Bell’s Expedition Stout
Go ahead and put on your to-do list, if you’re ever in Kalamazoo, MI, to visit the Bell’s Eccentric Cafe where you can try most of the Bell’s Beers on tap. We’d say you also need to visit Bell’s Brewery as well, but it’s not open to the public. We base this directive solely on the strength of this one rating. Looking over their brands though, they tend to make mostly ales and stouts and porters, so wethinks it would be hard to go wrong.
In case you haven’t guessed, this Bell’s Expedition Stout review is one of our infamous Thursday phone reviews between Father and Son Beer Love.
This 12 oz bottle of Expedition Stout goodness sported a 10.5% ABV and came in right at 50 F when poured into our American pint glass. The pour produced an average 1 1/4″ dark brown creamy head that had excellent lacing as it dissipated slowly into the murky depths below. Completely black and opaque in color, we noted very little in the way of carbonation.
The initial aromas gave us chocolate and coffee, earth and black licorice. The initial flavor gave us a moderate sweet and a heavy bitter, which stayed true through the finish with the exception of a light saltiness we started to pick up. The regular chocolate and coffee aromas though turned into dark chocolate and espresso tastes, with some additional smoke flavor coursing through our taste buds. The finish duration is long, the mouthfeel is oily and the body has a good amount of lacing to it.
It’s a bold taste and the bitterness we pick up is not in the hops. Though it’s as far to the malt side of the malt-to-hop scale as you can get, in your mouth it’s actually almost perfectly balanced – between the sweet of the chocolate and the bitterness of the coffee it finds a terrific niche. There is no alcohol in the taste initially, but as it warms you start to pick up some alcohol notes in the finish. The beer overall becomes more refined as it warms into the upper 50’s and lower 60’s. It’s a stick-to-your-ribs kind of beer and a taste bud tingler – it’s an almost overwhelming experience in your mouth.
It would be good with cheeses, crackers and fruits and great with a fine steak (Ruth’s Chris, maybe?). It’s repeatable, drinkable, memorable, has a wow factor to it and we would buy it again. One of the few times we’ve agreed on all those factors. This would frighten away a beer newbie, but after a year or two of gradually working into the dark stuff they’d be able to appreciate this beer for what it is. Definitely a top beer.
Bell’s Expedition Stout Rating: 9 out of 10 (?)
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