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

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Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown

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

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

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Reviews: 877 | Ratings: 2,959
Photo of utopiajane
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours very hazy. I would have said murky. Has a thin tan head that refreshes with each tip and is plenty creamy. Nose is malty with a hint a of chocolate. A fruity citrusy american hop tang on the nose. dark fruits are also present. Nutty too. taste is excellent. Has just enough bubbles to keep all those flavors light and moving well. The american hops lend a surprising ease to the drink. Finishes nutty and with plenty of lightly toasted malt and a not too much bitterness, sweeter with medium mouthfeel.

 519 characters

Photo of goldennectar
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz.bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Nice thick head & beautiful dark amber color. Not much lacing left behind.

Smell: Sweet Caramel Malts

Taste: Very similar to the smell - Caramel & malty with a slightly nutty flavor.
Well rounded, balanced & smooth
is how I describe this very drinkable ale.

Mouthfeel: Medium body & carbonation

Overall: A very well done & very drinkable offering from Bell's Brewery. Try one

 437 characters

Photo of paco1029384756
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy ruby brown color with one finger off white head.

Scent of brown sugar, malts and a light nuttiness make this one enjoyable and light scent.

Taste of brown sugar balanced with some roasted malts. A slight grassy flavor on the finish. Some alcohol is apparent as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is light and a little oily.

A good session beer and a very enjoyable brown.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appears a medium brown color with a finger of light tan head. Smells of nuts, caramel malts, and fruity hops. Tastes of sweet caramel malt, tree nuts, a hint of cocoa, and pleasantly bitter, floral hops. Medium in both body and carbonation. This brown ale drinks very smoothly and certainly does not show it's leaning towards almost 7% ABV.

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Photo of rtratzlaff
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a darker cloudy brown with copper ruby hues. It looks lighter in color than most brown ales. A small off white head dissipates and leaves some slight lace.

SMell is mainly malt with some caramel sweetness.

Taste is interesting and pleasing. Up front there is a crispness from slight carbonation that leaves sweetness from the malt. Caramel flavors are more abundant than any brown ale I've had before. Earthy hop flavors underly the finish and allow the beer to be pretty unique and flavorful.

Brown ales never really explode with flavor, but this one shines in an understated maturity of flavor.

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Photo of RoninTK3
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A - Amber and translucent with a bit of lacing.

S - Caramel, sweet malts, brown sugar. Very nice.

T - Malty, sweet, and a bit nutty. Hints of caramel and brown sugar. A bit of a bitter edge, especially in the aftertaste.

M - Medium bodied and very smooth. A bit of a creamy feel.

Brown ales tend to be low on my list, but rating this among other beers in its style I found it to be quite enjoyable. Not something I'd get again, but this is a very good brown ale.

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Photo of civilizedpsycho
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: It is name appropriate as it has a dark brown color that is only somewhat transparent. Small head.

Smell: Nice hop aroma that is quite inviting.

Taste: Very hoppy. More than I expected in all honesty and I thought it could be a bit more balanced; but it is still something I enjoyed.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat thin, but has a fair body.

Drinkability: This is pretty good. I could certainly get this again and enjoy it, but I think I would prefer something that is a little more balanced for my tastes.

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Photo of bballmj2k
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from bottle (packaged on 9/20/11) into pint glass.

A - Murky dingy brown with minimal head that dissipates to a lacing quickly.

S - Sweet malts, nuttiness - not a ton going on here.

T - Sweet bready, nutty characters, ends with mild hop bitterness.

M - Medium bodied, bit of watery character at the end, low carbonation. Malt definitely lingers on the tongue.

Overall - Not a remarkable beer but I don't that's the goal. A well made balanced brown ale that's adequate if a bit boring.

 497 characters

Photo of Durge
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This brown ale has a light mahogany color with a huge light tan head and major lacing. There is only a very mild malt aroma, disappointing. It does follow with a nice charcoal toffee taste though. I detect midland cabonation and find it to be very drinkable. There's a hint of orange and chocolate nuttiness. Bitter grassy hops in the back. The hops tend to dominate toward the end, maybe too much. Sweet malt, a nice blend.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A nicely mild, British-style nut brown ale.

Pours a bright chestnut colour with minimal head and little residual lacing. Sweet aroma of caramelized malts with chocolate and hazelnut undertones. The taste is well balanced, with roasted and caramelized malts and a distinct nuttiness followed by a pleasantly bitter finish.

A clean and refreshing beer that is decidely more-ish.

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Photo of FLima
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Light brown color with a thick beige head with great retention and leaving some laces.
Predominant nice nutty aroma but also with some chocolate and a distant toffee.
Likewise nutty flavor with notes of mild cinnamon, some citrusy, light cocoa, caramel and a hint of earth. Dry aftertaste with a mild carbonation.
Light to medium body with appropriate carbonation.
Very pleasant and balanced Brown Ale, quite faithful to the English style, with controlled hop addition. Nice drinkability as well.

 496 characters

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.

 755 characters

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.

 559 characters

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.

 2,175 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.

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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.

 332 characters

Photo of justintcoons
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip pint.

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

Caramel, biscuit, and brown sugar.

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

Medium-light bodied, silky, and smooth.

A mellow and easy drinking Brown.

 374 characters

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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Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.84 out of 5 based on 2,959 ratings.
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