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

Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown

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

1,942 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1942
Reviews: 777
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 11.52%

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
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Ratings: 1,942 | Reviews: 777 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of budgood1


3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours out a cloudy, very deep amber/dark copper color. aromas of sour fruit and roasted caramel malt. not being familiar with bell's, the belgian profile (tart and fruity with a lively mouthfeel) seemed odd in a brown ale. medium bodied, with a much slicker feel to it if you add in the dregs. after a few sips the complexity struck me, as i picked up a lot of subtle nutty and roasted flavors. nice hoppiness too. a very spicy aftertaste. still the overall experience (and knowing i had only one bottle) left me puzzled. i really wanted another one. a very tasty brown!

thanks to BA kennywoodbrew for providing me with this sample as part of his BIF venture!

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2002 15:43:33 | More by budgood1
Photo of maxpower


3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2002 13:49:12 | More by maxpower
Photo of Realale


4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly murky brown. Nice head settles slowly to thin rocky cap of foam that sticks it out through the whole glass.

Nose is toasty/chocolately/grainy. Little hop presence. The palate is slightly biased toward malty sweetness, and the chocolate is prevalent on the palate. Nice complexity to the grain. Again, hops not a major player.

The finish is long with a minerally component which keeps the malty palate from becoming too much, and really helps this beer have a very good drinkability. A very nice example of a style that is simply not one of my favorites. This bottle was purchased at the Brewery on the day of review.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2002 16:59:11 | More by Realale
Photo of MJR


4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Has a deep brown body with a touch of garnet under a small, light tan head. It's cloudy as hell, due to the fact that all of Bell's beers are unfiltered. This is a bit different from the norm for brown ales, which are usually clear, but so what...

Smell: The strongest aroma to me is spicyness. Not hot or anything like that, more like a Belgian-like spiciness. Does that make sense? There's a bit of roasted malt in there as well. Very little hop aroma to be found.

Taste: The first thing that hits me, again, is the spicyness. Checking out their website, I find that they use all Belgian malt to make this one. That explains it. There's a touch of malt sweetness, but I don't pick up on it near as much as some other reviewers here...maybe they 'want to' detect it 'cause it's usually there in other examples of the style. There's a nice balance of flavor here. It finishes with a little hop twang.

Mouthfeel: Quite full for a brown ale. Thicker in body than all of the other standard browns I enjoy. Nice...

Drinkability: High for the style. While some might like a more restrained flavor profile for a session-style beer, I like my brews to have a more assertive personality. I could drink this all night.

All in all, a very solid brown ale. One that bucks tradition a bit and gives a bit more to the drinker's tastebuds. A good beer from one of my favorite brewerys.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2002 21:19:17 | More by MJR
Photo of putnam


3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Looks good. There is a wild, sour gaminess on the nose that reminds me of some lambics. Nutshell, used coffee grounds, fur and metal weave together there as well. The flavor is frankly sweet with a heavy dose of roasted grain flavor to balance the sugar. More stale coffee emerges on the finish. Overall a thoroughly rustic experience. One to drink while on a hunting trip, decked out in flannel, sitting at a campfire, gnawing on a turkey bone.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2002 12:34:30 | More by putnam
Photo of ADR


4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Mostly opaque brown color, slightly garnet with the trademark yeasties floating around. Good head of almost a 1/2 inch, holds some shapes well. Nutty aroma. This is seriously one of the best Browns I've ever had, bolder caramel and maple flavors and a nice, if not huge, amount of hop bitterness at the end and in the swallow. In some ways, it starts a little slick and ends dry -- an impressive feat for a brew.

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2002 14:14:15 | More by ADR
Photo of WilliamPhilaPa


3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a brown color, with a tint of orange. The head is a beige color, rocky, creamy, and long lasting. On the nose there is aromas of roasted malts and hints of caramel. On the palate there is a nutty flavor, slightly grainy, dark toasted bread, and just a hint of molasses. Not as good as the brown ale I had from smuttynose a couple of days ago, but still very enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

08-06-2002 13:22:27 | More by WilliamPhilaPa
Photo of Wildman


3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a cloudy, reddish brown color and formed a huge nice light tan bubbly head that left some nice latticed lace. A heavy amount of carbonation is present. A slight aroma of malt, hops and caramel. A flavor of hops and caramel. A farily light finish but dry finish with a touch of caramel sweetness. Another good beer from Bell's.

Serving type: bottle

07-15-2002 16:29:30 | More by Wildman
Photo of Bighuge


3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer's a ruby color with a nice rocky head that has great retention. Very nice nutty/caramel tones on the nose with sticky molasses making its presence known also. A bready yeastiness is present on the palate. Some of that trademark lactic sourness as well. Seems to fit alright however. Some slight chocolate tones also. Very subdued roasted nut taste is also making an appearance. Pretty unique tasting Brown.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2002 21:03:15 | More by Bighuge
Photo of savaship


2.68/5  rDev -29.8%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

11-23-2013 14:21:50 | More by savaship
Photo of delta490


3.64/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A hazy medium brown. The creamy off white head leaves a thin sheen and nice lacing. Aroma is a sweet malt with a little bit of hops in the background. The taste is very malt forward with a hint of nuttiness and hops. Thinner feel is good with the overall sweetness of the beer. A nice brown ale that doesn't overawe but doesn't disappoint.

Serving type: on-tap

11-02-2013 21:01:23 | More by delta490
Photo of cosmicevan

New York

3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had this with lunch at the westwood tavern in schaumburg. Nice transparent brown with good lacing on the pint glass. Smells.of brown sugar and tastes the same. Fairly solid brown ale. Nothing mind blowing. Some nuttiness. Easy drinker. I like a good brown and this is good, but a bit of a let down from a brewery that seems to knock every style they take on out of the park.

Serving type: on-tap

01-24-2013 18:37:06 | More by cosmicevan
Photo of BeardedBoffin

New Mexico

4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best brown ale pours a cloudy copper to brown color with a nice cap of creamy foam. The nose is light and grainy, fitting for a brown ale. The aroma that it does produce is a pleasant darkly roasted malt with nutty overtones. The brown malt theme continues on the palate with a creamy smooth malt texture. A slight bitterness provides balance toward the end. This brew has all the makings of good beer.

Serving type: on-tap

12-30-2012 02:47:13 | More by BeardedBoffin
Photo of KickbacksSteve


3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a snifter. Big, fluffy, light khaki head, high retention with soapy lacing. Aroma includes sweet caramel malts and light roasted notes. Taste has a nice caramel sweetness, some walnut and cashew, faint coffee and roast. Crazy drinkable and sessionable. No off flavors at all and very nice.

Serving type: on-tap

12-07-2012 03:43:38 | More by KickbacksSteve
Photo of Alextricity


3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Holy hell does this look great. It has a hazy, dark brown appearance, with a nice little head, and lacing from start to finish. A very nice looking beer.

Bell's Best Brown is an awesome beer all-around. This being my first Brown Ale, I didn't know what to expect. I feel like this tastes a good bit like a porter, but it doesn't rely quite as heavily on the coffee/chocolate notes. It's just a big, malty beer. I actually really enjoyed this beer. Not surprising... Bell's knows what they're doing.

Serving type: on-tap

11-25-2012 17:06:37 | More by Alextricity
Photo of lewzer99


4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Brown and translucent, with a touch of ruby when light hits it. One finger head that lasts a few minutes and leave no lacing.
S- The nose has a lot of sugary malts, with a bit of chocolate,and some floral hops.
T- Chocolatey roasted malts at first that give way to a butterscotch like sweetness.
M- Rich and heavy feeling. Can't wait for the weather to cool down so I can enjoy this one in a sweater.
O- Bells always makes some of my favorites, and this brown ale is another good beer from them. Definitely one of the best for the money.

Serving type: on-tap

10-03-2012 21:19:36 | More by lewzer99
Photo of srv33


2.83/5  rDev -25.9%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

06-29-2012 04:23:34 | More by srv33
Photo of Phelps


3.08/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bell’s Best

Enjoyed in a shaker pint at OHSO.

Well, this doesn't look right. The brew’s the color of a rusted, weathered penny and is clear as mud. The head is about an inch tall, frothy and mountainous, slowly receding to a thick top layer and thick tendrils of lace.

Nutty nose, with a background of tangy apricot. A touch of biscuits, baking bread and some earthy hops.

In the front I get toasted bread and bitter peanut skins with just a bit of spicy hops. The swallow opens it up more, with smoother bread and peanuts in balance with earth. A touch of apricot and apple at the swallow. Well-balanced. A bit of bitterness lingers on the back sides of the tongue.

Soft, medium-light body. Carbonation is pretty high and massaging, breaking the beer into fizz all over.

Meh. This is far from the best. An average nut brown.

Serving type: on-tap

04-30-2012 01:41:11 | More by Phelps
Photo of Gatch


4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Flanny's in Tempe, AZ.

A: Medium amber. Decent lace and head retention.

S: Sweet, roasted malt.

T: Dry, sweet, lightly toasted malt and a nice nutty flavor throughout. Some quiet hops in the finish.

M: Great flavor, easy drinking. Sweet, nutty flavor lingers on the palate.

O: Fits the style well. Good English Brown Ale.

Serving type: on-tap

03-10-2012 07:02:45 | More by Gatch
Photo of spdyfire83


3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

170th Review
Served in a half pint
On-draft at the mothership itself in Kalamazoo!

From notes.

A: Simply brown. 0.5 (tan) fingernail head.

S: Nutty, caramel, bread crumbs, and faint hop aroma. Hint of semi-sweet chocolate as well. Interesting.

T: Brown bread malt with caramel up-front followed by dark fruit, almond, touch of the chocolate. Finishes with a touch of brown sugar sweetness, which is a very nice ending. Pretty decent and easy to drink!

M: Medium bodied with even carbonation.

O: Not a huge fan of brown ales, but this one is quite nice. I haven't ever had it from the bottle, but I'd probably only want to drink it on-draft if it were up to me.

Serving type: on-tap

02-11-2012 14:48:04 | More by spdyfire83
Photo of JackieTH


4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap as part of Old Chicago's WBT. Mahogany pour with a persistent half-inch of khaki head that leaves lacing. Light sweetness, nutty and caramel malt nose. Taste is a nice dose of toasted biscuit, nutty malt, light sweetness, creamy, earthy. Nicely balanced and isn't a sweet malt-bomb.. In fact it finishes fairly dry. Creamy, smooth mouthfeel. Tasty, easy drinking.

Serving type: on-tap

02-05-2012 04:04:06 | More by JackieTH
Photo of drabmuh


3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On draft at Churchkey, served in a snifter. Beer is brown with a mild haze, thin tan head, lazy, no lacing, low to moderate carbonation.

Aroma is nice, a little malty with hints of really mild roast.

Beer is medium to light in body, a little malty, nice finish, mildly bitter, no aftertaste, a decent little brown for sure.

Serving type: on-tap

02-02-2012 18:49:16 | More by drabmuh
Photo of KMcG


3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: 1 finger head, quite lacey and sticky that topped deep orange-brown ale.

S: The aroma is weak and difficult to capture. I pick up on sweet roasted malts and that's about it.

T: Sweet malty backbone and hints of toffee and berries. There are floral hops come out in the finish.

M: It's light to medium bodied with medium carbonation and a smooth and somewhat creamy mouthfeel.

Serving type: on-tap

01-15-2012 03:48:13 | More by KMcG
Photo of thecheapies


3.63/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Medium brown colored body with an inch of head.

Bready toasted caramel aroma. Bit of biscuity pale malt blending in. Ok.

Pretty standard flavor profile with a slight emphasis on a less nutty/more estery yeast. Some hints of apricot and some citrus happiness backing the toasted malts. Not bad.

Feels appropriate for the style. My only complaint is actually detecting the alcohol in this one.

Verdict: not my style of choice, although it was in the past. I'd say this one's decent, but not as good as, say, Dogfish Head Indian Brown.

Serving type: on-tap

01-13-2012 00:56:49 | More by thecheapies
Photo of kzoobrew


4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chestnut colored body. Great clarity, no haze or sediment noticed. Soft one and a half finger sand colored head. The head recedes fairly slowly. Spotty but thick lacing left clinging to the glass.

Warm bready Brown Ale. The warmth of the malt is really the focal point. Soft brown sugar, hints of toffee and a touch of nuttiness peak out from beneath. A pleasant grassiness from the hops compliments the warmth from the malt very well.

The flavor takes its cues from the aroma. Brown bready malt provides the base. Soft caramel sweetness peaks out from beneath providing some levity. Earthy, grassy hops very complimentary to malt. There is just enough hop flavor to be noticed and provide balance but allows the malt to stay in the forefront.

Medium bodied Brown Ale. Carbonation is moderate, texture is soft and smooth. Medium finish, very appropriate for the beer.

Best Brown is very appropriately named, just an outstanding example of the style. Brown Ales are certainly not the most exciting style but I find them a very comforting, enjoyable style when done well. I am not certain why I do not drink this one more often.

Serving type: on-tap

12-18-2011 20:26:28 | More by kzoobrew
Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 1,942 ratings.