Is Fresher Always Better? — Bell’s Expedition Stout (2011 batch)
I’ve had Bell’s Expedition quite a bit, but I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to try a bottle this fresh. Last year I did a vertical tasting between a 2010 and a 2008 bottle, and the fresh bottle was significantly hoppier. How is the fresh bottle?
Pours rich black, velvety, with a thin brown head that dissipates quickly. Lots of booze in the aroma, more than expected. Otherwise sweet, dark fruits, some plums and raisins, with a nice velvet roasty character. Hints of earthy hops but muted. Tastes smooth, clean, with only the slightest hint of a burn on the back end. Fruit notes that are present on the nose are not so much on the flavor, with a rich roasty dryness and, yes, a significant hop bite on the finish. The booziness starts to fade as you get deeper into the beer — you’d hardly believe this was 10.5%.
This year’s batch of Expedition was somewhat delayed due to problems getting the ABV in line with the label. I was worried that this would mean the finished product would be uneven or underattentuated, but this is pretty much exactly as I remember it. The alcohol could be a bit more hidden, but otherwise I’m a big fan of Expedition and will be drinking quite a bit of it this year.
Beyond the Pour grade: A-