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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

2,550 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,550
Reviews: 813
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.49%
Wants: 80
Gots: 219 | FT: 3
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
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Ratings: 2,550 | Reviews: 813 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tbeq00
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of engagechad
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This bottle was purchased as a single from Wine and Beer Westpark in Glen Allen, VA - bottled Nov 30th 2010 drank on april 21st 2011 - poured into tulip

Pours a light browny amber with a creamy tan head. Beer is clear and pure, perfect lacing and beautiful head.
Smells of licorice and dark fruits, tastes bitter but not from hops and feels pretty smooth. It's an easy drinking brown that is quite tasty, nothing fancy or spectacular though.

*re-review*
11-13-11

Pours nice, murky orange brown, nice head. Smells perfect, brown sugar, deep malty sweets with spice. Taste is effin boss. Smooth and tingley at the end, aftertaste is sweet brown sugar.

I had to re do this one because I loved it the second go around.

Photo of Pintofbrown
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This was served in a glass stein.

Appearance- The head is khaki colored and rises to about one and a half fingers of bubbly foam. There are a nice amount of tiny bubbles on top that leave a dappling of craters. The body is the color of raw cinnamon sticks with some darker auburn notes.

Smell- There is a sweet bread malt that is the most dominant, as it certainly should be. I was also surprised to pick up a little grassy hoppiness, and I'm not sure I like that.

Taste- Bread malt leads the way and picks up notes of brown sugar. In the finish, there is a good amount of earthy hop and some more bread malt. This is pretty average for a brown, and I'm glad the grassy hop didn't transfer well to the palate.

Mouth feel- Bells can do mouth feel all day. You know it is Bells if it drinks easy. A great medium body and a rich, creamy finish on this brown ale.

Overall- This is a decent brown ale, but it is hard to say what Bells was trying to do with it. They had some hops in the nose, but they weren't utilized well on the palate, in fact, I"m not sure they needed to be there at all. And the malt they used was far too reserved.

Just because this is a brown, doesn't mean it needs to err to middle of the road flavor profiles. Either bump it up, or put something on the taste buds that makes it interesting.

Photo of joek440
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured from tap into a pint glass. Reddish brown body which was cloudy. Head was very thin by the time it was brought to the table.

S - Main smell is citrus hops. Didn't pick up much complexity beyond there.

T - Malty initial taste followed by medium hop flavor. Well-balanced on both ends

M - Crisp and light feel with medium carbonation.

O - A fresh and inviting ale. The hops are noticeable but are well balanced with the malt. Enjoyable brown ale.

(reviewed 10/21)

Photo of doughanson78
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Thanks to storminspank for this.

A: Medium brown color with good clarity. One finger light tan head with ok retention and alright lacing.

S: Cola and some light chocolate. A touch of vanilla and some nuttiness. Maybe a hint of toffee.

T: Cola and bittersweet chocolate. Nuttiness, caramel and toffee are light. A hint of coffee in the finish.

M: Light bodied, hinting on watery. Medium high carbonation. Lightly fizzy.

O: For a style I really don't enjoy, this is not half bad. I would drink it again.

Photo of dorianmarley
4.25/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is chestnut brown. Very creamy head that stays forever. Super sticky lacing. This pour could be a model for a magazine or commercial.

Nose is a nice mix of hops and malt. Slightly roasted character with hints of vanilla and chestnut.

The flavor brings to mind a warm fire. The malt is roasted and sweet. There is a defined vanilla flavor, with roasted chestnuts. Mild hop finish. The whole beer is very mild.

Mouthfeel is extremely smooth. The head lasts for the entire time, giving each sip a foamy, fluffy texture. Mild carbonation. Truly a pleasure to drink.

Overall, the flavor is good, but that is not this beer's most defining feature. It has super-model looks and divinely fluffy texture. This is as a beer should be, and what makes Bell's one of the best around.

Photo of MrTopher
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

Photo of cratez
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle purchased at Siciliano's Specialty Market in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Pours a deep brown hue with copper edges, one finger of beige foam, some chill haze, and rings of lacing on the tumbler glass.

Smell is toast, caramel, toffee, earthy and grassy hops, dark bread, brown sugar, fruity yeast, cocoa powder, and a mild nuttiness.

Taste is toffee, caramel, toasted brown bread, nondescript fruitiness, unsweetened chocolate, light earthy-grassy hop bitterness with musty-nutty flavours on the cough.

Mouthfeel is lush, medium-bodied, silky texture through the middle, firm carbonation, balanced bitterness precedes a bone dry, toasty finish.

Overall, Bell's Best is a great easy-drinking brown ale. The style tends to bore me if it's not done properly, but there's enough flavour here to keep things interesting. I would buy this again.

Photo of rundocrun
2.95/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - Pours a deep walnut-brown color with a 1/2 finger of off-white head that fades quickly. No lacing on the glass.

S - Not much going on in the nose aside from a very mild sweet brown sugar aroma. Possibly some herbal hop character.

T - Flavors of burnt sugar, mild caramely sweetness and a vague bitterness that doesn't really seem to come from hops, alcohol or anything else. There are also some mild esters toward the finish that recall plums, figs, raisins, etc.

M - Thin body. I'd have to say this one is definitely over-carbonated. What few flavors are evident in this beer are overpowered by the intense tingling carbonation that hits the tongue with each sip.

Overall - Not really that great of a beer. Aroma and flavor both leave a lot to be desired and the carbonation level is a problem for me.

Photo of xnicknj
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on tap at royal tavern in philly

Pours a semi-clear chestnut brown color with a light layer of tanned head on top. Dissolves almost completely, leaving a few spots of lacing on the glass.

Plenty of toasted nuttiness and bread crust in the nose. Caramel and lighter sweetness with some leafy hop notes.

Malty and nutty up front with light sweetness. Toasted notes of chestnut and some faint oily hops. Malt backbone is fairly thick with some bread crust and caramel. Finishes slightly dry and sweet.

Medium body, decent carbonation, slightly chewy and dry on the tongue. A drinkable, smooth brown ale with a nice nutty flavor.

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

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Packaged September 7th 2011.

A good simple off caramel, light colored brown/white head foamy in consistency off the pour, sits on a standard light chestnut body with some minor light hues on the edges.

Mild nut on the nose, and a simple malt sweetness. Kind of muted not much else going on but nice simple good example of the style.

Chewy dark malt and nutty feeling hits the palate. A simple light bodied and just a hint of creamy texture compliments the feeling with hints of nut. A little carbonation takes away some of the wonderful play, but taste on the finish still remains.

Overall, basic, simple, but enjoyable all around. A good beer to dig into no complaints I could have another anytime.

Photo of Knapp85
3.4/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out as a brown color with some red highlights in it. The head doesn't really do too much for the appearance here. The smell of the beer is a little sweet and just a little bit of roasted grains on the nose. The taste of the beer doesn't give off too much of a nutty flavor, it actually had more of a roasted cinnamon kind of flavor in there I think. The mouthfeel of the beer was decent I though nothing too exciting though. Overall it's not a bad brown ale, but I can't say it's my favorite.

Photo of plfahey
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance-Amber-brown with a slight cast of chill haze. Creamy tan-beige head is moderately large, shows decent retention and some nice lacing.

Aroma-Sweet, bready malt with some toastiness to it. Slight nutty notes and a touch of chocolate to it. The malt profile is quite nice, and supplemented by subtle fruity esters and a faint kiss of earthy hops.

Flavor-Less sweet than the aroma, with toast, and a little bit of chocolate up front. Moderately low hop bitterness comes in at the end, along with a little bit of green hop character. That said, finish is still dominated by the malt.

Mouthfeel-Medium body, with moderate, gentle carbonation. Smooth and a bit creamy.

I've had this beer on cask before, and it was pretty fantastic. From the bottle, it's not too shabby, but nothing to write home about. A standard American brown with some nice malt character in the flavor and aroma, but not too much beyond that. Still, a solid beer.

Photo of damndirtyape
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a Shaker pint glass. Batch 10708, bottled 09/20/11.

Appearance: Despite a careful pour some sediment got in. I could see that it was a clear brown/orange, but now when held up to the light it is a hazy to cloudy brown/orange. Some coppery notes as well when held up to the light. Off-white to light tan head very thin across the top, but persistent. Some sheets and strands of lacing noted. With a swirl the foam really comes back to 1/8" and sticks around.

Smell: Toasted malt with just a hint of burnt sugar.

Taste: Wonderful toasted malt, with some mocha notes thrown in for good measure. Finish is piney and bitter, with the bitterness taking on some black coffee flavor. just right against that sweeter malt flavor. Quite tasty.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation - a little spicy on the tongue. Past the carbonation it's just a hair thicker than water. A little bit of cling to the teeth noted.

Overall / Drinkability: Quite a tasty beer. Simple in flavor profile and very drinkable. I could easily have another. A little weak in aroma, but this is made up for in taste. Went well with chili and cornbread, and I'm sure it would be good with a lot of other food as well, and of course, by itself after the meal.

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Bell's pint glass (in keeping with our theme today of Bell's beers)

A - Dark coppery orange in color, huge thick frothy tan head with significant lacing on the sides of the glass, the head hung around for a long time.

S - Nice dry malt smell, some toffee, getting a slight sweet orange scent.

T - Well balanced, malts up front, some toffee and nuts, finish is a toasty taste.

M - Mild bodied, very slight carbonation

O - This is a nice brew, at first was going to say it was a bit watery, but the more I drink the more I like the profile and the balance of the beer, this is one you can definitely have a couple of in a row.

Photo of MattyG85
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Bottled 9/07/11.

Appearance: Deep and slightly cloudy brownish amber orange with lots of bubbles. Big five finger light tan head with good retention. Lots of lacing around the glass.

Smell: Some bready, lightly toasted caramel malts with lots of toffee. Hints of nuts throughout. Also a light hint of earthy hops in the background. Mostly malt forward in the nose.

Taste: Sweet and bready caramel malts and toffee up front with a little roasted character. A solid presence of nuts throughout. Light hints of dark fruit. A noticeable presence of grassy hops adds a little balancing bitterness to the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Creamy and very smooth.

Overall: A pretty solid brown ale. Well balanced and pretty tasty.

Photo of tdm168
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, brownish amber with 1/2" of off white head that has decent retention. The nose has notes of caramel sweetness and toast. The taste is burnt toast, roast, caramel with a faint hop bitterness in the finish. It's medium bodied, lightly carbonated and very smooth and drinkable.

This beer is well balanced. The subtleties make it complex. There's a good, strong malt character. It's a little sweet at times, but good overall.

Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Pint glass.

A - Pours a amber-brown with a one finger tan head that fades pretty quickly. Some lacing is left on the glass.

S - Very nutty, and some roasted malts. A touch of sweetness pokes through as well.

T - Roasted malts, raisins, nuts.

D - Good carbonation, and average body. Coats the mouth.

O - A good brown, not sure it is the Best.

Photo of BeerBuckeye
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a reddish/mahogany with nice two finger head that dissipates slowly, leaving a good amount of lacing.

S - Toast, caramel, sweet malts, some toffee, and a hint of raisins present.

T - Good amount of toffee and caramel malts , that "toasty" taste soon follows, finishing into just a hint of floral hops. A decent amount of nuttiness carries through the entire drink, almost like a hazelnut or walnut.

M - Fairly smooth, decent amount of carbonation present.

Overall - A pretty solid brown ale. The taste could become a little metallic, and it might have been a little too bitter, but overall, good beverage from Bell's.

Photo of Keithstone44
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Pours a wonderful deep mahogany color with 2 fingers of off-white head that leaves behind considerable lacing

S: Smell is sweet-malt with notes of caramel and floral hops.

T: Very malt-forward with pine-hops, caramel and some nuttiness

M: Smooth, but a little lighter than what I expected. Carbonation is at an appropriate level

O: Good beer, especially for the season we are currently in. I will gladly pick this beer up again

Photo of StoutHunter
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I picked up a six pack of Bell's Best Brown a couple weeks ago at Krogers for $8.99. I have had this beer many times over the years, but for some reason I haven't got around to reviewing, so it's time to sit down and see how this beer drinks. It is pretty fresh with a bottled on date of September 28th 2011 batch number 10721. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A- The label on this beer looks pretty cool, I like the lone owl sitting on fence post with a nice scenic winter background, it gives this beer a late fall/winter vibe. It poured a slightly hazy amberish brown color with two and a half fingers worth of fluffy off white head that died down to a thin layer that stayed till the end and left some nice lacing.

S- The aroma starts off with some medium sweet malts that impart some toffee and caramel aromas along with some nuttiness. There are also some brown bread, brown sugar, and fruity yeast aroma. I don't really pick up any hops in the aroma.

T- The taste is pretty similar to the aroma. The first thing I pick up are the malts that impart some nice toffee and caramel flavors, there is also a slight bit of dried dark fruits, and a nice noticeable amount of nuttiness that had a walnut like flavor to it. Just as in the aroma the hops aren't noticeable and the finish is smooth with no bitterness and a slightly nutty aftertaste.

M- Smooth, slightly creamy, on the light side of being medium bodied, and it had a medium amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel fits this beer well.

Overall I thought this this was a pretty damn good English Brown Ale. I haven't had a lot of this style but so far this beer seems to be the closest example I have had to a true English Brown Ale. The flavors were nice and malty and had a really nice nutty complexity that really made this beer stick out from the other English Brown Ales I have tried. It went down really smooth and combined with having no bitterness at all makes this beer have some great drinkability, I would have no problem drinking three or four of these in a night. What I liked most about this beer was the flavor, it just seemed spot on for an English Brown ale and the extra nuttiness was a very nice added touch. What I liked least about this beer was the color, it wasn't bad, but I would have liked it a little browner, not a big deal though. I buy this beer every fall and will continue to do so since I find that this beer really hits the spot on late fall/ early winter evenings, and it is the best local English Brown Ale I have had. If English Brown Ales are your thing, this is a must try, it does a great job at representing what an English Brown Ale is all about, or so I think. So far this is the best English Brown Ale I have had so far, everything was pretty spot on and the extra nuttiness put this beer over the top. Bell's did a great job with this beer, they do a great job of brewing a style the way it is intended to be, they are a jack of all trades and that is why they are one my favorite brewery's.

Photo of nrpellegrini
4.68/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I haven't reviewed a beer in months and I'm doing this from my phone so that right there says something about this beer.
Traveled from Baltimore to Philly to get some beer from The Foodery.
Dark caramel color with and thin tan head and smells of sweet caramel malts.
The taste is amazing. For a while brown ales where my favortire style but over the past year or so I haven't been able to find the right one that caught my attention. This is it. The smoothest, rich flavor... Sweet caramel flavors with some biscuity flavors in there too.

Photo of woosterbill
2.88/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle, packaged on 9/13/11, into a La Chouffe tulip. Thanks to vonschplieffen for tossing one of these my way. Is Bell's distributing to CT now? If so, I'm ecstatic.

A: Clear ruddy chestnut body under an inch of soft tan foam. Good retention and some spotty lace. I love the color.

S: WTF. This smells like pure, raw pumpkin. Not pumpkin pie, but the distinctively evocative aroma of carving a jack-o-lantern. There's some more standard caramel and herbal hops, too, but I just can't get past the pumpkin. I might appreciate it if it were supposed to be there, but as it is I'm kind of weirded out.

T: The gourd is pretty much (bot not entirely) gone, replaced by more generic nuttiness, chocolate, and plenty of grassy hop bitterness. It's a little on the weak side, but not terrible. Just a standard brown.

M: Light-to-medium body, highly carbonated. Pretty nice.

O: I'm just confused by this beer. Is it supposed to be a pumpkin ale? If so, then it's pretty good. As a straight brown ale, though, it's quite disappointing. I know Bell's can do better.

Cheers!

Photo of Humulus85
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love me some Sunday afternoon BA...

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my mug. It produced a dense, one-finger head. Solid retention with some surprisingly nice lacing. Deep, slightly hazy, auburn. This is the perfect looking October brew.

The nose is nutty. Some oats and toffee come through as well. There might be some piney hops, but they're covered up by the malt.

Loads of oats, caramel, and toffee. A bit sweet for my taste and kinda watered down. Not as much flavor as I was hoping for.

Smooth, well carbonated and more then drinkable. Could have been a bit heavier for a fall brew in my opinion.

Overall this is a good brown, but far from the best. I love the owl on the label, he/she looks ornery as hell. While I did like this beer, it didn't scream out to me, and I honestly expect something with a little more complexity and depth from such an accomplished brewery. Recommended to any Bell's fan or BA new to malty ales. Cheers!

Photo of tone77
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this one before from a bottle, this serving is from a 16 oz. can. And yes, that can is from the legendary woodychandler. Has a mahogany color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of bready malts, some caramel. Taste is malts, nutty, light hops, very easy drinking. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a solid beer.

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
87 out of 100 based on 2,550 ratings.