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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

849 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 849
Hads: 2,806
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 95
Gots: 364 | 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: 849 | Hads: 2,806
Photo of bobhits
2.09/5  rDev -45.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Brown, thin, filtered, 1 finger head, white off white creamy head.

Toasty aroma followed by caramel malt. Some hops mixed in. Creates a rather complex and interesting aroma.

Somewhat thin, watery, toasted malt up front, finishing carmal, hops give an earthy piny touch that's just enough there to add some almost texture to the beer.

Drinkable enough and clean enough in the mouth feel, but both are just off. It's a touch too thick in mouth feel for the flavor. The flavor is pretty light and ready to a day of drinking but the body isn't. it's not something I'd drink 4-5 of in a night. Just too thick and not flavorful enough to have me keep tipping my glass.

 667 characters

Photo of rkinsella
2.32/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured into a nonic glass, looks great...dark tea colored with a bit of a haze, off white head with good retention and average lacing.

On the nose, alcohol whiff right away, toasty bread with a bit of spiciness. Smells like a boozy home brew...sadly enough.

Taste starts with bread like flavors dipped in alcohol, moves to a slight tanginess before the subtle hop finish.
Missing all the wonderful flavors that can emerge from a brown ale...i.e. nuttiness, fruity and brown sugar notes.

Medium carbonation, medium to heavier body.

Too boozy tasting to be a session brown...almost has a winter warmer feel to it.

Not what I look for in a brown ale. Better domestic offerings from Goose Island, Avery, Sam Adams, etc.

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Photo of Crosling
2.36/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle purchased at the old brewery about 2 weeks ago. Bright copper color, with a small head. Very apparent oxidation in the nose; lots of sherry and wet cardboard, with light malts, honey....etc...but not much besides oxidation. Oxidation is less present in the flavor, thankfully, which I usually tend to experience in my tasting. Honey and dark malt flavors. The oxidation ruined the beer. I wouldn’t rate it, except that I purchased it the brewery a week or so ago.

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Photo of jdubjacket
2.43/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Got as an extra in a trade with limesmut.

I must say that of all the Bell's brews I've had, this is by far the biggest disappointment.

Pours a light brown with pretty much no head and minimal lacing. Smell was almost non-existent. Couldn't pick anything out of the nose. Taste was very disappointing. Very watered down with no real flavor. Nothing really jumped out at me here unfortunately. Very watered down mouthfeel. Drinkability is average since this beer is pretty unspectacular.

Very disappointed with this beer, especially since it's from Bell's.

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Photo of biglite351
2.53/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - light for a brown. Tall tight near white head.

S - very mild. Almost like a sweet lager.

T - when I drink this it make me think of a very light bock. The flavor drops off fast.

M - not thin but no real coating either. Tingle on entire front of tongue.

D - very drinkable like any (seemingly) light beer would be, but why bother?

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Photo of benmiliron
2.55/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beautiful color, deep deep reddish brown.

Taste is surprisingly unpleasant, especially for Bell's. Kind of earthy (like dirt) with a hint of aluminum. I hate to bash this beer's taste, being a huge fan of Bell's, but I really didn't care too much for this beer. This is the first Bell's I've not enjoyed :( sniff.. sniff... Lots of foamy carbonation. There's a hint of oak or maple in there too.

If you're looking for Bell's, buy the Expedition Stout instead.

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Photo of quasimoto
2.63/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Light Brown/copper color, w/ a big fluffy head.

S - Strong sour paper and some kind of muddy hop.

T - Muddy chocolatestarts off, but then melds into a chocolate toasty flavor. Too much hops.

M - Smooth all around, Some carbination bite, but easy on the palatte.

D - Not something I would drink all night. Also A bit off for the style.

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Photo of vfgccp
2.67/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A – Gave this bottle a few days to rest upright in the fridge, and still poured with some chunky sediment. Otherwise the ice-tea brown body was clear, building a low white head.

S – Thin aroma. Brown sugar, and light oak is pretty much all I could get.

T – Disappointingly thin flavor as well. Has a wart character too it, with brown bread and honey. But even that is light.

M – Light and watery mouthfeel. Mildly sweet finish.

O – Almost tastes like too much water was used in the sparge.

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Photo of umustdrink
2.71/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

found in the back of the fridge (should have left it there?)

A - Deep brown color. Very light brown head, big and fluffy to start, recedes to a thick film. Little lacing.

S - Mild smells of brown sugar, cereal malts with minimal bitterness.

T - Very mild tastes as well: light and tangy malts with a tiny bit of sweetness.

M - Thin to medium consistency with probably too much carbonation considering it may be a bit too thin in consistency.

D - Completely un-stellar in most concerns. Not your typical Bell's. Oh well.

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Photo of savaship
2.75/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This beer was ordered on Tap and served in a special Bell's Pint Glass. It had a beautiful dark brown appearance, I estimated it to be 27 SRM with a nice hint of red. I spent a little time gauging the color with an SRM chart from the Beer Judging Certification Program. The head was foamy off-white but dissipated quickly, leaving slight lacing.

The beer smelled very nicely, the adequate aroma hop usage worked to its benefit, had a very english ale floral aroma to it, I think the aroma hop was likely a Fuggle hop, it definitely smelled the way most good Brown Ales smell.

Taste I had issues with... American Craft brewers like to unbalance their beer with high acid hops such as Cascade hops which I suspect were in this beer, that just leave a drinker like me who's expecting a nicely balanced beer very disappointed. I estimated this beer to be 35-37 IBU, even if it was actually lower, the hop choice just tastes foul, and overpowers the malt.

The carbonation was perfect, had I not wanted to get that beer out of my mouth as quickly as possible, I would have savored it longer.

Overall, I do not like this beer. It seems to have taken the brown ale tradition and forced it down the American Ale Cascade hop road to attempt to make it taste like many of the woefully unbalanced American Craft beers out there that favor bitter over balance.

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Photo of Cresant
2.76/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a becker. Batch 7681. The body was a hazy, honey brown color with three fingers of head. Some lacing remained.

Smell was aluminum. Other aromatic characteristics were faint. Eventually a brown sugar aroma surfaced.

Taste was toasty sweet malts. Lightly syrupy flavor. Light hops lift. Nice interplay of malts and hops (not all malts).

Mouthfeel was smooth, however, the swallow revealed robust carbonation. Medium to light body. This is not one I would seek out again, but brown ales are not one of my favorite styles.

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Photo of srv33
2.79/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark amber pour, light medium-fine frothy head. Little smell, a little bread a little nutty. Tastes much the same, very much a generally pleasing ale. I could see how this would be a crowd pleaser. No notable overarching notes on first taste that aren't uncommon for an ale. Great aftertaste though, a little vanilla and oddly a little melon, very smooth.

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Photo of dpnelson1978
2.81/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12 oz. bottle into glass pint.

$1.50 / ea.

A: Cloudy brown body swimming with particulate and topped with a big tan head that quickly dissipates leaving light foamy lacing and a thin bubbly cover.

S: Unmistakable roasted character dominates the aroma, with distinct nut and sweet malt accents. Hops are negligible. Simple but effective.

T: Sweet nutty malt front and center with a mild hop bitterness in the distant background. Slight bitterness remains on the tongue after the taste. Borders on too sweet. Bandaid flavors at the very end, likely from the yeast sediment that made its way into the bottle. Again, very simple profile, but still enjoyable.

M: Light to medium body and moderate carbonation. Sweet malt has a tendency to coat the tongue giving a sense of smoothness that is a little overbearing.

D: Solid beer, but too sweet for my taste. A couple of these is more than enough, but would compliment a pork chop nicely.

O: A bit below my expectations for Bell's.

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Photo of SometimesIfart
2.84/5  rDev -26%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

A - Pours copperish brown with a two-finger white head. No lacing.

S - Raisins, roasted malt.

T - A wee-bit of coffee, raisins, roasted malt, a bit water.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

O - Overall, it was exremely average. I could have it at the the bar, but probably wouldn't buy it for the home.

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Photo of woosterbill
2.85/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle, packaged on 9/13/11, into a La Chouffe tulip. Thanks to vonschplieffen for tossing one of these my way. Is Bell's distributing to CT now? If so, I'm ecstatic.

A: Clear ruddy chestnut body under an inch of soft tan foam. Good retention and some spotty lace. I love the color.

S: WTF. This smells like pure, raw pumpkin. Not pumpkin pie, but the distinctively evocative aroma of carving a jack-o-lantern. There's some more standard caramel and herbal hops, too, but I just can't get past the pumpkin. I might appreciate it if it were supposed to be there, but as it is I'm kind of weirded out.

T: The gourd is pretty much (bot not entirely) gone, replaced by more generic nuttiness, chocolate, and plenty of grassy hop bitterness. It's a little on the weak side, but not terrible. Just a standard brown.

M: Light-to-medium body, highly carbonated. Pretty nice.

O: I'm just confused by this beer. Is it supposed to be a pumpkin ale? If so, then it's pretty good. As a straight brown ale, though, it's quite disappointing. I know Bell's can do better.


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Photo of fscottkey
2.86/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: [4.00] Not surprisingly the beer is a pleasing brown color. It is not totally transparent. It forms about 1/2 a finger of off white head. The head does not stay around too long leaving traces along the edges and the surface. The bottle lists the ABV (5.8%) and the Julian date code equate to (09/23/15).

S: [3.00] The nose is a bit weak and undefined. I get hints of light molasses and some nuttiness like hazelnuts. I also get some toffee and caramel.

T: [2.50] Kind of an off metallic flavor upfront. Some toffee and nuttiness - but again is is very subdued like the nose. Some hop bitterness on the finish too.

M: [3.00] The beer is a little thin and watery. There is a strange astringent quality to it too.

O: [3.00] This beer is just a miss for me. The aroma and flavor are subdued - what I can pickup I don't really like that much. There are some weird off flavors. I wouldn't drink this again.

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Photo of LiquidBread219
2.87/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A= Poured dark brown with a slight head which disappears quickly.

S= For me this beer smelled a little bit on the nutty side.

T= The taste was nutty with little bit of a carmel aftertaste.

M= Pretty smooth beer, medium carbonation. To me this is kind of a boring beer.

D= It's a ok beer kind of boring to me because nothing really stands out to me or defines it probably wouldn't buy this one again.

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Photo of PorterLambic
2.89/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich, dark brown. Decent light penetration. Smallish head drops to a ring.
Smell is fairly light with notes of malt and light hops.
Taste is a good mix of malt and hops, a light roast is present.
Finish is somewhat dry with hops coming to the fore. A Slightly metallic hint floats by, a la Newcastle Brown, but just in passing. A good, MOR brown. Certainly sessionable.

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Photo of mnstorm99
2.91/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

Light brown pour, pretty disappointing, with an off white head that sticks around.
Aroma is a nice spicy hops with a good bready, roasted malt to it.
Taste it like burnt toast, the bready malts don't mix real well with the spicy hops. But I was able to get some carmel, coffe notes in there.
Mouthfeel is very thin for a brown and overly carbonated, this is my first real big disappointment from the folks at Bells.

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Photo of PDXHops
2.92/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. Body is decidedly not brown out in the light; deep amber is more accurate. Modest off-white head with a little lacing.

Smells good, muted caramel and toffee with a dusting of cocoa powder and background nuttiness. A bit of leafiness in the nose turns into a fairly powerful bitterness, which is out of style and somewhat at odds with the otherwise nutty and toasty flavor profile. As the bitterness subsides at the swallow, toasted malts and a touch of nuttiness return. Some cereal grains in there as well. Just a hint of chocolate.

Overall impression: Not bad at all, but loses points when reviewed as a true English brown ale. Definitely would have scored this higher as an American version, which honestly seems to be a better fit.

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Photo of scott
2.94/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I love Bell's products. They do dark ales very well. I don't care for this beer. So mediocre, I find it hard to rate it without feeling guilty.
Pours so gorgeous, I was excited. Nice copper body with a beautiful white head of almost four fingers! It begged me to drink it.
And I did. Twice. With the same results. Boring. I'm sorry.
Smells of a malt bisquit, and has lackluster mouth appeal and the only reason I'm drinking more than one is because I had to buy six.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
2.94/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep copper/ amber/ brown, with a small white head. In the aroma, a small sweet malt, but somewhat bland. In the taste, a sweet maltiness, yet quite thin. A smooth mouthfeel and a dry malty aftertaste. A bit sweeter than a standard brown, however not a big nose. Easy to drink and non offensive.

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Photo of rundocrun
2.95/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - Pours a deep walnut-brown color with a 1/2 finger of off-white head that fades quickly. No lacing on the glass.

S - Not much going on in the nose aside from a very mild sweet brown sugar aroma. Possibly some herbal hop character.

T - Flavors of burnt sugar, mild caramely sweetness and a vague bitterness that doesn't really seem to come from hops, alcohol or anything else. There are also some mild esters toward the finish that recall plums, figs, raisins, etc.

M - Thin body. I'd have to say this one is definitely over-carbonated. What few flavors are evident in this beer are overpowered by the intense tingling carbonation that hits the tongue with each sip.

Overall - Not really that great of a beer. Aroma and flavor both leave a lot to be desired and the carbonation level is a problem for me.

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Photo of Auracom
2.97/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. poured into a RR tulip on February 26th, 2013.

A - Murky soft caramel coloring. Light khaki foam with good lacing and marginal retention.

S - Freshly-rolled dough, hint of smoke, roasted peanuts.

T - Very direct. Honey malts, soft caramel cookie, and a hint of over roasted coffee.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, semi-dry finish.

D - Exactly what it ought to be, but nothing memorable. Super approachable and about as middle-of-the-road as you can get.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
2.98/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bell's Best Brown Ale

Appearance- nice hickory brown with a decent frothy head.
Smell- nutty and sweet. Malt and caramel detected.
Taste- whoa sooo sweet. Nutty but sugary sweet.

Overall- just too sweet for me. Nice nutty, caramelly, woddsiness but made my cheeks hurt. I'll pass on this next time.

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Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 849 ratings.