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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: 2,715
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 92
Gots: 313 | 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: 2,715
Photo of callmemickey
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark chestnut brown... thin tan head

S: Nutty toasted malts...

T: Following the smell, toasted malts are paramount with a nutty character... some hops round out the back end of the flavor

M: Kind of thin for a darker beer... Moderate carbonation is pleasant

D: Easy to drink, not bad over all, I probably wouldn't drink two in a row as the depth isn't quite there

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Photo of bigdeuce
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
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!

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Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Quite soft nose of rich, sticky caramels with a touch of butterscotch, and fresh toast. Taste is fully toasted, almost roasted malts. A bit nutty, with dark caramel in the background. Just a touch of dried floral bittering hops on the finish. Body leans to the thin side. Drinkable and enjoyable, but lacking any distinctive quality.

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Photo of Drone53
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Nice beer. Pours a nice brown color, with a nice solid head, which lasts a awhile. Taste was good, but was expecting a little more. Pretty decent hop flavor. Good maltiness to this beer as well.

Definitely a beer which you could have a nice session with.

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Photo of RichieS2
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: A pleasant brown just shy of a porter. When held up to the light it gives a decent brown gleam. Basically what one would expect from this style.

Smell: There was some definite sweetness coming from the malts though it was not overpowering. Again it was something to be expected from this style.

Taste: Definitely above average as to be expected from Bell's. When it first hits your tongue it does not have much flavor and a half second later the flavor kicks in. As the smell would suggest it has a slight sweetness that satisfies but is nowhere near overwhelming. There are no hops that I could detect to add bitterness.

Mouthfeel: A bit on the watery side, a little thicker than a "lite" beer but not by much.

Drinkability: Not to heavy or skunky with decent flavor, I would definitely have one of these again.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nice dark caramel colour, thin layer of head with little retention and no lacing.

S - Mild on the nose, musty caramel and a hint of leafy greens.

T - Unique earthy bitterness, leafy green hops, musty caramel, tasted bread. A sour bitterness lingers.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and wet.

O - A tad disappointing from what has otherwise been a great experience with this brewery. Could use a bit more caramel to balance off the earthy hop flavour. Still rather drinkable and non-offensive though, just nothing spectacular.

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Photo of Anthony1
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer is a medium brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass. The aroma is of caramelized malts, maple, nuts, honey and a touch of hops. The taste starts out sweet with flavors of maple, caramel, honey and nuts that are followed by a hearty malt character. The hops presence is decent for the style and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet. Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

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Photo of turamarth
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a basic pint glass.

Look: Pours a pretty hefty off white head, that lingers for a good while. Not a lot of lacing. Has a clear dark amber color, almost like a jar filled with iced tea. Only real downside on the looks of the beer is the fact that there is so much yeast sediment chillin in the beer. I'm pretty sure if I wanted to I would take a sample and make my own yeast starter from it. Mmmm petry dish.

Smell: An interesting nose. Lots of musky sents that linger in the nose after a good dive. Also, there are a lot of tannin smells, e.g., tea, cold coffee, etc. After the musky notes the caramels are predominate in the nose. There are also some dark fruit and coco powder hints through out.

Taste: Much a kin to the nose. The musky flavors linger on the tongue after a good sip, I like this. A caramel sweetness that is stronger on the tongue than on the nose sits well here along with some amplified fruits that I can't pinpoint. Pretty tasty.

Mouth: A rather medium mouthfeel. Smooth and the carbonation dances nicely on the tongue. Every now and then however you'll find a lil yeasty on your tongue.

Drink: Dispite all the freakin' yeast you can see and sometimes taste. This beer is pretty drinkable, and very sessionable. Probably my go to brown ale.

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Photo of jsanford
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch 9981. 12oz bottle poured into a Pint Glass

A - Pours a hazy dark copper with a 2-inch fluffy off-white head that hangs around for a bit. Leaves some soapy lacing.
S - Very subdued notes of toasted malt, caramel, and nuts.
T - Sweet caramel malt, toasted nuts, and a tiny bit of milk chocolate. More flavor then the nose would suggest, but it's still not knocking my socks off.
M - Crisp, with a medium-thin body and good carbonation. Usually I like my Brown Ales to have a fuller mouthfeel, but the thin body works for this beer.
D - Very drinkable. I didn't think I'd like this at first, given the weird (for me) thin body and minimal aromas. However, I think this is supposed to be a sessionable, entry-level Brown Ale, and it succeeds at that nicely.

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Photo of thekanna
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Nice light coffee color. Slightly cloudy with some substance, and not overly clear like Newcastle, for example.

Smell: Faint roasted malt flavor and some dextrin sweetness.

Taste: Nuttiness upfront with slight caramel flavor. Hops bite towards the end and result in a slightly bitter aftertaste. Carbonation is good and not overwhelming.

Drinkability: Somewhat more a typical brown ale than anything. I can't detect much that distinguishes this otherwise.

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Photo of BaronVonHawkeye
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Rich brown color, slightly lighter than Newcastle, but hazy similar to an American Amber. Dark cream head that did not really stay around that long, but did leave nice lace rings.

Smell: I unfortunately have to give this an average. While there is a decently malty smell, it seems bland and ordinary.

Taste: Nice flavor for a brown ale. Smooth malt followed by a hoppy aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth, but did not have as smooth of a mouthfeel as other brown ales, specifically Dillion Dam Sweet George's Brown.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. Would go very well with tailgaiting on a crisp fall day rather than a bitterly cold winter day.

Purchased at John's Grocery, Iowa City, IA

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Photo of Roeters
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Rich dark brown with a 1/2" of off white head, little lacing

S: not as aromatic as a lot of browns, but notes of raison, light sweetness, faint alcohol, chocolate

T: chocolate notes with a little bit of hops at the end, slightly roasty finish

M: a little thin for a brown

D: very easy going down, good everyday drinker.

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Photo of larryarms847
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark rusty amber with a slight red hue and frothy off white foam.

Roasted malts add nuttiness, chocolate, and caramel.

Flavors of fall, toasty malts, caramel, chocolate, and slight bitterness from the hops, but hardly noticeable.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth as most brown ales are.

Overall, a tasty brew for a fall night and considerably sessionable.

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Photo of shand
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a red-brown colour with significant floaties and a finger and a half of head. Laces well. Smell is caramel malts, cocoa, breads, and some roasted nuttiness. Smooth roasty malts roll through first, followed up by a bit of a mineral taste and a touch of cocoa. The aftertaste leaves a nice subtle nuttiness on the tongue.

The mouthfeel is medium-bodied and silky, and the drinkability is pretty decent. A slightly above average brown ale, I didn't see anything too special here, but there's nothing bad in this brew as well.

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Photo of MrIncognito
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

A - light aroma of dark malt and toasted nuts
T - Somewhat chocolaty with a hint of cinnamon. Toasted nuts.
M - medium bodied with light carbonation. Smooth
O - very good brown ale. Not quite as good as Smuttynose Old Brown Dog IMO

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Photo of TheBigBoy
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Out of single bottle. One of the better brown ales I've tasted. Not like Newcastle but more like a Hobgoblin or Americanized brown with good brown beer taste that works for my palate. Not overpowering, not sweet, but very smooth with a hearty brown ale taste.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 9980

Appearance -- Pours a murky chestnut hue, quite a bit of sediment, nearly no head even after a vigorous pour.

Smell -- Caramel, cocoa, roast and grainy malts, raisinette, faint licorice.

Taste -- Roast character abounds: roasty malt, coffee grounds, baker's chocolate. Much drier than the nose would suggest. Mineral character is apparent. Firm earthy hop finish. Lasting flavors of roasty malt and cocoa.

Mouthfeel -- Lighter in body with an abundance of prickly carbonation. A bit creamy in the finish.

Drinkability -- I had higher hopes for this one. I mean, look at the name! In all seriousness, it's a better than average brown ale, but in my mind it isn't one of the best, let alone *the* best.

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Photo of zeledonia
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a slightly reddish coppery brown, very clear, with a slight off-white head that lingers.

S: Nothing jumps out, but it smells good. Nice balance of malt and hops, though the malt is definitely more prominent, with some sweetness and light fruits (grapes, apples) in the background.

T: Not quite what I was expecting based on the smell. Kinda light and fruity for a brown ale. The hops are more obvious than in the nose, and they impart some bitterness, but there's not a ton of complexity to the flavor. I get a prominent light hop flavor, but there isn't that much coming along with it. It starts out decently balanced, but fades into a rather bland bitter finish.

M: Feels light and tingly due to very vivid carbonation (which isn't obvious from looking at it), even though the body is medium. Has a heaviness and stickiness that makes it hang around in the mouth.

D: This comes across lighter and hoppier than I expect from a brown ale. I'm not that impressed with the flavor, which is fairly simple and a bit on the bitter side for the style. It's a decent beer, but there are plenty of better brown ales out there.

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Photo of RobH
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. brown bottle.

Hmmm, I don't know; were my expectations too high? I'm a malty beer fan and thus I like English and American Brown Ales, and having enjoyed other Bell's styles very much, I bought this one seeking a great Brown Ale. Here's what I got:

A: Nothing extraordinary to speak of. Certainly appeared as a high quality Brown Ale in the glass.

S: Again, nothing extraordinary to speak of that came across to my nose. Smelled rather pedestrian in fact.

T: Here's where the let-down really kicked in. It was NOT at all bad in any way, rather it just didn't stand out against other Browns I've had. What was I looking for? Well, maybe a luscious malt character with a more perfected carbonation and hop balance. It just wasn't there. Again, it came across to me as a rather pedestrian Brown Ale. Not bad, but nothing special either to make me look forward to next fall when this one comes out again.

M: Fine enough. Not bad. Typical for the American Brown Ale style.

D: Fine enough, once again. Certainly a very drinkable beer with I'd say broad appeal. Just not a stand out Brown Ale for me. Perhaps my palate has changed in time as I try more and more beers, and I've moved on from the Brown Ale style? Not sure if that's it. I'll have to try more beers to be sure.

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Photo of JWU
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

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Photo of DukeofAle
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a very well made ale but just does not have enough charactor to make it stand out. Pours a medium brown with moderate head and fair to middling retention, some lace. Taste is smooth and easy to drink. More malty than hoppy - but very mild. Somewhat thin.

No real faults, but not a stand out in any way.

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Photo of TheBierBand
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 12 oz. brown bottle (Batch ID: 8165 - Packaged on 9/26/07) to produce a 1" beige head of pillowy foam. This disappearded to a thin cap after about 2 or 3 minutes leaving sparce lacing. The beer was a clear coppery brown.

Nose: Typical toasted malt.

Taste: A bit of a surpise.... Yes, there was the lightly toasted malt... although, I prefer a little more sweetness. But, there was a hop kick at the end that deviated from style.... kind of a citrusy/piney flavor.... not overwhelming.... but definately there.

Mouthfeel: Appropriate carbonation... a tad bit thin in body for my preference.

Drinkability: Solid English Brown Ale from Bell's... although not among my favorites for the style.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, poured into a tulip glass just for the heck of it (this one is a warm up to an imperial stout - why dirty 2 glasses?), pours a rusty brown color topped with a thin, off-white head that recedes quickly leaving a little lacing on the glass. Aromas are malty, brown malt, brown sugar, grain, earthy. Tastes are malty sweetness, brown sugar, burnt caramel, earthy hop, toasted grain. Thin-to-medium mouth-feel, moderate carbonation, finishes with an ample piny bitterness to keep the sweetness in check. Overall, it was just as I remembered: good brown ale, but nothing extraordinary.

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Photo of GreenWBush
3.49/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

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Photo of clarkm04
3.49/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch number 9980 bottled on 8/31/10

Appearance- A slightly muddy brown/amber. Not super brown or thick looking as some browns can be. Medium carbonation with minimal head retention.

Smell- A slight malty smell associated with it.

Taste- Very clean. Has a nutty profile but delicate. Has a clean and slightly nutty finish. Very light and drinkable. Solid taste and a good example of a brown.

Mouthfeel- Very smooth, almost watery on the palate.

Drinkability- Very high being a brown.

Overall- I enjoyed the beer. I love browns but like a more roasty, nutty flavor profile and finish. This beer was a little light for me. Enjoyable and drinkable. I would recommend drinking a bottle of it but I'm divided if I will buy another six pack. It's a good better, above average beer on its merits and also in the style but I feel there are better products on the market. Like most of Bell's line, they have solid beers and this is one of them.

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