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

849 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 849
Hads: 2,806
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: 849 | Hads: 2,806
Photo of crookedhalo
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky coppery brown color with a tan colored head. Definitelt unfiltered. Slightly nutty quality to the aroma, with a light grassiness and some biscuit and caramel-like maltiness. Medium bodied. Residual sweetness is cut nicely with a lightly bitter finish. Trace amounts of diacetyl, which is fine. A nicely balanced brown ale that's easy to drink.

 357 characters

Photo of masterbruewer
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy brown amber with thin off white head and light carbonation. Lots of little particles floating about. Good lacing

The smell is sweet and malty, with a fruity, carmel smell in the back.

The flavor is strong but smooth. You can taste the alcohol, but it's not overpowering. Some carmel and fruity flavors mix about in there. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel is substantial but not thick.

Very drinkable for smoothness and flavor, maybe a bit strong for session drinking.

 484 characters

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mahagony hueud slightly ruddy pour under a huge signature Bells cake like foamy storm. Good lacing lafet in the glass.

Slightly metalic plain yogurt scents. Easy nutmeg, but mildly aromatic overall.

First swigs: Cherry coke & butter pecan ice cream. Yummy sweet caramel ice cream topping like Hershey's Butterscotch. Pecan pie perplexingly complex.

Slightly buttery feel to the brew.

Last swigs: Butterscotch caramel ice cream flavored. This is the best brown that I've ever had. Bells continues to prove to be a success. Some fellow BAs of mine kid around that you will rarely ever say, "Wow! This is a great brown ale!" Well, for once the rare saying fits. To be tried again later if it cosses my path.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

 749 characters

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

12 oz longneck brown bottle, capped, no date.

This beer poured a clear, deep red-brown chestnut color with creamy, tan foam that persisted and clung to the inside of the glass and coated it. The smell was malty with notes of caramel and a bit of hops. The taste was rich and malty with a bit of caramel and a nice hoppiness to balance the malt, and beneath the malt was a light fruitiness. The mouthfeel was smooth and dry with medium body and moderate carbonation. This was a great brown ale, and seemed very much like a German altbier to me. Thanks to feloniousmonk for this one.

 584 characters

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

I've had most of Bell's brews and this is probably my favorite, hell this one is in my top 3 or 4 overall just based on balance of drinkability and taste! This is one great session brew! Nothing too overly fancy, but certainly not bland or boring by any means! This is how brown ale is supposed to be done! This reminds me a great deal of Newcastle Brown in it's subtlety but with just a tad more fullness and a bit more American brashness.

Pours out a nice rich brown with amber tones when held to the light with a decent sized white head that retains through the whole glass. Lots of hoppy goodness to go around with some fruity and fig overtones ending with a nice alcohol kick at the end. Carbonation is just right, overall a very drinkable beer for those who like the subtle style that is English Brown Ale.

This is one I keep in my fridge for year round drinking. A great "go-to" beer.

 899 characters

Photo of santoslhalper
3.69/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearence: Pours a hazy brown with a foamy tan head. Head lingers for a while. As with a decent amount of Bell's brews I've had, there are massive chunks of yeast floating. I know it's a result of the bottle conditioning but I think it's a bit overboard.

Smell: Smells malty and creamy, with milk and coffee notes. The hops make a decent presence, and create nice balance.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Tastes very much like toffee. The roasted caramel notes shine through, and the hops are floral and provide a long lingering finish. The mouthfeel is the normal velvety feel most Bell beers have, but I can actually feel the yeast in my mouth. Maybe just a bad bottle.

Drinkability and Overall: This is very nice tasting beer, but the yeast is overboard. Too much. This is a problem that needs fixed. Other than that I loved the flavor of the beer, and it smelled among the best. Hopefully this is just a bad bottle.

 918 characters

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 mobyfann
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Paid $8.99 for the build-your-own 6-pack at Wild Oats...

This beer pours a hazy brown base with a huge beautiful white head, with excellent retention and very impressive lacing effects of the side of the glass. The aroma is a bt faint of malts and caramel.

The taste is very light, a light malt flavor with a little nutty taste and maybe a touch of caramel, not too bad. The mouthfeel is wonderful, it was never heavy in the mouth and very smooth on the palette. The drinkability receives a medal for it's amazing smooth taste, it's light enough where more is welcome, but at 5.75% be careful, no real alcoholic taste in this one.

Final Thought: My first English Brown Ale was a success, what more could you ask from this first-rate brewery... proud to be an American!

 778 characters

Photo of carln26
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pilsner glass (The bottle thanks to Zac)
It poured a deep brown, mildly hazy with some ruby highlights. There was just a hint of a tan colored head, but the beer leaves a light lace on the side of the glass as I drink. The aroma is dominated by malt. A mild roast aroma up front with slight candy hints on the finish of the aroma. Great balance of roasted malt and sweetness in the flavor. Based on the nose, I was expecting a dominance of roast flavor. It has a surprising balance of roast and sweetness (50/50 all the way). The hops show up on the finish, just there to brighten the flavor a little. This beer has the same velvety mouth feel I’ve had in other Bell products. I can’t wait to try the Double Cream Stout. That will be a smooth mouth feel. A very drinkable beer. A very nice tribute to this style.

 843 characters

Photo of TastyTaste
4.95/5  rDev +28.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I really enjoyed this beer. I would rank this one up with any other EBA that I have had. Deep brown color, that is murky and slightly maroon. Smell is nutty malt and hoppy, reminiscent of hazelnuts. Taste is very malt and full, again very nutty, like a EBA should be. Versus the style, i think this is almost the perfect beer.

 326 characters

Photo of Skidz
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch # 6577

Pours out caramel brown and sits cherrywood brown in the glass with a lofty light tan head, plenty of lacings for everyone. Fades to a light skim.

Smells nice and toasty with caramel, toffee and soft gentle hop aroma. When I first lifted it to my nose, I first though "cottage cheese." Strange the way different aromas are melded together. Still, good malty character.

Tastes mildy sweet up front and slowly picks up bits of hop bitterness along the slow,tortoise like journey of flavor. Faint caramel and nouget and just a dusting of nuts. Hops provide just enough bitterness to please the pallate and lend a touch of leafy green flavors. Slow to the finish, but well-bittered and lingering leafy hop flavors and caramel.

Clean and crisp in the mouth, tact carbonation. Medium body is well suited.

Not a bad brown, in fact, it's pretty damn solid. Consumed with pride and pleasure. A step, at least, above the rest.

 944 characters

Photo of walleye
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured reddish brown with little head.aroma, malts ,choc. caramel. flavor dark chocolate like the kind that covers a chocolate covered cherry, molasses. got a nice sweetness and a little bit of a bite at the end. had nice mouth feel bells does it again for me

 259 characters

Photo of ken3c
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big rocky off-white head. Dark amber in color. Hazy in clarity. The head recedes to a layer that leaves beautiful lacing.

There is a strong malt aroma with caramel notes.

Sweet, fruity, grainy tastes. There is a little bitterness in the aftertaste but mostly grainy malt.

Medium body, well carbonated. Astringent in the finish.

This beer looked and smelled so good. I liked the fruitiness but was a little turned off by the astringency.

 448 characters

Photo of soper2000
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A friend brought over a sixer of this to watch some Trailer Park Boys on BBC. Although not my favorite style what kind of BA would i be if i didn't try one? It pours a solid brown with a rocky slightly off white head which has excellent retention and leaves a nice lacing all the way down the glass. Aroma is rich with a malty nuttiness. Taste was a bit chocolatey and nutty. A bit of wit-like spiciness comes through in the finish as well as something that I can only describe as the Bell's "house flavor." Fairly decent beer and the six pack was finished off in very little time. A solid beer.

 595 characters

Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a cloudy dark copper/bonze with a minimal tan head, but with good lace effect. The nose is of sweet caramel and tofee, and these repeat in the flaor. It is an almost chewable heavy brew with good notes in the finish - almost candy-like. a good all-around drinkable brew.

 286 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Burnished bronze with loads of suspended particles. I may just have to chew this beer. The light brown head is large, firm and is a very nice lacer. Thick, chunky sheets adorn the glass as I drink.

The nose is of caramel/toffee, brown sugar and light molasses. As someone who prefers those flavors to chocolate, I approve in a big way and hope that the flavor matches the nose. It does. I can tell after the first sip that this beer has rocketed to the top of my 'best brown ales' list. A little more body would make it absolutely killer, but it's pretty damn tasty all the same.

Again, the flavor matches the nose: caramelized sugar-covered toasted malt with a little spiciness for good measure. I'm also reminded of sweet, dark fruits such as figs and dates. The sweetness--neither too much nor too little--fades to a slight dryness by the tail end of the long, lingering finish. I repeat, with a heavier body this would be extraordinary beer.

Bell's Brewery continues to grow on me. Brown ale is an often overlooked style that is sometimes short on excitement, but Bell's Best Brown is phenomenal stuff and has impressed me to no end.

 1,148 characters

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 ouncer, long neck brown bottle. The obverse main label is completely different to that depicted in the BA Database. The bottle I have has a much more conservative purple edged gray background label with a beautifully drawn picture of an Owl sitting on a wooden fence post against a winter background. I am not sure what breed the owl is but looks like a Short-Eared Owl of sorts. The reverse label describes the offering as “...Best Brown Ale’s toasty malt character makes it a delicious beer for all types of weather”. Labeled as ‘Best Brown Ale’, but with no discernible freshness date, or even strength listed.

Appearance: Dark brown chestnut body that exhibits a deeply turbid porridge body that is murky and mud like in character. A decent head forms at first, a nicotine stained tan colored creamy cap covering which slips into a broken covering pretty quickly at first but yet it always retains a semblance of head. The first top-up forms a much longer lasting collar that leaves some excellent lacing. The decent conditioning means that a quick swirl always helps to reinstate the head and add to the lacing on the glass walls.

Nose: Nutty with a light warmth. Devon toffee and caramel coated Hops; this has a lovely “nutty toffee” character throughout. Has a light yet dark spicy character in the back end which adds a delicate exotic nuance.

Taste: The start is almost like a Northern English Mild, it has some Dark Mild cum Brown Ale qualities, but for some reason they are reticent to appear at first it seems. It comes into its own in the middle when the toffee and caramel break though in sufficient strength to excite the malty bitterness from the hops to also make a late party entrance in the midnight hour. The strength profile is almost directly proportional to the drink and residence time in the mouth. Light and low profile at first but tasty and wholesome in the back end. Has a dry malty finish. I like this one.

Mouthfeel: The conditioning lends a very smooth creamy feel and supports the malty bitterness that it exhibits perfectly. It does not disappoint.

Drinkability: I say this is most palatable Sir!! A Brown Ale that has an excellent quaffability. This is a seriously great Session Brown Ale.

Overall: On draft, this one would be a serious Winner in the working class areas of Northern England for sure. If it was indeed available, I would most certainly drink it in preference to “that other” readily available version. A jolly decent tipple and one I would most certainly imbibe in 12 ounce sextuplet fashion with little problem or inhibition.

Thanks to the MonkyFeloniousOne for supplying this Bell Ringer of a Brown!!

 2,700 characters

Photo of lackenhauser
3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a somewhat muddy brown color with a nice tight head.Good aroma of malt with great chocolate and caramel notes-a hint of hazelnut?Great flavor-toasted malt,slightly bready.Nice lingering bitterness.Decent mouthfeel.A very drinkable beer-I really like the aroma.Could see this being my regular everyday brew.Enjoy.

 319 characters

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

Pours a sticky light tan head over semi-clear light brownish liquid tinged with some redness. Mellow roasted maltiness with some chocolate and brown sugar notes in the nose. Flavors of bread dough and light butterscotch wash over the palate with a slight tanginess coming in at the end. Finishes well-hopped and nicely roasty. Well done.
Thanks to CRJMellor for another kick-ass trade!

 386 characters

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

I went through a phase this winter in which this was my "regular everyday type" beer. Pours a very nice cloudy medium brown, with a one-finger thick, fluffy tan head. The head diminishes somewhat quickly, but sticks around enough to leave some nice lacing on the glass. Smells sweet, with very nice malt aromas coming forth. Tastes nicely of sweet, toasted malt, with some hints of carmel and perhaps a bit nutty. Smooth and easy drinking, this is a very enjoyable beer. Overall a very nice beer which I would definitely recommend.

 531 characters

Photo of Bierguy5
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep auburn, copper cloudy liquid with an off-white foamy head. The head disappeared quickly, and there was little lacing on the glass. Smells of toasted malt, not much else. Taste of sweetness, followed by a slight roasted caramel flavor. No bitterness. Medium body, nice amount of carbonation. Very easy to drink, very little bitterness at all. Good offering by Bell's. I suppose I would have enjoyed a deeper toasted/roasted flavor, but this one was good.

 466 characters

Photo of Billolick
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, no dating on bottle. NIce soft amber color with an off white head, leaves some lace. Pleasant doughy/malty aroma. Malty/bready flavor profile. Nutty, hints of rye, biscuits, almonds and oatmeal cookies. Moderate hops round things off. This is another tasty offering from Bells. My wife brought a mixed six pack back from Michigan, each beer has been tasty! Wish I could get more of these guy's brews here in NY state.

 431 characters

Photo of CortexBomb
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out a nice deep brown with a moderate amount of head. Smell is mainly malt dominated.

Taste is deep and satisfying; the malts from the aroma are there in quantity along with an appealing hop bite. Coffee, and nuts as well as a fruity tinge are all present as well and it finishes smoothly, nice.

Mouthfeel is good and thick, while the drinkability is right up there.

A fine winter offering from Bell's.

 417 characters

Photo of merlin48
4.69/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Yup. The 12 oz bottle with the inquisitive owl on the label. This is one of the few reviews I've written without knowing anything about the beer, or reading other reviews. It pours a muddy, dark, iced tea color with a tan head that likes to hang around and mingle, and sheds some lasting, patchy lacing. Nice aroma of dates, and a few other dark fruits....followed up by a shower of floral hops and some soothing pecan pralines. Wow...! Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, nutty, well carbonated, and has a mild hop bite. Taste is out of this solar system. Bittersweet spices smeared onto some banana nutbread, chocolate fudge, some smoked kalamata olives, and some pleasant bittering floral hops. Geeez..I wasn't expecting much to write about here, but this one has blown me off the planet. Beautiful and complex, it finishes with a bitter cocoa taste accompanied with a touch of mandarin orange rind burn. Also, there is a smoky, wood aged feel that is difficult to explain, but adds to the surprisingly noble character to this Bell's offering. Wow!

 1,047 characters

Photo of yankeeheel
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice slightly hazy brown with the requisite 1.5 finger tan head. Head quickly fades and leaves a small centric sheet of lace.

Smells weakly of toasted malt. Maybe a hint of yeast or bread.

Tatses awfully sweet up front. A lot of buttery caramel with a backsplash of toasted almond. Runs it's course and leaves slightly dry with a mininal hop afterglow.

Mouthfeel is again moderate with the right amount of carbonation.

Very drinkable but no world-shaker. They can't all be.

 495 characters

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 849 ratings.