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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

850 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 850
Hads: 2,811
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: 850 | Hads: 2,811
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep, dark brown to near violet with a fine, simmering tan head. Aroma is unique and slightly unfathomable! I'm getting dates, plums, roasted nuts, caramel, sweetness, but on the dark side. Chewy mouthfeel, medium body, great texture. A very substantial brown ale that stands on the opposite end of the ubiquitous Newcastle. Sits proudly on the palate, and lingers on the tastebuds. Low carbonation. Altogether excellent! Bell's does their brewing business with a certain je ne sais quoi, y'knowwhatImean? There's a lift, a beautiful bouyancy that I often associate with the best products of Belgium in almost everything they do at Kalamazoo.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours an almost opaque very dark amber in color with some garnet red highlights, moderate amounts of small yeast particles in suspension, and a light amount of visible carbonation. The beer has a finger tall creamy light beige head that slowly reduces to a mottled film of thick and thin areas with a slightly thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light aromas of caramel malts with some less pronounced aromas of brown sugar and molasses. There is also a light presence of cocoa.

T: There is a light to moderate amount of dark malts with some hints of caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and a touch of sweetness. There is a moderate presence of nuts with just a touch of cocoa. Very light notes of bitterness in the finish which fades fast.

M: Light to medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly creamy and smooth.

O: Extremely easy to drink and enjoyable - one of my favorite beers in the style (which is not all that exciting but is always solid). A very nice offering for the winter and one will likely have again when I find it.

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Photo of mothman
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch 9339

Poured into Rare Vos glass

Pours 1 and 1/2 fingers of light creamy tan head. Head fades to a thin layer, but leaves amazing lace walls all the way down the glass. Color is a clear copper brown.

Aroma: Big malty nose with some grassy hops that are in the background but decently noticeable. Notes of caramel, nuts, and toffee present. Some dark fruits are also present.

Taste: Very malty with the grassy hops right in your face. Lots of caramel and toffee with nuts. A big roasted flavor to it. Some of those dark dried fruits are in the background.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly it is bitter and crisp. I really wasn't expecting this from a brown. Gets a little creamy at the end. Ends with a big roasted flavor and lots of hops. Very dry.

Overall, one of the better English brown ales I have had. Very nice flavors to it. Very hoppy as well so it was well balanced. Easy drinking beer. Gotta love Bell's.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

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

Review from notes 4/22/11.

A: Poured a slightly hazy ruby/orange, not quite brown color. Carbonation bubbles were evident along the sides of the glass. A one finger head formed and left spotty lacing.

S: Nice combination of caramel and a nutty aroma. There is also some grain and bready malt.

T: Pretty solid flavor profile with a strong malt bill. Bready and earthy with caramelized sugar, some brown sugar, and nuts.

M: Light to medium bodied, nice carbonation, with lots of small carbonation bubbles. Crisp for the style.

O: Solid English Brown Ale, easy drinking and pretty sessionable. For a style that can be bland, Bells does a good job here.

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Photo of stakem
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into my pint glass. Color is deep amber with head that only sticks around for a short while. Minimal lacing on the glass. As noted from other bell's products it has the familiar particles floating in suspension (not just near the bottom of the beer.) Mild but pleasant hop aroma. Slight hop bitterness that is nicely balanced with malt sweetness. Slightly more bitter than it is sweet, it invites you in for the next sip. Very drinkable and a fine beer overall.

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Photo of tdm168
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, brownish amber with 1/2" of off white head that has decent retention. The nose has notes of caramel sweetness and toast. The taste is burnt toast, roast, caramel with a faint hop bitterness in the finish. It's medium bodied, lightly carbonated and very smooth and drinkable.

This beer is well balanced. The subtleties make it complex. There's a good, strong malt character. It's a little sweet at times, but good overall.

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Photo of billab914
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a perfect pint glass.

Pours a caramel color with a tan head that settled to a a thin layer covering the beer.

Aroma is strong with roasted grains. Malty sweetness with some caramel and chocolate.

Taste also has some roasted flavors, chocolate, coffee and caramel with a bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good, not overpowering in any flavors but yet very flavorful.

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Photo of WesWes
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice brown color with a 1/2" tan head that fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a wonderful bisquit scent that blends well with the burnt toffee crystal malt aroma. It has a toastey feel. The taste is good also. It has a roasted malt flavor that goes down easy and finishes toastey and dry with some bisquity qualities. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good drinking brown ale. I'm a real sucker for brown ales that are dry and bisquity.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had purchased this 16-fl. oz. pounder CAN back in the Fall with every intention of reviewing it quickly, but the backlog shunted it to the side until now. I would feel guilty, but I do not feel that emotion, plus it gives me an opportunity to see how it holds up in a CAN. Long live The CANQuest (tm)!

From the CAN: "A smooth, toasty brown ale that is best enjoyed with the changing of the seasons."; "Unpasteurized [-] Unfiltered [-] Best kept Refrigerated".

I Crack!ed the CAN open and CANmenced an inverted Glug, keeping a reverent eye on it to ensure that there would not be any spillover. This resulted in two fingers of foamy, light-tan head with moderate retention, falling as I typed. Color was a Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with NE-quality clarity and copper highlights. Nose was very malty sweet, almost like maple syrup. Mouthfeel was medium. The taste had a slight smokiness that when coupled with the maltiness that I noted on the nose, served to remind me of pancakes with syrup and bacon! Finish was semi-sweet, which leads me to wonder if maybe the sweetness has subsided in the interim. If so, then I am all for aging as I do not like cloyingly sweet beers and this was more my speed. I am going to leave my original scores in place, although I would probably go higher on Taste after this one.

CAN you believe a 5L CAN?!? I not only CAN, but I have one and I have been awaiting a guest or two to help me drink it. The CANQuest (TM) CAN venture into new territory with the idea that a 5L mini-keg qualifies as a CAN for the purposes of this site.

I am a novice with this sort of delivery system, so I had to a) follow the directions VERY carefully and b) decide on the best pour for it. With regards to b), I tried a straight pour, allowing it to run from the tap into the glass, but I ended up with a massive amount of head, which I kept for myself. I then tried angling the glass and allowing the beer to flow into it without letting it impact the bottom of the glass. Either way, I had a buncha head. Allowing it to settle from its original, light-tan state into something more manageable, I still had a good bit of foam and a lot of sticky lacing to go along with it. The color was more of a ruby-red with NE-quality clarity than a brown, but it still looked enticing. The nose was definitely malty sweet with a bit of maple sugar included in the mix. Mouthfeel was slightly thin but I could tell that it was a sweet brown ale immediately. I am not averse to the style, but after a day of sampling hoppy beers, this really stood out from the pack. Tasty. A steady diet of AALs while furthering The CANQuest (TM) has honed my palate to the point that anything and everything tastes good. The finish had a slight smokiness to it, reminiscent of my PapPap burning leaves in his outdoor brick fireplace when I was a kid. Are you even allowed to burn leaves in this day and age? Man, I am getting old. The young lady visitor who just left laid it on me that she was born when I was leaving for Boot Camp. Oy vey!

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

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Packaged September 7th 2011.

A good simple off caramel, light colored brown/white head foamy in consistency off the pour, sits on a standard light chestnut body with some minor light hues on the edges.

Mild nut on the nose, and a simple malt sweetness. Kind of muted not much else going on but nice simple good example of the style.

Chewy dark malt and nutty feeling hits the palate. A simple light bodied and just a hint of creamy texture compliments the feeling with hints of nut. A little carbonation takes away some of the wonderful play, but taste on the finish still remains.

Overall, basic, simple, but enjoyable all around. A good beer to dig into no complaints I could have another anytime.

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

12 oz bottle, no dating on bottle. NIce soft amber color with an off white head, leaves some lace. Pleasant doughy/malty aroma. Malty/bready flavor profile. Nutty, hints of rye, biscuits, almonds and oatmeal cookies. Moderate hops round things off. This is another tasty offering from Bells. My wife brought a mixed six pack back from Michigan, each beer has been tasty! Wish I could get more of these guy's brews here in NY state.

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

Received in trade from Prototypic, thanks for the opportunity.

Pours a solid brown with garnet highlights when held to light. Small mocha head sticks around for a bit. Smells of chocolate and a earthy nutty bready kind of thing going on. Tastes malty chocolaty faint bread and caramel. Mouthfeel is creamy, body is a little thin carbonation on the low side. Great little sessionable brown ale.

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Photo of tempest
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Triple Rock Social Club.

Definately an English brown, as it's a mellow tasting beer. I don't know what's "best" about this. I don't get much complexity of flavor, just some nice chocolate malts. It's nice beer, don't get me wrong, I just wouldn't invest in a 6'er. It is a nice stepup from Newcastle, however. Give it to a friend as a gateway beer.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle

A: Cloudy reddish brown (not overly dark) with a cream colored head that quickly dissipates to a ring of large bubbles. Nice lacing.
S: Very mild, nutty, creamy, roasted malt, bread
T: Again, very mild not overly nutty or malty. At first there was a bad slightly bitter aftertaste but that dissipated quickly. A lingering sweetness throughout like brown sugar. Not very hoppy.
M: Medium body, very creamy and smooth. High carbonation but very pleasant. Very nice actually.
D: While most of the aromas and flavors are very mild, there is a still a deep, strong taste that is very persistent in the aftertaste. For me this start off very unassuming and disappointing but became a very nice brown ale.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.67/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bells Best Brown pours a light brown with a small off white head that recedes to nothing.

Aroma is of bready malts, touch of caramel.

Flavor consists primarily of caramel malts, vague roasted edge comes in as well. Sweet toffee comes to mind.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and somewhat smooth.

A nice sessionable brown ale from Bells. Was a perfect companion with pepperoni lovers pizza.

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Photo of biegaman
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with bounteous head that would becalm into mere bubbles. A sort of glowing, umber colour. I couldn't see my finger through the other side. Aroma with cola-root beer like properties, smells sticky and syropy. Lots of hops too though. Taste far more subtle that aroma. Mouthfeel rounds out nicely, leaving a caramely roast. A lot of malts come through on the finish too. Not so much light nor dark malts, the sort of in between ones - not nearly roasty - maybe 'toasty'. Smooth and very enjoyable to drink. A well made American style brown ale. Thanks HogTownHarry.

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Photo of Duff27
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Half inch tan head on a dark brown/red body. Seems to be a lot of sediment floating around. Above average lacing for the style with a cap and collar on the surface.

S- Toffee notes as well as some chocolates and caramels.

T- Follows the nose but with more pronounced cocoa/caramel combination. Very malty, subdued hops. Goes down easy, would guess at an even lower ABV then what is stated.

M- Smooth, medium mouthfeel. Moderate carbonation that comes in at the end of each sip.

D/O- Thirst quenching for sure. Just a nice, sessionable malty brown ale. It's nice to have the ABV kept in check once in awhile. Recommended for brown fans.

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

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a dark amber color with decent slightly off white head that laced nicely. Smell is mild, with sweet and roast malts bolstering it with some hops being present. The taste is mild, some hops, a bit of nuttiness, bitter at the finish. Not bad but rather subdued flavor. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a decent beer.

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Photo of vfgccp
2.67/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A – Gave this bottle a few days to rest upright in the fridge, and still poured with some chunky sediment. Otherwise the ice-tea brown body was clear, building a low white head.

S – Thin aroma. Brown sugar, and light oak is pretty much all I could get.

T – Disappointingly thin flavor as well. Has a wart character too it, with brown bread and honey. But even that is light.

M – Light and watery mouthfeel. Mildly sweet finish.

O – Almost tastes like too much water was used in the sparge.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a two finger light tan head that fades to a thin layer leaving some lace. Cloudy amber color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Slight malty nose. Starts sweet with caramel overtones, becomes more balanced with smooth finish but somewhat bitter aftertaste. $1.89 for a 12oz bottle from Chalet Party Goshen, In.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.13/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a hazy oak brown body with a thick creamy light tan head that last and last. This beer is a bit to hazy to see any carbonation.

S- This beer has a light brown malt hint with a spicy hop finish.

T- This beer has a tangy light brown malt taste with a hint of pale malt. The finish is a faint green spicy hop note. As it warms there is a slight nougat taste to the malt.

M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with a tiny fizz in the finish.

D- This beer doesn't have a lot of flavor and the malt notes are pretty soft but the hops, all though soft, have a bright fresh flavor.

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Photo of akorsak
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 oz bottle from Al's of Hampden.

A: The brown ale is more of a crimson red color, but who's counting hues? It is translucent enough to see objects on the other side of the glass but I can't distinguish them. A small head, quarter of a finger max, reduces rapidly to a thin white band.

S: Caramel and toffee are strong in the nose. A bit of nuttiness follows in short order with a hoppy citrus backbone (not too strong mind you).

T: A very solid brown ale. The maltiness plants its proverbial flag early and never relinquishes its claim. Caramel and toffee, along with toasted nuts, drive most of the flavor. Coffee and vanilla linger around too, especially when the ale warms. Hops, not a stand-out, still provide a zesty bite. A brown ale that is better than most.

M: The mouthfeel is syrupy, thick and malty. Darker roasted flavors stand out.

D: A very drinkable ale, sessionable even. Makes me appreciate the non-extreme styles.

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Photo of corby112
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark chestnut amber color with mahogany edges when held to a light source and a foamy light beige head that slowly fades into a lasting cap and ring.

Slightly smokey aroma with a nice chestnut/hazelnut presence with a nice malt backbone and subtle hop notes.

Slightly watered down with a subtle smoked maltiness along with some oatmeal, chocolate malt, hazelnut and subtle hop notes. Finish is slightly dry. Pretty drinkable session beer but not something I would seek out again.

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Photo of tobelerone
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

App: Cream soda color, somewhat cloudy, with visible carbonation. Two finger head that settles slowly, strong lacing.

Smell: Appealing aroma of caramel and toasted bread. Slight floral hop note at the back end. Very nice!

Taste: Lots of toasty malt character, lightly sweet, mildly bitter, balanced and totally delicious. Big tasty malt, traces of caramel and hints of brown sugar. One of the best tasting browns in recent memory.

Mf: Medium bodied, solid carbonation, but smooth. Easy drinking, low bitterness, finishes dry.

Overall: Really enjoyed this one. Not a super sexy style anymore but so well made and tasty. Memorable, for sure, not something I thought I’d say about a brown ale these days. Another winner from Bell’s.

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Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 850 ratings.