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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,196 |  Reviews: 948
Photo of ichorNet
4.54/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I've been very impressed by Bell's darker side of ales so far. That might sound a little silly in 2018, especially when it comes to this beer which was first released thirty years ago, but I'm just now having it for the first time and place it above Tumbler when it comes to Fall seasonal browns. I consider this my new favorite in that little sub-section of beers (even when pitted against my previous favorite, the rather local/regional Henniker Flap Jack) and consider it one of the best browns I've ever had. In other words, it lives up to its name.

The pour is a beautiful deep amber color with brownish ruby highlights when held up to light. If this is poured a bit too quickly, as I did when I excitedly cracked my first bottle open, an intensely cascading head can occur and overtake even the largest drinking vessel. If poured more moderately, however, the head is a beautiful corona of beige foam atop the deep brown liquid. Some slight lace is noted, for sure, but the legs are the real feature here... this beer's head just lasts and lasts. Really great pour.

The nose is rich with caramel and Belgian chocolate elements along with light/medium-roasted coffee. The herbal and slightly pine-y American hop note definitely comes through a bit as a foil to the deeper maltiness present here, which I appreciate. It doesn't crowd out the proceedings at all, but it does lend some helpful balance.

The flavor is really intensely detailed with a multi-layered grain bill that delivers waves upon waves of sticky toffee goodness backed up by subtle roastiness and light flavors of cocoa, coffee and herbal hoppiness. Some people actually seem to find this too hoppy for its own good, but I think it's right where it needs to be for the style as it is in the modern day. As someone finally having this after it's been out for thirty years, I'm sure it's more than a little different than it was back in its heyday, but I respect Bell's for keeping it fairly well updated for the modern palate without sacrificing what it is.

The feel is silky-smooth and super detailed, with velvety maltiness and a detailed, subtle carbonation. Body is pretty light for a brown, but it's not weak by any means. Quite the opposite, honestly... I think this is one of the most well-constructed brown ales I've had in years. It's an easy drinker that masquerades cleverly as a session ale despite being almost 6%... deviously drinkable and really, really good!

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Photo of stanale
3.19/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Photo of roarkty
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of bobv
3.99/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Moderate pour yields a one inch light tan head over a brown body with some lacing. Nose of chocolate, dark malt, and a bit of caramel. Taste mirrors nose nicely with a bit of hop bitterness on the finish. Nice feel and overall, an excellent brown from Bell's. Cheers!

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Photo of twage04
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown with highish carbonation. Aroma is of toast, chocolate a hint of roast with some caramel and hops present. Taste is much the same with a nice bitterness. The high carbonation kinda through me off a bit but my bottle may have been an anomaly. Overall I like the malt/hop combo for the style, it was flavorful and fun to sip.

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Photo of depechemode1983
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours out ruby brown. The head is tan with phenomenal retention. Stick around for a good while and becomes rocky. See an excellent amount of lacing as well.

Smells of toasted white bread, caramel malts, and light fruity hops.

Toasted grains in the taste up front. Semi sweet caramel an a hint of chocolate through the middle. And finishes with a soft lingering bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth. Carbonation is medium and somewhat crisp.

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

Photo of pstam87
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Agriverbear
3.99/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Dakin
3.69/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of puboflyons
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From the 16 oz. can dated 08-21-18. Sampled on September 17, 2018.

It is a nice looking dark amber, kind of mahogany looking pour under a foamy, tan head that slowly fades and laces.

Big sweet caramel and nutty malt aroma with a lower hop profile.

Smooth, medium body.

Sweet caramel malt taste with even a little vanilla in the background. Mild dry bitterness to end it. A balanced brown ale.

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Photo of ZebulonXZogg
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Pro_Magnon
3.84/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of VABA
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a hazy brown color with a slight head and lacing
A-Aroma has cocoa, caramel, malt and hop hints
T-The taste follows the aroma with cocoa, caramel, malt and hop flavors
M-A light bodied moderately carbonated beer
O-A nice brown ale

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Photo of swierczt
3.71/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of eppCOS
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From draft tap, 9.14.18 at Brewer's Republic in COS, CO
L - Appears appropriate for the style, nice dark brown, good head, good lacing.
S - Not much smell on this until you're 3/4 of the way through, and perhaps served "too cold" to get some of the more interesting caramel-roast flavors I typically enjoy in a brown. Solid.
T - You get exactly what you expect here; good balance of roasted malt and present hops. Neither domiantes.
F - Good, not overly carbonated. Nothing exciting, but well made
O - a really good brown, but doesn't measure up to the actual best out there (like Upslope's Brown Ale).

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Photo of Harrison8
4.02/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with a foamy and frothy three fingers of khaki foam that retains well. Aroma is toasted, nutted, and breaded malts. Good nutty, malty smoothness that tips the needle just slightly towards sweet. There is a twinge of herbal hops in the aroma as well. Flavor profile is caramel and light cocoa with toasted, nutted, and breaded malts. While the aroma has a modest approach, the flavor profile is much louder. A dash of herbal hops bring it back towards centered and balanced. The needle leans a little more towards sweet than the aroma, with a dry and malty finish. Mouth feel is velvety at the opening, but dries out at the finish. It has a medium thickness. Overall, a malty paradise that balances a multitude of malts alongside each other.

Served in a 12oz snifter from a 16oz can.

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Photo of generalraider
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of GuyWithGuitars
2.11/5  rDev -44.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This swill is NOT, I repeat NOT a nut brown. This is yet another disgusting IPA trying to -disguise- itself as a nut brown ale. What in the HELL is the hipster obsession with hops? If I wanted this much stank I'd lick a skunks asshole. I've been drinking nut browns since I was a wee lad and made the mistake of trusting this yet un-tested American nut brown ale (a paradox) just to give it a go. Bitter, overbearing hops dominate what traditionally is supposed to be a coffee/chocolate/malt in a nut brown. I could say more, but if you're looking for a good nut brown, find yourself an icy 6 pack of Old Chub. Ok. Bye.

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Photo of jbehlar
3.08/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Photo of NotAlcoholicJustAHobby
4.07/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

canned 08/21/18

L-The beer pours a silky dark brown, almost black. The head is a towering crème colored mass of about 3 fingers. The head recedes to a thick ring with large central island. Lacing is fantastic clinging like curtains to the side of the glass.
S- The nose is a solid malt base which comes across as only semi sweet. There is a touch of roast and the hops come up just shy of balancing before subsiding.
T-First in on the palate is the sweetish caramel malt presence. Hops keep the sweetness from becoming a chore for the drinker. Pretty well balanced profile overall. The bit of roast detected in the nose remains in the backround here.
F-Mouthfeel overall is medium to medium light. Carbonation is gentle after the initial pour.
O- This is an excellent brown ale. Don't let the overall score fool you as it's full of style bias. This brown ale is among the best in style available. It will make regular appearances in my fridge once my beloved Old Brown Dog disappears from shelves.

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Photo of tylerjin
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L: opaque brown, thick top
S: hint of cocoa
T: slight bitterness, toasty
F: smooth and medium body

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Photo of spartacat300
3.76/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of mpenske
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of WickedBeer
3.69/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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