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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.
very good

2,344 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,344
Reviews: 800
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.49%
Wants: 71
Gots: 170 | 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: 2,344 | Reviews: 800 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BrewIndy
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: This had about a half inch of head after the poor but it went away almost immediately. It has a real muddy brownish red color to it. There was no lacing at all probably due to the head going away so fast.

T: This beer has a great taste. When I drink a brown ale this is exactly what I would expect it to taste like. You can definitely taste the malt in this one. Then it goes into a bit of fruitiness if only for a second finishing with a hoppy flavor. Very tasty.

M: I was a little disappointed by the way it feels in my mouth. Not bad exactly but really just average. If it felt a bit better than I'm sure my taste rating would be even higher.

D: I could drink a few of these.. and I just might ;)

BrewIndy, May 26, 2009
Photo of SPRichard
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

being that we don't get Bell's in NJ i had to travel over the bridge to PA for some....picked up a variety case to see what Bell's was all about....this is my first offering from them

an iced-tea brown body topped by a decent sized off white head....spotty lacing on the glass

smell is roasty, caramel, sugar, fruit....nothing exciting

caramel maltyness, brown sugar, fruitiness, citrus finish

light bodied, slight carbonation biting on the tongue, smooth and very very drinkable

being that we don't get Bell's in NJ i had to travel over the bridge to PA for some....picked up a variety case to see what Bell's was all about....this is my first offering from them

SPRichard, May 10, 2009
Photo of samie85
4.55/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Pours a nice amber/brown color with a quickly dissipating head.

S- All I could get was roasty malt smell.

T- The taste is pretty well balanced with a nice, sweet maltiness at the beginning and finishing with a very subtle, citrusy flavor.

M- The mouthfeel is exactly what you would expect from a brown ale, with just enough carbonation.

D- This is one that I could definitely keep drinking all night.

samie85, May 07, 2009
Photo of giblet
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured nicely into the glass with about three eights inch of head that settled quickly. thin film of head. light steady carbonation. nice lightly roasted malt aroma. the taste is very good. roasted malt, caramel, slightly sweet but not over done. very little lacing down the glass.

suckem up and movem out.


giblet, May 02, 2009
Photo of AdmiralDiaz
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle to pint glass.

A: Pours a brown body with an off-white about 2 finger head with not much retention and no lacing.

S: Smells slightly roasty lots of caramel, sugar, and some fruit. smells good, but not very bold.

T: Fantastic! I'm a huge fan of this one. caramel maltiness with hints of brown sugar turning into a small amount of fruitiness and a grassy hop tail. Very nice.

Overall: Mouthfell was good, just as you expect. Quite drinkable, the wonderful flavor makes it hard not to have a few. I can't believe I got a 6-pack for only $3.50...I love 1/2 off sales.

AdmiralDiaz, Apr 28, 2009
Photo of davedahl
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this on-tap in Chicago at the Handlebar on North Ave. A pint-pour.

- Smooth medium body, slight caramel aftertaste.
- big brown looking beer. Brown brown brown. Tan head with nice lacing for a brown ale.
- Nutty malt with some biscuit and definitely some browned toast flavor.
- hint of a hop bite in the middle

This was a great drinker. Drinkability is high, and satisfaction is even higher. I went back a couple days later _specifically_ for the Best Brown and they'd rolled the keg already. Drag.

Great stuff - drink it!

davedahl, Apr 17, 2009
Photo of Bockrules
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from the bottle into a pint glass

A - Pours a nice dark hazy brown with a great 3 finger tan head. Very good head retention, staying intact all the way down the glass. Leaves behind moderate lacing.

S - Nice smell of earthy English hops on a caramel malt background.

T - A little bit of alcohol and hop flavor up front followed by a tremendously balanced and delicious body. Chocolate and caramel overtones flow beautifully over a biscuity-maly body. A little bit of English hop presence mingle with sweetness in the finish and leaves a lingering bitter-sweet aftertaste.

M - Moderate bodied and semi-creamy. Moderate carbonation suits the style well

D - A damn good Brown Ale, I could drink these all night. The beer goes easy on the hops, but throws in enough other great flavors to keep the beer interesting. A definite winner which makes me want to try the other Belles varieties, though a little spendy at around $9.00 a six.

Bockrules, Apr 11, 2009
Photo of beveritt
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into an Imperial pint glass. label is significantly different than that currently pictured on BA and seems more in keeping with Bell's current style. Much more muted colors with an owl sitting on a snow covered fence post. Batch number 8856, packaged on 11/25/08.

Appearance: Pours with 4 1/2 fingers of medium tan head. This settles very slowly, leaving behind substantial lacing. The beer itself is the color of slightly tarnished copper and hazy with a lot of suspended particulate matter. Lots of well-compacted sediment in the bottle.

Smell: Strong notes of nutty caramel, without being overly sweet. Slight metallic twang in the finish.

Taste: Smooth malt flavor with hints of caramel and brown sugar. Very slight vegetal hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Slightly lower than average carbonation level, what I would expect for this English Ale. Body is very good.

Drinkability: Amazingly drinkable, as a brown ale should be. Solid malt backbone is flavorful and refreshing, really feels like there is something substantial to this beer.

beveritt, Apr 05, 2009
Photo of GruvisHops
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 12 oz. brown bottle. 1/2" of light tan head on top of a brown body w/deep reddish hues. Heavy particulate floating around.

S: Toffee and caramel. Not much else, but good enough for me.

T: More caramel. Toasted malt lingers on the tongue with a wonderful balance between malt and hops.

M: Medium. For me, this is the weakest part about this beer. It's just a little too light.

D: Extremely drinkable.

Notes: Excellent brown ale; great representation of the style.

GruvisHops, Apr 03, 2009
Photo of ThaBobfather
3.38/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This brown pours a deep chestnut color. These is thin tan head that dissipates quickly. There is not a whole lot a smell, but what is there is nuttyish. I get a solid brown flavor, a hint of chocolate/nuts. Highly drinkable. Very smooth. The flavor stays on the middle of my tongue for a bit, then leaves. Great brown.

ThaBobfather, Mar 30, 2009
Photo of JohnQVegas
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy dark red-brown, with a creamy tan cap that settles quickly but never quite goes away.

Nose is nice and roasty, nutty, bread crust with hints of brown sugar and cocoa. Delicious but a bit reserved.

Taste is beautifully rich and balanced - nutty and roasty, you get a big dose of the same breadcrusty flavors you get in the nose. But you also get a big, slightly dry brown sugar note that has that Belgian shimmer to it, leading to a nice, dry, roasty finish that balances the body perfectly without being overly bitter.

Mouthfeel is medium-light bodied with a crisp but very light carbonation.

Superbly drinkable and delicious beer, I would buy this by the case if I could get it.

JohnQVegas, Mar 29, 2009
Photo of dmamiano
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Hazy and lazy describes the appearance. Hazy almost ruby look witha lazy, fluffy white head that clings to the top of the beer .
Sweet malts....candylike in the nose. Ever present hops taking a vacation.
Taste is strikingly sweet with very heavy and thick crystal malts dominating the buds.
Ever slight on the bitterness at the finish.

dmamiano, Mar 27, 2009
Photo of ajmoody76
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

bought this at the local beer store. twelve ounce bottle pours cloudy brown. some reddish tinting. i like the unfilteredness (i do not think that is a word). a fat fingers worth of a tan colored head. nice lacing.

caramel malts on the nose. some fruitiness in there also. no off odors.

sweet. and fruit. a good malt backbone. fits style. dry mild aftertaste.

mid to full body. good carbonation. i like this beer. will drink again.

ajmoody76, Mar 25, 2009
Photo of righthereisay
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is up there with Penn Dark. Nice dark beer, with a fresh taste. Full bodied, great flavor. A bit of a bite. New Label says 5.8% (Beeradvocate currently states 6.60%)

Got it from the winter variety pack. Need to finish it quick so I can get Bell's Oberon.

Overall. Excellent. However, I still prefer Penn Dark or Penn St Nikolaus Bock.

Also, the bottle is different than the photo.

righthereisay, Mar 20, 2009
Photo of MaduroMike
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy brown/amber with a thick frothy off white head which dissipates quickly to a thin head. Leaves almost no lacing.

S - Aroma of sweety nutty malts. Hints of caramel and chocolate and a touch of hops.

T - Just like it smells. A decent amount of hops at the end. A touch of smokyness.

M - Smooth, creamy, medium to light bodied. Not to watery considering the style.

D - Good balance between the sweet malts and hops. Would be able to drink a few.

MaduroMike, Mar 20, 2009
Photo of WakeandBake
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

batch # 8749.A brownish amber color with a thick off-white head that slowly dissipates and leaves behind some excellent lacing. Aroma of roasted nuts and caramel malt with a touch of citrus and grassy hops. Taste is smooth, medium bodied, lightly carbonated with flavors of light caramel malt, some citrus zest and a touch of pecans.maybe a hint of grass. Finish is smooth, creamy with a more malty aftertaste than any bitterness.Very quaffable,and quite enjoyable.

WakeandBake, Mar 19, 2009
Photo of luciusgilmer
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottle poured into tulip glass. I'm a fan of their beers in general, but amazingly had never tried their Brown Ale, which I found to be much better than the others I've had (which admittedly are not many).

Appearance was delightful, rich brown though transparent, nice rich off white head.

Smell was great: toasty, a bit burnt even, but not charred, not unpleasant.

Really good rich, roasted malt taste. I didn't get any hints of caramel or much sweetness, but it was very satisfying.

Mouthfeel: great balance and carbonation; it's rich and bubbly but can be sipped and drunk more quickly (if you like).

D: I wished I had bought more than 1. I look forward to trying again. It's not so heavy as their slow-sipping stout (or any stout, really), and that could make it a good session beer, if a bit on the heavy side.

luciusgilmer, Mar 18, 2009
Photo of ZimZamZoom
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A nice deep chestnut colored ale with ruby hues and a dense tan head. The beer itself is clear, I mean not hazy but there are some of the floaties that seem to define this brewery for me so far. I could pour more carefully but I'm not terribly concerned about it.

A really nice sweet malt profile to the aroma, some roasted malt and burnt caramel. Nothing discernible in the hop department as far as aroma goes. The taste is somewhat roasty, with the toasted caramel and malty sweetness as well. Hope flavor comes through in the middle and blends nicely with the very sweet malt. Some hop bitterness comes through in the finish with some noticeable alcohol also.

Nice medium bodied brown, maybe a little hot for the style, but what do I know? I guess it's on the high end. Really a very drinkable and quality brown ale.

ZimZamZoom, Mar 17, 2009
Photo of twiggamortis420
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a crystal clear brown color with a mega fat, creamy tan head. Large tapioca looking bubbles recede at a snails pace to a rocky mountain range of foam. Excellent looking beer.

Great brown ale nose, sugary caramel and milk chocolate malts carry the load here. Smells fresh and creamy.

Of course it is malty...roasty and flavorful, but it has a nice hop balance to it. Very smooth and drinkable...it's crisp with a surprisingly dry finish. Just a hint of fruitiness adds to the complexity. A most delicious session beer. One of the better brown ales I have had.

twiggamortis420, Mar 14, 2009
Photo of JamesS
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a decent light brown color, getting lighter as the beer drains; some good head and lacing, nothing great. Nice scent, very sweet and malty, but not as Earthy as I like. Great taste, though, fairly deep, nice maltiness, with a great hoppy bite towards the end fading to a nice sweet aftertaste. Goes down quite well.

JamesS, Mar 10, 2009
Photo of NonServiam
3.4/5  rDev -11.2%
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.

NonServiam, Mar 01, 2009
Photo of HappyBivouac
4.4/5  rDev +14.9%
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.

HappyBivouac, Feb 24, 2009
Photo of n0315
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

n0315, Feb 21, 2009
Photo of mdwalsh
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into dimpled mug

A: Very nice brown wth amber-red edges. Poured a 1 finger head that quickly left only a thin skim. Some lacing, no active carb. Suspended sediment from bottle conditioning is visible

S: Nutty-malty sweet. Not at all over powering, but very definitely present. Very enjoyable.

T: Same nutty/malty sweet as the nose, but more complex. Some roasted taste in there and a slight hop bitterness. A little alcohol warmth on the way down, but it mostly blends into the complexity of the flavor.

M: Velvety smooth, absolutely great.

D: Pretty good, could be mistaken for a session beer even I would say if I just tasted it. Something I would buy again.

mdwalsh, Feb 19, 2009
Photo of farrago
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Huge, whipped up head, looks like the foam sealant you use to insulate cracks, light brown in hue with tenacious lacing. Opaque mud brown which drops off to redder brick and then orange at the rims, lightening just enough to see the active beads. At times sherry-like nose of nuts, dates, figs, followed on by caramel and brown sugar, root beer, never slumps nor loses pacing but hard to credit the absent hops for this, simply sticks to a smaller array of scents and deepens them. Medium-bodied, the carbonation level is fine and allows for flavor saturation. Coffee, toffee, milk chocolate on hand but too watered down for much effect. That root beer thing remains. More grain, oats here, texturally tightens towards the finish. Hazelnut and brazil nut too. Creamy, soft texture appealing but cannot make up for how the flavors drop up through the mid-palate. Nothing wrong with a beer aiming to be tactful but you still need a reason to pop another.

farrago, Feb 17, 2009
Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 2,344 ratings.