Expedition Ale | Drake's Brewing Co.

very good
70 Reviews
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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 veinless
4.26/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of the new bombers that just hit shelves - I like the art on this one.

Pours dark reddish amber, approaching maroon, but with good clarity and a glassy body. Head is voluminous and foamy, gushing to the top of the glass. Lace is extensive and beautiful, and the head retains forever, turning rocky as it dissipates. One of the best looking beers I've seen.

Nose is of tropical mango and orange citrus, with a caramel sweetness thrown in. Candied fruit is most apt, with the touch of pine adding a little extra to the package. Very crisp, yet full, aroma.

Taste has a lot more citrus versus tropical fruit, as it starts with rindy grapefruit and a good deal of pine. Maltiness isn't really sweet - it's more of a full graininess that complements the hops well. A brief dank resin note adds another flavor, while dry, softly bitter hops round it out.

Mouthfeel isn't thick or heavy, but isn't thin either. A good balance between the two goes well with the dry finish and crisp nature of the brew. Carbonation is average. Drinkability is great for the 7% abv, as the alcohol is hidden completely and the finish sets up each sip nicely. Citrus and pine are strongly flavored without getting out of control as well. Another solid base hit by Drake's.

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Photo of hophead247
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear deep amber brown with a 1 1/2 finger beige head. Aroma of pine and grapefruity hops, powdered sugar, light toasty malts wth a hint of toffee. Flavor still has a good hop presence, though the burnt toffee and caramel malts seem much stronger. Very unique style take on this beer...I've always been a huge Drake's fan. This actually can best be described as a thin bodied barleywine IMO...

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

12 oz bottle poured into an imperial pint. 6.5% ABV, no date, "best kept cold and enjoyed with a rich head from a glass."

A - Gusher! Beer overboard! I quickly stopped the gushing but the pour resulted in over five fingers of dense tan head. Well, I followed the instructions on the bottle... Moderate retention and a plateau of foam with only small bits of lace residing over the hazy brown beer.

S - A striking balance of hops and toasted malts is abruptly noticeable with toasted caramel and amber backing up grassy, earthy notes. It's simple but well-done. Later on I pick up a hint of toffee shavings and solvent alcohol.

T - Lots of strong caramel and crystal with amber malts which come out big in the flavor with an alcohol suggestion but no real strength. The hops are very secondary adding only a little bit of earthiness.

M - Smooth and bold with a medium body and creamier finish with a moderate alcohol sensation.

D - Good but just above a run-of-the-mill amber, Drake's Expedition is a fair offering in the strangest-labeled bottle I've ever seen which is also the reason I picked it up off the shelf in Cali.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
3.72/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle tried 19 Nov 2007. bottle courtesy of my brother, thanks!

Extra large huge cascading foamy head. Cloudy dark oak color. Smells like vanilla, tea, caramel, slightly floral. Tastes of sweet candied almonds. Fair amount of semisweet chocolate. Becomes more bitter towards the finish. Texture is foamy and creamy.

A says reminiscent of a chocolate orange.

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

Dark amber color, a finger and 1/2 of head poured into my Ommegang wine glass. Nose of tea, hops, and a heavy beef bouillion scent. Lingering mild bitter finish, gamey. Medium Dry, medium/heavy body. A bit of soy sauce on the palate. Not disappointing at all. This is actually my first Drake's brew, and it's time I extended them a welcome hand.

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Photo of KeefD
3.96/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Big thanks go out to Arbitrator for sending this extra in a great trade! One of the best looking amber ales I've ever seen. Poured into my New Belgium globe, very dark amber with a huge, 4 finger head that slowly fell, leaving a ton of lacing and the cap lasted throughout. Perfect in terms of looks. Nice hoppy, piney aroma with a touch of sweetness somewhere in there, but this one smells mostly of hops. Taste has a good balance of sweet and bitter, pine and citrus make up the bulk of the flavor profile, but there are some toasty, sweet, caramel malts near the back end. My only complaint about this beer is the mouthfeel. It's overly carbonated and as such is quite abrasive on the tongue and washes away all the flavor before you can really enjoy. Flavor came out a lot more as it warmed and the carbonation mellowed, more caramel, fruit (apple) and hop depth. Good beer, drank it pretty quickly. Thanks again, Mihir!

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Photo of popery
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drake's Expedition Ale is a very nice amber ale with strong flavors of caramel malt and hops. The beer pours a darkened persimmon color with a creamy beige head. The aroma shows off a strong dose of caramel malt of a mildly roasted, somewhat fruity character. The hops are floral and fairly strong. I actually prefer the hop character of this beer to Drake's IPA. The flavor has strong bitterness from the hops and a strong caramel sweetness from malt. There are light touches of grapes and apricots in the malt. The hops are more bitterly citric than floral on the palate. The mouthfeel is fairly round and full. The beer tastes bigger than the listed 6.5% abv, in a good way. There's just a bit too much going on to merit a higher score.

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Photo of sweetbrew82
3.81/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass/ no freshness date

P: Dark brown with amber edges and a tan head that looks beautiful! The thick and creamy foam is 2 fingers tall and gets quite rocky, forming huge dimples as it deflates. A thick coating of lace plasters the glass with each and every sip. Nice!

A: Roasty toasty malts, caramel, brown sugar, and some piney hops. Smells pretty good, but nothing that'll blow you away with power or complex

T: The malts are more toasty upfront with caramel and brown sugar making for a sweet start. Pine resin and grapefruit-flavored hops soon make their way to the forefront to counterbalance the sweetness with some much needed alpha-acidity. The caramel malts seem to turn a little more roasty on the back end as the hops deliver a spicy kick on the semi-dry finish.

M: Medium bodied with not much creaminess or silkiness to talk about. It is semi-sticky from the hops, but feels a little over-carbonated, and isn't as smooth as it could be.

Notes: This is a pretty well-balanced American Amber that features some good, solid flavors with a nice hoppy bite to it. A solid effort from a good brewery. Worth a shot

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On cask at the Rose & Crown in Palo Alto.

A: Kind of hard to see the shade exactly, given the dim lighting. Pours a hazy medium brown with slight reddish tones when held to the light. Has a light film on the top that remains for a few minutes.

S: Malty, to be sure: caramel, brown sugar first. But it's hoppier than I expected, with a strong pine bent that comes through very clearly toward the end of a sniff.

T: Unlike the nose, hops dominate the taste with pine and citrus characters. They give way to a caramel malt and brown sugar backbone in the mid-taste, but the secret has been let out. There are hops afoot. The finish is a blend of malt and pine, and I think I get some chocolate in there.

M: Medium-bodied, with low carbonation as expected. Nice flavor profile, even when cold, and it gets stickier as it warms.

D: I liked the way the flavor came out on cask, but the flavor itself didn't blow me away. It was good, just not great. I would have this again on cask but I wouldn't go running out to find a place that had it.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours a dark amber/brown with a light soapy white head with thick, concentric rings of lace as the beer is drunk.

S: Heavy hop aroma, pine oil and citrus. Good amount of malt.

T: Intense heavy bitterness initially, a lot of pine and bitter melon, heavy on the bitter hops. The flavour evolves and the citrus fruit comes more into picture, strong dark caramel malt gives a good balance. Full-flavoured for sure.

M: Relatively soft mouthfeel and carbonation for a beer of this size which I liked. Resiny, long hoppy aftertaste.

D: Definitely a rugged, full ale, the name Expedition suits it well. Definitely a beer to be on the lookout for.

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

A - Pours medium to dark brown. Looks like a slight haze is present when held to the light. The beige head tops out at two inches and quickly becomes rocky. Shows very good retention and lacing. Very nice.

A - Darker malt aromas come through primarily. Getting hints of caramel and brown sugar. A light alcohol aroma comes in about midway. An underlying bitter / piney hop aroma pushes through at the end and really just takes over. Unexpected but still nice.

T - Starts out with an intense hop bite. Bitter pine cones and condensed bitter grapefruit stick out the most. Miday there is some caramel and toffee. Just a hint of alcohol as well. It comes full circle back to a hop bite that finishes it all off. There is alot of flavor packed into this 6.5%er.

M - Fuller bodied with a healthy and active carbonation. It works for the most part. Finish is bitter and dry. Just when you think there is a malty goodness in the finish...wham! Back to bitter and dry.

D - Drinkability is pretty good. There is alot going on with this beer. Honestly, much more than expected. This helps the alcohol stay out of the way and the real aromas and flavors shine. I could easily have a few of these during a single session. Glad I got the chance to try this one out. Recommended.

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

12/06/08- Purchased at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa, CA.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with no freshness info. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Deep amber colored pour. Huge head meaning 1/4 beer and the rest head all the way to the rim. Very large bubbles in the head. Leaves behind light patchwork and trails of lace.

Smell- Seems like much more deep dark malted notes than hops. Although, hops are present and bitter scented.

Taste- This is a very intense flavored beer and very well rounded. Extreme deep bitter hoppy taste (which I wouldn't have known from the scent). Also a very large deeply roasted deep chocolate dusted malted base.

Mouthfeel- Very long lasting bitter aftertaste with a nice malt flavor as well. Carbonation is about average.

Drinkability- Nothing wrong with this brew. Well balanced with large flavors.

 833 characters

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

Pours clear amber with an off-white head. Aroma is a lot like an IPA, lots of hop and pine, but mixed in with some roasted malts. Taste is heavily malted to counter the hops. Nice toffee and caramel finish. Really big taste considering this is just an amber. Just another great Drakes beer.

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Photo of hopdog
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle acquired in trade with jimbowood (thanks!).

Poured a deep and cloudy amber color with an averaged sized off white head. Aromas of caramel, oranges, and a little earthy. Tastes of caramel, citrus, and toffee. For an amber ale, I really liked this one.

Notes from 6/29/07

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.68/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle received from largadeer. Thanks Chris. Into my Stone pint glass.

A: Deep amber with a little bit of sediment that i missed. Solid light brown head with great retention and excellent lacework

S: Lots of leafy hops up front but giving this a swirl reveals a good deal of citrus character. Mild caramel malt character in the back. Quite massive for an amber, acutally

T: Tons of bittering hops up front a lot of orange and citrus rind character. Mild caramel malt sweetness comes through before a completely bitter finish takes over.

M: Carbonation is ample but the bitterness is a bit overpowering IMHO

D: The bitterness is something that hurts the drinkability of the beer

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dirty pumpkin that becomes dark cranberry when backlit. This might be the single darkest amber ale that I've ever seen (if it's really an amber ale). The khaki colored cap is tight-bubbled, long-lived, and is beginning to lay down thick sheets of lace. What's not to like?

The aroma is exactly as advertised. It features dark malts (not too dark) and what smells like a copious amount of hops. We're not talking porter or dunkel, just seriously toasted malt that still (barely) fits within the amber ale guidelines.

Expedition Ale is beautiful, beautiful beer. These guys can flat-out brew their asses off! This is my third Drake's beer and is the third one that has been exceptional. Why can't more craft brewers figure out that an abundant amount of quality ingredients results in delicious, drinkable beer? It also helps to have the imagination to create what is basically a combination brown ale, amber ale and IPA.

Flavors include lightly toasted brown bread coated with orange marmalade and honey, a light sprinking of cocoa powder, and plenty of pink grapefruit zest. Great choice on the hop bill... whatever it is. The perfect storm of sweet and bitter is out of this world and has resulted in a glass that is now almost empty. More please!

The mouthfeel is all kinds of wonderful. It's bigger than expected and is gloriously, glassy smooth. This stuff is a treat for the mouth in more ways than one.

Drake's may not crack the upper tier of 'best breweries in California', but they deserve a huge shout-out for the undeniable quality of their products. Impressive... impressive... impressive. Bottom line: this is an Expedition that is well worth taking.

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Photo of Floydster
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle part of a six pack purchased from Beverages and More in Torrance for nine dollars, had a few with my dad tonight, poured into my Port Brewing pint glass

A-Dark red and copper color that is almost brown, 1/2 inch off white head, fades slowly, nice retention, great lacing
S-Sweet malts, milk chocolate, toffee, caramel, various spices, hoppiness, grapefruit, a little pine, and oranges
T-Taste starts off malty, hint of smokiness with a strong hop bitterness in the finish, aftertaste is more like an IPA while the beginning is full of malt and later spices, caramel and nuttiness comes about as it warms, more bitter at first which was dominant, citrus comes to the surface by the end, odd but balanced and it works
M-Crisp, dry, sweet, and bitter mouthfeel, medium body, lots and lots of carbonation, taste lingered with a strong finish
D-Goes down with ease, not too heavy on the stomach, at 6.5% it can be drank quite easily if you handle the strong flavor, smooth and enjoyable

One of the better standard beers from Drake's, right up there with their IPA, do not even know what to call this, it is closest to a mix between an English bitter, India pale ale, and an amber, will be drinking this more often as it popping up more around here, recommended

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.32/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had this beer occasionally over the years, but never reviewed it before now. I think Drake's in general is an under regarded brewery that has some interesting selections, including barrel aged stuff that doesn't get a lot of notice. I'm not saying it is on par with Russian River or Lost Abbey- its not- but it does seem amazing to me that this beer that has been around for years has less than three dozen reviews. It pours nicely enough, with a dark brown color, good clarity, and although the head fades somewhat quickly to a thin cap, it leaves behind some very nice lacing. Nice aromas for the style as well- spicy sweet with cinnamon, dry malt, some fresh grain, and some bright fruit like pear and apple, but subtle. A touch of smoke and roasted grain as well, but again, it is subtle. The taste is similar with a firm layer of dry malt, and a surprisingly hoppy overlay of nice earthy bitterness that lingers. This coupled with a slight sweetness makes for a delicious combination. Some slight spice creeps in on the end. Firm and smooth in the mouth, with a spicy hop bite on the finish. Very full flavored, which keeps my interest as I drink it, but the alcohol level is reasonable as well, so the flavor is especially appreciated. Definitely an underrated beer.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks going out to jakekohut for this opportunity.

Pours a deep dark red amber color with a full finger foamy light tan head that slowly fades to surface leaving full lacing patterns. The smell from the collar was initially sweet and malty with a balanced citrus hoppiness. The hop character reveals itself more and more as it warms up. Nicely carbonated, the mouth feel is medium-full bodied with a substantial tingle of hops. Full flavored the malt character is roasty with a nice caramel complex. It really does have an IPA-like citrus flavor as well. A real easy drinker and at 6.5% ABV a person could easily lose count. Highly recommend checking this one out...the sailor in me (NAS Moffett Field) is sooo down with it "Keeping Scurvy Away". The Bay Area ROCKS!!!

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

Appearance: Turbid brownish-amber (I accidentally poured the sediment in, not realizing it was bottle conditioned). A one-finger off-white head forms from a gentle pour, but doesn't retain very well.

Smell: Aggressive piney hops with an undertone of toffee and toast.

Taste & mouthfeel: Chocolate, toast and toffee flavors to begin with, followed by a blast of resiny hop bitterness and a hint of coffee. Very dry and bitter in the finish. Calling this an amber isn't quite accurate, it's more like a dark IPA. Notes of chocolate and roasted malt set it apart, but the dryness and hop smack are signature West Coast IPA.

Notes: An interesting brew that doesn't quite fit into any particular style. I'll definitely revisit this next year.

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

When poured, the color was a medium reddish brown, with a little tan foam and some lace on the face of the glass. The smell was of roasted malts and a hint of semi sweet chocolate. When first tasted, I got the usual roasted malts, medium thick, bitter/sweet chocolate and a hint of coffee. A nice balance of bitter/sweet in the finish. One of the better red ales I've had in a while. What a pleasant surprise when I first popped the cap, poured and smelled!

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Photo of Zorro
4.09/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear brown colored beer with a small tan colored head. This is only red colored when held up to a bright light.

Smell is sweet and malty with a strong brown sugar aroma. Lots of toasted bread aroma and a hint of spice. Little bit of tea, wood, and caramel candy scent.

Taste starts out sweet and malty with a bitter aftertaste. Fairly sweet and malty and woody this is a lot like a mild Barley Wine. Not a lot of extra layers here just a strong beer. Taste wise this is close to a brown ale.

Mouthfeel is Good.

Drinkability is OK. Quite strongly flavored, don't think I would like more than 3 of them.

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Photo of charlzm
4.08/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Consumed 06/05/08.

Pours a clear dark reddish brown. Head starts at a cream colored one finger height comprised of dense bubbles. Soon reduces to a good thin skin that provides more-than-adequate lacing.

Aroma of toffee and caramel malts and herbal hops.

Mouthfeel is very smooth and a little thick. Flavor is sweet and bitter at the same time; piney hops battle with toasted caramel malts and toffee for dominance. Finish is a little juicy, surprisingly clean and not really very bitter.

This one might be a bit much for some folks, and I think one glass is my limit in a session. Good beer, however.

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Photo of bradybeer
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark red with a hint of brown-and is unfiltered with a off white head. Pine resin hop aroma is significant. Taste is malty sweet with a slight burnt malt character. Mouthfeel is smooth and drinkability is high-this beer is one that I think is one of Drakes best beers-fantastic.

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Photo of Rzzzzz
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pint glass. Pours a deep, dark amber with a creamy tan head that left some wonderful lacework down the glass. Aroma is mostly hops, with a bit of grain trying to fight its way through. Taste again is hops up front, with a sweet malt follow that's chased away by a bitter hops finish. Medium body, lively carbonation. Not your standard amber ale, and because of that lingering bitterness not something I'd probably want a lot of at once, but a nice beer nonetheless.

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