't be anything unusual to those already familiar with Pacific North-West offerings.

The flavour is where malt and hops really lock horns. Crystal malts and Chinook and Cascade hops go at it as if it were a UFC title match. The roast of the grain puts an arm-bar on most of the citric qualities but the hops retaliate with a neck crank that suffocates most of the malts' sweetness, saturating the palate in a pine-like resin. Neither can land a knockout.

We find out late in the game, however, that it's the bitterness that ultimately wins out. Plant-like herbal qualities reach fever pitch with warmth, which accentuates each and every alpha acid on the spec sheet, creating a slightly stinging sensation of which the alcohol plays no part in. In fact, I'm surprised to learn the beer is as strong as it is - it drinks quite casually.

Drake's can be a fairly risk-averse brewery but for one of their flagship offerings, Expedition Ale is actually pretty bold. While a formulaic beer at its heart, the abundance of C-hops and the succulency of quality malts make this a more impressionable and gratifying ale than the average amber. Not worth a voyage to obtain, but worth a few bucks for sure.

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Photo of augustgarage
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a fresh 22oz bomber into my Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Dark chestnut body with coral highlights and a massive upthrust of tea rose colored merengue. Heavy sticky lacing, superior retention.

Floral and sweet (malty/fruity) aroma with citrus-laden hops and estery alcohol.

Caramel, cola, sassafras, oats, and deep toast on the palate. An almost-savory tartness comes and goes with hints of rye. Finishes rather dry and moderately bitter with a hefty dose of earthy/herbal C-hops.

Very smooth and creamy mouthfeel - soft and pillowy with good carbonation.

Diverges from style guidelines a tad, but not for the worse. Reminds me of a NW style Double-IPA in many ways and while good alone, it would be even better paired with broiled salmon.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.87/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Light brown/mahogany with a red edge to the pour, cream head. Aroma was nice, hoppy, strong malt aromas. Hops were orange and pine at the same time, didn't see that one coming.

Sturdy beer with a sturdy hop presence. Not too bitter. More pine and caramel. Stays away from sweetness, opts for body, relatively dry and smooth finish. Toffee.

This beer really bridges a gap in red and amber ales. Some of the higher rated ones are very hoppy and bitter without much substance in the body, this one is the best of both worlds kinda.

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Photo of Gosox8787
4.12/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22 oz. bomber bottle courtesy of brewpaab. Served chilled into a Sam Adams pint glass. No freshness date from my brief search.

Appearance: Light to medium brown and clear in color. Light brown, two finger, thick and creamy head with good retention. Rather dull color considering this is an "amber ale."

Aroma: Big west coast hop notes. Strong pine and grapefruit are definitely there. Undertones of toasted bread and caramel. The hops are definitely big here, but the malt bill holds it own.

Taste: A rush of pine and bitter hops immediately. Toasted malt, caramel, molasses, and a slight nuttiness all balance out the strong hops nicely. A slight bitter finish. Very pleasant and balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied and really creamy for a hoppy brew. It works here though.

Overall, a really nicely balanced amber ale. The hops are bitter and strong and work nicely with the toasted and caramel malts. Really enjoyable and refreshing. I would definitely try this again.

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Photo of jmarsh123
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep deep ruby red with a small white head and good lacing.

Smells heavily of toffee/caramel. Very sweet on the nose. A little bit of an earthy smell as well. Maybe a little pine. Allergies are acting up a bit today so my nose feels a bit off.

Sweet caramel malts smack the palate at first, but it rounds into a good piney bitterness that lingers on the tongue. I thought from the smell this may be too sweet, but even though the caramel is strong the hops do a good job balancing to prevent it from becoming cloying.

Medium-high mouthfeel. A bit sticky but the finish is still somewhat dry though with medium carbonation level.

Picked this one up on a whim while in SD and had never heard of Drake's before but love reds. Not the very best I've had, but a solid example of the style.

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Photo of DijonKetchup
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 12 oz pilsner glass. Had this bottle in my fridge for about 2 months because I found the first bottle I had to be a bit green. On to the beer...

Fantastic color, nice head build and retention, very sticky. Smells a tad sweet, nice general hop profile, perfect caramel notes. Taste is really nice, a bit slick (if you like that, which I do) combined with the caramel malt and back of the throat hop, a super-solid brew. This has aged perfectly in the last few months, a really great, reounded out beer.

If you are looking for a nice, higher ABV red ale, this one comes highly recommended.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.86/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Look: Dark reddish/mahogany in color with 1 inch foamy tan head. Great head retention and probably the best lace I have seen in a beer.

Smell: Piney hops are the front runner and they are there in just the right amount. Slight bit of sweetness from the malt

Taste: Same as the smell the hops are right up front. On the backend you get just a hint of caramel and toffee

Mouthfeel: Medium body medium carbonation and a slightly dry finish

Overall: Great example of the style. Good flavor profile and drinkability. Good spring beer

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Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Better than average in every measurable aspect, superb for the style. Rich reddish tinge, with retained 3/8 inch white head. Mildly hoppy aroma. Above average mouthfeel. Well balanced hops and malt. Very good drinkability.
Bottle from Augustgarage. Thanks Brad!

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Photo of ExplosivoSR
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

A - Deep, deep, DEEP ruby red. Two finger head with good lacing.

S - Toasted malt, toffee, a pinch of lemon. Not as sweet as I was expecting, which I was totally fine with.

T - Sweetness shows up, but not for long as the malt character shows itself with a great roasted flavor. This fades into a coffee bitterness on the back end which I totally was not expecting. Definitely interesting and unique.

M - Medium body, and light/medium carbonation. Nice and dry finish.

O - Definitely worth a try. One of the better reds I've had.

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Photo of FosterJM
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

462nd review on BA

App- A nice wood stain red with some a good head to it. A little bit of cling and a nice ring as it feel.

Smell- A bit bigger grain note with a bit of an earthy quality to it.

Taste- Was pretty tasty. A bit malty but balanced and not overly sweet as I have found some reds to be.

Mouth- Medium bodied and medium carbonated. Was a bit dry at the finish.

Drink- Overall, a pretty good red. I will need to snag a bottle of this somewhere soon.

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Photo of colforbin73
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured out of a 22oz into a stemmed goblet. 7% ABV on the label.

IT'S BACK! in way better packaging, like all their brews... someone update that pic!

pours a dark ruby red -- you can't see though it -- foams up nicely and leaves a decent sticky lace on the glass.

smell is malty and sweet - not very much hops, but good and deep, resinous aroma. the taste is excellent and rich -- raisins and bitter dried fruit give way to a slick roasty sweet malt base -- the hops provide solid bitterness.... but they are the accent to the malty profile -- not the show.

the mouthfeel is absolutely delicious -- very silky smooth and fresh.

i'll be buying this again.... a very worthy brew!

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Photo of DaveHS
3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours maple wood brown with ruby highlights and 1/4 inch of khaki colored head.

S-Piney sharp hop aromas, pale, grainy maltiness. An interesting sweet and sour fruit aroma. Strawberry?

T/M-Fairly dry. Mouth coatingly dry tannic hoppiness. Medium bodied, with a grainy, unobtrusive malt profile. This one's all about showcasing the hops. The finish is dry and bitter. It sticks in the back of the throat and lingers for a little while.

O-Solid. Definitely worth a try.

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Expedition Ale from Drake's Brewing Co.
3.96 out of 5 based on 90 ratings.
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