Beer Review: A VERTICAL TASTING OF BELL’S EXPEDITION STOUT

Beer Review: A VERTICAL TASTING OF BELL’S EXPEDITION STOUT

The 2016 bottle of Bell’s Expedition Stout pours out like a predictable stream of used motor oil, presenting an imposing jet-black hue with a menacing Martian red head that persists impressively. The redesigned label and matching bottle caps align with Bell’s lineup aesthetics, and the batch information is thoughtfully displayed on the back. Unlike other breweries, Bell’s clarity in labeling, especially with the exact batch number, stands out as a commendable industry practice.

Aroma

Upon the initial sniff, the 2016 Expedition Stout reveals a slightly phenolic aroma, accompanied by fleeting notes of smoke and rubber. With adequate aeration, these volatile compounds disperse, unveiling a rich bouquet of dark chocolate fudge, a savory hint of guajillo chili dark chocolate bar, and subtle cinnamon undertones. Despite an initial chalkiness, which was later resolved with some unplanned aeration, the aroma gained depth, with the yeast sediment settling out, resulting in a more pronounced and refined olfactory experience.

Taste

The 2016 Expedition Stout offers a medium-bodied mouthfeel that transitions smoothly to a mid-palate heat, leaving a chalky finish that puzzled the initial tasting. The subsequent sediment fiasco and aeration inadvertently enhanced the beer’s richness and softened its flavors. However, the taste profile lacked the complexity observed in the side-by-side comparison with the 2013 and 2014 bottles. The newer bottle, even post-aeration, failed to match the depth and intricacy of its aged counterparts.

Mouthfeel

Comparing the mouthfeel of the three bottles, the 2016 Expedition Stout, post-aeration, exhibited a lifeless and thinner texture than its cellared counterparts. In contrast, the 2014 bottle struck a harmonious balance, with a robust and super bitter flavor complemented by a soft and silky mouthfeel. The 2013 bottle, with its finesse and oiliness, boasted the most satisfying and palate-coating experience, akin to savoring a port wine.

Overall

Bell’s Expedition Stout, renowned for its high bitterness, showcases unique variations in each batch. The 2013 bottle emerged as the favorite, featuring a wild and intense flavor profile dominated by powerful dark chocolate. The verdict of the vertical tasting places the 2013 > 2014 > 2016, emphasizing the aging potential of Expedition Stout. While fresh bottles may lack the complexity of their aged counterparts, the beer demonstrates an ability to withstand years in the cellar, evolving and improving over time. Batch-to-batch variance adds an element of unpredictability, making Expedition Stout a captivating brew to explore. If you have 2016 bottles, holding onto them for a more interesting future might be a prudent choice.