Best Brown Ale | Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

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Best Brown AleBest Brown Ale
Very Good
3,167 Ratings
Best Brown AleBest Brown Ale

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
A smooth, toasty brown ale, Best Brown is a mainstay in our fall lineup. 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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-10-2002

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,167 |  Reviews: 936
Photo of jaxon53
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Photo of Wizzman
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Michelleroo
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Lot be fair, I poured it too hard accidentally so...flattish. But my husband’s glass still had carbonation and what I did try was fairly tasty. Not enough to get me to buy more but I liked it.

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Photo of beersampler6
3.71/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A very nice brown ale that was both flavorful and easy to drink. Nice brown color with just a little lingering head. Smells of roasted oats, malt, grain, some caramel and vanilla. Tastes similarly, along with some nuttiness that’s well-balanced. Maybe just a trace of some hoppy bitterness. Smooth mild mouthfeel, good carbonation.

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Photo of lastmango
3.69/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Unclevince
3.72/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of PJCarnell
3.81/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of JimboBrews54
4.65/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Dantefire
3.84/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of TDougher
4.17/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of cjgiant
4.06/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of jvgoor3786
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of ZenAgnostic
1.42/5  rDev -62.9%
look: 5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

12oz bottle poured into Duvel tulip. PKG 08/08/2018 printed on bottom right corner of back label. Rare format, I feel special. Anyway this one is 2 months old so it should still be plenty fresh. Spoilers this beer was shockingly bad so here's some additional info stamped on bottom of the bottle in case it's of some use to the brewery: PRN: 22280. The back label says its shelf life is 6 months so it's still got 4 months left in its life expectancy, unfortunately it may be dead on arrival.

Appearance - Absofu**inglutely massive tan head with great stick and decent retention and thick patchy lacing. Very hazy mahogany brown body with tons of carbonation. Can barely make out shadows on the other side, even with a light source behind the glass. 5

Smell - Dry cardboard. Literally sniffing boxes out here. I mean not literally but trust me. It's some dang cardboard. I'm really disappointed the smell didn't live up to the appearance. 1.75

Taste - Soy sauce. Nasty. This might be infected to be honest. Very dry. Bitter. Cardboard. And as I continue drinking it the soy sauce character recedes into the background behind its other nearly equally unappetizing characters. 1

**WAIT WHAT** Being now thinking this is infected, I look into the mouth of the bottle at the bottom, with a light source behind it. And I see what looks like some kind of thin film of sludge or some kind of strange residue slowly cascading down the bottom of tilted bottle.

Mouthfeel - BLEH. I'm too grossed out to think straight. But it is pretty bad. 1

Overall - Get this out of my face. It's either infected or otherwise a bad batch, or just straight up a terrible brew. 1

 1,663 characters

Photo of Korbynlehr
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Rockhead
4.02/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of SB2017
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

While the deep, dark beer with a bubbly tan head is attractive, brown ales have never been my favorite to smell. Quite metallic, a bit like old coffee grounds. The flavor is a little metallic as well, though mild and toasty. Not much of an ale, though savory and interesting enough to keep drinking. Medium on the tongue, but with enough carbonation to be satisfying.

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Photo of Livyatan1996
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of jrc1093
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled on 8/15/18

Pours a dark brown with a reddish hue and capped by a finger of off-white foam; good head retention, and even more consistent presence remains at the surface while leaving rings of lacing to wall the glass nicely.

Aromas of deep milk chocolate and semi-bitter cocoa backed by toffee and salted caramel, with a bit of vanilla and light plum on the finish; the malt backbone is very subtle, but offers a firm foundation from which the sweet tones are balanced with a deftly-placed, malty bitterness; evocative, delicious- smelling bouquet.

Taste sees the raw malt profile become a bit more assertive; cocoa powder, baker’s chocolate, plum skins, crisp hops, and caramel malt all hold an even influence on the profile.

Mouthfeel shows a light body with medium carbonation that adds a necessary heft to the overall product; can still feel thin at times, but I’m finding this hints to a more refreshing character as much as it does a ‘weaker’ body; crisp, and really embraces these refreshing aspects.

Very good brown ale producing some incredibly evocative notes; a wild ride from the bursting, almost dessert-like bouquet to the maltier flavor profile with hints of bitterness, this has a ton to offer, and is really enjoyable to drink because of it.

 1,279 characters

Photo of GreenDragonPurse
3.56/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a rich, medium-dark brown, like the color of a fallen leaf, with a thick parchment-colored head. This is the beer version of "comfort food." On a heartiness scale, a 5 out of 10. It's the kind of beer a squirrel might bring you.

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Photo of BlueTomorrow
2.22/5  rDev -42%
look: 3 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Photo of ichorNet
4.54/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I've been very impressed by Bell's darker side of ales so far. That might sound a little silly in 2018, especially when it comes to this beer which was first released thirty years ago, but I'm just now having it for the first time and place it above Tumbler when it comes to Fall seasonal browns. I consider this my new favorite in that little sub-section of beers (even when pitted against my previous favorite, the rather local/regional Henniker Flap Jack) and consider it one of the best browns I've ever had. In other words, it lives up to its name.

The pour is a beautiful deep amber color with brownish ruby highlights when held up to light. If this is poured a bit too quickly, as I did when I excitedly cracked my first bottle open, an intensely cascading head can occur and overtake even the largest drinking vessel. If poured more moderately, however, the head is a beautiful corona of beige foam atop the deep brown liquid. Some slight lace is noted, for sure, but the legs are the real feature here... this beer's head just lasts and lasts. Really great pour.

The nose is rich with caramel and Belgian chocolate elements along with light/medium-roasted coffee. The herbal and slightly pine-y American hop note definitely comes through a bit as a foil to the deeper maltiness present here, which I appreciate. It doesn't crowd out the proceedings at all, but it does lend some helpful balance.

The flavor is really intensely detailed with a multi-layered grain bill that delivers waves upon waves of sticky toffee goodness backed up by subtle roastiness and light flavors of cocoa, coffee and herbal hoppiness. Some people actually seem to find this too hoppy for its own good, but I think it's right where it needs to be for the style as it is in the modern day. As someone finally having this after it's been out for thirty years, I'm sure it's more than a little different than it was back in its heyday, but I respect Bell's for keeping it fairly well updated for the modern palate without sacrificing what it is.

The feel is silky-smooth and super detailed, with velvety maltiness and a detailed, subtle carbonation. Body is pretty light for a brown, but it's not weak by any means. Quite the opposite, honestly... I think this is one of the most well-constructed brown ales I've had in years. It's an easy drinker that masquerades cleverly as a session ale despite being almost 6%... deviously drinkable and really, really good!

 2,449 characters

Photo of stanale
3.19/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Photo of roarkty
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of bobv
3.99/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Moderate pour yields a one inch light tan head over a brown body with some lacing. Nose of chocolate, dark malt, and a bit of caramel. Taste mirrors nose nicely with a bit of hop bitterness on the finish. Nice feel and overall, an excellent brown from Bell's. Cheers!

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Best Brown Ale from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 3.83 out of 5 with 3,167 ratings