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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: English 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: 877 | Ratings: 2,954
Photo of Barnoloid
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

One of my favorite brown ales. Deep shade of brown/english toffee in color, the caramel notes transfer to the taste, with some butterscotch and earthiness in there to balance it out. Mouthfeel is smooth and soft, this beer goes down a treat.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.64/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours a light tan and creamy head. The beer itself is an opaque brown. The overall look is pretty nice and fairly inviting. It definitely goes with the theme Bell's planned on.

The smell is fairly nice but could be stronger (or at the very least is weak compared to modern standards). In fact, I'd say that the smell is fairly balanced. The malts give a nice sweet nutty note that is pretty good but not overpowering while there's a light floral hop note to give a slight bitterness.

The taste has similar notes to the smell but seems to lack the balance found in the smell. The taste has a much stronger hop presence than the smell and that the malt notes are weaker. The malts still give a nice sweet nutty note but are heavily overshadowed by the hops.

The feel is disappointing to the least. Even though the beer is heavy bodied, the feel is light and a tad heavy water with no real texture to it.

Overall, meh. I've had better. Just do it for the badge.

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Photo of daddypatstacks
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Bell's has sort of special place in my heart. They were one of the breweries that helped me transition into my love of craft beer, and their brown ale really opened my eyes. It has been a couple years since I drank this one so I figured I owed to them to try it again. Personally, I think brown ales are some of the best (and overlooked) beers of the fall season. I'm not really sure what the real difference between "American" and "English" brown ales are, but I find myself preferring the English variety. The toasty malts are that are present in this beer are more delicately balanced than the similarly rated American versions. It's darker- sort of a mahogany color- but doesn't border on stout levels like some of its counterparts. Their isn't much complexity, but that's a good thing. This beer tastes exactly like the label looks and makes me excited to welcome the pleasantly cool nights that come with the season.

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Photo of JustLikeMyDad
3.36/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured this beauty in a clear lager mug, has a nice medium dark brown color and a healthy thickish foam head.
Smells malty, a little chocolaty.
Tastes like an ale, got some bitterness to it, and it tastes a little of chocolate, maybe even coffee. Not too overly bitter like most Bell's Ale's I've had.
Feel is smooth,with a light bubbly feel on the tongue, not too light, but not too strong on the carbonation.
Overall, I was hesitant since I don't like Bell's Ale's, since usually I find them to be too bitter. This one isn't like that. And I could drink more of this.

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Photo of chinchill
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 oz bottle.
The body is dark amber, more orange and hazy than usual for style.
Mild malt aroma less to a much more robust flavor. Despite all the malt the hops keep this mildly bitter.

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Photo of DaBurls
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bell's does a great Brown Ale that is true to its name. The quality of the American Brown ale is spot on. It is very light with bitterness but has a great taste of nuts, oats, malts, cocoa, citrus (which is hard to find in some ales because of the use of strong malts. The color when poured is a reddish/brown. I could drink this brown ale throughout the year. Cheers

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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 RyanPoff
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours an oak like brown with very little head and little retention. Expected more head.

S: Nuts, roasted malts, coffee. Spot on for a brown.

T: The taste is a good combination of all the smell - it's a malty, toasty, nutty complicated beer. It's smooth and almost creamy.

M: A well balanced, medium body, fresh as can be, and well carbonated.

Browns aren't my thing really, but this was quite good.

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Photo of Catracho5
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16 ounce can poured into a shaker pint

Pours a cloudy dark brown with some slight ruby colored edges, nice creamy, fluffy head, not a lot of carbonation, some lacing. Smells of light roasted coffee, toast, toffee, caramel, smells more roasty than sweet. On the taste, get a hit of light roasted coffee up front, toasted bread, slight caramel, toffee, a hint of light bitterness, finishes dry and roasty, it has a great creamy mouthfeel, very drinkable.

I really enjoyed this, it's light yet tasty, doesn't have a big heavy feel to it, very sessionable, reminds of a light porter, very enjoyable, will definitely pick up more of this as long as its available.

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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 UCLABrewN84
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Packaged 8/5/15.

Pours a murky dark reddish-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. A foamy lattice of lace coats the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, roasted nut, earth, and caramel aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, caramel, and nut flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of toast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a nice mix of toast, nut, and caramel qualities all around.

Serving type: can.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 8/15/14. Threshold beer glass. Reviewed on 11/1/14 [revisited 9/5/15, bottle dated 8/21/15]

Appearance: Dark brown with 2 fingers tan, rocky head. Epic lacing and a thin cap of retention. [Much less lacing the second time around, but an aggressive pour gives a 1/2 inch sandy cap that hangs around nicely. Hazy medium brown. Little visible carbonation.]

Aroma: Roasty and yeasty. Very nice. Pungent. [A marked nuttiness on the nose, a really solid English/funky/earthy hop presence. This is what Brown Ale should smell like.] The more I smell this, the more I want to smell this.

Taste: Off-dry arrival. Fairly dry across mid-palate with a savory [and toasted cereal] note; slightly tart at the end with a [moderate], bittering finish. Slight hint of roast. Less sweet than most US versions, and more hoppy than most UK versions, this is something all its own.

Mouthfeel: Mid-bodied with ample carbonation. [Much less carbonation in 2015.]

Overall: This is a very dry and balanced brown ale; I could drink several of these; not too sweet, not too much ABV. Plan on buying again next year. [Promise kept! This is a real winner for a dry and traditional northern English brown. It's Newcastle with more of everything: body, hops, ABV.]

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Photo of Jammin_comedy
4.71/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This beer is delicious! It has a great dark Amber taste and the caramel and oaky flavors really shine through. It's dark but not too heavy! Great choice for all seasons!

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Photo of Beejay
3.67/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Medium to deep brown in color, with an asteroid field of yeast chunks in the glass. Off white head on top.

S: Malt dominated with caramel, bread, and licorice. A slight syrup smell in the finish.

T: Malty sweetness, with a hint at a burnt caramel flavor. Like fresh baked bread, and molasses.

M: Medium light, with fairly high carbonation.

O: A solid brown. Tasty, malty, and simple in the best way possible.

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Photo of dbl_delta
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle "pkgd 8/14/14" into pint glass. Dark but clear reddish-honey-amber color, with moderate tan head.

Malty, full-bodied with maybe a little molasses or caramel, but almost no hint of hops bitterness. Moderate carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel. At 5.8 ABV, it's quite drinkable.

I'm not a brown ale fan, but this was pertty good.

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Photo of drdiesel9483
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look - good head and a dark auburn color with good lacing.
Smell - malty toasty spicey sweet smell
Taste - sweet toasty carmel molaces malt taste but with a slight hop in the back
Feel - medium body and carbonation
Overall - this is a great go to brown ale that can easily get possible brown ale fans start drinking brown ales. Great balanced beer!

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Photo of tedvr
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours clear with a small creamy head, light brown with a reddish tint. Has a mild malt smell with a hint of honey or molasses in the background. Has a malt taste with the molasses/honey coming through. Mild carbonation with a nice finish. A very good brown ale with quite a lot of depth.

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Photo of Mikus
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Love Bell's. Not the biggest brown ale fan, admittedly. Open minded I like to think! Poured from a pint can into a pint glass. Can was dated, but I couldn't read it. Sweet ass owl on the can. Clear brown with a full finger of tan head. Medium bubbles and good retention. Aromas of bready, rich malts. Mild nose. Pretty clean on the palate. Nutty flavors on the mid-palate, bready note on the end. No noticeable hops, as advertised. However, this had balance in spades. Mouthfeel was top notch. Extremely smooth. This was by far the best brown ale that I have tried. In terms of browns, this was excellent.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a very pretty, cloudy, deep mahogany color with practically no head what-so-ever. What little head there was, quickly dissolved away into a thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass and formed wispy clouds that gathered in the center of the top of the beer.

Aroma: Nice and malty, like freshly baked bread. Strong notes of black pepper, clover and brown sugar.

Taste: Like the aroma, nice and malty, with strong notes of freshly baked bread, coriander and black pepper. Notes of brown sugar-like sweetness follow the malt and spices, and the beer finishes with some nicely balanced hops bitterness. Delicious!

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with some good carbonation to tickle the taste buds. With an ABV of 5.8%, there is no presence of alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is a damn good brown ale! Great balance between malt and sweetness and hops. I’d certainly get it again!

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Photo of mchegash
3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - 3.75/5
Dark brown-red, fairly hazy, can see some small particles. A small amount of head. Moderate amount of carbonation can be seen rising up.

Smell - 4/5
Toasty, chocolatey malts, moderate hops presence.

Taste - 3.75/5
Roasty, maybe a little chocolatey, a little smoky. Minor hops presence. Lightly sweet

Mouthfeel - 4/5
Medium-bodied, light carbonation, very smooth.

Overall - 4/5
A well balanced beer. Has a nice level of toastiness balanced with some hops.

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Photo of schoolboy
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I'm not sure this is really still their best, but it's a great brown ale ready to drink any time.

It's brown and barely translucent, with just a bit of fizz. Not much aroma, but it is clean. The taste is nicely balanced with not too high a malt profile - just right. The aftertaste is excellent. Nice burp.

This is a great brown for any time, and it will go good with any food. My sample was fully four months old and it is just fine. I think I had this before as I remember it being exactly the same. Great quality stuff that is very drinkable.

 549 characters

Photo of henrichsj
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into a 16-oz pub glass.

A- Beautiful dark amber color, an inch and a half of creamy light tan head that sticks around

S- Roasted malts and some caramel

T- Heavy malts with caramel, almond notes; some slight hops keep it more fresh than other browns

M- Goes down creamy and smooth; nicely carbonated

O- This is one of my winter go-to beers. Delicious.

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Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Brown, with a strong red undertone, mostly opaque, but some translucence. Off-white head, short, but sticky and persistent, and very thick lacing.

S - A certain soapy quality, with a grassy hop note, and a foundation of roast and caramel.

T - Mostly bread, dark brown, with a strong roast note that suggests burnt sugars. A mildly bitter close, but nothing too abrasive. As it warms, the hint of soapiness in the nose does make an appearance along with nuttiness in the close, but this is fairly typical of beers I've had in the style.

M - A bit light, but quite easy to tip back.

O - A good beer to tip back over a cold afternoon in fall, this is a decent, subtle take on the English brown.

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Photo of MrIncognito
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

A - light aroma of dark malt and toasted nuts
T - Somewhat chocolaty with a hint of cinnamon. Toasted nuts.
M - medium bodied with light carbonation. Smooth
O - very good brown ale. Not quite as good as Smuttynose Old Brown Dog IMO

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Photo of JLSIV
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a glass, very rich brown, with a decent one finger head, not too much lacing, but decent retention.

Aroma was mostly malt, some earthy tones, I like the fact that it was not trying to cover the type with nut, or spice. Very true and clean

Taste was right on, and very true to the type, allows for the grain and malt flavors to be mellow and show the quality.

Mouthfeel was smooth, full side of medium. very nice drinkable beer. I like this type, and am glad that Bell's works it well.

Overall, my second try at Bell's and I was impressed. Great quality in a bottle, and as I said earlier, good brown ales, need no additional flavorings.

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Bell's Best Brown from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.84 out of 5 based on 2,954 ratings.
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