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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

817 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 817
Hads: 2,629
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 9.61%
Wants: 88
Gots: 276 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 817 | Hads: 2,629
Photo of Fcolle2
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an almost mahogany brown with a thin half finger tan head. A good looking brown ale.

Deep Carmel notes in the nose. Slight hints of cocoa and some spicy hops also pull through

Rich Carmel malt body, slightly sweet. minimal hop bitterness but some of the spice from the hops is present. hints of toffee on the back end.

Not a whole lot of oily stickiness from the hops but the deep Carmel malt body keeps it nice and rich. Carbonation is moderate which makes it slightly creamy. (486 characters)

Photo of scotorum
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I sought out Bell's while in Michigan because they have a couple of very well-thought-of offerings on the BA top 250 list, and I had never seen anything they make in my local stores.

Poured out of a 12 oz. bottle into a whiskey glass.  That was the only type of vessel available at the hotel.

a. Beautiful deep amber with a finger thickness of head which dissipated to a film, with some lacing on the sides.

s. distinctive, like fresh sea air. 

t: Caramel notes on a light body.

m: Light and smooth with good carbonation

o: A nice brown ale with its own identity.  Definitely worth trying.  Maybe not the best brown ale to my taste but a very good one, more refreshing than most brown ales you might find. Unfortunately Bell's is not nearly as widely distributed as the products of their neighbors at Founders. I bought two bottles in Traverse City so I'll be looking forward to drinking the other one.

UPDATE 1/24/14: Had put away the second bottle in basement storage and forgot about it until recently when I reviewed storage to find brews I had saved for winter. Bottled 1/7/13, so it's now over a year old! Only things about my review I'd change are: the aroma was caramel malty, it had more body and a definite hop presence which mellowed out. Still think it's a c.4.0 brew. Outstanding, but not moreso than a number of NE brews in the same category which I can buy regularly. If I want more Bell's I'll have to go to Pa. or Western N.Y. and probably pay a premium. These I bought in Michigan last June in a mixed six for $1.69 each. (1,552 characters)

Photo of MarkQ617
4.31/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I had this out of the bottle in South Carolina, after attempting (and failing) the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. Really just an excellent brown. Smooth mouthfeel with a nutty, burnt caramel flavor. I can't comment on the appearance because I had this straight out of the bottle at night, so I've assumed for the purposes of this review that it probably looks similar to most other browns. Solid after dinner beer. (414 characters)

Photo of CMUbrew
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from Fall 2012

A: Looks like your typical brown ale. Dark brown body with lighter brown highlights, and a thin and light brown head sitting on top.

S: The toasty malt is about all that shows up in the nose. I wouldnt expect much else, although some sort of hoppiness could be there.

T: Toasted malts, graininess, slight nuttiness in the background, and earthy bittering hops to balance the whole thing out. Some chocolate flavors become apparent with warming.

M: Smooth, oily slickness, lighter side of medium bodied, drying finish.

O: Solid brown ale. Not too bold, but not lacking any desired qualities. (621 characters)

Photo of smalenberg
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In a pint glass

A - Chestnut brown and very clear with a pale tan head that isn't very large despite an aggressive pour.

S - Malty sweet with toasted marshmallow prevalent.

T - Caramel and marshmallow balanced well with a great combination of tannic and hop bitterness.

M - Smooth medium body with a prevalent carbonation that tingles the tongue.

O - A great easy drinking beer that is fairly sessionable despite the alcohol content. (438 characters)

Photo of TheQuietMan22
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. The “PKGD” date printed on the back label is “01/07/13.”

Appearance: Poured into a becker glass. The color is medium caramel. One finger of lightly tanned head left a skim and thin ring around the edge.

Smell: Toasted malts, caramel, milk chocolate, cherry syrup, brown sugar, maybe a little toffee and molasses. It reminds me of a Cadbury Creme Egg.

Taste: Very thick mouthfeel. The toasted malts from the smell are much more prominent in the flavor. Earthy hops add a nice bitterness to accompany minor flavors of caramel, chocolate, toffee, and cherry syrup.

Drinkability: This is a very good, heavy winter ale. It is flavorful but not overpowering. (695 characters)

Photo of Auracom
2.97/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. poured into a RR tulip on February 26th, 2013.

A - Murky soft caramel coloring. Light khaki foam with good lacing and marginal retention.

S - Freshly-rolled dough, hint of smoke, roasted peanuts.

T - Very direct. Honey malts, soft caramel cookie, and a hint of over roasted coffee.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, semi-dry finish.

D - Exactly what it ought to be, but nothing memorable. Super approachable and about as middle-of-the-road as you can get. (473 characters)

Photo of teromous
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Hazy medium-dark shade of brown, with a poofy eggshell-white head. Not much lacing, mostly just a few spots here and there.

S: Not a whole lot going on on the nose, just some standard ale scents with a light nut character to it.

T: There is some faint caramel sweetness, some smooth toasty flavors, and a hint of bitterness. Some of the yeast flavor comes through at the end, giving it an ever so slight bread quality in the aftertaste. Some slightly earthy and slightly pine-like hop flavor comes through after drinking, but it is very soft.

M: It is a very mild-mannered beer. It is extremely easy to drink, with a pleasant bitterness that is not overpowering. The beer is very smooth but not milky.

O: Overall I was very impressed by this beer. It had a wonderful flavor that made it a pleasure to drink. I do recommend it, and I would obviously drink it again. This brown ale has a bit more bitterness and hop flavor than you'll probably find in most other browns. It is not overdone in this respect, but takes a backseat on the palate after you taste the light caramel and toast flavors. (1,099 characters)

Photo of superspak
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into signature pint glass, bottled 11/14/2012. Pours fairly cloudy brown copper color with a nice 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass. Aromas of caramel, toast, light cocoa, brown bread, floral, brown sugar, and light nuttiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance; but are fairly weak. Taste of caramel, toast, cocoa, brown bread, floral, brown sugar, light nuttiness, light pine, and light citrus hops. Lingering notes of caramel, toast, brown bread, cocoa, brown sugar, light pine, and light citrus on the finish for a bit. Nice balance and complexity of flavors with a fair amount of robustness; with zero cloying flavors present after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a fairly creamy and lightly sticky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with hardly any warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a good brown ale. Nice balance with fairly robust flavors; and very smooth to drink. A pleasantly enjoyable offering. (1,085 characters)

Photo of JWU
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a tumbler glass.

A- a clear brown/red with a half finger of light tan head that doesn't stick around very long. Lacing is much better than I thought it would be.

S- Typical brown ale aromas. Bready, a bit of caramel and biscuits. English yeast. Hint of brown sugar.

T- A drier take on the style. A balance of dry bitterness, cocoa and a bit of brown sugar/caramel sweetness. Certainly english in it's roots, has a lot in common with an English Bitter, but is noticeably heavier.

M- Medium bodied, not hoppy dry, but a more malt based dryness. Carbonation is medium.

O- A serviceable brown ale. Nothing more, nothing less. (650 characters)

Photo of RoninTK3
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A - Amber and translucent with a bit of lacing.

S - Caramel, sweet malts, brown sugar. Very nice.

T - Malty, sweet, and a bit nutty. Hints of caramel and brown sugar. A bit of a bitter edge, especially in the aftertaste.

M - Medium bodied and very smooth. A bit of a creamy feel.

Brown ales tend to be low on my list, but rating this among other beers in its style I found it to be quite enjoyable. Not something I'd get again, but this is a very good brown ale. (467 characters)

Photo of thagr81us
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed with the man who put Humpty Dumpty back together again (my orthopedic trauma surgeon)! Served from bottle into a flared pilsner. Poured a deep red-orange with a half finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, nutty, and dark chocolate. The flavor was of sweet malt, toasted malt, nutty, nutmeg, and subtle caramel. It had a light feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a pretty decent brew. I was really quite intrigued by this one once I smelled the dark chocolate notes in it. However, to my slight disappointment, this note did not carry over into the flavor. Despite this it did not kill the brew at all. This one was rather easy drinking and quite enjoyable. Definitely one of the better browns I’ve had in awhile as most are hit-and-miss that I’ve had recently with other flavors infused into them. Worth your time trying without a doubt. (994 characters)

Photo of cosmicevan
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had this with lunch at the westwood tavern in schaumburg. Nice transparent brown with good lacing on the pint glass. Smells.of brown sugar and tastes the same. Fairly solid brown ale. Nothing mind blowing. Some nuttiness. Easy drinker. I like a good brown and this is good, but a bit of a let down from a brewery that seems to knock every style they take on out of the park. (374 characters)

Photo of ummswimmin
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I poured this beer into a tulip glass.

On the initial pour I got two fingers of foam with very good retention. I like the lacing left behind on a glass. Off the top you can smell the plentiful malts and minimal hopping.

The flavor comes in with more of the malt. I also pick up some decent roastiness.

This is an easy drinking brown ale. Yet another great offering by Bell's. (379 characters)

Photo of AdamGarcia
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

bottle served in tumbler. package date 9/11/12

A: Warm reddish brown. Light filters through around the edges. Rather murky. Off white head doesn't stick around very long. Thin ring of foam remains.

S: Enticing. Sweet malty aromas. Hints of cocoa, coffee, vanilla, leather, and tobacco. Suggestions of hops come out once the temp rises a bit.

T: Taste mirrors aroma pretty closely. Some sweet fruity flavors pop up mid palate, but get swallowed up quickly with the chocolate and coffee. There's just a modest amount of roastiness and then a fairly long finish with some drying tobacco. Subtle in flavor, but tasty.

M: Medium body. Carbonation is on the lower end of the spectrum and appropriate for a brown ale.

O: I always enjoy Best Brown whenever it's available. I don't necessarily drink a lot of browns but this is probably one of my favs when I'm in the mood. (870 characters)

Photo of SometimesIfart
2.84/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

A - Pours copperish brown with a two-finger white head. No lacing.

S - Raisins, roasted malt.

T - A wee-bit of coffee, raisins, roasted malt, a bit water.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

O - Overall, it was exremely average. I could have it at the the bar, but probably wouldn't buy it for the home. (314 characters)

Photo of duffalo
4.26/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Nothing frilly, just a really well done brown ale. The balance is great - there's no hop smell, but they nicely cancel out the sweetness that could easily be in this beer given the amount of grains they pack in. I think the taste is great, but personally I think it's almost on the verge of a porter in darkness and alcohol content - not quite as light as most of the brown ales I'm used to. Nevertheless, this is a great choice if you're in the mood for a no frills well done brown. (483 characters)

Photo of BMMillsy
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours brown with a bit of a red hue. Medium head that looks creamy and fades somewhat quickly. Smells sweet like a red ale, cherry amd roasty presence here. Flavor is nutty and smooth, different from the aroma. A bit of chocolate with the nut and a bit of fruit on the finish. Nice easy drinker. Good beer. (306 characters)

Photo of Dave1999
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a solid brown with lighter amber hues and nice white head.

The smell is sweet and malty with some nutiness.

The taste is light malt, nuts and very light hop bitterness. The flavours are very subtle but complex enough to at least make it decent.

The mouthfeel is light with medium carbonation.

Overall a decent brown ale a little light for my tastes but enjoyed the one bottle I bought. (395 characters)

Photo of Gmann
3.74/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a yeasty chocolate brown color with a tight bubbled cream colored head that settled into a light ring with some lacing on the glass.

The aroma is sweet with caramel notes. Some brown bread and toasted scents from the malt. Nothing outrageous but inviting.

Good nutty flavor from the toasted malt. Some bark and bitter chocolate notes as well. The caramel sweetness comes in and balances the brew and makes it quite smooth; almost tastes as if there is some oatmeal in the mix.

The feel is moderate with prickly carbonation. Good balance between sweet and bitter. Some bitterness in the finish. Probably could use some softer carbonation to help bring out the good flavors some more.

A very enjoyable brown ale, good representation of the style. (754 characters)

Photo of Ed_Johnson
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very dark amber in color and a light amount of visible carbonation. Moderate amounts of lacing.

S: Light aromas of caramel with less pronounced smell of brown sugar and molasses. There is also some cocoa.

T: Dark malts with some hints of molasses, brown sugar, caramel, and sweetness. Also some nuts with a touch of cocoa. Very light bitterness in the finish.

M: Light to medium bodied. Creamy and smooth.

O: Extremely easy to drink. Enjoyable. Nice in the winter and I suspect year around. (505 characters)

Photo of BlackBearForge
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ruby tinted brown, my bottle being very clear, with a small whitish head with moderate slippery lacing.

Molasses, brown sugar and dark toasty malts in the nose.

The flavor is nicely balances between sweet and a nice drying on the finish. As in the nose, dark rich toasty malts, caramel flavored with a hint of chocolate with a lightly spicy hop presence. Very flavorful and very good!

The mouthfeel is more medium than light, very smooth and lightly creamy.

Overall I believe this has to be one of my favorite brown ales now! I've always been impressed by Bell's beers in general and this ale is no different. Highly recommended! (633 characters)

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

Best brown ale pours a cloudy copper to brown color with a nice cap of creamy foam. The nose is light and grainy, fitting for a brown ale. The aroma that it does produce is a pleasant darkly roasted malt with nutty overtones. The brown malt theme continues on the palate with a creamy smooth malt texture. A slight bitterness provides balance toward the end. This brew has all the makings of good beer. (402 characters)

Photo of arizcards
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up 2 singles at Total Wine in mid-November for $1.99 each. Bottled on 9-13-12.

Beer poured brown with a tan head that is leaving lacing behind. Some setiment floating at the bottom.

Nose has hint of toasted grains with some cocoa.

Taste is well balance, toasted malts with some cocoa form a nice backbone but there is enough hopping to make this less sweet and give it a bit of oilyness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied. It is well carbonated but not refreshing.

Overall i like this beer. The hops and the cocoa make this beer an interesting and palatable brown. This is more an American Brown style wise. (635 characters)

Photo of metter98
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy chestnut brown to amber in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high beige head that died down a bit, but never completely faded away.
S: Light to moderate aromas of cocoa nibs are present in the nose; nutty malts become apparent after the beer warms up.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but is more complex with additional flavors of chocolate, roasted and nutty malts. A very slight amount of bitterness is present.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is quite easy to drink and has quite complex flavors when compared to other beers in the style. (692 characters)

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
87 out of 100 based on 817 ratings.