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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

850 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 850
Hads: 2,811
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 95
Gots: 367 | 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: 850 | Hads: 2,811
Photo of EyeOfBuck
2.99/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance is hazy brown with very little head.
Smelled slightly of sweet malt
Taste citrus sweet taste with hints of yeast and a bitter finish.
Mouthfeel thin with considerable carbonation.
Overall, not a favorite especially for Bells, maybe my expectations were too high.

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Photo of terrabyte
2.99/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

While pouring, the color is medium brown. However, once the the glass is filled, it seems a quite dark brown, and very cloudy. The trick of swirling the bottom tenth of the bottle before pouring the last out worked in this case, as large white yeasty sediments poured out. Has a very large, white, frothy head.

Aroma is quite mute. Nothing distinctive I could pick up except a normal 'beer' smell.

Flavor is also quite mute. I found this to be a pretty boring brown ale.

Mouthfeel is decent. Medium carbonation. Actually, would have been the perfect base for a better beer.

Drinkability is difficult to describe. Is one bottled water more drinkable than another?

I found this beer to be quite lacking in flavor, a completely worthless review by me (sorry!) and at a loss for words. It'll score better than other (bad) beers I've had, but only because those beers actively sucked for one reason or another. This one had nothing discernibly bad to make it repugnant. Average, average, average.

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Photo of jtierney89
3/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Semi hazed deep amber glow with a big fluffy tan tinged head. Rich malty and breadiness on the nose. Faint nuttiness with some chocolate. Light mouthfeel. Brisk effervescence.

Rich nutty and bready flavor with subtle dark fruit. English hop presence to balance. Refreshing and good flavors but a little thin. For being a smaller beer though it has some mild tannic qualities which is nice. Good but not for me.

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Photo of nosurrender23
3/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Group grade = C.
"Damn good Brown Ale -- At least it's a beer."

The beer pours a dark iced tea color like the ruffled feathers of a brown barn owl.

The smell is light with little to no smell that some compared to an olfactory nightmare, wet cardboard, a frat floor, and bathroom stall number 3 at Dixie Stampede.

The beer had a low carbonated, smooth feel.

Drinking wise, the beer had a smoothness with minimal complexity. "Your average Brown Ale."

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Photo of ChadQuest
3/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sunburst amber, some floaties from the bottle of the bottle, some lacing, a thin cap.
Aroma is sweet malt, some brown sugar, a bit of toffee, but overall on the sweet side of the spectrum with a variety of malt notes.
The flavors have a bit of toasy caramel on them, some brown sugar, ginger bread, and a light flavor of hops. A nice brown ale, a bit creamy.

A nice beer, but not one that is going to make a brown ale your fav style.

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Photo of drpimento
3.02/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I dunno, I'm not so impressed with this beer. Although, I've read so many good reviews, I think it must be me. Proly a plugged shnoz or something. Has a hazy brown color. Seems kind of blase to me. Do pick up the typical english brown body and aftertaste. Had a nice head and some lace.

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Photo of corby112
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark chestnut amber color with mahogany edges when held to a light source and a foamy light beige head that slowly fades into a lasting cap and ring.

Slightly smokey aroma with a nice chestnut/hazelnut presence with a nice malt backbone and subtle hop notes.

Slightly watered down with a subtle smoked maltiness along with some oatmeal, chocolate malt, hazelnut and subtle hop notes. Finish is slightly dry. Pretty drinkable session beer but not something I would seek out again.

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Photo of Crundy
3.07/5  rDev -20.1%
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.

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Photo of jjboesen
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This sample was a draught tasted at RFD in Washington DC on October 31, 2007.


It begins with thin, oatmeal colored head that settles into a cloudy brown. However, it does possess a rather consistent lacing that clings to the glass; it manages to hold on throughout the drinking process until a secondary swirl scatters it into patches causing the head to reconstitute.


There is an barely perceptible trace of molasses that I found underwhelming and pedestrian. Of course, since Bell’s is an excellent brewery, this might be a result of improper storage. (And RFD has had previous issues with soapy glassware.) To paraphrase Hi from the movie “Raising Arizona,” my palate was a rocky place on which the taste could not find purchase.


I thought that this sample lacked structure and balance - once again, probably due to storage.


The nose was pretty much undetectable. All in all, a disappointing beer that probably would have tasted better under circumstances. [The following beer was a bottle of Bell’s Porter – and it was delicious!]

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Photo of Cyrion
3.09/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Packaged 9/04/13, which was about a month and a half ago. Poured into a nonic at fridge temperature.

Appearance: A cola colored beer, aggressively poured, forming a sturdy 2" head. Decent carbonation on sides of glass and attractive, lingering lacing.

Smell: A bit scant. Browned caramel, some chocolate (not much), and malt.

Taste: More of the caramel and chocolate and malt, but now we've got some earthy hops coming in low and fast, adding a formidable bitterness to the beer. The result is a hoppy brown, slightly metallic. I love how one reviewer added "mineral water" because that is very accurate.

Mouthfeel: Watery and a bit overcarbonated.

Overall: It's okay, but I would not buy again. I think it's categorized as an English brown, but it's too hoppy for that. The caramel malt and earthy hops do not mesh well in this beer. The ingredients do not complement each other.

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Photo of Phelps
3.09/5  rDev -19.5%
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.

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Photo of oxmasterscream
3.11/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Color is a deep, translucent, cherry-brown. Big, fluffy, light tan head. Looks good.
Smells of toasted malt with a splash of tangy hops. Only slightly nutty. Nothing else really comes through. Aroma is just average for a brown ale.
Tastes tangy, tangy, tangy... too much so. A bit of toasted malt now and then, as well as some faint, bitter coffee in the finish. Fruity alcohol shows its face toward the end of the glass.
Mouth is medium-bodied. Gently carbonated. Smooth on the tongue.
As for brown ales, I've easily had better. This is just run of the mill. There's no way this can be their "best."

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.12/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a dark chestnut color. The head is a rough-looking one-finger heavy cream shade. It's texture is poor but its retention is good. Small amounts of lacing are left behind.

S: This is very toasted, and even slightly roasted. There's actually some progression to the aroma - the first whiff is pure toasted nuts, then turns into something mineral and earthy, developing a touch of brown sugar sweetness after a while. The earthiness isn't to my liking, otherwise the aroma is fine.

T: There's a slight kiss of fruitiness to start. Afterwards, this turns into mostly a toasted-nuts-and-mineral-water affair. A slight hop finish actually brings more acid than bitterness or flavor. Having said that, it's still reasonably balanced, if a touch too bitter.

M: This one is fairly dry and even crisp. On the other hand, it has a slight heaviness to it making it not quite as drinkable as it could be. Carbonation is middling, typical of the style.

O: A fairly typical brown ale: there's nothing wrong with it at all, it's just not very impressive or inspiring to drink. Wouldn't buy it again, most likely.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.13/5  rDev -18.5%
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.

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Photo of ph2001
3.15/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle in snifter

its a hazy medium shade of brown with no head on it. it smells like carmel and biscuits. it is light and refreshing but there is a certain thickness to it that hides well. an odd sweetness sticks out, i can't put my finger on what it is. also a spicyness to it. medium body with decent carbonation and mouthfeel.

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Photo of mklinger
3.15/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Let me start by saying that I drank this when I really wasn't expecting to. I was out at a decent restaurant in town. I ordered a Third Coast Old Ale & the waitress brought this. She initially brought & a frozen glass. I asked for a non-frozen one, she brought it, poured the beer & I drank a swig before I realized it wasn't Third Coast. I got it for free, but it wasn't what I expected or wanted.

It poured a brown that was on the pale side of brown, small head.

Not much aroma here, bit of bready malt, not much for hops (which is OK for style), just a bit bland overall.

Flavor was similar, balanced but not very distinct.

This was the first Bell's Best Brown Ale I've had. I won't necessarily be seeking out more. Not all that more interesting than Killian's Red. Fairly light & bland.

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Photo of ultralarry2006
3.18/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Leaves a one finger head that has good retention and good lacing. Body is a hazy, if not cloudy , garnet.

Smell - nutty, toasty malt bread, a hint of lemony hops.

Taste - some of the toasty malt bread, not much more than that.
Rather one dimensional.

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, moderate carbonation, a little bit dry.

Drinkability - this is decent, far from great, but decent enough to drink, and so somewhat sessionable.

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Photo of skrib09
3.18/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

nice dark brown color with a creamy head. good retention.

smells toasty, malty.

roasty malt flavors come through immediately. not too sweet but flavorful. a touch of coffee maybe coming through.

i get some carbination on my palate with this one. a little bitterness comes through towards the end.

average drinkability for me on this one.

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Photo of beerphan
3.19/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle -> goblet
code: 7670 -> website -> packaged 9.26.06

Pours a light copper with a generous off white almost tan head, that leaves sporadicly thick lace. Carbonation appears high on the pour.

Nose: Kinda of a spicey yeasty smell along with some faint malts.

Taste: Some sweet malt flavor along with a little nuttiness and spice on the finish with just a tad of bitterness.

Mouthfeel is thin and the carbonation seems a little excessive.

Not the best brown ale i've ever had, but not the worst either, i prefer a fuller malt presense.

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Photo of alleykatking
3.2/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz bottle.

A- Pours a reddish brown color. Two finger tan head that shows medium retention. Some streaks and light web style lacing left on the glass. I wish this was a little darker in color bust can't have it all.

S- This has a ton of carmael bready malts mixing in with toffee malts. Light nutty aroma in the middle of the nose. A very light chocolate malt in the ending of the balance this out...with a hint of earthy hop.

T- Caramel malts with a hint of toasted malt in the front. Chocoalte malts with a light nutty flavor toward the middle of the overall taste. Toasted malts come back in the ending with a light hint of bitter hop bite.

M- Medium light mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the style. Toasted malts with some light nutty sweetness left on the palate. Aftetaste is warming alcohol paired with light caramel malts and bittering hops. Medium alcohol drying on the palate. Flavors were balanced for the style. A little off flavor I would say but I can't put my figner on what it is exactly.

D- This beer is pretty good. Nothing over the top with this beer which makes it an average brown ale. I don't really care to drink more than a couple of these before moving onto something else. It's bland and muted at times which seems to be a Bell's trait at times. ABV is a little bit held back but still agressive in the middle to ending of the beer.

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Photo of nortmand
3.21/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a bit red for a brown, let alone a best brown. Some brownish foam as well.
I had the damnedest time getting a scent off this beer, but maybe a bit of raisiny chocolate? In fact, I think I smell Raisinets.
Taste is a bit of raisin, a bit of chocolate. Some roast as well I suppose.
Mouthfeel, some CO2, a little creamy. Appreciable.
I mean, I guess I could drink a few, but if my review wasn't any indication, I wouldn't be too excited to.

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Photo of claminat420
3.21/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- poured a transparent mahogany brown color. solid two finger tanish colored head.

S- slight roasted malt or malt of that character. slight alcohol scent.

T- a light woody taste with a caramel backbone. very little alcohol presence but still can be noted.

M- medium bodied. decent carbonation.

D- maybe 3 or 4 out of a six and i'm fine.

Overall- not to shabby of a brown ale. no samuel smith's but worth a try.

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Photo of mjsheehan08
3.22/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a fiery reddish hue that fills the glass with a dark brown color that becomes almost impossible to see through. Thick, foamy head sits high on this brew, and it fades after a while.

The only real aroma I'm pulling is weak malt. Not impressed

Nutty, malty, really sweet Carmel malts. Again not super impressed.

Overall, a decent session beer, but not something I would purposely seek out.

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Photo of Minkybut
3.22/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I poured this beer into a tumbler at 5o degrees. The beer was cloudy brown like dirty water with a thin head fast and fast decay. There was no lacing at all. The beer had a bit of a fruity smell and a slightly bitter taste. I really like the label though but the beer was just average. It was good mind you but I guess I will most likely not buy again.

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Photo of ordybill
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass.
Aroma- this brown ale has malt and a sweet sugary aroma.
Appearance- Uhhmm, a brown ale with an average white head.
Taste- Big malt flavor with caramel tossed in.
Palate- A light bodied ale with moderate carbonation.
Overall- this is an average ale for me, Bell's is usually killing every beer style they try but this was average to me.

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Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 850 ratings.