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

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

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BA SCORE
87
very good

817 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 817
Hads: 2,630
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 9.61%
Wants: 88
Gots: 277 | 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
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Reviews: 817 | Hads: 2,630
Photo of blackie
3.36/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: standard pint, the beer is a slightly hazy medium-dark brown in color, and capped with a khaki coating

s: body of smooth brown malts, soft and without much of the nutty or roasty edge that really makes a brown for me, soft toast and leafy caramel, lightly hopped

m: as is typical with Bell's, the carbonation is very creamy and of a moderate level - great benefit of bottle conditioning, body a lighter medium

t: same complaint as the aroma - nearly all smooth brown malts without the astringent roasted edge that really sets off the sweetness, hops move in towards the finish with a light bitterness and papery citrus flavor

d: no problems here, an easy drinking brown

bottle with a great dinner at Poole's Diner, Raleigh - surprised that this review had slipped by me for so long (789 characters)

Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours into a pint glass an amber hued brown color with a tan head that is shorter but has nice retention and leaves some quality lacing.

Solid dose of nutty malt along with some notes of caramel and toffee. Hint of cocoa as well.

Much like the nose. Rich malt presence with lots of nutty notes along with the aforementioned sweets.

Lightly chewy body that is medium. Mostly smooth with a little prickly carbonation.

A very solid style example and overall beer. (464 characters)

Photo of morimech
3.4/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper that has a slight haze. A small head forms but quickly disappears to a small cap. Some lacing is evident.

It smells of caramel and a slight spice. Maybe a little toasted malt and hops show up to. It is hard to decifer.

It is mostly malt in the taste but with a slight hop bitterness on finish. Neither of which is very strong and overall this beer has a weak taste. It also is a little thin but carbonation is decent. This isn't a big brown ale but enough of the beer is done well to make it one to at least try. (534 characters)

Photo of BMMillsy
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours brown with a bit of a red hue. Medium head that looks creamy and fades somewhat quickly. Smells sweet like a red ale, cherry amd roasty presence here. Flavor is nutty and smooth, different from the aroma. A bit of chocolate with the nut and a bit of fruit on the finish. Nice easy drinker. Good beer. (306 characters)

Photo of alexgash
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
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 andrenaline
3.52/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nice dark caramel colour, thin layer of head with little retention and no lacing.

S - Mild on the nose, musty caramel and a hint of leafy greens.

T - Unique earthy bitterness, leafy green hops, musty caramel, tasted bread. A sour bitterness lingers.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and wet.

O - A tad disappointing from what has otherwise been a great experience with this brewery. Could use a bit more caramel to balance off the earthy hop flavour. Still rather drinkable and non-offensive though, just nothing spectacular. (534 characters)

Photo of hopdog
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle.

Poured a deeper and cloudy brown color with an averaged sized off white head. Lots of little floaters in there. Aromas of nuts, caramel, and light chocolate. Tastes of nutiness, toffee, chocolate and there were also some hoppiness.

Notes from 10/23/05 (267 characters)

Photo of rlee1390
3.82/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Clear ruby brown, one finger off-white head

S-Roasted malt, spice, nutmeg and grass.

T-Roasted malt, nuts caramel, some chocolate with slight bitterness rounding out.

M-Medium bodied, slight carbonation, could be a tad on the watery side.

O-A decent brown ale, could have used a better hop presence. Balance was good though. (330 characters)

Photo of Brent
4.54/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

If there is a beer equivalent of "comfort food" - this is it. Brownish amber color with light tan head that quickly faded. Aroma of Hershey's chocolate milk wafts from the glass. Pronounced milk chocolate notes in the flavor, with deeply toasted malt flavors. For all the chocolate character, the beer was surpisingly moderate in sweetness and finished with a sharp bitterness that cleared the palate. This is a fairly subtile beer, and if you were drinking a variety of beers during a session, this would be the lead-off. (522 characters)

Photo of StoutHunter
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I picked up a six pack of Bell's Best Brown a couple weeks ago at Krogers for $8.99. I have had this beer many times over the years, but for some reason I haven't got around to reviewing, so it's time to sit down and see how this beer drinks. It is pretty fresh with a bottled on date of September 28th 2011 batch number 10721. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A- The label on this beer looks pretty cool, I like the lone owl sitting on fence post with a nice scenic winter background, it gives this beer a late fall/winter vibe. It poured a slightly hazy amberish brown color with two and a half fingers worth of fluffy off white head that died down to a thin layer that stayed till the end and left some nice lacing.

S- The aroma starts off with some medium sweet malts that impart some toffee and caramel aromas along with some nuttiness. There are also some brown bread, brown sugar, and fruity yeast aroma. I don't really pick up any hops in the aroma.

T- The taste is pretty similar to the aroma. The first thing I pick up are the malts that impart some nice toffee and caramel flavors, there is also a slight bit of dried dark fruits, and a nice noticeable amount of nuttiness that had a walnut like flavor to it. Just as in the aroma the hops aren't noticeable and the finish is smooth with no bitterness and a slightly nutty aftertaste.

M- Smooth, slightly creamy, on the light side of being medium bodied, and it had a medium amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel fits this beer well.

Overall I thought this this was a pretty damn good English Brown Ale. I haven't had a lot of this style but so far this beer seems to be the closest example I have had to a true English Brown Ale. The flavors were nice and malty and had a really nice nutty complexity that really made this beer stick out from the other English Brown Ales I have tried. It went down really smooth and combined with having no bitterness at all makes this beer have some great drinkability, I would have no problem drinking three or four of these in a night. What I liked most about this beer was the flavor, it just seemed spot on for an English Brown ale and the extra nuttiness was a very nice added touch. What I liked least about this beer was the color, it wasn't bad, but I would have liked it a little browner, not a big deal though. I buy this beer every fall and will continue to do so since I find that this beer really hits the spot on late fall/ early winter evenings, and it is the best local English Brown Ale I have had. If English Brown Ales are your thing, this is a must try, it does a great job at representing what an English Brown Ale is all about, or so I think. So far this is the best English Brown Ale I have had so far, everything was pretty spot on and the extra nuttiness put this beer over the top. Bell's did a great job with this beer, they do a great job of brewing a style the way it is intended to be, they are a jack of all trades and that is why they are one my favorite brewery's. (3,017 characters)

Photo of FLima
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Light brown color with a thick beige head with great retention and leaving some laces.
Predominant nice nutty aroma but also with some chocolate and a distant toffee.
Likewise nutty flavor with notes of mild cinnamon, some citrusy, light cocoa, caramel and a hint of earth. Dry aftertaste with a mild carbonation.
Light to medium body with appropriate carbonation.
Very pleasant and balanced Brown Ale, quite faithful to the English style, with controlled hop addition. Nice drinkability as well. (496 characters)

Photo of Florida9
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Brown. Walnut brown. Still a little translucent and showing some haze. Pours a with a foamy finger of light tan head. Little retention on the head, but nice lacing.

S: Nuts. Peanuts. A little Brown sugar.

T: Malt forward, but surprisingly light and clean. Mildly roasted malts. Again nuts, this time walnuts, even a little bit of that tell-tale walnut astringency.

M: On the thinner side of medium. Surprisingly thin, actually, and the higher carbonation levels just make it feel even lighter.

D: Good. The "lightness" of this beer makes it very approachable, though I would have liked to see a bit more character in this one. (637 characters)

Photo of argock
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a clear pint glass. No decipherable freshness date.

A: Lovely medium-brown hue with frothy beige 1-2 finger head with average retention and a couple of incomplete rings of lace.

S: Sweet caramel malts with light toasting coupled with cocoa and soft coffee aromas.

T: A well-rounded brown ale with enough sweetness, roastiness, and hops in there for everyone. Initial flavors are quite caramelly sweet but meet with varied chocolate, coffee, and light berry flavors. Finish is hopped above-average for the style which leaves it drier but still pretty mellow.

M: Very easy to drink due to the medium body and even carbonation. Aftertaste has elements of sweet roasted caramel and butterscotch.

D: Another winner from Bell's, even if it isn't in its upper tier. Still a good one to go to for brown ale lovers. (846 characters)

Photo of UncleJimbo
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
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 Dope
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
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. (446 characters)

Photo of Daniellobo
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Good if a bit tepid brown ale.

Presentation: 12 oz brown capped bottle. Bells framing with light cream label where an owl sits on top of a wired fence pole. Back offers a short paragraph about intent and description. Notes 5.8% Alc by Vol. and packing date 1-04-12 A. Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Amber brown to brown pour, initial fair frothy head, moderate retention and surface memory with a few touches of lacing.

S - Malty roasted notes, nutty touches, hazelnut, some caramel…

T - And the taste follows nicely with a bitter soft touch in the end under a nice malty sense, hazelnut, caramel-toffee, bit of chocolate in the distant.

M - Medium-light to light body with moderate softly tuned carbonation, nice tingle as it lingers.

O - It actually has a pretty nice flow all things considered.

Notes: Maybe I´m a bit condescending… This is all sorts of decent, just not really my thing. Worth having around for a mellow, generic and quality malty offering, just nothing to really keep on the radar. (1,014 characters)

Photo of merlin48
4.69/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Yup. The 12 oz bottle with the inquisitive owl on the label. This is one of the few reviews I've written without knowing anything about the beer, or reading other reviews. It pours a muddy, dark, iced tea color with a tan head that likes to hang around and mingle, and sheds some lasting, patchy lacing. Nice aroma of dates, and a few other dark fruits....followed up by a shower of floral hops and some soothing pecan pralines. Wow...! Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, nutty, well carbonated, and has a mild hop bite. Taste is out of this solar system. Bittersweet spices smeared onto some banana nutbread, chocolate fudge, some smoked kalamata olives, and some pleasant bittering floral hops. Geeez..I wasn't expecting much to write about here, but this one has blown me off the planet. Beautiful and complex, it finishes with a bitter cocoa taste accompanied with a touch of mandarin orange rind burn. Also, there is a smoky, wood aged feel that is difficult to explain, but adds to the surprisingly noble character to this Bell's offering. Wow! (1,047 characters)

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.12/5  rDev -19%
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. (1,141 characters)

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Muddy brown and cloudy-looking in the glass, nearly as debris filled as the Ohio River... nearly...

Maintains a thick, strong, rocky head, mine had a dimple in the middle where I swirled my last ounce and poured it in. The dimple area was a chocolate brown color as opposed to just the light mocha of the rest of the head. Interesting...

I thought it had a soft caramel, slightly pungent smell, doesn't appear any part of this beer will be over the top.

Sweet, caramel flavors, leaves thick layered lacing down the glass. The mouthfeel is not as heavy as I thought and quite smooth. An appreciable hop finish, which I didn't detect at all in the aroma, balances out this fine beer. Taking into account the varied tastes of the full cross-section of beer drinkers out there, this will come across as drinkable to a large percentage of them. (848 characters)

Photo of wedge
3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice foggy chestnut color with a small creamy head. Sweet, nutty, toffee-like malts and molasses in the nose. Mild flavor, but tasty. Gentle caramel malts and a tiny bit of roasted chocolate in the end. Simple and balanced. Medium-light body. Nice English brown. (262 characters)

Photo of homebrew311
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: pour a dark red with some brown tones, velvety desne white head, good retention, loads of lacing. Perhaps a bit light for a brown.

S: the aroma features roasted malts, bread, and hints of coffee. Mellow hops come through as well.

T: mild roasted malts along with caramel and chocolate come through on the palate. All is mellow and smooth. Nice balance, taste is mild overall.

MF: light body, creamy texture

O: this is a nice and drinkable brown ale. It is rather mild and drinks like a brew that is 4%. (509 characters)

Photo of thecheapies
3.58/5  rDev -7%
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. (536 characters)

Photo of garymuchow
4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

As I'm making the rounds on some brown ales, this seemed like an obvious selection. I am coming to the conclusion that this style can certainly be under appreciated for having a fair amount of flavor, but not so powerful that it can't be enjoyed many times. I also find brown ales to be good with a variety of foods.
Darker malt aroma of toast and biscuit. Slightly sweet and bit dry, almost pushing chocolate. Very little hops to speak of. Solid and nice.
Good looking beer. Dark colors of deep red and brown. Very clear. One inch head that settles slowly leaving some lacing. Darker head.
Slightly bitter and sweet. Great blending of flavors. Ends with some dryness, but not too much. Nice english hop flavors and enhance with the dryness with time. The touch of malt sweetness up front is nice.
Fullness from carbonation adds to a moderate feel. Soft. Enough smoothness.
Well rounded beer with a good amount of hoppiness that prevents any chance of excessive sweetness (which might be my only criticism, i.e.needing a little more maltiness). Nicely done. (1,063 characters)

Photo of Metalmonk
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
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 Bad...it'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... (1,452 characters)

Photo of Mitchster
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

OG=1.060 6.6% ABV.

Ah, my favorite brown. Carefully decanted, this brew pours out to a beautiful clear ruby-amber in color with a firm light tan to beige head atop medium bubbles. Carbonation is mild to moderate, and the head remains decent throughout the glass, with gorgeous lacing (I can tell how many sips it took me to finish this beer by counting the rings...8). Very full-bodied for a brown ale. Aroma is seductive and enticing, with sweet roasted grains, expertly-done caramel, a hint of canned pumpkin (without spices), and sweetened condensed milk. Mouthfeel is bright and tangy with a medium body. Very easy to drink (improves as it warms), but not silken like the stouts. The taste is wonderful, starting out with lots of caramel and biscuit malt and some roasted barley against a lightly sweet malt background, leaving a sweet sensation more in the back of the throat than on the tongue. The roasted grains are very well done here. The finish is earthy, with fresh hops complementing the toasty grains, with a wonderful nutty character towards the middle of the tongue. The alcohol is occasionaly noticeable, but never becomes unpleasant. As it warms, it takes on a whiskey-ish character.

Again, an expertly brew from the wizards at Kzoo. Highly recommended. (1,278 characters)

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
87 out of 100 based on 817 ratings.