Best Brown Ale | Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

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Best Brown AleBest Brown Ale
Very Good
3,196 Ratings
Best Brown AleBest Brown Ale

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
A smooth, toasty brown ale, Best Brown is a mainstay in our fall lineup. 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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Ratings: 3,196 |  Reviews: 948
Photo of whartontallboy
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a brilliant brown with ruby highlights and a moderately-sized white head. Looks pretty thick and viscous for a brown ale.

Smell is heavy with sweet malts, caramel, chocolate, a little bit of piney bitter hops, and a lot of dark fruit scents, particularly plum and some raisins.

Flavor is quite chocolate-laden. There's a solid drizzling of caramel over some of the same plum/dark fruit flavors. Little bits of nuttiness pull through in other places, along with some earthy wood flavors. Hops are present, but not overly assertive. They temper the chocolate flavors well.

Overall: Not mind-blowing, but a very, very good brown ale that definitely has a legitimate claim to calling itself "Best."

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Photo of BitterBrian
4.39/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured a deep rust color into a pint glass. one inch cream colored head with some decent staying power and leaving some good lacing.

objectivity will be difficult, since I already am a fan of this beer and style, but here it goes:

smells of sweet dark malts, a hint of nut and plum.

taste of roasted malty sweetness and some nuts, balanced with a bit of hops, but they don't stand out very much - they just give it some life. This is a real warm, friendly drinker. If I were to rate it within its category, I would say its one of the best brown ales (no pun intended). Maybe I have had better beers, but I still really enjoy this one.

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Photo of macpapi
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One of the final 'mainstream' Bell's products that I've yet to try. Browns are far from my favorite, but I'm not particularly averse to them. So thought a single of this one would do for a Sunday evening review.

Bell's Brown pours a medium brown, some may call it amberish, color. It is opaque and somewhat dense looking overall. A small white head quickly dissipates.

The smell is of light roast malt, with a bit of caramel present. There is also a hint of nuttiness there. Hops are weakly involved in the aroma. Nothing terribly complex here.

Tastes surprisingly full bodied for a brown. Malt flavors are impressive. Caramel and strong nuttiness are there as well. Also, a pretty decent hop bitterness is involved on the palate. In my opinion this is a pretty distinctive brown tastewise.

In the mouth Bell's Brown is sharp and biting. Relatively high on carbonation and full on flavor.

Overall, another impressive product from Kalamazoo. As I've said, browns are far from my favorites. But this one has to be up there among my preferred representatives of the style. Malty, a bit hoppy and nutty, with a good amount of bite. Good job.

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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

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Photo of Shovelbum
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Generous thick cramy head leaves good lace. The body is amber brown with good lace and retention. Smells of sweet malt. Tastes of caramel and sweeet malt. Light hop bitterness. Medium body. Smooth finish.

Good balance between the bitter and sweet flavors. An an enjoyable and highly drinkable brown.

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Photo of battlekow
3.39/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

My bottle of Bell's Best Brown had a bit of a carbonation problem; none of the other beers it traveled with had a similar issue, so I'm pretty sure it was unique to the Best Brown, which exploded upon decantation. After the huge, beige head subsided, the Best Brown was observed to be a turbid maple color.

Smell is pretty faint, with just a touch of caramel, brown sugar, and must. Taste is again rather muted, and reminscent of an Oktoberfest, in that it's all caramel malts and mustiness. Does have a subtle toasted finish. Hugely fluffy mouthfeel owing to the crazy carbonation. Completely lacks the roasted, nutty, baby-porter/stout characteristics I like in a good brown ale. Nothing much to see here--it may be Bell's Best Brown, but it's hardly the best brown overall.

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Photo of malty
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 7091 - bottled on Sept. 29 '05 (ultra fresh).

Pours an interesting russet color with a loose 1/2" med. beige settled head. Gorgeous lacing all the way down.

Scents of walnuts and yeasty (slight) sourness. Nice earthy malty notes, which are clean and roasty.

The somewhat dry nutty walnut flavor continues past the nose blending nicely with a soft peppery spice. Roasted malts pair well against a very tame but apparent spicy hop profile - beautifully balanced and smooth.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with playful carbonation which is usually very conservative for this style. Nice long flavor finish that hinges on dry.

Drinkability is top-notch. Will pair well with many types of cold weather 'comfort' foods.

Overall a fantastic and original interpretation of the style. I'm very pleased with the spiciness & dryness, which it 'different' from the others in this style. Balanced and masterful. Autumn just isn't the same without Bell's Best Brown.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.09/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a single at Riley's. It's nice to see some fall seasonals come in stock

Pours a mahogany/amber with a one-finger tan head and decent lacing. Smell is nice and sweetly malty, caramely and nutty. Taste starts off with the strong caramel malts, some brown sugar, cinnamon, and an alcoholic bite at the end that made me think this was stronger than it is (though at 5.75 it's still stronger than most english browns). Mouthfeel is smooth and light-bodied but not watery. Overall this was a tasty little brown. Probably the most flavorful "English Brown" that I've had, even though this is an American rendition. Reminded me fondly of New Glarus' Fat Squirrel and Big Sky Moose Drool.

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Photo of whynot44
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice medium brown color with a touch of yellow and a moderate but persistant tan head that left at least a bit of lacing.

Medium bodied, nice toasted nutty malt flavor and aroma with maybe a touch of chocolate, only slightly sweet with a pleasantly dry, mildly bitter finish.

Smooth and very easy to drink.

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

I got this as a single at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. No date on the bottle or the label.

Pours a pretty darn hazy reddish amber with a one finger head of off-white foam. Head drops to islands and a ring with decent lacing on the glass. Soft carbonation is evident.

Aroma is lightly fruity, caramel-y, with a faint chocolate and nutty character there as well. Very faint floral hops way in the back.

Flavor is nutty and chocolate-y, dry, almost chalky, with very slight fruity flavors in the back. Not as fruity as it smells. Not a hell of a lot of residual sugars in this one. A little more sweetness might be nice. There is a detectable amount of bitterness in this beer. Not much, but it's there. Aftertaste is nutty, dry, and chocolatey.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, but dry, if that makes sense. Carbonation is fairly soft, and the finish is dry.

This is a good beer, and a fine representation of the style, although I imagine a sweeter version would be even better. Still, it's an interesting beer. Recommended.

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Photo of dciskey
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours brown with an amber twinge, maybe one finger of off-white or tan head but it's extremely persistent, which I like. Only a little bit of lacing.

Smells of caramel and also slightly like coffee--there's definitely a slightly "dry" scent in there, if that makes sense. A swirl stirs up some chocolate as well--kinda nice. Taste is caramel and coffee but also slightly sweet, especially as it warms. There are also touches of nuts and chocolate, as well as a twinge of hops at the end. I'm almost surprised at the complexity in there. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth.

This beer is slightly drying to the mouth, so I'm not sure I'd want more than one or two, but they'd definitely be enjoyable.

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Photo of GnomeKing
4.07/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a rich-tasting brown, not what you'd expect if you are used to Newcastle or Smuttynose Brown Dog. It's a little dry, with tastes of caramel and coffee. The head was rich and foamy, but not overly, mustache-inducing foamy. A little more sweetness would have been nice to balance things out and make it more drinkable (I felt a small tinge of drinking fatigue by the end of my pint), but this is still a nice beer and yes, I did want another.

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Photo of Jacobier10
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The second I popped the cap, a big earthy aroma started to pour out from the bottle. Lots of roasted malts and very nutty. Nice appearance as well. Medium brown color which I could surprisngly see my fingers thru on the other side of the glass. Great light-tan head. Lively carbonation keeps the head in tact for the duration of the beer. A simple swirl of the beer brings it back to life instantly. The taste is very nutty. After taking a sip, my mouth feels and tastes like I just ate a peanut. Slight hop bitterness in the aftertaste, yet very drinkable for a brown ale. True to the style and certainly unique, worth a try for any brown ale fan.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.17/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a very nice beer and quite true to style. Big toasted malt character both in the aroma and flavor. Bittersweet chocolate, caramel, toffee, and a low roasted flavor. Ripe fruits of figs and dates fill the nose and palate. Nicely heavy and creamy on the palate. Nice brown / amber color, almost opaque. Low hop flavor and bitter that adds to complexity. A little more estery than I expect from both hop flavor and sweet alcohol. Finishes lightly malty and lingering. Go get one.

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Photo of nortmand
3.21/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a bit red for a brown, let alone a best brown. Some brownish foam as well.
I had the damnedest time getting a scent off this beer, but maybe a bit of raisiny chocolate? In fact, I think I smell Raisinets.
Taste is a bit of raisin, a bit of chocolate. Some roast as well I suppose.
Mouthfeel, some CO2, a little creamy. Appreciable.
I mean, I guess I could drink a few, but if my review wasn't any indication, I wouldn't be too excited to.

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Photo of blackthistle
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish-brown in color with a thick foam of tight bubbles. A sweet, malty aroma with some fruity esters. The flavor begins with a creamy, malty, chocolatey taste followed by a slightly dry, hoppy aftertaste. This medium-bodied ale has just enough hop bitterness in the aftertaste to balance the whole beer out.

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Photo of oxmasterscream
3.11/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Color is a deep, translucent, cherry-brown. Big, fluffy, light tan head. Looks good.
Smells of toasted malt with a splash of tangy hops. Only slightly nutty. Nothing else really comes through. Aroma is just average for a brown ale.
Tastes tangy, tangy, tangy... too much so. A bit of toasted malt now and then, as well as some faint, bitter coffee in the finish. Fruity alcohol shows its face toward the end of the glass.
Mouth is medium-bodied. Gently carbonated. Smooth on the tongue.
As for brown ales, I've easily had better. This is just run of the mill. There's no way this can be their "best."

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am sampling a cold bottle in an english pint glass. The beer is courtesy of BIF 20 and Feloniousmonk. Thanks!

The beer pours a slightly hazy mahogany color with strong ruby tints.
A small beige surface layer of head rests lazily on the top.
Aroma is light toffee and a hint of baker's chocolate mixing with a mild grassy hop character as well.
First sip reveals an average bodied medium carbonation brew.
The flavor is mild overall but starts with some light toffee and chocolate, with a slightly bigger sweet hit in the middle and finishes with a bit of a sweet brown sugar malt hit. The burps reveal the grassy hops again.
The beer is very easy to drink and fairly mild overall. An easy session beer for sure.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours from the bottle with the sweet owl illustration a lovely chocolate brown with a nice inch of khacki foam on top. Stringy lacing decorates the side of my glass. My nose descends to the glass and I get a nice roasted dark malt with hints of chocolate and a fresh green herbal hop. Well balanced.

First sip brings a nice roasted, toasted maltiness upfront that has notes of powdered cocoa and burnt grains. Hints of dark fruits emerge here and there along with a mellow herbal hop on the way down. A nice solid brown ale that I find enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a chewy palate. Definetly on the heavy side for a brown ale but I enjoy it that way. I could easily have a few of there..but there are other Bell's brews I'd probably pick first. Definetly worth a try. Thanks to kmpitz2 for hooking me up!

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

Pours a medium brown color with slight red hints when held to the light nice tan head falls to ring quick leaves some lace behing.

Aroma is sweet maltiness with some nutty aromas oh so light and some light grassy hops. Taste is the same lightly sweet, malt is lightly toasted adding some nutty flavors that peak with the carbonation and lead to a lingering nuttiness mixed with light spice and lightly bitter grassy hop finish.

Mouthfeel is medium nice amount of carbonation. Drinkability is good overall a nice little english brown ale

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Photo of NJpadreFan
2.98/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bell's Best Brown Ale

Appearance- nice hickory brown with a decent frothy head.
Smell- nutty and sweet. Malt and caramel detected.
Taste- whoa sooo sweet. Nutty but sugary sweet.

Overall- just too sweet for me. Nice nutty, caramelly, woddsiness but made my cheeks hurt. I'll pass on this next time.

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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.

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Photo of crookedhalo
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky coppery brown color with a tan colored head. Definitelt unfiltered. Slightly nutty quality to the aroma, with a light grassiness and some biscuit and caramel-like maltiness. Medium bodied. Residual sweetness is cut nicely with a lightly bitter finish. Trace amounts of diacetyl, which is fine. A nicely balanced brown ale that's easy to drink.

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Photo of masterbruewer
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
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 blitheringidiot
3.84/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mahagony hueud slightly ruddy pour under a huge signature Bells cake like foamy storm. Good lacing lafet in the glass.

Slightly metalic plain yogurt scents. Easy nutmeg, but mildly aromatic overall.

First swigs: Cherry coke & butter pecan ice cream. Yummy sweet caramel ice cream topping like Hershey's Butterscotch. Pecan pie perplexingly complex.

Slightly buttery feel to the brew.

Last swigs: Butterscotch caramel ice cream flavored. This is the best brown that I've ever had. Bells continues to prove to be a success. Some fellow BAs of mine kid around that you will rarely ever say, "Wow! This is a great brown ale!" Well, for once the rare saying fits. To be tried again later if it cosses my path.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

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Best Brown Ale from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 3.83 out of 5 with 3,196 ratings