1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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
86
very good

2,164 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,164
Reviews: 782
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 11.52%
Wants: 66
Gots: 131 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,164 | Reviews: 782 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of brentk56
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Arrives at the bar with an ice tea brown color and a modest head that leaves some intermittant lacing

Smell: Nutty roasted notes

Taste: Bready, up front with a bit of bitterness for balance

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Easy to drink with enough character to make this generally insipid style interesting

brentk56, Oct 19, 2006
Photo of KevBrews
4.33/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours brownish amber, slightly murky. Not a lot of head retention--mostly a small ring around the outside of the glass.

S: Nutty chocolate aroma, hints of raisin as it warms.

T: Caramel with hints of coffee and toffee; low hop flavor--malt flavor dominates.

M: Moderate--low to medium carbonation.

D: This beer would be great as a session beer. It is smooth and easy to drink. Flavorful, but not overpowering. I only picked up a single bottle, and when I finished, I wished I had bought a sixer. However, given a choice between this and Bell's Porter, I'd go for the porter every time.

KevBrews, Oct 17, 2006
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.1/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a hazy oak brown body with a thick creamy light tan head that last and last. This beer is a bit to hazy to see any carbonation.

S- This beer has a light brown malt hint with a spicy hop finish.

T- This beer has a tangy light brown malt taste with a hint of pale malt. The finish is a faint green spicy hop note. As it warms there is a slight nougat taste to the malt.

M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with a tiny fizz in the finish.

D- This beer doesn't have a lot of flavor and the malt notes are pretty soft but the hops, all though soft, have a bright fresh flavor.

rhoadsrage, Oct 17, 2006
Photo of quasimoto
2.63/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Light Brown/copper color, w/ a big fluffy head.

S - Strong sour paper and some kind of muddy hop.

T - Muddy chocolatestarts off, but then melds into a chocolate toasty flavor. Too much hops.

M - Smooth all around, Some carbination bite, but easy on the palatte.

D - Not something I would drink all night. Also A bit off for the style.

quasimoto, Oct 16, 2006
Photo of Beaver13
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, batch 7216 (1/9/06). Pours a murky hazy tea brown with a smallish light tan head that quickly goes to a wisp.

The aroma is sweet sugary caramel and toffee and a little fresh hoppiness.

The flavor is sweet brown sugar, nuttiness, chocolate and toffee with a little acidic fruitiness. The mouthfeel is medium to full and velvety.

Overall, nothing too exciting, but it is a solid, very well done brown ale.

Beaver13, Oct 16, 2006
Photo of scott
2.93/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I love Bell's products. They do dark ales very well. I don't care for this beer. So mediocre, I find it hard to rate it without feeling guilty.
Pours so gorgeous, I was excited. Nice copper body with a beautiful white head of almost four fingers! It begged me to drink it.
And I did. Twice. With the same results. Boring. I'm sorry.
Smells of a malt bisquit, and has lackluster mouth appeal and the only reason I'm drinking more than one is because I had to buy six.

scott, Oct 12, 2006
Photo of Blakaeris
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours murky chestnut brown with a great deal of sediment. Large soapy head dissipates to a thin ring.

Smell is big bready toasted malt, hints of earthy hop.

Taste is similiar to the nose. Flavors are balanced and mild, but pleasant. Nice nut profile, especially as it warms. Light fruitiness and a bit of mustiness. Finish is rather clean earthy hop and mild warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied.

Overall a pleasant and interesting brown ale. A solid brew.

Blakaeris, Aug 21, 2006
Photo of bashiba
3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark dirty brown with ruby highlights and a thin tan head.

Smell had a nice light toasted malt quality.

Big bready toasted malt flavors with a nice bit of yeast and a touch of bitterness.

mouthfeel has a medium body with a dry finish.

A pretty good brown from Bell's, I will drink this again.

bashiba, Aug 21, 2006
Photo of thelagerheads
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is reminiscent of the Hacker-Pschorr that I just reviewd but encumbered with beer-nuts and I do mean cajones. Dense as a Polaroid picture and brown gravy and rye. Hack off some marble cheddar and hot pepper jack and make yourself a feast of post-fermentables and livestock. Please put away your virgins though because Moloch reigns supreme here.

thelagerheads, Aug 11, 2006
Photo of Fish113d
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark mahogany color into a pint glass chilled. Little light gets through the glass. Tan surface layer w/ decent glass cling.

Aroma is mainly of caramel malts; some wheat aroma also. Grainy hops sneak into my nostrals as well. Pretty sugary and sweet aroma overall.

Sweet caramel w/ a slight oak, vanilla, and plum flavor. Some slight floral hops hit my palate also on the finish. A bit of alcohol hints as well maybe. Very nice for the style.

Decent amount of carbonation up front w/ a light to medium body. Some slight alcohol, but nice overall feel.

Thumbs up to drinking this one. It'd make a nice Friday evening growler brew. I'd definitely drink this if I had more access to it on a regular basis.

Fish113d, Jul 27, 2006
Photo of rabsten
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another Bell's from the mix case I picked up in PA. 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Dark red-brown with thin head. Good lacing.

Toasty malt, no hops in the nose. What I've come to think of as a classic brown ale aroma.

Taste is more toasty malt with slight hop bitterness on top of the palate. Malt finish. Solid flavor throughout.

Dry mouthfeel, start to finish. Flavor makes it quite drinkable.

Bottom line: yet again, a solid effort from Bell's. Worth a try.

rabsten, Jul 06, 2006
Photo of bigdeuce
3.48/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, what a great looking brown! I wasn't as impressed with the taste as the smell and appearance. Medium bodied with nice malts just a bit of alcohol thunder to it. This was a pretty good one though, brown sugar and spices! A very filling and drinkable brown, with all kinds of spices floating around in the glass. Worth a shot or two!

bigdeuce, Jul 02, 2006
Photo of bruachan
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

there's a friendly-looking owl on my beer. he looks a little tipsy, actually

the beer is brown. i believe it is also an ale. so far so good. billowing head and a nice reddish brown. i wish the malt aroma were a little stronger; a nice earthy hop aroma, but the malt doesn't play a huge role, as it does in the flavor. very smooth; very balanced with a slight roasted whisper

bruachan, Jun 09, 2006
Photo of aforbes10
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A single bottle from a make-your-own-six-pack purchased at the Bell's general store. Brown with yeasty protein floaties and a small head. sweet, almost fruity malt and toffee smell. Pretty inviting. Mmmmm. this is a tasty beer. no massive amounts of anything, just some sweet toasty malt and balanced hops and a smooth mouthfeel. Very nice. Only complaint is a slight excess of carbonation. Glad i bought one because now i know its worth buying a whole six pack.

aforbes10, Jun 08, 2006
Photo of gmcfarre
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Batch 7227 - 12 oz bottle poured into Sammy Smith pint glass

A - Pours a nice clear (yet dark) reddish nut brown, that proves to be even more ruby-esque when held up to the light. Head was about 1/2 inch but it fades quickly to leave a thin layer for the rest of this little beers life.

S - Not strong, but nicely pleasing. Mild malt combines with a nutty freshness, with just a touch of fruity sweet.

T - A very balanced and drinkable brown ale. Malt is the strongest contender, but the aftertaste leaves some nutty notes behind. Sweet, but not overly so.

M - Smooth, with a nice mouth coating effect. As easy going down as it is throughout.

D - Intensely quaffable. I think I drank 3/4 of it before stopping to think and take notes. A beer that I could drink every night and not be disappointed.

gmcfarre, May 21, 2006
Photo of russpowell
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

pours caramel with a 2 fingers plus tan head. Good lacing & minmal head retention

Smell: Malt and slight nutiness

Taste: Big sweet maltiness followed by nuttiness & fruittyness. Almost taste a tinge of vanilla. Finishes fruitty & quenching

MF: Light with good carbonation. Shows great balance

Very easy drinking brown, good session ale IMO, a good brown. My 1st beer from bell's, pretty nice

russpowell, May 20, 2006
Photo of Oxymoron
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a hoot. Best Brown (as if they had a worse?) pours a chestnut brown color with darker shades. A good frothy white head that remains for the whole sampling and leaving limited lacing.

The smell is malty with a every presence of Bell’s yeast strain. Some bready and lighter grainy malt notes. Accents of caramel and a splash of roasted on the side.

The taste is very rich and good malt backing. Now I see what they mean best. Some marris otter and roasted gives a robust taste. A nutty and caramel flavor up front. Finishes with some toasty and caramel flavors. Some earthy bitterness is noticeable but is second to the malt backing.

The body is mid to high. Good dextrin flavors. Carbonation is light but overall a good beer indeed.

Oxymoron, May 07, 2006
Photo of Crosling
2.38/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle purchased at the old brewery about 2 weeks ago. Bright copper color, with a small head. Very apparent oxidation in the nose; lots of sherry and wet cardboard, with light malts, honey....etc...but not much besides oxidation. Oxidation is less present in the flavor, thankfully, which I usually tend to experience in my tasting. Honey and dark malt flavors. The oxidation ruined the beer. I wouldn’t rate it, except that I purchased it the brewery a week or so ago.

Crosling, Apr 30, 2006
Photo of GreenWBush
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First off, what happened to the cool reggae green, yellow, and red bottle with the owl? But I digress...

Bell's Best Brown pours forth a unique rubied brown, much like some cough syrups in color. Moderate head produces an interesting pattern of Rorschach blots on the glass.

Nose is somewhat sparkly and champagne-like, oddly. Stands also as exemplar of how Bell's house yeast can get downright dirty on some beers. Funkdafied brown-ale smell reminds me of some English breweries I visited while living in the UK.

Taste comes on slow and steady, a malt attack. The maltiness stays somehow dry and not-sweet, battling with an earthiness and stiff resolve. Little of the 'dirtiness' of nose comes through to palate. Quite prune-like...seems like this would be a good snow-shoveller.

Lingering soupiness on the mouth drags down mouthfeel, but quite smooth and pleasingly weighted on the tongue. This sixer won't go down particularly easily, but then again brown ale is one of my least favorite styles.

GreenWBush, Apr 28, 2006
Photo of belgaridub
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a medium to dark brown with a tinge of red and a thin, tan head that quickly goes away. The first smell gives the impression of sweetness and the taste delivers on that, with a good malty character all the way through and then a small taste of hops as well for the finish. The taste is very balanced, with nothing dominating the palate. It feels light and smooth in the mouth and is generally very tasty. A good, relaxed beer that doesn't overpower, and definitely pleases.

belgaridub, Apr 07, 2006
Photo of grub
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a light brown colour, with a 1/2" of tan foam on top. the head fades quickly to a ring around the glass.

aroma is malty and nice. smells like multigrain bread. slightly fruity.

taste is much like the aroma. slightly bready/biscuit character. just a hint of alcohol presence is notable. slight bitterness, but nothing major.

body is good, not to heavy, not to light. very drinkable.

overall very tasty and an easy drinker.

grub, Mar 19, 2006
Photo of beveragecaptain
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle. Bell's Brown Ale pours out a dark amber color with a medium sized head. The aroma is toasted malt, fruits (especially grapes), and floral hops. Nutty, spicy flavor. Not as malty as I expected, but the maltiness is definitely there. Toffee flavor, but not overly sweet. There is a bit of an acidic twang in the middle. The finish is hoppy and bitter. This beer has a creamy mouthfeel, which I really enjoyed. Drinkability is good too. This is a fine example of the Brown ale style.

beveragecaptain, Mar 07, 2006
Photo of karst
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sometimes everything comes together when you create a beer. If you are skillfull, persistent and often just lucky you get a beer like Bell's Best Brown Ale. One of the beers that I wonder if I am worthy to review. Working on the second sixer and still finding more that I like. My overall impression is that all the components are fused into a single entity like an ancient Canadian shield monolithic boulder that has resisted eons of weathering and nevertheless still allows one to enjoy its individual components that have combined to form its crystalline metamorphic structure.

Pours a clear ruddy brown with a dense light tan head that playfully laces my 0.4 L rastal tulip. Aroma that combines Bell's signature esters with earthy and citrus. Its a clean complex aroma that suggest chocolate, medium crystal and biscuit malts. Of all the temperatures I have tried this Brown beauty, 50°F to room temp brings my the most enjoyment. An unique dry finish inspite of a sweet caramel start and fruity middle that features a solid medium body with that dextrine filled mouthfeel you always hope for.

The third attemp to review - guess I will let it stand rather that delete it as I did the previous ones.

A must try!

karst, Feb 28, 2006
Photo of heyitsbyron
3.7/5  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.

heyitsbyron, Feb 23, 2006
Photo of kmpitz2
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep and intense amber color with a finger of off-white head that falls to a full coat over top. Nose is nutty and caramel, with just a hint of roasted malt. I'd even like to see a bit more nutty character to this one. Flavor is working well. Very solid nutty character, with a moderate caramel sweetness and just a light edge of roast. Pretty nice English brown. Feel is moderate with a carbonation on the lighter end of moderate. Bell's always seems to hit things pretty well with their brews. This one satisfies, thought I really would like a stronger roasted character. Not that it detracts from the brew, but it keeps it from what it could be.

kmpitz2, Feb 23, 2006
Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 2,164 ratings.