Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

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

837 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 837
Hads: 2,718
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 92
Gots: 315 | 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: 837 | Hads: 2,718
Photo of jakester
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got this as a single at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. No date on the bottle or the label.

Pours a pretty darn hazy reddish amber with a one finger head of off-white foam. Head drops to islands and a ring with decent lacing on the glass. Soft carbonation is evident.

Aroma is lightly fruity, caramel-y, with a faint chocolate and nutty character there as well. Very faint floral hops way in the back.

Flavor is nutty and chocolate-y, dry, almost chalky, with very slight fruity flavors in the back. Not as fruity as it smells. Not a hell of a lot of residual sugars in this one. A little more sweetness might be nice. There is a detectable amount of bitterness in this beer. Not much, but it's there. Aftertaste is nutty, dry, and chocolatey.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, but dry, if that makes sense. Carbonation is fairly soft, and the finish is dry.

This is a good beer, and a fine representation of the style, although I imagine a sweeter version would be even better. Still, it's an interesting beer. Recommended.

 1,039 characters

Photo of dciskey
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours brown with an amber twinge, maybe one finger of off-white or tan head but it's extremely persistent, which I like. Only a little bit of lacing.

Smells of caramel and also slightly like coffee--there's definitely a slightly "dry" scent in there, if that makes sense. A swirl stirs up some chocolate as well--kinda nice. Taste is caramel and coffee but also slightly sweet, especially as it warms. There are also touches of nuts and chocolate, as well as a twinge of hops at the end. I'm almost surprised at the complexity in there. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth.

This beer is slightly drying to the mouth, so I'm not sure I'd want more than one or two, but they'd definitely be enjoyable.

 698 characters

Photo of GnomeKing
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a rich-tasting brown, not what you'd expect if you are used to Newcastle or Smuttynose Brown Dog. It's a little dry, with tastes of caramel and coffee. The head was rich and foamy, but not overly, mustache-inducing foamy. A little more sweetness would have been nice to balance things out and make it more drinkable (I felt a small tinge of drinking fatigue by the end of my pint), but this is still a nice beer and yes, I did want another.

 448 characters

Photo of Jacobob10
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The second I popped the cap, a big earthy aroma started to pour out from the bottle. Lots of roasted malts and very nutty. Nice appearance as well. Medium brown color which I could surprisngly see my fingers thru on the other side of the glass. Great light-tan head. Lively carbonation keeps the head in tact for the duration of the beer. A simple swirl of the beer brings it back to life instantly. The taste is very nutty. After taking a sip, my mouth feels and tastes like I just ate a peanut. Slight hop bitterness in the aftertaste, yet very drinkable for a brown ale. True to the style and certainly unique, worth a try for any brown ale fan.

 648 characters

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

This is a very nice beer and quite true to style. Big toasted malt character both in the aroma and flavor. Bittersweet chocolate, caramel, toffee, and a low roasted flavor. Ripe fruits of figs and dates fill the nose and palate. Nicely heavy and creamy on the palate. Nice brown / amber color, almost opaque. Low hop flavor and bitter that adds to complexity. A little more estery than I expect from both hop flavor and sweet alcohol. Finishes lightly malty and lingering. Go get one.

 484 characters

Photo of nortmand
3.21/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a bit red for a brown, let alone a best brown. Some brownish foam as well.
I had the damnedest time getting a scent off this beer, but maybe a bit of raisiny chocolate? In fact, I think I smell Raisinets.
Taste is a bit of raisin, a bit of chocolate. Some roast as well I suppose.
Mouthfeel, some CO2, a little creamy. Appreciable.
I mean, I guess I could drink a few, but if my review wasn't any indication, I wouldn't be too excited to.

 448 characters

Photo of blackthistle
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish-brown in color with a thick foam of tight bubbles. A sweet, malty aroma with some fruity esters. The flavor begins with a creamy, malty, chocolatey taste followed by a slightly dry, hoppy aftertaste. This medium-bodied ale has just enough hop bitterness in the aftertaste to balance the whole beer out.

 310 characters

Photo of oxmasterscream
3.11/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Color is a deep, translucent, cherry-brown. Big, fluffy, light tan head. Looks good.
Smells of toasted malt with a splash of tangy hops. Only slightly nutty. Nothing else really comes through. Aroma is just average for a brown ale.
Tastes tangy, tangy, tangy... too much so. A bit of toasted malt now and then, as well as some faint, bitter coffee in the finish. Fruity alcohol shows its face toward the end of the glass.
Mouth is medium-bodied. Gently carbonated. Smooth on the tongue.
As for brown ales, I've easily had better. This is just run of the mill. There's no way this can be their "best."

 604 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am sampling a cold bottle in an english pint glass. The beer is courtesy of BIF 20 and Feloniousmonk. Thanks!

The beer pours a slightly hazy mahogany color with strong ruby tints.
A small beige surface layer of head rests lazily on the top.
Aroma is light toffee and a hint of baker's chocolate mixing with a mild grassy hop character as well.
First sip reveals an average bodied medium carbonation brew.
The flavor is mild overall but starts with some light toffee and chocolate, with a slightly bigger sweet hit in the middle and finishes with a bit of a sweet brown sugar malt hit. The burps reveal the grassy hops again.
The beer is very easy to drink and fairly mild overall. An easy session beer for sure.

 721 characters

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
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!

 824 characters

Photo of mntlover
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium brown color with slight red hints when held to the light nice tan head falls to ring quick leaves some lace behing.

Aroma is sweet maltiness with some nutty aromas oh so light and some light grassy hops. Taste is the same lightly sweet, malt is lightly toasted adding some nutty flavors that peak with the carbonation and lead to a lingering nuttiness mixed with light spice and lightly bitter grassy hop finish.

Mouthfeel is medium nice amount of carbonation. Drinkability is good overall a nice little english brown ale

 542 characters

Photo of NJpadreFan
2.98/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bell's Best Brown Ale

Appearance- nice hickory brown with a decent frothy head.
Smell- nutty and sweet. Malt and caramel detected.
Taste- whoa sooo sweet. Nutty but sugary sweet.

Overall- just too sweet for me. Nice nutty, caramelly, woddsiness but made my cheeks hurt. I'll pass on this next time.

 306 characters

Photo of Star80
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brownish red with a two-inch head that dissipated into nice layer on top of the beer. Bottle had a ton of sediment at the bottom and some is still floating in my beer. Not sure if this is good or bad. The store I buy from turns over inventory quickly and I have no reason to believe the sediment is abnormal for this unfiltered brew. Smells is a bit soapy, with a slight leather aroma as well. Taste is a bit subdued but still has that nice nutty, English toffee aftertaste like a good brown ale should. Mouthfeel is fine. Drinkable but not overly so.

 559 characters

Photo of crookedhalo
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky coppery brown color with a tan colored head. Definitelt unfiltered. Slightly nutty quality to the aroma, with a light grassiness and some biscuit and caramel-like maltiness. Medium bodied. Residual sweetness is cut nicely with a lightly bitter finish. Trace amounts of diacetyl, which is fine. A nicely balanced brown ale that's easy to drink.

 357 characters

Photo of masterbruewer
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy brown amber with thin off white head and light carbonation. Lots of little particles floating about. Good lacing

The smell is sweet and malty, with a fruity, carmel smell in the back.

The flavor is strong but smooth. You can taste the alcohol, but it's not overpowering. Some carmel and fruity flavors mix about in there. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel is substantial but not thick.

Very drinkable for smoothness and flavor, maybe a bit strong for session drinking.

 484 characters

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mahagony hueud slightly ruddy pour under a huge signature Bells cake like foamy storm. Good lacing lafet in the glass.

Slightly metalic plain yogurt scents. Easy nutmeg, but mildly aromatic overall.

First swigs: Cherry coke & butter pecan ice cream. Yummy sweet caramel ice cream topping like Hershey's Butterscotch. Pecan pie perplexingly complex.

Slightly buttery feel to the brew.

Last swigs: Butterscotch caramel ice cream flavored. This is the best brown that I've ever had. Bells continues to prove to be a success. Some fellow BAs of mine kid around that you will rarely ever say, "Wow! This is a great brown ale!" Well, for once the rare saying fits. To be tried again later if it cosses my path.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

 749 characters

Photo of UncleJimbo
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz longneck brown bottle, capped, no date.

This beer poured a clear, deep red-brown chestnut color with creamy, tan foam that persisted and clung to the inside of the glass and coated it. The smell was malty with notes of caramel and a bit of hops. The taste was rich and malty with a bit of caramel and a nice hoppiness to balance the malt, and beneath the malt was a light fruitiness. The mouthfeel was smooth and dry with medium body and moderate carbonation. This was a great brown ale, and seemed very much like a German altbier to me. Thanks to feloniousmonk for this one.

 584 characters

Photo of Gaisgeil
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've had most of Bell's brews and this is probably my favorite, hell this one is in my top 3 or 4 overall just based on balance of drinkability and taste! This is one great session brew! Nothing too overly fancy, but certainly not bland or boring by any means! This is how brown ale is supposed to be done! This reminds me a great deal of Newcastle Brown in it's subtlety but with just a tad more fullness and a bit more American brashness.

Pours out a nice rich brown with amber tones when held to the light with a decent sized white head that retains through the whole glass. Lots of hoppy goodness to go around with some fruity and fig overtones ending with a nice alcohol kick at the end. Carbonation is just right, overall a very drinkable beer for those who like the subtle style that is English Brown Ale.

This is one I keep in my fridge for year round drinking. A great "go-to" beer.

 899 characters

Photo of santoslhalper
3.69/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearence: Pours a hazy brown with a foamy tan head. Head lingers for a while. As with a decent amount of Bell's brews I've had, there are massive chunks of yeast floating. I know it's a result of the bottle conditioning but I think it's a bit overboard.

Smell: Smells malty and creamy, with milk and coffee notes. The hops make a decent presence, and create nice balance.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Tastes very much like toffee. The roasted caramel notes shine through, and the hops are floral and provide a long lingering finish. The mouthfeel is the normal velvety feel most Bell beers have, but I can actually feel the yeast in my mouth. Maybe just a bad bottle.

Drinkability and Overall: This is very nice tasting beer, but the yeast is overboard. Too much. This is a problem that needs fixed. Other than that I loved the flavor of the beer, and it smelled among the best. Hopefully this is just a bad bottle.

 918 characters

Photo of alexgash
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy, dark shoe-leather brown with a small, creamy, khaki head and decent lacing. Aromas of mild brown sugar, caramelized fruit, toasted malt, and yeast. Toasted loaf malt flavors up front. Light nuttiness, mixed with some dried pears also noticeable. Earthy, spicy hops come on stronger than expected and add a pleasant kick to this brew. Finish is bitter with light toasted fruit sweetness, and yeast. Nice. Medium-bodied, coats the mouth well. Another winner from Bell's.

 474 characters

Photo of mobyfann
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Paid $8.99 for the build-your-own 6-pack at Wild Oats...

This beer pours a hazy brown base with a huge beautiful white head, with excellent retention and very impressive lacing effects of the side of the glass. The aroma is a bt faint of malts and caramel.

The taste is very light, a light malt flavor with a little nutty taste and maybe a touch of caramel, not too bad. The mouthfeel is wonderful, it was never heavy in the mouth and very smooth on the palette. The drinkability receives a medal for it's amazing smooth taste, it's light enough where more is welcome, but at 5.75% be careful, no real alcoholic taste in this one.

Final Thought: My first English Brown Ale was a success, what more could you ask from this first-rate brewery... proud to be an American!

 778 characters

Photo of carln26
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pilsner glass (The bottle thanks to Zac)
It poured a deep brown, mildly hazy with some ruby highlights. There was just a hint of a tan colored head, but the beer leaves a light lace on the side of the glass as I drink. The aroma is dominated by malt. A mild roast aroma up front with slight candy hints on the finish of the aroma. Great balance of roasted malt and sweetness in the flavor. Based on the nose, I was expecting a dominance of roast flavor. It has a surprising balance of roast and sweetness (50/50 all the way). The hops show up on the finish, just there to brighten the flavor a little. This beer has the same velvety mouth feel I’ve had in other Bell products. I can’t wait to try the Double Cream Stout. That will be a smooth mouth feel. A very drinkable beer. A very nice tribute to this style.

 843 characters

Photo of TastyTaste
4.95/5  rDev +28.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I really enjoyed this beer. I would rank this one up with any other EBA that I have had. Deep brown color, that is murky and slightly maroon. Smell is nutty malt and hoppy, reminiscent of hazelnuts. Taste is very malt and full, again very nutty, like a EBA should be. Versus the style, i think this is almost the perfect beer.

 326 characters

Photo of Skidz
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch # 6577

Pours out caramel brown and sits cherrywood brown in the glass with a lofty light tan head, plenty of lacings for everyone. Fades to a light skim.

Smells nice and toasty with caramel, toffee and soft gentle hop aroma. When I first lifted it to my nose, I first though "cottage cheese." Strange the way different aromas are melded together. Still, good malty character.

Tastes mildy sweet up front and slowly picks up bits of hop bitterness along the slow,tortoise like journey of flavor. Faint caramel and nouget and just a dusting of nuts. Hops provide just enough bitterness to please the pallate and lend a touch of leafy green flavors. Slow to the finish, but well-bittered and lingering leafy hop flavors and caramel.

Clean and crisp in the mouth, tact carbonation. Medium body is well suited.

Not a bad brown, in fact, it's pretty damn solid. Consumed with pride and pleasure. A step, at least, above the rest.

 944 characters

Photo of walleye
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured reddish brown with little head.aroma, malts ,choc. caramel. flavor dark chocolate like the kind that covers a chocolate covered cherry, molasses. got a nice sweetness and a little bit of a bite at the end. had nice mouth feel bells does it again for me

 259 characters

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 837 ratings.