Embarking on an exquisite Expedition
A Review of Expedition Stout by Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Posted on 10/17/2012 by Chops
                   
Exquisite
Quick, name a great stout! For a lot of beer fans, the Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery is what immediately pops into mind, and for good reason. Bell's is well known in the craft beer world for creating fantastic high quality beers. It's one of the very few breweries that you can bank on by name alone. Does the label say Bell's? Then it's a great beer and no one can tell you any different. When your baseline level of quality starts in the clouds, you are bound to craft some world-class wonders. One of these is the Expedition Stout, a member of Bell's highly coveted winter seasonal brews.

In the glass, this beer is as black as used motor oil. I found absolutely no edging whatsoever. It comes with a creamy coppery head that has great retention. On the nose, I found a perfectly balanced combination of strong dark roasted malt and a rich dark chocolate. All it takes is one whiff of this beauty for your eyes to slowly close and for a grin to slowly creep up your face.

The primary flavors beautifully mirror the aroma. The strong malt roast comes out swinging and is quickly followed by the rich dark chocolate. The chocolate itself tends to lean towards a cocoa feel, which adds a warmth to the profile. The alcohol burn is also big and bold, yet appropriately balanced with the flavors. The hop profile is piney and needling aggressive, almost like a single hop imperial IPA. It's an interesting touch that ends up providing a tangy quality to the mix.

I have to devote an entire paragraph to the mouthfeel because it is by far the most interesting aspect. Right away you are greeted with a dry roast mouthfeel that comes across as somewhat chalky. The body isn't nearly as big as you would expect and actually drinks more like a standard stout or porter. The finish is fairly dry, resulting in a chalky bitter aftertaste with hints of cocoa. The aftertaste itself is incredibly lengthy, so strap in. It coats your entire mouth and sinks flavor claws into your taste buds for the entire session. But, all of this only applies to the first half of the beer while chilled. As the beer warms, it significantly smooths out and converts into a creamy smooth chocolatey mouthfeel. But, the strength and aggression remain in full force, creating a fascinating mishmash of gritty harsh and silky smooth. The end result is a strangely aggressive chocolatey dessert beer. Expedition Stout is a fantastic study in mouthfeel and aftertaste, so be sure to take your time with the experience.

Overall, Bell's Expedition Stout is a fantastic representation of the Russian Imperial Stout style. It's big, bold and flavorful without being too harsh or imbalanced. This, by the way, is one of the hardest equations in brewing to master. Bell's has done it in a big way and Expedition remains engrained in the craft beer definition of a ''great stout''. It's bold and complex enough to wow even the most stubborn of seasoned drinkers, yet balanced and accessible enough to give novices a peek into the world of imperials. This isn't to say that novices should throw caution to the wind because Expedition does pack a hefty punch. Just be sure to give it the respect it deserves before embarking on your own exquisite expedition.

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Expedition Stout by Bell's Brewery, Inc.
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