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

Not Rated.
Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

837 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 837
Hads: 2,718
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 92
Gots: 315 | FT: 5
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-10-2002

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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 837 | Hads: 2,718
Photo of rabidawg
4.49/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pure white head. Slightly hazy red tinged nut brown, due to a not-so-careful pour. Specks and spots of lace.

Smell: Sweet glorious caramel malt, with a definite nutty aroma. My mouth waters as I saturate my sniffer with rich malty goodness. Not much in the way hop aroma, but that's fine with this style.

Taste: Initial rush of brown sugar sweetness. Light carbonation tickles the tongue and fills the mouth with cream. Middle consists of caramel and toasted nuts, and a buttery hint of diacetyl. Surprising level of gentle hops near the end, leading to a satisfyingly dry finish. Aftertaste is earthy yeast.

Hell yeah! Beer number two in my Bell's adventure, thanks to feloniousmonk!

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Photo of samie85
4.48/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Pours a nice amber/brown color with a quickly dissipating head.

S- All I could get was roasty malt smell.

T- The taste is pretty well balanced with a nice, sweet maltiness at the beginning and finishing with a very subtle, citrusy flavor.

M- The mouthfeel is exactly what you would expect from a brown ale, with just enough carbonation.

D- This is one that I could definitely keep drinking all night.

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Photo of Fatduck
4.48/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

After drinking several very hopped up beers, this is exactly what I wanted. Its smooth, malt dominate beer. It smells like a day in the forest and looks like a pile of freshly raked leaves. I like this beer a lot, and I am sad to drink the last of them.

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Photo of Gobigvt7
4.47/5  rDev +16.4%
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.

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Photo of mt5000
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
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.

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Photo of GordonQuid
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
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.

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Photo of sm0key
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
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!

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Photo of DonDirkA
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

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Photo of bluemoonswoon
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.4/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

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Photo of zoso493
4.39/5  rDev +14.3%
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.

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Photo of BitterBrian
4.39/5  rDev +14.3%
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.

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Photo of CultureJamMN
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
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.

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Photo of JackTheRipper
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
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.

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Photo of HappyBivouac
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
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.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
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.

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Photo of eagles22
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
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

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Photo of Frozensoul327
4.37/5  rDev +13.8%
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.

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Photo of pat61
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%

Primarily malt aromas on the nose with faint caramel.
Pours deep brown under a 2" finely bubbled foam cap that provides rich lacing.
Palate: subtle malt, slightly sweet, grain, no roast, hints of chocolate.
medium carbonation and body.

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Photo of wspscott
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
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 :)

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Photo of bum732
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

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Photo of cdizinno
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

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Photo of giblet
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
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.


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Photo of afdempse
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
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!

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Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 837 ratings.