Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting 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

850 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 850
Hads: 2,813
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 20.31%
Wants: 95
Gots: 367 | FT: 6
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: 2,813
Photo of gmcfarre
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Batch 7227 - 12 oz bottle poured into Sammy Smith pint glass

A - Pours a nice clear (yet dark) reddish nut brown, that proves to be even more ruby-esque when held up to the light. Head was about 1/2 inch but it fades quickly to leave a thin layer for the rest of this little beers life.

S - Not strong, but nicely pleasing. Mild malt combines with a nutty freshness, with just a touch of fruity sweet.

T - A very balanced and drinkable brown ale. Malt is the strongest contender, but the aftertaste leaves some nutty notes behind. Sweet, but not overly so.

M - Smooth, with a nice mouth coating effect. As easy going down as it is throughout.

D - Intensely quaffable. I think I drank 3/4 of it before stopping to think and take notes. A beer that I could drink every night and not be disappointed.

 813 characters

Photo of russpowell
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

pours caramel with a 2 fingers plus tan head. Good lacing & minmal head retention

Smell: Malt and slight nutiness

Taste: Big sweet maltiness followed by nuttiness & fruittyness. Almost taste a tinge of vanilla. Finishes fruitty & quenching

MF: Light with good carbonation. Shows great balance

Very easy drinking brown, good session ale IMO, a good brown. My 1st beer from bell's, pretty nice

 403 characters

Photo of Oxymoron
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a hoot. Best Brown (as if they had a worse?) pours a chestnut brown color with darker shades. A good frothy white head that remains for the whole sampling and leaving limited lacing.

The smell is malty with a every presence of Bell’s yeast strain. Some bready and lighter grainy malt notes. Accents of caramel and a splash of roasted on the side.

The taste is very rich and good malt backing. Now I see what they mean best. Some marris otter and roasted gives a robust taste. A nutty and caramel flavor up front. Finishes with some toasty and caramel flavors. Some earthy bitterness is noticeable but is second to the malt backing.

The body is mid to high. Good dextrin flavors. Carbonation is light but overall a good beer indeed.

 746 characters

Photo of Crosling
2.36/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle purchased at the old brewery about 2 weeks ago. Bright copper color, with a small head. Very apparent oxidation in the nose; lots of sherry and wet cardboard, with light malts, honey....etc...but not much besides oxidation. Oxidation is less present in the flavor, thankfully, which I usually tend to experience in my tasting. Honey and dark malt flavors. The oxidation ruined the beer. I wouldn’t rate it, except that I purchased it the brewery a week or so ago.

 471 characters

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.

 1,010 characters

Photo of belgaridub
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a medium to dark brown with a tinge of red and a thin, tan head that quickly goes away. The first smell gives the impression of sweetness and the taste delivers on that, with a good malty character all the way through and then a small taste of hops as well for the finish. The taste is very balanced, with nothing dominating the palate. It feels light and smooth in the mouth and is generally very tasty. A good, relaxed beer that doesn't overpower, and definitely pleases.

 479 characters

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

pours a light brown colour, with a 1/2" of tan foam on top. the head fades quickly to a ring around the glass.

aroma is malty and nice. smells like multigrain bread. slightly fruity.

taste is much like the aroma. slightly bready/biscuit character. just a hint of alcohol presence is notable. slight bitterness, but nothing major.

body is good, not to heavy, not to light. very drinkable.

overall very tasty and an easy drinker.

 439 characters

Photo of beveragecaptain
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle. Bell's Brown Ale pours out a dark amber color with a medium sized head. The aroma is toasted malt, fruits (especially grapes), and floral hops. Nutty, spicy flavor. Not as malty as I expected, but the maltiness is definitely there. Toffee flavor, but not overly sweet. There is a bit of an acidic twang in the middle. The finish is hoppy and bitter. This beer has a creamy mouthfeel, which I really enjoyed. Drinkability is good too. This is a fine example of the Brown ale style.

 497 characters

Photo of karst
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sometimes everything comes together when you create a beer. If you are skillfull, persistent and often just lucky you get a beer like Bell's Best Brown Ale. One of the beers that I wonder if I am worthy to review. Working on the second sixer and still finding more that I like. My overall impression is that all the components are fused into a single entity like an ancient Canadian shield monolithic boulder that has resisted eons of weathering and nevertheless still allows one to enjoy its individual components that have combined to form its crystalline metamorphic structure.

Pours a clear ruddy brown with a dense light tan head that playfully laces my 0.4 L rastal tulip. Aroma that combines Bell's signature esters with earthy and citrus. Its a clean complex aroma that suggest chocolate, medium crystal and biscuit malts. Of all the temperatures I have tried this Brown beauty, 50°F to room temp brings my the most enjoyment. An unique dry finish inspite of a sweet caramel start and fruity middle that features a solid medium body with that dextrine filled mouthfeel you always hope for.

The third attemp to review - guess I will let it stand rather that delete it as I did the previous ones.

A must try!

 1,225 characters

Photo of heyitsbyron
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a single from Woodman's in Madison into an imperial pint glass.

Poured thin with a quickly dissipating head. The ruddy brown color was nice, but it didn't scream "drink me" like it should.

Smelled boozy and fruity, kind of like bubblegum. I kinda liked it.

Taste was weak and washed out. Nutty and malty and first, but very watery when it should finish strong. Aftertaste is slightly yeasy and boozy.

Nothing special in the mouth. Thin but also overcarbonated a little and doesn't have a satisfyingly pleasant linger.

I wanted to like this beer because I like Bell's and I like brown ales, but there's really nothing here to separate from the masses of mediocre brown ales. Not sufficiently distinct or satisfying to warrant drinking again unless it were free or there were no better alternatives.

 819 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep and intense amber color with a finger of off-white head that falls to a full coat over top. Nose is nutty and caramel, with just a hint of roasted malt. I'd even like to see a bit more nutty character to this one. Flavor is working well. Very solid nutty character, with a moderate caramel sweetness and just a light edge of roast. Pretty nice English brown. Feel is moderate with a carbonation on the lighter end of moderate. Bell's always seems to hit things pretty well with their brews. This one satisfies, thought I really would like a stronger roasted character. Not that it detracts from the brew, but it keeps it from what it could be.

 656 characters

Photo of klewis
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

batch 7216

A: Pours a hazy mahogany color with a small foamy head.

S: Toasted malt aromas with a bit of hop bite.

T: Similar to the aroma, smooth malty taste with some flavors of nuts and chocolate.

M: Smooth and slick with a medium body.

D: Very pleasing in all aspects and quite easy to drink.

 310 characters

Photo of CultureJamMN
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep copper color with hints of purple. Hazy, but not cloudy exactly, more like... thinly overcast. Good 2 finger head, retained very nicely, and lacing was excellent.

Smell was almost all malts, very caramel, delightful, but uncomplicated.

This is a tasty, tasty beer! Caramel is strong, great malts. Hoppy bitterness at the end, but it's fleeting, and not overstated. A few hints of dark fruits (plums?) also in there.

This is wonderfull in the mouth. Low carbonation. Chewy, with a very good presence for a brown ale. It feels good enough, and the tastes work well enough that you can hold this in your mouth for more than a few seconds, as it warms in the mouth, it doesn't become thin.

This is an exceedingly good brown ale. The taste is not complicated, just really, really good. Proof that you dont need anything other than great basic ingredients to make great beer.

 894 characters

Photo of maddamish
3.39/5  rDev -11.7%
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 Sammy
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chocolate cabinet brown with creamy head, fresh leaving lace in glass. Caramel, a touch of graininess and roasted barley and molasses and licorice in aroma and in taste. Very easy drink, understated hoppiness and maltiness so just some bitterness and sweetness. Some of each in aftertaste, but more sweet. Creamy mouthfeel. Good example of this style. Thanks Dr. Jay.

 367 characters

Photo of wcudwight
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy dark brown with a 1/4" tan head. Sweet nutty malts and mild hop bitterness in the aroma. The taste is dominated my the nutty malts and balanced out perfectly with a mild hop bitterness. This is one smooth beer. Feels creamy in the mouth. It's also warming and filling. This is a very drinkable session beer that would be one of my regulars if it was available in NC. Many thanks go out to Dertbert for providing me this excellent brown ale.

 455 characters

Photo of DrJay
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brown beer with a reddish hue, the dark cream coloured head was very fine and showed a bit of lace. Malty aroma, some nuttiness with a bit of toffee. Same in the flavour along with mild bitterness and muted hop flavour towards the end. Bitterness really lingers in the finish. Dry overall, medium-light bodied and decent texture. A solid brown ale.

 348 characters

Photo of murphysbleachers
3.38/5  rDev -12%
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 nota
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I really had a tough time finding this beer, but finally got my hands on a sixer. Pours a hazy brown/dark cooper in color. Nice tan head that gives way to good amount of lacing. At the beginning you taste sweet roasted malt. Its has a balance amount of hops. It's finish is dry.I edit my review of this beer after drinking this beer a few time and having a few other brown's under my belt. This beer is just a bit over done for my taste in what a brown should be. To me it borders on being more like a porter than a brown ale.

 526 characters

Photo of objectivemonkey
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 12 oz bottle poured into mug, pours a copper brown with good head lasting a few minutes, shrinking to a thin film for a while, then nothing, with little lacing, mostly following rim of liquid. Aroma, though I found it subtle and hard to define, is nice and of malts, chocolate and toffee, and maybe some brown sugar. Taste is of malts, with chocolate and toffee and brown sugar. The middle has that typical brown ale as I swallow, and has one of the better aftertaste I've observed, smooth and fading to nuts. Nicely carbonated, good body, though a tiny bit pasty halfway through. Forget the session beer ABV cut off at 5%... I'd drink this beer all night long.

 663 characters

Photo of Frozensoul327
4.37/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Didn't think i'd be fond of this one... Whatdya know. Pours out to a dark reddish tea color with a nice dense, tan colored foam head. Lacing is present. Aromas of hops, strong notes of toffee and some malt blend well in the nose. Taste is mild and slightly complex; flavors of roasted malts, light creamed coffee, some nuts and cereal grain. Nice. Aftertaste is utterly delicious. Smooth and nutty. Wow. Mouthfeel is nice, carbonation keeps the flavors flowing and the tongue entertained. Good drinkability. Perhaps the best Brown Ale i've had yet. The only change I would make is to lower the alcohol, as I felt it was just a touch too present at times. Still, a very good beer. Recommended.

THE BLOODHOUND FACTOR: Due to the subtle nose, neither hound was immediately interested. Peaches tasted it, and decided she could take it or leave it. Benji didn't even seem interested.

 881 characters

Photo of twelvsies
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought a mixed case of Bell's while visiting the folks, seeing as I can't get it in Boston. The brown is pretty solid. A nice, dirty, rusty brown amber color holds up a decent head which leaves a thin layer of foam on top for quite some time. Smells of lightly roasted malts under a nice array of nutty, carmelly, brown sugar aromas. Taste is solid, but perhaps a little bland compared to the smell. Still interesting enough though. All of the nutty, carmel characters mix nicely with a definate English style hop profile, mellow and spicy. Perhaps just a tad thin or watery around the edges, but nothing too much to complain about, this is a good beer.

 653 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Charlie's Ale House in Wheaton, IL has this beer on tap!

Appearance- A slightly hazy even brown with a one finger head at time of serving that dissipated into a filmy foam.

Taste- A light malt character ende with some hops to even out the bitterness. A feww chocolatey moments were present.

Mouthfeel- A smoothly carbonated, medium body.

Drinkability- This beer would be could for a couple of sessions.

 417 characters

Photo of GuinnessSmurf
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: The pour is an inviting auburn, copper colored body with a rich ruby glow. The head is very full and foamy, with a milk shake head consistency.

Smell: Smell is very clean, fresh smell...like moutain air coupled with a sweet plumb and crabtree odor.

Taste: It is very smooth. There is really fruity, sweet presence throughout, and it stays for a long time on the tongue. Surprisingly, this beer lacks much in the way of roasty flavor, which I have come to expect from Brown beers. Closest would be a bit of nut flavor, but even that is pretty sweet - like a cashew.

Mouthfeel: The body is a very large feel. It takes a big weight on the tongue and coats it, allowing you to really get a sense of what this beer is about. I appreciate that it didn't sacrifice body at all here.

Drinkability: The beer is a smooth drinker and great for sessions. It is also moderate in terms of alcohol content, so you can really hand out with a friend...say..over a game of chess, or maybe some Dead or Alive 3, or maybe play Bach fugues and preludes...and still drink lots of them.

 1,090 characters

Photo of bahumutx
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Poured a dark copper color. Had a two finger head that dissipated rather quickly.

Smell: Smells of Carmel, toffee, nuts, and malt. A sweet smell with a small hint of hops.

Taste: Starts with a taste of Carmel and then moves to a toffee and malt sweetness. End with a slight hop bitterness and a nice sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth Mouthfeel with the right amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. I could have a few of these in a sitting.

This is my second English brown ale and I like it. Another great offering from Kalamazoo Brewing Company!! Keep up the great work.

 658 characters

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