Expedition Stout (Bell’s Brewery)

Style: American Russian Imperial Stout

10.5% ABV

O.G.: 1.11

Bottled On: 10/22/12

From: Kalamazoo, MI

Brewer’s Note: “One of the earliest examples of the Russian Imperial Stout in the United States, 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.”

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The beer’s label is simplistic and pretty.  It has an almost old-timey feel to it, and I love the compose rose.  The background color is a little tan in color, which helps with the labels old-timey feel, and the fonts are simple but look nice on this simple label design.  I love the bells for the Bell’s brewery logo.  My one complaint is the “Brewed and Bottled By…” text at the bottom of the label.  It’s ugly and squished and takes away from the beautiful label.  The neck also has some ugly text running up its sides, which could be lost.  This label is definitely pretty enough to scrapbook, and might be considered for the minimalist’s shelf space.

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The beer pours dark and sludgy, like motor oil.  A head forms of dark tan, almost chocolate brown, tiny bubbles that are very closely knit together and fade away quick, as might be expected at 10.5% alcohol.  The beer’s lacing is nearly nonexistent due to the alcohol, but does live a few thin spots and some slight legs from the alcohol. The beer’s body is too dark to properly gauge.  On the nose, this beer is thick with raisiny and plum malts, almost quad-like in intensity.  Beneath the raisin sits a healthy cocoa smell that plays beside roasted coffee malts and thick creamy dark chocolate.  The smell is boozy sweet, and stings the nostrils just enough to let us know there is thick sweet alcohol in this.  On the tongue, the beer tastes thickly of bitter coffee roast with a light sweetness at the back of the tongue.  The beer’s flavors begin with chewy thick almost raisiny sweet malts that move swiftly into chocolate and then into thick roasted smoky malts that bring lovely RIS flavors.  The sweet malts briefly touch on a cloying level of sweetness, but are swiftly washed away by the bitter roast of the malts.  The finish is fat with roasted coffee malts, char, and a slight sweet touch of raisin and dark fruit.  The aftertaste is burnt char and light chocolate flavors.  The alcohol of this beer, while briefly present with the cloying sweetness, is actually nicely hidden, and helps to mellow the bitter roast of the malts.  In the mouth, the beer feels thick and chewy in body.  The carbonation is light and nearly nonexistent on the tongue, leaving a thick creamy, velvet feel on the tongue.  The mouth is left charred dry with saliva on the sides of the tongue from the light but not noticeable acidity.  Overall, this is a lovely RIS.  Great big flavors that are not overdoing it, and certainly seem ready to mellow into beautiful things with age.  The raisiny sweetness is a little off putting at first, but works beautifully to prepare the tongue for the bitter roast of the middle and finish of the flavor.  I’m excited to have tried this beer, and excited to see what it does with age.  According to Bell’s this is one of the earliest examples of an American RIS, and I believe they did it beautifully.  Try this beer for sure, and age it too, my bottle was a little less more than half a year old.

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4.19/5

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3 thoughts on “Expedition Stout (Bell’s Brewery)

    1. I think it worked nicely alongside the syrupy sweetness in the malt to help balance out the deep roast that the second half of the taste had. I feel like it was an excellent use of a higher alcohol content.

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