Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Expedition Stout

Bell’s Brewery, Inc.
Galesburg, MI

Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)

Bell’s Expedition Stout is probably the first imperial stout I ever had. I had read about them in Michael Jacksons’ Beer Companion, and what I read kind of scared me. Big, black beers with harsh roasted malts and frighteningly high ABVs, brews that evoke unforgiving Slavic winters and the torn landscape borne of the Crimean War.

It was a gelid winter night, and I had just trudged into the bar with a frozen nose and icicle ears. I needed something giant and warming. There it was on tap: Bell’s Expedition Stout. I wasn’t sure I wanted something that big and, like I said, I was a little leery of this beer. But I went for it, bought a pint, took it back to a corner table, and sipped and savored. It was a moment of awakening. One, I faced the imperial stout beast and lived. Hell, I even had two that night. But more importantly, I discovered one of the Midwest’s truly great beers, a massive, sprawling, imperial stout that lives up to its name, its style, and then some.

The Expedition begins with a black, seriously thick pour, although not quite as light-absorbing as I remember it being. A big, clingy head sits atop a pillowy, beautiful mottling of light tan and dark brown.

The dominant aroma is roasted malts and dark, plum-like esters, with dark, rich coffee notes dancing in the background.

The first sip is … blackness. A sledgehammer-heavy body explodes with syrupy-thick roasted malt, ultra-dark chocolate, and burnt toffee. The flavors are HUGE and at the same time amazingly complex, and bigger sips threaten to overpower the taste buds with complex weavings of dark malts and pinpoint hops applications. The finish is about as long as you can get, all pure, unsweetened chocolate lingering and fading into slightly harsh roasted cereal notes. Hints of the 10.5 percent ABV are noticeable throughout.

Now, the only frightening about this beer is how good it is. A perfect winter warmer, a potent digestif, or simply an ideal dessert. For whatever reasons—or when—you drink it, savor every frighteningly good sip.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on May 13, 2009.
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