1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

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

Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown

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

1,937 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1937
Reviews: 776
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 11.52%

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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
Ratings: 1,937 | Reviews: 776 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Mojo


3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This offering from Bells pours up a ruby red/brown with about a two finger head and minimal lacing. Nose is primarily pine and floral accents. Mouthfeel is pleasing, but not much carbonation. Taste is fairly mild with some malt and coffee flavors, but not much in the way of hops. This is a good beer as you'd expect from Bells, but honestly it is fairly indistinctive. I prefer Samuel Smith's ESB to this.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2012 02:38:49 | More by Mojo
Photo of philbe311


4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A -Slightly more than a finger's worth of lush creamy textured medium khaki colored head comprised of big chunky bubbles... Excellent retention... The color is a medium brown that has a very inviting glow to it... A slight bit of very small bubbled carbonation that rises at varying paces throughout... Excellent appearance...

S - The nuttiness can be detected without even bring the glass close to one's nose... Some light brown sugar notes... Dark bread and bread crust... Very light hints of caramel and toffee... Perhaps even some slight chocolate notes... Very appealing and spot on for the style, but perhaps a bit understated...

T - Nutty to start and nutty throughout... Light brown sugar... Light caramel... Light chocolate... Lots of depth and complexity... Subtlety is the name of the game here... There is a very light roasted malt component that takes prominence once the light sweetness subsides... A slight hop noble hop character emerges on the finish...

M - On the fuller side of medium bodied... Smooth... Creamy... Rich... Goes down very easily sip after sip... Limited carbonation... I can't say enough good things about the mouthfeel...

D - An outstanding world class English Brown ale... This is something that I'll make sure I invest in each fall when it is released... No weaknesses... Very good in all facets and off the charts in terms of mouthfeel... Highly recommended...

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2012 00:23:29 | More by philbe311
Photo of TheMultiYeast


3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a frothy beige head. Lots of bubble action at first before it settles out. Lacing coats the glass.

Aroma is musty and malty with an abundance of toasted grain, almost a floral hop presence.

More toasted biscuits, grains, malt forward all the way. Sturdy bitterness in the aftertaste.

Pretty light in body, moderate in alcohol, good session brew.

Solid brown ale overall

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2012 16:45:50 | More by TheMultiYeast
Photo of BlackBelt5112203

South Carolina

3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass at fridge-cellar temperature.

L – Amber-brown color with a 1-finger bubbly tan head. Pretty nice retention and some lacing. Clear with a nice amount of carbonation bubbles. A little light for a brown ale.

S – Toasted and nutty malts, caramel, some cocoa, and a hint of floral hops.

T – Sweet nearly all the way through with caramel, cocoa, and brown sugar flavors. Toasted and nutty malt picks up mid-taste, and a nice dose of bitter floral hops shows up at the finish. Still malt-forward like a good brown ale, but the spicy hop bitterness is a nice complement.

F – Medium-bodied with good carbonation, a sticky and chewy mouthfeel, and a spicy, bitter, and dry finish. Floral hop bitterness and spice lingers nicely along with some sweet caramel notes.

O – This is a really nice brown ale. I think the additions of cocoa, caramel, and complementary hops give this beer some nice nuances that not many brown ales have. All the usual toasted and nutty malt flavors are there, plus more. Bell’s doesn’t disappoint.

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2012 02:29:04 | More by BlackBelt5112203
Photo of cindyjeffsmith


3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

appearance: Handsome clear copper. Not a dark brown. Nick off white creamy head.
smell: Attractive but too subdued. As Bell's describes, it does have hints or caramel and cocoa...but barely.
taste: Again, quite subdued. Not bad by any means but not much happening.
overall: I liked this. Don't want to overstate, but it's a little too meh...good but better Brown's out there for sure.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2012 21:30:23 | More by cindyjeffsmith
Photo of TheSeeker61


3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The appearance was an inch of head and a dark brown in color. The smell is dark fruits with malts. Nice nose. The taste is an expresso/coffee tongue. The mouthfeel is medium. This is a decent brown. If I was a coffee drinker this offering would be even more attractive to me but since I'm not this is one that I could have again but will not go out of the way to have.

Serving type: bottle

10-05-2012 22:29:36 | More by TheSeeker61
Photo of lewzer99


4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Brown and translucent, with a touch of ruby when light hits it. One finger head that lasts a few minutes and leave no lacing.
S- The nose has a lot of sugary malts, with a bit of chocolate,and some floral hops.
T- Chocolatey roasted malts at first that give way to a butterscotch like sweetness.
M- Rich and heavy feeling. Can't wait for the weather to cool down so I can enjoy this one in a sweater.
O- Bells always makes some of my favorites, and this brown ale is another good beer from them. Definitely one of the best for the money.

Serving type: on-tap

10-03-2012 21:19:36 | More by lewzer99
Photo of BeerKangaroo


4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The last of my re-reviews of Bell's:

Into a pint glass:

A: tan colored body that leaves a one finger off-white head. It leaves some nice spotty lacing and no carbonation is seen rising.

S: toffee up front with some nice subtle flavorings of nuts as well as some chocolates and caramels.

T: basically the same with more of the maltiness coming out as the beer warms.

M: medium with nothing sharp on the tongue. It is a good drinkable beer.

O: this is a nice English Brown that I recommend and would definitely have again. Too bad I can't get this in Maine.

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2012 19:58:41 | More by BeerKangaroo
Photo of clemtiger8202


3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle to Nonick pint. Solid two finger foam with good lacing. Color reminds me of sweet tea but I poured the whole bottle, cold, so it clouded up a bit. Notes of caramel, maybe toast, and just a very slight bit of hops. Taste is sweet and caramelly. Body is OK, nothing great or bad here, but it does finish smooth. Beer improved significantly as it warmed up

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2012 02:16:31 | More by clemtiger8202
Photo of hopsolutely

Ontario (Canada)

3.6/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A nicely mild, British-style nut brown ale.

Pours a bright chestnut colour with minimal head and little residual lacing. Sweet aroma of caramelized malts with chocolate and hazelnut undertones. The taste is well balanced, with roasted and caramelized malts and a distinct nuttiness followed by a pleasantly bitter finish.

A clean and refreshing beer that is decidely more-ish.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2012 01:37:46 | More by hopsolutely
Photo of Duff27


3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Half inch tan head on a dark brown/red body. Seems to be a lot of sediment floating around. Above average lacing for the style with a cap and collar on the surface.

S- Toffee notes as well as some chocolates and caramels.

T- Follows the nose but with more pronounced cocoa/caramel combination. Very malty, subdued hops. Goes down easy, would guess at an even lower ABV then what is stated.

M- Smooth, medium mouthfeel. Moderate carbonation that comes in at the end of each sip.

D/O- Thirst quenching for sure. Just a nice, sessionable malty brown ale. It's nice to have the ABV kept in check once in awhile. Recommended for brown fans.

Serving type: bottle

07-13-2012 03:25:08 | More by Duff27
Photo of srv33


2.83/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark amber pour, light medium-fine frothy head. Little smell, a little bread a little nutty. Tastes much the same, very much a generally pleasing ale. I could see how this would be a crowd pleaser. No notable overarching notes on first taste that aren't uncommon for an ale. Great aftertaste though, a little vanilla and oddly a little melon, very smooth.

Serving type: on-tap

06-29-2012 04:23:34 | More by srv33
Photo of charlzm


4.28/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed April 30th, 2012.

Pours a medium caramel with orange and amber highlights. Sticky one-finger tan head.

Aroma is nuts and toffee and slightly metallic.

Substantial hop bite right up front. Bitter and resiny. Strong toffee and caramel follows. Roasted and slightly sweet in the middle and then bitter again at the end.

Mouthfeel is smooth and slightly chewy.

Flavor-packed. Forget Newcastle; my notes say, "This is the shit."

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2012 20:21:02 | More by charlzm
Photo of Luigi

North Carolina

3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a lighter brown, with a lot of amber highlights. Has an off white head that starts off about two fingers, then settles down to thin blanket on top of the ale. There is some sticky lacing around the glass and the head retains throughout the life of the beer.

The aroma is notes of toasted malt, toffee, and chocolate.

The first flavor to hit the palate would be the strong toasted malt, followed with some hints of chocolate. The hops are mildly bitter but are just enough to linger of the tongue, paired with the toasted malt.

Medium bodied and moderately carbonated.

Overall, Bell's Brown ale is a switch up from the average English Brown Ale. The carbonation is what threw me off. I guess I am used to the traditional lightly carbonated almost chewy in body brown ales. But, never the less Bell's brown ale is a tasty dark brew.

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2012 08:01:53 | More by Luigi
Photo of Phelps


3.08/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bell’s Best

Enjoyed in a shaker pint at OHSO.

Well, this doesn't look right. The brew’s the color of a rusted, weathered penny and is clear as mud. The head is about an inch tall, frothy and mountainous, slowly receding to a thick top layer and thick tendrils of lace.

Nutty nose, with a background of tangy apricot. A touch of biscuits, baking bread and some earthy hops.

In the front I get toasted bread and bitter peanut skins with just a bit of spicy hops. The swallow opens it up more, with smoother bread and peanuts in balance with earth. A touch of apricot and apple at the swallow. Well-balanced. A bit of bitterness lingers on the back sides of the tongue.

Soft, medium-light body. Carbonation is pretty high and massaging, breaking the beer into fizz all over.

Meh. This is far from the best. An average nut brown.

Serving type: on-tap

04-30-2012 01:41:11 | More by Phelps
Photo of thegodfather1076


4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was served out of a 12oz. bottle dispensed into a glass....

Presentation - Like all Bell's that I've seen this has a very simple yet classy label with very nice hand drawn(I recently emailed Bell's to inquire about the artwork and was told that all Bell's artwork is hand drawn by local Michigan artists)artwork.

Appearance - Pours out a dark, caramel brown color with a very nice 2 finger golden tan head that dissipates slowly to a thin foam ring. Really good lacing.

Smell - Smells nutty with a scents of roasted malts and bread-like aroma. Hints of sweet caramel are evident. Very solid aroma!

Taste - Tastes of roasted malts with a earthy hop bitterness. Slightly nutty with hints of molasses or brown sugar and toasted bread.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Starts off crisp but finishes slightly creamy.

Drinkability - Very drinkable. Not filling at all despite the medium body. These go down easy!

One of the better Browns that I have had. I really enjoyed the way the aroma and flavor complemented each other. Perfect for a fall bonfire and readily available in the Akron Area.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2012 21:21:44 | More by thegodfather1076
Photo of JohnnyBarman

Ontario (Canada)

3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Single bottle from Knightly Spirits in Orlando. Poured into a branded Bell's nonic.

Chestnut brown with hints of ruby, hazy and a few flecks of sediment. Left a thin but very sturdy head of off white foam. Sheets of lacing. Great looking brew.

Nose is caramel, chocolate malt, herbal hops, raisin, faint coffee.

Solid brown ale. Simple enough to quaff yet complex enough to give the brew some pondering time. Soft grape or raisin backing with a hint of coffee. Caramel malt is pronounced, but not dominant. Medium to light bodied, higher carbonation.

Nice brew. There's a lot to be said for a sturdy brown ale and this one fits the bill. Plus, the bottle had an owl on the label, and owls are awesome.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2012 02:57:18 | More by JohnnyBarman
Photo of axeman9182

New Jersey

3.6/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2012 03:36:52 | More by axeman9182
Photo of spinrsx

Ontario (Canada)

3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2012 22:09:12 | More by spinrsx
Photo of Daniellobo

District of Columbia

3.45/5  rDev -9.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2012 23:10:56 | More by Daniellobo
Photo of BeerDocT


3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2012 02:20:41 | More by BeerDocT
Photo of Crundy


3.05/5  rDev -20.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-19-2012 16:55:22 | More by Crundy
Photo of raznug


3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2012 20:03:02 | More by raznug
Photo of Gatch


4/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

03-10-2012 07:02:45 | More by Gatch
Photo of neckbracesub


3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2012 23:57:38 | More by neckbracesub
Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 1,937 ratings.