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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

837 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 837
Hads: 2,717
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 92
Gots: 315 | 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
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Reviews: 837 | Hads: 2,717
Photo of maddamish
3.39/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drinking this beer and reviewing it is going to be simple. It is best described as a 64 Chevy with a Yugo engine. The beer looks nice when poured. The head was a beautiful medium but quickly disappeared and did not lace at all. It was a cloudy amber in appearance and despite the non-existent head it was nice to look at.

In the nose you have this great symphony of smells competing with each other and I was really looking forward to drinking this puppy. Present were some of the strongest caramel notes I have experienced in a beer. Lemon and tea leaves were in the background lending their harmonies. What you have here folks is what I like to call a "Good smelling beer!".
Taste: a disappointment. It was a bit watery on the palate and a bit bland. There was some hop and malt thing going on but nothing that fully developed. Not even at room temperature could I coax any sort of strong flavors out of this one.

One of my first Bell's and I have to say this one fell short of expectations.

Notes: Not a bad beer as far as brown ales go but it doesn't do anything to make me go out and buy it again. I am glad I tried it but I think I am still on the quest to find the perfect bottled brown ale.

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Photo of Sammy
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chocolate cabinet brown with creamy head, fresh leaving lace in glass. Caramel, a touch of graininess and roasted barley and molasses and licorice in aroma and in taste. Very easy drink, understated hoppiness and maltiness so just some bitterness and sweetness. Some of each in aftertaste, but more sweet. Creamy mouthfeel. Good example of this style. Thanks Dr. Jay.

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Photo of wcudwight
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy dark brown with a 1/4" tan head. Sweet nutty malts and mild hop bitterness in the aroma. The taste is dominated my the nutty malts and balanced out perfectly with a mild hop bitterness. This is one smooth beer. Feels creamy in the mouth. It's also warming and filling. This is a very drinkable session beer that would be one of my regulars if it was available in NC. Many thanks go out to Dertbert for providing me this excellent brown ale.

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Photo of DrJay
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brown beer with a reddish hue, the dark cream coloured head was very fine and showed a bit of lace. Malty aroma, some nuttiness with a bit of toffee. Same in the flavour along with mild bitterness and muted hop flavour towards the end. Bitterness really lingers in the finish. Dry overall, medium-light bodied and decent texture. A solid brown ale.

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Photo of murphysbleachers
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From a 12oz bottle given to me as a sample from the distributer into a pint glass:
A: Kind of an unexpectedly rocky head. A cloudy dark walnuty brown color, couldn't quite see through it. Different than any other brown ale I've had, but makes me want to drink it.
S: Nutty & malty, on first whiff there was some hops that I didn't expect, but it went away.
T: Seems a little hoppier and maltier than I expected. I should note here that I had a Sam Smith's Nut Brown the night before and this (as I think most would be) is just a let down afterwards compared to that beer's more subtle and delicious flavor. Maybe I would rate it better if I had a Newcastle the night before instead.
M: A little oily, ok carbonation, & generally pleasant.
D: Okay beer, could drink a bunch in a sitting, but would probably pick another brown ale, if I had a choice. I might revisit this one to double check my thoughts on it when Sam Smith's Nut Brown isn't my most recent beer memory.

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Photo of nota
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I really had a tough time finding this beer, but finally got my hands on a sixer. Pours a hazy brown/dark cooper in color. Nice tan head that gives way to good amount of lacing. At the beginning you taste sweet roasted malt. Its has a balance amount of hops. It's finish is dry.I edit my review of this beer after drinking this beer a few time and having a few other brown's under my belt. This beer is just a bit over done for my taste in what a brown should be. To me it borders on being more like a porter than a brown ale.

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Photo of objectivemonkey
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 12 oz bottle poured into mug, pours a copper brown with good head lasting a few minutes, shrinking to a thin film for a while, then nothing, with little lacing, mostly following rim of liquid. Aroma, though I found it subtle and hard to define, is nice and of malts, chocolate and toffee, and maybe some brown sugar. Taste is of malts, with chocolate and toffee and brown sugar. The middle has that typical brown ale as I swallow, and has one of the better aftertaste I've observed, smooth and fading to nuts. Nicely carbonated, good body, though a tiny bit pasty halfway through. Forget the session beer ABV cut off at 5%... I'd drink this beer all night long.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
4.37/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Didn't think i'd be fond of this one... Whatdya know. Pours out to a dark reddish tea color with a nice dense, tan colored foam head. Lacing is present. Aromas of hops, strong notes of toffee and some malt blend well in the nose. Taste is mild and slightly complex; flavors of roasted malts, light creamed coffee, some nuts and cereal grain. Nice. Aftertaste is utterly delicious. Smooth and nutty. Wow. Mouthfeel is nice, carbonation keeps the flavors flowing and the tongue entertained. Good drinkability. Perhaps the best Brown Ale i've had yet. The only change I would make is to lower the alcohol, as I felt it was just a touch too present at times. Still, a very good beer. Recommended.

THE BLOODHOUND FACTOR: Due to the subtle nose, neither hound was immediately interested. Peaches tasted it, and decided she could take it or leave it. Benji didn't even seem interested.

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

Bought a mixed case of Bell's while visiting the folks, seeing as I can't get it in Boston. The brown is pretty solid. A nice, dirty, rusty brown amber color holds up a decent head which leaves a thin layer of foam on top for quite some time. Smells of lightly roasted malts under a nice array of nutty, carmelly, brown sugar aromas. Taste is solid, but perhaps a little bland compared to the smell. Still interesting enough though. All of the nutty, carmel characters mix nicely with a definate English style hop profile, mellow and spicy. Perhaps just a tad thin or watery around the edges, but nothing too much to complain about, this is a good beer.

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

Charlie's Ale House in Wheaton, IL has this beer on tap!

Appearance- A slightly hazy even brown with a one finger head at time of serving that dissipated into a filmy foam.

Taste- A light malt character ende with some hops to even out the bitterness. A feww chocolatey moments were present.

Mouthfeel- A smoothly carbonated, medium body.

Drinkability- This beer would be could for a couple of sessions.

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Photo of GuinnessSmurf
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: The pour is an inviting auburn, copper colored body with a rich ruby glow. The head is very full and foamy, with a milk shake head consistency.

Smell: Smell is very clean, fresh smell...like moutain air coupled with a sweet plumb and crabtree odor.

Taste: It is very smooth. There is really fruity, sweet presence throughout, and it stays for a long time on the tongue. Surprisingly, this beer lacks much in the way of roasty flavor, which I have come to expect from Brown beers. Closest would be a bit of nut flavor, but even that is pretty sweet - like a cashew.

Mouthfeel: The body is a very large feel. It takes a big weight on the tongue and coats it, allowing you to really get a sense of what this beer is about. I appreciate that it didn't sacrifice body at all here.

Drinkability: The beer is a smooth drinker and great for sessions. It is also moderate in terms of alcohol content, so you can really hand out with a friend...say..over a game of chess, or maybe some Dead or Alive 3, or maybe play Bach fugues and preludes...and still drink lots of them.

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

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Poured a dark copper color. Had a two finger head that dissipated rather quickly.

Smell: Smells of Carmel, toffee, nuts, and malt. A sweet smell with a small hint of hops.

Taste: Starts with a taste of Carmel and then moves to a toffee and malt sweetness. End with a slight hop bitterness and a nice sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth Mouthfeel with the right amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. I could have a few of these in a sitting.

This is my second English brown ale and I like it. Another great offering from Kalamazoo Brewing Company!! Keep up the great work.

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Photo of ypsifly
4.04/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz batch #7091 bottled on 9-29-05 as per the Bell's website, poured into a pint glass.

Rusty brown with a bubbly head that is light tan, falls rather quick and leaves only a faint wisp of lace.

The nose is caramel with a slight aroma of toasted nuts and drying hops in the background.

Sweet malts upfront with some breadcrust followed by the trademark Bell's hop bitterness. I wouldn't normally associate this much of a hop profile with the style, but I really like it. Dry finish with a medium mouth that is tempered by the prickly carbonation.

A very approachable and sessionable Brown that hop heads will enjoy.

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Photo of benito
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bell's fall-turns-winter offering poured me a transparent toffee with medium head and lacing--a nice solid color but nothing out of the ordinary; the same can be said for the smell which had nutty hints and a strong carmel drive behind it.

What struck me about this beer was the smoothness of the flavor. I've found so many browns that end up having a bitter aftertaste or an unfortunate hop presence. From the get go, this brew was pure carmel butter, with nice toffee overtones, and not a hint of bitterness--a great beer to draw in a first timer to craft beer, perhaps?

I could drink three or four of these in a session. In what seems to be more or less their M.O., Bell's has stuck with simplicity of style, flavor, and presentation and has produced another winner.

Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This brew pours a solid brown color with amber hues around the edges. The head is creamy and white with speckles of tan. The aroma is of roasted malt, chocolate, and nuts. The taste is sweet and nutty. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with perfect carbonation. Overall, this brew lives up to its name, as it truely is the best brown ale I have had.

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at MoJoe Lounge in Easton. Clear dark brown color with a medium tan head and thin sticky lacing. Sweet toasted malt and caramel aroma. Medium, smooth body with dominant malt flavoring. Sweet caramel and a bit of hops and coffee is also present. The finish is roasty and sweet at times. A great session beer that is enjoyable all around.

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

Pours out a brilliant brown with ruby highlights and a moderately-sized white head. Looks pretty thick and viscous for a brown ale.

Smell is heavy with sweet malts, caramel, chocolate, a little bit of piney bitter hops, and a lot of dark fruit scents, particularly plum and some raisins.

Flavor is quite chocolate-laden. There's a solid drizzling of caramel over some of the same plum/dark fruit flavors. Little bits of nuttiness pull through in other places, along with some earthy wood flavors. Hops are present, but not overly assertive. They temper the chocolate flavors well.

Overall: Not mind-blowing, but a very, very good brown ale that definitely has a legitimate claim to calling itself "Best."

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Photo of BitterBrian
4.39/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured a deep rust color into a pint glass. one inch cream colored head with some decent staying power and leaving some good lacing.

objectivity will be difficult, since I already am a fan of this beer and style, but here it goes:

smells of sweet dark malts, a hint of nut and plum.

taste of roasted malty sweetness and some nuts, balanced with a bit of hops, but they don't stand out very much - they just give it some life. This is a real warm, friendly drinker. If I were to rate it within its category, I would say its one of the best brown ales (no pun intended). Maybe I have had better beers, but I still really enjoy this one.

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Photo of macpapi
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One of the final 'mainstream' Bell's products that I've yet to try. Browns are far from my favorite, but I'm not particularly averse to them. So thought a single of this one would do for a Sunday evening review.

Bell's Brown pours a medium brown, some may call it amberish, color. It is opaque and somewhat dense looking overall. A small white head quickly dissipates.

The smell is of light roast malt, with a bit of caramel present. There is also a hint of nuttiness there. Hops are weakly involved in the aroma. Nothing terribly complex here.

Tastes surprisingly full bodied for a brown. Malt flavors are impressive. Caramel and strong nuttiness are there as well. Also, a pretty decent hop bitterness is involved on the palate. In my opinion this is a pretty distinctive brown tastewise.

In the mouth Bell's Brown is sharp and biting. Relatively high on carbonation and full on flavor.

Overall, another impressive product from Kalamazoo. As I've said, browns are far from my favorites. But this one has to be up there among my preferred representatives of the style. Malty, a bit hoppy and nutty, with a good amount of bite. Good job.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz single, from Riley's, batch 7096

appearance: intitial reaction upon pour was that it looked a little thin, almost cola-like appearance, very little in the way of head or lacing...ruby highlights dominate

smell: not a whole lot of action...some caramel, maltys, brown sugar and other general spice

taste: very mild...nothing particularly notable at all. slightly sweet, caramel malts, some brown sugar spiciness...also reminds me of an oktoberfest style.

mouthfeel: moderate body, decent carbonation

drinkability: very drinkable, but why?

Well, I wont be buying this again...definately the most boring Bell's ive had

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Photo of Shovelbum
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Generous thick cramy head leaves good lace. The body is amber brown with good lace and retention. Smells of sweet malt. Tastes of caramel and sweeet malt. Light hop bitterness. Medium body. Smooth finish.

Good balance between the bitter and sweet flavors. An an enjoyable and highly drinkable brown.

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Photo of battlekow
3.39/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

My bottle of Bell's Best Brown had a bit of a carbonation problem; none of the other beers it traveled with had a similar issue, so I'm pretty sure it was unique to the Best Brown, which exploded upon decantation. After the huge, beige head subsided, the Best Brown was observed to be a turbid maple color.

Smell is pretty faint, with just a touch of caramel, brown sugar, and must. Taste is again rather muted, and reminscent of an Oktoberfest, in that it's all caramel malts and mustiness. Does have a subtle toasted finish. Hugely fluffy mouthfeel owing to the crazy carbonation. Completely lacks the roasted, nutty, baby-porter/stout characteristics I like in a good brown ale. Nothing much to see here--it may be Bell's Best Brown, but it's hardly the best brown overall.

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Photo of malty
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 7091 - bottled on Sept. 29 '05 (ultra fresh).

Pours an interesting russet color with a loose 1/2" med. beige settled head. Gorgeous lacing all the way down.

Scents of walnuts and yeasty (slight) sourness. Nice earthy malty notes, which are clean and roasty.

The somewhat dry nutty walnut flavor continues past the nose blending nicely with a soft peppery spice. Roasted malts pair well against a very tame but apparent spicy hop profile - beautifully balanced and smooth.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with playful carbonation which is usually very conservative for this style. Nice long flavor finish that hinges on dry.

Drinkability is top-notch. Will pair well with many types of cold weather 'comfort' foods.

Overall a fantastic and original interpretation of the style. I'm very pleased with the spiciness & dryness, which it 'different' from the others in this style. Balanced and masterful. Autumn just isn't the same without Bell's Best Brown.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a single at Riley's. It's nice to see some fall seasonals come in stock

Pours a mahogany/amber with a one-finger tan head and decent lacing. Smell is nice and sweetly malty, caramely and nutty. Taste starts off with the strong caramel malts, some brown sugar, cinnamon, and an alcoholic bite at the end that made me think this was stronger than it is (though at 5.75 it's still stronger than most english browns). Mouthfeel is smooth and light-bodied but not watery. Overall this was a tasty little brown. Probably the most flavorful "English Brown" that I've had, even though this is an American rendition. Reminded me fondly of New Glarus' Fat Squirrel and Big Sky Moose Drool.

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Photo of whynot44
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice medium brown color with a touch of yellow and a moderate but persistant tan head that left at least a bit of lacing.

Medium bodied, nice toasted nutty malt flavor and aroma with maybe a touch of chocolate, only slightly sweet with a pleasantly dry, mildly bitter finish.

Smooth and very easy to drink.

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Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 837 ratings.