Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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

848 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 848
Hads: 2,805
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 95
Gots: 364 | 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: 848 | Hads: 2,805
Photo of alexgash
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy, dark shoe-leather brown with a small, creamy, khaki head and decent lacing. Aromas of mild brown sugar, caramelized fruit, toasted malt, and yeast. Toasted loaf malt flavors up front. Light nuttiness, mixed with some dried pears also noticeable. Earthy, spicy hops come on stronger than expected and add a pleasant kick to this brew. Finish is bitter with light toasted fruit sweetness, and yeast. Nice. Medium-bodied, coats the mouth well. Another winner from Bell's.

 474 characters

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.

 343 characters

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

Batch 8212.

Appearance: Pours a clear brown body with a lush, though quickly thinning ivory-colored head.

Smell: Nutty, creamy caramel aroma with lighter notes of chocolate, wood, and dark fruits.

Taste: Dark crème caramel and toasted nuts with just the right level of sweetness. Faint fruitiness. Lightly hopped with a mild bitterness and a slight floral character. For all it's sweetness, the beer still manages to finish dry with a lingering toastiness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: A charming, easy drinking brown from Bell's.

 566 characters

Photo of BillyBoysPie
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a nice dark brown with reddish-orange highlights. Full inch and a half of a pale beige head that settles down. Leaves plenty of lacing. There's sediment in the glass - and I just washed my glass. It's a bit off-putting for this style, but I'm not predjudiced.

Surprisingly hoppy for a brown ale. Also, since the bottle is extolling the malt, I'm searching for it. It, frankly, smells like the fantastic Two-Hearted Ale - which I love - but I find odd for a brown ale. There's a fair bit of toffee, but mostly the floral/citrus.

Ahh! I taste the malts! Why can't I smell them... Either way, really nice malts. Caramel with a touch of chocolate and butter, and sweet hops at the end. The hops are balanced well, a nice bit of sweet honey and florals. I do quite like it. A refreshing brown ale.

Nice mouthfeel. Right carbonation for the style, and pretty light body, but it does fill up the mouth. Refreshing.

I quite like it. Not as good as the Two-Hearted, but a keeper. Also, I like original ideas/fresh takes on a beer, and this works.

 1,075 characters

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

Hazy coppery brown with suspended particles. Decent head that falls down to a thin layer. A nice drinkable brown ale. Not overly rich to be very sessionable. Nutty, malty goodness, with a bit of a hoppy finish. Not as chocolaty as many American browns tend to be. Very good English style brown ale.

 298 characters

Photo of aaronh
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This hazy brwon beer with red highlights pours with a thick tan head that slowly fades. A nice lacing is left on the glass as you drink. The aroma is of caramel, molasses, and malt and is very inviting and smooth. The first taste is heavy on the dark molasses and a husky malt flavor. Smoky brown sugar notes and a nice bitterness follow. Not as much sweetness as the aroma would suggest, this is more of a dry brown ale. The mouthfeel is a bit harsh from carbonation, and the beer has a moderate body. It improves a bit as the beer warms. The drinkability is good, as this would be a good session beer. Another nice beer from Kalamazoo.

 637 characters

Photo of Spiekerbox
4.11/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Amber brown with a thick light brown head that lingers for a while.

S- malty and a little nutty

T- Toasted malts with a nutty flavor, slight sweetness and a little bitterness. Pleasant and balanced

M- Nice smooth mouthfeel, medium body and ideal carbonation for the flavors to come out with.

D- Very drinkable, good brown ale, exactly what the style should be in my mind. Good beer to chill with.

 403 characters

Photo of Fish113d
4.11/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark mahogany color into a pint glass chilled. Little light gets through the glass. Tan surface layer w/ decent glass cling.

Aroma is mainly of caramel malts; some wheat aroma also. Grainy hops sneak into my nostrals as well. Pretty sugary and sweet aroma overall.

Sweet caramel w/ a slight oak, vanilla, and plum flavor. Some slight floral hops hit my palate also on the finish. A bit of alcohol hints as well maybe. Very nice for the style.

Decent amount of carbonation up front w/ a light to medium body. Some slight alcohol, but nice overall feel.

Thumbs up to drinking this one. It'd make a nice Friday evening growler brew. I'd definitely drink this if I had more access to it on a regular basis.

 722 characters

Photo of brownbeer
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- pours brown amber with thin off-white head. Good retention, thin lacing. A lot of sediment though, whiched knocked the appearance down a bit for me.

S- Malt forward, caramel and biscuit. Subtle hoppy background.

T- Sweet and caramely up front balanced by slight minerality and hops leaving the finish slightly dry.

M- Just enough heft to be satisfying and soft enough to be encouraging.

D- A little heavier than most browns but tasty and smooth enough to session through.

 478 characters

Photo of akorsak
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 oz bottle from Al's of Hampden.

A: The brown ale is more of a crimson red color, but who's counting hues? It is translucent enough to see objects on the other side of the glass but I can't distinguish them. A small head, quarter of a finger max, reduces rapidly to a thin white band.

S: Caramel and toffee are strong in the nose. A bit of nuttiness follows in short order with a hoppy citrus backbone (not too strong mind you).

T: A very solid brown ale. The maltiness plants its proverbial flag early and never relinquishes its claim. Caramel and toffee, along with toasted nuts, drive most of the flavor. Coffee and vanilla linger around too, especially when the ale warms. Hops, not a stand-out, still provide a zesty bite. A brown ale that is better than most.

M: The mouthfeel is syrupy, thick and malty. Darker roasted flavors stand out.

D: A very drinkable ale, sessionable even. Makes me appreciate the non-extreme styles.

 940 characters

Photo of Jammies
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aged for 8 months

A- pours a deep brown with hints of red. A thin layer of foam retreats to the center and edge of the glass

S- sweet with some light sugary notes. Slightly nutty

T- light and well balanced. A nutty flavor to it.

M- great body. very smooth with a slightly coarse finish

O- Great brown ale, not overly sweet like a christmas ale. Simplicity at its finest

 374 characters

Photo of Loki
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with a good head that lasts for minutes. The nose has aromas of butterscotch, caramel, burnt sugar, and roasted malt. The flavor is more bitter than the nose. This deep brown ale tastes of malt, semi-sweet chocolate, and bitter hops. Good mouth feel, comes across the tongue smooth and finishes slightly dry. Great brown ale, Bell's Best Brown is a fitting name.

 381 characters

Photo of bunnyhustle
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle to the trusty pint glass. Pours a hazy dark copper or dark amber in color, I cant decide which. 1 finger off white creamy head, good retention, minimal lacing. Smell was very nice. A nice blend of dark caramel, sweet malt, toasted grain, and even some dark fruit. Taste was good, relatively similar to smell. Sweet caramel, almost a little too sweet, with some toasted grain, and dry malt. Mouthfeel was fine, not too thin but a little dry. Overall a good beer and easy drinker. And I'm not a huge brown fan either.

 534 characters

Photo of mdhkc
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm a little skeptical of brown ales in general. A lot of them seem to taste quite good up front, but then leaving something malty behind that simply lasts too long and quickly goes from tasty beer to a leftover taste that you want to exorcise from your mouth. Happily, Bell's Best isn't a victim of this phenomena. Slightly "warmer" than many other brown ales I've personally tried, this seems like a nice winter seasonal.

Clean is the word I'd use to describe the flavor of this beer all around. The carbonation level seems just right as well, naturally complementing it without overwhelming. Nutty and slightly chocolatey malt notes up front lead into a slightly sweet finish that doesn't overpower. A light body combined with the clean finish makes this beer extremely drinkable on a cool winter's evening, or paired with a nice hearty English beef or mutton stew.

Bottle is stamped with "10/24/11A", so I assume this is a bottling date, but it doesn't specify.

Overall, this beer is an exception among the style in my opinion, and likely my favorite brown ale thus far.

 1,080 characters

Photo of Upgrayedd
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

I could drink this all night! Best Brown is my defination of what an American Brown Ale should be. It pours a nice brown color with a nice thin head that remained throughout the serving. It has a nice aroma of chocolate and spicy hops. The flavor matches the aroma. Aftertaste is so smooth. Makes a great session beer.

My only complaint is that I yearn for a bit more maltiness.

 379 characters

Photo of DAllspaw
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on tap at Some Guy's pizza, always have two bell's on tap. dark amber, not too dark that you can't see through it. Nice caramel malt in smell and taste. A bit of chocolate as well, but heavy on caramel and toffee in the aftertaste. Very solid brown ale, just what it should be, nice balanced malt profile and easy drinking.

 323 characters

Photo of Amalak
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A. A beautiful dark brown, caramel color. It has a big tan head foamy. It leaves a ton of lacing. It has tons of small bubbles that stick to the bottom and slowly work their way up the glass.

S. Very strong nutty scent with a weedy undertone.

T. It has a very lovely sweet toffee-ish taste. A woody bite to it. There is a bit of a burnt aftertaste. Some malty flavoring.

M. Has strong carbonated tingle.

O. Really flavorful. I tend to find brown ales too dull and boring, but this has a real nice flavor to it..

 516 characters

Photo of neonbrown82
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is a damn good brown ale. One of my favorite styles when done well. Quite underrated, IMO. This beer pours to a nice amber brown color, though when held to the light it looks like a hazy amber ale. The head is cream, tan and stands at a few centimeters before receding to a film. A thin soapy lacing slowly drips back down into the glass. No apparant carbonation.

The smell is the weakest link with this brew. Can't smell much at all. A slight yeast cake aroma. A little nutty with some lightly roasted caramel malts.

The taste more than makes up for the lackluster appearance and near lack of smell. Nice burnt caramel flavor with some bready notes. Quite nutty. Sweet malty heaven. The aftertaste fades away very quickly leaving only a hint of a nutty, bready finish. Very quaffable. I'm going to enjoy drinking this often.

 836 characters

Photo of smcolw
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep amber/light brown color. Light passes easily and the beer appears clear. Modest bar-poured head where there is plenty of blanketing lace.

Classic "brown" smell of darker malts without any burnt elements. Light sweetness and slightly nutty. There's a touch of smokiness.

Some caramel sweetness tempered with a hop spice. Smooth but thin body. High finely bubbled carbonation. The swallow is a superior blend of bittering hop and toasted malts. One of the finest aftertastes I've ever had. An overall top-notch brown ale.

 528 characters

Photo of luciusgilmer
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottle poured into tulip glass. I'm a fan of their beers in general, but amazingly had never tried their Brown Ale, which I found to be much better than the others I've had (which admittedly are not many).

Appearance was delightful, rich brown though transparent, nice rich off white head.

Smell was great: toasty, a bit burnt even, but not charred, not unpleasant.

Really good rich, roasted malt taste. I didn't get any hints of caramel or much sweetness, but it was very satisfying.

Mouthfeel: great balance and carbonation; it's rich and bubbly but can be sipped and drunk more quickly (if you like).

D: I wished I had bought more than 1. I look forward to trying again. It's not so heavy as their slow-sipping stout (or any stout, really), and that could make it a good session beer, if a bit on the heavy side.

 822 characters

Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice transparent dark brown color with a huge, frothy tan head.

The nose is of malts and caramel. A bit nutty.

The taste is great, a nice flavorful brown ale that finishes clean. Nicely balanced, I seem to notice atleast some amount of hop bitterness, but its mild, and disappears about as fast as I notice it.

Mouthfeel is great. Nicely carbonated, medium-bodied beer. The head holds on through the entire session.

Insanely drinkable. This is a classic example of one of those great-tasting beers that I could knock back all night without getting tired of.

 570 characters

Photo of nicholas2121
4.14/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bell's Best Brown brewed by Bell's Brewery, Inc with an ABV of 5.80% This brew pours out a brown color with a nice off white head. The brew has the look of root beer. Best Brown is filtered brew you can see though it. There is a lot going on in the smell of this brew. You pick up on rich spices and malts, also some sweetness in this brew. The taste is rich with hops and grains, but it has a nice balance to it. There is nothing overpowering in the taste of this brew. The mouthfeel is bold with flavor with a clean smooth finish. Overall I'm giving this brew a 4.25 out of 5. This was better than what I expecting. I would buy this brew again.

 652 characters

Photo of julian89
4.14/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I found this fairly new addition to Bell's to be a high improvement on several other brown ales I have tried.

Appearance: Obviously a darkish brown hue, lightly transparent. Caramel coloring at the base post drink.
Smell: Clean, not too powerful, not much else.
Taste: Wonderful! This is a perfectly bittered and hopped brown ale. It was not too dry and carbonated either.
Mouth feel: Very smooth, no acid residue aftertaste I get with other brown's.
Overall: Bell's does not disappoint. Their Brown hits the charts once again.

 528 characters

Photo of jadpsu
4.14/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours reddish brown with a tan head that has decent lacing but not even average retention.
Smell is of molasses, maybe some vanillia and some definite coffee notes.
Taste has much of same with some roasted malts and earthy hops.
A little thick on the tongue but creamy as well.
Very good English Brown Ale, my favorite style.

 325 characters

Photo of Back_in_the_Saddle
4.14/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This was poured into a pint glass.
The appearance was obviously a brown color with a one finger white foamy head. Light strings of lace slide into the beer.
The smell starts off with roasty nuts, a faint toffee, caramel goodness and leads into a light sweet earthy bliss.
The taste was mainly sweet and roasty through the previously mentioned flavors. Earthiness does come back to reside in the aftertaste and finish.
The mouthfeel was about a light to medium in body with a great sessionably sweet feel all around. Carbonation ran light and an earthy hop bitterness ran underneath.
Overall, another great beer from one of my all time favorite breweries. Thank you for sending, Kayley.

 685 characters

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 848 ratings.