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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: 2,807
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 95
Gots: 365 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 849 | Hads: 2,807
Photo of gogreen99
4.01/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

One of my favorite beers. Medium carbonation and medium body dark beer. I wish this beer wasnt seasonal. Small notes of cocoa characterize the flavor of this dark beer and allow for the caramel flavors to be recongized. Overall a must try for any beer drinker!

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Photo of barczar
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a murky deep brown with a frothy khaki head that leaves spotty lacing as it slowly dissipates.

Slightly fruity specialty malt notes mingle with toasted, nutty malt and floral hops.

Flavor reveals similar character, with a touch of soft citrus underpinnings. Deeply toasted, lightly chocolatey notes surface in the slightly bitter, earthy aftertaste.

Body and carbonation are moderate, with light alcohol warmth.

Decent malt character, but the bitterness is a little dominant for my liking.

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Photo of Jennz906
4.16/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy, rusty auburn brown with a khaki colored head.

S- chocolate, brown sugar and toasted, hint of caramel. And definitely kind of fall like or earthy.

T- Follows the aroma . Slightly chocalately and toasty with a hint of caramel. A light leafy and earthy undertone, with a strengthen after taste.

M- Medium in body, fairly carbonation. Goes down nice, very smooth but thick.

O - A solid, straight forward brown from Bell's. Nothing fancy, just a great example of the style. I defiantly like it.

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Photo of Michael-McManaman
3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown rusty color with a khaki head, it smells of rich fall pine. The taste is very distinct and I don't quite know how to describe it but it is a great beer awesome for the end of day kind of drink. It leaves the mouth dry an wanting more.
Overall I recommend this beer for any relaxing day when an IPA is just too much.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
4.01/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottled on date of 09/03/13

Appearance - Pours a hazy, rusty auburn with a khaki finger width head. Fair retention, leading to a broken layer of suds across the surface and a thick ring around the edge of the glass.small, spotty lacing with fair stick.

Smell - Prominent malty notes in the form of chocolate, brown sugar and toasted biscuit. Light notes of caramel and a hint of earthiness.

Taste - Follows the nose. Chocolate and caramel hit upfront, quickly followed by a toasted bready quality. A light leafy and earthy undertone, which strengthens in the aftertaste and joins in the caramel finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium in body with fairly lively carbonation. Goes down with nice smoothness and is nigh chuggable.

Overall - A solid, straight forward brown from Bell's. Nothing fancy, just a great example of the style.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled tonight on 2/20/14. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured into a pilsner tulip glass.

Pours a pretty dark brown with ruby highlights in color with a a 1-finger beige head that lasts for a while then settles down to a thin head. Decent lacing was seen with each sip that sticks to the sides of the glass. The aroma is of sweet maple, malts with a hint of spice. The taste is even better with a toffee and caramel hint as well. Perfect carbonation. Goes down easy with no bitter aftertaste. One of the BETTER brown ales.

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Photo of Brewseph77
5/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The only thing wrong with this beer is that is seasonal it comes out in the fall and is gone by the beginning of winter. From the smell to the taste I can't find anything wrong with this beer. It has the perfect hint of coacoa and open up your taste buds enough and you get the caramel. I've also had it out of the mini keg but still prefer the bottle.

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Photo of glass_house
4.01/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a stemmed tulip.

Beautiful medium-dark brown with a puffy off-white head that dissipates quickly and leaves some nice lacing. Not getting a lot of aroma, but some faint earthy hops with dark nutty malts.

The texture is great for the style. Smooth and crisp with just a hint of creaminess. Light-medium carbonation supports the body perfectly. Taste is mostly subtle, dark nutty malts with a brief, barely-bitter hop note. Faint maple-like sweetness with a roasted cocoa accent. I love the way the flavor lingers and fades on the finish.

This is exactly what I want out of a brown ale. Nothing too fancy, straight to the point and leaves me wanting more. In a good way.

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Photo of jawlessbody
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into an american shaker pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep woody color with a thin off white head that leaves a nice bit of lacing without disappearing too quickly.

Smell: I get a lot of sweetness on the nose. Maple, apple, with a definite grainy quality from the malts. Almost like apple cinnamon oatmeal.

Taste: Lots of roasted malts, but with a very earthy, nutty background that's followed up with a tangy sweetness reminiscent of a good Granny Smith apple. There's also some grassy/herbal notes from the hops, but they're so far in the background it's hard to even notice.

Mouthfeel: Pretty average, very drinkable. Nothing special here.

Overall: Another great, high quality beer from Bell's, who are probably my favorite brewery at this point. So I might just be biased. With Sierra Nevada's Tumbler being discontinued, this might become my go to fall seasonal beer.

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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 offthelevel_bytheplumb
4.16/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into my Warsteiner mug. Pours a clear but dark copper color with a finger and a half of a quickly dissipating tan head, and light lacing is left behind. Caramel and nutty notes come on pretty strong on the nose. Taste is malty, a bit roasty in the middle, and followed up by a small but detectable earthy hop bitterness. This would be an excellent choice for a session beer, I can see myself having a few of these on an autumn evening around a fire. It has a rich malty aftertaste in the back of the mouth that lingers for quite some time.

Overall: This may not be the most exciting Bell's offering, and I blame that on everyone's love of big styles of beer. This is quite the offering for the autumn seasons, made for a crisp autumn evening with friends and loved ones.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice amber brown hue. Head is minimal and slowly fades. Good carbonation. Amber malt aroma with hints of caramel is inviting. Fairly carbonated and crisp mouthfeel that leaves a lingering tingle on your tongue. There's plenty of amber malt and caramel flavor. A pretty straightforward session beer.

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Photo of TappaKeggaBrew
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Chestnut brown, slightly hazy. Head is a thick finger of off-white, that quickly fades and leaves scant lacing.

S: Toasted bread. Maple syrup. Grass. Faint citrus.

T: A brief moment of toasted grain as it hits the tongue, but tangy flavors quickly rise and push the grain to the background. Sweet malts do show up, but are secondary to the other flavors. Hops that was initially tangy grows bitter in the finish -- perhaps a little moe hops than the average brown ale, but well-balanced.

M: Moist, well carbonated, with just a touch of dryness in the finish.

O: Another fine product from Bell's. It's not the absolute best brown ale I've tasted, but it would not be out of place at any pub in England. I'll be buying more of this one.

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Photo of Chiefy770
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 Fl. Oz. Bottle
Bottled on 08/29/14
Reviewed on November 21st, 2014
Served in a Nonic Pint Glass

Hazy brown body with an orange glow. Creamy light tan head of a modest proportion. Respectable amount of soapy lacing tracked to the bottom of the glass.

Sweet toasted malts. Nutty undertones. Molasses was also present. Very pleasant aroma overall.

Sweet notes of toasted malts up front. Subtle nutty notes really set a warm tone overall. Sweeter notes of caramel brought everything together. Not much hop flavor but I was surprised with the semi-dry finish considering the fairly strong sweet notes up front. Moderate carbonation. Medium-bodied.

Pretty straightforward brown ale that does not disappoint!

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Photo of yuenglingfan101
5/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love this brown ale. It isnt my favorite but a close 2nd and you will understand why if you had koko brown by kona. Simply the best that Bells has to offer. Nice brown color and a nice tan lace. Taste is irresistable only the koko brown hais more of an addictive flavor and i consider best brown and koko brown in the same category. the taste is so similar its uncanny but i love coconut. i want to people to know thiese two beers are almost hand and hand and bells in my area is big. I live in Indiana. not too far from the Michigan line. Kudos, Kudos, Kudos

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Photo of delta490
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | 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.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – As the name would suggest the beer pours a brown color with a light hint of orange seen when held up to the light. Upon pouring a one finger cream colored head is present. The head fades lowly over time leaving a ton of nice foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is heaviest of a roasted malt, brown bread and molasses smell. Mixed with these aromas are some sweeter fruit aromas of both light and dark varieties with some apple, pear, and a hint of cherry. Rounding out the smells is a lighter earthy hop aromas smell.

Taste – The taste begins with a lightly roasted bready taste mixed with some caramel and molasses. The flavor gets a bit more roasted more toward the middle, but also gets a bit fruitier with some of the apple and pear that were in the nose detected on the tongue. The sweeter flavors start to dwindle however more in the middle, being replaced by some more bitter hop tastes of an earthy and herbal nature. Some more bitter nut like tastes come to the tongue more toward the end of the taste, with the mix of flavors leaving a nicely hopped, slightly drier and lighter roasted bready taste on the tongue.

Mouthfeel –The body of the beer is on the average side in terms of thickness and creaminess with a carbonation level that is on the average side. Both were a nice blend for keeping an easy drinking brew, all the while supporting the blend of hop, fruit, and roasted flavors.

Overall – A rather enjoyable brown ale. It has a nice level of sweetness, hop and roast to make for an easy drinking and tasty brew.

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Photo of confer
3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a cola brown with a tan head. Part of the head stays around.
Small is all toasty malts. Smells like toasted wheat bread.
At first I though I tasted a some hoppy bitterness but I think it is all the toasty malts giving the flavor.
Smooth and a bit creamy , low carbonation.
I don't know if it is truly the best brown but very good and worth getting again.

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Photo of CloudStrife
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Packaged on 09/25/13.

A: Pours a clear ruby brown appearing dark brown in the glass. Slightly yellowed head sits on top and leaves some good lacing on the sides.

S: Roasted malt, bit of nuttiness to this one. Sweetness and carmel as well. Slight fermented fruit and almost a cheese like quality.

T: Enjoyable blend here, sweet malts, carmel, nuttiness and a touch of hops. Well balanced but a touch on the maltier side. Roasted malts are in there and compliment the other flavors.

M: Medium body with mild carbonation. Bit sticky on the finish but still very drinkable.

Overall nice for when the weather is getting colder. Solid beer that represents the brown ale category well.

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Photo of Cyrion
3.09/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Packaged 9/04/13, which was about a month and a half ago. Poured into a nonic at fridge temperature.

Appearance: A cola colored beer, aggressively poured, forming a sturdy 2" head. Decent carbonation on sides of glass and attractive, lingering lacing.

Smell: A bit scant. Browned caramel, some chocolate (not much), and malt.

Taste: More of the caramel and chocolate and malt, but now we've got some earthy hops coming in low and fast, adding a formidable bitterness to the beer. The result is a hoppy brown, slightly metallic. I love how one reviewer added "mineral water" because that is very accurate.

Mouthfeel: Watery and a bit overcarbonated.

Overall: It's okay, but I would not buy again. I think it's categorized as an English brown, but it's too hoppy for that. The caramel malt and earthy hops do not mesh well in this beer. The ingredients do not complement each other.

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Photo of BA_Berto
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured into a glass with half a finger head which quickly disappeared.
S: caramel, and roasted malt.
T: I loved the malty taste, and caramel flavor here. Brown sugar!Reminds me of Winter Solstice by Anderson Valley without as many spices.
M: not too watery, but not stout like either.
O: this is a nice beer. I guess you could have it in the warmer or colder months, but I personally would rather have a nice stout or the aforementioned winter solstice. Glad I tried it, but don't imagine I'll be buying six packs of it.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.12/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a dark chestnut color. The head is a rough-looking one-finger heavy cream shade. It's texture is poor but its retention is good. Small amounts of lacing are left behind.

S: This is very toasted, and even slightly roasted. There's actually some progression to the aroma - the first whiff is pure toasted nuts, then turns into something mineral and earthy, developing a touch of brown sugar sweetness after a while. The earthiness isn't to my liking, otherwise the aroma is fine.

T: There's a slight kiss of fruitiness to start. Afterwards, this turns into mostly a toasted-nuts-and-mineral-water affair. A slight hop finish actually brings more acid than bitterness or flavor. Having said that, it's still reasonably balanced, if a touch too bitter.

M: This one is fairly dry and even crisp. On the other hand, it has a slight heaviness to it making it not quite as drinkable as it could be. Carbonation is middling, typical of the style.

O: A fairly typical brown ale: there's nothing wrong with it at all, it's just not very impressive or inspiring to drink. Wouldn't buy it again, most likely.

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Photo of rodlavers
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 09/04/13, poured into my brand new Bell's snifter.

Strong appearance, opaque rusted brown/red, very light tan head, about an inch, recedes to a nice thin layer that fades in and out along the surface, and forms a thickish ring around the edge.

Aroma is a little flat, but still notes of brown sugar and spice mix with mild hops. Nutty, mildly filled with wood, roasty.

Taste is similar but sweeter; brown sugar, malt, some caramel. taste is better than smell.

Mouthfeel is dry and crisp. Above average carbonation. Refreshing for a fall beer.

Overall fond of this as a fall beer; well-balanced bitterness and sweet flavors. I will go back to this. Cheers.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The coloring of this brown ain't to Brown as it has a deep cherry hue with a mahogany flair. The head build up to what looked to be a significant structure but disappeared in an eruption on fizz.

The aromas are subtle but noticeable with some barley malt, chocolate malt, maple and a baked biscuit. Subtle molasses and a Graham cracker surround a stronger overall chocolate aroma.

The taste is dry with a bit of powdered cocoa, barley, toasted grain, roasted nuttiness and baked bread. This is absent of any sweetness and holds the finish with cracker and biscuit.

The feel is dry, ever so slightly astringent and relatively easy on the stomach.

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Photo of BradtheGreat7
4/5  rDev +4.2%

12 oz brown bottle. Newer looking label from the past few years. Same beautiful owl but with more of an Autumn setting and coloring as the white I've had in the past. Both are great labels and very Bell's like though this one really screams 'Fall seasonal' so one can appreciate the fine labeling.

A - hazy brown with dark ruby hitting through on the corners. Head was of a latte darker shade of tan color that poured quite nice and sat around a good while. The ring of lace was pleasant and left some stick to the walls of the glass.

S - nuts and roasted malt. Caramel and more toasted malt aromas.

T - a real nuttiness up front followed by soft chocolate, sweet caramel, and a lot of roasted malt.

M - smooth and easy to drink. Carries a good Bell's style texture and thickness. Body is much like their other ales in this abv range with his somewhat thick liquid. Very tasty and smooth. Perfect for a cool Autumn evening.

O - one of my favorite Autumn brown ales. It has everything needed to give you a nice warming experience when the days start getting shorter and the nights longer. A real classic brown ale that finds its way to my fridge every Fall.

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