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

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Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown

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very good

837 Reviews
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Reviews: 837
Hads: 2,715
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 92
Gots: 313 | 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: 2,715
Photo of nickd717
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from Chip's in Kill Devil Hills.

Pours medium brown with a huge lasting light beige head.

Aroma is nuts, caramel, and sweet malts. Not much to it.

Flavor is caramel, chocolate, and nuts. A little tart even, but not bad.

Slightly astringent on the palate with medium body.

Pretty drinkable. This is decent, but I have to say it's not one of the better Bell's beers out there.

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Photo of sixerofelixir
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle with batch code on back label, easily looked up on their website.

Looks very good. Creamy, patchy, tan/eggshell head. Superbly clear mahogany color. Smell is subdued malts and a tinge of mineral. First taste is toasty malts, then abruptly tankard-tasting. Not what I wanted. The aftertaste is still metallic, with a bit of hops, and bit cool-feeling, creamy, and smooth. Drinkability not as good as that of other brown ales. For a beer that looks (and smells) this good, I am disappointed in the taste.

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Photo of avaccani
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Typical brown. A 1 finger head that left a nice lace.

S - Maybe it's my cold but didn't get much here. Some bread, oat, perhaps toffee or caramel.

T - Being a big Bell's fan I was a tad dissapointed here. It is good, but nothing that wows me.

M - Light bodied, moderate carbonation.

D - I had 2 of these in one sitting and it was enough for me. I enjoyed it, but don't know if I'd seek it out again.

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Photo of andrewmartin
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A friend of mine brought me a six-pack of this a while ago and I just loved it, let's see how it does under the micrscope!

A: Deep, deep clear amber with big rocking head.

S: Hints of roasted malts and molasses.

T: Sweet sugary malts up front give way to a pleasent hop bitterness.

M: Not as creamy as a once remember, a bit more acidic and tingly.

D: Well, this wasn't as good as I recall, the previous one had a lot more character, but a solid brown nontheless.

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Photo of jcdiflorio
3.47/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured into a nonic glass from a 12oz brown long neck bottle with a crimped cap.

Cloudy,hazy reddish/brown color with a 1" off-white to light tan colored head that dissapated a bit quick leaving a constant creamy layer.Some webby lacing turning spottty half way down the glass

A good,clean, light,sweet,nutty,carmelly nose. Grassy with a faint roastyness,some dark fruit notes with some earthiness.

Burnt nutty carmelly tastes,tart, some dark fruitness,very earthy. Finishes dry with tart bitterness,clean not a lot of aftertaste. Lots of english style to this beer has a good balance.

Has a thick mouthfeel,grainy,slightly syrupy,some cloyingness with a tangy feel.
Could drink a few of these not much more,not a bad beer just nothing to get excited about.

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Photo of SixpointJMH
3.47/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an above average looking murky brownish colour with hints of amber here and there. Head is surprisingly minimal in size with a beige colour to it and sporadic amounts of residue left on the glass after each sip.

The aroma is malty for sure: toasted malt comes into play first and blends with a slight hint of caramel along with a bit of earthiness to it and perhaps a slight bit of nuttiness as well.

The flavour continues the aroma, with toasted malt once again leading the way. Sweetness subsides a bit and gives way to more of the earth and nut notes. If there is any sweetness, it's at the finish where it blends with some bitterness for a bit of a letdown at the end of each sip especially since the other flavour mesh so well. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with some creaminess to it, although it can be a touch thin at times and also has the aforementioned weird harshness to it.

Not a bad beer at all. I'd call it a slightly above average brown ale that gets the job done but is one that would barely stand out in a crowd. Worth a shot.

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Photo of claspada
3.47/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aromas of subtle toasted malt, caramel, toffee and nuttiness.
The taste follows the nose with sweet caramel malt, toasted nuts and a tiny bit of milk chocolate. It has more flavor than the nose would suggest, but unfortunately it just not that complex or flavorful.
Mouthfeel is crisp, with a medium-thin, borderline watery body and adequate carbonation. I would prefer a much fuller mouthfeel, but the thin body works is a decent change which allows this to finish quite crisp.
Overall this is quite drinkable, but forgettable. The flavor profile is just not on par with other brown ales I have had recently. English brown ales aren't supposed to be as malty and full-bodied as American ones, so I guess they accomplished their goal of creating a fairly tasty sessionable brown ale, but I won't be revisiting this anytime soon.

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Photo of brown2cu
3.47/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a color similar to cola; a bubbly head came and died quickly. No lacing. Average at best.

S: Brown sugar, caramel, and a touch of burnt malt.

T: Good mix of caramel, brown sugar, and a mild hop bitterness adds some complexity.

M: High carbonation creates a thin a body, however, it isn't necessarily a problem in this beer.

O: Overall, an average beer. Much better on tap.

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Photo of BradDurbin89
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured brown with light brown shades but is reddish when held to the window. Beige/ Khaki head was one finger with some retention.

The nose is sweet and has malt, caramel and hints of sweetness and fruit.

The toasted malts really come through, and there is hints of coffee and bitter chocolate. Sweetness and a very little bit of hops.

Moth is on the lighter side and more carbonation that I expected.

Overall, it is a pretty nice beer. It does not stand out as amazing, but I'd buy it again.

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Photo of Brunite
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance - Poured in a pint glass. A nice amber color with a light tan head. Head starts at about 2.5 fingers and backs off rather quickly.

Smell - Minimal amount of a sweet malt aroma. Not much nuttiness. The hops don't stand out in the nose.

Taste - A bit of hop bitterness in the taste. Not strong, but there. Not as much sweetness as I would have expected. Some lingering dryness with a little sweet after taste. Also some residual nutty flavors and a hint of licorice? Nice but not amazing.

Mouthfeel - Medium dry, semi-smooth.

Drinkability - Average brew. Doesn't blow my socks off. Easy drinker.

Overall: Better than many I've tried but not on par with other Bell's beers as far as "out of the park" performance. Given that I have access to both brews; I would choose a NG Fat Squirrel over this for my go-to brown...until something better comes along.

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Photo of warnerry
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 9/7/11

A - Pours a clear amber/brown with a lot if suspended material and one finger of tan head. Leaves some lacing.

S - Caramel malt with some nutty aroma. A bit of roasted malt.

T - Roasted malt and nuts. A bit of caramel malt and some sweetness on the finish.

M -- Medium mouthfeel with a mix of sweet and dry roast on the finish.

O -- Pretty good, but I have had much more flavorful brown ales. Wouldn't turn one down, but probably wouldn't buy again.

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Photo of blakesell
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed from the cask at boston's 09/18/07.

Appearance- Beer pours a somewhat clear brown dark amber which is kind of strange considering that it is cask conditioned. A 2 finger fluffy head as opposed to the tap of the same beer with a 4 finger head pour. There is slight lacing on the glass.

Smell- Hops upfront and what I can only call the signature cask scent. It seems that all real ales have a certain smell to them that can be picked out above beers in kegs or bottles. A slight maltiness but mostly the hops and cask scent.

Taste- Just like the smell, casks tend to have a taste to them as well. That creamy real ale flavor comes out first then a lingering light malt flavour. The hops are big in this beer and I sense that they have utilized quite a bit of dry-hopping in the cask.

Mouthfeel- Light bodied and creamy with very little to no carbonation. The beer is not sticky or cloying.

Drinkability- Very nice drinkability here. A bit overly hoppy for a brown ale, but I'll let that slide on the beer this time. I'm a fan of the hops used and it goes down smooth.

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Photo of pasdachuri
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pretty clear dark copper with a small tan head. Head is extremely sticky and laces well.

Sweet caramel aroma, toffee, slight roast and a touch of hops.

Tastes similar to how it smells. There's a good amount of buttery taste that's pretty smooth, backed up by nutty and malty flavors and a bit sweeter than expected.

Creamy, slightly uneven mouthfeel almost chewy with a mild level of carbonation.

Drinkability is decent as the sweet buttery taste mat become overwhelming after a few.

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Photo of hardy008
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear brown with a 3 finger light beige / off white head which fades quickly. Leaves some spotty lacing. The aroma is nutty with light caramel and bread.

The flavor is lightly sweet, with caramel, bread, and some nut flavor. Light to medium bodied. Proper carbonation. Has a slightly nutty aftertaste. A good effort from Bell's.

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Photo of malcontent
3.44/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Billowy two fingers worth of cream-colored head sit perched atop a typically Bell's cloudy mahogany body.

Lots of grain husk with understated malt sweetness and a little bit of soap?!?

Rich, nutty malt flavor with excellently controlled supporting hop bitterness. Finish is long and creamy with an emphasis on nuttiness (pecans).

Mouthfeel displays appropriate thickness yet the finish is slightly waxy/soapy again. A weird brown which displays a well above average flavor delivered with amateurish flair.

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Photo of tempest
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Triple Rock Social Club.

Definately an English brown, as it's a mellow tasting beer. I don't know what's "best" about this. I don't get much complexity of flavor, just some nice chocolate malts. It's nice beer, don't get me wrong, I just wouldn't invest in a 6'er. It is a nice stepup from Newcastle, however. Give it to a friend as a gateway beer.

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Photo of jwhawkins81
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Batch #9561 bottled on 1/26/2010 tasted on 4/22/2010

Aroma - Rich maltiness with a touch of sweetness. Not a lot of hop aroma but maybe just hint on the nose.

Appearance - Dark reddish brown with a thin light brown head that quickly dissipated. Good level of residual carbonation following the pour.

Taste - A maltiness that isn't too sweet or even dominating the flavor. Slight hint of hard water minerals and a touch of astringent alcohol like flavors. Over the entire bottle the flavors smoothed out to a nutty brown goodness

Notes - Not bad but not great either. The mouthfeel was just OK.

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Photo of rembrant
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour- As much head as you want,fairly substantial rich cream tops a medium brown body

aroma- in a nicely English way,the main scents are fresh bread crust,oak lumber,and bits of toffee nut with hints of yeast.

Taste- pleasent, though in the effort to be a rather dry English style it avoided and muted any clear cut sweet malt side as well as the more flavorful American type hops. So, rather than describing coffee and fruits and pine's all "Beer".
There's a touch of woody,toffee-nut,and a British-Euro hop finish that does not try to do a notable flavor or long aftertaste.

this one's warmer than one I had earlier but the malt side isn't more assertive,and the carbo seems less. Going for an English pub ale?

Mouth- The Carbonation does fall a bit short and relative to other Browns I've hadthis has the least body and sparkle. It also does not have a real fine finish,just a plain wooden bitter.

drinkability- Actually not bad,would be better with a nicer finish and a bit mor fizz. Dangerously close to flat+watery,and yet i think they aimed at a tradition where that's just how it is.
Pretty good,but Brown is a Genre where there's a lot of beers above 'pretty good".

Picture a photo of a plain man in a gray tweed topcoat with a plain dark blue tie,in front of a gray building and under a gray sky,all looking ever so British,a photo you can guess,is it 1959? 2009? It has that sort of proper,and a bit stodgy quality.

This is the beer that man would drink. Every day. Forever.

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Photo of spointon
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this one on tap at Galway Tribes on 1/7/2009.

A= This ale poured a medium to dark brown color with a sort of fizzy 1/2" tan head that ratained quite a while.

S= This one had a classic malty brown ale aroma with a bit of faint roastiness and some hop bitterness.

T= Unfortunately weak on the palate, but then that is the style. Flavors much the same as in the aroma, just weaker than I thought they would be.

MF= Light side of medium bodied with a creamy feel despite the average to higher carbonation level.

D= Drinkability was ok, but the flavors would not make me want to have it often. About my least favorite Bell's beer so far.

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Photo of Daniellobo
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Good if a bit tepid brown ale.

Presentation: 12 oz brown capped bottle. Bells framing with light cream label where an owl sits on top of a wired fence pole. Back offers a short paragraph about intent and description. Notes 5.8% Alc by Vol. and packing date 1-04-12 A. Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Amber brown to brown pour, initial fair frothy head, moderate retention and surface memory with a few touches of lacing.

S - Malty roasted notes, nutty touches, hazelnut, some caramel…

T - And the taste follows nicely with a bitter soft touch in the end under a nice malty sense, hazelnut, caramel-toffee, bit of chocolate in the distant.

M - Medium-light to light body with moderate softly tuned carbonation, nice tingle as it lingers.

O - It actually has a pretty nice flow all things considered.

Notes: Maybe I´m a bit condescending… This is all sorts of decent, just not really my thing. Worth having around for a mellow, generic and quality malty offering, just nothing to really keep on the radar.

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Photo of granger10
3.42/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark brown color with a small tan head that left quickly. Smell was quite nice of toffee and caramel and some roasted nut flavor. The taste was somewhat similar to the smell except for a mouth-puckering astringent flavor that came and stayed in my mouth for the duration of the drink. I don't know if this batch was spoiled by something but the flavor could have been really good had that flavor not been so prevalent. I'm going to try this again at a later time.

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Photo of elephantrider
3.42/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Reddish brown, tan head. I would have liked it darker.

S: Lots of bready carmel. Some toffee. A little nutty and chocolatey.

T: Carmel with some toasty characteristics right off the bat. Then some chocalate and nutty flavors. Finishes slighlty hoppy.

M: Medium bodied

O: Pretty decent beer. I dont like to drink more than a couple of these at a time as I move to other more interesting things. There are a couple more Browns that I like better than this.

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Photo of ImusBeer
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Out of the tap a dark brown with little lacing and no head to speak of.

Aroma was mostly nothing, maybe raisin? Taste was a lot of malt, molassas, raisin and some sweetness, not as much as some Brown Ales I've had like JW Dundees.

It was light with really no carbonation, just too low. It's a nice brown ale, not very sweet like some others but not as bitter as most English Brown Ales.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a two finger light tan head that fades to a thin layer leaving some lace. Cloudy amber color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Slight malty nose. Starts sweet with caramel overtones, becomes more balanced with smooth finish but somewhat bitter aftertaste. $1.89 for a 12oz bottle from Chalet Party Goshen, In.

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Photo of NonServiam
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle purchased from a convenience store in Chicago.

Poured into a pub-style pint glass. Color is a dark amber or leathery brown, translucent to opaque. Copper and orange is apparent if held before a light. Head began life at about two and a half fingers, quickly shrank to half a finger, which persisted through the tasting. Head is medium to dark cream, with a hint of orange. Laces moderately well.

Aroma is nutty and sweet, reminiscent of caramel or toffee. Flavor is similarly nutty and sweet overall, but with a distinct bitter dryness on the finish. Not very hoppy -- this bitterness at the end is the main hop component. Some notes of toast and bread are also detectable, but the whole is not terribly complex. Complexity is not really the point, though -- it's very soothing, warm, and pleasant without being too bold or provocative. Mouthfeel is spot on, silky and slightly tingly with carbonation.

This is a pretty good, but conservative -- staple, even -- example of the style.

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