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

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown
BA SCORE
3.83/5
Very Good
3,102 Ratings
Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown
BEER INFO

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

Style: American 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
Ranking:
#12,335
Reviews:
916
Ratings:
3,102
pDev:
11.23%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
105
Gots:
520
Trade:
5
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 3,102 |  Reviews: 916
Photo of xnicknj
3.6/5  rDev -6%
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.

 632 characters

Photo of Zsaevre
3.6/5  rDev -6%

Photo of Freiberger14
3.6/5  rDev -6%

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
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 nmann08
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of The_Kriek_Freak
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of BlueTomorrow
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Star80
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
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 -5.7%
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.

 1,012 characters

Photo of Bob_Rhoades
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of association330
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
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 rtratzlaff
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

 605 characters

Photo of RoninTK3
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

 467 characters

Photo of ralph-pine
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of civilizedpsycho
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

 548 characters

Photo of bballmj2k
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
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 -5.5%
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.

 424 characters

Photo of hopsolutely
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

 380 characters

Photo of FLima
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
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 Buggies
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Brown and murky with a lot of sediment suspended throughout. Very interesting to sit and stare at.

S: Sweet caramel malt. A very slight toffee and roasted malt aroma as well. Nothing too outstanding.

T: A typical English Brown Ale I suppose. It tastes as it smells though the flavors are mild. It is definitely drinkable, but really nothing that makes it very interesting except the cool owl on the label.

I think the flavor of this would be awesome to give to a BMC drinker as a gateway.

 494 characters

Photo of michaelbrian
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Dangus
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Brown just as one would assume. Fair amount of carbonation, poured about an inch of off white head. Head faded to a cap pretty quickly. There is some sediment in the glass, but that's par for the course with a bottle conditioned beer.

Smell- Toasty malts and sour breadiness. I am not detecting much of a hop aroma.

Taste- Nice maltiness, slightly nutty. There is a twinge of sourness that lingers after I swallow the beer.

Mouthfeel- Nice amount of carbonation. Medium bodied.

Drinkability- Good drinkability. I would prefer this for a colder time of year, but it is still nice and easy to drink. Enjoyable beer for sure.

 638 characters

Photo of Pintofbrown
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This was served in a glass stein.

Appearance- The head is khaki colored and rises to about one and a half fingers of bubbly foam. There are a nice amount of tiny bubbles on top that leave a dappling of craters. The body is the color of raw cinnamon sticks with some darker auburn notes.

Smell- There is a sweet bread malt that is the most dominant, as it certainly should be. I was also surprised to pick up a little grassy hoppiness, and I'm not sure I like that.

Taste- Bread malt leads the way and picks up notes of brown sugar. In the finish, there is a good amount of earthy hop and some more bread malt. This is pretty average for a brown, and I'm glad the grassy hop didn't transfer well to the palate.

Mouth feel- Bells can do mouth feel all day. You know it is Bells if it drinks easy. A great medium body and a rich, creamy finish on this brown ale.

Overall- This is a decent brown ale, but it is hard to say what Bells was trying to do with it. They had some hops in the nose, but they weren't utilized well on the palate, in fact, I"m not sure they needed to be there at all. And the malt they used was far too reserved.

Just because this is a brown, doesn't mean it needs to err to middle of the road flavor profiles. Either bump it up, or put something on the taste buds that makes it interesting.

 1,319 characters

Photo of utopiajane
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
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 -5.2%
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

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Beer rating: 3.83 out of 5 with 3,102 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.