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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

2,625 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,625
Reviews: 832
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.49%
Wants: 87
Gots: 274 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,625 | Reviews: 832
Photo of confer
3.79/5  rDev -1%
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.

Photo of CloudStrife
3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

Photo of Cyrion
3.09/5  rDev -19.3%
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.

Photo of BA_Berto
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.12/5  rDev -18.5%
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.

Photo of rodlavers
4.1/5  rDev +7%
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.

Photo of KYGunner
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

Photo of BradtheGreat7
4/5  rDev +4.4%

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.

Photo of Jacurdy60
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A-Pours a hazy brown color with almost no head. Almost looks like prune juice in color. Head is paper thin and fades to the rims of the glass and is beige in color. No lacing.

S-Very nutty. Roasty, a bit oaky, burnt caramel, malt all blend together for a pleasant smelling experience

T-Up front it is nutty and earthy, but is followed by a sweet caramel malt profile. Finishes a touch too acidic, which surprised me because the nose was balanced well between earthiness and sweetness

MF-Pretty high carb. Finishes semi-dry and had a medium body.

O-A pretty good brown ale. The nose is fantastic and well-blended, but the taste could be improved. The earthy notes (nutty, oaky) mix well with the sweetness and is why Brown Ales are so delicious, but this one finished with an uncanny acidic taste. Still pretty good.

Photo of breakingbland
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle (marked "11585 PKGD 10/30/12 A") into a pint glass.

Appearance: Poured a beautiful clear brown with ruby highlights. There was only a scant head that dissipated quickly into patchy foam.

Aroma: There was little aroma -- mild hops and caramel malt.

Taste: A roasty flavor with slight malt sweetness, slight hoppiness, and some black coffee. This is not a deeply flavored beer, nor is the profile terribly complex. A sight bitterness lingers after swallowing.

Mouthfeel: This beer has a nice medium body with a medium level of carbonation.

Overall: This is a pleasant, dependable brown ale. I would have preferred a little more character in the flavor profile. But I'll definitely have it again as it's readily available here in Michigan. This beer should go well with many foods. It struck me that this would be a good session beer, but the ABV is a little high (5.8%) for this.

Photo of TheBrewo
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

We crack a pair, pouring a brew of burnt ruby tawny coloring into our Great Lakes pints. It throws a two finger tall head of creamy latte foam, showing excellent retention. This leaves equally as thick ridges of geographical lacing circumferentially around our glasses. A cidery haze is present, but no sediment is noted. Carbonation appears to be active throughout. The aroma gives rich and sweet caramel and coffee malts, synthetic lemon candy fruitiness, vanilla, cardboard, almond and walnut nuttiness, sea saltiness, grassy metallics, dried straw, lightly tart raspberry Jell-O powder, and crumbly autumn leafiness. Our first impression is that this is a solid brown ale, with pleasant sweetness that will undoubtedly keeping is sipping well to the last drop. As we sip, the taste opens with biscuity breadiness and pumpernickel rind, caramel sweetness, tannic lemon tea, resinous leafiness, salt water taffy, dried florals, pollen, and brown maltiness to pull us to the peak. Here we get a fuller, whole-grain bread quality, along with continued caramel and soured brown maltiness, molasses depth, biting lemon juice and seediness, powdery ceramics, and baked pumpkin spiciness. Through the finish we get black pepper and bittering cardamom spiciness, faint grassy hops, bloody Mary tomato juiciness, stomach acidity, raw barley and chalked yeastiness, souring rye grain, lead pencil, light phenolic plastics, and more of a rich milk chocolate graininess. The aftertaste breathes of bitter almond shell, table salt, wax, gravel, mineral yeastiness, white printer paper, brown and caramel malts, souring wheatiness, marshmallow sweetness, tin, and burnt meatloaf. The body is medium, and the carbonation is medium to high. There is wonderful slurp and smack, with nice cream and froth to follow. Pop on the back is nice as well, helping it to finish crisply. The mouth is cooled and coated, with an eventual twang of the lightest tannic astringency localized almost exclusively to the back of the tongue. The abv is appropriate, and drinkability remains high.

Overall, what we liked best about this beer was its flavor and its drinkability. Really what is most remarkable about this beer is how appropriate it is for the season. It is hearty enough in the grain and sweetness to keep you happily sipping as the air starts to cool and the leaves start to change. The aroma was a bit dull, but fit generally well into the big picture of it all. To note the feel was also surprisingly creamy, and this definitely had a good part in why we had such a positive experience with this one. So, go grab a six-pack and share with some close friends, because this guy will hit the spot right about now.

Photo of andrewjraab
3.69/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A - pours a hazelnut brown with a finger of creamy off white head which reduces to a ring around the glass and leaves some nice lacing.

S - Coffee, caramel, malts, deep woods.

T - This is a medium bodied malt bomb that drinks smooth and creamy. Huge malts, coffee, caramel, hops present on the palate in the back end to leave an astringent like drying finish.

O - Really a solid brew that is a perfect compliment to an octoberfest on a fall day.

Photo of EyeOfBuck
2.99/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance is hazy brown with very little head.
Smelled slightly of sweet malt
Taste citrus sweet taste with hints of yeast and a bitter finish.
Mouthfeel thin with considerable carbonation.
Overall, not a favorite especially for Bells, maybe my expectations were too high.

Photo of PaulyB83
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle in a tulip glass

A- dark reddish brown, nice off-white head

S- Slight sweet malts, light coffee

T- Similar to nose, weak coffee with touch of malt sweetness and light bitterness on the finish

M- light mouthfeel, very easy drinking

O- A good brown ale that fits right in with fall, easy drinking with crisp light roast flavors

Photo of screamking
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into pint glass.

Pours a nice even brown, with a 1 1/2 finger khaki head that sits awhile. Lacing is everywhere as you drink. Lots of roasted caramel up front in the aroma. Some toffee and hints of chocolate are also present. Very sweet nose to this. The taste is also very roasted in nature. The caramel and toffee stick out the most. The feel is light and easy to drink. Maybe a tad to thin but still not bad. This is a great brown ale, one that may be the perfect for the fall.

Photo of Fcolle2
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an almost mahogany brown with a thin half finger tan head. A good looking brown ale.

Deep Carmel notes in the nose. Slight hints of cocoa and some spicy hops also pull through

Rich Carmel malt body, slightly sweet. minimal hop bitterness but some of the spice from the hops is present. hints of toffee on the back end.

Not a whole lot of oily stickiness from the hops but the deep Carmel malt body keeps it nice and rich. Carbonation is moderate which makes it slightly creamy.

Photo of scotorum
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I sought out Bell's while in Michigan because they have a couple of very well-thought-of offerings on the BA top 250 list, and I had never seen anything they make in my local stores.

Poured out of a 12 oz. bottle into a whiskey glass.  That was the only type of vessel available at the hotel.

a. Beautiful deep amber with a finger thickness of head which dissipated to a film, with some lacing on the sides.

s. distinctive, like fresh sea air. 

t: Caramel notes on a light body.

m: Light and smooth with good carbonation

o: A nice brown ale with its own identity.  Definitely worth trying.  Maybe not the best brown ale to my taste but a very good one, more refreshing than most brown ales you might find. Unfortunately Bell's is not nearly as widely distributed as the products of their neighbors at Founders. I bought two bottles in Traverse City so I'll be looking forward to drinking the other one.

UPDATE 1/24/14: Had put away the second bottle in basement storage and forgot about it until recently when I reviewed storage to find brews I had saved for winter. Bottled 1/7/13, so it's now over a year old! Only things about my review I'd change are: the aroma was caramel malty, it had more body and a definite hop presence which mellowed out. Still think it's a c.4.0 brew. Outstanding, but not moreso than a number of NE brews in the same category which I can buy regularly. If I want more Bell's I'll have to go to Pa. or Western N.Y. and probably pay a premium. These I bought in Michigan last June in a mixed six for $1.69 each.

Photo of MarkQ617
4.31/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I had this out of the bottle in South Carolina, after attempting (and failing) the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. Really just an excellent brown. Smooth mouthfeel with a nutty, burnt caramel flavor. I can't comment on the appearance because I had this straight out of the bottle at night, so I've assumed for the purposes of this review that it probably looks similar to most other browns. Solid after dinner beer.

Photo of CMUbrew
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from Fall 2012

A: Looks like your typical brown ale. Dark brown body with lighter brown highlights, and a thin and light brown head sitting on top.

S: The toasty malt is about all that shows up in the nose. I wouldnt expect much else, although some sort of hoppiness could be there.

T: Toasted malts, graininess, slight nuttiness in the background, and earthy bittering hops to balance the whole thing out. Some chocolate flavors become apparent with warming.

M: Smooth, oily slickness, lighter side of medium bodied, drying finish.

O: Solid brown ale. Not too bold, but not lacking any desired qualities.

Photo of smalenberg
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In a pint glass

A - Chestnut brown and very clear with a pale tan head that isn't very large despite an aggressive pour.

S - Malty sweet with toasted marshmallow prevalent.

T - Caramel and marshmallow balanced well with a great combination of tannic and hop bitterness.

M - Smooth medium body with a prevalent carbonation that tingles the tongue.

O - A great easy drinking beer that is fairly sessionable despite the alcohol content.

Photo of TheQuietMan22
4.04/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. The “PKGD” date printed on the back label is “01/07/13.”

Appearance: Poured into a becker glass. The color is medium caramel. One finger of lightly tanned head left a skim and thin ring around the edge.

Smell: Toasted malts, caramel, milk chocolate, cherry syrup, brown sugar, maybe a little toffee and molasses. It reminds me of a Cadbury Creme Egg.

Taste: Very thick mouthfeel. The toasted malts from the smell are much more prominent in the flavor. Earthy hops add a nice bitterness to accompany minor flavors of caramel, chocolate, toffee, and cherry syrup.

Drinkability: This is a very good, heavy winter ale. It is flavorful but not overpowering.

Photo of Auracom
2.97/5  rDev -22.5%
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.

Photo of teromous
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Hazy medium-dark shade of brown, with a poofy eggshell-white head. Not much lacing, mostly just a few spots here and there.

S: Not a whole lot going on on the nose, just some standard ale scents with a light nut character to it.

T: There is some faint caramel sweetness, some smooth toasty flavors, and a hint of bitterness. Some of the yeast flavor comes through at the end, giving it an ever so slight bread quality in the aftertaste. Some slightly earthy and slightly pine-like hop flavor comes through after drinking, but it is very soft.

M: It is a very mild-mannered beer. It is extremely easy to drink, with a pleasant bitterness that is not overpowering. The beer is very smooth but not milky.

O: Overall I was very impressed by this beer. It had a wonderful flavor that made it a pleasure to drink. I do recommend it, and I would obviously drink it again. This brown ale has a bit more bitterness and hop flavor than you'll probably find in most other browns. It is not overdone in this respect, but takes a backseat on the palate after you taste the light caramel and toast flavors.

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

12 ounce bottle into signature pint glass, bottled 11/14/2012. Pours fairly cloudy brown copper color with a nice 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass. Aromas of caramel, toast, light cocoa, brown bread, floral, brown sugar, and light nuttiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance; but are fairly weak. Taste of caramel, toast, cocoa, brown bread, floral, brown sugar, light nuttiness, light pine, and light citrus hops. Lingering notes of caramel, toast, brown bread, cocoa, brown sugar, light pine, and light citrus on the finish for a bit. Nice balance and complexity of flavors with a fair amount of robustness; with zero cloying flavors present after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a fairly creamy and lightly sticky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with hardly any warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a good brown ale. Nice balance with fairly robust flavors; and very smooth to drink. A pleasantly enjoyable offering.

Photo of JWU
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a tumbler glass.

A- a clear brown/red with a half finger of light tan head that doesn't stick around very long. Lacing is much better than I thought it would be.

S- Typical brown ale aromas. Bready, a bit of caramel and biscuits. English yeast. Hint of brown sugar.

T- A drier take on the style. A balance of dry bitterness, cocoa and a bit of brown sugar/caramel sweetness. Certainly english in it's roots, has a lot in common with an English Bitter, but is noticeably heavier.

M- Medium bodied, not hoppy dry, but a more malt based dryness. Carbonation is medium.

O- A serviceable brown ale. Nothing more, nothing less.

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 2,625 ratings.