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

very good
885 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Bell's Best BrownBell's Best Brown

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

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 885 | Ratings: 3,000
Photo of donkeyrunner
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep chestnut color with ruby red highlights when held up to the light. Then head diminishes but stays around to mingle during most of the affair.

Smells like earthy mountain water, like when you dunk your head in a mountain stream after hiking. Or before too I suppose. Smells like kola nut after it warms up.

Tastes nutty with a slightly bitter cacao nib finish. Bread crust fade although not a toasty as many browns. Smooth, slightly creamy mouthfeel.

I like it. I will always remember sitting by a campfire in the Adirondacks, sipping a Bell's brown and watching fireworks through the pine trees.

 609 characters

Photo of FBarber
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours reddish brown. Clear and slightly effervescent. Fizzy white head dissipates leaving just a slight ring of tan foam along the outside of the beer. appears very thin to the eye.

Smell is earthy, very nutty, roasted. Nice malts come through.

Taste is nutty, malty, with some earthy hops on the back end. Touch of wood or oak is noted. Very straightforward and classic representation of the style.

Feel is light, easy drinking, medium carbonation, a bit thin in the mouth.

Overall a nice classic brown ale.

 515 characters

Photo of GreatHammerhead
3.64/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Presentation: 12 oz bottle packaged on Aug. 25, 2016 poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Dark red brown with a 2 1/2 finger head clings to the glass until the last sip.

Smell: Nothing really stands out.

Taste: Balanced and complex with a slight bitterness and warming alcohol on the swallow.

Feel: Medium body.

Overall: A good beer and one that I definitely would want to revisit as my palate improves.

 410 characters

Photo of jmd1978
3.37/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown color with no head. Nose sweet malts, cocoa, floral hops. Taste caramel, chocolate, pine, spicy fruit. Peppery clean finish. Nice take on a brown ale. Just got it in the area and it's a decent beer to sip on while watching hockey.

 241 characters

Photo of witster18
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

straight forward.
This is a clean tasting brown ale with some dark fruit notes(dates), and some choco backbone. A bit thin on the mouthfeel, but not on the flavor. I really like this, and could see this becoming a bit of an autumn staple.
Highly recommend. Nice Americanized style done right. Dunno If I call it sessionable, but 2-3 after a long day in the chill of fall, yes!

 378 characters

Photo of ksimons
3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a mahogany brown color with a thin layer of light tan head. Aroma of slightly toasted malt and light chocolate. Taste is caramel malt, some cocoa, nutty, and a hoppy bitter finish. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Nice malty beer, good for a fall evening.

 270 characters

Photo of Regulator
4.84/5  rDev +26%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: Cloudy brown with rising bubbles
Smell: Caramel and chestnuts roasting over an open fire.
Taste: The tears of heaven.
Feel: Frothy
Overall: Best Brown truly is the Best Brown ale available in the United State of America. Bell's delivers again.

 249 characters

Photo of NateDyk47
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Drank a 12oz out of a snifter.

I'm usually not a fan of brown ales, but this is pretty dang good. Very smooth, slightly sweet. I would drink this again.

 154 characters

Photo of HorseheadsHopHead
3.94/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Hazy, dark brown with a soapy beige head. Moderate retention with some spotty lacing.

S: Milk chocolate, mocha, earth, toasted, almost burnt bread, bitter cocoa, and some caramel.

T: Semi-sweet chocolate, cocoa, burnt bread, earthy balance, with hints of lingering caramel and chocolate sweetness.

F: Medium, smooth and well-rounded, with moderate carbonation.

O: A solid brown ale. Quite enjoyable and sessionable.

 424 characters

Photo of MemphisSooner
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In typical beer snob fashion, I have long since graduated from basic brown ales. I was reluctant to try this seasonal from Bell's, but I thought, "What the heck, everything else they make is excellent".

Welp, this brown is no exception to the Bell's rule.

Nutty, toasty malts with a classic brown nose. This beer especially delivers in taste.

If you see a sixer of these, snag one. You will not be disappointed, even if you tend to thumb your nose at brown ale.

 466 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.29/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Average SRM for a brown ale, thin but colorful. 1/3" off white head. Aroma of nuttiness.

Minorly sweet, plenty thin and light, some darker bread feels. Barely there hints of chocolate. More caramel and toffee than that. Smooth as almost required by style, not a hopped up Americanized version going on here. Its pretty traditional and what you expect for style is what you get in the end.

 395 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 CNoj012
3.99/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This beer pours a cloudy brown color reminiscent of iced tea. The head is two fingers, dense and tan. Retention and lacing are minimal.

The smell is nutty, caramel, toasted bread, a bit of chocolate and a touch of hop spiciness. A bit muddled though.

Taste is the same, but each flavor is more pronounced. Starts of nutty and bready, then transitions to chocolate and ends with a moderately bitter and spicy finish.

Feel is light and creamy. Very nice.

Overall a very solid beer. Taste and feel are great, and if the smell was on par with them it would be the best brown ale I've had.

 588 characters

Photo of Zimmerman
2.37/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Eyes and Nose: Deep, dark reddish brown with a thick tan head that slowly dissipates. Somewhat nutty on the nose.

Mouth: Subtle maple, cinnamon, caramel and apples. Slightly roasted but all around a very muddled flavor that feels somewhat murky. Slightly tart and sweet, while also burnt and smoky with a touch of almond.

Ultimately this beer's complexity is its undoing. The earthy bitterness of the malt clashes with the caramel/toffee amber notes. It's not a bad beer, but it needs more refining and perhaps a touch of either sweetness or hops.

 549 characters

Photo of Guppy314
3.67/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From a bottle, pours a dark murky brown with an biege white head. Aroma of roasted nutty malt. Taste is a smooth roast malt with sweet caramel upfront and bitter hops on the back end. Overall, really pretty balanced, but it's too sweet to stay on my rotation for long.

 271 characters

Photo of RonaldTheriot
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Best Brown Ale has a thick, creamy, bone-colored head, and a tan or light-brown, turbid appearance, with a few lacing strings left behind. The aroma is of somewhat spicy, brown bread crust and nut oil. Taste is of sweet, slightly spicy, brown bread crust, tea, a touch of chocolate, and some low-to-medium bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium, and Best Brown Ale finishes medium dry.


 384 characters

Photo of seedyone
4.24/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From bottle at home. Pours a good head that disappears quickly to a light lacing. Deep opaque mahogany color. Aroma has a definite choco/cocoa scent with just a hint in the taste. The malt hints at honey. But in the end, this is just slightly better than OK. A bit muddled.

 273 characters

Photo of BloodSoakedAleMug
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Look: Pours a murky brown with a one finger khaki color head. Tons of sediment floating around in the glass.

Aroma: Burnt aroma upfront. Sweet with notes of caramel, mild chocolate, coffee and wafer cookies. Has a candied peanut smell. Metalic notes every now and then. Unfortunately it smells better than it tastes.

Taste: Slightly bitter and rather dry upfront with flavors of roasted grains. There's a gentle caramel twang here and there, but it's hardly noticeable. Flavors of dry dark chocolate, bitter roasted malt and subtle toffee mid palate. Finishes ashy and dry - with some offputting notes of soy sauce.

Feel: Medium body with low carbonation.

Overall Comments: Not my favorite, a little too heavy on the roasted, bitter flavors here. I don't mind a dry, bitter finish, but this was bitter throughout with no real focus on the traditional elements of a Brown Ale like caramel sweetness and savory nutty flavor.

I had high hopes for this, I'm let down but I'm still a big fan of Bell's.

 1,002 characters

Photo of crisis1290
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bells Best Brown is a solid tasting English Brown Ale. A very nice brown pour with a little head. What makes this one different is that it has a few different layers of flavor but it is not a heavy beer. A little caramel malt , a little cocoa malts, , some nut flavors , a slight hit of toffee, and some mild American hops flavors towards the back end. A very simple, yet very nice beer. Over all .I'm not a huge fan of brown ales, but I would try this one again, for sure. Job well done Bells !

 495 characters

Photo of fx20736
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bought a 6 pack of cans from Beers of the World-late 2015/ early 2016. Served at cellar temp in a Duvel tulip.

Look: medium brown, offwhite head, nice lacing

Smell: rich cocoa grain, tea-like bitterness

Taste: rich, mildly sweet dark bread

Feel: slippery

Overall: delicious

 278 characters

Photo of Schimms
4.68/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: Pours russet brown with thick 1" head. Clear

S: Sweet and malty. Slight hops.

T: Smooth, delicious toasty malt with a nice slight hop bitterness at the end. This is a great brown.

F: Very smooth, very nice.

O: Love this one - definitely one to buy again. I don't say that too often.

 290 characters

Photo of angrybabboon
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Consumed 1/18/16

A: Yup, it's brown - medium brown with some burnt caramel around the edges - pours with a medium sized, creamy, light tan head, slowly fades to a wispy cap, maintains a small collar, leaves streaks of lacing

S: Toasty malts with some light sweetness - caramel malts, toasted grains, toasted bread, and a touch of roasted nuts - hints of lightly burnt grains, chocolate malts - light sweetness, with caramel, touch of molasses, toffee, and a hint of chocolate

T: Simple and well-rounded - caramel malts, lightly roasted malts, lightly burnt chocolate malts - bread, toasted grains, toasted all-grain bread - some nice depth, including dry, roasted nuts, hints of dark chocolate, hints of Tootsie Rolls, caramel, molasses, toffee - lightly sweet but also dry

M: Medium body, smooth with some crispness, mostly clean finish

O: English Brown Ale? American Brown Ale? No. Best.

This is a really nice brown ale. I was fortunate enough to have it on cask at the Eccentric Café, and it was divine. The standard version is also nice. It's no frills, but it's a reminder that straightforward brown ales can still be interesting.

 1,142 characters

Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.01/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is totally a 5. Creamy head that rivals root beer floats, a beautiful iced tea colored body, 90% opaque but enough light shining through to highlight the colors displayed here.

Aromas of chocolate, nuts, barley malt, followed by more cocoa. Aroma could be louder but otherwise very nice.

Nutty flavors, followed by shavings of chocolate, roasted malts, but then a sort of sourness from malts kind of takes the train off track.

Dry and roasty from the start, a creamy wash, followed by a nutty and parching finish.

Overall this brown is one of the best I've had, and from the title I suppose that's what I was to expect! I like it a lot, even though I'm not a fan of brown ales. I'd have it again.

 714 characters

Photo of Bonkinishwa
3.67/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bell's Brewery, Inc. - Bell's Best Brown. 5.8% ABV. 12oz bottle poured into stout glass. Packaged 8/20/15.

Look: Settles a deep brown color, with some ruby highlights showing in the light, and a finger of white head.

Smell: Has aromas of toasted malts, caramel, toffee, and some light bitter hops. All the aromas seem to be masked a little.

Feel: Very creamy and smooth feel, with a little carbonation to balance.

Taste: Mostly malts and faint caramel on the palate, with a little nuttiness near the back end. Just like the aromas, the tastes seem to be weak.

Overall: I am usually a big fan of brown ales, however this it the first I wasn't overly pleased with. It just seems to be lacking in smell and taste, like they are masked. I realize this is a few months old, however it should not detract from it this much. When I find one fresher, I will update the review accordingly.

 885 characters

Photo of bluehende
3.1/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Had at a tasting from draft. Hoppy an a decent brown but nothing to write home about. A slight sour tinge that did detract somewhat form this beer. Not bad but not that good either

 183 characters

Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.84 out of 5 based on 3,000 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

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