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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
BA SCORE
86
very good
859 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown
BEER INFO

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

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:
859
Ratings:
2,879
Avg:
3.84
pDev:
11.2%
 
 
Wants:
106
Gots:
419
For Trade:
5
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 859 | Ratings: 2,879
Photo of glid02
3.88/5  rDev +1%
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 cbutova
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours out a fairly dark brown with some red hints around the edges where light shines through the beer. A creamy looking three finger, off-white head builds up and retains very well. I am forced to take my first sip with about a finger of the head still present. Light-medium lacing is left at the top of the glass.

S- Three main things come up for me here. There is a pretty good amount of nutty hints to the aroma. Next is a slightly fruity aspect, darker fruits, probably from some sort of English hops. Malts make their presence in the background as a nice base to the smell. The nut hints are slightly roasty as well. A nice balance of these notes. Smell does not fade away through the experience.

T- The taste is a good balance of the same things in the nose. The nutty notes make even more of an appearance in the taste. Some sweetness and roasty hints come from the malts. The fruity aspect is less present in the taste and slightly in the background. One of the better nutty flavors in a beer that I have had. No huge hop presence but there is slight bitterness and grassy/earthy hop flavor.

MF- Fairly light bodied with medium carbonation. The body is right in the middle of watery and creamy. No alcohol warmth. A coat of nutty malt flavors is left on the palate.

DB- A good beer with a very nice nutty aspect to it. The price was not bad but I can't get any of this in MA. The nutty flavors are strong but do not overpower as more of the beer is consumed. Definitely an enjoyable Brown Ale with good, balanced flavors.

 1,537 characters

Photo of Gusler
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

 482 characters

Photo of champ103
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
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.

 681 characters

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

 1,617 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

Photo of AgentMunky
3.88/5  rDev +1%
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 ArrogantB
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

 240 characters

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.

 632 characters

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.53/5  rDev +18%
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 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.

 424 characters

Photo of tectactoe
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

 860 characters

Photo of Suds
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
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 twiggamortis420
4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
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 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 rlee1390
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

 330 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
3.94/5  rDev +2.6%
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 Brenden
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The color is a moderate brown with some clarity that gives off a red hue in the light. A tan head pours off the tap at just over one finger with lots of action, leading to a little over-pour. The head diminishes and leaves a stubborn foam that drops ragged curtains of lacing in its wake.
The nose is really very mild. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm just not finding much. What I can detect is good: light caramel, toffee, and perhaps molasses with a touch of barley-like grains are there, but it's a struggle to smell them.
The flavor, on the other hand, doesn't hold out on me. A strong malt base with some sturdy barley and caramelized sugars along with brown sugar notes make up this one. A taste of hops rounds out the finish along with a touch of dark fruits.
The mouthfeel is smooth and there's a nice creaminess in the body, but I'm not getting any crispness off the tap and carbonation is very light.
This is very drinkable; I don't doubt that the nose would really pick up and the body would firm up a little from the bottle.

 1,042 characters

Photo of KarlHungus
4.4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This brew pours a solid brown color with amber hues around the edges. The head is creamy and white with speckles of tan. The aroma is of roasted malt, chocolate, and nuts. The taste is sweet and nutty. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with perfect carbonation. Overall, this brew lives up to its name, as it truely is the best brown ale I have had.

 346 characters

Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev +4.2%
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 warnerry
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
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.

 469 characters

Photo of cosmicevan
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
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 ThisWangsChung
3.12/5  rDev -18.8%
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.

 1,141 characters

Photo of Pencible
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

 537 characters

Photo of andrenaline
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
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

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
86 out of 100 based on 859 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe