According to Bell’s Brewery, its Expedition Stout is “one the earliest examples of Russian Imperial Stouts in the United States.” As such, it is dark, strong, and much of what you might expect from the classic style.
But times have changed. With pastry stouts now en vogue, it’s fair to wonder if Expedition Stout’s heyday has passed. So, does it still hold up? Let’s find out.
Searching for Expedition Stout? Just look for its classic compass branding. Upon pouring, you’ll see deep black, with a thin, tan head. It doesn’t retain that head well and is, for the most part, fairly unremarkable in its appearance.
The aroma has notes of leather, caramel, fudge and umami. Above all that, however, is booze, making it no secret that you’re about to drink something that is 10.5% ABV. Even with alcohol at the forefront, Expedition Stout’s nose improves as it warms, but it is still just about what you’d expect from a Russian imperial stout.
Expedition Stout would do well with one or even two years on it. Drink a bottle over the winter months, and stick the rest of your stash in a dark, cool area of your closet.”
If the appearance and aroma are average, then the same can be said for the flavor right? Nope. On one hand you get black licorice, raisins, and nuts. On the other hand, you’ll pick up notes of leather and deep earth. It’s dry throughout and has a bitter finish. As the nose suggests, the alcohol is not particularly well hidden.
So what should you do with a beer that’s a bit boozy but demonstrates an intriguing complexity? Age it. Expedition Stout would do well with one or even two years on it. Drink a bottle over the winter months, and stick the rest of your stash in a dark, cool area of your closet. When you return to it next year, you’ll find something that is even better balanced, with a complexity that moves to the forefront.