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Bell's Best Brown - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,937 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1937
Reviews: 776
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 11.52%

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
English Brown Ale |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
A smooth, toasty brown ale with hints of caramel and cocoa, the malt body has the depth to stand up to cool weather, but does not come across as heavy. This balancing act is aided by the generous use of American hops.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,937 | Reviews: 776 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of mt5000


4.47/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance is, not surprisingly, brown. Aromas and flavors of caramel, nuts, brown sugar, and oats. Mouthfeel is excellent and the carbonation is just right. Amazingly drinkable for a rich and fairly malty beer - I can easily down 2 or 3 of these. In fact, this is one of my favorite session beers in the winter. What I love most about this beer is how approachable it is - I recommend serving this beer as a great example of the American craft brew style to anybody who is used to Bud/Miller/Coors. There's enough hops to balance it out but very little bitterness that might turn somebody off. Those of us who are used to craft brews forget that many beers we like, such as IPAs, are not palatable to most people. I went to a party a while back where the host was serving this beer along with Stella Artois, and I noticed people switching from the Stella to this beer after they tasted it. Bravo to Bell's for making a craft brew that both beer geeks and your everyman beer drinker can enjoy.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2008 17:21:08 | More by mt5000
Photo of GordonQuid


4.47/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Nick and Jimmy's in Temperance, MI

Brown with a one inch rocky head and thick lace.

Smells of roasted malts and chocolate toffee.

Taste is a medium bodied sweet cramel and sark malts with a nice coffee-cocoa finish. Low hop profile but there is a bit of a hoppy bite in the finish.

This is a highly quaffable brew! Easy to drink and extremely satisfying.

Serving type: on-tap

10-19-2009 20:32:01 | More by GordonQuid
Photo of Gobigvt7


4.47/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

a - pours a nice mid-brown, with an amber tint when held to light. Looks delicious already. one finger of almost white head, good lacing.

s - nutty malts and bread

t - smooth caramelized grains. semi-sweet but not cloying. very light hops lend an edge to the maltiness. very balanced, tastes evenly throughout the sip.

m - smooth, round, medium body.

o - one of my favorite go-to browns. For the style, immensely drinkable and flavorful.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2011 02:44:35 | More by Gobigvt7
Photo of Gehrig


4.43/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I can't say that I'm the biggest fan of brown ale, but am more than willing to try them, certainly anything that Bell's makes. This changes my perspective on the style for the better, as Bell's often does. A finger of dark tan head caps the rich brown body, and decent lacing traces the beer's descent. The aromas are a winner, with plenty of nuts, brown sugar, and caramel greeting the nose--just terrific. The taste is a delight--lots of sweetness but some hopped bitterness that provides a very good balance. It's one of the more complex brown ales I've had, and one of the best. While the carbonation could be a little fuller, the smooth texture certainly makes up for it, rendering this eminently drinkable. It wouldn't be difficult at all to shed self-restraint and pulverize a sixer of this.

Excellent brown ale, one that stacks up well with Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale--no mean feat.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2008 05:20:38 | More by Gehrig
Photo of bluemoonswoon


4.43/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Have has this guy on several occasions on draft, first time out of the bottle, let's see how this goes.

Slightly chill hazed, chalky and glowing reddish brown. One finger thick head that does not give a good indication as too how much lacing will be left behind. Answer: quite a bit.

Nose is wonderful, nutty with fruity esters and a hefty earthy hop aroma. Fresh is a word that comes to mind when smelling this. Roasty and sweet with slightly citrusy hop coupling. A solid complexity, nicely understand and highly appetizing.

Roasted bready malt is the first flavor that can be picked apart here, not as vinous or wine like as other English browns and a great deal hoppier, but hey, this is America dammit. Hazelnut, light piny resin, scorched brown sugar. The finish is slightly drying but maintains just the slightest bit of creaminess. There are also a pretty good deal of spiciness, I'd like to say nutmeg and just the slightest bit of cinnamon which adds yet another layer of complexity to an already outstanding brew.

I could by this stuff by the case, a wonderful winter beer, tasty but just the slightest bit too big to be an endlessly sessionable beer, but it is really easy to knock off not only a glass of this stuff, but a couple bottles as well.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2008 20:58:17 | More by bluemoonswoon
Photo of sm0key


4.43/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - lightish brown in color.

Smell - nutty!

Taste - Smooth. Packs more punch than the taste lets on...

Mouthfeel - Not very heavy for a brown ale, better than most, though

Drinkability - I get it all the time!

I love every Bell's product I've tried so far!

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2010 19:01:53 | More by sm0key
Photo of DonDirkA


4.43/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly translucent brown/amber with a dark brown head that fades to about one fingers and settles out to almost nothing. Nose is caramel, brown sugar, molasses, burnt sugar and there also seems to be just a hint of piney hops. The taste isn't nearly as malty and heavy as the nose. There are caramel flavors that are immediately overpowered by piney, slightly citrusy hops. Then it fades into a slightly bitter molasses flavor. It fades out with the hops still sitting on the tongue and some slight hints of brown sugar. The mouthfeel is medium with kind of a heavy feel behind it. The carbonation is perfect for this type of brew. I'm usually not too big on a lot of Bell's day-to-day brews except for Two Hearted but this one is actually pretty delicious.

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2012 06:39:53 | More by DonDirkA
Photo of JackTheRipper


4.4/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep reddish brown color, definitely hazy. A nice beige-tannish head, some lacing.

Smell: Doesn't smell as strong as I thought it would be, what I mean is, this offering has very little smell to it. What I can smell is some faint crusty-bready type of smell.

Taste: Bold tasting, surprisingly so considering the faint smell. First impression is a sweet coffee type of taste, followed by a nice hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Big, chewy mouthfeel. Full bodied, finishes very well. Alcohol is noticeable.

Drinkability: This would go great with a big chunk of roasted beast, or just sit back and have a few. This is a very well crafted beer. The only thing I would have liked is a bit more presence in the nose.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2004 05:38:02 | More by JackTheRipper
Photo of UncleJimbo


4.4/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz longneck brown bottle, capped, no date.

This beer poured a clear, deep red-brown chestnut color with creamy, tan foam that persisted and clung to the inside of the glass and coated it. The smell was malty with notes of caramel and a bit of hops. The taste was rich and malty with a bit of caramel and a nice hoppiness to balance the malt, and beneath the malt was a light fruitiness. The mouthfeel was smooth and dry with medium body and moderate carbonation. This was a great brown ale, and seemed very much like a German altbier to me. Thanks to feloniousmonk for this one.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2005 04:55:47 | More by UncleJimbo
Photo of BitterBrian


4.4/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured a deep rust color into a pint glass. one inch cream colored head with some decent staying power and leaving some good lacing.

objectivity will be difficult, since I already am a fan of this beer and style, but here it goes:

smells of sweet dark malts, a hint of nut and plum.

taste of roasted malty sweetness and some nuts, balanced with a bit of hops, but they don't stand out very much - they just give it some life. This is a real warm, friendly drinker. If I were to rate it within its category, I would say its one of the best brown ales (no pun intended). Maybe I have had better beers, but I still really enjoy this one.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2005 02:42:08 | More by BitterBrian
Photo of CultureJamMN


4.4/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep copper color with hints of purple. Hazy, but not cloudy exactly, more like... thinly overcast. Good 2 finger head, retained very nicely, and lacing was excellent.

Smell was almost all malts, very caramel, delightful, but uncomplicated.

This is a tasty, tasty beer! Caramel is strong, great malts. Hoppy bitterness at the end, but it's fleeting, and not overstated. A few hints of dark fruits (plums?) also in there.

This is wonderfull in the mouth. Low carbonation. Chewy, with a very good presence for a brown ale. It feels good enough, and the tastes work well enough that you can hold this in your mouth for more than a few seconds, as it warms in the mouth, it doesn't become thin.

This is an exceedingly good brown ale. The taste is not complicated, just really, really good. Proof that you dont need anything other than great basic ingredients to make great beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2006 17:39:32 | More by CultureJamMN
Photo of eagles22


4.4/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: nice dark hazelnut color with a tannish white 2 finger head..

Smell: yeast hit me at first than caramel and toffee...also bready nutty smells

Taste: wow nice nutty bready flavor at first end smooth with a nice toffee/coffee taste great complex beer love it

Mouthfeel: amazing ...very smooth

Drinkability: great session beer

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2009 04:58:40 | More by eagles22
Photo of HappyBivouac


4.4/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

dark red/amber brown with a little beige head. small rings of lacing.

smells of toast, nuts, caramel, biscuits, hazelnut, maple syrup. all the things that would make me love this with breakfast.

tastes very much like it smells. a good piece of toast with nutella on it and then some. light roast coffee character. some faint fruity hops mingle with the roasty flavors in the finish. this is a very good full flavor.

smooth & thick, with the rigth amount of carbonation that comes through for just a moment.

A very fine example of all that can be wonderful about this style. A very solid and thoroughly delicious brown ale that should not be overlooked in the presence of bigger beers.

Serving type: bottle

02-24-2009 03:20:43 | More by HappyBivouac
Photo of RonfromJersey

New Jersey

4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thick and hazy brown body, topped by a creamy, mountainous off-white head. Chocolate mingles with herbal hops in the nose. The taste is somewhat like making chocolate milk, using skim milk, and adding hops sufficient to tingle but not overwhelm the rest of the beverage. A somewhat strange description for a really fine beer. Not a style that attracts much interest, not one of the Bell's beers that generates a lot of buzz, but a brew I can heartily recommend.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2003 21:25:36 | More by RonfromJersey
Photo of KarlHungus


4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This brew pours a solid brown color with amber hues around the edges. The head is creamy and white with speckles of tan. The aroma is of roasted malt, chocolate, and nuts. The taste is sweet and nutty. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with perfect carbonation. Overall, this brew lives up to its name, as it truely is the best brown ale I have had.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2005 21:26:04 | More by KarlHungus
Photo of Frozensoul327


4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Didn't think i'd be fond of this one... Whatdya know. Pours out to a dark reddish tea color with a nice dense, tan colored foam head. Lacing is present. Aromas of hops, strong notes of toffee and some malt blend well in the nose. Taste is mild and slightly complex; flavors of roasted malts, light creamed coffee, some nuts and cereal grain. Nice. Aftertaste is utterly delicious. Smooth and nutty. Wow. Mouthfeel is nice, carbonation keeps the flavors flowing and the tongue entertained. Good drinkability. Perhaps the best Brown Ale i've had yet. The only change I would make is to lower the alcohol, as I felt it was just a touch too present at times. Still, a very good beer. Recommended.

THE BLOODHOUND FACTOR: Due to the subtle nose, neither hound was immediately interested. Peaches tasted it, and decided she could take it or leave it. Benji didn't even seem interested.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2005 02:18:29 | More by Frozensoul327
Photo of wspscott


4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle in pint glass

This pours a very thin head that dissapates quickly and leaves no lace on the glass. It is a very dark brown with more carbonation than I usually associate with a brown ale. The smell has hints of a dark brown bread. The taste is smooth and malty with a hint of roasted malts. The alcohol does not come across at all. The mouthfeel is just right, it coats the tongue but, doesn't feel thick. It does not come across as overly carbonated but, there is still more than I expect in a brown ale. This is an excellent brown ale and it stays true to the style. I could drink this all day. This is my ideal "session" beer, assuming that someone else will drive me home from the session :)

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2007 22:04:24 | More by wspscott
Photo of giblet


4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured nicely into the glass with about three eights inch of head that settled quickly. thin film of head. light steady carbonation. nice lightly roasted malt aroma. the taste is very good. roasted malt, caramel, slightly sweet but not over done. very little lacing down the glass.

suckem up and movem out.


Serving type: bottle

05-02-2009 18:56:19 | More by giblet
Photo of cdizinno

South Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured into a tulip glass from a 12oz. bottle different than that pitured.

A: Cloudy reddish/brown color with a nice thick off-white head and moderate lacing.

S: Slightly sweet malt scent. Nice scent to start off. Not too overpowering and slight caramel roasty aroma with mild hop overtones.

T&M: Smooth light to medium bodied brown ale. Much smoother than your standards. Real nice balance between malts and hops. Hits hard up front and fades to a nice mildly sweet malty/smoked/roasty taste. Finish is dry.

One of the best brown ales I've had because I prefer the milder taste instead of overpowering burnt/caramelized flavors associated with most brown ales.

Serving type: bottle

10-06-2009 22:22:36 | More by cdizinno
Photo of afdempse


4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I grew up on this beer, so it definitely has a special place in my heart. I'll try to be objective here...

First off, let me say that it seems as if reviewers on this site are attempting to rate this beer on what they expected it to be, not on what it is. This is not an imperial- or double- anything. It is a brown ale, and a solid one at that. End of rant. :)

Certainly looks wonderful. Bell's never disappoints with properly mashed grains and the head sticks to the glass like crazy.

Nice chocolatey malt scent with flavor to match. Warm, earthy malt flavor with a hint of toast and chocolate creaminess. Very slight hop bitterness and no hop flavor. Finishes clean with a hint of alcohol.

Drinkability is high... I could sip on these all night in front of a warm fire while watching the Lions lose and the Wolverines win. Michigan winter in a bottle!

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2009 02:29:37 | More by afdempse
Photo of bum732


4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

S: Malty and toasty with a very bisquity aroma, slight herbal component.

L: Hazy orangish brown, creamy light tan head with good retention and lacing.

T: Malty up front with a prominent bisquit note. Medium low herbal bitterness leading. Soft pear notes as it warms. Finishes very dry with a dry cocoa note.

M: Creamy medium full body with medium carbonation.

Great, big and bold for the style while still being kept in check. Really enjoyed this beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2011 02:28:58 | More by bum732
Photo of Skidz


4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch # 6577

Pours out caramel brown and sits cherrywood brown in the glass with a lofty light tan head, plenty of lacings for everyone. Fades to a light skim.

Smells nice and toasty with caramel, toffee and soft gentle hop aroma. When I first lifted it to my nose, I first though "cottage cheese." Strange the way different aromas are melded together. Still, good malty character.

Tastes mildy sweet up front and slowly picks up bits of hop bitterness along the slow,tortoise like journey of flavor. Faint caramel and nouget and just a dusting of nuts. Hops provide just enough bitterness to please the pallate and lend a touch of leafy green flavors. Slow to the finish, but well-bittered and lingering leafy hop flavors and caramel.

Clean and crisp in the mouth, tact carbonation. Medium body is well suited.

Not a bad brown, in fact, it's pretty damn solid. Consumed with pride and pleasure. A step, at least, above the rest.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2004 04:08:14 | More by Skidz
Photo of boogles


4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep red with perfect carbonation, more sediment than I anticipated. The smell was interesting--some vanilla and flowery perfume in addition to the expected maltiness, etc. The taste is delicious at a moderate chill--I don't think I'd like this one overchilled--and I could drink this all night. Just had one tonight, though. Very nice.

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2008 07:26:11 | More by boogles
Photo of TexIndy


4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brought back from Indy during XMas. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. The back label has a 4 digit bottling code that you can type into the website and get the beer and bottling info. I really like that part of the code but the major drawback is that it does nothing for you at the store unless you got wireless with you or the store lets you on the internet - neither of which really happens. Keep the code but add a date to the bottle. Anyway. It was a deep reddish brown color with some yeast bits floating around. Tons of carbonation that resulted in a carb geyser in the center that continuously feed the foam and collar. It started with an average size light brown head that slowly settled.

The aroma was sorta weak even for a brown. What was there was good but would have like it amped up a bit. Biscuity with cocoa powder. The taste was really good. This is probably the best English Brown that I've had. Solid from the start. Good malty bite with a bit of sweetness that leaves a nice finish. This would be a great session beer. Also would be a good beer to convert your friends to good beer.

Overall, a great beer that I highly recommend. Another great one from Bell's. Oh how I wish they were available here in the Great Beer Desert of Texas. Can't wait to try the other Bell's I brought back. Will definitely pick up more of this the next time I'm in Indy.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2009 01:45:49 | More by TexIndy
Photo of zoso493

North Carolina

4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As always with Bell's brews, I've really been looking forward to trying this brew. Poured it from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic.

Appearance: Pours a nice, deep brown with a thin two-finger head, tan head that leaves almost no lacing. This one is fairly opaque when held up to the light.

Smell: This one has a fantastic scent to it. Smells of brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon and all other kinds of nice sweets. The scents really blend together well, too. I'm not sure if a brown ale could smell better than this.

Taste: Taste follows the scent pretty closely but also incorporates a nice amount of roasted malts to combat the sweeter malts. Almost no presence of hops in this once.

Mouthfeel: This one is on the thicker side of things and is also pretty crisp despite not being really highly carbonated.

Drinkability: This is a really highly drinkable brew. Despite being a relatively thick beer, it still has a low ABV and goes down pretty smooth. When you take into account the complexity of this one, as well, you've got a really nice fall-time session brew.

Overall, this is a really good beer, as you would expect from anything bearing the Bell's logo. It's very tasty and the smell is superb. Nicely complex but still would make a fantastic session brew. This is a beer you have to try.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2010 03:32:08 | More by zoso493
Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 1,937 ratings.