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.
very good

2,558 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,558
Reviews: 814
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.49%
Wants: 80
Gots: 226 | 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:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,558 | Reviews: 814 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of RedBane
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%

Photo of Luigi
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a lighter brown, with a lot of amber highlights. Has an off white head that starts off about two fingers, then settles down to thin blanket on top of the ale. There is some sticky lacing around the glass and the head retains throughout the life of the beer.

The aroma is notes of toasted malt, toffee, and chocolate.

The first flavor to hit the palate would be the strong toasted malt, followed with some hints of chocolate. The hops are mildly bitter but are just enough to linger of the tongue, paired with the toasted malt.

Medium bodied and moderately carbonated.

Overall, Bell's Brown ale is a switch up from the average English Brown Ale. The carbonation is what threw me off. I guess I am used to the traditional lightly carbonated almost chewy in body brown ales. But, never the less Bell's brown ale is a tasty dark brew.

Photo of cjgator3
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

A- Pours a dark brown color with a light tan head that leaves a good amount of lacing and retention.

S- The aroma is a very nice malt dominated brown. The aroma features caramel/toffee, malt and brown sugar.

T- The taste follows the aroma, with a good amount of sweet malt and just a touch of bitterness in the finish to balance out the sweetness.

M- The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

D- Overall, this is a very drinkable English-style Brown Ale that is definitely worth a try. Recommended!

Photo of marc77
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ruddy brown in hue, with a light haze. Thick, bumpy, stiff light tan head leaves fluffy lace. Earthy and citric hop nose coupled with the yeast strain's signature slightly unripe pearish fruity esters dominate the aroma. Mild biscuit malt and medium caramel are secondary, but biscuit becomes more pronounced and almost savory in nature as the beer warms. Tart fruit and toasty grain initially are followed by a leafy, woody, tobacco like hop flavor, which then oddly morphs, becoming more citrusy in nature. Faint notes of chocolate malt. Non descript caramel malt provides the bulk of malt sweetness, since the high attenuation lends a dry finish low in residual sugars. Mild hop bitterness leaves the caramel malt profile unhindered. Medium bodied for style, with a relatively dextrinous mouthfeel. Finishes dry w/ notes of biscuit and salt. Certainly a flavorful brown ale. Slightly lacking in overall balance, but tasty and unique nevertheless. Perhaps the most tame Bells beer.

Photo of arguemaniac
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep mahogany color with a creamy, well-retained light tan head. Surprising hop character in the nose. The palate features a nice citrus hop spice with some caramel, various toasted flavors and a touch of nuttiness. More caramel and a bit of coffee roastiness towards the finish.

Pretty good, above average hop spice in the palate. Otherwise a fairly solid brown.


Photo of ygtbsm94
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of BMoney575
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled on 10-26-07
Batch 8165
Bottled on 9-26-07

Pours a hazy orangey brown color with no real head and very thin lacing.

Smell is very clean, malty. Well-balanced and rather subdued.

Taste is good, bits of chocolate and apple cider. The sweetness is countered by a very nice amount of bitterness, which makes the flavor quite enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is good, a nice fizziness keeps things light.

Drinkability is very good, the sweetness is very well-managed.

Overall, a little boring at first, but it grows on you. Very sessionable and keeping around.

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bells Best Brown pours a light brown with a small off white head that recedes to nothing.

Aroma is of bready malts, touch of caramel.

Flavor consists primarily of caramel malts, vague roasted edge comes in as well. Sweet toffee comes to mind.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and somewhat smooth.

A nice sessionable brown ale from Bells. Was a perfect companion with pepperoni lovers pizza.

Photo of heyitsbyron
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a single from Woodman's in Madison into an imperial pint glass.

Poured thin with a quickly dissipating head. The ruddy brown color was nice, but it didn't scream "drink me" like it should.

Smelled boozy and fruity, kind of like bubblegum. I kinda liked it.

Taste was weak and washed out. Nutty and malty and first, but very watery when it should finish strong. Aftertaste is slightly yeasy and boozy.

Nothing special in the mouth. Thin but also overcarbonated a little and doesn't have a satisfyingly pleasant linger.

I wanted to like this beer because I like Bell's and I like brown ales, but there's really nothing here to separate from the masses of mediocre brown ales. Not sufficiently distinct or satisfying to warrant drinking again unless it were free or there were no better alternatives.

Photo of GuinnessSmurf
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: The pour is an inviting auburn, copper colored body with a rich ruby glow. The head is very full and foamy, with a milk shake head consistency.

Smell: Smell is very clean, fresh moutain air coupled with a sweet plumb and crabtree odor.

Taste: It is very smooth. There is really fruity, sweet presence throughout, and it stays for a long time on the tongue. Surprisingly, this beer lacks much in the way of roasty flavor, which I have come to expect from Brown beers. Closest would be a bit of nut flavor, but even that is pretty sweet - like a cashew.

Mouthfeel: The body is a very large feel. It takes a big weight on the tongue and coats it, allowing you to really get a sense of what this beer is about. I appreciate that it didn't sacrifice body at all here.

Drinkability: The beer is a smooth drinker and great for sessions. It is also moderate in terms of alcohol content, so you can really hand out with a friend...say..over a game of chess, or maybe some Dead or Alive 3, or maybe play Bach fugues and preludes...and still drink lots of them.

Photo of MrTopher
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Brian (not on BA) for taking a road trip from DC to CA and picking this up on the way and letting me snake one.

A – Pours a dark rich walnut color that has some nice light brown head that has a nice retention level.

S – Nose is pretty subtle if nonexistent, there is a little sweetness (caramel, toffee, brown sugar) but nothing overwhelming.

T – Sweet caramel, toasted malt, and some toffee. No hop presence in the taste all just nice inviting malt flavors and a good nut character.

M – Decent on the body, and the carbonation was perfect.

O – Good stuff, I don’t always drink the brown ales, but this I would rank up there. I think I still prefer Lost Coast Downtown Brown over this, but it’s still really good.

Photo of pzrhsau
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Nice deep/rich brown color with an enormous head to it.
Smell: Nice combination of malt that almost makes it smell like a hearty bread.
Taste: The beer has a great flavor from the malt and it is accentuated by a slight tang that almost gives it a fruity after taste.
Drinkability and mouthfeel: Very crisp and easy to drink. Not too harsh on the palate.

Photo of Dope
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A nice mahogany brown with a huge fluffy offwhite head. Great lacing and retention.

S: Toffee, nuts, molasses and brown sugar.

T: Not too sweet like a lot of brown ales. A nice nutty toffee flavor backed up with a little molasses.

M: Medium body but seems like just a little too much carbonation. Needs to be a little more still in my opinion.

O: A decent brown ale. A little sweeter and a little less carbonation would make this amazing.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo of jayandsheri
3.72/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of oakaged88
3.72/5  rDev -2.9%

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!

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'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...

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.

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.

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.

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 2,558 ratings.