Expedition Ale | Drake's Brewing Co.

very good
90 Ratings
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 90 |  Reviews: 70
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!

 924 characters

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.

 739 characters

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

 1,153 characters

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.

 1,044 characters

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.

 671 characters

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.

 1,269 characters

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.

 290 characters

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

 284 characters

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

 689 characters

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.

 1,667 characters

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

 1,273 characters

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.

 1,277 characters

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!!!

 775 characters

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.

 740 characters

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!

 457 characters

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.

 606 characters

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.

 605 characters

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.

 286 characters

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.

 465 characters

Photo of TheEremite
3.62/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Looked great. Dark brown with a tan head. It looked a bit like a porter, pretty dark for an amber or a red ale. Huge hop aroma. Smells like an IPA. Tastes of hop bitterness and malty crystal sweetness. Fairly pronounced chocolate notes. This beer is very full bodied for a red. In general I really like over hopped red ales, they're much more interesting than the usual malty, sweet and boring brewpub reds. I had low expectations for this beer and was pleasantly surprised. The first 1/4 of the glass was really nice, but the malt and hop bitterness began to build up and at some point it became a bit much. I like the idea of this beer, and I enjoyed drinking it, but it doesn't make for much of a session beer.

 713 characters

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

Pours deep copper in color with thick, rocky head. Good retention and lots of lace. Smell is somewhat overwhelming of caramel, some hops, but mainly a sweet caramel malt. Taste is pretty much on par with the smell. A sweet, sweet caramel again. Strong malt presence, a bit of mellow hops but again that sweetness is dominant. Moderate carbonation but a somewhat thicker mouthfeel. This beer is a little sweet for my taste and is definitely a slow sipper. Not bad overall, however I have to say this seemed very similar to their IPA, just a little less hoppy. I'm curious to try other offerings from Drakes.

 606 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Part of a pre-set mix pack from Cost Plus, on to the beer:

Very foamy at first pour, I had to chop off the head repededly to get all the beer in my pint glass. The beer's appearance is deep copper with a good sticky head. The aroma is a nosefull of hops and notes of caramel. Taste begins fruity befroe a kick of hops and tropical flavor knocks it down. Burnt sugar is tasted on the palate too. Very very tasty red ale and one worth looking for. Comparable to Bear Republic's Red Rocket Ale, although this is a little better balanced.

 535 characters

Photo of joepais
3.53/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a pint glass produced a finger worth of head that settled to a thick lace on top of a cloudy brown body

Aromas of sweet malts and spice with a light floral hop note at the end

Flavors of toasted malts with a strong bitter not all of it is from the hops

Good mouthfeel medium with enough carbonation to keep it crisp on the tongue

A good ale more of a hybrid than a true Amber but drinkable none the less

 428 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.53/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Acquired from fartingdog courtesy of Birthday Club 2, so a big "Thank you" goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark copper color with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is full of caramelized malt and hops along with some spice & citrus in the background.

T: The taste is malty and smoky with a strong hops bitterness that prevails as the most dominant flavor. There are minor but complimentary flavors of caramel, nuts & citrus as well. The after-taste is slightly bitter.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: A little tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, it's a good beer and is one worth drinking for a while but to me it just seems kind of ordinary. Therefore, if it were available around here, it would probably be a beer that I would routinely pass on.

 928 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.