I poured a 12oz bottle into a nonic pint glass. It was bottled on 9/13/12 making it six months and 16 days old when I drank it.
Appearance: Beautiful mahogany/chestnut hue. Translucent with visible
sediment suspended. Forms a huge, beige, fluffy head which is slow to
dissipate and leaves plenty of lacing on the glass.
Smell: A mild, muted nose with light malty sweetness but not distinct ingredients or aromas.
Taste: Once again you’ll have to take this review with a grain of salt
as it’s based on a bottle that was pretty old at the time. However, much
like the Amber Ale, I can tell Bell’s Best Brown Ale is a pretty solid
beer on the core. Of course, simply being "solid" doesn’t equal high
quality, in fact a more cynical synonym would be "passable." That’s
definitely accurate here, though. This is a drinkable beer that conforms
to the brown ale style nicely, but no more.
Trying to describe to the taste of the palate is a bit of a challenge.
The brewery suggest notes of caramel and cocoa, but these are mostly
afterthoughts. It’s probably best described as mildly sweet with just
the faintest hint of confectionery flavors that emerge strongly right on
the finish. Not much in the way of hops or bitterness, though there is
some tang to the palate (I’ll chalk that up to the bottle’s age,
though). No repulsive qualities, which is good, though trying to
appreciate what’s here is challenging but not impossible. I’d imagine a
fresh serving would be pretty amazing.
Drinkability: A lot of people consider brown ales to be acquired tastes,
which I’ve never understood because it’s one of the most
drinker-friendly styles I can think of. Bell’s Best Brown Ale is very
comfortable in the mouth with a soft, smooth texture that’s not too
thick and definitely not thin and fizzy. It goes down smoothly and has a
mostly neutral aftertaste. It doesn’t seem to take full advantage of
its 5.8% ABV weight, though, but at least it’s not overboard in any way.
A versatile brew I’m sure, but good enough to enjoy on its own merits.