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

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BA SCORE
86
very good
882 Reviews
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Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown
BEER INFO

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

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:
882
Ratings:
2,985
Avg:
3.83
pDev:
20.63%
 
 
Wants:
103
Gots:
463
For Trade:
6
User Reviews
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Reviews: 882 | Ratings: 2,985
Photo of barnzy78
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle, batch 14629 PKGD 07/31/15. It's been a few years since I had this one.
A - creamy beige head caps a bronze colored ale
S - earthy hops, dark caramel, bread, grain
T - a bit roasty, chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, nutty, earthy & spicy hops
M - medium body, moderate carbonation, finishes semi-dry with some spicy hops and mild roast lingering
O - in my opinion this is a good brown ale, but there are others I prefer more -even though Bell's is one of my favorite breweries.

 488 characters

Photo of claspada
3.47/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aromas of subtle toasted malt, caramel, toffee and nuttiness.
The taste follows the nose with sweet caramel malt, toasted nuts and a tiny bit of milk chocolate. It has more flavor than the nose would suggest, but unfortunately it just not that complex or flavorful.
Mouthfeel is crisp, with a medium-thin, borderline watery body and adequate carbonation. I would prefer a much fuller mouthfeel, but the thin body works is a decent change which allows this to finish quite crisp.
Overall this is quite drinkable, but forgettable. The flavor profile is just not on par with other brown ales I have had recently. English brown ales aren't supposed to be as malty and full-bodied as American ones, so I guess they accomplished their goal of creating a fairly tasty sessionable brown ale, but I won't be revisiting this anytime soon.

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Photo of rlee1390
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Clear ruby brown, one finger off-white head

S-Roasted malt, spice, nutmeg and grass.

T-Roasted malt, nuts caramel, some chocolate with slight bitterness rounding out.

M-Medium bodied, slight carbonation, could be a tad on the watery side.

O-A decent brown ale, could have used a better hop presence. Balance was good though.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.79/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – As the name would suggest the beer pours a brown color with a light hint of orange seen when held up to the light. Upon pouring a one finger cream colored head is present. The head fades lowly over time leaving a ton of nice foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is heaviest of a roasted malt, brown bread and molasses smell. Mixed with these aromas are some sweeter fruit aromas of both light and dark varieties with some apple, pear, and a hint of cherry. Rounding out the smells is a lighter earthy hop aromas smell.

Taste – The taste begins with a lightly roasted bready taste mixed with some caramel and molasses. The flavor gets a bit more roasted more toward the middle, but also gets a bit fruitier with some of the apple and pear that were in the nose detected on the tongue. The sweeter flavors start to dwindle however more in the middle, being replaced by some more bitter hop tastes of an earthy and herbal nature. Some more bitter nut like tastes come to the tongue more toward the end of the taste, with the mix of flavors leaving a nicely hopped, slightly drier and lighter roasted bready taste on the tongue.

Mouthfeel –The body of the beer is on the average side in terms of thickness and creaminess with a carbonation level that is on the average side. Both were a nice blend for keeping an easy drinking brew, all the while supporting the blend of hop, fruit, and roasted flavors.

Overall – A rather enjoyable brown ale. It has a nice level of sweetness, hop and roast to make for an easy drinking and tasty brew.

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Photo of glid02
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this on-tap at Axis in Washington DC.

Pours a clear dark brown color with a one-finger light tan head. The head dissipates into a wispy layer of bubbles on top and a thin ring around the glass. Lacing is decent.

Smells good. A good amount of hazelnuts and kind of a buttery smell backed up by a bready malt aroma.

Tastes similar to how it smells. There's a good amount of buttery taste that's pretty smooth, backed up by nutty and malty flavors. There's a tiny amount of bitterness at the end.

Mouthfeel is good. Maybe it's because the taste is buttery that I think this, but it goes down very smoothly.

Drinkability is good. The buttery taste is nice at first, but I could see it wearing on me halfway through another of these.

Overall this is a solid brown ale. It's not as complex as others that I've tried but it does what it does very well. Worth a shot.

 869 characters

Photo of champ103
3.28/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Pinch Penny Pub in Carbondale Illinois.

A: Pours slightly hazy orange/brown. A one finger beige head forms, and recedes in a second. Light lace is left behind.
S: Light toasted malt, mostly some sweetness in the nose. Like brown sugar and some caramel. Not much going on.
T: Following the nose, not much is going on. Some toasted malt, but really sweet. Lots of brown sugar and caramel. Boarders on cloying.
M/D: A medium body and nice carbonation. easy to drink. Something I can quaff several of with ease.

Overall, very simple. Mostly sweet, but not bad in any way. Just pretty standard. Worth a try, and a good fall back if this is the only good craft available.

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Photo of Gusler
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a foggy burnished copper color with the head dinosauric in size, creamy in consistency and a beauteous light tan in color, as it unhurriedly evaporates the lace forms a thick and glutinous sheet upon the glass. Sweet malt with a hint of walnuts, crisp and clean nose, with the start nicely malted and somewhat sweet, top is moderate in its feel to the palate. Finish is stern in its acidity; hops are pleasing and spicy, slightly tart and dry aftertaste, quite tasty.

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Photo of Suds
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Medium brown in color with a little haze and a small white head. The ready aroma has some maillard toast and caramel in it, with a touch of malt. The taste has moderate maltiness, semi dry, and a firm bitter finish.

 218 characters

Photo of ArrogantB
3.72/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can that I think was $3. Not quite dark brown, sort of reddish, huge head. Malty, toasty aroma. Flavor is full, toast, malts, pretty darn good. I must also compliment the branding because this just felt like a great fall drinking beer.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pilsner glass.

A: About of finger of frothy head atop a clear mahogany-coloured beer with clouds of bubbles (and sediment?). Neat lacing.

S: Nutty and spicy. Malts and something between toffee and coffee.

T: Tasty, but not exceptional. Dry nuts and almost invisible hops balance against sweeter (light) fruits and substantial malt. The aftertaste is neutralish, but slightly sticky. Fruiter than expected. Delicious and worthwhile.

M: Light-bodied throughout. Refreshing and pleasant. Just heavy enough to seem sturdy.

D: Yet another great beer from Bell's. Recommended for fans of brown ales and/or good beer. Still, not one of my absolute favourites -- in the future, I will probably give this a miss and pick up another Bell's instead.

 780 characters

Photo of dirtylou
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
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

Photo of BMMillsy
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours brown with a bit of a red hue. Medium head that looks creamy and fades somewhat quickly. Smells sweet like a red ale, cherry amd roasty presence here. Flavor is nutty and smooth, different from the aroma. A bit of chocolate with the nut and a bit of fruit on the finish. Nice easy drinker. Good beer.

 306 characters

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 cosmicevan
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had this with lunch at the westwood tavern in schaumburg. Nice transparent brown with good lacing on the pint glass. Smells.of brown sugar and tastes the same. Fairly solid brown ale. Nothing mind blowing. Some nuttiness. Easy drinker. I like a good brown and this is good, but a bit of a let down from a brewery that seems to knock every style they take on out of the park.

 374 characters

Photo of Pencible
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: This poured a hazy mahogany with a little light brown head.
S: It smelled like roasted barley and toffee, with some biscuit and a bit of milk chocolate and copper.
T: It tasted like copper hops with roasted barley, and some toffee and coffee and biscuit. It had a bittersweet, clean and wet aftertaste.
M: It was slightly thick with some carbonation. Moderate.
D: This was a very nice brown ale, like an English barleywine cut in half. Solid malty scent and flavor, with decent body. It was very easy to drink and was quite enjoyable.

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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 ThisWangsChung
3.12/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a dark chestnut color. The head is a rough-looking one-finger heavy cream shade. It's texture is poor but its retention is good. Small amounts of lacing are left behind.

S: This is very toasted, and even slightly roasted. There's actually some progression to the aroma - the first whiff is pure toasted nuts, then turns into something mineral and earthy, developing a touch of brown sugar sweetness after a while. The earthiness isn't to my liking, otherwise the aroma is fine.

T: There's a slight kiss of fruitiness to start. Afterwards, this turns into mostly a toasted-nuts-and-mineral-water affair. A slight hop finish actually brings more acid than bitterness or flavor. Having said that, it's still reasonably balanced, if a touch too bitter.

M: This one is fairly dry and even crisp. On the other hand, it has a slight heaviness to it making it not quite as drinkable as it could be. Carbonation is middling, typical of the style.

O: A fairly typical brown ale: there's nothing wrong with it at all, it's just not very impressive or inspiring to drink. Wouldn't buy it again, most likely.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.53/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Comes out of the tap a semi-transparent chocolaty brown with a fine-bubbled pale tan head. Aroma is of average strength, malty and slightly chocolaty. Rich malty flavor has cocoa undertone along with nutty and caramel hints as well as just a whisper of fine coffee. Texture is thick, fairly smooth and nicely fizzy.

 315 characters

Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours into a pint glass an amber hued brown color with a tan head that is shorter but has nice retention and leaves some quality lacing.

Solid dose of nutty malt along with some notes of caramel and toffee. Hint of cocoa as well.

Much like the nose. Rich malt presence with lots of nutty notes along with the aforementioned sweets.

Lightly chewy body that is medium. Mostly smooth with a little prickly carbonation.

A very solid style example and overall beer.

 464 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.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a medium brown color with a nice translucency and a fine-bubbled, light-tan head that leaves minimal lacing on the way down. The aroma is wonderful, hits heavy on the chocolates and roasted coffee beans. The taste begins with a warm, malty and bready flavor that quickly turned into a swirl of bittersweet dark chocolate and nuts. Slight coffee beans and maybe even hazelnut in the far background (maybe I'm imagining things, here). I'm also picking up a slight milky flavor, perhaps from the texture. Very nice. Caramel and toffee finish the beer strong with an ever-so-slight but necessary hint at bitterness along the final seconds just before the sip is completely swallowed. Medium body, creamy with lots of carbonation.

Very, very solid brown ale. Perfect for the days transitioning from the fall to the winter. This beer tastes like the holidays.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nice dark caramel colour, thin layer of head with little retention and no lacing.

S - Mild on the nose, musty caramel and a hint of leafy greens.

T - Unique earthy bitterness, leafy green hops, musty caramel, tasted bread. A sour bitterness lingers.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and wet.

O - A tad disappointing from what has otherwise been a great experience with this brewery. Could use a bit more caramel to balance off the earthy hop flavour. Still rather drinkable and non-offensive though, just nothing spectacular.

 534 characters

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.23/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a crystal clear brown color with a mega fat, creamy tan head. Large tapioca looking bubbles recede at a snails pace to a rocky mountain range of foam. Excellent looking beer.

Great brown ale nose, sugary caramel and milk chocolate malts carry the load here. Smells fresh and creamy.

Of course it is malty...roasty and flavorful, but it has a nice hop balance to it. Very smooth and drinkable...it's crisp with a surprisingly dry finish. Just a hint of fruitiness adds to the complexity. A most delicious session beer. One of the better brown ales I have had.

 566 characters

Photo of warnerry
3.45/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 9/7/11

A - Pours a clear amber/brown with a lot if suspended material and one finger of tan head. Leaves some lacing.

S - Caramel malt with some nutty aroma. A bit of roasted malt.

T - Roasted malt and nuts. A bit of caramel malt and some sweetness on the finish.

M -- Medium mouthfeel with a mix of sweet and dry roast on the finish.

O -- Pretty good, but I have had much more flavorful brown ales. Wouldn't turn one down, but probably wouldn't buy again.

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Photo of StoutHunter
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I picked up a six pack of Bell's Best Brown a couple weeks ago at Krogers for $8.99. I have had this beer many times over the years, but for some reason I haven't got around to reviewing, so it's time to sit down and see how this beer drinks. It is pretty fresh with a bottled on date of September 28th 2011 batch number 10721. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A- The label on this beer looks pretty cool, I like the lone owl sitting on fence post with a nice scenic winter background, it gives this beer a late fall/winter vibe. It poured a slightly hazy amberish brown color with two and a half fingers worth of fluffy off white head that died down to a thin layer that stayed till the end and left some nice lacing.

S- The aroma starts off with some medium sweet malts that impart some toffee and caramel aromas along with some nuttiness. There are also some brown bread, brown sugar, and fruity yeast aroma. I don't really pick up any hops in the aroma.

T- The taste is pretty similar to the aroma. The first thing I pick up are the malts that impart some nice toffee and caramel flavors, there is also a slight bit of dried dark fruits, and a nice noticeable amount of nuttiness that had a walnut like flavor to it. Just as in the aroma the hops aren't noticeable and the finish is smooth with no bitterness and a slightly nutty aftertaste.

M- Smooth, slightly creamy, on the light side of being medium bodied, and it had a medium amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel fits this beer well.

Overall I thought this this was a pretty damn good English Brown Ale. I haven't had a lot of this style but so far this beer seems to be the closest example I have had to a true English Brown Ale. The flavors were nice and malty and had a really nice nutty complexity that really made this beer stick out from the other English Brown Ales I have tried. It went down really smooth and combined with having no bitterness at all makes this beer have some great drinkability, I would have no problem drinking three or four of these in a night. What I liked most about this beer was the flavor, it just seemed spot on for an English Brown ale and the extra nuttiness was a very nice added touch. What I liked least about this beer was the color, it wasn't bad, but I would have liked it a little browner, not a big deal though. I buy this beer every fall and will continue to do so since I find that this beer really hits the spot on late fall/ early winter evenings, and it is the best local English Brown Ale I have had. If English Brown Ales are your thing, this is a must try, it does a great job at representing what an English Brown Ale is all about, or so I think. So far this is the best English Brown Ale I have had so far, everything was pretty spot on and the extra nuttiness put this beer over the top. Bell's did a great job with this beer, they do a great job of brewing a style the way it is intended to be, they are a jack of all trades and that is why they are one my favorite brewery's.

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Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.83 out of 5 based on 2,985 ratings.
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