1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

2,497 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,497
Reviews: 810
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.49%
Wants: 80
Gots: 207 | FT: 3
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,497 | Reviews: 810 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DrJay
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brown beer with a reddish hue, the dark cream coloured head was very fine and showed a bit of lace. Malty aroma, some nuttiness with a bit of toffee. Same in the flavour along with mild bitterness and muted hop flavour towards the end. Bitterness really lingers in the finish. Dry overall, medium-light bodied and decent texture. A solid brown ale.

DrJay, Jan 08, 2006
Photo of kmpitz2
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep and intense amber color with a finger of off-white head that falls to a full coat over top. Nose is nutty and caramel, with just a hint of roasted malt. I'd even like to see a bit more nutty character to this one. Flavor is working well. Very solid nutty character, with a moderate caramel sweetness and just a light edge of roast. Pretty nice English brown. Feel is moderate with a carbonation on the lighter end of moderate. Bell's always seems to hit things pretty well with their brews. This one satisfies, thought I really would like a stronger roasted character. Not that it detracts from the brew, but it keeps it from what it could be.

kmpitz2, Feb 23, 2006
Photo of rangerred
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a hazy medium brown with a nice 2 finger head. Excellent head retention and lacing.

Smells of caramel and toasted malt. There is also a certain yeasty smell.

The taste is very malty with strong caramel/toffee and also a slight sour yeasty flavor. There is a bitterness that really kicks in at the end that is nutty and hoppy. The mouthfeel is very creamy and pretty thick.

Overall I think this is a very good beer and a good example of the style. I wish it was available locally because I would definitely seek it out.

rangerred, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of Shrews629
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Decent little amber/brown color with a light tan head. Body is somewhat cloudy with some sediment suspended. Head retention and lacing was quite alright.

Smell - Adequate amount of a sweet caramel malt, bread, biscuit malt. The aroma is also disclosing an almost almond or peanut scent. The hops don't stand out in the nose. More so in the taste. A bit of an earthy or leafy scent also.

Taste - A bit of hop bitterness in the taste. Not strong, but there. A dry bread taste with the hints of caramel and touches of chocolate.

Mouthfeel - Medium dry, semi-smooth mouthfeel. Lots left on the palate. No real warmth, but it is easy going.

Drinkability - Pretty good brew. Doesn't blow my socks off, but definitely worth a try. Went down easy. Bells creates solid brews and this one is no different. Not much else to say, except I can drink it no problem.

Shrews629, Nov 26, 2010
Photo of NStLincoln
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not much head to speak of from my pour, but a deep reddish brown color in the body that's really pretty.

The nose is full of rich malt bread and melted butter.

Falls a bit flat on the palate for me. Not much depth to the flavors which include some nuttiness and a pop of hops bitterness on the back end.

A smooth sessionable beer despite it coming in at 5.8 ABV.

NStLincoln, Jan 26, 2011
Photo of jayandsheri
3.72/5  rDev -2.9%

jayandsheri, Aug 16, 2014
Photo of oakaged88
3.72/5  rDev -2.9%

oakaged88, Oct 13, 2014
Photo of orbitalr0x
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours from the bottle with the sweet owl illustration a lovely chocolate brown with a nice inch of khacki foam on top. Stringy lacing decorates the side of my glass. My nose descends to the glass and I get a nice roasted dark malt with hints of chocolate and a fresh green herbal hop. Well balanced.

First sip brings a nice roasted, toasted maltiness upfront that has notes of powdered cocoa and burnt grains. Hints of dark fruits emerge here and there along with a mellow herbal hop on the way down. A nice solid brown ale that I find enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a chewy palate. Definetly on the heavy side for a brown ale but I enjoy it that way. I could easily have a few of there..but there are other Bell's brews I'd probably pick first. Definetly worth a try. Thanks to kmpitz2 for hooking me up!

orbitalr0x, Jun 25, 2005
Photo of Metalmonk
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dig the old-school label that's (currently) up on this site; this bottle is the newer wintry label. Features an owl in a regal pose...the guy looks pretty bad-ass. I wonder if this beer is...

What's immediately amazing right after the pour is that this is far from the brownest of brown ales out there. Qualifies as brown, certainly, but has a rust-orange hue that almost looks like a double IPA. Head is off-white, leaning toward tan; creamy and of average thickness. Thins fairly quickly and leaves some lace, never diminishing to a mere skim.

Hazelnut nuttiness in the aroma, a kiss of mineral behind it. Basic and subdued, not impressive but nothing out of whack either.

Flavor is nutty front and center, even a little bit peanut buttery; the requisite/expected caramel and toffee characters check in; ghostly flashes of fruit in the background, although just what kind of fruit I can't decipher. Little tart on the back end, with hazelnut creeping in during the finish (which is mostly dry). Feels fine, smooth and with nice glide, amidst healthy but polite carbonation.

So I've given this sucker a "B" -- and it's easy to forget that B does not mean Bad...it's actually Good! The catch here is that "good" is below the average of the usually excellent Bell's. Ultimately, Best Brown is very drinkable and certainly enjoyable, yet here I am looking more forward to my next Third Coast Old Ale, Two Hearted, or Expedition Stout. C'est la vie...

Metalmonk, Nov 24, 2009
Photo of cjacobsen
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a clear brown with a deep color to it in the middle. Light beige colored head that is about a qtr of an inch. A lot of sediment flakes. Lacing left by the head.

Smells of roasted malt, slight hops. Can't make out much else.

Tastes of dark malt, nut, some caramel. Some slight biscuit in there. The taste is quite good and very simple.

Tastes like a brown. Slight carbonation bite but nothing terrible our out of the ordinary.

This is alright, but not the BEST BROWN I've had. The sediment kind of kills the appearance for me. This is a decent brew, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get this again.

cjacobsen, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of bashiba
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark dirty brown with ruby highlights and a thin tan head.

Smell had a nice light toasted malt quality.

Big bready toasted malt flavors with a nice bit of yeast and a touch of bitterness.

mouthfeel has a medium body with a dry finish.

A pretty good brown from Bell's, I will drink this again.

bashiba, Aug 21, 2006
Photo of mikesgroove
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served right out of the fridge and poured into a pint glass

A - Poured a very nice and pretty clear hazelnut brown with just the slightest bit of a reddish tint to it around the edges. A very nice amount of carbonation was evident in the streams of bubbles that were chaining up from the bottom throughout the session. A very nice three finger high head of off white colored lace formed on the top on the initial pour and then faded back down to just a thin layer across the top after a few moments. The nice thin layer stayed with it throughout the session and gave off very nice residual side glass lace. Overall very nice and a good classic brown ale look to it.

S - The aroma was very easy to pick up, which was nice as sometimes it is rather light and it can take a minute to pick it out. The first thing I noticed was the nice malt bill attached to this one. A nice mix of cereal grains and bready malts that gave it a very nice base to work off of. As it warmed up I detected some nice light grass like hop notes in there as well some hints of fruit, banana to be more specific that were coming through and giving it a little more balance. The aroma overall was pretty classic, maybe with a little tweak of hoppiness to it, but a good representation of the style in general.

T - The flavor was classic, just a good all around brown ale. Started out with lots of malts, this was completely to be expected. Cereal grains, bready and earthy tones dominating, but then fading under increasing pressure from caramel like sugary notes that seemed to really bring out the best in this one. Deep flavor profile which surprised me to be honest. A nice long dry finish capped it off very nicely and provided that long dry bitter taste that just really is a sign of Bell's in particular.

M - A very nice light to medium bodied ale, this was pretty darn good I have to admit. There was a very nice carbonation profile, bubbles keeping it lively throughout the session and never really letting it get too dull or watery. Very strong finish and a really nice feel overall with a delicate smoothness balanced against a tight crisp profile.

D - Very nice here as I could easily make this an everyday session beer. Light enough in flavor and profile to be easily drinkable, but at the same time the flavors were very well pronounced and made it much better then just another brown ale. Low ABV and great carbonation wee just the icing on the cake.

Overall this was definitely a quality brown ale. I would not say it was the best I have ever had, but it was certainly above normal for sure. I would love to try this on tap, as I really feel it would bring out the best in its character when poured fresh. Definitely a high quality regular rotation offering from Bells here and something I would really like to try again.

mikesgroove, Mar 09, 2008
Photo of tvv375ia
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass

A-cloudy burnt orange colored with about a finger on head that fades quickly

S-carmel malt and a very earthy hop smell on the finish

T-much like the smell with some carmel up front and a slight pine hop finish

M-ok carbonation fairly light bodied

O-I had this on tap a couple of weeks ago so I thought that I would pick up a 6 pack so I could review it. On tap definitely a 4+ bottled not so much but it is still good

tvv375ia, Feb 09, 2012
Photo of LittleBreeze
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1/8/2008

Nice aroma. Even with the light chocolate, coffee and bread cameral smells this one still smells like beer.
There is a nuttiness in the taste. A bit of bitterness in the finish balances the sweetness. Carbonation enhances the mouthfeel. Has just a little bit of a creamy feel.

Nice brew. Very drinkable.

LittleBreeze, Jan 10, 2008
Photo of spinrsx
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from good ta go beer store in PA for 1.99 - thanks to jfam for this

Appearance - Hazy brown colour with a large size fizzy/frothy beige head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly good lacing. The head lasted for over 5 minutes. There are also some particles floating around.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, brown sugar, dark fruits

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, toffee, chocolate, and a hint of dark fruits (raisins?). There is also a little bit of a molasses flavour. It ends with a malty chocolate and toffee aftertaste.

Overall - Pretty good, but nothing that will blow your socks off. It's very drinkable but the higher abv would keep it from being a session type brew. Worth a shot but I wouldn't pick it up again.

spinrsx, Apr 05, 2012
Photo of soupyman10
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep amber color with some fairly light tan head that dissolves very quickly. No real lacing. Nose is fairly weak, a little bit of a surprise for a Bell's beer. Just a bit of hops and malt, fairly balanced for an English brown. Taste is solid. Lots of sweet caramel malt, but a nice mix of fairly fruity hops as well. This one's pretty sour too, which is unique to most of the English browns I've had. Feel is medium bodied with good carbonation. I like this one a lot. I've yet to have a Bell's beer that I wasn't impressed at. This one isn't there best, but it's a good beer, a little high in ABV to be sessionable, but definitely one I could drink a bunch of.

soupyman10, Aug 19, 2007
Photo of woodychandler
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

CAN you believe a 5L CAN?!? I not only CAN, but I have one and I have been awaiting a guest or two to help me drink it. The CANQuest (TM) CAN venture into new territory with the idea that a 5L mini-keg qualifies as a CAN for the purposes of this site.

I am a novice with this sort of delivery system, so I had to a) follow the directions VERY carefully and b) decide on the best pour for it. With regards to b), I tried a straight pour, allowing it to run from the tap into the glass, but I ended up with a massive amount of head, which I kept for myself. I then tried angling the glass and allowing the beer to flow into it without letting it impact the bottom of the glass. Either way, I had a buncha head. Allowing it to settle from its original, light-tan state into something more manageable, I still had a good bit of foam and a lot of sticky lacing to go along with it. The color was more of a ruby-red with NE-quality clarity than a brown, but it still looked enticing. The nose was definitely malty sweet with a bit of maple sugar included in the mix. Mouthfeel was slightly thin but I could tell that it was a sweet brown ale immediately. I am not averse to the style, but after a day of sampling hoppy beers, this really stood out from the pack. Tasty. A steady diet of AALs while furthering The CANQuest (TM) has honed my palate to the point that anything and everything tastes good. The finish had a slight smokiness to it, reminiscent of my PapPap burning leaves in his outdoor brick fireplace when I was a kid. Are you even allowed to burn leaves in this day and age? Man, I am getting old. The young lady visitor who just left laid it on me that she was born when I was leaving for Boot Camp. Oy vey!

woodychandler, Nov 27, 2010
Photo of MSR129
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very nice offering from Bells. Pours a rich amber color with a thin head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is not particularly strong. The flavor is rich and nutty, similar to Arcadia's Nut Brown. It is pretty carbonated for a Brown Ale, but not overly so.

It's easy to polish off a few of these with out thinking about it. The Northern Saw-whet Owl on the label is outstanding.

MSR129, Mar 02, 2012
Photo of ManekiNeko
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served chilled from a bottle at a Bell's tasting at the Brickskeller.

Appearance: Clear copper color with a frothy offwhite head. Head eventually dissipates to a frothy later. Left some nice fine lacing on the plastic cup.

Smell: Nice caramel and toffee aromas. Slightly sour, grassy hops in background.

Taste: Caramel and toasted flavors. Faint coffee tastes. Herby hops on finish.

Mouthfeel: Solid medium body. Nice carbonation.

Drinkability: A nice quaffer. I liked it, but wasn't overly excited.

ManekiNeko, Oct 23, 2003
Photo of bigbluebeerguy
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep reddish-brown into a pint glass with a one-finger head that dissipated quickly and left little to no lacing.

Slightly sweet smelling, malty with a tinge of nuttiness. Taste reflected much of the same, was a little lighter than I was expecting for the style. A little crisp in the mouth, a little more carbonated than I would have imagined, but still very good. This is a smooth beer that I found very drinkable, would definitely purchase again. Pretty much can't go wrong with anything from Bell's.

bigbluebeerguy, Feb 13, 2010
Photo of thain709
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Served with a clear brown body that had some ruby highlights...the head was tan in color and creamy...it held up pretty well and left some patches of lace on the mug

S - Very malt forward with hints of caramel, toffee, nuts, and some faint fruits...pretty solid for a brown

T - Again, being a brown ale this is very malt forward...the toffee and caramel flavors reign supreme...the nuttiness and fruity flavors are in the middle of the beer and they help to add some character...I would have liked some more nutty nuances...there is a surprisingly high hop presence at the end of the beer...it's earthy and goes well with the other flavors

M - Medium bodied...a little thin and not enough lingering on the palate

O - I would not turn down another one of these...I feel Bell's did a nice job making a classic English Brown Ale

thain709, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of yourefragile
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle

A: Cloudy reddish brown (not overly dark) with a cream colored head that quickly dissipates to a ring of large bubbles. Nice lacing.
S: Very mild, nutty, creamy, roasted malt, bread
T: Again, very mild not overly nutty or malty. At first there was a bad slightly bitter aftertaste but that dissipated quickly. A lingering sweetness throughout like brown sugar. Not very hoppy.
M: Medium body, very creamy and smooth. High carbonation but very pleasant. Very nice actually.
D: While most of the aromas and flavors are very mild, there is a still a deep, strong taste that is very persistent in the aftertaste. For me this start off very unassuming and disappointing but became a very nice brown ale.

yourefragile, Jan 18, 2008
Photo of doughanson78
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Thanks to storminspank for this.

A: Medium brown color with good clarity. One finger light tan head with ok retention and alright lacing.

S: Cola and some light chocolate. A touch of vanilla and some nuttiness. Maybe a hint of toffee.

T: Cola and bittersweet chocolate. Nuttiness, caramel and toffee are light. A hint of coffee in the finish.

M: Light bodied, hinting on watery. Medium high carbonation. Lightly fizzy.

O: For a style I really don't enjoy, this is not half bad. I would drink it again.

doughanson78, Nov 09, 2011
Photo of raznug
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Best brown pours a crystal clear deep garnet color and is topped with ¾” of off white head that leaves small amounts lacing down the pint.
Smell: This smells of all brown ale deep malt aroma followed by more malt aroma. There maybe a bit of roasted aroma in the background but it is hard to find on every smell.
Taste: This follows in line with the smell and is all brown ale malt backbone and is followed by more malt in the background.
Mouthfeel: This feels a bit thin but being a brown ale one doesn’t want it too thick and hard to drink.

raznug, Mar 18, 2012
Photo of maxpower
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Murky brown color, has a small off-white head, nice fruity malty aroma. Mild nutty and malty flavor, has a nice hop bite in the finish. A bit of a watery mouthfeel, not bad for the style, a little on the hoppy side.

maxpower, Dec 14, 2002
Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
87 out of 100 based on 2,497 ratings.