Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine?

Learn more about beer and save over 53% with a 3-year subscription.

Subscribe 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

836 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 836
Hads: 2,713
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 836 | Hads: 2,713
Photo of Jeffreysan
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a very pretty, cloudy, deep mahogany color with practically no head what-so-ever. What little head there was, quickly dissolved away into a thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass and formed wispy clouds that gathered in the center of the top of the beer.

Aroma: Nice and malty, like freshly baked bread. Strong notes of black pepper, clover and brown sugar.

Taste: Like the aroma, nice and malty, with strong notes of freshly baked bread, coriander and black pepper. Notes of brown sugar-like sweetness follow the malt and spices, and the beer finishes with some nicely balanced hops bitterness. Delicious!

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with some good carbonation to tickle the taste buds. With an ABV of 5.8%, there is no presence of alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is a damn good brown ale! Great balance between malt and sweetness and hops. I’d certainly get it again!

 963 characters

Photo of mchegash
3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - 3.75/5
Dark brown-red, fairly hazy, can see some small particles. A small amount of head. Moderate amount of carbonation can be seen rising up.

Smell - 4/5
Toasty, chocolatey malts, moderate hops presence.

Taste - 3.75/5
Roasty, maybe a little chocolatey, a little smoky. Minor hops presence. Lightly sweet

Mouthfeel - 4/5
Medium-bodied, light carbonation, very smooth.

Overall - 4/5
A well balanced beer. Has a nice level of toastiness balanced with some hops.

 478 characters

Photo of schoolboy
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I'm not sure this is really still their best, but it's a great brown ale ready to drink any time.

It's brown and barely translucent, with just a bit of fizz. Not much aroma, but it is clean. The taste is nicely balanced with not too high a malt profile - just right. The aftertaste is excellent. Nice burp.

This is a great brown for any time, and it will go good with any food. My sample was fully four months old and it is just fine. I think I had this before as I remember it being exactly the same. Great quality stuff that is very drinkable.

 549 characters

Photo of henrichsj
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into a 16-oz pub glass.

A- Beautiful dark amber color, an inch and a half of creamy light tan head that sticks around

S- Roasted malts and some caramel

T- Heavy malts with caramel, almond notes; some slight hops keep it more fresh than other browns

M- Goes down creamy and smooth; nicely carbonated

O- This is one of my winter go-to beers. Delicious.

 382 characters

Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Brown, with a strong red undertone, mostly opaque, but some translucence. Off-white head, short, but sticky and persistent, and very thick lacing.

S - A certain soapy quality, with a grassy hop note, and a foundation of roast and caramel.

T - Mostly bread, dark brown, with a strong roast note that suggests burnt sugars. A mildly bitter close, but nothing too abrasive. As it warms, the hint of soapiness in the nose does make an appearance along with nuttiness in the close, but this is fairly typical of beers I've had in the style.

M - A bit light, but quite easy to tip back.

O - A good beer to tip back over a cold afternoon in fall, this is a decent, subtle take on the English brown.

 702 characters

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

 234 characters

Photo of JLSIV
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a glass, very rich brown, with a decent one finger head, not too much lacing, but decent retention.

Aroma was mostly malt, some earthy tones, I like the fact that it was not trying to cover the type with nut, or spice. Very true and clean

Taste was right on, and very true to the type, allows for the grain and malt flavors to be mellow and show the quality.

Mouthfeel was smooth, full side of medium. very nice drinkable beer. I like this type, and am glad that Bell's works it well.

Overall, my second try at Bell's and I was impressed. Great quality in a bottle, and as I said earlier, good brown ales, need no additional flavorings.

 671 characters

Photo of OldeSchool
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Hazy, caramel colored with a big off-white head that dissipated fairly quickly.
S: Malty, roasted nuts.
T: Follows the nose; Very little bitterness, I detected a bit of maple flavor for some reason. Not strong at all, but definitely there. Need to check this the next time I have one.
M: Medium body and carbonation.
O: Easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing brown. Not the best I've had of the style, but a solid entry.

 414 characters

Photo of FLima
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Light brown color with a thick beige head with great retention and leaving some laces.
Predominant nice nutty aroma but also with some chocolate and a distant toffee.
Likewise nutty flavor with notes of mild cinnamon, some citrusy, light cocoa, caramel and a hint of earth. Dry aftertaste with a mild carbonation.
Light to medium body with appropriate carbonation.
Very pleasant and balanced Brown Ale, quite faithful to the English style, with controlled hop addition. Nice drinkability as well.

 496 characters

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.

 382 characters

Photo of EvoRich
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%

Look: Poured into a tulip because my pints are dirty. Pours light for a Brown ale. Still dark overall. Very dark red in color. A one finger head which fades quickly.

Smell: Right away, chocolate and caramel aromas. Brown sugar aroma.

Taste: A bit of a hop bitterness upfront, Then a touch of caramel, with a chocolate and coffee finish.

Feel: Medium bodied, medium carbonation and easy to drink.

Overall: Not as sweet as I expected, coming from the aroma. The aroma gives off very sweet scent, and you think you're in for a very deep, roasty sweet flavor. I was surprised to see the hop flavor upfront like it is. nonetheless, it's a great beer, just not what I had expected.

 682 characters

Photo of pagriley
4/5  rDev +4.2%

16oz can poured into pint.

A - fantastic mid-tan with hints of rust brown through the light - exactly what i expect from a brown ale. 1 finger head with good lacing
S - Nutty malts with a touch of roast
T- Light caramel with a nice touch of bitterness on the finish. Just a hint, but enough to round out the flavor
M - Light and crisp mouth feel with solid carbonation.

O - Super solid beer. A go to brown ale

 415 characters

Photo of Jonoesh5
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

Toasty, nutty malts the whole way through. However, the deep brown body had some floaties/residue at the bottom of my glass. Overall, I'd be happy to have this beer again, but not one of Bell's better brews.

 207 characters

Photo of BucannonXC5
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Modern Times pint glass
From: Barons Market in Alpine, Calif.
Price: $1.89
Purchased: Oct. 22, 2014
Consumed: Oct. 22, 2014
Misc.: Bottled on Aug. 14, 2014 with a shelf life of six months

Poured a brownish, caramel, hazy color with two fingers of frothy, khaki tan head. Below average foamy spotty lacing on the sides of the glass. Average-to-below average retention. (Sight - 3.88)

Smelled a pleasant whiff of hops up front, which was a bit surprising. Mainly floral hops, but some light non-descript Citra in there as well. Then came the malts - hazel, caramel, toffee, Rolos, Heath Bar, chocolate, roasted honey nuts and light butterscotch. Very nice on the nose. (Smell - 4.13)

Taste wasn’t quite as good as the nose. Got toffee, hazel, caramel, roasty nuts, toast, honey nuts, light black coffee malts, espresso, light chocolate and light floral hops. (Taste - 3.75)

Medium body. Creamy texture. Average-to-lively carbonation. Slightly bitter, abrupt finish. (Feel - 3.75)

The smell was the best part and I had high hopes, but it was nothing that special. (Overall - 3.75)

3.83 | 86 | B+

 1,128 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 Caveworm
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bell's Best Brown - Bell's Brewery, Inc. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, this beer has got a two finger thick eggshell brown head, solid lacing, and a dark clear brown body.

I don't smell any hops, but caramelized and/or roasted malts. This seems like a mellow, savory brew that I can chill on to break the pumpkin brew rut during the fall months.

The taste nearly identical to the aroma, but its also got a slight nuttiness to it. Very great job done here. Jockey approved! ("Shameless UK" fans?)

The mouthfeel is fairly clean with a slight lingering element, but nothing really chewy going on here.

Overall a 4.25 for Bell's Best Brown - Bell's Brewery, Inc. I'll probably pick this brew up again.

 722 characters

Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Rich woody brown body, opaque without cloudiness, grainy tan head. On the pour the head has the sinking/rising qualities of a nitro beer, but ends up being much more course. Bottle art is clean but uninspiring; still, bonus points for owls.

S: Chocolate, smokey toffee, a hint of sweetness. Slight soap.

T: Realistic rich chocolate, toasted malt, that toffee again, and subtle hops resins on the finish.

M: Moderately heavy, commendable smoothness.

O: I'm surprised by how much I like this. Some of the finest malty notes I've ever had, and well-integrated hops, which feels a little ridiculous saying for a brown ale. Small things were a letdown, such as the head and soap on the nose, but still a very enjoyable and even sessionable brown. I'll be revisiting it this season.

 783 characters

Photo of oldirtycaffrey
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

Pours a medium brown with a slight 1/2 inch head that dissipates to just a thin layer very quickly after pouring. Smell is sweet with a robust hint of malt and a slight hint of chocolate and grape. Taste is a little sweet, slightly bitter, with a subtle chocolate aftertaste. Dry finish. Very solid brown ale. Perfect for fall and winter.

 343 characters

Photo of WesMantooth
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance - deep ruby reddish brown with a big fluffy off white head

Smell - roasted nuts, carmel or toffee

Taste - carmel, roasted nuts and malt, toasted bread, slight chocolate

Feel - medium bodied, somewhat creamy feel

Overall - excellent brown ale with an earthy feel and taste. Very easy drinking beer that you can enjoy a few of. A perfect compliment to a cool fall evening.

 385 characters

Photo of BeerDawgs
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%

A - Brown of course, with 1 finger of head and a tiny bit of lacing on the glass

A - Brown sugar, toffee, malts

T - Light malty, toffee and caramel. Brown sugar, but not sweet. Just perfect.

M - Light bodied, smooth, well balanced.

O - Probably the best Brown I have had, no pun intended. Bells kills it once again!

 322 characters

Photo of 57md
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%

Muddy brownish copper. The nose has notes of malt and bread. The flavor follows the nose for the most part. The finish has a nice dry bitterness to it.

 151 characters

Photo of SportsandJorts
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: pours a nut brown color, some brownish hues and some reddish orange hues. a two to three finger tan head with strong retention and a good lacing left behind. fairly hazy and hard to see through but lets quite a bit of light through.

Smell: nutty to earthy aromas, a light fruit ester, along with just a little bit of a roast.

Taste: opens with a slight nuttiness, and earthy hops that play into a lightly roasted malt character. backend has some lightly fruit taste to it.

Mouthfeel: medium to full bodied, light lingering earthy bitterness.

Overall: a well balance brown ale. just right when the days start getting colder.

 641 characters

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.

 360 characters

Photo of sierratwohearted
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%

solid head sticks around for a few quaffs. hazy, light brown color. floral hop aroma mixes with roasted malt/caramel/maybe a little milk chocolate. taste is fairly hop-forward for a brown, floral up front, caramel malt, a little choc. light-slightly medium body. drinks easy. love this one, know its obvious...but another great fall weather camp fire brew.

 356 characters

Photo of kellyej
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%

Bell's Best Brown pours a deep, translucent brown with auburn highlights and very little head. The nose has a full malty caramel note with a hint of toasted wheat bread; there is, however, an underlying bright floral/citrus quality that keeps the beer from being too one note. The mouthfeel is full and smooth. The taste largely mirrors the smell- notes of toasted bread, caramel, sweet malt, and roastedness. Solid beer and great for fall.

 440 characters

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 836 ratings.