Happy Sunday Funday ya’ll! It’s the first time all year where it feels like fall/winter here in Central Florida. I’m also at 990 of my 1000 different beers goal. For these last 10, I will be getting my hands on some of the more celebrated beers from around the US and possibly internationally. To start things off, I swung by Total Wine aka the Craft Beer Mecca of Central Florida. I picked up Bell’s Expedition Stout which has a 95 on Beer Advocate and is known widely as a top Russian Imperial Stout.
You might be wondering what’s the difference between a Stout and a Russian Imperial Stout (RIS). Well for starters, if you see Imperial, it means it’s a higher ABV than the standard stout. Instead of 5-6% ABV, this clocks in at a monstrous 10.5% ABV. Also, RIS have heavier notes of dark dried fruits, malts, and chocolates whereas a standard stout is more of a bitter malt with some sweetness to it. Finally, this style was originally brewed in England for the Russian monarch Peter the Great and ever since then the name stuck. Expedition Stout, like many “Imperial” style beers can be enjoyed fresh, but sometimes is even better aged as the intense flavors can meld and mellow. I will be trying this fresh, but need to age one! Enough history, let’s get to the good stuff.
Appearance: Like most stouts and porters, it poured motor oil black. There is typically an inverse relationship between ABV and beer head where the higher the alcohol, the smaller the head. Expedition Stout has just a hint of lacing and really no noticeable carbonation.
Aroma: This has a huge roasted malt and peat-like smokiness to it. The wife says it smells like rocket fuel. We both may be a little right, and with how bold the nose is on this it could probably benefit from a few months/years of aging like a Dogfish Head 120 does.
Taste: Like that old Tang commercial says, “It’s a kick in the mouth!” The flavor profile follows the aromas with an unexpected bitterness and a finish reminiscent of a dark chocolate covered espresso bean. The bitterness isn’t an earthy hop profile, rather it’s a massive roasted malt profile. There is some smokiness added in with an espresso drip finish. I would love to see how one of these ages and the flavors begin to blend. The flavors are great, but this is not an easy sipper by any stretch of the imagination.
Mouthfeel: For being so bold and brash with the flavor and aroma profile, the mouthfeel is deceptively smooth and velvety. It could’ve easily been rough and harsh, but they did a great job balancing all these big personalities.
Value: It was $4 for a single, so for less than a bar Bud Light you have yourself what I believe a world-class Stout.
Overall: Bell’s is one of my favorite breweries and this beer has hit almost every mark. Usually when I get these highly rated beers they are either a huge hit or a major disappointment. Expedition Stout I would give a 9/10 because it is everything a Russian Imperial Stout should be. It is big, bold, and has tons of roast malts, espressos, and a touch of sweetness. I think if I aged it 12-18 months, the flavors would blend beautifully and it would be a 10/10. If you like stouts and are up for a challenging beer, this is definitely something to put on the top of your list.
Until next time, tight lines and cheers!