Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
877 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 877 | Ratings: 2,954
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.

 773 characters

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.

 371 characters

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.

 466 characters

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.

 536 characters

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 ;)

 705 characters

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!

 310 characters

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.

 623 characters

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?

 339 characters

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).

 875 characters

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.

 746 characters

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.

 346 characters

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

Served on-tap at the Sharp Edge Creekhouse in a pint glass.

Appearance: Nice dark brown/ruby red color. Off-white head that lasts.

Smell: Caramel notes and malty sweetness.

Taste: Very malty sweet. Very little roasted flavor or hops flavor present.

Mouthfeel: Relatively thin, good carbonation.

Drinkability: Quite drinkable and goes down well.

 359 characters

Photo of Kromes
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Hazy brown with a tan colored head. Noticed some white globs suspended in the beer.

S: Toasted caramel malts. That's about it.

T: More of the same. Some toasted caramel malt with a bit of fruitiness.

M: Medium body with some good carbonation.

O: Pretty good. No off-flavors, just a simple sweet toasted caramel malt flavor. No nuttiness to speak of, this one is more fruity and sweet.

 391 characters

Photo of gabedivision
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured to a pint glass from a 12 oz bottle. for reals.

A- Brown ale = brown beer, thin white lace.

S- Hmmm, Nice buttery malts, caramel sweet with a touch of vanilla.

T- Tart and spicy on the tongue with a smooth chocolate and vanilla coffee been finish.

M- Feels like a smooth creamy beer in my mouth.

T- I can dig this, can you dig it?

 347 characters

Photo of joekfsu
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours a deep amber with a 2 cm bubbly tan head that is slowly diminishing. Aroma of roasted malts and a hint of caramel. Initial flavor has malts with some caramel. Flavor closes with some nuttiness that is lasting. Some lacing, light carbonation, light on alcohol. Light to medium body. Drinkable and simple, good beer for non-craft beer drinkers.

 362 characters

Photo of Hoptometrist
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from the bottle into a nonic glass. Bottled on 10/4/11.

A- Poured a brownish orange color, two finger fluffy head

S- Lots of sweet roasty malts, caramel, and grains

T- Very sweet maltiness, some roasted malts, caramel, toffee, barley, rich flavor reminiscent of a milk stout without the big chocolate notes. Light tartness on the finish. Overall a very sweet brown ale.

M- Very creamy, silky, somewhere between medium and fuller bodied, more fuller bodied than most brown ales I've had

O- This brown ale has a great mouthfeel, very smooth and creamy. The taste of this beer was good at first, the sweetness of this beer became a bit much for me as got about half way through the beer. Very rich and sweet.

 717 characters

Photo of pburland23
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a dimpled mug.

Beer pours a light brown. Not as dark as a lot of brown ales. Two fingers of sandy colored head with some thin lacing.

Smell is fairly pedestrian. A muted aroma of sweet roasted malts. Not much else. Taste is mellow, sweet and malty. Nice tasting beer if you're looking for a malt fix.

Mouthfeel is a little thinner than your typical brown ale, but I liked the change up. Very nice drinkability at 5.8%.

Overall, a decent brown ale. I prefer my brown ales a little more robust, but still tasty.

 570 characters

Photo of GStone899
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A complex brown ale. Caramel, malts, maple, nuts, bready, lots of good flavors but probably a bit too complex. No one flavor profile comes thru. Not very bitter. Smooth finish.

 176 characters

Photo of maxk
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 10/04/11 and poured into a tulip.

A rust brown colored, cloudy fluid with an off white/eggshell colored head. The head was two fingers and settled down to a thin coating and leaving nice lacing down the sides.

Dark fruits and coffee. There are a variety of malts evident in the nose.

Mostly dark fruit with bits of coffee bitterness and astringency. It's nice and creamy. The brew isn't so big bodied, but it's very rich.

 436 characters

Photo of jujubeast6000
3.54/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 11/1/2009 (bottle coded 8899):

Pours a clear brown color body, with a big tan foamy head, very lasting. Malty nutty aroma, some toasted notes and earthiness, mustiness. Some sharpness too. Somewhat creamy, nutty taste. Very brown ale like, some earthiness and slight sweetness. Some sharpness from the hops, and finishes pretty smooth. Wow, a pretty good beer, nearly session-like.

 391 characters

Photo of brstls4drmrs
3.54/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a brown, amber color with a 1" head. The color is translucent and slightly cloudy.

S - Nutty and roasty malts with some brown sugar scents in there. Could be some fruit in there too but very little. A nice roasty aroma.

T - More nuts on the front end with malts and yeast on the finish.

M - Medium carbonation that's very crisp.

O - Not bad.

 359 characters

Photo of Guden
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A medium brown with a small off-white head which fades slowly.

S- Light hints of dark and caramel malts, but nothing too strong.

T- Moderate amounts of maltiness with a little more bitterness and woody notes than expected but still quite refreshing.

M- Medium bodied but a little overly carbonated, works well but seems like a little less carbonation could of been better.

D- Enjoyable, and easily could have several of these but there isn't anything to exciting and there are better browns out there.

 508 characters

Photo of Franziskaner
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice amber brown hue. Head is minimal and slowly fades. Good carbonation. Amber malt aroma with hints of caramel is inviting. Fairly carbonated and crisp mouthfeel that leaves a lingering tingle on your tongue. There's plenty of amber malt and caramel flavor. A pretty straightforward session beer.

 298 characters

Photo of dogfishandi
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle at fridge temp poured into an SA perfect pint glass. batch number 10211 indicates it was bottled 1/31/11 (about 2 1/2 months old).

pours out a dark ruby red color with a nice retentive off white head. some nice lace. a bit more sediment visible than i expected, maybe i could have poured more carefully.

not a whole lot of aroma coming through. fruity with some caramel malts. bits of very light roast and cocoa.

toasted, very slightly roaste grains, a hint of cocoa, some fruitness and just the faintest kiss of hops.

light to medium in body. a bit syrupy. almost has a belgian like feel to it. drinkable, but nothing i would come back to.

 657 characters

Photo of dirtylou
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz single, from Riley's, batch 7096

appearance: intitial reaction upon pour was that it looked a little thin, almost cola-like appearance, very little in the way of head or lacing...ruby highlights dominate

smell: not a whole lot of action...some caramel, maltys, brown sugar and other general spice

taste: very mild...nothing particularly notable at all. slightly sweet, caramel malts, some brown sugar spiciness...also reminds me of an oktoberfest style.

mouthfeel: moderate body, decent carbonation

drinkability: very drinkable, but why?

Well, I wont be buying this again...definately the most boring Bell's ive had

 641 characters

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.84 out of 5 based on 2,954 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!