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

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86
very good
859 Reviews
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Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-10-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
859
Ratings:
2,879
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
11.2%
 
 
Wants:
106
Gots:
419
For Trade:
5
User Reviews
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Reviews: 859 | Ratings: 2,879
Photo of WVbeergeek
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Deep amber brown hue, we can dub it mahogany with a nice tan fluffy cream head leaves nice scattered lacing as the head dwindles lacing forms a collar.
Aroma: Deep roasted malts give off hints of chocolates and a warming sweetness along with a complementing tone of nut bread.
Taste: The toasted malts form a caramel toasted nut flavor profile and the hops in the finish are very evident, quite bitter for a brown ale not hopped per say just residually bitter.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied brew with a bit of a cloying finish, not as smooth as I was hoping.
Drinkability: Mediocre for the Bell’s lineup but one of the most intriguing brown ales I have taste at the same time, save room for their Two Hearted Ale now that’s a session ale.

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Photo of Star80
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brownish red with a two-inch head that dissipated into nice layer on top of the beer. Bottle had a ton of sediment at the bottom and some is still floating in my beer. Not sure if this is good or bad. The store I buy from turns over inventory quickly and I have no reason to believe the sediment is abnormal for this unfiltered brew. Smells is a bit soapy, with a slight leather aroma as well. Taste is a bit subdued but still has that nice nutty, English toffee aftertaste like a good brown ale should. Mouthfeel is fine. Drinkable but not overly so.

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Photo of axeman9182
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle from batch 10856. It was bottled on 12/28/11 and poured into my petite Duvel tulip.

Bell's Best Brown pours a very nice mahogany, with plenty of red highlights. The cream colored foam quickly billows up to over three fingers in height before slowly creeping down. The lacing is left behind in sheets, and if the head retention were just a little more impressive the looks would be perfect. The nose has plenty of caramel and toasted nuts, but the spicy/herbal hop aroma is just a little too intense/misplaced. My comments for the flavor profile would be largely the same. Some of the classic flavors from the style are nicely rendered, but the hops (which the website calls "American", but I would have guessed Fuggles or some other English varietal) are a bit too forward, both in bitterness and intensity of flavor. The body is nice and full, but the carbonation is just a little too bright for a brown ale. Bell's Best Brown is an alright brown ale, but I can't say I was particularly impressed.

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Photo of association330
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, batch 9382. Bottled Sept. 29, 2009.

A - Pours a deep reddish-brown with a finger of caramel-colored head. Settles to a half-pinky cap with awesome lacing. Cloudy with yeast.

S - Sweet dark malts, with toffee, molasses, a little dark fruit, and a bit of earthy hops. Everything is very subdued though.

T - A nicely balanced, moderately sweet flavor of roasted malts. A swallow of toffee, nuts, and a bit of dark fruit. Coffee-like aftertaste.

M - This beer is thinner than I remember; almost cola-like. Carbonation is on the low end of moderate.

D - Still very drinkable, but not quite as pleasing.

My third review of this, and first since 10/24/2008. In appearance and flavor it is still a nice brown, with considerable complexity when compared to many other attempts at the style. Unfortunately, it seems that maybe they've been watering it down a bit. It could be a case of this particular bottle sitting on the shelf too long, so I'll have to try and find a more recent bottle before the summer months.

10/24/08 Review:

A - Pours a deep reddish-brown with a finger and a half of caramel-colored head. Settles to a pinky cap with a nice spiderweb of lacing. Yeast clearly in suspension.

S - A slight yeasty effervescence, with hints of earth and roasted malt; a touch of hops. Not outstanding, but when was the last time you had a brown ale that blew you away?

T - A nicely balanced, moderately sweet flavor of caramel and roasted malt. A tad earthy, with some lingering hop bitterness on the finish.

M - Properly carbonated (not prickly), with moderate viscosity.

D - Very quaffable, doesn't overpower anything. Would pair nicely with a big fall/winter meal and a warm fire.

I decided to re-review several months later, now that I've seriously gotten into the world of craft brews and understand what to look for. That said, it's nice to find a brown ale with some character, but not so overwhelming that it wrecks the easy-drinking reputation of the style. The modest, but noticeable hop finish really does a good job of balancing out a style that I think is often too sweet. This is my go-to brown ale, and I give it a hearty nod of approval.

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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.

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

I picked up a six pack because I have been impressed with Bell's so far, and also I like the owl on the label.

Poured into a pint glass. Nice dark brown color, small head retention. It has a sweet, malty aroma. Pleasant smell. The taste starts out stronger than I had expected, plenty of malt, only a little bit of hops. At first I was reminded of New Belgium's 1554 black ale. But the finish was disappointing. What started out strong evaporated quickly, leaving nothing but a bitter (but not displeasing) aftertaste on my tongue. I feel that this isn't a very well-balanced beer. It isn't a bad beer by any means, it just goes down a bit too quickly, and doesn't let me savor the flavors for long enough.

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Photo of tykees88
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Picked it up in a bottle as a mixed 6er. Appearance was a hazy darker brown. Smelled very nutty. Tasted alright, almost like drinking a newcastle. Althought, I would probably prefer a newcastle to this. Felt good in the mouth, but just didn't have the slam dunk finish I was expecting. Would drink it again if it was offered though.

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Photo of justintcoons
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip pint.

Appearance
Mahogany brown with 1 finger of bone white head. Good retention and clarity with lively carbonation.

Nose
Caramel, biscuit, and brown sugar.

Taste
Caramel, brown sugar, and light biscuit. Nutty with a light earthy hop presence.

Mouthfeel
Medium-light bodied, silky, and smooth.

Overall
A mellow and easy drinking Brown.

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Photo of herman77
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Khaki colored head that flattened out and formed a collar around the glass. Little bit of lacing. Seems a little lighter colored for a brown ale. Nutty smell that is slightly malty. Taste is pretty much as it smells. Pretty average mouthfeel. Nice and smooth drinkability. Pretty light for this style of beer. Not my favorite brown ale, but pretty good overall.

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Photo of zulufactor
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Nice warm brown color with a half inch white ish head

S- Light smell of hops and nutty malts

T- Malty with a bit of hops and a little sweetness. very well balanced with a nice earthy taste that lingers

M- good carbonation, again feels balanced

D- This is a beer i would pick up again would appeal to many pallets. similar to the Boston logger but with more flavor and complexity.

Due to the balance this beer offers I could be paired with just about any food or meal.

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Photo of AwYeh
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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

on tap at royal tavern in philly

Pours a semi-clear chestnut brown color with a light layer of tanned head on top. Dissolves almost completely, leaving a few spots of lacing on the glass.

Plenty of toasted nuttiness and bread crust in the nose. Caramel and lighter sweetness with some leafy hop notes.

Malty and nutty up front with light sweetness. Toasted notes of chestnut and some faint oily hops. Malt backbone is fairly thick with some bread crust and caramel. Finishes slightly dry and sweet.

Medium body, decent carbonation, slightly chewy and dry on the tongue. A drinkable, smooth brown ale with a nice nutty flavor.

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Photo of Heavenisbeer
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

A: Two finger head at pour, which recedes to a thin patchy barely there layer. A decent amount of lacing. Light caramel coloring. Appears to have medium to medium/high carbonation.

S: Extremely delicate, almost non-existent. Nose hints at a distant fruitiness.

T: Taste is somewhat underwhelming, but in sort of an interesting way--sweet citrus burst on palette at first, but then quickly subsides leaving a sour grape-accented middle (similar to a dry white wine), ending in a bland drop-off. The subtle sourness of the beer is quite intriguing, and doesn't detract but rather adds to its overall quality.

M: Thin, fluid. Well-balanced, similar to other English browns. Mildly bubbly.

D: Certainly a session contender. I could drink a few of these back to back during a brisk autumn day.

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Photo of SykDoc
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured this from a bottle into a snifter. It pours a light tan bubbly head that is quite thin but ends with a good lacing. When held to the light, it is a deep amber/brown appearance.

The nose is is sweet with hints of toffee and chocolate. There are also notes of caramel and malt.

The taste and mouthfeel were somewhat mild to me. Primary notes of caramel and nuts with the caramel lingering. There is a medium to light body with a moderate level of carbonation. I was expecting a bit creamier feel.

Overall, this is a good brown ale. I do think there are several components that could have been better but as expected, Bell's produced another good beer and I will drink it again.

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Photo of harpus
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Nothing special here...medium brown, a pretty rudy color shows through when held to the light. Thin head gone in a flash.

S: Pretty mild...nutty malt mostly. Not any hops to speak of.

T: Like the taste, it's pretty mild and mostly nutty. Certainly nothing offensive, but nothing exciting either. I guess it's just kind of boring, to be honest.

M: Smooth, light to medium carb, mildly dry finish. Again, pretty much mediocrity, although I can't find anything wrong with it either, which suggests a small bumb up from average.

D: This would be great for....I dunno? I'm sure it would be enjoyable in some situation but I can't think of any. It's unexciting, and I probably wouldn't buy it again for the mere fact that nothing makes me say "wow" about it, or even "ooh.

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Photo of clint1019
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Brown in color with a cream colored head.

S - Has a light caramel malt aroma along with a slight fruityness.

T - Caramel malt flavor with a hint, a ever slight hint of hop bitterness in the end.

M - Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

O - Not a bad brown ale. It just doesn't have a lot going on, but I guess you could say that about most brown ales.

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Photo of SolipsismalCat
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Hazy medium brown with lots of bubbles and a two-finger, off-white, foamy head that lasted a few minutes. Okay lacing.

S: Sweet malt. Alcohol.

T: Light malt sweetness and moderate hop bitterness. Roasted caramel malt flavor. Kind of nutty. Bitter finish.

M: Medium bodied with fizzy carbonation. Relatively smooth. Dry.

O: Looks good. Smells kind of weird, but not bad. I was hoping for a nutty more roasted flavor. Not bad overall.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Medium brown colored body with an inch of head.

Bready toasted caramel aroma. Bit of biscuity pale malt blending in. Ok.

Pretty standard flavor profile with a slight emphasis on a less nutty/more estery yeast. Some hints of apricot and some citrus happiness backing the toasted malts. Not bad.

Feels appropriate for the style. My only complaint is actually detecting the alcohol in this one.

Verdict: not my style of choice, although it was in the past. I'd say this one's decent, but not as good as, say, Dogfish Head Indian Brown.

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Photo of BrewIndy
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: This had about a half inch of head after the poor but it went away almost immediately. It has a real muddy brownish red color to it. There was no lacing at all probably due to the head going away so fast.

T: This beer has a great taste. When I drink a brown ale this is exactly what I would expect it to taste like. You can definitely taste the malt in this one. Then it goes into a bit of fruitiness if only for a second finishing with a hoppy flavor. Very tasty.

M: I was a little disappointed by the way it feels in my mouth. Not bad exactly but really just average. If it felt a bit better than I'm sure my taste rating would be even higher.

D: I could drink a few of these.. and I just might ;)

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Photo of JDV
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of ketchepillar. Thanks.
Pours a reddish brown color with a small beig head. Smell is very nutty, toasty and has a great fresh maltiness about it. Taste is nutty, drying and malty with a light hopp bitterness and an almost nutty chocolately taste. Good body to it, and a really nice brown ale!

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Photo of tmm313
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark brown with almost no head and practically no lacing. It was bottled 2 months ago. Looks like a coke in the glass.
S- Caramel, chocolate, roasted malts, dark fruits. Given a good swirl, a grassy, citrus aroma pops out.
T- Light flavors. Follows the nose almost exactly. As it warms, some nice citrus hops come out in the finish.
M- Medium, light body with a pretty good drying effect.
O- This was pretty good. I loved it when I first started tasting beers, but now that I'm trying it again, it is just a little too light for my tastes. I would certainly drink it if offered, but I probably won't be buying again.

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

This is a very malty beer that has an interesting character that is more like a marzen or a winter warmer than a brown ale. Dry finish and light mouthfeel with just enough carbonation to give a slight bite at the end. Not great, but not bad. A bit disappointing coming from Bell's, but who can complain with their other fantastic releases?

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

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appears a dark reddish brown with a creamy one and a half inch thick off-white head. Leaves very nice sheets of lacing down the side of the glass.

Aroma is floral/spicy hops with a slight vague chocolate and caramel. Pretty weak generally.

Taste begins with a bit of toffee sweetness but it then get's chocolaty with a tinge of nuttiness. Pretty hoppy overall, in a spicy way.

Mouthfeel is medium-light, fairly high carbonation for the style, but good.

Well I ended up drinking five of these tonight, so I suppose it's pretty drinkable. Overall, it's really not that great - I made a homebrew that I tasted side by side and mine was similar but better. My friend agreed in a blind taste test. This stuff is good but I'd rather drink Goose Island Nut Brown, even though it's a totally different kind of brown (much sweeter).

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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.

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Photo of r3o
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

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Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 859 ratings.
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