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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: 2,810
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 95
Gots: 366 | 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: 2,810
Photo of JustLikeMyDad
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured this beauty in a clear lager mug, has a nice medium dark brown color and a healthy thickish foam head.
Smells malty, a little chocolaty.
Tastes like an ale, got some bitterness to it, and it tastes a little of chocolate, maybe even coffee. Not too overly bitter like most Bell's Ale's I've had.
Feel is smooth,with a light bubbly feel on the tongue, not too light, but not too strong on the carbonation.
Overall, I was hesitant since I don't like Bell's Ale's, since usually I find them to be too bitter. This one isn't like that. And I could drink more of this.

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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 Jonoesh5
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

Toasty, nutty malts the whole way through. However, the deep brown body had some floaties/residue at the bottom of my glass. Overall, I'd be happy to have this beer again, but not one of Bell's better brews.

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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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Photo of Transatlantic
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A - A very beautiful hazy unfiltered walnut brown color with an okay head with okay lacing. Chunks upon chunks of sediment, might I add.

S - A very nutty and caramel smell with a light floral hop smell in the background.

T - Very nutty and very caramel like taste. Hop bitterness is next to non-existent in this brew. This is a very light but sweet brown ale.

M - Light to medium bodied

D - The drinkability on this brew is off the charts. I should have gotten another 6-pack of this stuff before they're gone.

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Photo of MufflnMan
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Very good looking clear brown with a hint of red/amber and an almost mocha head. Nice surprise for a brown ale...

Faint smells of malty sweet caramel/toffee and a hint of hops.

Taste is almost a copy of the nose, but stronger. Nice sweetness to it without being cloying. The caramels and toffees come thru again and then a finish with a bit of hops. I also get the smallest hint of cocoa in there which is nice.

Medium mouthfeel, not too heavy... not too light. Very little to no carbonation so anything that hits your tongue is in the taste.

Overall, a solid brown ale.

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Photo of montecristo2
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a goblet style glass.

Pours a dark brown, a bit murky but when held to the light shows a dark mahogany color.

Very light head, dissipates very quickly to almost nothing.

Smells of malts and nuts.

Taste-Nutty, a slight tang, and that caramel aftertaste that I love with brown ales.

A very drinkable session brown from Bell's.


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

A - Typical brown. A 1 finger head that left a nice lace.

S - Maybe it's my cold but didn't get much here. Some bread, oat, perhaps toffee or caramel.

T - Being a big Bell's fan I was a tad dissapointed here. It is good, but nothing that wows me.

M - Light bodied, moderate carbonation.

D - I had 2 of these in one sitting and it was enough for me. I enjoyed it, but don't know if I'd seek it out again.

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Photo of goldennectar
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz.bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Nice thick head & beautiful dark amber color. Not much lacing left behind.

Smell: Sweet Caramel Malts

Taste: Very similar to the smell - Caramel & malty with a slightly nutty flavor.
Well rounded, balanced & smooth
is how I describe this very drinkable ale.

Mouthfeel: Medium body & carbonation

Overall: A very well done & very drinkable offering from Bell's Brewery. Try one

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Photo of lewzer99
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Brown and translucent, with a touch of ruby when light hits it. One finger head that lasts a few minutes and leave no lacing.
S- The nose has a lot of sugary malts, with a bit of chocolate,and some floral hops.
T- Chocolatey roasted malts at first that give way to a butterscotch like sweetness.
M- Rich and heavy feeling. Can't wait for the weather to cool down so I can enjoy this one in a sweater.
O- Bells always makes some of my favorites, and this brown ale is another good beer from them. Definitely one of the best for the money.

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Photo of 88caprice
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a glass.

Look: Slightly ruby-toned, mahogany color. Thin creamy head and lots of active bubbles.
Smell: A surprising bright hop smell considering the style. Almost citrusy, but in a good way.
Taste: Some hop overtones on a malty foundation. Mildly sweet and toasty. More initial hop pop that expected for this style, but a nice balance.
Mouthfeel: A medium/light body. Definitely not heavy. Lots of active bubble action on the tongue.
Overall: :)

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Photo of turamarth
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a basic pint glass.

Look: Pours a pretty hefty off white head, that lingers for a good while. Not a lot of lacing. Has a clear dark amber color, almost like a jar filled with iced tea. Only real downside on the looks of the beer is the fact that there is so much yeast sediment chillin in the beer. I'm pretty sure if I wanted to I would take a sample and make my own yeast starter from it. Mmmm petry dish.

Smell: An interesting nose. Lots of musky sents that linger in the nose after a good dive. Also, there are a lot of tannin smells, e.g., tea, cold coffee, etc. After the musky notes the caramels are predominate in the nose. There are also some dark fruit and coco powder hints through out.

Taste: Much a kin to the nose. The musky flavors linger on the tongue after a good sip, I like this. A caramel sweetness that is stronger on the tongue than on the nose sits well here along with some amplified fruits that I can't pinpoint. Pretty tasty.

Mouth: A rather medium mouthfeel. Smooth and the carbonation dances nicely on the tongue. Every now and then however you'll find a lil yeasty on your tongue.

Drink: Dispite all the freakin' yeast you can see and sometimes taste. This beer is pretty drinkable, and very sessionable. Probably my go to brown ale.

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Photo of Gobigvt7
4.47/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

a - pours a nice mid-brown, with an amber tint when held to light. Looks delicious already. one finger of almost white head, good lacing.

s - nutty malts and bread

t - smooth caramelized grains. semi-sweet but not cloying. very light hops lend an edge to the maltiness. very balanced, tastes evenly throughout the sip.

m - smooth, round, medium body.

o - one of my favorite go-to browns. For the style, immensely drinkable and flavorful.

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Photo of BrewStoutMagic
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this brew into a sifter to check out the aroma,but nothing really stood out. Now the taste is smooth,not bitter at all.The ale has a beautiful brown color.Looks so good in this glass I think I'll try to drink it as slow as I can so I can enjoy it. Definitely something I'd buy in the future.

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Photo of DukeofAle
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a very well made ale but just does not have enough charactor to make it stand out. Pours a medium brown with moderate head and fair to middling retention, some lace. Taste is smooth and easy to drink. More malty than hoppy - but very mild. Somewhat thin.

No real faults, but not a stand out in any way.

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