Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

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

819 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 819
Hads: 2,637
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 9.61%
Wants: 91
Gots: 281 | 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: 819 | Hads: 2,637
Photo of Knapp85
3.38/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out as a brown color with some red highlights in it. The head doesn't really do too much for the appearance here. The smell of the beer is a little sweet and just a little bit of roasted grains on the nose. The taste of the beer doesn't give off too much of a nutty flavor, it actually had more of a roasted cinnamon kind of flavor in there I think. The mouthfeel of the beer was decent I though nothing too exciting though. Overall it's not a bad brown ale, but I can't say it's my favorite. (509 characters)

Photo of Kenye
3.38/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a pint glass. Date on bottle 9/24/12.

Appearance - Pours a nice reddish-brown color with a little light tan head that quickly settles to a persistent film. Average lacing. 3.5/5

Smell - Nothing strikes me about this. It just smells like an average brown beer. 3/5

Taste - Nothing strikes me here either. Honestly it tastes more like an Amber than a brown. I hardly taste any of the sweet roasted malts I was hoping for. There is also no nutty character. Nothing offensive. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel - It's very easy to drink. You could pound several of these if you weren't paying attention. Again, nothing special, but nothing offensive. 3.5/5

Overall - Nothing about this beer really stands out. It's just an average beer. I don't see any need to seek it out, but if you see it around and want to try something different you won't be disappointed. I personally want more sweetness or nuttiness out of a brown ale. 3.5/5 (944 characters)

Photo of murphysbleachers
3.38/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From a 12oz bottle given to me as a sample from the distributer into a pint glass:
A: Kind of an unexpectedly rocky head. A cloudy dark walnuty brown color, couldn't quite see through it. Different than any other brown ale I've had, but makes me want to drink it.
S: Nutty & malty, on first whiff there was some hops that I didn't expect, but it went away.
T: Seems a little hoppier and maltier than I expected. I should note here that I had a Sam Smith's Nut Brown the night before and this (as I think most would be) is just a let down afterwards compared to that beer's more subtle and delicious flavor. Maybe I would rate it better if I had a Newcastle the night before instead.
M: A little oily, ok carbonation, & generally pleasant.
D: Okay beer, could drink a bunch in a sitting, but would probably pick another brown ale, if I had a choice. I might revisit this one to double check my thoughts on it when Sam Smith's Nut Brown isn't my most recent beer memory. (973 characters)

Photo of battlekow
3.39/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

My bottle of Bell's Best Brown had a bit of a carbonation problem; none of the other beers it traveled with had a similar issue, so I'm pretty sure it was unique to the Best Brown, which exploded upon decantation. After the huge, beige head subsided, the Best Brown was observed to be a turbid maple color.

Smell is pretty faint, with just a touch of caramel, brown sugar, and must. Taste is again rather muted, and reminscent of an Oktoberfest, in that it's all caramel malts and mustiness. Does have a subtle toasted finish. Hugely fluffy mouthfeel owing to the crazy carbonation. Completely lacks the roasted, nutty, baby-porter/stout characteristics I like in a good brown ale. Nothing much to see here--it may be Bell's Best Brown, but it's hardly the best brown overall. (780 characters)

Photo of david131
3.39/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- This is how a beer should look. Clear, brown/ ruby/ orange/ amber. Beautiful, thick pancake of a head that never settles down and allows me to see the surface of the beer. Leaves some great lacing.

S- A little bit grassy in the nose with some sweet caramel, nutty malt presence.

T- Same as the smell but with a noticeable bit of cocoa powder taste to it. I can't help but pick up the slightest bit of burning plastic. A lot hoppier than expected.

M- Has a little bite to it and with all the carbonation is pretty light on the tongue.

D- Not really a session beer in my book, but a worthwhile beer to try. (620 characters)

Photo of maddamish
3.39/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drinking this beer and reviewing it is going to be simple. It is best described as a 64 Chevy with a Yugo engine. The beer looks nice when poured. The head was a beautiful medium but quickly disappeared and did not lace at all. It was a cloudy amber in appearance and despite the non-existent head it was nice to look at.

In the nose you have this great symphony of smells competing with each other and I was really looking forward to drinking this puppy. Present were some of the strongest caramel notes I have experienced in a beer. Lemon and tea leaves were in the background lending their harmonies. What you have here folks is what I like to call a "Good smelling beer!".
Taste: a disappointment. It was a bit watery on the palate and a bit bland. There was some hop and malt thing going on but nothing that fully developed. Not even at room temperature could I coax any sort of strong flavors out of this one.

One of my first Bell's and I have to say this one fell short of expectations.

Notes: Not a bad beer as far as brown ales go but it doesn't do anything to make me go out and buy it again. I am glad I tried it but I think I am still on the quest to find the perfect bottled brown ale. (1,201 characters)

Photo of tigg924
3.4/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: leather brown in color, 1/3 inch head, clear, high carbonation

Smell: toasted malt

Taste: sweet caramel malt followed by a hoppy, earthy middle and finish that mixes with the malt

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, medium high carbonation, sweet start with a medium bitter finish

Drinkability: A slightly above average to average English brown. The mix of hops to malts is fine but this beer is indistinguishable from others I have tried. One that I would have again if I am in the mood for a brown, but nothing I search for. (533 characters)

Photo of morimech
3.4/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper that has a slight haze. A small head forms but quickly disappears to a small cap. Some lacing is evident.

It smells of caramel and a slight spice. Maybe a little toasted malt and hops show up to. It is hard to decifer.

It is mostly malt in the taste but with a slight hop bitterness on finish. Neither of which is very strong and overall this beer has a weak taste. It also is a little thin but carbonation is decent. This isn't a big brown ale but enough of the beer is done well to make it one to at least try. (534 characters)

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.4/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Different brown than I am used to. Looks a lot like the average English brown you'd come across - dark tawny color - fairly clean through - perhaps a little too clean for my eyes, ordinary-looking finger-width off-white head (slowly dissipated), light-to-moderate lacing. This was served in a classic tulip glass, by the way, which I thought was a little odd.

Nutty (oily) and lightly caramel aroma. Not much of a hop presence, certainly not bitter. Soft toasted touch.

Bold, nutty flavor dominates the taste - masks the malt characters a bit, of which I perceived as slightly weak. Subtle fruitiness, light toasty notes, and a surprising degree of alcohol present as well. Moderately soft, clean feel with a fairly dry finish that reminded me of some Belgian pales.

Overall, a refined, somewhat reserved example of a brown. Looks as though "drier" and "nuttier" aren't all that uncommon among certain browns - suppose I just haven't come across too many of them and/or they didn't make much of an impression. Either way, this was a nice ale but one I don't see revisiting. (1,076 characters)

Photo of BeerNutz324
3.4/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass

Ap- a cloudy brownish amber with about a 1/2 inch off white/light brown colored head that dissapates fairly quickly.

Ar- all I can smell is sweet malts and maybe some caramel or toffee.

T- sweet roasted malts. I can definitely taste the english influence on the malts. Just like the nose I think the caramel or toffee gives this beer a little bit of sweetness.

M- light/medium body with normal carbonation for this style.

O- a good beer. Not as good as I expected coming from Bell's but good none the less. Nothing against this beer but it was nothing special and I honestly don't know if I would buy it again. (648 characters)

Photo of ImusBeer
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Out of the tap a dark brown with little lacing and no head to speak of.

Aroma was mostly nothing, maybe raisin? Taste was a lot of malt, molassas, raisin and some sweetness, not as much as some Brown Ales I've had like JW Dundees.

It was light with really no carbonation, just too low. It's a nice brown ale, not very sweet like some others but not as bitter as most English Brown Ales. (388 characters)

Photo of jdhilt
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a two finger light tan head that fades to a thin layer leaving some lace. Cloudy amber color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Slight malty nose. Starts sweet with caramel overtones, becomes more balanced with smooth finish but somewhat bitter aftertaste. $1.89 for a 12oz bottle from Chalet Party Goshen, In. (326 characters)

Photo of NonServiam
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle purchased from a convenience store in Chicago.

Poured into a pub-style pint glass. Color is a dark amber or leathery brown, translucent to opaque. Copper and orange is apparent if held before a light. Head began life at about two and a half fingers, quickly shrank to half a finger, which persisted through the tasting. Head is medium to dark cream, with a hint of orange. Laces moderately well.

Aroma is nutty and sweet, reminiscent of caramel or toffee. Flavor is similarly nutty and sweet overall, but with a distinct bitter dryness on the finish. Not very hoppy -- this bitterness at the end is the main hop component. Some notes of toast and bread are also detectable, but the whole is not terribly complex. Complexity is not really the point, though -- it's very soothing, warm, and pleasant without being too bold or provocative. Mouthfeel is spot on, silky and slightly tingly with carbonation.

This is a pretty good, but conservative -- staple, even -- example of the style. (1,000 characters)

Photo of FanofHefe
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice dark brown with a solid one finger creamy head. Good lacing. Very little aroma, a little nutty smell.

Solid flavor and very smooth. Light caramel and nutty flavors. Not overwhelming in carbonation and slight coffee-like bitterness in the aftertaste.

Solid brown that is easy to drink. (299 characters)

Photo of granger10
3.42/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark brown color with a small tan head that left quickly. Smell was quite nice of toffee and caramel and some roasted nut flavor. The taste was somewhat similar to the smell except for a mouth-puckering astringent flavor that came and stayed in my mouth for the duration of the drink. I don't know if this batch was spoiled by something but the flavor could have been really good had that flavor not been so prevalent. I'm going to try this again at a later time. (472 characters)

Photo of elephantrider
3.42/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Reddish brown, tan head. I would have liked it darker.

S: Lots of bready carmel. Some toffee. A little nutty and chocolatey.

T: Carmel with some toasty characteristics right off the bat. Then some chocalate and nutty flavors. Finishes slighlty hoppy.

M: Medium bodied

O: Pretty decent beer. I dont like to drink more than a couple of these at a time as I move to other more interesting things. There are a couple more Browns that I like better than this. (462 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Triple Rock Social Club.

Definately an English brown, as it's a mellow tasting beer. I don't know what's "best" about this. I don't get much complexity of flavor, just some nice chocolate malts. It's nice beer, don't get me wrong, I just wouldn't invest in a 6'er. It is a nice stepup from Newcastle, however. Give it to a friend as a gateway beer. (365 characters)

Photo of jwhawkins81
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Batch #9561 bottled on 1/26/2010 tasted on 4/22/2010

Aroma - Rich maltiness with a touch of sweetness. Not a lot of hop aroma but maybe just hint on the nose.

Appearance - Dark reddish brown with a thin light brown head that quickly dissipated. Good level of residual carbonation following the pour.

Taste - A maltiness that isn't too sweet or even dominating the flavor. Slight hint of hard water minerals and a touch of astringent alcohol like flavors. Over the entire bottle the flavors smoothed out to a nutty brown goodness

Notes - Not bad but not great either. The mouthfeel was just OK. (597 characters)

Photo of rembrant
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour- As much head as you want,fairly substantial rich cream tops a medium brown body

aroma- in a nicely English way,the main scents are fresh bread crust,oak lumber,and bits of toffee nut with hints of yeast.

Taste- pleasent, though in the effort to be a rather dry English style it avoided and muted any clear cut sweet malt side as well as the more flavorful American type hops. So, rather than describing coffee and fruits and pine forest....it's all "Beer".
There's a touch of woody,toffee-nut,and a British-Euro hop finish that does not try to do a notable flavor or long aftertaste.

this one's warmer than one I had earlier but the malt side isn't more assertive,and the carbo seems less. Going for an English pub ale?

Mouth- The Carbonation does fall a bit short and relative to other Browns I've hadthis has the least body and sparkle. It also does not have a real fine finish,just a plain wooden bitter.

drinkability- Actually not bad,would be better with a nicer finish and a bit mor fizz. Dangerously close to flat+watery,and yet i think they aimed at a tradition where that's just how it is.
Pretty good,but Brown is a Genre where there's a lot of beers above 'pretty good".

Picture a photo of a plain man in a gray tweed topcoat with a plain dark blue tie,in front of a gray building and under a gray sky,all looking ever so British,a photo you can guess,is it 1959? 2009? It has that sort of proper,and a bit stodgy quality.

This is the beer that man would drink. Every day. Forever. (1,505 characters)

Photo of spointon
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this one on tap at Galway Tribes on 1/7/2009.

A= This ale poured a medium to dark brown color with a sort of fizzy 1/2" tan head that ratained quite a while.

S= This one had a classic malty brown ale aroma with a bit of faint roastiness and some hop bitterness.

T= Unfortunately weak on the palate, but then that is the style. Flavors much the same as in the aroma, just weaker than I thought they would be.

MF= Light side of medium bodied with a creamy feel despite the average to higher carbonation level.

D= Drinkability was ok, but the flavors would not make me want to have it often. About my least favorite Bell's beer so far. (645 characters)

Photo of Daniellobo
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
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. (1,014 characters)

Photo of malcontent
3.44/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Billowy two fingers worth of cream-colored head sit perched atop a typically Bell's cloudy mahogany body.

Lots of grain husk with understated malt sweetness and a little bit of soap?!?

Rich, nutty malt flavor with excellently controlled supporting hop bitterness. Finish is long and creamy with an emphasis on nuttiness (pecans).

Mouthfeel displays appropriate thickness yet the finish is slightly waxy/soapy again. A weird brown which displays a well above average flavor delivered with amateurish flair. (508 characters)

Photo of warnerry
3.45/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 9/7/11

A - Pours a clear amber/brown with a lot if suspended material and one finger of tan head. Leaves some lacing.

S - Caramel malt with some nutty aroma. A bit of roasted malt.

T - Roasted malt and nuts. A bit of caramel malt and some sweetness on the finish.

M -- Medium mouthfeel with a mix of sweet and dry roast on the finish.

O -- Pretty good, but I have had much more flavorful brown ales. Wouldn't turn one down, but probably wouldn't buy again. (469 characters)

Photo of blakesell
3.45/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed from the cask at boston's 09/18/07.

Appearance- Beer pours a somewhat clear brown dark amber which is kind of strange considering that it is cask conditioned. A 2 finger fluffy head as opposed to the tap of the same beer with a 4 finger head pour. There is slight lacing on the glass.

Smell- Hops upfront and what I can only call the signature cask scent. It seems that all real ales have a certain smell to them that can be picked out above beers in kegs or bottles. A slight maltiness but mostly the hops and cask scent.

Taste- Just like the smell, casks tend to have a taste to them as well. That creamy real ale flavor comes out first then a lingering light malt flavour. The hops are big in this beer and I sense that they have utilized quite a bit of dry-hopping in the cask.

Mouthfeel- Light bodied and creamy with very little to no carbonation. The beer is not sticky or cloying.

Drinkability- Very nice drinkability here. A bit overly hoppy for a brown ale, but I'll let that slide on the beer this time. I'm a fan of the hops used and it goes down smooth. (1,078 characters)

Photo of pasdachuri
3.45/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pretty clear dark copper with a small tan head. Head is extremely sticky and laces well.

Sweet caramel aroma, toffee, slight roast and a touch of hops.

Tastes similar to how it smells. There's a good amount of buttery taste that's pretty smooth, backed up by nutty and malty flavors and a bit sweeter than expected.

Creamy, slightly uneven mouthfeel almost chewy with a mild level of carbonation.

Drinkability is decent as the sweet buttery taste mat become overwhelming after a few. (495 characters)

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
87 out of 100 based on 819 ratings.