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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

836 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 836
Hads: 2,713
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 92
Gots: 313 | 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: 836 | Hads: 2,713
Photo of Lillenk
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Grill One Eleven.

Appearance was just what onw would expect from a brown. Very nice medium brown color with a nice white/tan head.

Smell was nice. Lots of roasted malts but well balanced with some hop character too.

Taste was pretty average for the style. Nothing crazy but a nice, well put together beer.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied but a little tough to have more than one or two.

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Photo of PokerGod
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

appearance- Nice color, Deep amber/brown. Slightly hazy. A nice very foamy thick head that dissipates pretty quickly, but stirs up again nicely when agitated. Doesn't really leave much lacework on the glass.

Smell- not a very strong smell, but very pleasant. Very creamy, sweet smell, not at all hoppy.

Taste- Very, very nice. Very creamy and roasted. Sweet, but not fruity or yeasty. Maybe caramel, but that doesn't seem quite right either. Can't quite put my finger on that sweet taste... maybe almost like a mocha. Delicious.

Mouthfeel- All carbonation bite hits on the top of the tongue.

Overall- a really fine brown ale, that's very easy to drink. I would have no problem buying this again. Very good.

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Photo of Brettster
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a kind of murky carmel color with about a one finger foamy head that fades quick. Has a nice roasted nut smell with plenty of sweetness. Has lots of malt flavor with hints of fruit. This is a pretty smooth medium bodied brown. In fact it is one of the better brown ales I have had.

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Photo of teovaldi
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark amber with a huge off white head leaving lots of lacing.

Smell is roasty with a hint of malt and hops.

Taste is of sweet malts with slight brown sugar finishing slightly hoppy.

Mouthfeel is smooth and medium bodied with decent carbonation.

Damn fine brown ale. One of my favorites and is highly sessionable.

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Photo of TheSeeker61
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The appearance was an inch of head and a dark brown in color. The smell is dark fruits with malts. Nice nose. The taste is an expresso/coffee tongue. The mouthfeel is medium. This is a decent brown. If I was a coffee drinker this offering would be even more attractive to me but since I'm not this is one that I could have again but will not go out of the way to have.

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Photo of vapodge
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip

A - mahogany & rich, thin head stays

S - roasty, not smoky

T - lots of roasted malts, not very sweet, a bit nutty

M - normal amount of carbonation for a brown

D - smooth drinking and perfectly fine; nothing wows me -- would not seek this out, but would not refuse; probably be better for a cooler night and a hearty meal (stupid FL "winters")

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Photo of hangh
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Very nice looking brown ale. A little hazy, deep brown color with a thick tan head that dissapates and lingers with a small dusting. Very fine lacing.
S - Sweet malty smells are pretty apparent. Bready and toasted smell. Not as overboard as lots of brown ales with sweet malts but a pleasant smell.
T - Great tasting brown ale. It definitely has some nutty qualities to it along with a toasted bready taste. It has a hint of hops beneath a more mild sweet malt taste. It's a little different from mainstream brown ales that is quite good.
MF - Medium bodied, lightly carbonated. Pretty smooth beer. Little tart finish.
D - It's a very good beer in it's own right and a good change of pace brown ale.

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

Poured a deep red with perfect carbonation, more sediment than I anticipated. The smell was interesting--some vanilla and flowery perfume in addition to the expected maltiness, etc. The taste is delicious at a moderate chill--I don't think I'd like this one overchilled--and I could drink this all night. Just had one tonight, though. Very nice.

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Photo of kevinjosephlee
4.75/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle poured into a glass.

A: A clear, dark, mahogany (coppery red, when held to the light) with a thick, off-white head with intense lacing.

S: Malty, caramelly, grainy notes. Also a rich chocolate-y sweetness. Another pleasing scent that I can't quite place but may be butterscotch.

T: Malts dominate this beer (as expected). Nutty, molasses sweetness, finishes dry and smooth. Moderate bitterness.

M: Some roasted astringency. Lighter body with some carbonation tingle.

Notes: This beer hits all the right marks for the style. Very drinkable. I am a fan of Bell's offerings. Cheers!

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Photo of hossua34
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Nutty, dark reddish-brown. A gigantic head, almost too large, that is slow fading. Leaves an outrageous amount of sticky lacing.

S - Very much like coffee and toffee. Has s bit of a sharp, semi-metallic scent that I've smelled in other English brown ales.

T - Toasty, malty. Hints of toffee and biscuits. A tiny bit watered-down tasting. Finishes caramelly. Very English style.

M - Kinda flat. A somewhat watery, "empty" mouthfeel.

D - A friend said, and I agree, that this is probably what Newcastle is meant to taste like (before it is imported and spends months in clear bottles). Not near as good as Oberon, but very easy to drink. A very pound-able minikig.

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Photo of nota
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I really had a tough time finding this beer, but finally got my hands on a sixer. Pours a hazy brown/dark cooper in color. Nice tan head that gives way to good amount of lacing. At the beginning you taste sweet roasted malt. Its has a balance amount of hops. It's finish is dry.I edit my review of this beer after drinking this beer a few time and having a few other brown's under my belt. This beer is just a bit over done for my taste in what a brown should be. To me it borders on being more like a porter than a brown ale.

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Photo of andrewmartin
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A friend of mine brought me a six-pack of this a while ago and I just loved it, let's see how it does under the micrscope!

A: Deep, deep clear amber with big rocking head.

S: Hints of roasted malts and molasses.

T: Sweet sugary malts up front give way to a pleasent hop bitterness.

M: Not as creamy as a once remember, a bit more acidic and tingly.

D: Well, this wasn't as good as I recall, the previous one had a lot more character, but a solid brown nontheless.

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Photo of n0315
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice brown color with a small head that quickly dissipates. Small is of a light nut smell. I let it warm up as I thought is was too cold from the fridge to start getting a rightful taste test of this. A decent nut taste but a bit too weak. A decent brew to drink if you don't feel like spending the money on sam smith nut brown ale.

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Photo of rings
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Most people know this one for the fact that there's an owl on the label and that it's a winter seasonal, the opposite of Oberon (Solson, to those of us who remember), Bell's top selling summer wheat.

Best Brown is an "Amer-English" brown ale with a full and balanced body. It pours relatively heavy, bright-brown in color, with a nice, white chocolate head that lingers a bit on the glass. Served properly between 45°-55°, it opens with a maple, brown-sugary nose and sweet maltiness that rolls into a full mouthfeel. As it goes down, there's a slight hoppy bite on the finish to balance and clean up the lingering sweetness. The balance is exceptional.

It goes well with spicy foods, although it can get a little filling with a large meal. As a session beer, it can also get a bit sweet over time, although serving it a bit colder can help.

While Best Brown is, for some reason, not as popular as the Winter White or Two Hearted over the winter monthsand not even in the ballpark of Oberon, in terms of sales--it remains one of Bell's finest and most consistent offerings and is one of my personal favorites among their lineup.

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Photo of sierratwohearted
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%

solid head sticks around for a few quaffs. hazy, light brown color. floral hop aroma mixes with roasted malt/caramel/maybe a little milk chocolate. taste is fairly hop-forward for a brown, floral up front, caramel malt, a little choc. light-slightly medium body. drinks easy. love this one, know its obvious...but another great fall weather camp fire brew.

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Photo of elephantrider
3.42/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Reddish brown, tan head. I would have liked it darker.

S: Lots of bready carmel. Some toffee. A little nutty and chocolatey.

T: Carmel with some toasty characteristics right off the bat. Then some chocalate and nutty flavors. Finishes slighlty hoppy.

M: Medium bodied

O: Pretty decent beer. I dont like to drink more than a couple of these at a time as I move to other more interesting things. There are a couple more Browns that I like better than this.

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Photo of rkinsella
2.32/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured into a nonic glass, looks great...dark tea colored with a bit of a haze, off white head with good retention and average lacing.

On the nose, alcohol whiff right away, toasty bread with a bit of spiciness. Smells like a boozy home brew...sadly enough.

Taste starts with bread like flavors dipped in alcohol, moves to a slight tanginess before the subtle hop finish.
Missing all the wonderful flavors that can emerge from a brown ale...i.e. nuttiness, fruity and brown sugar notes.

Medium carbonation, medium to heavier body.

Too boozy tasting to be a session brown...almost has a winter warmer feel to it.

Not what I look for in a brown ale. Better domestic offerings from Goose Island, Avery, Sam Adams, etc.

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Photo of mjsheehan08
3.22/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a fiery reddish hue that fills the glass with a dark brown color that becomes almost impossible to see through. Thick, foamy head sits high on this brew, and it fades after a while.

The only real aroma I'm pulling is weak malt. Not impressed

Nutty, malty, really sweet Carmel malts. Again not super impressed.

Overall, a decent session beer, but not something I would purposely seek out.

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

Fresh bottle enjoyed a few hours ago. Pours a slightly cloudy brownish, red. Faint yellow highlights in a few spots. You can see a bit of sediment floating around. Fluffy white head that didn't hang around for long and left a bit of lace around the glass. Good lookin beer. Aroma is a tad faint, but sweet and malty. I wish there was ust a little bit more pronounced malt aroma. This beer tastes great though. Not amazing, but really really good. Super smooth mouthfeel lets the toasty malt flavor cover your pallate. There's a faint fruit flavor as well, can't put my finger on it. No stringency whatsoever. A really good session beer. Drinkability is perfect. What a brown ale should be.

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

dark red/amber brown with a little beige head. small rings of lacing.

smells of toast, nuts, caramel, biscuits, hazelnut, maple syrup. all the things that would make me love this with breakfast.

tastes very much like it smells. a good piece of toast with nutella on it and then some. light roast coffee character. some faint fruity hops mingle with the roasty flavors in the finish. this is a very good full flavor.

smooth & thick, with the rigth amount of carbonation that comes through for just a moment.

A very fine example of all that can be wonderful about this style. A very solid and thoroughly delicious brown ale that should not be overlooked in the presence of bigger beers.

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Photo of heyitsbyron
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a single from Woodman's in Madison into an imperial pint glass.

Poured thin with a quickly dissipating head. The ruddy brown color was nice, but it didn't scream "drink me" like it should.

Smelled boozy and fruity, kind of like bubblegum. I kinda liked it.

Taste was weak and washed out. Nutty and malty and first, but very watery when it should finish strong. Aftertaste is slightly yeasy and boozy.

Nothing special in the mouth. Thin but also overcarbonated a little and doesn't have a satisfyingly pleasant linger.

I wanted to like this beer because I like Bell's and I like brown ales, but there's really nothing here to separate from the masses of mediocre brown ales. Not sufficiently distinct or satisfying to warrant drinking again unless it were free or there were no better alternatives.

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Photo of AllenJasper
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle to mug, bottled 11/30/11 (2 and a half months old)

A: Murky brown with a coppery tone to it. one finger of fluffy brownish white head, not much retention.

S: Toasty malts, almonds, little hint of caramel

T/M: follows smell quite closely, a bit of hoppiness in there... I can only compare it to Newcastle, this is nuttier, hoppier, and is slightly crispier on the tongue.

O: This is the best 'Brown Ale' I have had. I've had a handful of ABAs and none of them even come close... even when some cost much more. (Rogue John John Hazelnut)
So far, Bell's has yet to disappoint. Even with a style of beer that is not really my thing.

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Photo of RodneyX
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown beer that has a beige head that left behind a tiny bit of spots and lace. It smells of caramel and sugar with some raisins or figs or other type of dark fruit. Taste is about the same, and quite pleasant. Really focuses on the brown sugar aspect. Mouthfeel is slightly over carbonated but not bad. This is an above average brown I would drink again

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Photo of biker30x
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at a little bar just south of Wisconsin (Bell's is truly back in IL). Poured a hazel brown, minimally cloudy with a thin head, only some lacing throughout. The smell was of fresh dark bread and toasted nuts. This carried into the taste which was of rustic brown bread and caramel/malt. Some hop-spice gave a plesant balance. None of which was overly strong. It was satisfyingly full on the tongue but marred by an overabundance of carbonation (I'll blame the bar). Not a style I normally reach for first, but thoroughly enjoyable through 2 pints. 6.6ABV is a slight caution against drinking these all night, especially with friends having 4.4 macros.

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Photo of SmithwicksNut
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown in color with a tan head. Head retention was pretty good.

S: Moderate malt aroma with some fruitiness. Had some hop aroma to it also.

T: A medium-full bodied beerwith malt and a little roasty sweetness blended in. Had moderate bitterness which blended well.

M: A medium-full bodied beer with good carbonation.

D: a very nice brown ale almost bordering on a porter. I was able to drink a few.

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Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 836 ratings.