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

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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

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Reviews: 885 | Ratings: 3,000
Photo of callmemickey
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark chestnut brown... thin tan head

S: Nutty toasted malts...

T: Following the smell, toasted malts are paramount with a nutty character... some hops round out the back end of the flavor

M: Kind of thin for a darker beer... Moderate carbonation is pleasant

D: Easy to drink, not bad over all, I probably wouldn't drink two in a row as the depth isn't quite there

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Photo of genog
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a brown color {hmm} very light, with a great amount of fizzy off white head. It goes away quickly, but does leave light traces of lacing, and slight bubbles on top of the body. Smell is very sweet with malt and caramel coming through. Taste is smooth and sweet with malt, and some cocao coming through. Mouth feel is very smooth.

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Photo of DukeofAle
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a very well made ale but just does not have enough charactor to make it stand out. Pours a medium brown with moderate head and fair to middling retention, some lace. Taste is smooth and easy to drink. More malty than hoppy - but very mild. Somewhat thin.

No real faults, but not a stand out in any way.

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Photo of mnstorm99
2.91/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

Light brown pour, pretty disappointing, with an off white head that sticks around.
Aroma is a nice spicy hops with a good bready, roasted malt to it.
Taste it like burnt toast, the bready malts don't mix real well with the spicy hops. But I was able to get some carmel, coffe notes in there.
Mouthfeel is very thin for a brown and overly carbonated, this is my first real big disappointment from the folks at Bells.

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Photo of BoitSansSoif
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Rich nut brown w/a very light head.

S-Nuts, toasted malts, and hints of toffee.

T-Nutty palate and full-flavored w/toasted malt. The finish reveals some light hops. Not terribly interesting, but very good.

M-I found this a little more watery than what I was expecting, but it's still decent stuff. With the alcohol level, this is dangerously easy to overindulge on. Carbonation is just right, and on the low-to-moderate side.

D-Smooth and easy to drink, with a perfect texture and airiness if you plan on putting back more than a couple.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A bit more of a murky amber than brown, moderate tan head topping it all off.

S: Caramel aromas, a bit of a citrus hops balance in there. Some curious dark fruit aromas seem to be in there that don't seem to fit the style, but the aroma is nice, nonetheless!

T: A tad harsh on the tip of the tongue, but it smooths out excellently with a toasted malt, oily nut, sweet sugar, and mild hops bitterness. A tasty brew.

M: Medium body, a lively carbonation that's not overdone.

D: I'd drink a couple of these in a sitting, but the ABV is pushing on getting a little high, so it might keep it a bit on the more easy-does-it side of things.

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Photo of ndekke39
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presented in a 12 oz. brown bottle from batch number 8222, packaged on November 12, 2007. Decanted into a pint glass. Pours a hazy reddish-brown with a thin white head. Good retention with a ring of foam around the edges.

Aroma has a sharp edge to it: nuts, toast, earthy.

Taste is the same: nuts, good malty background. Nice bitterness in the finish: coffee and hops. Travels well.

Nice, consistent carbonation. Good body to the beer.

This is a fine Brown Ale. Nicely balanced. Great session beer.

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Photo of HardTarget
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle Inspection: 5.8% abv.

Aroma: Nice malty sweetness with a bit of hop leaf earthiness with a toast aspect working as well.

Appearance: Deep brown amber with clarity and a soapy half finger head of tan that leaves a curtain of lace.

Flavor: Toasted malt with some toffee and nutty flavors, classic brown ale flavors. Hop level is upper English, lower American range with both citric and earthy floral notes. A mild yeast character comes out as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Prickly carbonation doesn't get fizzy, medium body with a slick texture.

Overall Impression: A solid, easy drinking brown ale. A fair session beer and one that a non beer geek (but not a solid BMC drinker) would appreciate.

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Photo of mpyle
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

app - rich brown color, decent sized, off-white head, moderate retention.

aroma - malty/chocolatey, a small whiff of alcohol. Some hop as it warms.

flavor - chocolately, but not sweet. Sufficiently bitter from the start. No sharp bittering break, but finishes with a lingering malty bitterness. Sounds like a contradiction, but that is what it was like. Hops stay just beneath the malt, but they're definitely there.

MF - medium body and carbonation, some very minor alcohol warming.

d'ability - A rich, malty brown ale. Would like a little more hop flavor for further distinguish it from a porter. But still very drinkable.

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Photo of jp32
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice transparent dark brown color with a huge, frothy tan head.

The nose is of malts and caramel. A bit nutty.

The taste is great, a nice flavorful brown ale that finishes clean. Nicely balanced, I seem to notice atleast some amount of hop bitterness, but its mild, and disappears about as fast as I notice it.

Mouthfeel is great. Nicely carbonated, medium-bodied beer. The head holds on through the entire session.

Insanely drinkable. This is a classic example of one of those great-tasting beers that I could knock back all night without getting tired of.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I can't say that I'm the biggest fan of brown ale, but am more than willing to try them, certainly anything that Bell's makes. This changes my perspective on the style for the better, as Bell's often does. A finger of dark tan head caps the rich brown body, and decent lacing traces the beer's descent. The aromas are a winner, with plenty of nuts, brown sugar, and caramel greeting the nose--just terrific. The taste is a delight--lots of sweetness but some hopped bitterness that provides a very good balance. It's one of the more complex brown ales I've had, and one of the best. While the carbonation could be a little fuller, the smooth texture certainly makes up for it, rendering this eminently drinkable. It wouldn't be difficult at all to shed self-restraint and pulverize a sixer of this.

Excellent brown ale, one that stacks up well with Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale--no mean feat.

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Photo of Pauly2X
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Dark reddish brown beneath a half finger head which faded quickly.

S- Not much here but very clean hints of caramel.

T- Nutty and complex, with decent sweetness.

M- Very smooth, spot on carbonation.

D- Little too complex too session, but I'd grab it again.

If you like your Brown Ale on the nutty side this is a must try.

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Photo of joekfsu
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours a deep amber with a 2 cm bubbly tan head that is slowly diminishing. Aroma of roasted malts and a hint of caramel. Initial flavor has malts with some caramel. Flavor closes with some nuttiness that is lasting. Some lacing, light carbonation, light on alcohol. Light to medium body. Drinkable and simple, good beer for non-craft beer drinkers.

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

Bottle (Batch ID 8235) poured into an imperial pint glass.

A- It poured a dark red/brown with a 1 finger pillowy tan head. It had medium carbonation and the lacing stuck nicely to the side of the glass.

S- It smelled malty, sweet, and roasty with a touch of hop tones.

T- It had more malt character in the flavor. There was a hint of nutty tones (almonds perhaps). It seemed more flavorful than many browns I've had.

M- Medium carbonation made for a smooth feel.

D- It's an easy drinking brown ale.

Overall- It's a flavorful and versatile brown ale. It's a safe and solid offereing that's missing a bit of the "wow" factor of some of Bell's more eccentric offerings. A nice fall/winter beer.

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Photo of willjschmidt
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a New Belgium globe glass.

A: Pours a deep brown color with a reddish tint. A tan head quickly recedes.

S: Lots of sweet malts: brown sugar with quite a bit of molasses.

T: It matches the nose... lots of semi-sweet dark malt flavors. A bit of roasted flavors as well, some toffee and some burnt chocolate. Nice balance and very smooth. Dry in the finish.

M: Smooth and medium bodied.

D: A solid, smooth drinking brown ale. A nice beer got the winter months.

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Photo of enfield249
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Reddish leather toned in color. A small head of white foam that lingers through most of the beer.

S - Roasty malt smells, toffee, and some spice. Very light however

T - More roast and toffee in the flavor. Some hop bitterness on the tail end.

M - Medium body. Some astringency in the middle of the my tongue.

D - Not bad. this is a pretty good beer that even non-beer geeks could enjoy, and I would recomend it with out hesitation to those people if they wanted to try a "dark" beer.

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Photo of mt5000
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance is, not surprisingly, brown. Aromas and flavors of caramel, nuts, brown sugar, and oats. Mouthfeel is excellent and the carbonation is just right. Amazingly drinkable for a rich and fairly malty beer - I can easily down 2 or 3 of these. In fact, this is one of my favorite session beers in the winter. What I love most about this beer is how approachable it is - I recommend serving this beer as a great example of the American craft brew style to anybody who is used to Bud/Miller/Coors. There's enough hops to balance it out but very little bitterness that might turn somebody off. Those of us who are used to craft brews forget that many beers we like, such as IPAs, are not palatable to most people. I went to a party a while back where the host was serving this beer along with Stella Artois, and I noticed people switching from the Stella to this beer after they tasted it. Bravo to Bell's for making a craft brew that both beer geeks and your everyman beer drinker can enjoy.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle

A: Cloudy reddish brown (not overly dark) with a cream colored head that quickly dissipates to a ring of large bubbles. Nice lacing.
S: Very mild, nutty, creamy, roasted malt, bread
T: Again, very mild not overly nutty or malty. At first there was a bad slightly bitter aftertaste but that dissipated quickly. A lingering sweetness throughout like brown sugar. Not very hoppy.
M: Medium body, very creamy and smooth. High carbonation but very pleasant. Very nice actually.
D: While most of the aromas and flavors are very mild, there is a still a deep, strong taste that is very persistent in the aftertaste. For me this start off very unassuming and disappointing but became a very nice brown ale.

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

Thanks go out to Rblwthacoz for hooking me up with this one.

A_Pours a medium to dark slightly hazy brown hue. A nice cream coloured head settles a bit too quickly into a nice cap. Lacing is tight and it is overall a good looker.

S_A mixture between biscuity and sweet caramel malts.

T_starts out with a nice caramel sweetness which is followed up by a mellow bitterness. nicey rounded in it's flavour profile. Not much in the way of hops but there is a vague leaf note there. This defiintely plays slightly to the sweeter fruity side of the equation but does not get cloying.

M-On the thicker side, good carbonation.

D_This is a dangerously good brown ale. I would drink this if available around here. I would say this falls somewhere between the British and American versions of a brown ale.

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

Pours a dark amber with a nice frothy covering of light tan head that retained very well and left some great lacing. Aroma possesses deep notes of malt sweetness, bread, and nuttiness.

The tastes is a big hit of bready sweetness, and toasted malts up front but then a nice, tingling hop bitterness comes out amongst all that sweetness and helps even things out. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a slightly creamy carbonation.

With full deep flavors and good balance, this is one tasty and quaffable Brown Ale from Bell's. Solid.

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Photo of NCBeernut
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy coppery brown with suspended particles. Decent head that falls down to a thin layer. A nice drinkable brown ale. Not overly rich to be very sessionable. Nutty, malty goodness, with a bit of a hoppy finish. Not as chocolaty as many American browns tend to be. Very good English style brown ale.

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Photo of LittleBreeze
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


Nice aroma. Even with the light chocolate, coffee and bread cameral smells this one still smells like beer.
There is a nuttiness in the taste. A bit of bitterness in the finish balances the sweetness. Carbonation enhances the mouthfeel. Has just a little bit of a creamy feel.

Nice brew. Very drinkable.

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Photo of umustdrink
2.71/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

found in the back of the fridge (should have left it there?)

A - Deep brown color. Very light brown head, big and fluffy to start, recedes to a thick film. Little lacing.

S - Mild smells of brown sugar, cereal malts with minimal bitterness.

T - Very mild tastes as well: light and tangy malts with a tiny bit of sweetness.

M - Thin to medium consistency with probably too much carbonation considering it may be a bit too thin in consistency.

D - Completely un-stellar in most concerns. Not your typical Bell's. Oh well.

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Photo of secondtooth
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First, I need to say that I have been a big fan of several brown ales (from my all-time favorite Tilburg's Dutch Brown Ale to the fairly common Newcastle Brown Ale), so this one comes under intense scrutiny. And Bell's beers have a history of not pleasing my palate. So the cards come stacked against this one. Nonetheless, this one comes up strong. There's a rich, deeply roasty feel to it, actually a bit heavier and more robust than other brown ales, but it's still smooth and nutty, as it should be. My favorite Bell's brew yet.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly fogged ruby hued brown that only gives a small creme head off a firm pour. Nose is very leafy and earthy. Flavor is very full. A lot more vibrant than I had figured it would be. Much more of a sugar-like sweet tone to it. Almost like there was brown sugar thrown in the mix. Feel has a full carbonation and the liquid is well bodied. This is easy to drink. A bit too sweet IMO, but still an enjoyable experience.

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Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.84 out of 5 based on 3,000 ratings.
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