Revisting: 2012 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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My first review of this beer may be found here. With another year of age on it the beer still pours like thick and gloopy motor oil with a thin scrim of very fine, sand colored bubbles that fade into just a ring around the glass. The beer is opaque to the eye, impenetrable to the senses, and all around mysterious. When splashed against the sides of the glass it produces smooth legs of alcohol. On the nose, the beer still smells distinctly quad-like, with definite chocolate-covered raisin scents. It actually smells like a potent raisinet, if that makes sense. Beneath the raisinet scent is sherry, gentle coffee, and even more dark fruit notes. The roast coffee and dark chocolate seem to have blended into the rich dark fruit scents and added subtler nuances. The booze in the nose is still there, but it too has blended into the beer’s decadent scent, giving us hints of rum-soaked raisinets. As the beer warms, musty cellar and earth work their way into the nose, as well as softer milk chocolate scents. On the tongue, the beer tastes lovely. Decadent sweet bread and chocolate notes tread down into a rich bitter finish of char and roast, as well as a soft tingle of acidity. The middle of the sip even treads on an earthy, minerally flavor briefly, which is just lovely. In flavor, the beer begins with milk chocolate, dark bread, and subtle raisins. This moves into rich minerally flavors of cellar must, salt, and even slight graphite. The finish, much as it was a year ago, is bruising with bitter roast and char, although it is dampened by rich milk chocolate. The aftertaste is of char and must, giving a light fire to the throat to suggest the alcohol that has been nonexistent in the rest of the sip. In the mouth, the beer is still full bodied but has stepped off a slightly; it is sultry, smooth, silky, and without even a prickle of carbonation on the tongue. The beer leaves the mouth slightly dry and smoky with char, but begging for further sips. Overall, Expedition has become even more decadent with age. The soft raisin flavors have melded into other things in the taste, but are all the rage in the nose. Milk chocolate flavors have bloomed, and an earthy minerality has developed as the beer oxidized. This is a richly complex beer that opens up as it sits, and really gives the tongue an exercise in taste appraisal. While the rest of my aged stouts have shown harsher hints of oxidation, this one has incorporated the oxidation beautifully, and could honestly use even further aging to ease the heavy roast and char notes that make up the finish. This was a success from the Beer in my Belly (should I start calling it BimB?) cellar! Huzzah. If you are lucky enough to live in Bell’s distribution network then I would highly advise cellaring one of these, as it is very forgiving and can handle varying environments well. For all the rest of us, we should make a journey into Bell’s distribution pattern during the winter just to snag a couple of these beauties.

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