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Bells Expedition 3 Year Vertical

ExpeditionOne of the main reasons I started cellaring beer was to set up verticals.  I just couldn’t restrain myself any long so I raided the cellar for bottles of Bells Expedition Stout from 2011, 2012, and 2013.  This beer has always been one of my personal favorites because of the perfect balance.  For me, balance means that all the flavors in a beer keep each other in check and one doesn’t overpower another.  I think stouts are particularly interesting to keep note of balance because of the complexity of the malt profile.  Expedition is remarkable for having a rich sweetness that plays nicely with the roasted flavor, while not getting too overwhelmed towards the end with bitterness  .It even took home silver at the 2012 Great Taste of Cottage Grove for the Stout Category.

The 2013
This bottle was a little over 2 months old at the time of consumption.  The front was sweet with dark fruit flavors and little to no chocolate flavors.  There was a noticeable hotness to the beer and at 10.5% it wasn’t at all surprising.  While many dislike any hotness or booziness in beers, it comes across as warm and welcoming when presented subtly.  The latter portion of the beer had much more bitterness than the other vintages, but not an overwhelming amount.  Great progression of flavors from front to back.  A complex and amazing ride.

The 2011
The two year old version was the most chocolaty of the three.  The development of the sweetness from dark fruit was quite remarkable and a bit surprising.  This beer was amazingly smooth.  The chocolaty flavors gave way to a fading mellowness.  Very subtle changes were noted, but nothing really decerning.

The 2012
I put this one last because it is hard to describe this one without the first two.  This beer had settled into a spot somewhere between, but much closer in flavor to the 2 year version.  The sweetness in the front was again more chocolaty than dark fruit, but had not quite hit the milk chocolate sweetness of the two year.  There was a progression into some late bitterness, but far less potent than the fresh beer.  The mouthfeel from the fresh beer had really gone away, but it had not quite settled into the consistent mellowness of the 2 year.

Final Thoughts
I love the complexity of beer.  Nothing is more enjoyable than taking a sip of beer and experiencing all the different flavors that are coming at you.  It is great whether you want to blog about it or just sit back and enjoy while watching a game.  For that reason, I don’t really know of many beers I like better than fresh Expedition Stout.  Both the 1 and 2 year old version were headed toward similar fates at a fairly rapid pace.  The mellowness of these two beers speaks favorable to what Bells is able to accomplish in creating a beer that is balanced in the short and long term.  You really lose the interesting progression as the beer ages.  With that said, I will be saving one more of each for a long term vertical of a yet undecided length.  Until that time…

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