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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: 2,954
Photo of KomodoDragon
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Somewhere between an amber and a brown ale. Huge toffee head which immediately subsided, impressive lacing.

S - Not much to smell here. Some sugar, some toasted malts.

T - Has some sweetness of a brown, as well as caramel tones. Also some roasted malts and flavors of almonds and cocoa.

M - Exceptionally smooth and very drinkable.

Seems more like a American brown. Perhaps not "best", but definately unique and at minimum very very good.

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Photo of rabidawg
4.49/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pure white head. Slightly hazy red tinged nut brown, due to a not-so-careful pour. Specks and spots of lace.

Smell: Sweet glorious caramel malt, with a definite nutty aroma. My mouth waters as I saturate my sniffer with rich malty goodness. Not much in the way hop aroma, but that's fine with this style.

Taste: Initial rush of brown sugar sweetness. Light carbonation tickles the tongue and fills the mouth with cream. Middle consists of caramel and toasted nuts, and a buttery hint of diacetyl. Surprising level of gentle hops near the end, leading to a satisfyingly dry finish. Aftertaste is earthy yeast.

Hell yeah! Beer number two in my Bell's adventure, thanks to feloniousmonk!

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Photo of praufs01
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Murky brown with a creamy light tan head.

Aroma - Light floral and grassy aromas.

Mouthfeel - Creamy full bodied ale with a moderate amount of small bubble carbonation.

Taste - Light hop flavor up front that leads into a very nice caramel middle. The finish turns slightly dry and then ends with a little hop bite.

Overall - Hmmm... A very well balanced, creamy and delicious brown ale.

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Photo of maddamish
3.39/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drinking this beer and reviewing it is going to be simple. It is best described as a 64 Chevy with a Yugo engine. The beer looks nice when poured. The head was a beautiful medium but quickly disappeared and did not lace at all. It was a cloudy amber in appearance and despite the non-existent head it was nice to look at.

In the nose you have this great symphony of smells competing with each other and I was really looking forward to drinking this puppy. Present were some of the strongest caramel notes I have experienced in a beer. Lemon and tea leaves were in the background lending their harmonies. What you have here folks is what I like to call a "Good smelling beer!".
Taste: a disappointment. It was a bit watery on the palate and a bit bland. There was some hop and malt thing going on but nothing that fully developed. Not even at room temperature could I coax any sort of strong flavors out of this one.

One of my first Bell's and I have to say this one fell short of expectations.

Notes: Not a bad beer as far as brown ales go but it doesn't do anything to make me go out and buy it again. I am glad I tried it but I think I am still on the quest to find the perfect bottled brown ale.

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Photo of timbro81
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Durable head thats diminishes but doesn't totally leave. Good "tick" marks down the glass as it is enjoyed, always a good sign. The nose is hard to decifer, sweet and slightly nutty. Taste initially leans toward the hoppy side (not overly so, just hoppy for the style). A nutty sweetness soon takes over. A good body to it.The aftertaste is tight and and short lived. Would really like to have a few of these in some hole-in-the-wall pub in England somewhere. Highly recommended if you are in search of a good brown ale.

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Photo of meatmallet
3.67/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours bark brown yet it is still clear. Thick frothy head with no lacing and lots of suspended sediment and a few small bubbles of carbonation coming from the bottom.

Smell: Caramel and toasted malts with a chocolaty sweetness.

Taste: Starts with some chocolaty roasted malts and finishes with a bitterness from the roasted malts and hops. I also get a bit of caramel and a nutty beady taste.

Mouthfeel/drinkability: Medium body with very light carbonation fairly rich and creamy.

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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.

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Photo of CrazyMacHarris99
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a murky dark brown with a reddish tint to it. There was a one finger off white head that dissipated to a thin ring with some slight lacing. The smell is mostly malt with a little caramel and sweetness. The taste is strong for a brown. There is mostly malt with a bitter kick in the end which is carried through by the carbonation. The mouthfeel is creamy but not too thick which coupled with the smooth flavor and great carbonation make this one a great warm session ale.

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Photo of semibaked
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a Duvel Tulip

A - Dark Brown/Burgundy color with a few floaties in it, about a finger of very light brown foam that disappears quickly.

S - Malty with a hint of caramel and some sugary sweetness.

T - More malt with a touch of bitterness but barely, Some sweetness but certainly not overwhelming, light caramel.

M - Slightly heavier than a pilsner or lager, nothing special.

D - This is my usual go to Brown Ale along with Short's Bellaire, very drinkable and refreshing.

One of the better browns definitely try this out if you can and support a fantastic brewery.

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Photo of gdrydenc
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a murky red-brown with a thin lacing of head. Solid color for a Brown Ale.

S - Sweet, hints of caramel. No hop presence to speak of, but the caramely malts take care of the nose.

T - Caramel in the front, the malts dominate. There's a slightly syrupy quality to the taste that makes it stick in the mouth. Very sweet beer.

M - Like I said, fairly syrupy. I like it for this beer, though.

Overall, a good brown. Maybe not the "best", but it's a good version.

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Photo of UPMD_Bill
3.96/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown, like walnut furniture color. Strong roast malt smell with some smokiness. Taste follows nose with a little earthiness - moderate level of bitterness for clean finish. Carbonation is lots of small bubbles that hit late. For all that roast malt it feels surprisingly light and sessionable. Overall, great alternative to Oktoberfest for later fall--I wish I'd skipped the pumpkin beer and stocked up on more of this instead.

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

A: Dark, hazy chestnut with crimson hints at edges when held against the light.

S: Nuts, spice, toasted malts, raisins? and something sweet -toffee?.

T: Fruity and nutty with a lot of malt and just a little hoppy. Delicious.

M: Clean, smooth, carbonated. Refreshing.

D: I really enjoyed this. I haven't had a lot of Bell's, but I have yet to be disappointed.

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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 masterbruewer
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy brown amber with thin off white head and light carbonation. Lots of little particles floating about. Good lacing

The smell is sweet and malty, with a fruity, carmel smell in the back.

The flavor is strong but smooth. You can taste the alcohol, but it's not overpowering. Some carmel and fruity flavors mix about in there. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel is substantial but not thick.

Very drinkable for smoothness and flavor, maybe a bit strong for session drinking.

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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.

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Photo of BeerNutz324
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass

Ap- a cloudy brownish amber with about a 1/2 inch off white/light brown colored head that dissapates fairly quickly.

Ar- all I can smell is sweet malts and maybe some caramel or toffee.

T- sweet roasted malts. I can definitely taste the english influence on the malts. Just like the nose I think the caramel or toffee gives this beer a little bit of sweetness.

M- light/medium body with normal carbonation for this style.

O- a good beer. Not as good as I expected coming from Bell's but good none the less. Nothing against this beer but it was nothing special and I honestly don't know if I would buy it again.

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Photo of TXHops
4.16/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

-Original Gravity: 1.056
-Final Gravity: 1.013
-ABV: 5.75
-Attenuation: 76
-Real Extract: 5.2 P
-Calories: 184

Thanks to Marc77 for the trade! Bell’s Best Brown pours a very murky brownish color that reminds me of the underwater shots I always see on nature shows where alligators are navigating some opaque mire with ease… Luckily, this mire has a tremendous tan head that really fluffed up on the pour and took forever to fade into a lasting blanket of foam. Instantly, a huge aroma of slightly roasted malt filled the area above my glass (perhaps the Belgian malts?) creating a super-enticing aroma. Wonderful to sniff—one of the best smelling beers ever. I also wonder if I can’t smell a touch of sourness underneath the dry, bready, wholesome, slightly fruity maltiness…

The rich body also displays the strong, malty-bready sweetness suggested by the nose. A huge, luscious specialty grain flavor totally envelopes my mouth, with the hops as an aftertaste. Again, there’s the slightest hint of sourness in the tail, but because this beer is lightly hopped, that subtle flavor doesn’t detract much from the overall impression. Underneath all the earthy, fresh bready sweetness is a mild fruitiness that lends a facet of complexity to this hugely tasty, wonderfully rich beer.

I thoroughly enjoyed drinking this beer, but I’m wondering if the sourness so frequently discussed on the forum has crept into the Brown at my house. If so, it’s very slight. Still, it is evident and the resulting tiny hint of twangy green apple is enough to knock a half point or so off a couple of categories. Still, overall this is a great beer and one I'm really looking forward to drinking again.

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Photo of bahumutx
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Poured a dark copper color. Had a two finger head that dissipated rather quickly.

Smell: Smells of Carmel, toffee, nuts, and malt. A sweet smell with a small hint of hops.

Taste: Starts with a taste of Carmel and then moves to a toffee and malt sweetness. End with a slight hop bitterness and a nice sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth Mouthfeel with the right amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. I could have a few of these in a sitting.

This is my second English brown ale and I like it. Another great offering from Kalamazoo Brewing Company!! Keep up the great work.

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Photo of Chugmonkey
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Light brown, nice reddish highlights, Big off white poofy head, beautiful lacing.

Nutty, bready, sweet, slight earthy aroma.

Nutty, bready, earthy, finishs a little caramelly sweet for the taste.

Huge bonus points for creaminess in the feel, finishes slightly dry.

Very tasty, nice sweetness that doesn't overwhelm. Don't get one, get the 6 pack. You'll wish you had more than one for sure.

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Photo of PeatReek
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Quite clear, a bright, amber-brown color with a decidedly orangey head. The very mild aroma is sweet and bready, with hints of Maerzen-like fruity maltiness and a slight whisp of grass at the end. The sip starts with a significant wallop of bitterness (for the style) and evolves into a bready malt-fest; the Maerzen character is even more prominent here. Followed up by a rather sharp toasty taste that is not exactly the nutty roast aspect that I'm used to in a brown ale, but works nonetheless. The bitterness comes back again at the end of the sip to help it wash down clean. Superbly drinkable, especially as the glass sits out for a bit and the carbonation settles down from its initial overly harsh level - my only complaint.

(Batch 7723, bottled Nov. 15 2006)

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Photo of Zadok
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown with a touch of amber and a decent sized tan head and lots of lacing.

Malty sweet aroma.

Also had a sweet creamy malty flavor.

Mouthfeel is creamy as stated before, maybe a touch watered down. Low carbonation.

Not a bad beer, not sure I would get again but wouldnt deny a free one.

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Photo of wmtxbb
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into pint glass

Appearance: Nice finger sized head on top of a dark amber brew.

Smell: Crunchy crystal malt grains.

Taste: Toasty malts, carmel and some chocolate. Reminds me of a winter warmer, particularly because of the high alcohol content.

Drinkability: The best brown ale I've ever had, which makes the name perfect.

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Photo of OldeSchool
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Hazy, caramel colored with a big off-white head that dissipated fairly quickly.
S: Malty, roasted nuts.
T: Follows the nose; Very little bitterness, I detected a bit of maple flavor for some reason. Not strong at all, but definitely there. Need to check this the next time I have one.
M: Medium body and carbonation.
O: Easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing brown. Not the best I've had of the style, but a solid entry.

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Photo of JustLikeMyDad
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured this beauty in a clear lager mug, has a nice medium dark brown color and a healthy thickish foam head.
Smells malty, a little chocolaty.
Tastes like an ale, got some bitterness to it, and it tastes a little of chocolate, maybe even coffee. Not too overly bitter like most Bell's Ale's I've had.
Feel is smooth,with a light bubbly feel on the tongue, not too light, but not too strong on the carbonation.
Overall, I was hesitant since I don't like Bell's Ale's, since usually I find them to be too bitter. This one isn't like that. And I could drink more of this.

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Photo of johnd513
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark cloudy brown color with a nice big fluffy white head that sticks around for a while and leaves nice lacing on the glass. The smell is toasty and nutty with some roasted malts. The taste is oily hazelnut and the mouthfeel is medium to full body and is oily as well. Overall another good offering from bells and certainly worth a try.

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