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

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Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown

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very good

837 Reviews
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Reviews: 837
Hads: 2,715
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 92
Gots: 314 | 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: 837 | Hads: 2,715
Photo of KomodoDragon
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Somewhere between an amber and a brown ale. Huge toffee head which immediately subsided, impressive lacing.

S - Not much to smell here. Some sugar, some toasted malts.

T - Has some sweetness of a brown, as well as caramel tones. Also some roasted malts and flavors of almonds and cocoa.

M - Exceptionally smooth and very drinkable.

Seems more like a American brown. Perhaps not "best", but definately unique and at minimum very very good.

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

Brown in appearance with a nice foam, that is carmel in color. The smell is flat, with a acidic floral tone. This is a rather interesting smell. Mouthfeel is verymuch a brown ale, smooth. Taste is very clean in its taste, slight hints of toasty malts, Overall this is a very delightful brew and easy drinking. Goes well with what you are eating.

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Photo of scalffd
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Cloudy, dark amber brown with 2" off-white bubbly head which dissapates into a smooth 1/4" layer

Aroma: Roasted malts

Taste: More roasted malts with a slight bitter aftertaste

Feel: Smooth, but a little thin

Overall: Good, but not great. From Bell's and the name of the beer, I actually expected more.

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Photo of Finn
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark amber, with a thin lace that stays on top. Good clarity.

Smell: Bready, toasty, biscuity malts dominate the nose very nicely.

Taste: Rich, smooth bread-like malts, ending with a lingering hop bitterness, caramel flavors. Mild fruitiness present.

Mouthfeel: Medium, smooth body. Medium carbonation compliments nicely. Slight creaminess.

Drinkability: This one really opens up as it warms up. Drinkability is high. One of the better brown ales out there, very well balanced, nothing over the top, but still retains full flavor. Recommended!

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Photo of Kelly88
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at bar Louie served in a huge pint glass

A- dark leathery brown with old catcher Mitt orange at the bottom. Resilient beige head that is really sticking around. Layers of lace are surrounding the glass. So much I can't even see through some parts of the glass. Light shade of brown for a brown ale.

S- not much going on in the nose. Some pear type aromas with a sweetness.

T- sweet crisp apple taste. Really unexpected but it is really good. Apple skin and really small hop cones on the back. Really tasty brew.

M- medium to fullish. Not slot of carbonation but that is not hurting the experience. The lack of carbonation sort of enhances the flavors by really forcing them down onto your palate.

Overall a really solid brown ale That has a really unique flavor. Definitely will seek out again if available.

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Photo of rembrant
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour- As much head as you want,fairly substantial rich cream tops a medium brown body

aroma- in a nicely English way,the main scents are fresh bread crust,oak lumber,and bits of toffee nut with hints of yeast.

Taste- pleasent, though in the effort to be a rather dry English style it avoided and muted any clear cut sweet malt side as well as the more flavorful American type hops. So, rather than describing coffee and fruits and pine's all "Beer".
There's a touch of woody,toffee-nut,and a British-Euro hop finish that does not try to do a notable flavor or long aftertaste.

this one's warmer than one I had earlier but the malt side isn't more assertive,and the carbo seems less. Going for an English pub ale?

Mouth- The Carbonation does fall a bit short and relative to other Browns I've hadthis has the least body and sparkle. It also does not have a real fine finish,just a plain wooden bitter.

drinkability- Actually not bad,would be better with a nicer finish and a bit mor fizz. Dangerously close to flat+watery,and yet i think they aimed at a tradition where that's just how it is.
Pretty good,but Brown is a Genre where there's a lot of beers above 'pretty good".

Picture a photo of a plain man in a gray tweed topcoat with a plain dark blue tie,in front of a gray building and under a gray sky,all looking ever so British,a photo you can guess,is it 1959? 2009? It has that sort of proper,and a bit stodgy quality.

This is the beer that man would drink. Every day. Forever.

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Photo of carlborch
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Supposedly a seasonal fall-winter beer, but available mid-July. The brown ale pours a beautiful clear brown with a tan-colored, thick, mousse-like head. The head persists and leaves intricate Belgian lace when sipped. The nose is both delicate and noticeable with hints of toasted bread, toffee, malt and ginger. The malt notes are light and sweet but not cloying. On the palate the ale has a medium body, perfect balance and a wonderful lingering finish that wants you to go back for. This ale is totally moreish! The carbonation pleasant and the alcohol is not noticeable.

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Photo of apbarwood
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep brown with a one-finger tan head. It falls away quickly but leaves a moderate amount of lacing. Could have looked nicer but definitely not bad. The aroma was malty but faint. A modest amount of caramel and a hint of chocolate intertwined with a hop aroma. The flavor was a bit of a downer as I'd hoped for more of a malt presence but got more hop bitterness. There was also an astringent, grainy character that didn't really add anything to the beer. This is the first offering from Bell's that I was somewhat disappointed with.

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Photo of julian89
4.14/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I found this fairly new addition to Bell's to be a high improvement on several other brown ales I have tried.

Appearance: Obviously a darkish brown hue, lightly transparent. Caramel coloring at the base post drink.
Smell: Clean, not too powerful, not much else.
Taste: Wonderful! This is a perfectly bittered and hopped brown ale. It was not too dry and carbonated either.
Mouth feel: Very smooth, no acid residue aftertaste I get with other brown's.
Overall: Bell's does not disappoint. Their Brown hits the charts once again.

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

I went through a phase this winter in which this was my "regular everyday type" beer. Pours a very nice cloudy medium brown, with a one-finger thick, fluffy tan head. The head diminishes somewhat quickly, but sticks around enough to leave some nice lacing on the glass. Smells sweet, with very nice malt aromas coming forth. Tastes nicely of sweet, toasted malt, with some hints of carmel and perhaps a bit nutty. Smooth and easy drinking, this is a very enjoyable beer. Overall a very nice beer which I would definitely recommend.

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Photo of MrTopher
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Brian (not on BA) for taking a road trip from DC to CA and picking this up on the way and letting me snake one.

A – Pours a dark rich walnut color that has some nice light brown head that has a nice retention level.

S – Nose is pretty subtle if nonexistent, there is a little sweetness (caramel, toffee, brown sugar) but nothing overwhelming.

T – Sweet caramel, toasted malt, and some toffee. No hop presence in the taste all just nice inviting malt flavors and a good nut character.

M – Decent on the body, and the carbonation was perfect.

O – Good stuff, I don’t always drink the brown ales, but this I would rank up there. I think I still prefer Lost Coast Downtown Brown over this, but it’s still really good.

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Photo of sm0key
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - lightish brown in color.

Smell - nutty!

Taste - Smooth. Packs more punch than the taste lets on...

Mouthfeel - Not very heavy for a brown ale, better than most, though

Drinkability - I get it all the time!

I love every Bell's product I've tried so far!

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Photo of maleman
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Almost mahogany color with a thin, less than one-finger off-white head. Lace was tight and clingy. The nose was well more malty than hoppy, more like bread. Taste was very grassy intially with phenols definitely noticeable. Medium bodied with taste in the back of the mouth with average carbonation. Still waiting to try Hopslam, but this one is not that memorable from Bell's.

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

On tap at Barbette

Appearance: Semi-translucent brown/dark red with a one inch head, decent retention, and very nice lacing for the style.

Smell: Sweet caramel, hazelnut, brown sugar, some dark fruits and slight breadiness.

Taste: Again, sweet caramel, bitter hazelnut, but with some earthy hop finish. This is a really well balanced brown.

Mouthfeel: Pretty light as far as body goes, but still coats the mouth.

Drinkability: High. Lower ABV, not too heavy, flavorful. This is a great session brown.

Overall: Bell's makes solid beers and this is one of the best browns (no pun intended) I've ever had. Pick it up.

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Photo of TheDinger
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass.

A- Rich, medium mahoganoy with a clear tint when held to light. A nice 2 fingers of off white/tan head that stays for a bit. Nice lacing throughout.

S- On the soft side, but picking up carmel, nut and some small fruit notes. Grain as well, but again subdued.

T- This is where less is sometimes more. Not overly complex, but a very smooth, well-rounded brown. The carmel hits up front and is followed by a touch of bitterness that makes this hard to sit down. A little bit of the nuts come through with the hops.

M- Dry with a little carbonation to keep it interesting. Not overpowering which I like in my browns. Medium feel.

O- A great effort by Bell's. It's not overly complex and that is to it's benefit. A great balance of carmel, nuts, grain and hops. A great session beer that went down fantastic on a chilly evening. Simple, but well done and very tasty-

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Photo of NStLincoln
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not much head to speak of from my pour, but a deep reddish brown color in the body that's really pretty.

The nose is full of rich malt bread and melted butter.

Falls a bit flat on the palate for me. Not much depth to the flavors which include some nuttiness and a pop of hops bitterness on the back end.

A smooth sessionable beer despite it coming in at 5.8 ABV.

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Photo of ballz50401
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is a medium deep brown with some haziness and little floaties from the bottle conditioning. Good carbonation and head retention. Smells of rich malts with bready/bicuity characteristics rise up. Taste some caramel and coffee tones. Feels creamy with a little carbonation bite at the end. Really like this brown ale.

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Photo of Evocatus
3.26/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark red amber, looks almost like tea. Head was tan and about a cm in thickness though it dwindled to a little more than a ring. Aroma was pretty feint, although I could pick up hints of caramel and alcohol. Taste was pretty good and strong though. A mix of caramel sweetness, nuts, and alcohol. For some reason the taste is a bit too strong for me, at least the alcohol part, so I wouldn't call it too drinkable.

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Photo of Justin23060
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Brownish-orange with some haze and sediment. One finger head with some lacing.

S - Nice and yeasty with some suddle floral (not at all overpowering) hops.

T - I prefer my browns a bit more sweet, but this works. Great bready taste almost bordering on biscuity. Hops are in perfect balance. I suggest letting it warm slightly (somewhat more complex in the last couple sips)

M - A little more astringent than most browns, but in a good way. Nice creamy finish.

D - Quite drinkable. Dryness leaves a nice aftertaste that leaves me wanting more.

Overall - Not the "Best" Brown ale as the name states but a pretty solid beer.

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

Poured a deep mahogany with plenty of visible yeast. Smells malty but subdued and not overpowering. The taste agrees with the scent, nice nutty and sweet malt without being too much. The mouthfeel is slightly chewy and drinkability is fantastic. A great brown ale, and the best I've had yet.

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Photo of pasdachuri
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pretty clear dark copper with a small tan head. Head is extremely sticky and laces well.

Sweet caramel aroma, toffee, slight roast and a touch of hops.

Tastes similar to how it smells. There's a good amount of buttery taste that's pretty smooth, backed up by nutty and malty flavors and a bit sweeter than expected.

Creamy, slightly uneven mouthfeel almost chewy with a mild level of carbonation.

Drinkability is decent as the sweet buttery taste mat become overwhelming after a few.

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Photo of afdempse
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I grew up on this beer, so it definitely has a special place in my heart. I'll try to be objective here...

First off, let me say that it seems as if reviewers on this site are attempting to rate this beer on what they expected it to be, not on what it is. This is not an imperial- or double- anything. It is a brown ale, and a solid one at that. End of rant. :)

Certainly looks wonderful. Bell's never disappoints with properly mashed grains and the head sticks to the glass like crazy.

Nice chocolatey malt scent with flavor to match. Warm, earthy malt flavor with a hint of toast and chocolate creaminess. Very slight hop bitterness and no hop flavor. Finishes clean with a hint of alcohol.

Drinkability is high... I could sip on these all night in front of a warm fire while watching the Lions lose and the Wolverines win. Michigan winter in a bottle!

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

Beer was poured from a 12 oz bottle into a goblet. Had a dark brown/weak coffee color with a foamy thin head that quickly dissipated. Smells like roasted malts, yeast and nuts. Flovour is heavy on malts and nuttiness. Some hints of yeast and bread in there too. Goes down easy.

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

This is reminiscent of the Hacker-Pschorr that I just reviewd but encumbered with beer-nuts and I do mean cajones. Dense as a Polaroid picture and brown gravy and rye. Hack off some marble cheddar and hot pepper jack and make yourself a feast of post-fermentables and livestock. Please put away your virgins though because Moloch reigns supreme here.

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

I poured this twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass. As usual with Bell's this beer pours a strong head. It forms a rocky looking surface and the melts in on itself, for a slight head for the rest of the ride. It is a beautiful amber in color with an off white head. I was expecting a bit more malt character in the nose and taste of the beer, but solid none the less. A bit more hop flavor than I expected from the style but not out of order. Low in sweetness, with a solid backbone of both hop aroma and bitterness. For 6.6% there is no trace of additional alcohol. Overall a solid beer.

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