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Bell's Best Brown - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Not Rated.
Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,554 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,554
Reviews: 813
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.49%
Wants: 80
Gots: 222 | FT: 3
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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,554 | Reviews: 813 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of deebo
4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-dark brown with light white head that quickly dissipates
S-Roasted malts with touch of toffee sweetness
T-Very good balance of rich malt flavor, sweet brown notes with hop balance
M-Medium bodied-doesn't linger
D-Very good for this style of beer

Bell's as usual has produced a very good beer that is tasty yet easy to drink.

Photo of cjacobsen
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a clear brown with a deep color to it in the middle. Light beige colored head that is about a qtr of an inch. A lot of sediment flakes. Lacing left by the head.

Smells of roasted malt, slight hops. Can't make out much else.

Tastes of dark malt, nut, some caramel. Some slight biscuit in there. The taste is quite good and very simple.

Tastes like a brown. Slight carbonation bite but nothing terrible our out of the ordinary.

This is alright, but not the BEST BROWN I've had. The sediment kind of kills the appearance for me. This is a decent brew, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get this again.

Photo of BeerLover99
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Tan, light brown/ice tea, deep orange tint, 1 finger head, decent lacing in pint.

S: very subtle nut, mild roast, and toffee.

T: nut, caramel, mild sweet front, hint of bitter in finish

M: light/med body, smooth/no aftertaste, very fresh feeling

D: nice session beer, 1st cask beer and it tastes like fresh fruit just picked from the tree. Solid brown ale, not world class, but worth a taste.

Photo of TCMike
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Looked like a dark tea color, with a 1 finger tan head. It had low to medium carbonation.
The smell was of malts, nuts, and a slight sweetness. The taste was the same as smell, but with a sight hop bitterness at the end of the drink, which lingered a short time.
Good beer, not perfect though. Very drinkable.

Photo of r3o
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark red-brown, half an inch head with a little lacing.
S: mostly malt, there's some burnt brown sugar, little hops
T: good balance, built well, you get some nuts in the palate, the aftertaste is sour in the back of my throat.
M: medium body, almost chewy, smooth, with good carbonation
D: easy to drink and pleases, not many surprises though.

Photo of AgentMunky
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pilsner glass.

A: About of finger of frothy head atop a clear mahogany-coloured beer with clouds of bubbles (and sediment?). Neat lacing.

S: Nutty and spicy. Malts and something between toffee and coffee.

T: Tasty, but not exceptional. Dry nuts and almost invisible hops balance against sweeter (light) fruits and substantial malt. The aftertaste is neutralish, but slightly sticky. Fruiter than expected. Delicious and worthwhile.

M: Light-bodied throughout. Refreshing and pleasant. Just heavy enough to seem sturdy.

D: Yet another great beer from Bell's. Recommended for fans of brown ales and/or good beer. Still, not one of my absolute favourites -- in the future, I will probably give this a miss and pick up another Bell's instead.

Photo of DannyDan
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A. Pours a brownish orange color when holding it up top the light. It has a two finger white head that has decent retention and good lacing to it. Carbonation seems good too.
S. The smell is not real strong, but can detect some caramel, malts, and a nutty smell
T. The first thing I taste is a nutty taste, followed by some chocolate, caramel than some hops in the middle and some citrus at the end.
M. The Mouthfeel is a sticky, cling to the tongue and cheeks beer.
D. A medium body beer that is pretty drinkable and would suggest trying this for those that like this style of beer. However, Michigan Nut Brown Ale is the one I prefer over Bell's Best Brown Ale.

Photo of alleykatking
3.18/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz bottle.

A- Pours a reddish brown color. Two finger tan head that shows medium retention. Some streaks and light web style lacing left on the glass. I wish this was a little darker in color bust can't have it all.

S- This has a ton of carmael bready malts mixing in with toffee malts. Light nutty aroma in the middle of the nose. A very light chocolate malt in the ending of the balance this out...with a hint of earthy hop.

T- Caramel malts with a hint of toasted malt in the front. Chocoalte malts with a light nutty flavor toward the middle of the overall taste. Toasted malts come back in the ending with a light hint of bitter hop bite.

M- Medium light mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the style. Toasted malts with some light nutty sweetness left on the palate. Aftetaste is warming alcohol paired with light caramel malts and bittering hops. Medium alcohol drying on the palate. Flavors were balanced for the style. A little off flavor I would say but I can't put my figner on what it is exactly.

D- This beer is pretty good. Nothing over the top with this beer which makes it an average brown ale. I don't really care to drink more than a couple of these before moving onto something else. It's bland and muted at times which seems to be a Bell's trait at times. ABV is a little bit held back but still agressive in the middle to ending of the beer.

Photo of Arithmeticus
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into flared glass.

A: reddish brown; 1-finger head, but abundant carbonation; decent lacing on cup
S: sweet, malty, caramelly smell
T: bright side of flavor spectrum; simple, semisweet, not very hoppy
M: silky, poppy, smooth

very good offering in this genre

Photo of RedSpecial1
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark coppery brown with a slight bit of head that lingers on the edges of the glass. Lots of roasty malt and nutty aromas present. The flavor mirrors the smell, lots of nuttiness and lightly roasted malted flavor, and a bit of yeastiness too. There is a pleasant hop flavor at the end of the taste as well that balances the sweetness out well. The mouthfeel is just right, not too light, not too heavy. Good for sipping, this is a great session beer.

Photo of alrhodesjr
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The beer appears to be medium brown in color, cloudy, with a white creamy head. The beer has appears to have mild lacing in a glass.

It smells of caramels and tastes as such. After the initial carmel taste I tasted the brown which remained after it was swallowed. It is not a "powerful" tasting beer but they is some minor bite to it.

As for the drinking ability of this beer it is excellent. The beer is smooth, and there is not a lingering taste in between sips. I greatly enjoyed this beer and would recommend others to as well.

Photo of birderbeerer
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours medium brown. Held up to the light it is a deep sap color. Two finger head. Loose lace.

S: Yeast, with coffee behind it and sweet.

T: Roasty, sweet, and a little sour. Not overwhelmingly coffee with a tart bite. Caramel malt and a noticeable yeast taste that begins to approach a Belgian style.

M: Somewhat sharply carbonated. Otherwise, smooth with a little sticky aftertaste.

For a 5.8% abv, this beer has a lot going on. Very interesting and very good. Would make for a great fall session.

Photo of AwYeh
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a reddish amber rather than the brown I was expecting, one finger tan head dissipates quickly. Lots of suspended sediment is present (batch #9981 so I assume it's not left over from last year).

S: All kinds of caramel and toffee sweetness are present in the aroma; this smells just like October should.

T: A bit too sweet, caramel overload hits taste buds right away, followed by a nice nutty finish.

M: Lively carbonation and light body, very smooth.

D: Hampered by sweetness a bit, otherwise no problems here.

Photo of PDXHops
2.88/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. Body is decidedly not brown out in the light; deep amber is more accurate. Modest off-white head with a little lacing.

Smells good, muted caramel and toffee with a dusting of cocoa powder and background nuttiness. A bit of leafiness in the nose turns into a fairly powerful bitterness, which is out of style and somewhat at odds with the otherwise nutty and toasty flavor profile. As the bitterness subsides at the swallow, toasted malts and a touch of nuttiness return. Some cereal grains in there as well. Just a hint of chocolate.

Overall impression: Not bad at all, but loses points when reviewed as a true English brown ale. Definitely would have scored this higher as an American version, which honestly seems to be a better fit.

Photo of Anthony88
4.83/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Nice deep brown colored beer with a nice two finger foamy head which is tan in color. As the beer is consumed the head laces down the glass perfectly

S - What you would think of on a wintery day. carmelized malts, a bit nutty and joy

T - Similar to that of the smell, a bit of a caramel and nutty taste with an extremely smooth finish.

M -Carbonation is perfect, body is great..

D - Easily one of the best beers I've tasted out of a keg in a long time. The beer falls down your throat. The only bad part about this brew is the empty glass when your finished. I definitely recommend trying this one, you won't be disappointed.

Photo of thefingluke
4.78/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

just bought a "mini-keg" of this years batch and, kaboom! cocoa biscuity caramelized goodness. i love this beer for it's beautiful brown color and rich maltiness.
it is always a fall/ early winter fav, for a cold afternoon when you have a hour or two to kill before dinner, it's heartiness will tide you over till its time to eat and then goes great with any meal. bells has always done right by me, and i wouldnt expect anything other than great from one of my favorite home town breweries this years batch is just as great as years past. thanks Bells.

Photo of wmtxbb
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into pint glass

Appearance: Nice finger sized head on top of a dark amber brew.

Smell: Crunchy crystal malt grains.

Taste: Toasty malts, carmel and some chocolate. Reminds me of a winter warmer, particularly because of the high alcohol content.

Drinkability: The best brown ale I've ever had, which makes the name perfect.

Photo of rembrant
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

Photo of beerprovedwright
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful two finger head of light brown medium build bubbles. Lace that goes on for days, just an extension of the head up the side of the glass, cling power city. Color is a hazy 19 on the SRM beer color chart. Smells of caramel, toffee, molasses, citrus, and malt. Tastes of coffee, toffee, caramel, citrus, cinnamon, malt, and molasses. Wow great impact in my mouth, cream and whip cream texture with a nice zing from the carbonation. Oh yes I will have to have another please. Good job Bell's.

Photo of Thanby
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, light chocolate color with tan head. The nose is pretty standard brown ale but with a mild citrus note in the malt. Medium malt flavor with a textured malt, a little spicing, slightly bitter roast. Finishes with a fading malt bitterness. Medium body, easy to drink, unique light malt with citrus impressions, pear and apple in the background, overall very delicious.

Photo of JizackFH
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - This beer pours a nice hazy deep brown color. It has a nice 3-finger tan head. The head left behind some nice lacing.

S - This smells sweet and nutty. I can smell some lightly toasted malts, caramel, and brown sugar. The smell is a bit tame but nice.

T - It tastes a lot like the nose suggests. Lightly toasted malts, caramel, some nuttiness, brown sugar and a hint of hops. It is very well balanced , which makes it quite pleasant.

M - This has a medium body and nice carbonation. It also has a rich and creamy quality to it.

D - Drinkability is good. It goes down very easy. I would have no problem drinking a few of these in a sitting. This is a good beer, and I recommend trying it.

Photo of welldigger888
4.65/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ok, this little ditty was gravity poured from the cask into a 1/2 gallon growler
Very nice reddish hues on this purt clear elixer
minamal head with a huge difference in bubble size (pin piont to 1 cm)very minamal lacing but it has some that disapate fast
Very approachable malty aromas with nice light hop and sweet black bread notes
This is a very unasuming brew, blue collar to the core. My grandfathers would be proud!Nice malty up front graininess that yields to a very delicate mild hop. Earthy grain with hints of sweet elixer and hop balance, well done!
Very soft on the palate, I love this about the cask. Cask carbonation, meaning minamal but very pleasant. leaving the brew to stand on it's craft not hiding behind the bubbles.
Pours down the neck like honey dew vine water.

Photo of kkipple
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cask o' this appeared at my local Green's. A no-brainer.

A. Awh shucks, y'know.. it's a brown ale on cask. Low dirty white head, no lace, beer is russet and has a little depth to it. Not totally clear. A deeper red than actually brown, but I'm not complaining.

S. American malts here, easy, some mild roast, brown bread, delicate sweetness, some tame hop character.. it's all very mild and approachable. Cereal-y, hedgerow, damp dirt roads and a shining sun above. Working class and honest.

T. American hops, hopes & malt through and through here. Good blend of gently toasted, biscuity malt that has some sugar left and a slice of bittering, yet reserved cones. A little bit of fruit too, the starchy and sweet kind that makes good juice. This beer isn't one that takes well to picking apart... it just "is". Drinks very well.

M / D. Just a great beer to put back, the very low (cask) carbonation here makes this a Southern Slammer. If you don't know what a Southern Slammer is, don't ask me, I just made it up. Sounded cool. Anyway, this is super easy to drink and enjoy. Really, just enjoy it. Enjoy the delicate and free play of semi-sweet malt that dances with the lightly bitter grassy hops and just put another one back. Enjoy that one too, then call up that friend you haven't seen in 4 months and invite them over to drink with you. I'm going to kill a growler tonight.

Not *quite* as enjoyable as what comes out of the 5-liter mini-keg, this is still the best American brown ale this side of Moose Drool and potentially in the top 5 in the nation.

The kkipple bottom line: (kkbl) : Recommended, no matter the serving type. The next time you see some sucker toting a 6 pack of NewCastle at your booze-dealer, slap it outta his hand and steer him towards the Bell's Best Brown.

Photo of weizenbob
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

People seem to think that brown ale is an inferior beer style but it happens to be my favorite. This 12 ounce bottle was poured into a pint glass. The label tells me that this is batch 9980, which the Bells website tells me was packaged on 8/31/10. An awesome two-finger head tops a caramel-bourbon colored glass of slightly cloudy beer. Head retention remains good with decent lacing also.

Aromas are subtle but many. There is an initial whiff of roasted malts, ever so faintly resembling cocoa. There is a fruity overtone rising to the top of the scent pile. Alcohol is subtly available to the nose also.

The initial kick to the mouth is chocolately roasted malt. It's a bit over-roasted in my opinion but otherwise it's right on for the style. There is a bit of sweetness, but not as much sweetness as I prefer in a brown. These are minor complaints however. There is a good bitterness present from the roasted malts (not a hoppy bitterness mind you). The whole thing finishes with a smoky woodiness that works for this beer. However, there is a nagging bitter aftertaste.

As far as the mouthfeel is concerned, this captures the brown style very well. Carbonation is minimal which allows the maltiness to shine through. However, it's not too malty; it's just malty enough to put some weight to the brew. As stated earlier, the lingering bitterness doesn't help the cause, but it's still pleasant.

So how drinkable is this? Well, if you're not a fan of brown ale, Bell's Best probably isn't going to convert you. It's not innovative but it is a very well done representation of the style that I so love. 5.8% ABV make it an unlikely choice for session drinking and the lingering earthy bitterness means that this isn't for everybody. However, I could treat myself to Bell's Best Brown from time to time.

Photo of woodychandler
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

CAN you believe a 5L CAN?!? I not only CAN, but I have one and I have been awaiting a guest or two to help me drink it. The CANQuest (TM) CAN venture into new territory with the idea that a 5L mini-keg qualifies as a CAN for the purposes of this site.

I am a novice with this sort of delivery system, so I had to a) follow the directions VERY carefully and b) decide on the best pour for it. With regards to b), I tried a straight pour, allowing it to run from the tap into the glass, but I ended up with a massive amount of head, which I kept for myself. I then tried angling the glass and allowing the beer to flow into it without letting it impact the bottom of the glass. Either way, I had a buncha head. Allowing it to settle from its original, light-tan state into something more manageable, I still had a good bit of foam and a lot of sticky lacing to go along with it. The color was more of a ruby-red with NE-quality clarity than a brown, but it still looked enticing. The nose was definitely malty sweet with a bit of maple sugar included in the mix. Mouthfeel was slightly thin but I could tell that it was a sweet brown ale immediately. I am not averse to the style, but after a day of sampling hoppy beers, this really stood out from the pack. Tasty. A steady diet of AALs while furthering The CANQuest (TM) has honed my palate to the point that anything and everything tastes good. The finish had a slight smokiness to it, reminiscent of my PapPap burning leaves in his outdoor brick fireplace when I was a kid. Are you even allowed to burn leaves in this day and age? Man, I am getting old. The young lady visitor who just left laid it on me that she was born when I was leaving for Boot Camp. Oy vey!

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
87 out of 100 based on 2,554 ratings.