1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

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

Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

1,937 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1937
Reviews: 776
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 11.52%


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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
Ratings: 1,937 | Reviews: 776 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of elephantrider
elephantrider

Michigan

3.43/5  rDev -10.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-14-2011 03:29:41 | More by elephantrider
Photo of Briarbush
Briarbush

Ohio

3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- It is very dark auburn with a nice copper hue and slightly hazy.Nice head that is light tan.

Smell- very faint with a noticeable bread smell maybe a little toffee/caramel.

Taste & Mouthfeel- Not very complex, It has a nice malt character with only a touch of hops. There is another few flavors that I just can’t place a name on pleasant nonetheless. The finish is crisp and dry. Slightly over carbonated I felt.

Drinkability- This beer is very drinkable. I wish the taste were a bit more complex or bold but it is very pleasant throughout. Good Brew.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2006 23:38:53 | More by Briarbush
Photo of Drone53
Drone53

New York

3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Nice beer. Pours a nice brown color, with a nice solid head, which lasts a awhile. Taste was good, but was expecting a little more. Pretty decent hop flavor. Good maltiness to this beer as well.

Definitely a beer which you could have a nice session with.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2010 14:20:36 | More by Drone53
Photo of NDZonie
NDZonie

Michigan

3.25/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a glass with a 2 finger head. Dark brown in color with a very fragrant smell. You can really taste the high malt content. The mouthfeel is what is a disappointment to me. It doesn't really have a lot of depth for flavor. The after taste remains on your tongue for a while and can be quite bitter.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2008 15:34:46 | More by NDZonie
Photo of BaronVonHawkeye
BaronVonHawkeye

Iowa

3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Rich brown color, slightly lighter than Newcastle, but hazy similar to an American Amber. Dark cream head that did not really stay around that long, but did leave nice lace rings.

Smell: I unfortunately have to give this an average. While there is a decently malty smell, it seems bland and ordinary.

Taste: Nice flavor for a brown ale. Smooth malt followed by a hoppy aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth, but did not have as smooth of a mouthfeel as other brown ales, specifically Dillion Dam Sweet George's Brown.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. Would go very well with tailgaiting on a crisp fall day rather than a bitterly cold winter day.

Purchased at John's Grocery, Iowa City, IA

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2007 23:34:00 | More by BaronVonHawkeye
Photo of NonServiam
NonServiam

Illinois

3.4/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle purchased from a convenience store in Chicago.

Poured into a pub-style pint glass. Color is a dark amber or leathery brown, translucent to opaque. Copper and orange is apparent if held before a light. Head began life at about two and a half fingers, quickly shrank to half a finger, which persisted through the tasting. Head is medium to dark cream, with a hint of orange. Laces moderately well.

Aroma is nutty and sweet, reminiscent of caramel or toffee. Flavor is similarly nutty and sweet overall, but with a distinct bitter dryness on the finish. Not very hoppy -- this bitterness at the end is the main hop component. Some notes of toast and bread are also detectable, but the whole is not terribly complex. Complexity is not really the point, though -- it's very soothing, warm, and pleasant without being too bold or provocative. Mouthfeel is spot on, silky and slightly tingly with carbonation.

This is a pretty good, but conservative -- staple, even -- example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2009 23:00:58 | More by NonServiam
Photo of sm0key
sm0key

Michigan

4.43/5  rDev +16%
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!

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2010 19:01:53 | More by sm0key
Photo of zulufactor
zulufactor

Minnesota

3.63/5  rDev -5%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Nice warm brown color with a half inch white ish head

S- Light smell of hops and nutty malts

T- Malty with a bit of hops and a little sweetness. very well balanced with a nice earthy taste that lingers

M- good carbonation, again feels balanced

D- This is a beer i would pick up again would appeal to many pallets. similar to the Boston logger but with more flavor and complexity.

Due to the balance this beer offers I could be paired with just about any food or meal.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2011 02:54:27 | More by zulufactor
Photo of Dangus
Dangus

Ohio

3.63/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Brown just as one would assume. Fair amount of carbonation, poured about an inch of off white head. Head faded to a cap pretty quickly. There is some sediment in the glass, but that's par for the course with a bottle conditioned beer.

Smell- Toasty malts and sour breadiness. I am not detecting much of a hop aroma.

Taste- Nice maltiness, slightly nutty. There is a twinge of sourness that lingers after I swallow the beer.

Mouthfeel- Nice amount of carbonation. Medium bodied.

Drinkability- Good drinkability. I would prefer this for a colder time of year, but it is still nice and easy to drink. Enjoyable beer for sure.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2010 03:44:54 | More by Dangus
Photo of qua17
qua17

Massachusetts

4.63/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: This beer poured into a pint grass with a nice two inch head. It's a translucent brown.

S: Nice and malty

Taste: The name of this is the Best Brown Ale and the taste almost proves the point. Delicious. There is a lot of balance to this beer - not too malty and very flavorful. Nice carbonation.

Overall: I like Bell's but this might be my second favorite next to Two Hearted Ale.

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2011 22:39:15 | More by qua17
Photo of deaconblues
deaconblues

Wisconsin

3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a six pack because I have been impressed with Bell's so far, and also I like the owl on the label.

Poured into a pint glass. Nice dark brown color, small head retention. It has a sweet, malty aroma. Pleasant smell. The taste starts out stronger than I had expected, plenty of malt, only a little bit of hops. At first I was reminded of New Belgium's 1554 black ale. But the finish was disappointing. What started out strong evaporated quickly, leaving nothing but a bitter (but not displeasing) aftertaste on my tongue. I feel that this isn't a very well-balanced beer. It isn't a bad beer by any means, it just goes down a bit too quickly, and doesn't let me savor the flavors for long enough.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2010 19:57:58 | More by deaconblues
Photo of savaship
savaship

Minnesota

2.68/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This beer was ordered on Tap and served in a special Bell's Pint Glass. It had a beautiful dark brown appearance, I estimated it to be 27 SRM with a nice hint of red. I spent a little time gauging the color with an SRM chart from the Beer Judging Certification Program. The head was foamy off-white but dissipated quickly, leaving slight lacing.

The beer smelled very nicely, the adequate aroma hop usage worked to its benefit, had a very english ale floral aroma to it, I think the aroma hop was likely a Fuggle hop, it definitely smelled the way most good Brown Ales smell.

Taste I had issues with... American Craft brewers like to unbalance their beer with high acid hops such as Cascade hops which I suspect were in this beer, that just leave a drinker like me who's expecting a nicely balanced beer very disappointed. I estimated this beer to be 35-37 IBU, even if it was actually lower, the hop choice just tastes foul, and overpowers the malt.

The carbonation was perfect, had I not wanted to get that beer out of my mouth as quickly as possible, I would have savored it longer.

Overall, I do not like this beer. It seems to have taken the brown ale tradition and forced it down the American Ale Cascade hop road to attempt to make it taste like many of the woefully unbalanced American Craft beers out there that favor bitter over balance.

Serving type: on-tap

11-23-2013 14:21:50 | More by savaship
Photo of Kenye
Kenye


3.4/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a pint glass. Date on bottle 9/24/12.

Appearance - Pours a nice reddish-brown color with a little light tan head that quickly settles to a persistent film. Average lacing. 3.5/5

Smell - Nothing strikes me about this. It just smells like an average brown beer. 3/5

Taste - Nothing strikes me here either. Honestly it tastes more like an Amber than a brown. I hardly taste any of the sweet roasted malts I was hoping for. There is also no nutty character. Nothing offensive. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel - It's very easy to drink. You could pound several of these if you weren't paying attention. Again, nothing special, but nothing offensive. 3.5/5

Overall - Nothing about this beer really stands out. It's just an average beer. I don't see any need to seek it out, but if you see it around and want to try something different you won't be disappointed. I personally want more sweetness or nuttiness out of a brown ale. 3.5/5

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 02:50:58 | More by Kenye
Photo of Michael-McManaman
Michael-McManaman

Michigan

3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown rusty color with a khaki head, it smells of rich fall pine. The taste is very distinct and I don't quite know how to describe it but it is a great beer awesome for the end of day kind of drink. It leaves the mouth dry an wanting more.
Overall I recommend this beer for any relaxing day when an IPA is just too much.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2014 00:49:20 | More by Michael-McManaman
Photo of EyeOfBuck
EyeOfBuck

Ohio

2.96/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance is hazy brown with very little head.
Smelled slightly of sweet malt
Taste citrus sweet taste with hints of yeast and a bitter finish.
Mouthfeel thin with considerable carbonation.
Overall, not a favorite especially for Bells, maybe my expectations were too high.

Serving type: bottle

09-15-2013 21:40:38 | More by EyeOfBuck
Photo of Jennz906
Jennz906

Michigan

4.13/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy, rusty auburn brown with a khaki colored head.

S- chocolate, brown sugar and toasted, hint of caramel. And definitely kind of fall like or earthy.

T- Follows the aroma . Slightly chocalately and toasty with a hint of caramel. A light leafy and earthy undertone, with a strengthen after taste.

M- Medium in body, fairly carbonation. Goes down nice, very smooth but thick.

O - A solid, straight forward brown from Bell's. Nothing fancy, just a great example of the style. I defiantly like it.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2014 02:20:03 | More by Jennz906
Photo of DT051
DT051

Minnesota

3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Served: Bottle poured into a pint glass.

Aroma: Low nutty and earthy ripe fruit and slight caramel notes. reminds me a bit of apple peel with some brown sugar notes

Appearance: definately some sediments floating about. Color is a nice dark amber. A lasting moderate head little lacing as it disipated.

Body and Texture: Medium body but a touch of grittyness. Nice feel as it flows through the mouth. Drankable.

Flavor: roasty caramel with slight spiceyness tranistions to a more saltly nut flavor a little ripe fruit hanging around.

Serving type: bottle

04-07-2010 07:13:55 | More by DT051
Photo of mdhkc
mdhkc

Missouri

4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm a little skeptical of brown ales in general. A lot of them seem to taste quite good up front, but then leaving something malty behind that simply lasts too long and quickly goes from tasty beer to a leftover taste that you want to exorcise from your mouth. Happily, Bell's Best isn't a victim of this phenomena. Slightly "warmer" than many other brown ales I've personally tried, this seems like a nice winter seasonal.

Clean is the word I'd use to describe the flavor of this beer all around. The carbonation level seems just right as well, naturally complementing it without overwhelming. Nutty and slightly chocolatey malt notes up front lead into a slightly sweet finish that doesn't overpower. A light body combined with the clean finish makes this beer extremely drinkable on a cool winter's evening, or paired with a nice hearty English beef or mutton stew.

Bottle is stamped with "10/24/11A", so I assume this is a bottling date, but it doesn't specify.

Overall, this beer is an exception among the style in my opinion, and likely my favorite brown ale thus far.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2012 04:18:27 | More by mdhkc
Photo of duffalo
duffalo


4.26/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Nothing frilly, just a really well done brown ale. The balance is great - there's no hop smell, but they nicely cancel out the sweetness that could easily be in this beer given the amount of grains they pack in. I think the taste is great, but personally I think it's almost on the verge of a porter in darkness and alcohol content - not quite as light as most of the brown ales I'm used to. Nevertheless, this is a great choice if you're in the mood for a no frills well done brown.

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2013 00:51:58 | More by duffalo
Photo of archiespeck
archiespeck

Michigan

4.33/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had one of these following a Hopslam last night. Very interesting dichotomy!

A - Poured a dark hazy brown. Very little carbonation on this one.

S - Caramel, nuts, brown sugar with a touch of cinnamon. As a previous poster stated, the best smelling brown ale out there.

T - This is where the caramel and nuttiness really come through. Very nice, and not overpowering at all. Strikes a very nice balance with the maltiness.

M - A little thicker than your average brown ale. Again, low carbonation.

D - Very drinkable. I could easily put away 4-5 of these if I weren't careful.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2010 14:10:57 | More by archiespeck
Photo of gecasa
gecasa

Michigan

3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer has a lighter than usual brown color to it for a brown ale, with a very nutty taste and smell. It is not the heaviest brown ale i've had and seems to be highly carbonated. I am very fond of Bells Brewery and find this to be one of their better beers!

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2010 15:43:22 | More by gecasa
Photo of MSR129
MSR129

Maine

3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very nice offering from Bells. Pours a rich amber color with a thin head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is not particularly strong. The flavor is rich and nutty, similar to Arcadia's Nut Brown. It is pretty carbonated for a Brown Ale, but not overly so.

It's easy to polish off a few of these with out thinking about it. The Northern Saw-whet Owl on the label is outstanding.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2012 19:30:42 | More by MSR129
Photo of tjlake
tjlake

Ohio

3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Out of a bottle poured into straight pint glass, briefly held a 1 finger head, laced all the way down the glass. More red-brown than brown, and a little cloudy.

S - Very light on the nose, almost non-existent, save a little malt and caramel.

T - Standard brown ale, nothing to write home about, but not at all displeasing.

M - Feels malty up front but lacks body, instead it finishes a little crisp.

D - This beer scores major points on drinkability! At 5.8%, it's not a heavy-hitter, goes down smooth and still has enough flavor and darkness to it to qualify it as an Autumn beverage. I tore through two of these over lunch, so it's a session beer for certain.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2009 03:32:33 | More by tjlake
Photo of thefingluke
thefingluke

Ohio

4.78/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

just bought a "mini-keg" of this years batch and, kaboom! cocoa biscuity caramelized goodness. i love this beer for it's beautiful brown color and rich maltiness.
it is always a fall/ early winter fav, for a cold afternoon when you have a hour or two to kill before dinner, it's heartiness will tide you over till its time to eat and then goes great with any meal. bells has always done right by me, and i wouldnt expect anything other than great from one of my favorite home town breweries this years batch is just as great as years past. thanks Bells.

Serving type: can

12-18-2010 22:43:11 | More by thefingluke
Photo of alrhodesjr
alrhodesjr

Michigan

3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The beer appears to be medium brown in color, cloudy, with a white creamy head. The beer has appears to have mild lacing in a glass.

It smells of caramels and tastes as such. After the initial carmel taste I tasted the brown which remained after it was swallowed. It is not a "powerful" tasting beer but they is some minor bite to it.

As for the drinking ability of this beer it is excellent. The beer is smooth, and there is not a lingering taste in between sips. I greatly enjoyed this beer and would recommend others to as well.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2010 02:25:26 | More by alrhodesjr
Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 1,937 ratings.