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 cdizinno
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured into a tulip glass from a 12oz. bottle different than that pitured.

A: Cloudy reddish/brown color with a nice thick off-white head and moderate lacing.

S: Slightly sweet malt scent. Nice scent to start off. Not too overpowering and slight caramel roasty aroma with mild hop overtones.

T&M: Smooth light to medium bodied brown ale. Much smoother than your standards. Real nice balance between malts and hops. Hits hard up front and fades to a nice mildly sweet malty/smoked/roasty taste. Finish is dry.

One of the best brown ales I've had because I prefer the milder taste instead of overpowering burnt/caramelized flavors associated with most brown ales.

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Photo of giblet
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured nicely into the glass with about three eights inch of head that settled quickly. thin film of head. light steady carbonation. nice lightly roasted malt aroma. the taste is very good. roasted malt, caramel, slightly sweet but not over done. very little lacing down the glass.

suckem up and movem out.


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Photo of afdempse
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I grew up on this beer, so it definitely has a special place in my heart. I'll try to be objective here...

First off, let me say that it seems as if reviewers on this site are attempting to rate this beer on what they expected it to be, not on what it is. This is not an imperial- or double- anything. It is a brown ale, and a solid one at that. End of rant. :)

Certainly looks wonderful. Bell's never disappoints with properly mashed grains and the head sticks to the glass like crazy.

Nice chocolatey malt scent with flavor to match. Warm, earthy malt flavor with a hint of toast and chocolate creaminess. Very slight hop bitterness and no hop flavor. Finishes clean with a hint of alcohol.

Drinkability is high... I could sip on these all night in front of a warm fire while watching the Lions lose and the Wolverines win. Michigan winter in a bottle!

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thick and hazy brown body, topped by a creamy, mountainous off-white head. Chocolate mingles with herbal hops in the nose. The taste is somewhat like making chocolate milk, using skim milk, and adding hops sufficient to tingle but not overwhelm the rest of the beverage. A somewhat strange description for a really fine beer. Not a style that attracts much interest, not one of the Bell's beers that generates a lot of buzz, but a brew I can heartily recommend.

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Photo of TexIndy
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brought back from Indy during XMas. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. The back label has a 4 digit bottling code that you can type into the website and get the beer and bottling info. I really like that part of the code but the major drawback is that it does nothing for you at the store unless you got wireless with you or the store lets you on the internet - neither of which really happens. Keep the code but add a date to the bottle. Anyway. It was a deep reddish brown color with some yeast bits floating around. Tons of carbonation that resulted in a carb geyser in the center that continuously feed the foam and collar. It started with an average size light brown head that slowly settled.

The aroma was sorta weak even for a brown. What was there was good but would have like it amped up a bit. Biscuity with cocoa powder. The taste was really good. This is probably the best English Brown that I've had. Solid from the start. Good malty bite with a bit of sweetness that leaves a nice finish. This would be a great session beer. Also would be a good beer to convert your friends to good beer.

Overall, a great beer that I highly recommend. Another great one from Bell's. Oh how I wish they were available here in the Great Beer Desert of Texas. Can't wait to try the other Bell's I brought back. Will definitely pick up more of this the next time I'm in Indy.

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Photo of mralphabet
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Reddish brown color in color, pretty clear, about 1/2 a fingers worth of head that settles to a nice layer and ring of foam. Very nice lacing all the way down the glass.

S: Sweet malt, little caramel and nuts.. pretty normal for a brown. Just smells right.

T: Great tasting little brown... Sweet malt, caramel and a hint of nuttiness. Everything you are getting in the smell is here. Again the mix is just right.

M: At first it was a little sharp with the carbonation, but it settles down as it warms and gets smoother and less carbonated... Just gets better and better.

D: Man this is just a good beer... a very solid brown. Good ABV, good flavors, smooth (when warm), good session beer. Worth a look at.

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Photo of cooch69
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured from the draft an amber brown which was fairly opaque. It had a lovely two and a half finger head which stuck around for the party.
It smelled of caramel and bready malts.
The taste on this beer was realy good. It was a surprisingly fresh brown ale that was definetly influenced by the English. It was slightly roasty and nutty, slightly sweet and only a hint of hops in the finish. This beer has a well balanced carbonation and a medium body with an easy drinkability.
Definately recommended.

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Photo of InebriatedJoker
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into my favorite beer drinking glass

exp date #10046 ?

Poured a nice nice brown color with two finger head that dissipated into a thin lace quickly -

Smell had hints of toasted malts , light spice ,toffee.

Very nice Brown Ale - Easy going down with a nice aftertaste - Great brew for Autumn evenings sitting around the fireplace.

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Photo of boogles
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep red with perfect carbonation, more sediment than I anticipated. The smell was interesting--some vanilla and flowery perfume in addition to the expected maltiness, etc. The taste is delicious at a moderate chill--I don't think I'd like this one overchilled--and I could drink this all night. Just had one tonight, though. Very nice.

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Photo of Skidz
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch # 6577

Pours out caramel brown and sits cherrywood brown in the glass with a lofty light tan head, plenty of lacings for everyone. Fades to a light skim.

Smells nice and toasty with caramel, toffee and soft gentle hop aroma. When I first lifted it to my nose, I first though "cottage cheese." Strange the way different aromas are melded together. Still, good malty character.

Tastes mildy sweet up front and slowly picks up bits of hop bitterness along the slow,tortoise like journey of flavor. Faint caramel and nouget and just a dusting of nuts. Hops provide just enough bitterness to please the pallate and lend a touch of leafy green flavors. Slow to the finish, but well-bittered and lingering leafy hop flavors and caramel.

Clean and crisp in the mouth, tact carbonation. Medium body is well suited.

Not a bad brown, in fact, it's pretty damn solid. Consumed with pride and pleasure. A step, at least, above the rest.

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Photo of garuda
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Hazed, but bright deep ruby, off white creamy head with great retention and some lacing.

S/T - Very nice smooth roasted malt character competing with a robust smokiness, with an underlying caramel malt sweetness throughout with hints of chocolate here and there. Touch of hops at the end adds bitterness, but really no additional flavors.

M - A little light in body with the smooth cask conditioning. finishes quite clean.

O - Solid brew. I really enjoyed the complexities going on. I'd definitely get it again.

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Photo of archiespeck
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had one of these following a Hopslam last night. Very interesting dichotomy!

A - Poured a dark hazy brown. Very little carbonation on this one.

S - Caramel, nuts, brown sugar with a touch of cinnamon. As a previous poster stated, the best smelling brown ale out there.

T - This is where the caramel and nuttiness really come through. Very nice, and not overpowering at all. Strikes a very nice balance with the maltiness.

M - A little thicker than your average brown ale. Again, low carbonation.

D - Very drinkable. I could easily put away 4-5 of these if I weren't careful.

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Photo of counciloak
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown in color with a single finger of foam. Smells remind me of roasted coffee, toast, and toffee. These aromas carry through to the flavor. It also has a very nice balance, with very mild earthy hop flavor in the background. It has a medium body, perfect for fall weather. Overall this is probably my favorite brown ale. Best Brown is not just a clever name

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Photo of Slynger
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer really looks like somethin' else. It's sort of a deep, cloudy, tarnished copper with amber and butterscotch highlights. A fairly creamy dirty white cap leaves some slippery lacing.

The nose is nice and cooly sweet dark fruits and caramel. Lightly toasted aromas mix with a nuttiness and spicy woodsy hops.

Medium bodied and chewy with large bubbled creaminess. Sweet caramel malts are noticed at first, with a light bitterness that lingers throughout the journey. Fruity apple and plum overtones blend well with the light spiciness of earthy woodsy hops.

I like most of Bell's offerings a lot but this one really caught me off guard. It is a great brown and should be recognized among the top few of the style. It is quite unique, incredibly drinkable, and thankfully I picked up more than one bottle as I definitely did not grasp all that there was to experience in this brew. Bell's Best Brown will in fact hold that title in my book until I come across a real rival.

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Photo of Finn
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark amber, with a thin lace that stays on top. Good clarity.

Smell: Bready, toasty, biscuity malts dominate the nose very nicely.

Taste: Rich, smooth bread-like malts, ending with a lingering hop bitterness, caramel flavors. Mild fruitiness present.

Mouthfeel: Medium, smooth body. Medium carbonation compliments nicely. Slight creaminess.

Drinkability: This one really opens up as it warms up. Drinkability is high. One of the better brown ales out there, very well balanced, nothing over the top, but still retains full flavor. Recommended!

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Photo of SitkaSteve
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

My first Bell's.
Thanks a ton - Ted, next time you know what to get me, cheers, man!
This was poured into a pint glass.
The appearance was a nice looking brown color with a one finger white foamy head. It quickly dissipated.
The smell started off with some nuts, roasty malts, light coffee. Subtle grassy hops display in the background.
The taste follows the smell very nicely. A sweet lingering nutty aftertaste rolls into the finish nicely.
The mouthfeel sat about light to medium on the body with a nice sessionability about it. Carbonation feels just right and really allows the sweet nuttiness to stroll right over my tongue really nicely.
Overall, though Brown ales aren't my top notch style, if all of Bell's are made as good as this, I can't wait to try their other offerings. Ted, you rock, man!

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Photo of MarkQ617
4.31/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I had this out of the bottle in South Carolina, after attempting (and failing) the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. Really just an excellent brown. Smooth mouthfeel with a nutty, burnt caramel flavor. I can't comment on the appearance because I had this straight out of the bottle at night, so I've assumed for the purposes of this review that it probably looks similar to most other browns. Solid after dinner beer.

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Photo of Shovelbum
4.3/5  rDev +12%
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 WakeandBake
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

batch # 8749.A brownish amber color with a thick off-white head that slowly dissipates and leaves behind some excellent lacing. Aroma of roasted nuts and caramel malt with a touch of citrus and grassy hops. Taste is smooth, medium bodied, lightly carbonated with flavors of light caramel malt, some citrus zest and a touch of pecans.maybe a hint of grass. Finish is smooth, creamy with a more malty aftertaste than any bitterness.Very quaffable,and quite enjoyable.

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Photo of engagechad
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This bottle was purchased as a single from Wine and Beer Westpark in Glen Allen, VA - bottled Nov 30th 2010 drank on april 21st 2011 - poured into tulip

Pours a light browny amber with a creamy tan head. Beer is clear and pure, perfect lacing and beautiful head.
Smells of licorice and dark fruits, tastes bitter but not from hops and feels pretty smooth. It's an easy drinking brown that is quite tasty, nothing fancy or spectacular though.


Pours nice, murky orange brown, nice head. Smells perfect, brown sugar, deep malty sweets with spice. Taste is effin boss. Smooth and tingley at the end, aftertaste is sweet brown sugar.

I had to re do this one because I loved it the second go around.

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Photo of beergod1
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Flows a creamy dark brown then clears up a bit, a light fading head. Nice toasty sweet nutty flavor,smooth mouth feel, I think a slap of hop at the back of my tongue on the finish, rounds out nicely. This is in my top 5 or 6 Brown ales, along with Dogfishhead, Sammy Smiths, Goose Island, Avery and a couple of others.

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Photo of KevBrews
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours brownish amber, slightly murky. Not a lot of head retention--mostly a small ring around the outside of the glass.

S: Nutty chocolate aroma, hints of raisin as it warms.

T: Caramel with hints of coffee and toffee; low hop flavor--malt flavor dominates.

M: Moderate--low to medium carbonation.

D: This beer would be great as a session beer. It is smooth and easy to drink. Flavorful, but not overpowering. I only picked up a single bottle, and when I finished, I wished I had bought a sixer. However, given a choice between this and Bell's Porter, I'd go for the porter every time.

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Photo of GruvisHops
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 12 oz. brown bottle. 1/2" of light tan head on top of a brown body w/deep reddish hues. Heavy particulate floating around.

S: Toffee and caramel. Not much else, but good enough for me.

T: More caramel. Toasted malt lingers on the tongue with a wonderful balance between malt and hops.

M: Medium. For me, this is the weakest part about this beer. It's just a little too light.

D: Extremely drinkable.

Notes: Excellent brown ale; great representation of the style.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy dark red-brown, with a creamy tan cap that settles quickly but never quite goes away.

Nose is nice and roasty, nutty, bread crust with hints of brown sugar and cocoa. Delicious but a bit reserved.

Taste is beautifully rich and balanced - nutty and roasty, you get a big dose of the same breadcrusty flavors you get in the nose. But you also get a big, slightly dry brown sugar note that has that Belgian shimmer to it, leading to a nice, dry, roasty finish that balances the body perfectly without being overly bitter.

Mouthfeel is medium-light bodied with a crisp but very light carbonation.

Superbly drinkable and delicious beer, I would buy this by the case if I could get it.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Burnished bronze with loads of suspended particles. I may just have to chew this beer. The light brown head is large, firm and is a very nice lacer. Thick, chunky sheets adorn the glass as I drink.

The nose is of caramel/toffee, brown sugar and light molasses. As someone who prefers those flavors to chocolate, I approve in a big way and hope that the flavor matches the nose. It does. I can tell after the first sip that this beer has rocketed to the top of my 'best brown ales' list. A little more body would make it absolutely killer, but it's pretty damn tasty all the same.

Again, the flavor matches the nose: caramelized sugar-covered toasted malt with a little spiciness for good measure. I'm also reminded of sweet, dark fruits such as figs and dates. The sweetness--neither too much nor too little--fades to a slight dryness by the tail end of the long, lingering finish. I repeat, with a heavier body this would be extraordinary beer.

Bell's Brewery continues to grow on me. Brown ale is an often overlooked style that is sometimes short on excitement, but Bell's Best Brown is phenomenal stuff and has impressed me to no end.

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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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