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

Not Rated.
Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown

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very good

2,625 Ratings
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Ratings: 2,625
Reviews: 832
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.49%
Wants: 87
Gots: 273 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,625 | Reviews: 832
Photo of axeman9182
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle from batch 10856. It was bottled on 12/28/11 and poured into my petite Duvel tulip.

Bell's Best Brown pours a very nice mahogany, with plenty of red highlights. The cream colored foam quickly billows up to over three fingers in height before slowly creeping down. The lacing is left behind in sheets, and if the head retention were just a little more impressive the looks would be perfect. The nose has plenty of caramel and toasted nuts, but the spicy/herbal hop aroma is just a little too intense/misplaced. My comments for the flavor profile would be largely the same. Some of the classic flavors from the style are nicely rendered, but the hops (which the website calls "American", but I would have guessed Fuggles or some other English varietal) are a bit too forward, both in bitterness and intensity of flavor. The body is nice and full, but the carbonation is just a little too bright for a brown ale. Bell's Best Brown is an alright brown ale, but I can't say I was particularly impressed.

Photo of spinrsx
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from good ta go beer store in PA for 1.99 - thanks to jfam for this

Appearance - Hazy brown colour with a large size fizzy/frothy beige head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly good lacing. The head lasted for over 5 minutes. There are also some particles floating around.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, brown sugar, dark fruits

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, toffee, chocolate, and a hint of dark fruits (raisins?). There is also a little bit of a molasses flavour. It ends with a malty chocolate and toffee aftertaste.

Overall - Pretty good, but nothing that will blow your socks off. It's very drinkable but the higher abv would keep it from being a session type brew. Worth a shot but I wouldn't pick it up again.

Photo of Daniellobo
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Good if a bit tepid brown ale.

Presentation: 12 oz brown capped bottle. Bells framing with light cream label where an owl sits on top of a wired fence pole. Back offers a short paragraph about intent and description. Notes 5.8% Alc by Vol. and packing date 1-04-12 A. Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Amber brown to brown pour, initial fair frothy head, moderate retention and surface memory with a few touches of lacing.

S - Malty roasted notes, nutty touches, hazelnut, some caramel…

T - And the taste follows nicely with a bitter soft touch in the end under a nice malty sense, hazelnut, caramel-toffee, bit of chocolate in the distant.

M - Medium-light to light body with moderate softly tuned carbonation, nice tingle as it lingers.

O - It actually has a pretty nice flow all things considered.

Notes: Maybe I´m a bit condescending… This is all sorts of decent, just not really my thing. Worth having around for a mellow, generic and quality malty offering, just nothing to really keep on the radar.

Photo of BeerDocT
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a chilled glass goblet.

-Appearance 3.5: Nice head, about half an inch. Slowly faded away into a film all over the top.

-Smell 4.0: Very, very nice bouquet on this brew. I smell lots of barley and caramel and a deep earthiness.

-Taste 4.0: Front is vaguely sweet, but very smooth with a slight hint of burnt sugar. Middle is where the barley hits you: big barley flavors, but amazingly dry. Finish is wonderfully balanced: not too sweet, not too dry and filled with tastes of dried fruits, malted sugars and a very restrained hoppiness. Aftertaste is long and heavy on a hop/burnt sugar fadeaway. Very, very good.

-Mouthfeel 4.0: Perfect level of carbonation for this beer: subdued, but it heightens the taste of the brew. Bottle-conditioned.

-Overall 4.0: Very good ale bordering on excellent. I really like the balanced tastes and the semi-dry finish. This is an excellent session beer and goes great with foods. Recommended.

Photo of Crundy
3.07/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Hazy Reddish Brown color, off white head, sticky lacing

S: caramel or toffee sweetness and malt aroma, slight hop presence.

T: somewhat flat flavors, subdued malt, very minimal hop bitterness. might be an older beer.

M: flat mouth feel, medium bodied, smooth with a hint of dryness slightly bitter aftertaste.

O: I don't think this beer was a fresh as it should have been. The flavors were all subdued and somewhat flat. It was still quite drinkable but I think if it had been fresher it would have been better.

Photo of raznug
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Best brown pours a crystal clear deep garnet color and is topped with ¾” of off white head that leaves small amounts lacing down the pint.
Smell: This smells of all brown ale deep malt aroma followed by more malt aroma. There maybe a bit of roasted aroma in the background but it is hard to find on every smell.
Taste: This follows in line with the smell and is all brown ale malt backbone and is followed by more malt in the background.
Mouthfeel: This feels a bit thin but being a brown ale one doesn’t want it too thick and hard to drink.

Photo of Gatch
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Flanny's in Tempe, AZ.

A: Medium amber. Decent lace and head retention.

S: Sweet, roasted malt.

T: Dry, sweet, lightly toasted malt and a nice nutty flavor throughout. Some quiet hops in the finish.

M: Great flavor, easy drinking. Sweet, nutty flavor lingers on the palate.

O: Fits the style well. Good English Brown Ale.

Photo of neckbracesub
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of the best of the winter amber ales, Bell’s Best Brown indeed does a terrific job balancing itself somewhere between too light and too heavy.

If I am entertaining guests and having to consider that not all people are accustomed to some of my favorite types of beer (imperial stouts, barleywines) and I have to get something everyone will enjoy AND still keeping with craft beers and out of the fuzzy yellow standard domestics, I almost always choose Best Brown.

It has the right balance to make nearly every drinker happy, without the usual blandness of a run-of-the-mill amber ale.

Photo of Labeerfinder
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mahogany color, with a very thin white head. Some sparce and spotty lacing. Floral hops come out in the nose. Accompanying that are some sweet malts. Flavors are about the same, but now the hops have an additional citrus to them. Lemons mostly. Smooth palate, medium body

Photo of MSR129
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

Photo of andrenaline
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nice dark caramel colour, thin layer of head with little retention and no lacing.

S - Mild on the nose, musty caramel and a hint of leafy greens.

T - Unique earthy bitterness, leafy green hops, musty caramel, tasted bread. A sour bitterness lingers.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and wet.

O - A tad disappointing from what has otherwise been a great experience with this brewery. Could use a bit more caramel to balance off the earthy hop flavour. Still rather drinkable and non-offensive though, just nothing spectacular.

Photo of maxk
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 10/04/11 and poured into a tulip.

A rust brown colored, cloudy fluid with an off white/eggshell colored head. The head was two fingers and settled down to a thin coating and leaving nice lacing down the sides.

Dark fruits and coffee. There are a variety of malts evident in the nose.

Mostly dark fruit with bits of coffee bitterness and astringency. It's nice and creamy. The brew isn't so big bodied, but it's very rich.

Photo of AllenJasper
4.02/5  rDev +5%
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.

Photo of spdyfire83
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

170th Review
Served in a half pint
On-draft at the mothership itself in Kalamazoo!

From notes.

A: Simply brown. 0.5 (tan) fingernail head.

S: Nutty, caramel, bread crumbs, and faint hop aroma. Hint of semi-sweet chocolate as well. Interesting.

T: Brown bread malt with caramel up-front followed by dark fruit, almond, touch of the chocolate. Finishes with a touch of brown sugar sweetness, which is a very nice ending. Pretty decent and easy to drink!

M: Medium bodied with even carbonation.

O: Not a huge fan of brown ales, but this one is quite nice. I haven't ever had it from the bottle, but I'd probably only want to drink it on-draft if it were up to me.

Photo of ChadQuest
3/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sunburst amber, some floaties from the bottle of the bottle, some lacing, a thin cap.
Aroma is sweet malt, some brown sugar, a bit of toffee, but overall on the sweet side of the spectrum with a variety of malt notes.
The flavors have a bit of toasy caramel on them, some brown sugar, ginger bread, and a light flavor of hops. A nice brown ale, a bit creamy.

A nice beer, but not one that is going to make a brown ale your fav style.

Photo of tvv375ia
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass

A-cloudy burnt orange colored with about a finger on head that fades quickly

S-carmel malt and a very earthy hop smell on the finish

T-much like the smell with some carmel up front and a slight pine hop finish

M-ok carbonation fairly light bodied

O-I had this on tap a couple of weeks ago so I thought that I would pick up a 6 pack so I could review it. On tap definitely a 4+ bottled not so much but it is still good

Photo of CFHMagnet
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A big thank you to Output01x for this bottle.
Pkgd on 10/04/11.

I poured this one a little faster and more aggressive. A finger of sandy colored head was thus delivered, and endeavored to disappear in a couple minutes, leaving a little froth and a thick ring. Body is brown with copper and light orange flecks when held up to the light. Lacing tries but cannot quite cling to the glass.

Strong and delicious smelling malt backbone. Smells very sweet with notes of caramel and maybe a little cinnamon and spice.

Nice light toasty malt is a strong flavor, with caramel, mild roasted nuts, a little cinnamon and spice with a mild herbal hop flavor coming in at the end to finish off with the light spice.

Beer is medium bodied and tries to coat the mouth, leaving a little filminess, which is the only reason I gave it 3.5 instead of 4. More on the sweet side but leaves you a little bitter at the very end.

Photo of tobelerone
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

Photo of blackcompg
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from their 12oz bottle...

Appearance - Poured 2 fingers of lite mocha head, color of the ale is a gorgeous hazy dark copper red, leaves wonderful khaki lacing after each sip.

Smell - Like freshly baked honey wheat bread, toasted malts, breadcrusts, touch of molasses and brown sugar, and a whiff of earthy hops. Really smells good.

Taste - Wow is this nice! Starts out toasted malt and crispy baked honey-wheat breadcrust, some nice grassy hops, there is just a touch of brown sugar/burnt sugar backbone for the entire sip, I also get faint minerals, which really adds a nice flavor component and adds to the complexity here. The finish drops off to drying earthy and grassy hops, and toasted malts. A very nice and smooth transition.

Mouthfeel - Almost medium mouthfeel, not quite creamy, but very smooth and drinkable. The medium carb adds wonderful brite and crisp edges along the sides of the tongue, and creates a perfect segway for the earthy hop characters to finish off the sip.

Overall - So sessionable at 5.8%, I really enjoy the flavors in this beer. Very flavorful but not heavy at all. There is such a wonderful mineral and hoppy flavor in my mouth between sips, I could easily drink these for an evening and be completely satisfied. Try this, and you may agree that this is the Best Brown ale too.

Photo of JackieTH
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap as part of Old Chicago's WBT. Mahogany pour with a persistent half-inch of khaki head that leaves lacing. Light sweetness, nutty and caramel malt nose. Taste is a nice dose of toasted biscuit, nutty malt, light sweetness, creamy, earthy. Nicely balanced and isn't a sweet malt-bomb.. In fact it finishes fairly dry. Creamy, smooth mouthfeel. Tasty, easy drinking.

Photo of JayS2629
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very good beer. Slightly murky brown with a one finger off-white head that fades fast but leaves ok lacing.

The aroma is simple with a medium malty blend of chocolate and caramel tones. Mild earthy notes and a light sugary smell.

Great, mild sweet chocolate with some nutty edges and slight bit of roast. Balanced and smooth with a cream like note.

Nice and medium balanced with a smooth edge.

Overall, a nice, easy drinking, mild but full flavored brown. Great!

Photo of drabmuh
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

Photo of Jammies
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aged for 8 months

A- pours a deep brown with hints of red. A thin layer of foam retreats to the center and edge of the glass

S- sweet with some light sugary notes. Slightly nutty

T- light and well balanced. A nutty flavor to it.

M- great body. very smooth with a slightly coarse finish

O- Great brown ale, not overly sweet like a christmas ale. Simplicity at its finest

Photo of TwelveOunces
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 Oz poured into a pint.

A- Cloudy dark orange. Brown at a distance. Classic 2 finger white head.
S- Lots of earthy notes. Smells pretty Christmasy with ginger and cinnamon. A little bit of caramel.
T- Very earthy caramel. Some nuts perhaps. Definitely some Christmas characteristics but they're not too obvious. Sweet and stupidly smooth. A great malt and caramel profile. Little to no hop profile.
M- This is a smooth drinking brown with a fantastic full feel to it. Some sticky mouth and good carbonation. Dry aftertase.
O- This is to date, the best Brown Ale I have had. Its most similar to Goose Island Christmas Ale (2009) but way more available. Good stuff, get some.

Photo of speter
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Clear, translucent hazelnut brown. Two-finger, persistent fluffy light tan head. Moderate lacing.

S: Toasty brown sugar and cinnamon (pop tarts, anyone?). Toffee, caramel, and almond. Very light grassiness from the hops.

T: Lightly-almond caramel malt with sweet, brown-sugar up-front, with just enough hop bitterness to cut the sweetness from mid-palate on.

M: Great carbonation, but the body itself is very light and completely belies the 5.8% ABV.

O: A very flavorful brown ale in the English tradition, with a wonderful balance between rich malt and subtle hop.

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 2,625 ratings.