Bell's Oarsman - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

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1,953 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,953
Reviews: 579
rAvg: 3.51
pDev: 15.95%
Wants: 75
Gots: 202 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Berliner Weissbier |  4.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Thorpe429 on 04-12-2009

Sour mash wheat ale.

"Designed as a flavorful session beer, Oarsman Ale uses a classic German brewing technique to impart a light, refreshing tartness. Oarsman Ale grew out of a desire to explore the tradition of session beers, trading intensity for finesse while still creating a worthwhile experience for the taster. The grain bill includes a healthy portion of wheat, while light hopping lend citrus & herbal notes to the aroma. Fermented with Bell's house ale yeast, Oarsman comes in at 4.0% alcohol by volume. Rather than being the dominant flavor note, the tartness in Oarsman takes on more of a palate-cleansing role, making it perfect with meals or purely on its own."
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,953 | Reviews: 579
Reviews by Shibbykaiyai:
Photo of Shibbykaiyai
3.93/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Normally, this is not my usual type of beer, but my friend offered it to me and I had never tried it and gave it a whirl. Who knew that I would have to travel away from KZoo and Michigan to actually find a damn good beer I could have just bought at home.

Other reviewers have stated that it kinda looks like iced tea when poured and I would agree. There is a nice hit of fruit (I like the pallet to determine which one) and it goes down nicely. And the lack of a strong alcohol kick at the end gives it a nice "summery" feel to it.

Highly recommend...

More User Reviews:
Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.96/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this from a twelve ounce bottle into a beer can-shaped glass. It has a pale golden or straw-colored body and a pale white head. The head is fluffy, a finger-thick, and persists well before settling into a quarter-inch layer of lace.

Call me crazy, but I always seem to get a bit of salt from Berliner Weisses on the aroma. That's what I seem to be getting here, along with some champagne-like dryness, tartness, and wheat. It's slightly citrusy too.

Taste is a tad lemony, wheaty, and there's even something fruity and berry-like. I still get something slightly salty. I like it. Not quite gose-like, but sometimes I find these two styles hard to differentiate.

This beer is incredibly light and easy-drinking. I almost thought it was watered-down, but a number of sensations dispelled me of that notion. The carbonation is light and there's really something sort of champagne- or wine-like abut this. It's dry and fruity.

I guess some people just don't understand this type of beer. It achieves everything I'd want in a summer beer: light, drinkable, yet still offering a number of diverse flavors. It's damn goodd and don't let anyone tell you different.

Photo of Phocion
3.79/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle with a bottled on date of June, 2014. Poured into a weizen glass a hazy straw color with a finger of white head. Head lasts about 3 minutes then falls leaving thin and not particularly sticky lacing, not surprising given the high acidity.

Aroma is primarily a very grainy wheaty scent along with sharp, spicy phenols. Zesty, lemony citrus hops and a subtle hint of fruity esters.

Sharply acidic lacto flavors combine with a zesty lemony hop bitterness. Very wheaty with a touch of floral hoppiness. Apple-like esters.

Sharp, clean, crisp mouthfeel. Acidic and highly carbonated with a light body.

Overall, this is a decent beer. Rated to style, its ABV and hoppiness is too high for a Berliner Weisse, and it's missing the big, fruity, banana-like esters of an American Pale Wheat or a Hefeweizen. Wherever it lies stylistically, it's drinkable but far from exceptional.

Photo of oldbizmark
4.6/5  rDev +31.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

another great beer from the guy's at bell's. beautifully balanced easy drinking sour. if i had one complaint, i would say that it the flavor doesn't last. just drink and taste and then gone. not a bad thing especially when coupled with food. just seems a but thin.

Photo of tectactoe
3.7/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Had this many times from the bottle and a few times on tap at random bars and even at a Detroit Tigers game. It pours a cloudy and murky color somewhere between straw and yellow, bright and very light looking. The fizzy white head doesn't last for very long as it airs away and leaves only a ring behind.

The aroma is pretty light, but that's kind of what the style is all about. Some mild grains, faint apple tartness, subtle lemon zest, some wet hay, and a touch of must that might just be from the hops. It smells refreshing, with a nice mashup of fruit, zest, and dirty cellar musk that's topped off with just a touch of seeming tartness. Nothing mind-blowing, but it does what it's supposed to do.

Oarsman tastes pretty close to the way it smells - a nice helping of apple and grape skins hit first with a mild touch of tartness that hits quick and fades quickly, too. There's a solid light grain and pale malt backdrop upon which the mild tartness plays. Lemon zest and some more very faint must and yeast follows up in the finish. Very quenching and refreshing with a thin and wet body and a crisp, snappy mouth feel.

This isn't some big-time, heavy barrel aged, super rare and expensive beer. It's a mild Berliner Weisse(-ish) that delivers what you'd expect it to deliver. Very refreshing to drink one of these after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day. More quenching than a cup of iced tea or lemonade. A good beer to keep stocked for the hot season, no doubt.

Photo of NathanBunn20
4.21/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25




Photo of warnerry
2.98/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a hazy straw color with 2 fingers of quickly dissipating head.

S - A bit of wheat and funk; also some lemon and tart sourness. A bit underwhelming.

T - A nice initial tartness gives way to wheat and then...nothing; disappears completely off the tongue.

M - Very light, though it has a nice crisp finish.

D - Drinkable, but not particularly desirable.

Photo of Fcip78
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I must confess that Berliner Weisse beers are not some of my favorites.

It poured a hazy off-white light yellow with a nice off-white head. Plenety of sour notes with each sip, but it was not too overwhelming. Nice use of hops and some crisp and dry malt backbone with each sip. This is nice intro to the style, I must admit. Overall, it is a very "clean", tart and sour and crisp wheat beer, but not for novice beer drinkers.

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
4.02/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a New Belgium snifter.

A - 1-finger eggshell white puffy foam head that took about a minute to dissolve. Lemon yellow and hazy.

S - Sour milk, baby powder, citric acid, hints of light malt and subtle spices like clove.

T - Sour lemon, moist sourdough bread, very mild pepper. Minimal hopping. Tart and wheaty at the same time.

M - Crisp and fizzy. Good carbonation and great structure. Clean. Suggests a desire to pucker as the tartness lingers well past the finish.

D - Delicious warm-weather beer. More substantial than just dropping a lemon in a hefe. Could easily enjoy several of these in an afternoon of puttering or just hanging out. The sourness might eventually become cloying, but it would be worth finding out.

Photo of Billolick
3.63/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

The good news is that Bell's fine beers are now being distributed to NY State.

"PKGD on 10/08/13" So its fresh, but is that a good thing or not? Not sure with this style....

My local bottle shop had four options, this was the one I had not tried, so I picked up a sixpack....Berliner Weiss...hmmm not my favorite style, but I do like sour/wild beers so lets give it a try....

Pours lightly hazed dull golden amber, off white head slowly fades to a thicker film and collar film and then some low sheeting, but nothing too exciting to the look of this one.

lemony nose is the harbinger of the sour to come...

More lemons on the palate, moderate puckering sour/tartness. Bright and fairly refreshing. Also wheat, hay, and a gentle eartyness come to mind. Still not my favorite style....But I could see enjoying another bottle of this on a warm summer day with some some cheese, bread and salad.

Photo of codysjb
4.06/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a glass.
A: pours a cloudy straw yellow with a head that dissipates instantly. Lots of carbonation.
S: lemon, grapefruit and some minor farmhouse zest combine with a musty sour smell. Nice!
T: minor lemon notes become musty and develop into a nice farmhouse style with slight sourness.
M: watery with minor sour notes.
O: really good, not my favorite style but a nice example.

Photo of tigg924
3.73/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: minimal head, orange-brown in color, cloudy, moderate carbonation

Smell: sou mix and a hint of grain--not very strong a smell

Taste: honey, grain, wheat, and light sour mix that is present throughout

Mouthfeel: medium carbonation, light bodied, sweet with tartness that is present throughout and really picks up at the end, prickly

Overall: Another excellent beer after a long day of hiking. Not as good as the German counterparts I have had, but certainly a beer I could do a six of. Wish the smell was a bit stronger here.

Photo of TrudiiSchu
4.3/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Mildly sour but not heavy. Love it.

Photo of Mora2000
3.48/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a hazy yellow color with a white head. The aroma is full of grain and some wheat, but not too much of the tartness I expected. That changes a little bit in the flavor. I get a lot of wheat, with a very light amount of tartness and some grain. Thin, watery mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Decent, but not really what I was expecting.

Photo of bsp77
3.06/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into tall glass.

Appearance: Hazy straw with very thin white head. However, I know that a Berliner Weisse is supposed to look like this - of course, this is not meant to be true Berliner Weisse, just inspired by it.

Smell: Grainy and grassy, with light tart fruitiness. Very mild aroma.

Taste: Tart lemon, wheat malts, and a very subdued spiciness.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, light body, semi-dry (tart) finish.

Drinkability: Refreshing and tart. Very, very simple but certainly quite drinkable.

Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +14%

pours a cloudy straw color with the carbonation of a Berliner Weisse. It is lemony, dry, tart and refreshing. It lacks 1809’s barnyard funk and the carbonation is not quite as champagne like or tart as the two German interpretations but it is very drinkable and much cheaper than either German beer. For someone looking for something light, refreshing and not a traditional American Light Lager, this is worth a try. This would be a good beer to spend a day on a boat with.

Photo of MattyG85
3.83/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

Appearance: Very cloudy golden yellow with lots of rising bubbles. Big five finger white head that fizzes down to a thinner layer fairly quick. Lacing is light.

Smell: Aroma of wheat and yeast with lots of tart lemon citrus. Some hints of herbal hops. Mostly tart and sweet lemons in the smell. Also a bit of a sour smell.

Taste: Starts with a burst of tart and sour lemon fruit. A solid presence of wheat grains, yeast, and pale malts follow. Finishes somewhat bready from the malts. Tartness is fairly strong but not overbearing.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied with a medium to high level of carbonation. Crisp and slightly watery.

Overall: A pretty solid light bodied lemon forward beer. Pretty flavorful.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.88/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thin yellow beer with haze, nice small white head on it, not much for retention or whatnot. Aroma, mild lemony tart, some wheat, this seems decent.

Taste, yum, more wheat lemon, but a good amount of sour tartness. So light on its feet, kept packing good tartness, light body allowed for a real refreshing experience, can really spruce up the palate after heavier beers. Never goes into sweet territory, never lets up, a solid mouthfeel full of tart/sour/lemon/wheat/ yet so easy to drink, not even sip if you didn't want to.

Another winner from Bell's.

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.92/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Slightly hazed yellow golden hue with a thin white cap of head. Fine speckled lacing on the sides of my flared pilsner glass. Chunks of yeast suspended in the slightly clouded elixer, alot of sediment ends up in the bottom of my glass. Aroma is mildly tart with a nice bready quality, hints of citrus and mild funk going on. Traditional sour mash methods are described on the label at a beerfest a couple weeks ago I was told this wasn't a Berliner Weiss, however I can't describe it any other way. Body is light with a drying tart finish, carbonation is ample nothing too hard to manage. Drinkability overall is super solid refreshing brew, I'm liking the fact that they made this one a year rounder in six packs. I don't know of many brewers making a tart wheat ale one of their regulars.

Photo of chinchill
3.63/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle packaged 19 Sept., 2011 and served in apint glass.

Pours a yellow gold tone; clear with visible carbonation and an average white head. Head quickly reduces to a lasting ring.

The lightly fruity aroma is not displeasing, but it is mild and not interesting, attractive or enticing. Luckily, the flavor is much better than the nose indicates, and the beer has a very fine, light and dry mouthfeel too. It certainly has the "light, refreshing tartness" claimed by Bell's, with a very noticeable citrus aspect over a subtle and vague herbal/grassy background. Although a Weissbier, there is no strong wheat component in the taste and one might not even notice the departure from barley.

O: excellent choice as a session beer or replacement for one of those light, watery, tasteless Mexican brews. While far from flavorless, Oarsman has a modest strength and a nice palate-cleansing effect; as such, it should work well with many lighter -flavored foods.
Revisited in June 2013 on tap: surprisingly tart'

Photo of glid02
3.68/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Closed for Business in Charleston, SC.

Pours a hazy yellow color with a half-finger white head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of grainy wheat with a bit of a twang to it. Also present are very light and tart citrus notes.

Tastes alright. Muted grainy light malt flavors kick things off with hints of wheat twang lurking in the background. Midway through the sip very mild lemon rind enters into things and carries through to a mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a decent thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I finished my glass without a problem and could have another.

Overall I was a bit let down by this beer - the base is there but it needs more complexity to round everything out. Not one to avoid but not one to seek out.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.83/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(Served in an American pint glass) The menu list it at 4.8%ABV A- This beer has a hazy lemon yellow body with a thin snow-white head that last for a bit and a soft carbonation gliding up the sides of the glass.
S- The light lemony note comes through as it warms but this is otherwise a very clean beer. T- The soft wheat hints leads to a soft tart note and a light field corn finish. The tart note lingers for just a moment but it is pretty light.
M- This beer has a light mouthfeel with no astringency and no real tart bite more of a tart dryness.
D- This beer is a light crisp easy drinking beer but a bit more tartness or some brett character or something would have made it much more drinkable.

Photo of Brenden
3.3/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a very light gold color, almost white-gold. A small white head billows on the pour but quickly recedes. It leaves a light foam for a while which also recedes. No real lacing to speak of is left behind, though there is continuous bubbling activity to keep the brew looking alive.
The smell is somewhat light but does evidence a wheat backbone with just enough malt backing, plenty of citrus zest and a light spicy presence.
The appearance reminds me more of a Kolsch than anything else, but it's not the only aspect that does: the first hit on the tongue is sharp, tart white grape and green apple. Lots of lemon in there makes the contrast as the flavor gives way more powerful. While it starts extremely sharp and dry, it does mellow to something a little sweeter and just a bit malty. Lots of earthiness with a grains fade giving way to an extremely dry finish make for an interesting beer.
The mouthfeel has all kinds of bite, being extremely dry, tart and acidic while giving little way to a smoother texture in the end before drying again. Carbonation is light to medium in a light-medium body.
This is an interesting one. I know the style is looked down on by some, but I absolutely have nothing against the style. This one just doesn't have the bit extra to put it over. I might even rate this higher as a kolsch. As it is, it could certainly use more hops and malts as well as having a better balance. I'm used to such goodness from Bell's. At least it's above average.

Photo of CloudStrife
4.02/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a Bell's snifter. Packaged 11/18/13.

A: Pours a hazy very light yellowish straw with a white head on top. It dissipates in a minute or so leaving some lacing on the glass. Can see some visible carbonation in the body.

S: Has a tart aroma that is noticeable upon first whiff with a hint of sour wheat mash. Some pale malts in the background that come out more as it warms.

T: Nice flavor profile on this beer. Has the sour/tart aspect that defines the Berliner Weissbier style but it doesnt overpower. Instead a nice malting makes up the backend so this doesnt finish as tart as it starts.

M: Light to medium body with ample carbonation. A bit puckering at first but easy to get used to. Great sessionability on this one. Clean finish.

Overall I've always been a fan of this beer. Real interesting flavor that sets this one apart from the other session beers on the market. Sure its not as tart as some berliner weissbiers can be, but the malt backbone is solid enough to gain this some more points.

Photo of sleestak4life
3.25/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle! Pours straw yellow and hazy with a minimalist white head. Aroma is grassy with lemon and mild funkiness. Grassy flavors with light tartness and a very dry finish. This particular bottle had about 6 months on it in an effort to nurture da funk and encourage additional sourness. Alas, nothing much happened. The baseline, however, was a refreshing summer beverage. So close to being transcendent, though. Light body with lively carbonation

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Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,953 ratings.